020 those Who Watch the Sky - 20


 20 – Children Wandering Under the Sky 4

*Phew~*

With a soft exhale Link fell gently onto her rear and supported herself with her arms. Looking up from her new vantage point at the dam and Temple of Ocia beyond the churning pool that stood between her, Elliot, and Melody from reaching it a pout crossed her features.

“I guess then it’s time to figure out how to get there?”

“I could always fly you two across ~

“No Melody. Elliot and I have to figure this out ourselves or it won’t matter. That and the lack of life down here is starting to leave me with a bad feeling. It’s too clean…”

Shooting down Melody’s offer Link earned a pout from the harpy but ignored her as she tried to comprehend the lack of life down in the chasm at the foot of the dam. There was obviously life at the top of the cliffs but nothing below them or any sign of life. There was also the corrosion of the dam itself leaving being down in the chasm extremely dangerous. There was no way Link could determine the age of the structure or how long it would continue to hold before the lake it likely formed burst through it.

“Ugh~! This is so unfair. We finally find a ruin to explore but we can’t do anything from here thanks to being infected.  I mean we could backtrack along one of the other rivers and hope that leads us to a town but with no life down here and how small the one we followed was at its end I don’t think that’s likely.”

Her own pout deepening Link scowled at the tri-river head with no immediate solutions to crossing the raging fountain. Elliot was no more educated in how rivers worked than Link but believed speaking at least would stimulate their imaginations.

“It is odd to think that a river would just trickle off like that.”

“Not really ~ You two don’t really have the ears for it so you probably didn’t notice but, it sounded like the river when it was smaller was going underground here and there ~

“So the land around here supports caves then…?”

Turning to Melody as she thought aloud, Link slowly scanned the cliffs around the river head in search of any caves. If there were any she could not see them in the shadows cast by the midday sun. Even if she did spot any there was no guarantee that they would be able to reach one from where they were.

“Ugh… even if there are caves here could we even reach them? And what about the potential of monsters dwelling in them? It’s one thing fighting monsters out in the open but in their lairs…”

“Well perhaps the dam holds the answer to reaching it Link.”

“The dam…?”

Again Elliot was just throwing out things to say in the hopes of stimulating one of their imaginations and this time he hit home. Looking at the dam and its size and shape Link’s mind scrounged up memories of her father’s teachings and how power was supplied to machinery across Icarus. As much as Cross relied on the Artificial Ambrosial Gate of the plant to extract Nectar to convert into energy there were countless other ways to draw power. While Nectar extraction was the most efficient as Nectar was also the fuel for magic it also did not have to be used on its own.

“I wonder…”

Rising to her feet and eying the statues of Ocia as well as the remnants of the symbol of the Cardinal Church carved into the face of the dam, Link began heading towards the edge of the water. Considering how violent the water was here Elliot and Melody reacted with concern.

“Um… Link…”

“I hope you’re not thinking to see if you can swim through that, no less upstream Link.”

“Don’t worry you two; I’m not ready to throw my life away yet. It’s just… I had an idea that might let me find a way in. There’s no guarantee it’ll work or if I do find an entrance that we’ll be able to reach it…”

“I don’t get it Link? What can you learn from the river?”

“If you don’t mind elaborating Link…?”

Her every action under scrutiny by Elliot and Melody, Link smiled as she kneeled down next to the water. Reaching her hand into churning pool she flinched from the cold reminding her that even though her skin had been replaced with the dark shadows of the Foreigner that her senses seemed fully intact. The reminder was as much a reassurance as it was uncomfortable and Link stirred the water to let her hand get used to the feel of it. While waiting on her hand to grow accustomed she looked back at Elliot and Melody to offer her explanation.

“Well, dams like this were built in different eras to convert the movement of water into power asides from making artificial lakes. If you don’t have access to a plant or an Artificial Generator of any kind to extract Nectar it’s not uncommon to find different ways to generate power. According to father there aren’t many engineers who know how to build one in this age, no less repair one, so finding one affiliated with a modern community is extremely unlikely. It’s more likely that you’ll find communities where sorcerers conjure and pool Nectar daily for the community to ration off. Father called them spell towns and said that on a whole they’re pretty amazing even though they have to trade with outsiders and salvagers especially quite a lot to enjoy things like radios and machine sentries.”

“That’s a really nice story Link, but I don’t see how that’s going to help us…”

“I might have an idea Melody.”

“Really

Prompted by Elliot’s mention of his potential insight Melody turned her confused gaze from Link to an expectant one on Elliot. Offering her a smile before raising his own gaze onto the symbol of the Cardinal Church upon the dam Elliot began his explanation.

“Traditionally, the Cardinal Church has always had the most advanced technology and knowledge of Ambrosia and the casting of magic. Even though this temple is dedicated to the goddess Ocia it still bears the Crosses of Cardinal. That would mean that it was sanctioned by the Cardinal Church and is perhaps a lot more than it seems…”

“That’s about right Elliot.”

Nodding her approval of Elliot’s deduction Link drew his and Melody’s attention back onto her. They were both obviously still confused however and Elliot moved to express their confusion in words.

“But even if that’s the case Link, what does that do for us and how does the water help us achieve it?”

“Well that’s all on me and this dam hopefully having an Artificial Gate.”

“You’re still not making sense Link ~

“Well that’s your fault Melody.”

“Huh! My fault

“Yup. You interrupted me the last time I was going to try something like this.”

“I did? When? I don’t remember anything like that! Do you Elliot

Elliot was as clueless as Melody and could only offer her a shrug and a shake of his head as she turned frantically in his direction. The playful smile that Link wore while watching the two of them struggle to grasp what she was talking about only flustered the harpy more and her perplexed expression spoke volumes of how much.

“It was back when you saved us from the machine sentry Melody. I was going to try and use the beam it fired to track the energy signature back to the Artificial Gate in the plant to try and issue a shut down command.”

“Can you really do that

It was Elliot’s turn to be dumbstruck but he managed to keep his surprise focused. Under Elliot’s wide-eyed look Link’s smile broke and her confidence disappeared as she laughed nervously.

“I have no idea. It was just an idea that occurred to me after Squawk healed my leg. I know what a gate feels like if it’s outside of my body and thanks to Squawk I know what the flow of Nectar feels like a lot better than when training under my father. And then thanks to Sister I know what water influenced by Nectar feels like to. So my hope is to bully my will through the water and force open the Artificial Gate if there’s one here. I know that Nectar Coding isn’t my specialty and trying to go backwards is pretty crazy of me but I’ve been keeping control of my body from the Foreigner in me despite losing so much of it to it so I’m hoping to be able to do the same here. If I can just touch the systems and the flow of Nectar I should be able to find a way in.”

“That sounds really impressive Link! ~

“It does Melody, but I’m concerned about Link’s well being if she can pull it off.”

“Well, it’s that or we lose days trying to follow one of the other rivers to higher ground and based on the river we followed it’ll have been three days since we ate anything. I haven’t noticed not eating anything for one reason or another but you and Melody can’t possibly keep your strength up if we back track now. Especially you Elliot. I’ve gotten better at noticing the effects of the Foreigner blood in you too so don’t think you can hide it.”

With a smile and a sigh Elliot made his resignation plain to see. Resigned as he was however he had no intention of just letting link have her way.

“Alright then Link we’ll do it your way, but if I see even the slightest sign that the Foreigner consuming you is gaining ground I’ll yank you away from the water in an instant. At that point I also say that we give up trying to tough it out and accept Melody’s offer to fly us across. Knowing when to use the resources at our disposal should be just as valuable to our worth as making it on our own.”

“That’s mean calling me a resource! ~

“Sorry Melody, but… Well, I hope you understand.”

“Well I’m not a resource; I’m your friend!”

“That you are Melody. And one I’m grateful to have. Link however seems intent on leaving us.”

“Don’t even try to guilt me out of this Elliot. If I can pull this off it doesn’t even matter if we still have to ask Melody to fly us across. Being able to pull it off will make me invaluable and there’s no way the Cardinal Church can turn me away then. I’ve never heard of any Sa·B·er who can do what I’m about to try so just imagine what that would mean for me.”

“It will be impressive Link, but you still need to be careful. The Cardinal Church hasn’t saved you yet so you’re taking a huge risk.”

“Adventures are all about taking risks Elliot and I’m not going to stop now. I’ve barely gotten started.”

Clenching her free hand into a fist in front of her Link offered Elliot a huge smile. Having no arguments left for her Elliot gave in fully and smiled in response prompting Melody to smile as well so as not to be left out. With the approving smiles of her friends Link turned her focus back towards the water and closed her eyes.

“Well, here I go then. Wish me luck.”

Taking a deep breath and holding it Link did not begin by trying to feel for the presence of the influence of Nectar on the water but instead searched deep inside of herself and her memories for a way to focus on finding what she sought. Digging through her memories of training to use the Artificial Gate of Cross’ plant she recalled the device that her father used. It was a simple device composed of wires that were connected to the user by fingertip caps which served to link the user with the Artificial Gate. Activating it was as simple as a thought but her father had insisted on adding a motion to that thought so as not to activate the Artifical Gate prematurely. That motion had been honed into Link over years of training and a nostalgic feeling washed over her as she prepared to face the trial before her and the green-eyed gaze of the Foreigner that invaded her flesh.

[You better hope you’re tougher than me because you’ve taken a good chunk of my body from me and that means I’m running the kick back from this through you so get ready.]

Releasing her held breath slowly but fully Link snapped her fingers under the surface of the water and touched a world she had not imagined.



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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