Carpathia III: Episode 112: Crystal Shards

Yseri, outside Volcano

It was a long wait for the caravan to finally arrive at Adell's makeshift hiding place, even with Ryuu guiding them. Though Ryuu had told them that everyone was relatively fine, the others were nontheless pleased to see Jaze, Toma, and Adell together awaiting them eagarly. Kaoru, naturally, was the first to rush to Jaze and Toma.

Kaoru: Jaze! Toma! I'm glad you made it! Azrael told us what happened. Are you okay?

Jaze's eyes met Kaoru's, but Toma kept his head down, as he was still trembling slightly.

Jaze: Not perfect, but I hope nothing we can't fix.

Jaze glanced behind Kaoru, looking for Artemis before Kaoru spoke again.

Kaoru: Quilyon, Reuli, this is Toma.

Jaze finally spotted Artemis having a conversation with Adell, though he couldn't make out what either of them were saying.

Quilyon: It's nice to meet you. Kaoru, you weren't kidding about his long ears. They're very pretty.

Toma looked up for the first time, still trembling and bouncing his leg up and down. Jaze's eyes kept shifting repeatedly from Kaoru to Artemis and back again.

Toma: Thank you. It's nice to meet you too.

Kaoru cocked his head slightly and raised an eyebrow.

Kaoru: Toma, are you okay?

Jaze: That'll take some time to explain. First, we need Artemis.

At the same moment that Jaze finished his sentence, Adell and Artemis glanced at Toma. Jaze guessed that they were discussing the very same thing that he was thinking as they both started walking toward them. Now, Jaze could hear their conversation.

Adell: By the way, did you make sure the crystal was packed?

Artemis: I checked. It's in your bag.

Artemis passed Kaoru and Quilyon and kneeled in front of Toma.

Jaze: Toma, you remember Artemis, right?

Toma: Yeah, I remember everyone.

Jaze: Artemis has healing power. He's going to try and help you.

Toma blinked twice and slowly turned his head toward Jaze.

Toma: Healing power?

Jaze: I got fire, like you saw. Adell has stone. Kaoru has water. Kagurain has something, but we're not entirely sure about it yet. Artemis has healing.

Toma said nothing and for awhile, there was silence as Jaze watched Toma's eyes dart between him and Artemis.

Jaze: I understand it's a lot to take in. Just trust me. Artemis saved my life.

Toma: If you say it's okay, then it's okay. What should I do?

Artemis: Just stay still. Jaze, it's best if you don't touch him while I'm doing this.

Jaze hastily scooted to the side while Artemis held up his hands. Toma closed his eyes and placed his hand on his leg, trying to calm himself. Artemis hovered his hands over different parts of Toma's body and suddenly stopped.

Artemis: I just realized I don't know where to start.

Artemis shrugged and gently placed his fingers on both sides of Toma's face. Jaze was heartened when a warm, green glow began to emanate from Artemis's fingertips. Little by little, Toma's trembling slowed and finally ceased altogether as Artemis moved his hands around to various positions. Not long after, the green glow from Artemis's hands ceased, but he continued anyway.

Finally, Artemis removed his hands from Toma and both opened their eyes.

Jaze: Well?

Toma: I feel a little better.

Artemis: I was able to repair some damage in the nerve structure, but I can't seem to do anything about the caffeine problem. I'm sorry.

Jaze put his arm around Toma again.

Toma: Thank you for trying.

Jaze lowered his head, wondering if there could be any hope of breaking Toma's addiction quickly or if he would have to endure a long, hard recovery road. Suddenly, he had an idea.

Jaze: The crystal!

Jaze leapt to his feet.

Jaze: Where is it?

Adell momentarily scrunched up his face in thought until he finally shrugged his shoulders.

Adell: Worth a shot. The crystal is in my bag.

Without another word, Jaze rushed to Adell's backpack and started rooting around in it while Adell, Artemis, and Kaoru conversed amongst themselves.

Artemis: Is that a good idea?

Kaoru: I don't see why not.

Jaze pulled a wad of cloth from Adell's bag, which still glinted yellow from within.

Jaze: Found it!

Jaze rushed back to Toma, unfurling the cloth wrapper as he went.

Adell: If anyone can fix Toma, the Angel can.

Meanwhile, Kaoru tapped his finger to his mouth, as though he was thinking about something.

Kaoru: Um... didn't you guys say something about two people touching the crystal at the same time? Does Jaze know about that?

For a split second, Adell and Artemis exchanged horrified glances before they both whipped their heads around toward Jaze and Toma.

Artemis: Jaze, wait!

It was too late. Just before Artemis spoke, Jaze was already placing the crystal into Toma's waiting hand. Immediately, the crystal became clear and began to shudder and Jaze and Toma's efforts to pull themselves away from it were entirely futile. Then, the others, watching intently, heard a sharp crack and a saw glowing red fracture appear on the crystal.

Adell: Stand back!

Everyone backed off, each wondering if there was anything they could do to help Jaze and Toma. Another fracture appeared, and another, and another. Soon, it was impossible to count them as red light now poured forth from each. Finally, the crystal exploded into millions of tiny, sparkling shards, sending Jaze and Toma hurdling backward and causing the others to shield their eyes. When everyone regained their composure, they could see that the crystal shards were gone, as though they had evaporated into the air. In their place stood the Blind Angel.

Ryuu: Hades!

It seemed as the Angel was going to speak, but upon hearing Ryuu's cry, one eyebrow popped out from behind the bandage on his face.

Hades: Yes, I believe people called me that once upon a time. It is good that I am still known after all these eons. I hope my reputation remained intact.

The others quickly glanced knowingly at each other before granting the Angel their attention once again. Ryuu was the first to run excitedly to him, placing his paw on the Angel's trembling leg.

Ryuu: It's good to see you!

The Angel lowered his head toward Ryuu, but did not kneel.

Hades: Hello, Ryuu. How are the dragons these days?

Ryuu: We're doing well! I'm sorry about what happened to you. We thought we had killed all of the evil demigods.

Hades: I'm sure you made a noble effort and, for that, you have my thanks. Nevertheless, my journey has reached its end. I regret that I did not have the power to grant an ability to all of you, but to those of you who received one, please use it wisely. You are now strong, and you must use that strength to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

The Angel moved his head around the group, as though he could see them, while the others watched, mouths agape, unsure of what to say. Finally, he stopped at Artemis.

Hades: Artemis Imsety Leingod.

Stunned at being addressed directly by the Angel, Artemis's ears shot to the top of his head and his tail straightened like someone had just yanked on it.

Artemis: Mryow?

Artemis tilted his head to the side, unsure of what to say.

Hades: It has been an indescribable joy for this lonely soul to watch you grow as a person. My other regret is that I will not be alive to witness what comes next.

Artemis's eyes darted back and forth, but none of the others seemed to have any idea what the Angel meant. Before he could say anything, however, Jaze spoke.

Jaze: Um... Mr. Hades... sir? Is there anything you can do for Toma?

At this moment, Jaze and the others began to notice that the tears on the Angel's dull, grey skin were growing, as though his skin was melting from his body.

Hades: Ah, yes. I shall give what little power I have left. Toma, please come to me and touch your head to my hand.

The angel held out his hand, just as he did for Jaze when he was within the crystal as Toma looked to Jaze for guidance.

Jaze: Go ahead. He's a good guy. He saved me from a fate worse than death.

Hesitantly, Toma rose and staggered to the Angel. Once there, he kneeled to the ground and slowly placed his forehead into the Angel's palm. The Angel then placed his other hand on top of Toma's head.

Hades: Oh, my gentle soul, you have had many trying days. Though I have not the strength to cleanse all from you, I have a solution.

The others watched, waiting for something to happen, but nothing appeared forthcoming. The Angel, his hands remaining on Toma's head, lifted his head to the sky.

Hades: It is good to breathe real air one last time.

The Angel sighed heavily as the heaving of his chest opened up yet more tears on his body. It appeared that he might collapse at any moment. The Angel then redirected himself back to Toma and, as soon as he did, Toma inhaled sharply and then gagged, as though something stuck in this throat. The Angel appeared to struggle as well, grimacing while Toma coughed and allowed tears to pour from his eyes.

Finally, the Angel removed his hands from Toma's head and stood up as straight as he could, his legs and arms trembling.

Hades: That is everything I have to give.

The Angel held his head up high and smiled sadly.

Hades: Thanks be to you all. Please go in peace.

And thus passed the final words of the Angel from his lips. Immediately after, he collapsed to the ground and, as though time had accelerated a hundred fold, his body decayed before their eyes and blew away in the gentle winds.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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