Carpathia III: Episode 126: Spectre
The Outlands, Yseri
Though Kaoru and Quilyon didn't leave the village after the wedding, they weren't seen much for several days thereafter. A traditional honeymoon, after all, was out of the question, as the village was the only somewhat safe place anywhere near. News trickled in slowly, and what came painted an ugly picture. Volcano was in complete chaos, as Ringmaster had indeed been killed when his mansion collapsed. It was now consumed by factions attempting to assert dominance.
Regardless of the chaos outside the borders, the village was as protected as it could be with the only real threat being Wishmaster himself. Everyone could easily go about their business in peace and tranquility, with the only downside being that the village was also a prison of sorts. Dangerous as it was to go out, they were, in effect, trapped there.
It was a day like any other, hot and sunny as always, except for two things. Jaze didn't quite seem himself since the wedding. He spent much of his days staring into space and absentmindedly pulling leaves from the trees and tearing them into little bits. Blue had also disappeared for a few hours. Though not gone long, they did like to keep an eye on him if only to prevent him from accidentally wrecking something.
Adell: Hey, Ryuu. Have you seen Blue at all lately?
Ryuu straightened up and looked around, as though he hadn't noticed he was missing.
Ryuu: I haven't. I finally got around to showing Blue all the memories you shared with me. After that, he left. I didn't realize he'd been gone so long.
Artemis: Maybe someone threw a stick and he went looking for it.
Jaze wandered up behind the group with Toma in tow. He seemed more focused than before, much less like a person with a weight on his mind.
Jaze: Hi, guys. What are you talking about?
Adell: Nothing much, really. Just wondering where Blue is.
At that same moment, a shadow passed overhead and everyone braced themselves for what they knew would happen next. The ground shook as Blue landed hard on the dirt road in front of them. In his mouth, he was carrying some sort of large animal, which he plopped right in front of him. With that complete, Blue sat down and wagged his tail, like a very pleased puppy. The others eyeballed the corpse suspiciously.
Artemis: Is that a razor bear?
Suddenly, Blue's tail stopped wagging and he lowered his head, taking on what could be called in dragon terms, a very grim expression.
Blue: Ryuu has told me of your exploits. This is a gift for your hard work and perseverance.
Adell: That's very kind of you, Blue. We're going to eat well tonight!
Jaze glanced at Toma and back to the dead bear.
Jaze: Well, except Toma. We can find something for him without a problem, though.
Toma: It's okay. It was a nice gesture.
Blue's massive ears suddenly shot straight up into the air and his eyes widened. For several moments, he sat where he was, seemingly stunned, and did nothing but rub his snout with his claw. Then, he bounded away. He leapt up a cliff, catching the top of the ridge with his front paws. His back feet sent a small avalanche into the farmland below as he scrambled to hoist himself the rest of the way. Once on top of the cliff, he disappeared over the ridge. They could hear him, however, and from somewhere above, everyone could hear the sound of dragon grunting, rustling leaves and snapping roots.
Adell: Oh, please tell me he's not doing what I think he's doing.
He was doing it. Shortly thereafter, Blue emerged again at the top of the cliff and leapt down. He trotted merrily toward the group with an entire fruit tree in his mouth. When he reached them, he dropped the tree on the ground near the dead bear. The others turned to Toma, awaiting his response.
Toma: Um... Thank you?
The corners of Blue's mouth turned upward in what could charitably be called a smile and he wagged his tail again, brushing it against the tops of the tall vegetable plants behind him. He drooped his head and leaned in close to Toma, who nervously took a step backward. Before he could do anything else, however, Blue stuck out his surfboard-sized tongue and licked Toma from his feet to his head, picking him up a few inches off the ground when he did. Toma nearly lost his balance, but landed on his feet nonetheless. Toma managed to regain his composure and surveyed his soggy body.
Toma: Yuck. I need a bath now.
Ryuu: That means he's sorry.
Jaze took off his shirt and started wiping Toma's face and patting down his hair.
Jaze: I'll go to the lake with you. Anyway, there's something I'd like to discuss with everyone and I guess it would be best to do it at dinner.
The feast was enough for even neighbors to come and take heaping helpings for themselves. Blue did not partake in the feast, spending his mealtime in the river hoovering up as many fish as he could catch. He returned quickly. By the end of the meal, the neighbors were gone and left behind, stuffed to the point of immobility, were Jaze and his friends, plus all the ones the picked up along the way. Jaze also insisted that Blue, Jacob and Roose remain, as he wanted them to hear what he had to say.
Adell: Jaze, you said there was something you wanted to discuss?
The others sat up, some struggling under the weight of over-nourishment more than others, in order to listen to what Jaze had to say.
The others waited, but no further information appeared to be forthcoming. Finally, Toma placed his hand on Jaze's shoulder.
Toma: Just tell them what you told me. What happens after, happens.
Jaze took a deep breath, deciding that it would be easier and quicker if he was as direct as possible.
Jaze: I want to free the compound and take down Wishmaster.
Jaze expected more expressions of surprise from his friends, but instead they simply waited for him to continue.
Jaze: I don't know if my experiences Ryuu shared with you gave you the same feeling that I have. I know what those kids are like and what they've done. Still, it's not their fault. If they'd had a chance to grow up properly then... well, who knows what they'd be? They deserve a chance at a real life
Jaze rubbed his eyes before continuing.
Jaze: As for Wishmaster, he'll outlive all of us if we don't do something. No matter what life we build anywhere, he will always be able to tear it apart. I don't think I want to live like that.
Some sighed and others glanced around at nothing in particular. All looked pensive. This, however, did not last long, for Quilyon was the first to speak.
Quilyon: I'm in complete agreement. I don't want our baby to grow up in a world like this.
The tension that was in the air suddenly changed as all eyes widened and focused on Quilyon and Kaoru alternately.
Kaoru: Quilyon... you're...
Quilyon: I am. If there's a chance to stop Wishmaster for good, then we should take it.
Kaoru leaned in to Quilyon quickly and put his arms around her.
Kaoru: Then I'm with you too.
While he was hugging Quilyon, Kaoru happened to catch sight of Reuli, who was looking shocked to the point of terror.
Kaoru: Hey, how does "Uncle Reuli" sound to you?
Reuli: I'm not ready for that!
At this time, Adell stood and clasped his hands together.
Adell: First of all, congratulations to you, Kaoru and Quilyon. Second, I'm in. What should we do next?
Blue: A great deal of planning and practice will be required. Wishmaster will be a difficult foe.
Jacob: I should discuss this with the Elder Council. Ryuu, I think it's best you share their experiences with the Eldest, Judge Hilda.
The others looked around, silently nodding in agreement.
Ryuu: I can do that.
While Jaze looked on in amazement, the others chatted amongst themselves about ideas on how to proceed. This continued for awhile until someone noticed that Jaze wasn't saying anything.
Artemis: Hey, Jaze. You alright?
Jaze blinked a few times, trying to clear his mind.
Jaze: I'm fine. I'm just surprised. I thought you'd all think I was nuts.
Toma: I told you they'd feel the same as you.
At that time, Roose approached.
Roose: You asked me to stay. What did you need me for?
Jaze: Oh, Roose. Um... I was hoping you or Ryuu might know how to find Keast. He could be useful if he's interested in helping.
For the rest of the night, everyone in the group exchanged ideas. It was though an invisible wall had been torn down. Jaze found that night that the spectre of Wishmaster had been hanging close in everyone's mind, just below the surface, and it only took his little nudge to bring it all out. However, the discussions brought forth a new spectre which now bubbled close to the surface of everyone's mind. The spectre of death.
All city pictures from SimCity 4