049 Those Who Watch the Sky - 49
49 – Children thrust Into the Sky 7
For all of the credit that the bishop of Foothold gave Bird, it was not the Choir agent that had orchestrated Link’s escape, but rather the sorcerer Balgun. The bishop had no idea that Balgun was just a tool to Bird and that he never expected the old sorcerer to take a personal interest in Link, Elliot, and Melody beyond as curiosities. For all of his infamy and eccentricities though, he was a kind man who cherished the friendships he had forged in his life and the relationships that extended from them. As a result, he felt an almost familial attachment to Link and was overcome with joy when he saw her and Melody through the telescope he was peering through into the northern skies.
“There! That should be it!”
Not risking releasing her sword, and assuredly not Melody’s foot either, Link pointed with a foot down below to where light could be seen. Following Link’s poor attempt at pointing Melody spotted what she found difficult to put into words. Rolling along on an absolutely titanic set of continuous track treads that did not appear symmetrical was a castle if a heap of assorted junk could be called a castle, or a heap of assorted junk if a castle could be called a heap of assorted junk. There was no rhyme or reason to the structure and appeared as though it was simply put together out of convenience than with any thought put into it. Naturally Melody had to question if such a rolling oddity was truly their destination.
“Are you sure Link? ~♪ I don’t even know what that is and don’t want to think it belongs to Balgun ~♪”
“I told you that my memory is still good Melody, so just trust me okay. Balgun said he has a rolling castle he travels in and that is definitely a rolling castle.”
“We~ll, it’s a big vehicle of some kind at least and I’m tired from flying all day ~♪ I don’t think I’ve touched the ground since early this morning ~♪”
“Really?! ~♪ That’s amazing! ~♪ Are you not a spirit of the wind yourself? ~♪”
“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~♪ No, no, Little Link ~♪ I’m definitely flesh and blood just like anyone else ~♪ I’m just really good at flying for really long periods because that’s one of the ways I used to watch the town I grew up outside of ~♪ I just normally aren’t carrying my friends when I do or flying only by starlight ~♪”
Over the course of the long flight Melody had grown accustomed to Link’s mermaid double even if she still did not understand it. Understanding was a complicated affair in this matter though, and with Melody’s preference for keeping things simple she had little care to ever understand. All that mattered was that she understood both Links were Link even if they were different. It was a simple outlook that was still confusing hence her taking to calling the mermaid Link, Little Link. The next response she got though was from the icaran Link who found Melody’s words a reason to descend.
“Then see Melody, you should land. I bet Balgun is wondering why we’re just up here circling.”
“You’re being so pushy Link ~♪ And what if you’re wrong ~♪ We’d be flying right into trouble then and I can’t see anything in the dark from up here ~♪”
“What if I told you I can’t feel my arm anymore because it went numb from the pain in my shoulder a few hours ago?”
“Ah~! Link! Why didn’t you say anything then? I could have landed and let you recover–”
“But then Balgun wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t know where he is.”
“Li~nk! That isn’t a good reason. I could have caught up with this big, weird vehicle tomorrow in the daylight when I can see better!”
“But now we’re already here so we don’t have to. Come on Melody, let’s just land, please.”
“Li~nk. What would Elliot say if he was here?”
“That’s not fair Melody! He would have been asking me about my arm from when you picked me up. He’s such a big worrywart.”
“He’d just call you hopeless right now Link. But I guess we don’t have any choice now. I just hope you’re right and that is Balgun’s”
“Eh, heh, heh…”
Melody was clearly upset at Link and the icaran girl laughed nervously as the harpy conceded to descending to Balgun’s mobile fortress. It was a slow descent though as they had been quite high and Melody wanted to enough time to get a better look at it before landing on. She was glad that she had as well when she grew close enough to see Balgun waiting for them atop a large balcony at the fortress’ highest point.
“It really is Balgun.”
“See? I told you you could trust my memory Melody.”
“Now you’re just being mean Link.”
“Eh, heh, heh. Sorry Melody. I don’t mean to be.”
Receiving a pout from Melody, Link apologized, though her sincerity was hard to judge with her laugh and tone of voice. Unlike the castle, Link was close enough for Melody to look her in the eyes and see that she truly was genuine, though the castle was soon underfoot and they set down upon the balcony to reunite with Balgun.
“It would seem your vision is lacking in the dark, Melody my girl. That and you seem to be having a hard time trusting Link due to her changes.”
“Ga~h–‼ It tingles! It hurts! It feels all limp and noodly!”
“It’s alright! ~♪ It’s recovering, and the tingly feeling isn’t as bad as the other tingly feeling! ~”
Melody had started to answer Balgun but was interrupted as Link exploded into a fit over her arm. Looking back behind her at where she had let Link down, she watched her energetic friend desperately massaging her left arm trying to breath life back into it while the mermaid Link swum about in the air desperately. Watching the scene Melody’s mouth fell open into an awkward smile.
“I don’t really know what to say… ~♪ She’s still Link… but it’s like she isn’t quite sure what that means anymore.”
“Ho! A fine observation my girl. Between the Foreigner, the spirit, and the horrors the church inflicted upon her it’s little surprise she seems so broken and distant.”
“You don’t know?”
Turning her eyes back to Balgun, Melody shook her head. Intrigued the old man grabbed his right elbow and jaw in his oversized hands. Stroking his mustache with his fore finger and thumb he offered Melody an explanation.
“Not surprising I suppose. The church calls them devils who would lead the people astray and away from the Sister Goddesses, Icarus, and the Saint herself all to consume your soul. I’ve never really studied them seeing as I feared the church in my youth and have dedicated my life to researching the powers they are said to possess through other means. Honestly, I had drove them so far from my thoughts I managed to convince myself that they were nothing more but children’s tales and had all but forgotten about them before I met Link. Seeing any at all makes me want to embrace my infamy and start researching into them and their relationships with humankind though.”
“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha ~♪ So you don’t really know either then?”
“You could say that my girl, but what I do know is that the two of them became one after fulfilling some favor involving some monster or other.”
“That was the White One. I told you about it already Balgun.”
Still rubbing her arm, Link and her double joined Balgun and Melody.
“That you did my dear. That you did. But no reason to enjoy the company of the stars while we talk. I’m certain you two are quite hungry and my kitchen is as fine a place as any to talk. At least before I insist you two get some sleep as well.”
“Sleep⁈ But I wanted to look at your libraries, and research, and laboratories, and–”
“All in due time my dear girl. Though perhaps not on this visit. I’ve little idea how rescuing your father–”
“Wait! You know⁈”
“–will go or if Bird will have managed everything that I asked of him.”
Balgun did not notice at first that Melody had asked him a question and completed his sentence. Realization that she was not following him as he began heading inside came before he realized she had asked him a question. Looking back he proceeded to provide an answer.
“Why yes my dear girl. I figured it out upon my first meeting with Link. She didn’t confirm for me until after Elliot did however.”
“What⁈ You and Elliot are leaving me behind again Link!”
“How can you say that Melody? I was locked underground for my entire time in the city until today. I didn’t get to meet any new people, or here their stories, or taste new food, or anything.”
“Speaking of food girls, the kitchen isn’t out here. Now please, if you would join me.”
Not giving Link and Melody the chance to argue Balgun asserted himself and nigh commanded they follow him into his fortress. They were both taken aback by his forcefulness and did not say anther word before following him within. They did however both pout fiercely at each other though Link had the advantage of arms with which she could emphasize her displeasure by crossing. Melody was not one to be outdone however and thrust her tail up in the air as she near doubled over having to arch her bark to look back up at Link. Their pouting contest did not last for long though as the inside of Balgun’s fortress mesmerized them.
Like the exterior, the interior of Balgun’s mobile fortress was a cobbled together construction of convenience with no rhyme or reason. The narrow corridors that wound through the structure at times felt more like unused space between rooms that were attached together like a fruit in a bowl and were so labyrinthine that it was perhaps more complex than the labyrinth beneath Foothold. Eventually those corridors emptied out into a massive kitchen full to bursting with ingredients both mundane and exotic. Link and Melody’s eyes shimmered as they took in cornucopia of possibilities before them.
Inhaling with exclamation was all that the two girls managed to get out before they rushed in and began preparing themselves heaping helpings of food. Watching Melody dance from one foot to the other while juggling the cookware she put to use was an astounding show only Balgun really watched. Link was too busy preparing her own meal to watch and her mermaid double had taken to challenging herself to consume a grape or two. Melody thought nothing of it as she had spent her time in Foothold squeezing in the time to learn how to use a kitchen to prepare her own meat. As she was a quick study and had great instinct, she was able to notice that Link was working still garbed in her chainmail.
“Link, your food is going to taste like metal if you handle it all with armor on.”
“You don’t know that Melody. Besides, my chainmail doesn’t come off.”
Balgun and Melody turned their full attention onto Link while her mermaid double fought to fit a grape in her mouth. The center of attention, Link tried to write it off.
“It’s not a big deal, really. I’ve already figured out all of the important bits today anyway, so I’ll be fine. Maybe one day I can get the Beast to store it inside of me, but I’m not worried at all. Besides, it’s not like my skin is really even skin anymore so it’s better like this.”
“Link you said something else I don’t understand. What’s the Beast?”
“The Beast is still us, but less nice or kind ~♪ It wanted to hurt everyone who hurt us and keeping it in check was very tiring ~♪”
“So, your chainmail is effectively your skin then. Not the result I was expecting though it does explain the way it fits you.”
“You shouldn’t stare Balgun, you’ll give people the wrong idea.”
“You two are talking over Little Link and me!”
“That would be me Mister Sorcerer ~♪”
The kitchen suddenly grew quite rowdy and no valuable conversations were had within. By the time things had calmed down it was after Link and Melody had gorged themselves on more food than two girls their size should have been able to reasonably eat even in a week. Somehow they managed though and soon fella sleep supporting themselves on the table and bench where they had eaten. Shortly after Balgun covered the two in blankets and allowed them to gather their strength peacefully before the day ahead.
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater