Carpathia III: Episode 106: Volcano

Yseri, Desert Trail

Azrael returned to a sight he did not expect. Jaze hung limp in Kaoru's arms, snoring softly, while Kagurain sat on the ground holding the crystal and looking as though he were in a trance.

Azrael: It would appear that I missed some of the latest happenings.

With everyone else's attention turned to either Kagurain or Jaze, Zet decided to be the one to respond.

Zet: Jaze woke up and he seems okay, if sleepy. Kagurain touched the crystal after Jaze dropped it.

Azrael: I see. I hope Kagurain doesn't take as long as Jaze did. I have secured lodgings for us, so I recommend we all pack while we're waiting.

Everyone except Kaoru nodded agreement. It took some time to convince him to abandon Jaze, but Adell was able to make him understand that he could be sitting there for hours before Jaze woke up. In the end, Kaoru relented when Azrael assured him that he would watch over Jaze. Zet and Ryuu agreed to do the same for Kagurain.

It didn't take long for them to pack and Kagurain woke up around the same time they were finished. Quickly, Adell scooped the crystal into the cloth wrapper and stuffed it in his backpack. Kagurain then described a vivid dream wherein he was surrounded by lightning, leaving little doubt as to what ability he received.

Jaze, however, was still sleeping. Nobody was interested in waiting several more hours for him to wake up, so Azrael agreed to carry him, insisting that it would be no bother. After hoisting Jaze onto his back, Azrael and the others headed north to Volcano.

After several hours of walking, they finally reached a wide bridge, the other side of which was a very glitzy, glamorous-looking Volcano. Before they could cross, however, a soldier stopped them.

Soldier: That's far enough.

The others waited for Azrael to tell them what to do, but before he had a chance to speak, the soldier quickly scanned the entire group and raised an eyebrow. He waved his hand and nearby soldiers suddenly stood at attention.

Soldier: I shall have to take these two into custody.

The soldier then indicated Jaze, still asleep with his head resting on Azrael's shoulder, and Ryuu, wrapped around Zet's neck. Right away, Ryuu's ears drooped and he attempted to hide behind Zet's head. Azrael hastily nudged Adell's ribs with his elbow.

Azrael: Master Adell, your key.

Adell suddenly began patting his chest, looking for the key that Prince Riven hung around his neck.

Adell: Oh, right!

Finally, Adell found the key and he held it up so that the soldier could clearly see it.

Adell: All of these people here are with me.

The soldier's eyes suddenly went wide and then he bowed deeply.

Soldier: My apologies, esteemed sir! Please proceed!

The other soldiers immediately backed away, allowing the group to pass. After nervously passing the deeply bowing guards, the group crossed the bridge and entered the city of volcano.

The streets were lively with people of all sorts, browsing the markets, busking on the sidewalk, panhandling, and hocking wares from blankets. Azrael did his best to keep the group in tight formation while Quilyon and Zet were on duty rounding up Reuli and Wolfram whenever they darted away upon seeing any sort of shiny object.

The entire city was full of contrasts, with wealthy people surrounded by bodyguards sharing the same streets with unkempt beggars with very little in between. Upon reaching a large, intricate monument in the center of a circle, Azrael lead them around it to proceed straight ahead, up the grey, cobblestone street. There, they passed the vast, cone-shaped arena emblazoned with the word "Volcanic" over the entrance.

They didn't stop to gawk, however, Azrael was on a mission to deliver them safely to their lodgings and he would not be detoured. On they briskly strode until they finally reached their destination.

Azrael: One moment. I shall make sure it is prepared.

Azrael disappeared through the front door, still carrying Jaze on his back, for only a short time before re-emerging. This time, he no longer carried Jaze.

Azrael: Our lodgings are prepared. I have placed Jaze in one of the beds. Please enter.

Upon entering, the others were greeted with simple arrangements. Plain wooden chairs and tables graced the entry foyer, with a few plushier chairs along the walls and everything smelled as though it had been recently cleaned. Everything appeared to be in order for a somewhat comfortable, if unluxurious, stay.

Kaoru: Seems fine.

Azrael: I know the innkeeper well. We will not be bothered as long as we are here. It will be two people to each room.

Before anyone could respond, Ryuu shouted excitedly.

Ryuu: Zet and I will take one!

Everyone glanced over at Ryuu, who was still perched upon Zet's shoulder, which was swiftly becoming his usual location.

Zet: I guess one room is settled, at least.

Adell: I guess we should get everyone else divided up.

Quilyon: I can help with that.


Later that evening...

Kaoru counted as Quilyon's left ear fluttered three times. After a brief pause, it fluttered again another two times. Satisfied that he was correct, Kaoru laid his cards on the table.

Kaoru: I'll call. A pair of kings and a pair of fives.

Quilyon growled as she clutched her cards tightly before tossing them on the table, revealing only a single pair. She stood, sending her chair skittering backward, and stomped one foot on the table.

Quilyon: Okay, I demand that you tell me! How do you always know when I'm bluffing?

Kaoru pinned himself on the back of his chair, unsure of what to say. Playing cards with Quilyon was as easy as it had been with Jaze, but he did not want to give away the secret. Fortunately, before Quilyon could receive an answer to her demand, both heard a stirring from the bed next to them. Right away, Kaoru ran to Jaze's side.

Kaoru: Jaze?

Jaze's eyes fluttered open and he gazed upon Kaoru with a smile on his face. Kaoru was happy that it appeared that Jaze really did just simply have a nice, long sleep.

Jaze: Hi, Kaoru.

Kaoru: Are you okay?

Jaze's eyes darted around, focusing on nothing in particular. It was a simple question, but he was nevertheless unsure of how to answer.

Jaze: Yes... No... Well, not yet. There's still one more thing I have to do. Is Ryuu here? I need to ask him something.

Kaoru's eyes suddenly widened for a moment, surprised by the question. Before he had a chance to respond, Quilyon was already on her way to the door.

Quilyon: He's here. I'll go fetch him for you.

With that, Quilyon disappeared through the door.

Jaze: Kaoru, where are we? Is everyone here?

Kaoru: We're all here, yes. Azrael rented out this entire inn for us, so we're the only ones here.

Jaze: That sounds good. Is there a place everyone can gather?

Kaoru blinked a few times, wondering what Jaze was planning.

Kaoru: There's a foyer that's big enough.

Jaze: That will be fine. Could you have everyone meet there? I'll be there in a few minutes.

Kaoru didn't leave right away, still wondering what Jaze was planning.

Kaoru: Jaze, what...

Before he had a chance to even get three words out, Jaze interrupted him.

Jaze: Please, just do this for me. I promise you'll understand... everything when this is all finished.

Hesitantly, Kaoru stepped away from Jaze's bed.

Kaoru: Um... okay.

Kaoru slowly made his way to the door, looking back at Jaze several times as he went. Just as he reached the door, Ryuu pensively entered. Kaoru nodded at Ryuu before leaving.

Ryuu: Jaze?

Jaze sat up in his bed, leaning against the headboard. He patted the matress at his side, beckoning Ryuu to sit next to him.

Jaze: Ryuu, I'd like to ask you about your mind-reading abilities.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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