Carpathia III: Episode 110: Journey Interrupted
Volcano. This was the place that Jaze was trying to sneak into for months, and now he was finally there. It didn't take long for Jaze to start getting antsy about looking around. Azrael kept a tight leash on everyone, however. Jaze eagerly volunteered for a walk to the market to replenish supplies, but Azrael was very strict about anyone wandering off. Jaze tried to wander away from the group several times to look around, but Azrael yanked him back into the group each time.
Upon return and with the new supplies secured, Jaze knew that Azrael would not allow him to leave on his own. He therefore determined that the only possible course of action would be to secure Azrael's assistance, who spent his time guarding the front door. Still not quite sure of what to make of his new demon friend, he meekly approached, ears folded on the sides of his head and hands fidgeting nervously.
Jaze: Um... Azrael?
Azrael continued guarding the front door with an expression of steely resolve on his face.
Azrael: I'm not letting you out.
Jaze sighed heavily, making sure that Azrael, and anyone else nearby, could hear.
Jaze: Yes, yes, I know. You've made that very clear. Just please listen. I've been trying to get into this town for months to find someone. He's not in Zhail. He's not in Nekramentia. He's not in the Unassumed Lands. There's a good chance he's here somewhere. I know it's dangerous to go out alone, but maybe someone can go with me?
Azrael lowered his head and stroked his chin, deep in thought while Jaze watched, fearfully anticipating what his reply might be. Before Azrael could say anything, Jaze felt a hand on his shoulder.
Adell: I'll go. The three of us should be able to handle anything that might happen.
Azrael raised his head and scanned the two of them from top to bottom.
Azrael: Very well. It is highly unlikely that anything will happen here whilst we are away. Nevertheless, I request that...
Azrael was interrupted by Kagurain, who darted with lightning speed from the other side of the room and threw his arms around Jaze.
Kagurain: Jaze! Are you leaving?
Jaze quickly recovered from the shock of being nearly tackled and gently placed his hand atop Kagurain's head. Kagurain gazed up at him with glassy eyes.
Jaze: I'll be back soon. I have to see if I can find Toma. He's very special to me and I've been looking for him for a very long time.
Kagurain's head dropped for a moment and he looked to and fro, as though he were trying to remember something.
Kagurain: Toma... Toma... I know that name...
Suddenly, Kagurain's eyes widened as he looked to Jaze once more.
Kagurain: Oh, I remember from the memories! Whenever you think about him, your wee wee gets bigger!
Jaze's mouth flopped open and he could swear he heard Adell snort, attempting to stifle a laugh. Suddenly, they had the undivided attention of everyone in the room. Jaze could barely manage a sound as he struggled to find words to respond. In the meantime, Kagurain was proving quite adept at not shutting up.
Kagurain: That's what happens when you like someone, right? Your wee wee gets big! The same thing happens to me when I think about Wolfram!
All eyes in the room immediately pivoted toward Wolfram, whose tail was now as bushy as though it had just come out of a dryer and whose face rapidly turned a brilliant shade of pink. Wolfram's ears sagged on his head as he backed away, trying to make himself as small as possible.
Fortunately, of all those present, Kaoru and Quilyon managed to keep their wits. Kaoru, who was nearer, placed his hand on Kagurain's shoulder and gently pulled him away.
Kaoru: Come on, Kagurain. We need to have a chat. Quilyon?
It was a question that didn't need asking, for Quilyon was already collecting Wolfram.
Quilyon: Wolfram, you too.
Quilyon quickly escorted Wolfram to one of the rooms while Kaoru did the same, though Kagurain protested the entire way.
Kagurain: Hey! I wanna go with Jaze! What's going on?
Jaze: Don't worry. I'll be back soon.
Finally, Kaoru managed to push a sulking Kagurain to the same room with Quilyon and Wolfram. Jaze, having momentarily forgotten about Toma, turned his attention to Ryuu.
Jaze: Ryuu, I thought you said that seeing my memories would be like watching a movie.
Ryuu shrugged his tiny shoulders.
Ryuu: I did say a "vivid" movie.
Jaze sighed, realizing that what was done, was done and he turned his attention back to the pressing issue at hand.
Jaze: Whatever. Let's just go.
Adell: Phobos and Deimos, make sure no strangers come through the front door.
Phobos and Deimos leapt to their feet, seemingly excited with being entrusted with a task.
Phobos and Deimos: We're on it!
After giving Azrael a description of Toma, he, Jaze, and Adell set out into the city of Volcano to look around. Jaze quickly became discouraged, however, as he greatly desired to speak to others and ask about Toma, but Azrael wouldn't allow him to do that.
Azrael: It's not a good idea to start asking questions about missing people in a town full of slave traders. If we don't find out anything this time, we can come back more aggressively after we've deposited the others in the Outlands. For now, we shouldn't cause trouble. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
Before Jaze could go any further, Adell concurred with Azrael.
Adell: I think Azrael is right. We can take care of ourselves, but we have to make sure people like Reuli, Wolfram, and Kagurain make it to the Outlands safe.
Jaze growled and hung his head. Though he did not like what he had heard, he could only grudgingly agree with them.
Jaze: Okay, fine, but if we don't find anything this time, I'm coming back as soon as the others are safe!
After a significant amount of time wandering the town aimlesly, the trio finallycame to a huge mansion perched upon a rocky cliff. All the water in the town appeared to flow from this place and the rocky border around it, which bore no resemblence to any sort of stone they'd seen before, seemed artificially constructed to contain it.
Adell: What's this place?
Azrael: This is the home of the Ringmaster. He runs this town and the colusseum where they have the games. He is second only to the King in power and is far more bloodthirsty. We would do well not to draw his ire at any time.
Jaze, interested in none of this, sulked as he had spent the entire day scanning around the city with no sign of Toma and feared the interminable wait between getting the others to the Outlands safely and when he could return again.
Jaze: Dammit, I'm tired of scouring this whole stupid planet! If he's not here, then where else do we have to look next?
Suddenly, Jaze heard a familiar voice.
Jaze's ears shot skyward as he glanced all around him like a confused bird, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, he caught a glimpse of the the distinctive long, black ears drooped down over the sides of Toma's head. There he was, sitting on a wooden stool in a line with several others by the rock face with a scrub brush in his hand. As Jaze's and Toma's eyes met, Toma was the only one looking away from the stone while the rest of the figures continued scrubbing the sides.
Abandoning all pretense of caution, Jaze charged forth and lunged upon Toma, knocking him off his stool. Immediately, Jaze began checking Toma from top to bottom, making sure every part of him was okay.
Jaze: Toma! I've been looking for you for so long! This was the only town I couldn't get into! And you were here all along!
Paying Toma no mind, Jaze continued patting his body until he arrived at Toma's ankle, which was shackled with a heavy, steel brace.
Jaze: What's this? We have to get this off!
Jaze continued examining the shackle as his hands moved from the brace itself to the chain that was connected to it and all the others who sat before the wall. Still, the others scrubbed, pretending not to notice the commotion going on beside them. Jaze began to pull fruitlessly at the chain as Adell and Azrael approached, whispering to each other.
Jaze: Hey, help me get this thing off!
Finally, Toma managed to capture Jaze's attention.
Toma: You have to run.
Jaze's eyes widened in disbelief.
Jaze: What? I'm not going anywhere without you!
At that moment, a loud, angry, gravelly voice pierced the din behind them.
Ugly man: Hey! Git yer hands offa me property!
Jaze looked behind him, spying a bald, overweight, and astonishingly ugly man in a vest with no shirt rapidly approaching. Jaze continuously glanced back and forth between the ugly man and Toma.
Jaze: Who's that?
Toma: That's my owner. Run, or he'll get you too!
Jaze didn't even hear the second sentence that Toma spoke nor did he have any intention of running. Instead, Jaze's ears launched violently to the top of his head like a pair of missles shot from a submarine.
Finally managing to peel himself away from Toma, Jaze stood and turned, positioning himself between the ugly man and Toma as would a mother dog would between a predator and her pups. It was now that Jaze noticed the gun that the ugly man carried.
Ugly man: That's fine. Now move away.
The ugly man raised his rifle and pointed it at Jaze, who remained where he was, immovable as a stone statue and gritting his teeth. Jaze's anger overflowed from within him, though, unlike the incident with the razor bear, he felt in control.
Ugly man: I said git!
It was at this moment that Adell noticed the air around Jaze was beginning to distort as waves of heat poured forth from around Jaze.
Adell: Oh shit! Azrael, come here and help me!
Adell ran to Toma, followed closely by Azrael. Adell dropped to his knees while still moving at full speed and skidded to a halt by the chain which bound him.
Adell: Master Adell...
Adell: No time! Put your sword in that link and hold it steady!
Adell jabbed his finger at a link in the chain. Without another word, Azrael complied and thrust his sword through the link and into the ground. By now, the other slaves were no longer scrubbing the wall and were watching the situation with increasing concern while Adell focused on breaking the chain.
Even the ugly man began to notice that something strange was going on and his rifle trembled in his hands as he took a step backward.
Ugly man: What're you doin'?
Instinctively, Jaze held his hands to his sides and, to the shock of all, a blue fireball suddenly erupted in each.
Ugly man: Stop! I'll...
Unable to control his gun any longer, the ugly man squeezed the trigger. The bullet, though headed directly for Jaze, deflected away in the heat which surrounded him, leaving him unscathed.
Behind Jaze, the chain link on which Adell was focusing finally broke. Right away, the other slaves, who had been linked together with the same chain, feverishly pulled it from their own shackles and, one by one, fled the scene. Adell lifted Toma under his arm and hurriedly carried him away.
It was just in time. As soon as Toma was away, Jaze slowly pulled his arms back and then thrust the two fireballs forward. Together, the merged into a white-hot stream of flame which engulfed the ugly man and then burrowed through the stone wall as though it were made of paper.
Adell and Azrael watched in awe at the spot where the ugly man once stood as the stream of fire continued to from Jaze's hands. The fire continued forth, plowing under the rocky mountain under the mansion, which was now crumbling into the artificial lake below. Even Azrael was slack-jawed as the fire stream penetrated the opposite wall, allowing all the water to empty down the hillside.
Finally, the fire subsided and Jaze closed his eyes, slowly collapsing to the ground. By now, a crowd began to gather around the site, all of whom watched in astonishment as the last bits of the mansion collapsed into rubble.
Azrael: Can he walk?
Adell shook his head rapidly, as though he had just come out of a trance and saw Azrael pointing at Toma.
Toma: I'm fine.
Azrael: Good! Adell, Take Toma and Jaze and go as far west as you can. Kill anyone who tries to stop you. I will retrieve the others at the inn and find you!
With time being critical, Adell felt no need to argue with the plan or try to come up with one of his own. He agreed quickly.
Adell: Got it!
Azrael turned and ran at full speed back toward the inn while Adell scooped Jaze from the ground and, with Toma beside him, hurried west as fast as he could.
All city pictures from SimCity 4