Song of the Seagulls
The Outsider part 7:From Bad to…
She'd coaxed him down a few turns. Not in the base proper, but about halfway between the tower with its overlarge seagull cage and the main fortress before. It was there, on a gloom grey landing, they'd tried, and failed, to summon seagulls. It was on the tip of her tongue to say "Let's go back" because it was cold, and wet, and dark out when those things that she might have considered "bad" had gotten worse.
As for how things were worse, well there were many things that happened at once. Whooping lights combed the skies beyond Forsaken, the light roused all the winged inhabitants of the fortress, sending them to flight. For a few breathtaking moments the very air was alive with the whirl of wings as fluttering birds and screaming Keese clogged up heaven.
Hyoi pear perched between the limp stubs that were his ears; WormEatter looked first to her than to the sky.
"This supos'ta happen?"
"No." Eyes wide, Aryll shook her head, looking at the sky with her dark eyes.
"I get it really wrong?" The Mokoblin whimpered.
"No." Aryll murmured. She swallowed the familiar sick taste of her budding fear. "No, it's not supposed do this."
Above, about, birds screamed, Keese circled, and thunder that wasn't drew near. One quick look to heaven, a flash of steel on starless sky, made gold by trailing light, made WormEatter squeal. Snatching up the girl's limp arm he turned her so she could see, snout tipped to up high, unable to look away, he order her to do what she was most obviously doing.
"Island she! Look, look!"
Aryll looked up and her eyes which were once merely wide nearly bugged out of her skull.
"Bad bird, big bad bird!"
Above, trailing water from its feathers nad red from its claws, the monster's massive wings slicing through the air with thunderous detonations, the Helmroc King screamed his agreement. Raking stone pathways with dead fish yellow eyes, the bird's hiss sounded volcanic. Its frenzied flapping slowed, and then its wings quivered to a hesitant stall. Beak snapped open, arresting itself mid scream; it glared at them, talons twitching.
Aryll didn't have to think, the truth of that horrid moment, all thought was impossible.
"Run!" She snapped up the green pig's arm, and with a startled grunt WormEatter raced up the ramp with her.
Above, beyond, almost lost in a cloud of shrieking avians, the Helmroc King let out a blistering scream all its own and dropped from the sky, talons stretched before it, eyes flashing a mad crimson.
Another empty barrel, another "perfect" hiding spot. He didn't bother lifting the bottomless barrel's sides this time. Part for vanity, part from exhaustion, Link decided he wasn't in the mood to wear a wooden skirt barrel thing, so he shuffled on, pushing on the outer walls to move forward and trusting the limited view provided by a handy knot hole to guild him. There wasn't a guard in sight, and considering that all the guards had lanterns Link didn't have to strain his eyes in the least when pig hunting. Smiling wide, he almost whistled, caught himself last second, and with a drizzled off twitter recalled that silence was golden.
Especially when it warded off those blood red eyes.
Scratching and scraping his way up ramps that bound the second level to the third Link paused in a gloom span of the walkway. With a grunt he pushed up the top of his barrel's lid, and peeped out with the telescope Sis had given him. A quick look on high, a familiar flash of white among the black, and he smiled. With a soft series of clicked he collapsed than folded the red 'scope in his pocket and pulled his "hat" in place.
While wood, and flat, and not as snug as the hat Grand'ma'd given him, he'd take what he could. Grunting, growling, he pushed on the edge of his disguise, shuffling a few more inches forward, oblivious to the racket he was raising. A gargled giggle made Link stop. There it was again, that really annoying sound! Pressing a pointed ear to the wooden side, he flitted from one knot hole to the other, which really meant he looked out the comfy one, than bending over double in the barrel's confines to find the other.
Nothing, just like last time.
Forging secrecy, and sneaky, he waited in until he was sure he was facing the giggling whatever it was and with a savage "hi ya!" bounced out of his mobile disguise. Shield in one hand, lid serving as impromptu sword in the other. A flick of gold amongst the shade winked out with a startled sounding "tweep!" and all was quiet.
A chorus of screams, bird screams, greeted the chagrinned silence after his battle cry. Black and white, they tore from their nests on Forsaken's winding path up, flying blindly into the night. It was then, all those second thoughts, those "maybes" and "shoulda's" reared their cheerful heads, even as Link stood on the walkway amongst a rain of feathers. Puffing on one insistent grey feather that seemed intent on flying up his nose, the Outsetter winced.
One light, from a distant tower highlighted the birds in their flight, swept up to the biggest, baddest bird Link had ever seen, then lighted down to the shock still Outsetter.
"Umm…" turning to the light, trying a sunny smile, the boy waved to the whatever it was atop the tower. "Hi, I'm lost!"
Alarms screamed, cut through the dark night and more lights flared into life on distant towers, streaming down to where the first one was focused. Well, while these were probably monsters and not people it was sorta nice to be the center of attention. Link tried to focus on that, forced his smile wider.
"I'll just.. umm … be leaving now.. With my sister."
As if the things afar and up high honestly cared. Still, he shuffled one foot to the other, spared a glance to the path ahead. Wood swayed, bound by rope it all but sang to him. Promising a path leading to the last stretch of wherever up… went.
But up was where he was going. Where the seagulls were, where his sister was. That's where he was going to go, big birds, bad birds, and creepy pig people aside. He was gunna go up, but he did so slowly, one foot shuffling after the other, slinking out of the dogged light.
He didn't want to be rude and all.
"I'm going now, bye!"
That was polite enough, more than enough really. Turning on his heel he was going to run off, off and up and to his sister than far away.
A soft plop caused the boy to hop, banished all thoughts of running. He turned to the surprising sound, expecting bird droppings or worse. That wasn't so bad, not really. Or so went the boy's first thought. Just his green cap falling from above.
Then he remembered where he'd left his green cap.
And with who…
His heart sunk, and as if to help his despair along there came a familiar, smoky "kree kree" that made his skin crawl and brought images of hot claws and red eyes to the fore. His nose hurt, something fierce, and he rubbed it, trying to ignore how his arms hurt too.
"Not you again!"
Red eyes glimmering with malice, perched on the ropes of the bridge, intent obvious, the bird twiddled a talon along the rope pushing obvious to cliché with one idle motion. Letting out a long string of "krees", the bird threw its long neck back. Cackling to the sky for the Sea's sake! This place was crazy, Link decided. Was crazier than crazy. A bird had a mad man's laughter, a villain's laughter. It was an evil bird, a demon bird king, and a pipsqueak besides.
The avian scraped a claw along the rope, laughter done now, edges of its beak … curled… in a devil grin.
That decided things, once and for all. Lips pressing into a thin line, the Outsetter shifted his grip on the barrel's lid.
"Go away!" He half turned wholly threw, and for once, when it mattered most, he hit. With a squawk the bird staggered, should of toppled under the strike but didn't. But that didn't matter. Link made a run for it. Pausing for just one moment to snap up his dropped cap.
"Oh shut up!" Link hollered over his shoulder, skirting past the wobbling bird, minding the beak that snapped out as he went by. He pounded over the bridge; wood planks a hollow blur, then from behind, a hiss, a snap. And more ominous, more scary than that, there came a triumphant scree.
A look down showed the planks to be peeling away, with an agonizing slowness that told of last moments, long falls, and a lot of screaming was to follow before the fall's final step called impact. Not wanting any of that Link jumped, and got a smaller impact for his efforts. Even as the wood skipped away, pulled down and scrapped against the stone flank of Forsaken the Outsetter smashed into the lip of the other side. Gripping the edge, holding tight even as rope whipped about him and timber cracked and tumbled against the stone. Taking one breath, another, he hung on for dear life, unable to do anything else for the longest of moments. He was just… stupefied, as Grand'ma woulda said "the lantern hung in the window, but no one was home".
Teetering on the edge of shock and hysterics the Ousetter forgot everything and laughed.
Not a crazy laugh, or a mad man's laugh, but one of shear relief. Still giggling, he pushed up, swung one leg over the edge and rolled himself onto the main path. Snickering like a mad thing, even though he wasn't, Link smiled at the black sky. Light, birds, and monster's just weren't for a little.
Until that sound, that hiss, a flash of red and malice fluttered above his head and brought it all back.
"Ya know, I usta like birds." He groaned, struggling to his feet, still smiling. "Now I just want chicken soup."
Claws and fire circled up high, holding his hat down even as he ran Link saw another bridge. A screech from up high warned him that the bird had seen it too. Ducking low, running faster, almost his fastest, Link raced on even as the bird pulled up for a talon edged dive. And crazy as it seemed, as he ran, the Outsetter had to wonder if Aryll still liked birds. The Sea's knew he didn't. Not anymore, anyway.