059 those Who Watch the Sky - 59

59 – Children thrust Into the Sky 17

“Well, this is a bother and not one of these soldiers will be of any use to us brother.”

Shoving the soldier from Foothold back into the crater that he had escaped from Lute Mouser sighed heavily. His silver haired brother Pan seemed less bothered and tossed the lock of hair that dangle by his eye to the side as he stepped up beside his younger brother.

“We do seem to have accepted work from a most troublesome of clients Lute.”

“That is an understatement brother. Look at this mess. It seems the perfect analogue for the state of our reputation after accepting work from that bishop.”

“It is something else Lute.”

Thou Pan agreed with Lute his tone of voice did not seem bothered as he looked out over the crater that had shortly ago held a Foreigner city. Raising his eyes from Balgun’s mobile fortress across the crater to the city itself well above in the sky He surprised his brother with a smile.

“Am I missing something brother?”

“That maid in the chainmail, considering the presence of the sorcerer it is likely we can’t even engage her anymore. That isn’t to say that we can’t engage the rogue Sa·B·er and still pass along the bishop’s invitation. It’s just a question of where he is and when that meeting will one day take place.”

“I don’t even know where to begin with this mess.”

“You could begin by listening to me and allowing me to reach the seal. I have no doubt that if I claim the Guardian’s power that I can best this Darkness looming above us.”

“And what about the Poltergeist that thing is supposed to be protecting us from?”

“You must be blind agent of Choir. Do you not see the blade the boy wields? Surely he could slay the Poltergeist as Hazel and I have ventured here to accomplish.”

“I don’t intend on listening to a rogue Sa·B·er and a wanted man.”

“Even when that wanted man is still technically a member of the Junk Birds, the group whose ship we’re all currently standing on. That and I do have experience both with these cities and the airship we’re standing on. Most importantly this ship is reaching its limit and that creature is ascending faster than even the city. It won’t be long before we fail to prevent it from reaching the world beyond. The damage it could inflict upon the world in its current state…”

“Do please tell me more Mister Sycamore. I’m still waiting for an explanation to what that Darkness is and why you are so familiar with it.”

“And I’d really like it if you’d all respect my authority and let me do the talking.”

Bird sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his head as he faced the unusual group that had landed upon the airship he had conscripted for his ends from the salvage company known as the Junk Birds. The most important of those who comprised the group before him was none other than Hazel Sycamore who was accompanied by a rodent like spirit upon his shoulder. Important as Hazel was though he could not deny the authority that Elliot likely possessed as the Knight Prince, nor the influence and power that Bellson controlled. Only the centaur, Cliff, and sister, Clover, were inconsequential in the current scenario. That scenario was not improving though.

Eyeing the distant walls of the Foreigner city’s central shaft Bird could not deny that the ascent of the airship had slowed. Shifting his eyes to the helmsman and captain above him at the helm the nods they offered him told him that Hazel was not lying. With another sigh he turned his attention onto Hazel and handled the situation appropriately.

“The report I’m going to have to write is going to be murder, but fine Sower of Chaos, it’s your knowledge that we need. What is that thing above us and how do we stop it?”

“It’s an experimental Foreigner beast that the Poltergeists abandoned out of fear of the destructive power that it possesses. My brother introduced me to it some years ago before I settled down in Elliot’s hometown. I… I stole it out from under him believing that he was mad for wanting to use it to slay the Poltergeists. I had seen once already the devastation that the power that can do that can bring and swore I wouldn’t allow anyone to have it. I spent years in secret trying to understand its power so I could seal it away.”

“So what happened? Why the hell did you give it to some welp of a girl who ended up walking into the middle of my work? Believe it or not, but I promised your old pal Sorcerer Balgun that I’d give her a life of some kind and looking at what’s going on here I don’t know if I can. You have any idea what failing would do to my relationship with the old coot?”

“There are greater concerns at hand agent of Choir.”

“I disagree, rogue. The girl in question is a dear friend of mine and if there is a way to save her then I would hear it. I will not allow the efforts of Her Eminence, Lady Cardinal to be wasted for the foolishness of Mister Sycamore.”

“That hurts to hear you say Elliot, but I get I deserve it. Even still, she can be saved. I bonded the beast with a Foreigner parasite and directly to a suit of armor that she should be wearing. I had thought the process would have prevented it from ever manifesting itself in any capacity and I don’t understand what went wrong.”

“It sounds like it might be our fault Elliot.”

Though he found that he agreed with him, as Hazel was not yet finished talking it was easy for Elliot to ignore Feast whispering in his ear with a smile.

 “I probably shouldn’t have tried anything without consulting Balgun, but I just haven’t been able to trust anyone since the Fall of Lucir due to my relationship with their princess.”

“You’re wasting time Sycamore; how do we stop that thing right here and now?”

“Isn’t that obvious? That beast is more powerful than even the Poltergeists, so without the Light of Hope we don’t stand a chance.”

“You have become just as blind as the agent of Choir, Hazel. Have you not seen the sword the boy wields? That light, it is obviously Cardinal’s and he but needs a way to reach the darkness and face it.”

“Even if it is…”

“Mister Sycamore, I don’t know what you fear will transpire should I face this Darkness, but my friend needs me, and the world likely needs this Light.”

Holding his sword up before his face, Elliot looked past the glowing blade at Hazel.

“Equalizer. That is the name of this Light that Her Eminence, Lady Cardinal bestowed upon me. With it, for just a moment I can stand equal to any task. I am for certain even this Darkness is not beyond me for as long as I possess it, so tell me; how do I save her?”

Hazel studied the determination in Elliot’s eyes for what seemed like an eternity before the spirit on his shoulder squeaked into his ear. Turning his gaze onto it, Hazel was assaulted by a further barrage of similar squeaks that seemed as though the spirit was nagging him. With a heavy sigh he at last answered resignedly.

“That darkness hasn’t finished taking form. We’re fortunate that the process of its awakening took place in here where light and darkness can’t so easily be distinguished between from an Ambrosial standpoint. We are running out of time though. If it makes it outside the final stage of its awakening will surely begin.”

“Then I have one more question for you Mister Sycamore; are the Guardians of Legend real?”

“They are but–”

“Then we’ve wasted enough time. All of you get to safety. I’ll claim the Guardian as my own and slay this Darkness, the Poltergeist, and save Link.”

“Wait! Elliot!”

“Silverlance What are you–

Elliot did not waste another moment dealing with the adults who had all failed Link in one way or another and threw himself from the airship. Wearing a serious expression as he dove into the heart of the Foreigner city, he gladly welcomed Feast’s voice as it told him his control over his own blood should be available to him.

“You don’t believe that you’re being hasty? It’s obvious that he was withholding quite a lot of important information. Such as how the Poltergeists, behind their seals, could create something more powerful than themselves and that would fill them with such fear.”

“Isn’t it obvious Feast? With every other legend I’ve been seeing confirmed to be real, then it stands to reason that the dark god of the Foreigners is also real. The Light of Hope is said to banish that terror when it descends upon the face of Icarus and it is likely to me that this beast Mister Sycamore has bonded to Link is its spawn. But Link and I both have been blessed with the Light of Her Eminence, Lady Cardinal. If I can reach out and connect with that Light within her then we should be able to banish the Darkness.”

“And of course, by being impatient you also avoid potentially revealing her relation to the fool who so cursed her.”

Elliot simply smiled in answer to Feast’s supposition and earned a smile from him in response. Like his own it was strained however as the effects of keeping Equalizer lit was beginning to take its toll on his body. Elliot did not relent though, and as he found himself descending upon a temple compound of both familiar yet alien architecture suspended by three bridges within the heart of the Foreigner city’s central shaft he forced a twin stream of blood out from his back. His eyes turning red in color as he concentrated both on maintaining Equalizer and transforming his ejected blood into feathered wings of darkness, Elliot set foot upon the hallowed ground last visited in ages past by the nāti.

“Child of Her Light, you have come with blood lust in your heart. Do you intend to stain those hands bathed in light in blood and fuel the hatred given flesh?”

“I’ve little time for your questions beast of an age long past and in need of being forgotten.”

“You have no right to forget the crimes of mankind Child of Her Light.”

“I cannot forget what I do not know.”

“Then listen well Child of Her Light, as you come to sacrifice yourself on the altar of our hatred.”

Elliot had little intention of heeding the words of the voice that echoed throughout his mind that he believed belonged to the Poltergeist. His intent mattered little however and as he strolled into the temple complex banishing the wings he had summoned, its voice assailed him. Its words became lost as he entered the complex though as something interrupted the connection between the Poltergeist and those who could hear its voice. To Elliot it was obvious what had transpired as he saw to the other end of the massive ornate hall he proceeded along.

The Guardian of legend, said to have been placed within the hearts of the Foreigner cities when the nāti of the ancient past bound the Poltergeists to flesh and robbed them of most of their power, stood with sword drawn at its side. It was not what Elliot had come to expect at all and he was not certain how to react. The nāti were said to be the oldest race of mankind and in the ancient past of time immemorable the magic and technology they wielded was without equal yet seeing what was effectively a Dolmen was well beyond Elliot’s wildest dreams, even as it fulfilled his prayers. Sinewy and lean even beyond the models of Dolmen used by the church militia, it was a creature that seemed to have been as though an insect had grown in the form of an armored man. The silver hued exoskeleton was a sight to behold, especially the pylon like extrusions from the shoulders that took the ancient Dolmen from a height of twenty-five meters to that of nearly thirty. The golden glowing eyes that watched Elliot’s approach were chilling beyond compare, yet Elliot held no fear as he heard a beating heart within its breast and Feast smiled beside him.

“It’s alive Elliot.”

“It is Feast. A living Dolmen unlike anything man has made in ages uncountable. How far we’ve fallen due to the Foreigners. I can almost understand the rogue’s hatred for them.”

“Only almost?”

“Only almost. After all, they must hate us for some reason we are ignorant to.”

“Yet you’re here to kill it and not talk. How very like you Elliot.”

“It’s for Link’s sake Feast. Don’t ever forget that.”

“Keep telling yourself that Elliot, I’ll enjoy watching the blood you spill with that excuse as your shield.”

“Don’t think you won’t be doing your part as well Feast.”

“Of course not. I’m rather looking forward to it.”

Smiling, Feast embraced his role as Elliot spun his sword around and held it down to his side as he rested his left hand on the head of his scabbard. Extending his thumb up past the guard of his sword, Elliot pressed the tip into the edge of his blade of light. His thumb split open with painless ease and he let flow a single drop of blood which became as crimson light as it met the blade. Closing his eyes and gathering up his courage and conviction Elliot let the words of his incantation fall from his lips. Around him those words became as song on the air.

“~ I stand equal to the task before me
Bathed in the Light of Her Eminence, Lady Cardinal
I rise to face all challenges
Equalizer‼ ~”

Renewed by the incantation, the blade of light surged brilliantly and seemed to hold all the light of the heavens in its masterwork form. The light was not contained to merely the blade of Elliot’s sword though as it could be seen seeping into his opened thumb. Filling with Cardinal’s Light, Elliot’s crimson eyes began to glow and he set his stoic gaze upon the ancient Guardian of the sealed Poltergeist. The unusual, living Dolmen recognized the threat posed against it and took up it’s sword in both hands and prepared to receive Elliot’s eminent charge. What it failed to realize however was that Elliot desired only to score a wound deep enough to draw blood and by lifting its sword it provided him the opening he sought. In a blink, a streak of light defined the path that Elliot had taken to deliver a single clean strike to the side of the living Dolmen’s foot. Such a blow would have been insignificant against the ancient alloy of unknown composition had it been delivered by any other weapon, but Elliot’s sword of light was unlike any other such weapon. In response a gout of blood suddenly gushed forth from the nigh invisible wound.

“You’re up Feast.”

Looking back with only his eyes, Elliot signaled the Foreigner infection that had become a part of him to take action. Feast did so with pleasure and the light trail that followed Elliot seeped into the ochre fluid that spilled out of the living Dolmen’s foot. A horrible howl echoed forth and filled the hall as the Guardian’s blood began to take on a red color. Understanding what was happening to it, the guardian pivoted on its opposite foot and brought its sword about to end Elliot where he stood. All it managed to accomplish however was to blow about Elliot’s long coat and hair as its sword stopped just a hair short of him. Looking down its arm as it took on a crimson shade too where Elliot stood beyond its sword, the Guardian was met with a sad and sympathetic smile from Elliot.

“I doubt this is how you expected to be rewarded for completing your duty, and you have my sincerest apologies. But you may rest well now. Know that I will personally see to it that the Poltergeist you watch over will need guarded never again. Thank you for all that you’ve done and will do as my aid. Good night ye ancient warrior forgotten as all but legend.”

The light within the ancient Dolmen’s eyes faded as Elliot relieved it of its duty and it soon fell to its knees. After countless ages the spirit that had served alone save its charge at last was allowed rest and a silence fell over the hall it presided within. The silence would only last for a moment however before the ancient Dolmen would serve its new master as Elliot had not slain it for any reason other than to use it to save Link from the Darkness that had engulfed her.

Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater


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