048 Those Who Watch the Sky - 48
48 – Children thrust Into the Sky 6
The sun set slowly behind the western horizon and the bishop stood upon the balcony of the cathedral’s main steeple. His eyes were turned to the south and a gentle breeze pulled at his slim, cassock inspired, white long coat. His hands were clasped behind his back and the Mouser brothers from within the stairwell door watched those hands wearily. They had failed at their jobs and had allowed Melody to extract Link from Foothold uncontested. Their pride was perhaps as wounded as the bishop’s, but as he was their client there was nothing they could do save for the chance to restore their reputation. When that opportunity would come was a mystery to them as after they reported Link’s escape the bishop had taken to the steeple leaving the city in the hands of the civilian government and the lesser members of the clergy. What he was waiting for or thinking was anyone’s guess and the Mouser brothers simply wished he would hurry up.
Far to the south of Foothold and standing on the open chest plate of his Dolmen, Elliot watched the sunset from where his Dolmen stood on a train car built like a Dolmen bay. He shared in the view with all of the other Dolmen upon the train including the general’s and those of the first wave’s scout units. They were no longer outfitted for reconnaissance and had been outfitted with external armor coats and heavy cannons. It was a far cry from Elliot’s own bronze Dolmen, which while also outfitted with an armored coat of the same blue colors of the others, was equipped only with its revolver and a sword that had been fitted to the unit’s left hip matching Elliot’s own armaments. Elliot was armed in further ways but they were invisible to others, though Feast made his presence known to Elliot as he sat down beside him and let his legs dangle off of the chest plate.
“I love sunsets… the warmth and the color…”
“Do they remind you of blood Feast?”
“Heh, you know me well Elliot… But, sunsets are special. I can bathe myself in them without having to kill a soul. They bring me a sense of peace that humans simply can’t. It’s why I wonder about your attachment to that girl.”
“Link is my everything and everything I could dream of being. Being closer to her helps me live that dream if only a little…”
“Yet she torments you as much as she comforts you.”
“She doesn’t know that and doesn’t need to either…”
A soft smile spread across Elliot’s face and he looked down, raising his right hand curling his fingers so as to look at the tips. Resting his left arm on his knee, Feast leaned back and looked at Elliot with his own kind of softness.
“You know, there are other ways to grant your wish. You don’t have to dream about a legendary giant tree and the possibilities it carries. Though perhaps you enjoy hating yourself and that’s why I’m what I am. Had you shaped me in your ideal self-image–”
“You’d have ruined it Feast, and destroyed any desire I have to live. Being Link’s sword would never be enough then. I’d just be a monster tortured by my out of reach desires that burn away at me from within.”
“And you aren’t a monster now? You repaired this Dolmen with the bodies of the dead without thinking twice about it and we both know you would kill again and again for her. Human life has little meaning to you when compared to her.”
“That’s why I have to take being the Knight Prince seriously. I don’t know what my duty is, but Her Eminence, Lady Cardinal blessed me with a light that will allow me to fight any foe. I can feel it welling up in me even now as we grow closer to Ibrand and I hope in time I recognize the foe I am to use this light against. I can’t afford to mess up as her light is what keeps us Sa·B·ers from becoming monsters and it will be the symbol of my humanity. If I must kill my fellow human beings, then it must only be those who will not relent otherwise.”
“So you’ll deprive yourself of blood for light. I wonder if you can really call yourself human that way?”
Feast’s smile and words reached Elliot in a way he did not expect, and he inhaled sharply in surprise. He was reminded of the state Melody had ended up in after they had slain the White One and a slight pain became visible on his face. Satisfied with Elliot’s reaction Feast returned his gaze to the sunset and did not see the smile that Elliot donned as he contemplated being a monster.
“Perhaps the truth is that all humans are monsters, and we simply cling to the light to deny our true nature. But then why do we hate ourselves so that we must change I wonder? What identity do we desire to hold if not our own?”
“Do you really have the right to ask those questions considering your own self loathing and desire to be someone different, even if only a little bit from who you are now?”
“A fine question Feast. Your insight and ability to help me reflect on myself and who I want to be is strangely comforting.”
“It’s the sunset is all. It keeps me calm and satisfied so I can be thoughtful myself without feeling quite so vindictive.”
“The sunset huh?”
Watching the setting sun almost disappear behind the horizon, Elliot became aware of the first few evening stars. Lifting his head with a look of wonderment he gazed up into the darkening sky and marveled at the stars. A melancholy donned on him and a thought nearly crossed his lips.
[The stars, hidden by the light of day… They’re almost like the truth of a person. Countless facets of who someone really is hidden away by the most brilliant, seen only in the darkest of moments. But each one of those pinpricks of light is just as important to the whole as the most visible, and perhaps to some more so. The star most difficult to see by others could perhaps even be what’s most important. I know it’s true for me at least, but a star that can only be seen in a darkness with no light also terrifies me. What would I have to face for others to see that light I wonder, and could I face it or those seeing me at such a time…?]
Elliot’s thoughts would not continue to linger on his allegory between the sun and stars and people as a flare to the south distracted him. Under it’s harsh, artificial light the shadows of Dolmens and mounted soldiers alongside centaurs could be made out. The train had reached the second wave of scouts and came to a halt to welcome them aboard and prepare the Dolmens for the next part of the operation. During this time the train became a flurry of activity and Elliot was escorted from his Dolmen to one of several barracks cars where he settled down for the night. Even knowing vaguely what lay ahead of him he soon fell fast asleep and did not notice when the train again departed.
The peacefulness of the night was nothing of note to Elliot, but for the bishop back in Foothold and the Mouser brothers it would prove the turning point for the hunt for Link. The message came from a messenger who was breathless as they reached the top of the steeple. At last turning from where he had stood for more than half a day the bishop turned to welcome the messenger. He did not say a word however, but rather ordered the messenger to speak with but a look.
“Lord Bishop… *ha*…*ha* … the report from the second checkpoint… states that there was no signs of the heretic or a Choir agent. The redeployment of the first wave and accompanying retrieval of the second wave proceeded with no noted difficulties or complications and the supply train is en route per the operations timetable.”
“Well this is troublesome news brother. Our targets didn’t show at all.”
“It is troublesome Lute. The possibility now exists that the harpy girl realized the heretic was indeed a heretic and has taken her position as a Choir agent seriously but didn’t trust anyone here to handle a heretic properly.”
“Can you blame them brother?”
“Not at all.”
“I’m certain you two are more than glad to forget your own involvement, but this news is actually good news.”
The question was asked in unison by the Mouser brothers and the bishop only answered them briefly as he still had to address the messenger.
“Yes, good news. Soldier you may return to your post.”
“Yes Lord Bishop.”
With the bishop’s permission the messenger departed leaving him and the Mouser brother’s alone again. Turning back to look out over the city and the southern skies the bishop better explained to the brothers what it was he meant.
“It is obvious now that this whole situation is being played by Bird and his cronies, including the sorcerer. They all likely share the same suspicions of who the Sa·B·er accompanying Sycamore is and is hoping that they’ll slaughter the lot of them. Then they’ll flee with the Knight Prince in tow under the guise of tending to him. They’ve robbed everything out from under me, but perhaps I still have an opportunity to make this work for me. They have not accounted for you two or my willingness to work with that Sa·B·er. Should things proceed as it is likely they are planning then it will be possible to make a deal with that Sa·B·er. To that end, you two are to leave in my stead and offer him an invitation to meet with me. It should be a simple enough task, even more so than guard duty, though should you encounter the Sycamore cursed girl simply retrieve her and Sycamore both if at all possible. Though perhaps I am being to hopeful…”
Neither Mouser brother particularly took kindly to the implications of the bishop’s words but did not retort to openly. At most the bishop’s back received stern disapproving glares before Pan Mouser simply shrugged dismissively.
“We shall see. Come Lute, the hunt has begun.”
“It’s been too long brother. Let’s enjoy it while we can, shall we?”
Disappearing down the steeple stairwell the Mouser brothers left the bishop alone overlooking the city. Watching the lights dance below a smile made its way to his lips and he spoke into the summer night air.
“You’ve really played your cards well Bird. But you have none so powerful as that sorcerer in my city any longer. I however have the research notes that he left behind that I can undoubtedly use to bargain with that Sa·B·er. If his reputation holds true though then I will soon be with no forces at my disposal and the High Bishop will be forced to request the use of greater technology out her on Mergaol. At that point my expertise will allow me to easily ascend to the rank of high bishop myself and recover all that I’ve lost should the Mouser brothers fail me. Regardless, I will have Sycamore’s secrets and return the Light of Hope to the Cardinal Church. Then I can right the wrongs of those so foolish as to be led astray by the Sowers of Chaos and the foolishness of Lucir. Once again the world will be as it should; at peace in Her Eminences’ light with me possibly even finding my way to becoming one of the cardinals. It’s been a troublesome road so far thanks to you being here when I was granted the tools to destiny Bird, but destiny is unstoppable and thus, so to am I.”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater