040 Those Who Watch the Sky - 40

40 – Children Seeking Their Own Sky 7

“Well, this is certainly an experience.”

Stepping into the operating room Balgun felt as though he stepped off of Icarus. The brick and pipes typical of the labyrinth beneath Foothold disappeared beyond the door and only darkness awaited within. Except the darkness itself gave off light and Balgun could clearly see the raging flames of darkness that consumed the room. Curious the old man traced his hand through a flame and watched its reaction.

“Most interesting. Is this Nectar? Fascinating. Tangible Nectar that responds to physical contact. I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years. I believe I can understand now why these fools would disregard a human life for their pursuit of knowledge. Deplorable, but unfortunately understandable. Was this really your doing Hazel?”

Walking deeper into the operating room Balgun continued to trace his hands through the flames while also studying how the flames and ground responded to the metal stilts beneath his boots. The thing he most noticed though was that an operating room was nowhere near the size of room necessary to accommodate how far he had walked from the door. Then his attention was drawn upwards by the sounds of jingling chains.

“Oh my…”

Looking up and coming to a stop Balgun found himself facing a pair of massive green flames that resembled glowering eyes. Beneath them he could make out amongst the flames those that had taken to resembling the flesh rending teeth of a dragon. Balgun did not retreat but rather grabbed his right elbow and jaw. Stroking his bushy mustache with his forefinger and thumb he looked quizzically upon the beast that snarled at him from within the darkness.

“Yes, you must be the Foreigner. An impressive specimen I must say as well. If I’m not mistaken you would be an Ambrosial Apparition. That would explain the massive quantity of Nectar, though I ponder what makes it so tangible to physical contact. Forgive me for being presumptuous but I rather much doubt you care to answer or can.”

“You should not be here ~♪ We are accepting no visitors at this time ~♪”

“Ho! What have we here?”

Tracing the space to the right of the snarling face with his eyes, Balgun spotted a tiny blue light. It zipped behind the face of the beast when it realized that Balgun had spotted it however. Smiling, Balgun began strolling to the side to see behind the face and relocate the light.

“You should just leave ~♪ You weren’t invited and if you anger us we can’t guarantee being able to control the Beast ~♪”

“That would be problematic. A good thing then that I have no intention of angering you.”

“Yet you spoke of understanding us being tormented ~♪ How can we be sure you do not seek to anger us? ~♪”

“I would be lying if I said I did not desire to study you myself. I have rarely been so intrigued by a Sa·B·er as I am you. But it violates my ethics to study a living being as the fools here have done to you. That and I am positive that Mote and Hazel would never forgive me if I did.”

“You know– No, we won’t be so tricked ~♪ We have been lied to constantly since arriving here and have known nothing but pain, and pain feeds that one of us, the Beast ~♪ Feeding the Beast is unwise as it grows stronger the more it is fed so please leave ~♪”

“I see that you do know them, then this current state you are in is only possible because of Hazel. Whatever was he thinking?”

For a moment a smile lifted Balgun’s moustache as the light revealed its familiarity with Hazel Sycamore and the woman known as Mote. His smile did not last though as he was able to acknowledge that Link was indeed a victim of Hazel Sycamore and not his brother Lewis. Sighing he walked back to before the beast and reached out one of his gauntlet clad hands. Gently, he stroked the snout of the feral rage given Ambrosial flesh.

“I can’t imagine Hazel doing something like this and yet here we are. Perhaps my talkative friend you would be willing to share with me what transpired to result in this sorry state. I’m afraid the man who called me here did not share the details and the fools of the Cardinal Church are too fond of ignorance to admit to their crimes against you.”

“Why should you care? ~♪ Since arriving everyone we have spoken with has wanted nothing but knowledge we do not desire to share ~♪ To get it they have done nothing but hurt us ~♪ We do not know why either ~♪ We offered our knowledge in exchange for aid becoming one again and yet instead we were broken and have become many again instead ~♪”

 “Then Elliot was right about that.”

“Did you say Elliot? ~♪ Why would you speak the name of one so important to us? ~♪”

“Hm? I was merely muttering to myself, but if you must know Elliot claimed that the Saint had already saved you back at the dam and feared that you were perhaps being treated as an unworthy due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the church. Our conversation has revealed to me that he was indeed correct. I had already suspected as much but stepping in here filled me with doubt. I’ve heard of Sa·B·ers being consumed by the Foreigner’s that possessed them long after conquering them, but I’ve never seen anything like this. The state you are in beggar belief.”

“Then Elliot is well? ~♪ This one desires to know if that is true as well as if it is true for Melody ~♪”

“The harpy girl? She seemed quite lively when I spoke with her earlier today. Her thirst for knowledge was most endearing and I do look forward to speaking with her more. As for Elliot, well, the boy seemed well enough. It’s hard to say as it seems he is fast taking to life as a Sa·B·er of the church and been given some fancy title or another.”

“No! ~♪ We do not desire Elliot to join with these people who are nothing but cruel ~♪”

“Nothing but cruel? I would not be so quick to judge from only meeting a handful of members of the Saint’s church. A few pieces do not make the whole. I would like to presume that you are intimately familiar with that concept.”

Leaning backwards Balgun looked off to the left side of the Beast’s head as he spoke. He did not expect to see the light again and was pleasantly surprised when a very tiny blue girl stuck her head out from behind the Beast’s head. It was Balgun’s first time seeing Link in any capacity and he smiled softly to her finger long mermaid counterpart. She was not feeling as friendly however and complained about Balgun’s last statement with a pout.

“You have a trickster’s tongue and your words are hurtful ~♪ But they are truthful words and the pain is ours to feel and not yours to inflict ~♪ But we also realize that you desire to see the last us ~♪”

“I would be delighted to. I did come after all to meet you and not just pieces of you. It is most frustrating that they’ve done this to you, and it makes my blood boil no matter how much my curiosity is peaked by you. I would love nothing more than to study you myself as well, but I believe there is plenty I can learn from the notes of the fools here to that end with all that they have done to you. However, there is only so much I can learn from them whereas you can teach me so much more my dear.”

“Us teach you? ~♪ But you seem so old that it is hard to believe that we can teach you anything ~♪ It seems more likely that you could teach us a great deal ~♪ If we were better we would love nothing more than to hear the tales of such a small old man with such big hands ~♪”

“Why not learn from me now? It seems a fair exchange after all. I get to learn about you and you about me. And if that is not enough I can relay any messages you have for Elliot and the harpy girl as well. Though that seems a given courtesy as I have already delivered knowledge of their wellbeing to you. Though without seeing the last of you it may be difficult for them to believe me. Though I understand you’re concern, I’m a stranger and one your tormentors have let in here no less. Ha! You’ve reminded me I have yet to introduce myself.”

Stepping back away from the beast so that Link’s mermaid self could better see him, Balgun performed a fine gentlemen’s bow. Looking up he smiled and winked at the mermaid and beast as he introduced himself.

“Though many have taken issue with me, I am still one of the most respected and renowned scholars on the face of Icarus. An adventurer in search of knowledge long lost and engineer seeking to understand the technologies of the Ancients. Above all the I am student of the weaving of Nectar into spells and am most commonly known as Sorcerer Balgun. It is a pleasure to make you acquaintance my dear girl.”

Balgun’s smile faded as he noted a very distinct change in the atmosphere within the flaming darkness. The Beast had ceased it’s snarling and fell quite which was usually the sign that a beast would soon strike. The only thing that kept Balgun holding his formal bow instead of bracing for combat was the widening of the mermaid’s eyes as she held her hands to her mouth.

“Did you say that you are a sorcerer?! ~♪”

“Why yes my dear. If I might be so brazen, I would even say one of the most powerful on the whole of Icarus.”

“And you said you were willing to teach us? ~♪”

“It seems only a fair exchange for learning about you my dear.”

“Would that invitation perhaps include a willingness to teach us magic? ~♪”

“Ho~! You’ve an interest in magic have you? Well, it’s been sometime since last I took on a student and I must say I am interested to see how much potential you have seeing this space about us.”

“Then you must come! ~♪ Our desire for adventure is only matched by our desire to learn magic and become a world-renowned adventurer! ~♪”

Zipping out from behind the face of the Beast the mermaid version of Link finally revealed itself to Balgun. It did not seem concerned anymore as it was too busy pointing a commanding finger at the Beast.

“You stay here Beast and keep snarling at the ones beyond ~♪ It is not time for them to speak with us again, but this one will gleefully bring the sorcerer to meet that last of us ~♪”

Obeying the commands of the mermaid the Beast rose and Balgun became quite aware of just how massive the creature was. He felt quite miniscule next to it and felt as though it walked over him growing ever larger as it headed towards the operating room door. He was not allowed to stand idly marveling at the Beast however as the mermaid demanded his attention.

“Come now! ~♪ Quickly Sorcerer! ~♪ We are still weak from the cruelty of the ones outside and desire to sleep a great deal ~♪ Only our desire to meet you is letting us fend off our desire to sleep, but it is a losing battle ~♪

“Is that so. Then please my dear, lead on.”

Balgun was not sure what he expected to find in the darkness as he was led ever deeper into it by the finger long mermaid that swam through the air. He did however know what he hoped to see and was not sure quite how felt when he reached yet another toothy maw like the one that the Beast possessed. This one was far larger though than what the Beast had shown him as the teeth were larger than a person and served as ample bars to a cage with flaming green eyes above serving as the guard. Balgun paid the eyes little heed even as he could feel them watching him as he approached. Somewhere deep in his mind he pondered just what was the nature of this Foreigner parasite as well as how fractured Link was and what it meant that the mermaid her referred to her as the last. Whatever the answers to his unvoiced questions they would all be answered by the shape of girl in the darkness sitting beyond the teeth of her cage with her arms wrapped around her knees and her face buried into them.

“Forgive my intrusion my dear, but I just had to meet you tonight.”

“Is it really night? I’ve lost track of time and haven’t seen the sky in what feels like forever… But it’s okay now… I can sleep safely here if you tell them that I’m still in here; right? You’ll teach me magic and help me put myself back together again so I can leave…”

“I’ll do what I can for you my dear, but truth be told, I may have to help you escape from here more than walk out a Sa·B·er of the church.”

“But I’ll get to leave and see Elliot and Melody again, right?”

“At the very least I’ll get you out of here and help you track them down should keeping them in Foothold prove impossible.”

“I guess that’s enough. If I learn magic though I should be better able to control the scarier parts of me and then go looking on my own. If I can claim more than just its gate then I’ll be so strong that no one can stop me.”

“Control it’s gate? Do you mean to tell me that you can control the Foreigner Parasite’s Ambrosial gate?”

Dumbstruck Balgun let the questions spill forth and he took a step back trying to comprehend how it was possible to utilize another beings Ambrosial Gate. His thoughts and questions all came to a halt however as Link slowly lifted her head reveling that her face and hairline were all still human and not the flaming darkness that threatened to consume her. Opening her massive sea gem green eyes slowly to look upon Balgun as she lifted her head Link wore a beaming smile from ear to ear. Transfixed by the eyes of a color he had not seen in twenty years Balgun nearly forgot himself. Had he realized how much younger Link was looking in the face compared to when she arrived he probably would have had even more questions to ask her as her face was almost too childish now for her maturely developed fifteen year old body. The next spoken words were not by either Link or Balgun however, but rather the mermaid again who freely swam into the cage and about Link.
“Do you hear his speech? ~♪ He is intrigued and willing to help us! ~♪”

“Sorry if I don’t get up… I don’t have as much energy as my little me right now… But I really am excited to learn magic… It makes me so happy that you’re going to teach me though… oh yeah, I’m Link… it’s nice to meet you Balgun…!”

Link’s sleepiness was obvious and she struggled to transition from one sentence to the other. Still she persisted, though even the childish energy she spoke with could not overcome her exhaustion. Closing her eyes as she smiled even brighter and tilted her head playfully to one side she finally gave out and fell asleep.

Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater


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