044 Those Who Watch the Sky - 44

44 – Children thrust Into the Sky 2

“Well, what a way to say goodbye. I should have never let myself get attached to Mouse, but I guess it is what it is.”

The thunderous roar of fireworks overhead and the crowds rushing in from beyond the alleyway drowned out Boulder’s spoken musings. To the average person they would have also drowned out the sounds of the icaran footsteps behind Boulder. Boulder was an experienced and skilled Sa·B·er however and was far from unaware of his stalkers. Coming to a stop he let out his own heavy sigh of the night.

“Ye two don’t need to hide from me. We’re work partners after all.”

“Are we now. I wonder what you think brother.”

Stepping out of the shadows behind Boulder the red-haired mouser brother spoke both contemptuously and mockingly. As his silver-haired brother stepped out of the shadow opposite him he provided an equally malicious toned reply.

“No Lute. No, I don’t believe we are.”

“Then ye two saw that little exchange. Well saves me the trouble of having to waste time explainin’ it to ye. If you don’t mind then, ol’ Boulder Shrew would like one last drink before he turns in. I figure ye two will be fillin’ in His Holiness anyway so won’t hurt anyone if I help myself to one more.”

“Drinking the way you partake is so uncivilized. Little surprise I should believe.”

“Pan and Lute Mouser, I really don’t see why ye’d trouble yourselves with a bottom scraper like me. I’ve been pullin’ my weight as I always ‘ave.”

“Some how I disagree with that sentiment.”

The younger, red-haired, brother, Lute Mouser, took a step forward and started swinging the massive boomerang like blade he carried on his shoulder in a circular motion beside himself. His silver-haired older brother, Pan Mouser, also took a step forward, but his rifle butt saber stayed resting upon his shoulder. Boulder sighed and rested his hands on his hips revealing the slightest signs of the tomahawks he kept hidden within.

“Think what ye want Mouser, I at least know I ain’t worth yer two’s time.”

“That is true.”

Pan’s agreement did not offer Boulder any comfort and he sighed again. He did not get in the next word however as Pan had not yet finished speaking.

“The problem, is that we take pride in our work, and there has been an unfortunate lack of quality in tonight’s proceedings.”

“Has there now. Ye two will have to forgive me for not seeing what I coulda done back there. Fer all extents and purposes Mouse was already an agent of Choir before Bird showed up. Even if I ‘ad known there wasn’t anythin’ I coulda done but wish ‘er well. Even ye two can’t do a thin’ about it now.”

“I wonder…”

Acting on instinct Boulder spun to his left and tossed a tomahawk with his left hand at Lute while he drew his hand cannon in his right and fired upon Pan. He was only successful at a third of what he aimed to accomplish as he managed to avoid the spinning blade that Lute had thrown. He was completely unsuccessful in counterattacking though as Lute easily dodged the tomahawk and his shot went into the ground as Pan brought his saber down upon his hand cannon. Bracing to throw Pan back, Boulder simultaneously reached with his left hand for the tomahawk on his right hip but stopped as he watched his hand travel forward without the rest of his arm. A moment later he collapsed, his body bisected down the middle as Lute’s blade returned to his hand. He would have no final words or see the Mouser brothers looking down on him satisfied with their work. All that awaited Boulder from then out was the disposal of his corpse, and that was carried out unceremoniously by people who should not have been on the bishop’s payroll. As the Mouser brother’s themselves were as well, they soon found themselves before the bishop explaining what had happened.

Sitting at his desk with his chin resting on his interlaced fingers the bishop remained emotionless as he processed what the Mouser brothers told him. He was not as calm as he appeared however and sought clarification.

“If I am understanding you properly Sa·B·ers, the harpy girl is an official agent of Choir and that Bird did not disclose any mission details to her. He simply told her that when it was time she would be aware of her mission and know the appropriate course of action.”

“That is correct Lord Bishop. His only other orders were for her to hide herself until then. I doubt it would be any trouble for brother and I to track her–”

“That will not be necessary.”

Cut off by the bishop, Lute frowned but did not interrupt the bishop in turn.

“She is an agent of Choir. If anything were to happen to her so soon after her appointment it would result in a massive investigation by Choir that would end all of us.”

“Then what would you propose Lord Bishop?”

Pan pulled on the long lock of curled hair that hung beside his face and looked inquisitively down his nose at the bishop. The bishop was already prepared for his next move however and was glad to fill the Mouser brothers in on his scheme.

“This is obviously Bird receiving support from Choir High Command and that paints the willingness of them to authorize the Knight Prince in a suspicious light. It is likely that they intend to retrieve the Knight Prince themselves and need Bird to be ready to act. I have no problem surrendering him to Choir, but there is obviously more going on here. If all they wanted was the Knight Prince then they could have requested him when I contacted them. There would have been no need to appoint the harpy girl as an agent. Providing her with that protection can only mean that they or another power they are in agreement with desire to acquire the Sycamore cursed girl. I will need to find a way to split up the three children so as to divide Choir’s attention. I will need something sooner than later as well as Sorcerer Balgun is likely to be finished with the Sycamore cursed girl in no more time than before the Eyes of Icarus shut fast again. At that point it will be too late to take action without giving away my intentions. If I could fake the girl’s death it would be most convenient. I need simply to prepare an appropriate scenario that would serve in my favor and delay Balgun. That will not be a problem compared to the harpy girl becoming an unknown in which case I invite you two to keep watch for her and distract her from any course of action she could take.”

“A dull job, but considering you believe that you can learn the knowledge of Sycamore by keeping the girl we are glad to lend a hand for now. You have no complaints do you Lute.”

“No brother, merely a question.”

“Is there something wrong Sa·B·er? And choose your words wisely, you are no less expendable to me than the Sa·B·er you disposed of.”

Under the bishop’s harsh glare and open threat Lute smiled awkwardly.

“Only about the Knight Prince, Lord Bishop. Should he catch wind of the actions of Choir will he not become an obstacle as well, even should you devise a means to be rid of him in a timely matter?”

“You do not need to worry about the Knight Prince. He is a simple boy who I shall have little difficulty keeping uninvolved until I can be rid of him. For now Sa·B·ers, you need only tend to being ready to receive our harpy problem until I have more orders for you.”

For all of his appearance of control the bishop was anything but in control. He had no excuses to remove Balgun from the research team studying Link, especially as his research was revealing a possible connection between the tangible Nectar that protected Link and reports from Athecia of similar beasts to the one brought from the dam that were entering the world from Ambrosia. Balgun’s expertise was too valuable to remove him from his post, so much so that even the cardinals who had somehow found out what was happening insisted that he not be removed. The bishop could feel his chance at greater power slipping through his fingertips. He could not confirm that Elliot had been blessed with the Light of Hope from Cardinal and needed access to Hazel Sycamore who was said to be closest to the woman who last possessed it. To achieve that in any capacity he either needed to find him or discover something from within Link. He was naturally feeling desperate when but a four-day remained unto the Eyes of Icarus were once more closed and an excited messenger burst into his office.

“Lord Bishop! I beg your forgiveness for my intrusion, but this news is urgent!”

“I would pray so. Such an action could have earned you death by the guards posted beyond those doors. That you made it in here at all speaks to the strength your need to speak with me has given you to bypass my guards. Now come, you are here and I would know why.”

“Ah–! Of course Lord Bishop.”

Welcomed by the bishop’s soothing words the messenger approached his desk hurriedly. Pulling out an unsealed envelope from off of their person the messenger handed it to the bishop and continued speaking excitedly.

“We can’t say the exact timetable due to the circumstances surrounding the retrieval of this information, but it would seem that the city of Ibrand has become the resting place of a Foreigner city. According to the message the survivors had become the slaves of scavengers who had been tracking the city’s descent before they became the prisoners of an army of bandit’s who sought the treasures of the city for themselves. The citizens of Ibrand were only able to recently make contact with anyone after being rescued by only two men.”

“I understand your excitement, but as you delivered me a letter, do please allow me to read it.”

“My apologies Lord Bishop!”

The messenger nearly yelled his apology but received no further attention from the Bishop. Despite being annoyed with them they were inconsequential beyond their statement of only two people defeating an army. Skimming over most of the letter the bishop froze as he found the information that he sought within. Rising to his feet and visibly trembling he stared with widened eyes at the paper in his hands. Frightened by the bishop’s reaction the messenger queried about the bishop’s wellbeing.

“Lord Bishop? Are you alright?”

“I am quite alright. You need not be concerned. No, it is that simply I have been waiting for this.”

“Lord Bishop?”

“Of course, I seem to have forgotten myself. But I must know, has this information been reported to Choir?”

“No Lord Bishop. The survivors were picked up by our militia who had the message relayed here as quickly as possible.”

“And I thank you for your timely deliver of this important document. But now…”

The bishop trailed off leaving the messenger confused. They did not get the chance to speak again as they did not notice that the office guards had followed them, nor that they had, even in their armor, closed the distance with them. The messenger would not learn of it until the guard’s lances pierced through them from behind. Confused, the messenger gurgled up blood and looked to the bishop in search of answers.

“I am truly sorry, but this information is too valuable to allow it to make its way into the world. As excitable as you seem to be and with the strength that you possess I could not allow you to live. Take solace in death though knowing that you have helped me move ever closer to my goals. Now rest.

Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater


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