078 Encounters · 13


Encounters · 13
Deep Root Colony ~ Fire Blossom Forest
Early Autumn ~ Early Afternoon, Clear and temperate
Above, a flying city from a time forgotten
The sky framed by flowers of flaming petals
A stifling peace
Along the path, a Darkness waiting
Unheard echoes weighing the air with dread and mystery  
 “T



his must be the influence of too much Nectar in the air. What could possibly be filling the world with so much Nectar, and in such a seemingly stable state?”

There were no answers to Lute’s questions, and he asked the wrong ones regardless. He failed to understand that he had entered Ambrosia due to the effects of the Lucifalz. Unlike the nuns of the Chapel who were prepared for the Lucifalz to disrupt reality in its presence, the younger Mouser Brother had no such knowledge or reason to have it. He was if anything though, a professional like his older brother and chose to focus on the task at hand.

“Whatever is going on, I need simply complete the job and capture the Chainmaid.”

Once more preparing to throw his blade, Lute set about the task before him. Then he sensed something coming from above.

“What? What

Looking up, Lute performed a fine double take as a giant ball of water was about to slam right into the branch he was following Chain on. He had no immediate way to dodge it either and was promptly washed right off the branch as the drop of water landed, all of its kinetic energy being released in a powerful wave as it allowed the three within to land safely. Swimming up into the air Drop looked around confused for a moment.

“Hm? Did we just wash something away?”

As there were no signs of anyone in the immediate area where they landed, Drop shrugged and then struck a victory pose.

“Success! Welcome to Ambrosia you two, though we seem to be in a pretty barren region… Eh?”

Drop noticed a little late that neither Maye nor Squawk was paying any attention to her. Squawk had dismounted Maye and was offering thanks to the goddess Atheaeldre for providing him the safety of her branches while Maye was staring up at the Foreigner city in the sky, her hearing likely damaged from Squawk’s screaming. The one person who was listening to her she did not see as Lute dangled under the branch they were on from the wire of his blade. He was intrigued by her claim of their location, however.

“Ambrosia? Is that possible?”

Curiosity and a need to confirm his current circumstances made Lute a very attentive listener to all that Drop had to say. As she first had to straighten out Maye and Squawk he would have to work harder than he wanted to glean anything useful out of their conversation.

“Will you two listen to me already!”

Growing visibly agitated, Drop was pouting fiercely as she held her arms straight at her sides with her hands balled into tight fists. Still, neither Maye nor Squawk seemed particularly receptive to her attempts to get their attention. In response Drop started trembling and growling beneath her breath. Her anger dissipated in an instant however as Maye asked a question that would need answered.

“Is that what it appears to be?”

“It is, but…”

Swimming up next to Maye’s head, Drop began to explain as she too set her eyes on the bottom of the Foreigner city in the monster filled abyss above.

“It is and it isn’t here. It’s like we’re seeing a distortion in time… maybe.”

“I see. No, it makes sense. We were warned that a Lucifalz as large as the one dwelling here would likely distort reality as we know it. It is likely then that this forest we find ourselves in is the same.”

Looking down at her immediate surroundings Maye received a headshake from Drop in response.

“No. this forest is a distortion of the powers that fill this place. The master of this domain has given it form by distorting everything that is within its reach and filled with Nectar.”

“Then this forest…”

Taking in her surroundings mid-sentence, Maye trailed off as she tried to put together the nature of the environment she found herself in. As her eyes made their way down, they settled on Squawk who was still bowing down again and again in praise of Atheaeldre. Seeing him allowed Maye to complete her thought and thus kept her from commenting on his pitiful display.

“This forest is born from the Ambrosial beast within corrupting the efforts of the Pilgrims of Ateaeldre to restore her gift to this land.”

“What

Snapping up at the mention of something that did not sit right with him at all, Squawk could barely contain his anger.

“That is correct.”

“I’ll kill it personally! How dare it defile Lady Atheaeldre’s gift!”

Drop’s confirmation was enough to set Squawk fully off and he sprang to his feet indignantly. Drop was glad to see him so raring to go and smiled awkwardly as she attempted to slow him down.

“I’m so glad to see you recovered after you were so disbelieving about how we jumped into the abyss.”

“Urk–!”

Squawk locked up at the mention of how they arrived at their current location. Playfully enjoying seeing Squawk do as she wanted, Drop clasped her hands behind her back and teased him just a little more.

“I didn’t think you would have it in you with the way you screamed all the way down.”

“Please don’t remind me she-devil. I do believe my ears are actually bleeding worse than the first time I heard him shout.”

Interrupting Drop, Maye reached up and gingerly touched her ears. A sticky feeling brought a disappointed look to her face and she pulled her hands away so she could look at the blood on her fingertips. Sighing heavily, she conceded to the obvious fact.

“Unquestionably it is worse.”

“Heh heh. Sorry.”

Drop tried to be sincere, but it was a surprisingly difficult task in light of how she found the damage Squawk’s shouting could cause both terrifying and absurd to the point of comedy. She was not completely merciless however and did consider their current situation and the knowledge that Maye and Squawk likely lacked.

“Anyway, before we go catch up with our human part, whose own ears are hurting because of the voices of the Lucifalz- Our human parts are not used to hearing the songs of the world and is in quite a bit of pain to the point that this part of us feels it -we must be cautious. Ambrosia, while similar to the human world in pockets like this in the edges, is a world of Nectar. The very same Nectar you summon when you use certain machines or open your Ambrosial Gates, which you must not do while we are here. If you open a gate to take Nectar out of Ambrosia you’ll remove yourself through the same Gate. Even if your Gate is large enough to fit your whole self through, we are currently over a really big hole with nothing to support us outside of Ambrosia.”

“Suddenly I’m feeling very glad that I’ve never been trained or had the talent to open my Gate.”

Looking quite pallid suddenly, Maye had all of no concerns admitting to her shortcomings in the fields of magic in this instance. Squawk was less accepting than Maye and looked bewildered at Drop.

“Then what am I supposed to do I rely on Nectar and my prayers to cast magic! How do you expect me to cast any spells and not be defenseless if I can’t risk opening my gate without throwing myself into the depths of this accursed abyss

“Hm? What do you mean?”

Tilting her head confused, Drop questioned Squawk’s concerns. His deadpan glare though told her that he really did not understand and that she would have to explain. It was befuddling to her and her head tilted even further to the side.

“We are in Ambrosia. Everything everywhere is Nectar except for your flesh and that what you brought with you. You need simply reach out for it with your will and make it do as you normally would. You just do not need to open your Gate. Even you could do it without training here.”

Turning from Squawk to Maye, Drop pointed out that she could easily familiarize herself with magic where they currently were. That was not all she suggested and offered Maye a unique opportunity.

“In fact, if you are really willing to learn, our human self can open your gate for you so you can become acquainted with the sensation.”

“What That idiot can do that Where did she pick up such an ability

Squawk cut off any response Maye could have made and drilled Drop for answers. Drop was confused again as she the memories that answered that question were distant and difficult to put together and she laughed nervously as she tried to make sense of them.

“It seems those memories are outside of us at this time, but I believe it is because of you.”

“What Me Preposterous! I lack the knowledge to any such– Unless of course…”

At first Squawk vehemently denied any involvement with Chain’s ability to open the Ambrosial Gates of others, but then he had a moment of realization. As much as he trailed off though, he did not calm down. An instant later his arms flew into the air and he was fully tearing into Chain.

“That idiot! She actually misunderstood that much! Only she could have pulled off so spectacular a feat of idiocy! Why exactly am I worried about her again She’s such an idiot she entered Ambrosia before, likely without even thinking in the least! She’s such an idiot, even if she died I doubt she would understand how that is supposed to work and just keep living! That absolute and colossal idiot! Where is she I need to give her a piece of my mind and maybe actually crack that thick skull of hers and see if any intelligence can actually get in there.”

“Well, if you’re ready I can lead you to her.”

“You better believe that I’m ready! Now stop wasting time and get going. If you don’t, I’ll be giving you a piece of my mind as well!”

“But you already are and are going to.”

“What was that

“N-n-nothing!”

Terrified of Squawk’s tone of voice, Drop began swimming through the air ahead to where they would find Chain. Maye simply shook her head as she sighed and rested her forehead in her hand.

“To think he could terrify even the she-devil so. Then again, did not the Foreigner also mention being tormented by his voice?”

“And what are you waiting for you fool There may not be any monsters here right now, but until we catch up with the idiot, you’re the one I’m relying on to keep me alive! Now move it!”

“Of course, Master Pilgrim.”

Maye could not help herself but smile and answer with a bit of sarcasm as she began to follow Squawk and Drop. She also found herself laughing at the irony of calling out Drop and Zhenir for their fear of Squawk’s voice when she was just as terrified. Her ears were still ringing from his screaming as she had leapt down into the abyss and were still trickling blood as well. She was strangely grateful that she was not dressed in her habit as her coif would likely be horribly stained with the blood and there would be no getting the stain out. It would be a horrible mistreatment of a holy garment. She could not help but ponder how well blood could be washed out of hair however as Chain would become the next target of Squawk’s terrifyingly destructive shouting.



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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