021 Those Who Watch the Sky - 21


 21 – Children Wandering Under the Sky 5

The torrent of Nectar washed over Link like a tidal wave and she shut her eyes fast against the tide shielding herself with her arms. The tide of Nectar did not relent though no matter how long Link waited and a realization began to don on her.

[Wait, this feeling… It couldn’t be… could it?]

Risking a peek at her surroundings Link slowly opened her eyes and was greeted with the sight of her own arms skinned in a seamless chainmail as though it were her own skin. The sight was not what she was expecting and she had to wrestle for a moment with what she saw but could not find a thought to express it. Pulling her arms away from her face she looked down at herself and discovered that her entire body as far as she could tell was garbed in a singular suit of chainmail that nigh fit her as though it were her own skin. Taking in the sight of her transformed body left her speechless but the strange skin of chainmail she was possessed of still prompted a response from her and she reached for her face. She stopped just short though as she recalled her fear of the Foreigner who possessed her body. However…

Looking down at herself again Link noted that save the chainmail her chest was bare and there was no sign of the remnants of her tunic.

“What is going on…?”

Lacking an answer Link decided to risk touching her face and braced herself for the worst. The worst did not come however and all she felt was chainmail skinned hands upon her face. Surprised to feel her own skin Link did a quick examination of her face and discovered that the chainmail ceased along her jaw line which it followed behind her ear ending at her hair. Grabbing her hair Link pulled it up so that way she could see the ends which surely enough showed no signs of the shadowy flames that the ends had transformed into.

“No way… Is the Foreigner gone?”

“Don’t be silly ~♪ Its Gate is open so its consciousness can’t enter Ambrosia ~♪ It is interesting though to see a human step into ambrosia in the flesh though ~♪”

The voice that spoke out to Link was like chimes and paralyzed her with surprise but its words were far more chilling. Looking up Link finally acknowledged that she was no longer on the river beach at the head of the three rivers at the base of the dam but rather a tunnel in a liquid walled cavern of brilliant hues of blues and indigos. The sensation that continuously washed over her told her that she was enveloped in water aligned Nectar. The sensation was almost backwards to what she felt from the water summoned by Clover which was water filled with Nectar rather than Nectar filled with water. Unusual as it was though it made it easier for her to comprehend what it was that spoke to her.

“Hmm? ~♪ Are we so strange to you human? ~♪”

“Sorry…? But, yes…?”

The blue skinned school of dozens of finger length mermaids that darted about before her speaking with one voice looked quizzically upon Link who smiled uncomfortably. She wasn’t quite sure what was going on or how to address the situation but was fortunate enough to have the school of mermaids glad to address her confusion and their own.

“Well, it’s little wonder ~♪ It’s been ages since any human has communed with us ~♪”

“Forgive me asking, but what are you anyway? I’m guessing you’re not of the chimeric races are you?”

“How rude! ~♪ Unsurprising, but still rude ~♪”

“I apologized didn’t I

“You did ~♪ Then we must forgive you ~♪ And since we understand we should explain ~♪ In times past your kind called our kind spirits ~♪ We are consciousnesses born in Ambrosia of Ambrosia shaped by the interactions of your kind and the one you call Ocia ~♪ We serve her and her children when called upon and will serve your call should you will and succeed at your reason for coming ~♪ We need you to succeed after all ~♪ The white one is feasting and gorging and listens not to us but the dark one who hates your kind ~♪”

“I think I might not be grasping what you’re trying to tell me…”

Link could not hide her confusion and her face was open to any insult that could come her way about her intelligence. Had Squawk been traveling with her still the nāti would have not wasted the opportunity to call her an idiot. The school of mermaids was not so cruel and instead queried of Link’s purpose there.

“Did you not come to open the Machine Gate human? ~♪”

“Machine gate…? Oh! You mean the Artificial Gate! I did want to open it but how did you know that?”

“We knew because that is how you came human ~♪ You came with your desire to open it and find a path for your fellow humans ~♪ We can guide you to it and open a path for you both ~♪ We just ask you to slay the white one ~♪ We already endangered ourselves by schooling again to see what had entered by so strong a desire ~♪ Now that we have schooled the white one will surely stir and will surely join the ones born of its feasting in hunting us ~♪”

“Wait, there’s a monster here?”

“There are many all born of the white one’s feasting ~♪ Even as it slumbers it still feasts on those of us unfortunate to not know of it as we descend from above ~♪ But the monsters we can avoid if we scatter ~♪ But we have schooled due to our curiosity and now the white one will wake ~♪”

“So it’s my fault then. Ugh~”

Clutching her left temple with her matching hand Link groaned at the trouble she had caused the school of mermaids. It was anything but her intention but there was no changing that now and she would have to do something about it. Having to do something about it  though did not irritate her but rather excited her and she could not contain the smile that spread across her face.

“You’re desires confuse us human ~♪ You would slay the white one for us and yourself as well as to convince others you’ve yet to meet to let you help them as well? ~♪”

“That about sums it up. It’s a little creepy how you can read my desires but I’m glad you understand.”

Smiling broadly even as she winced at having her desires continuously read Link placed her hands on the back of her head to try and put the school of mermaids at ease.

“We are confused ~♪ Desire is how one interacts with Ambrosia through the Nectar so of course it is known ~♪ Confused as we are though we are also grateful ~♪ You’re reasons make no sense but you want to help and we will accept and help you help us ~♪ Let this one then become us and our song in you and you and your song in us ~♪”

“Eh–

Being Link’s turn to be confused again she verbally expressed it and had to blink twice as one of the mermaids swam forward from the school and up to her face. It was difficult to comprehend what she was looking at not because of its distance but rather because of what, or rather, who it was. Floating before her face was none other than a blue skinned, finger long mermaid version of herself with blue hair and eyes and as stark naked as the other mermaids. Looking at her with her own confused face the mermaid her tilted her head.

“It would seem we are confused ~♪ But that is all right ~♪ Our knowledge will be enough to get us through ~♪ We need only trust in this one of us to lead us not astray and that one of us to fend off the monsters and slay the white one ~♪ Though our knowledge tells us that here it would be best to make a bow from the Nectar to pierce the water easier than swinging a sword ~♪ While we do that though it is best the others scatter as the monsters have come ~♪”

“What

“We bid you well and safety and await your aid on our success ~♪”

The mermaid version of Link ignored her human self and spun about to wave the school of mermaids goodbye while Link lowered her hands with a growing sense of dread. As the school of mermaids scattered in all directions to avoid being an easy target the monsters they spoke of came into view. Drifting through the air at least two of them were coming down the tunnel and though Link had no idea what they were they resembled jellyfish and she somehow found herself knowing that. Her unusual knowledge meant little to her however as she spied the tendrils that drifted out from under the monsters’ caps and in a blink snatched a number of the mermaids up. Entangled in the tendrils the mermaids hung limply with vacant stares in their eyes as the jellyfish withdrew their tendrils to feast on them.

“I don’t think so!”

Moving entirely on instinct Link snapped the fingers of her left hand and a light formed within. Clenching her hand tight the light took the form of a bow. Taking aim she held the bow before her and ran her free hand along it as though to notch an arrow and draw it. As she did an arrow of light formed in her hand and she wasted no time firing it. The arrow flew true and severed a number of tendrils saving the mermaids from becoming the monsters’ meal. The first group was not the only one saved as Link fired off arrow after arrow faster than she realized she could and severed tendril after tendril. Her actions while swift did not go unnoticed by her opponents and they introduced themselves to her with sudden erratic movement that ended in them propelling cap first into her from either side.

“Gah‼”

The speed and strength of the jellyfishes surprised Link and she was spun about like a top where she stood. It was hard to believe that they were able to jet through the air as quickly as they had to the point that Link almost had no time to react. Fast as they swam through the air however their tendrils were even faster and Link’s spin was brought to a sudden stop as she was snagged by dozens of them from the two monsters. For as fine as the tendrils were though they were surprisingly strong, though Link noticed something that left the mermaid her very excited.

“It would seem that our chainmail protects us from the numbing toxins! ~♪ How fortuitous! ~♪”

“It’s definitely lucky… Rrg…‼ But they’re still awfully strong…‼”

Straining to pull her limbs away from the jellyfishes Link was having little luck as her opponents began reeling in their tendrils and revealing the circular maw of countless rows of razor sharp teeth hidden beneath their caps. The sight made Link pale and a nervous smile spread across her face as her desperate struggles proved fruitless. Struggling in vain Link could do nothing to stop the jellyfishes from closing there maws on her left arm and right leg.

“Guh–‼”

Though her chainmail protected her from the sharpness of the monsters’ teeth it did little to protect her from the pressure of their closing jaws. Gritting her teeth as much in response to the pain as the strain in trying to pull free of the tendrils Link could feel panic setting in.

“DAMMIT‼”

With a cry of rage and defiance Link turned her bow into a sword of light and tossed it to her right hand. Twirling it as she caught it she snapped her hand shut and used the force of the snap to drive the blade into the cap of the jelly fish on her leg. The beast screeched in pain and withdrew its jaw from her leg as a cloud of blue blood spread out into the air as though it were underwater from the wound. Link was more interested in the slack that came to the tendrils however than the color of her opponent’s blood and twisting awkwardly as she fought the other jellyfish’s grip she drove her sword through the beast and then arced it out of the creature’s body. Following the motion through she twirled the sword from a reverse grip into a proper grip and twisted around thrusting the ephemeral blade into the jellyfish on her left arm. She did not even give it the time to recoil however before pulling her sword back out of it in another arcing motion splitting the creature open.

“It would seem we were wrong ~♪ Our will is great enough to ignore the aspect of water and still swing a sword freely ~♪”

“No. No, you were right. I may be able to swing it freely but I don’t want to let those things grab me again. The bow will definitely be better… much better… I should have just aimed to kill so it’s my fault.”

“Yet with our combat skills and instinct we came out the victors ~♪”

“But what about them…”

Not accepting praise from her mermaid double Link swept the monster corpses away with a wide swing of her sword and looked upon the other mermaids. Still entangled in the tendrils that Link had severed from the jellyfish they all drifted lifelessly staring vacant eyed and unblinking into space. Link could not smile as she looked upon them but her mermaid double seemed simply confused and tilted her head.

“The poison is not lethal ~♪ It merely stuns and as we do not breath as we know it their lives are in no further danger ~♪ When the poison in the tendrils runs out they will recover in time and be on their way ~♪ They need only fear other monsters coming through ~♪ But we are so large and dense we present a better meal and stinking of their blood a threat which is new to the monsters ~♪ As long as we don’t stay here they should be fine ~♪”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on hanging around for long anyway. I’ve got my first job as an adventurer to accomplish and I need the reward so let’s go!

With a sense of relief Link was able to smile and turn her attention onto the mission before her.



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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