032 Those Who Watch the Sky - 32


32 – Children Changing with the Sky 7

Gathering bandages for Elliot ended up falling to Melody as Link ended up investigating the damage to the Dolmen’s knee. The harpy was not particularly fond of trying to put together bandages as she was exhausted, hungry, and not particularly built to sift around within the mech’s cockpit. What she did find though was nothing near enough to tend to Elliot and that meant that she would have to deal with the ruffians’ corpses. This prospect amused her even less but as Elliot emerged from the woods carrying a dear over his shoulders along with Link’s sheathed sword, his own sword returned to its scabbard on his left hip, she lit up joyously.

“Link! Link! Elliot is back and he has a dear! He has a whole dear!”

“Really

Coming out from behind the Dolmen, Link followed Melody with her eyes as the harpy ran up to meet Elliot.

“Wow. He really does, but…”

Link frowned softly and strolled from the Dolmen to where Elliot was stopped by Melody dancing circles around him. Seeing Link, Elliot offered her a smile and motioned to her sword with his head.

“I brought your sword.”

“I see that, and I’m guessing that you must have picked it up when we left the dam too. But that doesn’t matter right now.”

Placing her hands on her hips Link bent over and looked up at Elliot with a scrutinizing gaze.

“You were supposed to gather up your blood and come back here so we could get you patched up.”

“Li~nk! You’re not actually complaining about Elliot bringing a dear are you

“Of course I am Melody. While venison sounds delicious we don’t know how much Elliot can take from his blood drawing on his Ambrosial Gate. But…”

“It would seem I’m fine, doesn’t it Link?”

Exploiting the opportunity presented by Link, Elliot drew attention to the fact that all of his wounds were gone. It wasn’t just that they had healed, but more that he had never had them in the first place. It seriously bothered Link whose own shoulder was acutely reminding her of the limitations of her healing spell.

“It does, but I don’t get it…”

“It seems to be related to the power I have over my blood. As I absorbed it all my wounds disappeared and even my teeth returned to normal. See?”

Presenting a toothy smile for Link to observe, Elliot revealed that his teeth were indeed fully human again. Link pouted as she studied Elliot’s teeth but eventually sighed in resignation and straightened up.

“I don’t trust it, but I’m not complaining.”

“Yay! ~ Then let’s cook the meat ~ And eat meat! ~ And savor the meat! ~ And enjoy the meat! ~ Ahh~ I love meat! ~”l

“I think you better cook the meat Elliot.”

“It would be cruel to make Melody wait any longer.”

“Though you’ll have to build a big enough fire first.”

“I’ll take it you’re leaving that to me because of your arm?”

“Actually, it’s because I need to repair the Dolmen.”

“Repair the Dolmen? You can do that Link?”

“Well~…”

Turning her back on Elliot to look at the Dolmen, Link moved to place her hands on the back of her head but failed to do so due to her collar bone. Considering how the conversion of her skin to darkness had spread to past her collarbone due to having to touch herself for her healing spell Elliot was glad that she had failed. Melody would have felt the same if she wasn’t still singing and dancing about meat, but Link had not even considered it. After all, she had recently pinched her chin in thought and there had been no ill effect touching her bare human skin with the darkness that had replaced it. Ill effect or no however Link could not lift her right arm to place it on the back of her head without having to deal with extreme pain and the risk of undoing the effects of her healing spell. Frustrated as Link was Elliot had still asked her a question and she needed to answer it.

“Well, the Dolmen seems to have an auto repair program, but it doesn’t have the materials to restore it’s knee. Thing is though, there are a bunch of dead bodies that are fresh enough unlike the White One there for me to possibly force open any residual traces of their Ambrosial Gates and allow the Dolmen to do its thing with the surge of Nectar.”

“That sounds awful Link.”

“Well you’re going to be helping me Melody considering my arm.”

“Huh– But what about the meat

“Elliot still needs to clean the dear and then cook it. And considering how large of a dear it is…”

“It is quite the catch. But don’t worry Melody, I’ll get started right away. That and, helping Link should help pass the time while you wait.”

“But how can I work when the aroma is going to be assaulting me

“Pft–!”

To Melody her question was extremely serious but to Link and Elliot it could not be taken seriously at all. As a result Link had to stifle a laugh while Elliot smiled, openly amused as well. Despite Melody’s concerns though dragging the necessary corpses to the Dolmens decimated knee did not take much effort and Link and Elliot’s combined knowledge of technology allowed the Dolmen to stand on both feet again. Having completed their aid in the mech’s repairs the three of them were able to reward themselves with a bounty of venison.

With repairs tended to and their bellies full on venison Link, Elliot, and Melody continued their journey. Perched with Melody upon the Dolmen’s shoulder Link was able to marvel with her at the scenery as the woodlands gave way to grassy steppes. The steppes in the distance gave way to towering jagged mountains and became jagged and tiered as well. Despite the uneven terrain the land served as adequate farmland and the crops that grew there would bring a welcome harvest come the fall. Of course trekking through that farmland by Dolmen while dragging the hulking corpse of the White One behind them was soon to draw attention. That attention first came the following morning with the confused and disturbed looks of farmers tending to their fields. As the sun rose higher into the morning sky children began running out to see the unusual sight and Link gladly waved at them. Melody herself grew uncomfortable and Elliot opened the chest plate of the Dolmen to give her somewhere to hide from the curious gazes of the farmland onlookers.

Eventually the farmlands gave way to the furthest reaches of a city nestled in a crook in the mountains cradled by the river that led Link, Elliot, and Melody to the city. And it was a city. Despite the buildings being primarily of old brick, stone, and wood, the tiled roofed buildings were thoroughly intertwined with an overabundance of tiny to massive pipes, chimneys, and powerlines typical of the trappings of a city support by steam industry. All of that was before the massive stone wall that separated the outer reaches of the city from the towering buildings of the main city which peaked up over the wall and met with primitive airships that resembled galleys attached to a flat metal balloon rather than a sail. Below the airships and the large propellers that adorned them steam and coal powered locomotives chugged along the top of the wall before heading down river deeper into the mountains. Naturally the Nectar powered Dolmen was an anachronistic machine of the Ancients that stuck out sorely despite being far more advanced technology then anything visible in the city from afar. That dichotomy meant nothing to Link who was completely overwhelmed.

“Look at how big it is! Just look at it! You could have placed Cross in here and it would have completely disappeared!”

“It… It is rather… astounding…”

Elliot could barely find the words to say anything, no less actually describe his reaction. Regardless, he still had more to say than Melody who had grown uncharacteristically quiet. Poking her head into the cockpit from the shoulder of the Dolmen Link tried to offer the harpy some reassurance.

“Come on Melody. You can’t get be getting nervous now. You were fine around Squawk, Cliff, and Sister. Why let this get to you?”

“But I already knew who they were Link… This is… This is…”

“Overwhelming.”

Finishing Melody’s thought for her Elliot successfully found another word to describe his own reaction to the city. Link was less than impressed with her two friends and pouted sourly at them.

“Come o~n! Ugh! How can you two not be excited This is it! This is part of what it means to be adventurers! It’s not just old ruins and wonderful landscapes slaying monsters as we go or discovering long forgotten civilizations! It’s also about meeting all of the people already out there in the world and experiences the adventures that come from those meetings! You’ve read enough books to know what I’m talking about Melody! And Elliot, how many traveling merchants, salvagers, and Sa·B·ers have we listened to the stories of since we were little How many times did we imagine where we’d go and who we’d meet following behind under a Foreigner city This is it you two! This is our first town beyond Cross’ wall and it’s not just a town but our first city to! You two should be way more excited than this!”

“Sorry Link… I’m just at a loss for words. I’m pretty much speechless…”

“And what’s your excuse Melody

“Sorry Link, I can’t get excited when meeting people being whatever I am and not knowing if there is anyone else out there like me…”

“And Link, you should probably reign it in yourself. It’s one thing with us but even not looking like you’re not dressed being as excited as you are and running around like that…”

Mentioning Link’s nakedness left Elliot blushing as he averted his gaze and intensified Link’s pout. Melody’s doe-eyed cowering made her outright groan under her breath and she finally exploded in fussy resignation.

“Fine! You two be all mopey and unexcited! I’m going to get down and walk into my first new town since moving into Cross on my own two feet!”

Pulling her head back out of the chest cavity of the Dolmen, Link harrumphed exaggeratedly before dropping down the twenty plus meters to the ground. Adjusting her sword where it dangled over her right shoulder from the strap she held in her right hand, Link watched the Dolmen with a heavy pout before breaking into a sprint towards the city. As she passed by the Dolmen she looked back over her shoulder and waved at Elliot and Melody beyond the chest plate with a massive grin on her face. Turning that grin onto the city ahead her eyes sparkled with bottomless joy.



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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