068 Encounters · 3


Encounters · 3
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othing impressive happened when Chain called out to Drop, but it was not as though nothing happened either. The Mouser Brothers noticed immediately as the rain picked up and Lute’s spinning blade hit the ground well in advance of reaching Chain. This gave Chain the ability to dodge Pan’s attack at her leisure. Chain would have smiled but the Mouser Brothers beat her to it as Lute commented on Drop.

“So, the spirit isn’t just for show. You can open a gate and provide her Nectar to take action on your behalf. Though I’ve never heard of anyone opening an Ambrosial Gate outside of their own bodies. That’s a curious trick you have there, Chainmaid. But I have a few tricks of my own as well.”

The pout Chain put on as Lute did not consider Drop her disappeared in an instant at the mention of tricks. Grabbing her cape to shield herself, Chain barely caught sight of the spark of energy that ran down the Ambrosial wire that had been pinned by the rain once it was linked by Drop to Ambrosia. Like the last time the spark traveled down the Ambrosial wire from Lute’s ring to the pommel of his sword, a massive explosion rocked the courtyard. It was not the only explosion, though it was the only fiery one in the immediate vicinity, as the half of the land bridge that Chain huddled down on and held the courtyard that joined the two main parts of the nameless castle exploded into clouds of dust.

“That was a timely distraction.”

Lute clicked his tongue as he turned his gaze back out into the distance to what had split his and Pan’s attention before. He was not able to focus on it though as gunfire erupted from within the dust cloud that had been the other side of the Courtyard. Yanking his blade back to defend himself proved more difficult than it should have as the Ambrosial wire was still being weighed down by the rain. It told him and his brother both however that Chain was still alive.

Chain was surprised herself to discover that she was still alive but was even more so surprised when she discovered that what she thought was a chunk of rubble that had slammed into her gut and lifted her up was a centaur maid. She had long blonde hair tied into a high ponytail and ruddy skin that matched smoothly with her strawberry roan coat. She wore a white button up shirt under a red denim jacket and wielded a revolver action rifle that she emptied out as she galloped through the dust cloud. Chain wanted to shift into a more stable location but was promptly halted by the centaur maid whose back she was draped over.

“Stay exactly as you are heretic. I’m not large enough for an adult to ride me like a horse and carrying you like this is difficult enough.”

“It’s not like I asked you to rescue me.”

Pouting, Chain talked back and earned a dirty look from her rescuer as they reloaded their rifle while in a full gallop down the cliff side below where the courtyard half remained.

“I could leave you to them then if that is your desire.”

“No! That would be worse!”

“If you’ll listen, what my larger counterpart means to get across is that our pride is wounded for needing rescued and that you are putting yourself in great danger by interfering with those two Sa·B·ers.”

Swimming alongside the dashing centaur as best as she could manage, Drop tried to translate Chain’s backtalk into something more palatable. She did not expect a response but was surprised when the centaur expressed her own surprise.

“Sa·B·ers I had thought perhaps that they were Ambrosial Arm wielders.”

“You seem to make that mistake a lot.”

Blushing in response to Chain’s observation, the centaur took a moment before backtracking and finding advantage in their current situation.

“Well, regardless, if they are Sa·B·ers then we have nothing to fear. We need simply make it down this cliff ahead of them.”

“And how are we going to do that? You may be a centaur but don’t think your four-legged advantage means anything against a Sa·B·er.”

“It doesn’t need to, heretic.”

“It’s Chain. I can remember your name Maye, and that’s considering how disconnected the inside of my head is so why can’t you–”

Whether the centaur, Maye, had heard Chain or not a distant explosion followed by the cliffside above them exploding in a cloud of dust and debris drowned her out. Unable to be heard as the cliff face further exploded another five times, Chain trailing off in astonishment also went unnoticed. Where the explosions simply drowned out Chain’s voice and threatened to bury her and Maye in an avalanche, the Mouser Brothers were further inconvenienced as they could not pursue Chain through the collapsing terrain. Despite this, the two of them smiled and Lute mused alloud of Chain’s good fortune.

“She is a unique one brother. First a harpy and a water spirit, now a centaur. It’s like she is protected by the elements of the Sister Goddesses. And of course, she is an icaran, so she is of the element of Father Icarus. Then the rumors that she is a Child of Her Light and the corruption of the Foreigner infection filling her with darkness makes it seem like she is affiliated with every element that comprises our world.”

“You’ve only touched on half of it Lute.”

“Oh?”

Intrigued by his brother’s implications, Lute turned to Pan. Pan smiled as he too took his eyes off the dust cloud and explained.

“She could open an ambrosial Gate as you noted outside of her self, and then there is her sword technique. It appears brutish and childish from afar, but that is a charade. It seems she was trained to obscure her actual style under that terrible sight of flips, twirls, and raw force. But as we exchanged blows, I could sense her true style. She did not let much show, but what she did was unquestionably an offshoot of the styles used by Athecian nobility.”

“Intriguing. And here she first was brought to our attention as a dirty peasant. As always brother, your sense for the refined has led us to a job most fitting of our rightful place in life. But now…”

Trailing off as he watched the unusual village sized building emerge from the dust cloud traveling east, Lute frowned softly. Pan was less bothered as he watched the tread propelled fortress put distance between them fairly quickly even as its size made it appear far slower.

“Now we just wait for our next opportunity. She will not stay within that mobile fortress forever. She would have to join the monastic order regardless to stay for so long, and we both know she values her freedom too much for that.”

The Chapel ~ Interior ~ Dolmen Bay
Early Autumn ~ Midday
Scattered thunderstorms and cool outside
The village in a travelling tower
As alive inside as out
Maids and girls garbed in habits working diligently
From religious and studious training to vehicle maintenance and daily upkeep   
Everywhere a part of a sacred building, dressed in stain glass and steam works  

Of the ages past on the Face of Icarus, the most well known and least known simultaneously was the Age of the Ancients. It was an age when the races of mankind could match the Foreigners in their aerial cities in technology and exceed them in magical prowess and understanding of Ambrosia and the Nectar called forth to create magic. That age ended however, and every attempt mankind has made to reach it again has been met with the Poltergeists razing the Face of Icarus and reducing mankind to the beginnings of civilization. Despite this, numerous elements of that ancient technology persisted and the most visually recognizable was called the Dolmen. Pilotable mechanized giants in the shape of icarans that stood a full twenty five meters tall on average and were powered and allowed to exist by Artificial Gate Generators made by the Ancients that tapped into Ambrosia and drew in Nectar. Despite their wonder however, their name was a warning that those who used them frequently found them to be their graves. The one that Chain found herself standing before within the mobile fortress called the Chapel, was a custom model built upon the salvaged frame of a likely production model of a time long past. It was unrecognizable today covered in a suit of armor that resembled a collection of pots and kettles painted in browns and creams.

“Fi~nch! You’re up, there aren’t you? Come down here so I can drag you and Maye both to the Mother of this rolling nunnery and complain about you following me.”

“I believe we also mean to thank them.”

“I can’t believe I’m agreeing with a heretical being.”

“Existing doesn’t make Drop heretical. And since she’s just a part of me like a limb that thinks for itself with my thoughts then that would mean I’m a heretical being.”

“I thought I already made that clear, heretic. It pains me that you’ve been invited into the Chapel.”

“Well I’m only here because you dragged me here from my fight.”

“The one we were losing.”

“Dr~op! You’re not helping!”

- Maybe everyone can cool their heads while Maye and I change? We shouldn’t really be moving about the Chapel out of our habits. That and you seem kind of divided right now Miss Chain. -

A boyish voice interrupted Chain, Drop, and Maye from the external speakers of the Dolmen that the three of them knew belonged to the girl of some ten springs named Finch. Chain was not glad for her interruption and pouted up at the cockpit situated above the potbelly of the Dolmen in its chest.

“Is that why you’re hiding in there, Finch? And here I thought you were still angry at me for wrecking your Dolmen.”

- I am angry at you. But I also can’t be because you got it working in the first place too. …That and you look like you’re hurt. Your face is all red and– -

“Don’t worry about that. I’m tougher than I look so no permanent damage here. But you didn’t answer my question.”

Smiling proudly and then falling into a pout, Chain brought her question back up again despite Finch’s attempted deflection. Nervous laughter came across the Dolmen’s external speakers and Maye sighed before trotting off while Chain was distracted.

- A girl of only ten springs shouldn’t be seen wearing anything so immodest! Especially a daughter of the Cardinal Church! -

As the external speakers cutout, Chain looked at Drop and tilted her head.

“Does modesty even really matter to us. I mean you’re naked­–”

“– and as that chainmail is effectively that part of us’s skin worn with nothing else…”

Both Chain and Drop looked down at their respective bodies and could not deny their near or actual nakedness or lack of response to it. Looking back up at the Dolmen and then each other again they shared a shrug.
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Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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