061 The Fractured Maid · 1
ome five centuries past, the races of mankind faced the consequences of ignoring the warnings of the Cardinal Church. Once more, as had happened time and again marking the end of many an age, mankind was laid low by the Foreigners from their great cities in the sky. Broken and desperate, the races of mankind turned to the Light of the Cardinal Church along with the Sister Goddesses and World God Icarus and again found prosperity.
Some two decades past the races of mankind began to fear the Light of Cardinal. The last nation on the Face of Icarus not disbanded by the Cardinal Church, Lucir, was at last laid low and in her dying breath cast forth a light that foretold the coming of the Foreigners’ Dark God. But for fear of the Light that mankind was learning, the Light also saved those transformed by the Foreigners into monsters and was still a necessary part of life as it was known.
Yesterday, or perhaps longer ago, or even tomorrow, mankind at last learned to fear the Light. A great tree of Light appeared and the races of mankind collectively gave it the name of the Foreigners’ Dark God, Lucifalz. The appearance of the Lucifalz upended the world order and the Cardinal Church became untrustworthy in the eyes of the races of mankind. Now, in an age of steam and magic lead industrial revolution and war, mankind seeks to prepare itself to face the Light, the Cardinal Church seeks to purify it, and those who seek adventure find it in all walks of life across every corner of the Face of Icarus.
Land of Past Present and Future, Athecia
Early Autumn ~ Late morning
scattered showers and warm
Early Autumn ~ Late morning
scattered showers and warm
Water. Ripples rushed across its surface and disturbed the fish within as well as the thumb sized humanoid blobs of light who danced upon it. The ripples came with the echoing of distant gunfire and sprinting horseshoes. It came with the pattering of rain upon its surface and the tumbling of dislodged pebbles. And with the ripples came light, and flashes of memories of a green-eyed blond boy and a blue-eyed harpy maid with pure white feathers and hair of crimson. Then there was a voice.
“I can’t believe it; I’ve finally found you! …maybe…”
So self-named for the suit of chainmail that fit her as though it were her own skin from her jawline down, save from the hips down where it was more akin to a pair of footed tights, the Chainmail Maiden, the Chainmaid, Chain opened her massive, round, sea gem green eyes. Those orbs looked out from the face of a light and fair skinned maid of some fifteen springs from behind erratic bangs with messy on top straight, waist long brown hair. Staring at the cavern ceiling above her, her slender, long limbed body lay halfway in the water, her fine bosom rising and sinking with her peaceful breathing. Her figure left the impression that she was rather tall, but in truth she was most definitely not even though she was also not short. Regardless, she dwarfed the owner of the voice who she turned her eyes filled with childlike curiosity on. As she looked at the owner of the voice, the maid who appeared as her twin, though only double the length of her finger and possessed of a long fish tail matching the hue of her eyes instead of legs, presented her a question.
“Our song is disharmonious right now so I’m not for certain which of us I’m speaking with right now. Are you perhaps the craftsman’s daughter or instead the Sa·B·er?”
Pushing off the ground with her left hand, Chain sat up and let her right hand slide down the leather strap it held, pulling up the sheathed, cruciform sword that she had been laying on. Having managed to sit up she scratched at the side of her nose with her left hand and looked off thoughtfully for a moment. When she finally managed to gather up her thoughts her words to her mermaid twin left their jaw agape.
“Sorry, but I know you, right?”
“Eh~⁈ How could you ask that⁈ We share the same face and voice and are one in our song and the song of the Children of Ocia! I finally found you and you don’t even recognize a part of yourself⁈”
“Hm~… I figured that might be the case but…”
Looking down at her reflection in the water, Chain confirmed for herself the first claim of the mermaid. Staring at her own face reflected at her in the water’s surface, Chain let her mermaid double pound on her harmlessly with her tiny fists as she donned a thoughtful look. Pouting as she could not seem to put her thoughts in order she placed her left hand between her and her arm flailing double.
“…Yeah, that’s about it. The memories are there but they’re kind of scattered everywhere. Some are familiar some are not and it’s giving me a headache trying to put it together.”
“I guess that makes sense. We were fractured as it was, but then the Darkness came and the Lucifalz appeared fracturing us even more.”
Responding to Chain’s question and accompanying head tilt, her mermaid double pointed behind her. Turning her head to follow to where that tiny finger led, Chain stopped as she set her eyes upon a tree of pure light growing out of the water covered rock. It possessed no leaves and only stood about two meters tall, but Chain could hardly focus on it. Her vision flashed with memories of a dragon of Darkness and a giant mechanized crimson warrior armed with a sword of light flying upon feathered wings of darkness. The sight of a massive mechanized ovoid city that hung in the air filled her vision and a hatred for all mankind flooded through her. Then there were the voices, incessant in their alien yet familiar rambling.
“Well, that’s kind of weird…”
Rising to her feet, Chain continued to watch the Lucifalz. Slowly she began to approach it and reach out for it.
“It’s weird, like the light is coursing through me and connecting all of me back to myself…”
“Don’t touch that!”
A boyish child’s voice suddenly called out to Chain and her mind was brought back into the flooded chamber she occupied. Turning to find the origin of the voice her eyes landed upon a child of some ten springs garbed in baggy shorts, tights, and a button up shirt, gasping for breath. Looking up as they felt Chain’s eyes upon them, the child glared at her with clear blue eyes from under short crimson hair.
“You idiot! Don’t you know how dangerous a Lucifalz is⁈”
“Um… No. I just woke up and don’t really know what’s going on.”
“Just what we were hoping to hear. Tracking these foolish girls has paid off big time.”
Though the child donned a look of panic, Chain remained ignorantly calm and turned around to pinpoint the new voice. As she turned, she noticed that she was less in a cavern and more so under a low shelf of rock which is what had allowed her to be flanked by the two opposing parties. Well, at least the band of rough men comprised of a plethora of unique men, some sporting features of various animals, were a party as they numbered easily around two dozen. A particularly disheveled man with a scarred-up face and mohawk dressed in tanned leathers seemed to be the owner of the voice and leader as he stepped forward to continue speaking. As he did, he spun a revolver on his finger before pointing it at the child behind Chain.
“I bet you honestly thought we were after the two of you even though you of all people know that sometimes people show up with a Lucifalz. They’re kind of a rare treasure though and worth far more than a scrawny brat like you.”
“You take that back! I’m still a kid and she looks as scrawny as I do! Maybe more actually…”
“Oh, this one of us has a temper.”
Her mermaid double couldn’t help but comment as Chain pouted irritably. Clutching at her left temple Chain offered a warning to go with her irritation.
“I’ve hurt friends for talking about my figure.”
As if she needed to take out her built up anger on someone Chain studied the two opposing parties as they talked about an absent centaur. The leather clad group of ruffians were all cheering on their apparent leader as they exchanged insults with the child who seemed quite confident in the ability of their absent centaur companion. Eyeing the revolver still waiting in the child’s shoulder holster Chain made up her mind. Thrusting out her left finger at the child she reminded everyone that she was there.
“You should be careful what you say about people. I’m not all here, but I know I don’t like people talking about my figure.”
“Why are you talking about that at a time like this?”
The child stared in disbelief at where Chain’s focus lay, but the bright and energetic maid didn’t seem to notice and continued talking.
“You see, I have a short temper when it comes to my figure and now I’m really upset. So, tell me, they are the bad guys, right?”
“You even have to ask⁈ They’re pointing a gun at a kid like me and are talking about selling you like some object.”
“Treasure of the Lucifalz that one is. Pretty enough too.”
“You really weren’t listening…”
Though Chain’s tone of voice stayed sweet enough she was beyond irritated as the leader of the ruffians also commented on her looks. The ruffian leader seemed less impressed by Chain than she did herself and turned their gun onto her face as she looked back over her shoulder at him.
“I think you’re the one not listening or paying attention. You’re out numbered and out gunned. There isn’t anything you can do but beg us not to sell you as a broken heap. Heh!”
The ruffian’s threat earned laughter and shouting applause from the men who followed him. Pouting, Chain groaned and tried not to feel sorry for them.
“You’re not very bright at all, are you?”
“That doesn’t sound like the begging we want to hear.”
“Why are you egging them on anyway?”
The child’s commentary of Chain’s actions fell on deaf ears as they had all but been forgotten. They could have left at any time if they so desired by that point but was as focused on Chain as the ruffians. With everyone’s attention on her, Chain continued unconcerned by their opinions.
“If I’m not wrong we’re out in the middle of the wilderness where monsters roam unchecked. Considering most monsters have powerful magical shielding due to their Ambrosial Gates constantly drawing in Nectar that fuels magic, guns are kind of the worst weapons you can use. The power of magic you can generate with Nectar is dependent on the size of the vessel you pour it into. Bullets are so tiny they’re pretty worthless and can’t even hurt most larger monsters.”
“Seems to me like you think you’re some kind of mage spouting all that mumbo jumbo. But the thing you seem to forget is humans, especially little icaran girls like you can’t survive the Nectar flow of a monster and guns work just fine on you as a result.”
“You think so? Want to try?”
“Don’t tempt me girl.”
“Please don’t tempt him. If they shoot you, they might turn on me next.”
The continued commentary of the child went unnoticed allowing them the time to leave and avoid the situation they were fearful of unfolding. Still they stayed, however foolish it was to do so, while Chain simply smiled with bright eyed enthusiasm.
“Well I’m already tempted and still needing to work off my bad mood. So go ahead and try your worst and see how you fare against the Chainmaid.”
“Tch. Arrogant welp. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater