038 Those Who Watch the Sky - 38
38 – Children Seeking Their Own Sky 5
Elliot’s tenday since the cleansing ceremony was a very different experience from Melody and far more structured. His visitation from Cardinal had made him a person of great importance to the Cardinal Church, even if knowledge of his existence had not spread beyond the cathedral of Foothold, his days revolved around the education curriculum of the church militia. Combat training and doctrine danced to together in zealous harmony with him constantly being attended to by some member of the clergy or another, be it deacons, nuns, or even the occasional priest. It was overwhelming yet structured which made the call to the bishop’s office a most unusual occurrence.
Making his way through the parapets of the main cathedral Elliot was bathed in the light of the setting sun as he left the dorms. That light should not have followed him down into the underground labyrinth of Foothold but as he reached the antechamber of the bishop’s office a complex mirror system flooded the bare concrete room in the orange glow. So deep underground however the effect was unsettling to Elliot. He was not given time to dwell on it however as the white robed and cream armored guards soon invited him into the office proper where the presence of the bishop flanked by Bird and the little old man who Melody had met earlier that day was even more unsettling.
“Kneel Sa·B·er and offer your respects to His Most Reverend Excellency, Lord Bishop Verdant Yewroot of the City of Foothold.”
Following the command of the soldier Elliot kneeled down and freed his sword from its sheath, secured to his left hip by the sword belt that was integrated into the black long coat he wore without disrupting the look of the cassock inspired garment. With the sword freed he stood it before himself and bowed his head before greeting the bishop appearing as a priest who was at once a knight.
“It is my honor to heed your summons, Your Excellency Lord Bishop.”
“Rise child, there is no need for you to kneel before me, not her Eminence’s Knight Prince. How it would disrupt the order of the Cardinal Church should the man who has been graced with her divine presence kneel before a lowly bishop.”
Bird was hard pressed to keep himself from laughing but the Bishop paid him no heed as he rose from his desk in time to Elliot’s return to his feet. As Elliot returned his sword to its scabbard and the guards stepped out of the office the bishop walked around his desk to his left where the little old man stood. To his surprise the little old man did not seek confirmation of Elliot’s identity or even enthusiasm at seeing him and with a puzzled look he glanced back at him. He had a stern and studious look on his face and was clearly looking directly at Elliot as he held his jaw and stroked his mustache with his thumb and forefinger. What the bishop had missed however was what had caught the little old man’s eye was Elliot’s sword. Unaware of the old man’s focus the bishop made a simple mental note of it before returning his attention to Elliot. Spreading his arms out openly at waist height he greeted Elliot with a smile as he stood front and center before his desk.
“Please, accept my sincerest apologies for not meeting with you immediately Knight Prince Silverlance. My negligence of your holiness is uncouth and misrepresentative of my position and ordained duties.”
Again Bird had to contain his laughter and again he was ignored by the bishop. Elliot was not so lenient however and his eyes settled coolly upon the Choir Agent.
“Forgive me for speaking out of turn Your Excellency Lord Bishop, but I can not ignore the Choir agent’s disrespect. Is there something perhaps that you find amusing agent?”
“Wow has the boy changed since I brought you into the city. You must have been really touched by Lady Cardinal something fierce.”
Elliot clicked his tongue but held his ground as Bird so casually stated the name of the patron saint of the Cardinal Church. His following retort though never had a chance to take form as the bishop gently patted the air to calm him and Bird.
“It is most alright Knight Prince. Agent Yuri and I have a long enough history together for me to be forgiving of his ways. You may find his impertinence difficult to forgive but that is merely a matter of the little time you have spent in her Eminence’s ways. In time you to will be able to forgive him his transgressions.”
“As you say Your Excellency Lord Bishop. My apologies for my conduct.”
“It is fine child. Still, we should proceed with the gathering of this triumvirate. Allow me to begin by introducing this man to my left.”
Turning as he spoke the bishop raised his left hand as he introduced the old man who had yet to take his eyes off of Elliot.
“Gracing our city with his knowledge and keen intellect is the most renowned researcher of Ambrosia, the Ancients, and the Foreigners of our time, Sorcerer Balgun.”
Verbalizing his surprise at the presence of a man obviously not involved with the church Elliot realized what he did. His eyes widening with embarrassment and audibly gasping at his mistake Elliot stiffly and hurriedly corrected himself.
“My apologies master sorcerer. I did not mean to speak out so brazenly–”
“Balgun is fine and don’t worry about your manners with me. That is except for one courtesy I would ask of you.”
“I would be honored to hear your request Master Balgun.”
“You’ve really beaten this boy into your mold already haven’t you?”
Balgun leveled the Bishop and Bird both with a disapproving sidelong glance and received a shrug from Bird. The Bishop had no bodily response and Balgun had no patience to hear what honied words he came up with and returned his attention to Elliot. Crossing the room Balgun did not release his jaw as he educated Elliot of the courtesy he desired him to practice for him.
“I would hear your name from your own lips boy. And none of your titles or fancy formality. Just your name as you were named by your parents.”
“It’s- it’s Elliot Master Balgun.”
“Elliot? Is that all. Were your parents so unimportant that you would have no family name.”
“Ah- My apologies Master Balgun. Elliot Cross. My name is Elliot Cross. I am third born son of the last mayor of the town of Cross far to the west and north of Foothold.”
“Cross is it… Hmmm… Tell me Elliot Cross, who is it that forged your sword. So custom a sword and perhaps one that you are growing out of was obviously crafted especially for you. That you hold onto it even when the church could have prepared you a better fitted sword–”
“I would never accept another sword Master Balgun.”
A shrill whistle rose up from Bird who was impressed to see Elliot break out of his formality to interrupt Balgun. The Bishop merely frowned as Elliot’s attachment to Link was laid bare.
“This sword was forged for me by my dearest and closest friend. It’s one of a pair with hers–”
There was no hiding Balgun’s surprise at the mention of a she, but Elliot did not hear him and continued on.
“–being the other. When I was provided the opportunity to be armed again, I absolutely insisted that I have my old sword returned to me. It’s the only sword I will ever wield as I only carry a sword to support her dream. That her Eminence Lady Cardinal would deem it worthy of also serving her and the world is an honor I never desired but accept as she saved my closest friend and the least I can do is what her Eminence requests of me. It is my hope that before long Link and I will be able to travel the world together and I will be able to support her dream and uphold my duty to her Eminence.”
“That is fine and all, but you say that sword was forged by a she and one your age?”
“If you would allow me Master Balgun.”
Speaking up the bishop drew everyone’s attention onto himself. Looking back Balgun furrowed his brow.
“Do you believe the boy cannot speak for himself?”
A sympathetic sadness fell over the bishop and he hung his head and clasped his hands together. Sheepishly he looked up at Balgun and Elliot.
“It is not so Master Balgun, but hearing the Knight Prince speak so passionately tears at my heart. We have both been so busy that this is as I have said our first meeting. As a result, he has not yet heard what he must about the girl.”
“You’re Excellency Lord Bishop, I don’t understand. Her Eminence Lady Cardinal has saved Link so what could be so wrong.”
Again Elliot interrupted but even Bird had nothing but pity weighing him down making it impossible to make light of the situation. The atmosphere in the room left Elliot’s mouth dry and his hands trembling. Swallowing loudly he intended to press for more information but the bishop spoke first and dictated the flow of the conversation.
“I understand how you must feel Knight Prince Silverlance, but it would be best if you let me speak. It is imperative that Master Balgun hear of the fate that has befallen the girl. The poor, poor girl.”
Shaking his head the bishop directed his attention to Balgun and continued.
“You see, she has nothing but her friends and even before they lost their home that is all that she had. But fate was not cruel enough to her already and she met with Sycamore after a life as an engineering craftsman was opened up to her. She yearned for adventure and he took a work of hers and experimented upon it for his own mad machinations. When she was reunited with it after the destruction of their home it revealed its true nature to her as a vessel for a waiting Foreigner parasite.”
“Hazel did that! Preposterous! Are you sure she didn’t speak his brother’s name Bird! I could see Lewis doing something of the ilk, but Hazel would never…”
“Wish I could tell you differently Balgun, but the girl herself called out Hazel Sycamore specifically when she arrived at Foothold. She made quite the scene invoking that name too.”
“I don’t understand… It doesn’t make sense…”
Obviously flustered Balgun turned back around and fiercely grabbed his jaw. The pieces weren’t fitting together and he started mumbling to himself as he stared intently at the sword that hung from Elliot’s waist.
“Hazel would especially never hurt a child unless they were already turned by a Foreigner and he would surely regret it. There is information that I am missing or maybe it was Lewis and he was framing his brother due to Mote?”
Elliot questioned the name that fell from Balgun’s lips and the old man spoke not another word. He had his answer and turned his attention on Elliot’s face. Elliot was unnerved by the intense stare that scrutinized every ounce of his being and saw the recognition he had of the name.
“Elliot was it?”
“Yes, Master Balgun…”
“Elliot, draw your sword for me.”
Lowering his voice to being almost inaudible to even Elliot who stood before him Balgun looked softly and earnestly at Elliot.
“You and I will likely want to become friends my boy. So please, draw your sword.”
Elliot’s mouth fell open in surprise but he quickly caught himself and put on an serious expression as he drew his sword. Laying it flat across the palm of his left hand he knelt and presented it to Balgun. Balgun looked past his own reflection staring back at him in the finely polished blade and adjusted his spectacles.
“And you said this girl, Link was it, forged this blade.”
“Yes Master Balgun.”
“And that Cardinal herself saved her.”
“She answered my prayers that day in the dam Master Balgun and gave me the strength to press on. I nearly drowned in that strength, but Link was saved. She came back to us after we almost completely lost her after slaying the beast we brought with us as proof of our abilities.”
“The dam she turned on remotely?”
“The dam and Dolmen both using her understanding of the flow of Nectar to accomplish.”
Spinning about suddenly Balgun glared fiercely at the bishop and spoke with bellowing authority.
“Take me to this girl. Now.”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater