iii. summons to cape disappointment
Too curious to be extremely scared, Daisuke cranes his neck to examine his visitor. Daisuke more than half expects this apparition to turn out to be nothing more than a fever dream. A very vivid dream.
Standing well over the height of two full grown men, the green angel says nothing, its transparent, membranous wings vibrating slightly. It is shaped like a man, but wears forest-colored chitinous armor that Daisuke suspects is not removable, and it's face is that of a dragonfly... incurious and yet acutely observational.
Daisuke tries very hard to avoid looking at the hands, swathed in metal and ending in glistening, deadly, horrible-looking claws. Remembering that he has an appointment with death anyway, Daisuke puts on a bold face and grabs for one of the knives in his boots.
"I wouldn't do that," the insect-thing says in a calm voice. The fact that it doesn't move the fact that it speaks causes Daisuke to drop his weapon in surprise.
"You can talk?"
"Are you a person?"
The thing laughs, which does nothing to bolster Daisuke's confidence. "No, and yes. You might say that I'm personal, but not human. I am a Stingmon." The creature pauses, and for a moment almost looks thoughtful. "I am THE Stingmon."
"Are there others?"
"Like me?" The Stingmon shrugs, a gesture so commonplace that Daisuke dares to feel reassured. "Yes and no. It depends on the question that you think you are asking."
Daisuke rubs his hands together. He'd like to put on his sealskin mittens now, but refrains. "Things... er, persons... who look like you."
"Never have I met anyone like that."
"Where do you come from, then?"
Curiouser and curiouser. Daisuke notices that the Stingman (er, mon) has red hair. Hair! It's red! "Do you have a mom?" Daisuke blurts out in perplexion.
"I know nothing about my nymph years," the insect answers, and sounds as if he wants to laugh. Again. "But these questions stray far from the point. Do you know what you should be asking, human child?"
"Why are you here?" Daisuke replies promptly, and then blushes. Yeah. He might be about to exchange a boring death for a grueling one. Best not to forget that.
"Ah. Very good. Philosophy is all very well, but you must chose your moments. You appear to be in peril, child. Not only am I dangerous, but your very situation seems unlikely to promote the furtherance of your life. If I fight you, you will die. Even if I leave you alone, you will surely die." The Stingmon nods when he sees that Daisuke does not flinch from these truths. "You understand me."
"I was sent to fetch you," the Stingmon says, and this does startle Daisuke.
"By who? Your master? But… why?"
"Better to ask 'how.' The whale who you spared made a special plea to my Prince. Fortunate for you, he accedes to the request."
Daisuke shakes his head, confused. "Whales can talk?"
The Stingmon has no mouth to smile, but appears quite amused by this inquisitive and seemingly heedless boy. "Of course."
Daisuke breaks into a smile. "Then I was right! At least…" remembering Yamato and the other man who died, his face becomes somber. "Well, at least I wasn't entirely wrong."
"Indeed." The Stingmon kneels before Daisuke. "We must go now. My Prince waits for you."
"Who... is your Prince?"
"He rules the ice which your people call 'Antarctica.'" Daisuke opens his mouth, but Stingmon forestalls him. "No more questions. And no arguments. This is not a matter for debate."
"Um… alright, then."
With surprising delicacy, the Stingmon gathers Daisuke into his arms and alights.
Daisuke had never flown before, not even in an aeroplane or a helicopter. To flit through the chill air over the chopping waves is exciting and yet deliriously frightening for him.
Stingmon suffers the cheers and gasps in silence. The child is but a nymph to him, excitable and enviably brief in its attention.
"Look at that! Gulls!"
"Look at that! What a wave!"
"Look! Look! Ice!"
Stingmon sighs. The boy is as serious as a featherduster. "Surely, surely you've seen ice before?" He inquires in exasperation.
"It looks different from up here," Daisuke says defensively.
Stingmon checks. "No. It's just your average ice."
Daisuke miffs, and then squirms so that Stingmon has to grip him tighter. "You wouldn't understand. I bet you are always getting to do amazing stuff like this."
"Running errands is hardly amazing."
"So you are always kidnapping outcast kids for your master Prince?" Daisuke sounds skeptical.
"Lest you forget, this is a rescue. From a lonely and painful death. Remember that?"
Daisuke actually snuggles closer to Stingmon. "Yeah. Thanks."
The rest of the trip is uneventful.
Stingmon drops Daisuke in a sheltered cove on an unnamed island, and then lands beside him. The beach is black and crumbles like charcoal underfoot, and there is a slight smell of periodicity, the organic rush of krill washing upon the shore.
"Walk," Stingmon commands.
Daisuke complies. Suddenly this feels serious. He wonders what sort of beast could command someone as powerful and as intelligent as the Stingmon. A sea serpent, in all probability, and now he was being led to its unholy and stinky lair. Or maybe a lion. Daisuke knows all about those guys. Very royal.
Daisuke psyches himself up.
Oh, definitely a lion. This feels very 'Narnia.'
Rehearsing his speech, trying to pick words that sound deferring and yet not obsequious, Daisuke doesn't notice when Stingmon stops. He just keeps looking at the sky and the seagulls which no longer strike him as so amazing.
Not so tough, really. Flying. Bet I could do it if I made myself wings. Let's see…"Your majesty, I am very especially honored…"
Daisuke spins towards the voice. The Prince! He examines the cliffs, looking higher and higher for the lion that he expects, not surprised that it chooses to hide its form from mere mortals.
"Where are you?" Daisuke calls out loudly.
Daisuke frowns, then looks down. Leveling his eyes, he meets the shock of his life when it becomes clear that the speaker is… a boy! A boy who looks not a little bit impatient and put out, although it is hard to tell exactly what expression he wears because his eyes are shielded by some kind of protective goggles with tinted glass. Instantly, Daisuke guesses that this is the Prince. No-one could wear that much frippery and NOT be important.
Daisuke wonders if he should fall to his knees, but then remembers something he'd heard on the international shortwave. No free person bows, not even to a king.
Daisuke holds his ground, nodding weakly.
"This is the child, your Highness." Stingmon DOES bow, and his tone has none of the cool amusement that he displayed earlier.
"I see that."
Running leather-clad fingers through purply-black hair, the other boy sighs. "So, human. What should I do with you?"