055 Those Who Watch the Sky - 55
55 – Children thrust Into the Sky 13
The Sa·B·er in red. To Elliot he was a mystery. A curiosity and a backwards cursory glance. Yet countless people seemed to know who he was. Link’s father. Cliff. Clover. The Bishop. Balgun. He was well known yet a total mystery. A ghost or old wives’ tale made real. He was a boogey man made to send children quietly to bed or to make them stop asking questions. But Elliot felt like no small child anymore. He had at age twelve faced bandits in combat and killed his first human being. He had from age seven helped raise one of his closest friends and taught her as though she were a babe growing up. He had received countless hours of training in sword and gunplay, Dolmen piloting, and general combat awareness and had long sense tested the limits of his abilities. Humans, monsters, Ambrosial beasts. They were all blood on his hands and none killed without intent. But he was not just a warrior or simple murderer. He resisted the infection of a Foreigner parasite and now fought to stand against the will of a presence unlike any on the face of Icarus as he neared the end of his assigned mission which he willingly manipulated for his own ends, exploiting the lives of hundreds. He was no child anymore. What he was, was a Sa·B·er. And it was as a Sa·B·er that he would meet, the Sa·B·er in red.
The man was tall and though the mechanized hall was small he still stood with his massive blade resting upon his shoulders. It was larger than he was, yet it seemed inconsequential compared to the man who held it. Aged and worn. Scared and hewn. Powerful eyes looked out with an eternal calm from that face with a mane of black hair just long enough to be messy. The mechanized armor he wore under a jet-black cape was dyed a hue of blood crimson in the setting sun and there was no mistaking him as he spoke with a voice at once gruff as it was welcoming and bearing the experience of thousands of battles. If Elliot were to face this man it would be akin to facing a mountain.
“Curious… I knew of the centaur and the chimeric woman and wondered why I had not seen her pass in search of Hazel. But you boy… You are a curiosity. As you approached I could feel the light you wield pushing back the weight of the Poltergeist. Yet you lack the countenance I would have expected from one bearing such a light. I am Melrin Bellson, the Red Knight, leader of the Red Army and ally not of the Cardinal Church but mankind itself. I would know the name of the boy who wields Cardinal’s Light.”
“I am Her Eminence, Lady Cardinal’s Knight Prince. Her Silver Lance. Knight Prince Elliot Silverlance, Sa·B·er of the Cardinal Church. I have no business with you rogue and seek only Hazel Sycamore. I will not be delayed by you or any other who would challenge me.”
“Elliot! You can’t just–”
“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Cliff was interrupted by Bellson’s sudden laughing and turned from Elliot to take in the great man’s amused smile. Bellson stepped forward to meet Elliot face to face, though he dwarfed Elliot in stature and had to look down upon him. Elliot did not flinch in the least and his eyes were unflinching as he matched the great man’s stare.
“You hear my name and introduce yourself unafraid. You have been told of me yet do not know of me. Your courage is born of ignorance boy. If you only knew–”
“That you stood beside the Sowers of Chaos, the last princess of this era’s only kingdom, the greatest sorcerer of our time Master Balgun, and laid low the only Foreigner in the history of mankind to ever be slain. That your Red Army is made up entirely of rogue Sa·B·ers who you handpicked and saved from their infections through your sheer force of will alone. That you alone could defeat the armies of any given city on the face of Icarus. You are right rogue. I have heard of you. And you are also right that I do not know you. But you are wrong about my courage. My courage does not come from ignorance. I know that you are not with Sycamore for without the power of Her Eminence’s light a Sa·B·er cannot stand before a Poltergeist. I know that I too can summon the power to lay waste an army. I know that without Her Eminence’s light you stand no chance of defeating the Poltergeist. So, I know enough to not fear you. As for whether I am equal to the task of besting you…”
Slowly lifting his sword to his side like the hand of a clock Elliot drew everyone’s attention to the blade. As he spoke the words of his ability to face Bellson the blade began to develop splinters and cracks of light along its length. Bellson’s eyes lit up at the sight of that light and a smile more earnestly adorned his face.
“I see boy. You are knowledgeable and aware of the power you wield. But I am not the one you need be equal to. That would be the Poltergeist that lies at the heart of this city. It is where Hazel Sycamore heads now with some many hours head start to bargain with it. He believes he can talk it down, but the truth is the beast he seeks is only capable of slaughter. The only negotiating that can be achieved with it is with our blades to end its life and win our future or die and forfeit it. I doubt you fail to see the importance of the task I brought unto myself, though I had hoped to be accompanied by old friends. Bringing a child as young as you into this–”
“Your intentions matter not to me rogue. I came to retrieve Sycamore and that is all. Should the Poltergeist break its seal then I shall face it. As long as the seal holds it poses no threat.”
“You are being willfully ignorant boy.”
“Yet you are the one who insists on facing a beast that can end mankind in the vain belief you can slay it. I find that hard to believe within the ability of a man who had to await my arrival.”
Bellson clicked his tongue, but he had no retort for Elliot. Facing so headstrong a youth head on would get him nowhere and he needed the light he wielded turned onto the Poltergeist. Manipulating Elliot would not be so easy and he would be better served preventing Hazel from allowing the city’s launch. A sudden rumbling of the city told him though that he was perhaps running out of time. That Elliot still did not flinch unsettled Bellson even more. He should not have had the knowledge to be unbothered by the sudden rumbling of the city, yet he remained unshaken.
[Perhaps this light is more than just a gift…]
Eyeing the cracks of light that ran up the length of Elliot’s sword Bellson knew he wanted to see more. Elliot was only hinting at the light he held within. It was a threat and not an empty one. Why so young a boy as Elliot was possessed of such power and understanding no longer even mattered. If he was given a reason to face the Poltergeist then Bellson could achieve what he came for. If he could make an ally out of Elliot as well then his crusade would at last gain traction. Such knowledge made it impossible for Bellson not to smile and he stepped away from Elliot to continue down the hall that Hazel had traversed hours prior.
“Come then boy, neither of us shall achieve our goals by making enemies of the other. I know where it is Hazel heads and would follow that path even without you. Let us for now venture into the heart of darkness together and see the face of the evil that has harried mankind across the ages.”
“Suit yourself, rogue.”
Elliot’s tone remained cold and merciless, his sword only lowered enough to facilitate ease of movement as he allowed Bellson to lead the group. Cliff and Clover were far less comfortable with how the meeting between the two disparate Sa·B·ers had played out and did not follow as readily.
“Master Elliot has changed. And quite a great deal…”
“You heard his story Clover. What he’s seen and faced. What he’s sacrificed to be here now. It’s little wonder that he has no fear of that man. His hands are drenched in blood and he no longer trembles as he did when he killed that bandit by accident three years ago. He no longer has the fear of killing a man and is willing to do so again so that he can achieve his goals.”
“Yet Master Cliff, it is Master Elliot’s absence of the fear of his own death that frightens me. He speaks with the voice of a man who seeks redemption until it kills him.”
“And it very well might if we don’t quit this place before long.”
The continued trembling of the Foreigner city and the subsequent shaking free of eons of dust added a distinct emphasis to the old centaur’s words. Clover was not fond of Cliff’s words but could not argue them. With little choice left she and Cliff delayed no longer in following Elliot and Bellson to the heart of the Foreigner city.
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater