024 Those Who Watch the Sky - 24
24 – Children Wandering Under the Sky 8
“Ga~h! ~♪ I’m drenched! ~♪”
The cheerful complaint expressed by Melody assured Elliot he was once again with his harpy friend after being sucked under the surface of the water and completely disoriented by the current. Not surprisingly he had all of no idea where it was that the water spat him out but considering the beast that had appeared outside it was ideal that he determined that as quickly as possible. Pulling his left hand from his scabbard he braced himself against the ground to pick himself up off the ground. As he rose Link looked down at him and extended him a hand.
“C’mon Elliot, we’re not safe here either and the water spirits can’t risk fighting the White One for long.”
“I really wish you’d explain better Link.”
With a strained smile Elliot accepted Link’s outstretched hand and was relieved to see that she seemed to be less wrathful. She was however still seemingly impatient however as she yanked him to his feet and still refused to answer.
“There just isn’t time Elliot–”
“Gu~ys! ~♪ We have a monster problem! ~♪”
As if on cue Melody brought up the jellyfishes that were floating down monolithic temple hall that exited out past the waterfall behind them. Returning his left hand to its place at the head of his scabbard Elliot twirled his sword and readied to fight the monsters but was stopped by Link’s out stretched hand.
“Wait! They’re more dangerous than they look!”
“But they look so harmless ~♪”
Ignoring Link’s warning Melody tucked her wings in close and her knees to her chest and sprinted towards the drifting jellyfishes with powerful flicks of her ankles. As she closed in her instincts kicked in and she skidded to a stop opening her wings to catch herself as the jellyfishes suddenly darted through the air and surrounded her. A wordless song falling from her lips a violent wind swirled up around her serving as a barrier that deflected the tendrils of the jellyfishes.
“Um, Link… I might need a little help… ~♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~♪”
Exasperated with the harpy Link reached to grab at her left temple but stopped as she spied the black shadows that had replaced the flesh of her forearms and all of her body below her ribs.
“Oh, right. I guess the Foreigner is here huh?”
“Link, are you all right?”
“Eh, heh, heh… I’m fine Elliot.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yup, now stand back, I have to try and help Melody. And don’t try to help because those things can paralyze you with their tendrils.”
“How do you know that?”
“When we have more time Elliot.”
Stepping away from Elliot and towards the jellyfishes surrounding Melody, Link tossed her sheathed sword to her right hand and outstretched her left and pressed her thumb and middle finger together. Spying the flesh that extended beyond the black flames that marked the end of where the Foreigner that infected her had transformed her arm she pouted.
“You’ve eaten more than enough of me already so now you’re going to work for me if you want to eat anymore…”
Grabbing her left arm just below the elbow with her right hand Link pushed her thoughts into her arms and challenged the will of the Foreigner. The flaming emerald eyes of the parasite flared to life in her vision and she gritted her teeth against its resistance.
“Sorry… but I’m not losing to your or anyone else today! Hrgya~AAAAHHH‼”
With a determined shout Link snapped the fingers of her left hand and the entirety of her left forearm burst into raging black flames.
Elliot cried out in helpless terror as Link grimaced against the pain surging through her arm. Despite the pain however Link recognized the feeling within her that she was looking for and forced her will onto it. In response the black flames receded along the length of her arm and were channeled into a micro point before her outstretched hand. As the flames disappeared into the point a small sphere of light replaced them and Link grabbed it. Within her grip the light transformed into the shape of a longbow and Link smiled triumphantly. Watching Link, Elliot’s expression of terror shifted to one of dumbstruck amazement.
“Link… is that magic…?”
Channeling the Nectar that flowed through the open Ambrosial Gate that she forced out of the Foreigner that possessed her was far more difficult than she expected compared to within Ambrosia. Using the pain from where her still gripped sword was pressed into her arm to concentrate Link released her arm and reached for the bow. Letting her sword slide in her hand until the guard rested between her thumb and forefinger Link grabbed at the bow of light in her hand and drew back an arrow of light. An instant later she let loose the arrow and one of the jellyfishes was instantly skewered. The others took note of the threat posed by Link and moved to defend themselves. It was a mistake however to turn their attention away from Melody and the harpy put her talons to quick and deadly work spilling the blue blood of the jellyfishes violently upon the floor and wall. Naturally the threat posed by Melody further divided the attention of the monsters and Elliot took his chance to close in and let his own sword aid in finishing off the creatures.
“Ah, ha, ha , ha, ha! ~♪ I really messed up there didn’t I? ~♪ But Link that was amazing! ~♪ When did you learn to cast magic? ~♪”
“Ugh… If you two are going to keep asking questions at least move your feet too. We have to get to the Dolmen if we don’t the White One to kill us.”
Setting an example Link was already running down the monolithic temple hall, her bow of light fading from being, as she replied to Melody. Still desiring answers from her, and not desiring to face the White One on foot, Elliot and Melody took off right after Link. Hearing their footfalls behind her Link allowed herself to feel a touch sympathetic to their confusion and began by answering Melody’s question.
“The thing is how I know anything about this situation is pretty unbelievable and I’m still kind of having a hard time believing it myself…”
Though she began explaining as soon as possible Link’s recollection of her short time in Ambrosia was interspersed with the group having to face off against the monsters she had been fighting within. Still, the temple complex and dam was a winding labyrinth and Link somehow managed to have the time to finish before reaching the destination she was aiming for. As she had stated however her story was hard to believe and the incredulous look Elliot gave her made her pout.
“I told you it was hard to believe.”
“I’m just mad at you for having such a fun sounding adventure without us Link ~♪”
Singing pleasantly as Melody did was not enough to disguise her irritation and considering her own pout it was not as though she was trying. Link simply smiled sheepishly in response and Melody’s pout further intensified.
“I can’t believe you two regardless. This whole situation is completely mad and now we’re sprinting through this labyrinth of a ruin lead entirely by what now? A mermaid version of you only as long as a finger…?”
“You don’t have to criticize me that badly.”
“I think I need to Link.”
“But you two were running on the water earlier so why should you Elliot?”
Her question catching him unprepared Elliot was silenced by Melody’s inquisitiveness. There was understandably little he could do to argue that but he still desired to if only for the sake of his own sanity.
“But still Melody. Spirits? A human walking in Ambrosia? I’ve never heard of the former and the latter is only spoken of by the Cardinal Church when speaking of the Light of Cardinal. They say only the Saint herself has ever walked Ambrosia. So to think that Link has–“
“And yet here we are.”
Throwing open a metal door with a small window in it Link stepped through and placed her hands on her hips with a triumphant smile on her face. Stepping through the door after her Elliot and Melody could barely contain their disbelief at the sprawling mechanized chamber before them. Compared to the pipe lined stone walls of the temple complex the steel walls and floor, lined with flickering artificial lights and conduit, of the massive chamber was like stepping out of one time era and into another. The massive angled elevator shaft off to their right which looked as though it likely ascended to the top of the dam would have been the highlight of the supply corridor if not for the lazily seated metal biped at the base of the elevator.
Even seated like a man who slumped to the ground in defeat the Dolmen was a sight to behold. Resembling a pot bellied man who had the majority of his body replaced with a suit of mechanized armor that was built directly to his skeleton the machine would easily stand to twenty five meters should it actually rise. Perhaps more frightening was the revolver that lay beside it made to serve such a massive machine. As impressive as the display was though none of them marveled at it for long as a familiar and terrifying roar shook the supply corridor.
“We spent too much time fighting monsters! Dammit!”
Losing her smug expression Link bolted out into the mechanized chamber and straight for the Dolmen.
“That’s probably your fault as well Link. If your story is as truthful as it’s looking then when you turned on the Artificial Gate Generator you allowed the monsters to come through when you pulled that ridiculous one outside with you.”
“Please don’t sound like Squawk, Elliot! And I don’t think it’s outside anymore either so let’s hope my little mermaid counterpart got this thing powered on.”
Much as Link wanted to complain about Elliot placing the blame for the mess they were in on her the shaking of the whole structure drove her sense of urgency. Feeling desperate Link redoubled her focus on the Dolmen before her and offered a silent prayer to the gods that it was working. Not even sure how a Dolmen worked Link felt helpless as she reached the enormous construct just ahead of Elliot and Melody and stared up at it helplessly.
“Don’t tell me that I’m going to have to try to work it like I did the dam…?”
“Honestly Link, didn’t you ever see the Dolmen that was back in the plant?”
“Eh⁈ There was a Dolmen in Cross⁈”
Answering Link’s question with more energy than he desired, Elliot scrambled up the Dolmen towards its head. Link was the one feeling dumbstruck now but she had no time to question further as the roar of the White One descended down the elevator shaft. Pausing only long enough to pinpoint where Melody was Elliot shouted out to the harpy.
“Melody! Keep Link out of the way! I’ll fight this monster since it looks like I’m the only one with experience piloting a Dolmen!”
“You have experience piloting a Dolmen⁈ When did you learn to pilot a Dolmen⁈”
“More like just playing around with the training simulators in the cockpit whenever I would visit and you were training for other things…”
Elliot’s answer was barely mumbled and Link did not here him but he did not want her to anyway. The last thing he needed was her adding more doubts to his own as he continued scrambling up the Dolmen to just under its head. Fishing around behind the plating of the chest Elliot found the panel he was looking for and sheathed his sword. Taking hold of the slotted handle he slid the panel open and revealed the control panel that would open the cockpit. Unfortunately he did not know the activation code and panic began settling in as he heard footsteps that could only belong to White One up the elevator shaft.
“Now what Elliot…⁈”
Even as Elliot asked the question the screen on the control panel suddenly lit up and a word in an unfamiliar green script blinked on it. Confused he looked up and saw Link dangling from Melody’s talon reaching out for the Dolmen. His view of her became obstructed however as a cloud of pneumatic gas rushed out of the Dolmen as the chest plate opened and revealed the one seat cockpit within the construct’s chest. The one seat cockpit that was currently occupied by a skeleton in an unfamiliar uniform, bar the triple cross symbol of the Cardinal Church upon its breast.
“Sorry, and please don’t curse me, but I need to take your Dolmen now.”
Cringing and becoming quite pale as he faced the skeleton, even with the approach of the White One hastening, Elliot had to find the will power to throw the skeleton from the cockpit. Vacating the cockpit of its former occupant Elliot felt a queasy kind of relief to be free of the skeleton’s presence and took its seat. Closing his eyes he took the command sticks on either side of him in hand and felt a tingling against his palms. Looking up the interior of the Dolmen came alive around him.
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater
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