Carpathia III: Episode 127: Wind, Fire and Lightning
Nekramentia Compound, Yseri
Jaze, Kaoru, Adell, Artemis, Toma, Ryuu, Kagurain, and Azrael gazed across the landscape at the forboding tower that stood in the distance. For awhile, each gaped at the forbidding, discordant elements of the landscape that lay before them. The modern tower and pods in the Arid Sea surrounding it. The medieval stone walls that surrounded the complex. The circular arena in the center of the courtyard. The roiling sand which dimmed the sun. Somewhere within lurked Wishmaster.
The group was still some distance away, hoping to carry out their plan without drawing out Wishmaster. They preferred to deal with him later. Finally, Adell was the one to break the silence.
Adell: Is this close enough? I don't really want to go any nearer.
Jaze sighed heavily. The time had come.
Jaze: I should be able to hit the gates from here. Is everyone ready?
The others nodded.
Jaze: Then let's do this.
Several Weeks Ago...
Behind Nita's house, Toma wrapped his arms around Jaze from behind and sent a cushion of air coursing around both of their bodies. Ahead of them was a trio of barrels that they would use for target practice. Jaze took a deep breath of the cool air circulating around him and held his hand high. Suddenly, with a circular flourish, he thrust his arm at one of the barrels. A jet of fire blasted forth and splintered the wood.
Toma: Your aim is getting better.
Jaze: I just need more power. It's not easy to do this with you holding me.
The barrel Jaze targeted before, though damaged, was still upright, so Jaze raised his arm again. This time, however, he felt warmer and hoped that this meant there was more power coursing through him. Emboldened, Jaze thrust his arm out again and a stronger get of fire spewed forth, shattering the barrel into splinters.
Jaze: That was much better!
Toma: That's because I wasn't helping this time.
Jaze's eyes widened as he wriggled free from Toma's grip and turned to face him.
Toma smiled and stroked Jaze's ear.
Toma: You did it yourself this time.
Jaze gazed down at his hands and then back to Toma.
Jaze: No offense, but this is going to make it easier to practice without you holding on to me all the time.
Toma: We can still practice together. I can do my thing and you can do yours. I've been getting better too.
Toma took a step back and held his arms straight out from his body. A moment later, he brought his hands near to each other and produced a slick, fluid motion that looked as though he were rolling a volleyball around in his hands. More and more, his clothes began to flutter under the influence of the air that was now swirling around him. It wasn't long before the wind spread and began to affect both Jaze and nearby trees.
Jaze was about to applaud Toma's improved control and power, but something happened that made his jaw drop. Toma began to float several inches from the ground. He hovered for a just a few seconds before he dropped to his feet. Right away, Toma kneeled and braced himself with his hand, panting heavily.
Jaze: That was amazing!
Toma took some time to catch his breath before he spoke.
Toma: It's still tiring, but it's getting easier. I need to keep working on it. You keep practicing. I'm going to rest for a minute.
Jaze: I could practice singing for a bit so I can know exactly what puts people in a trance. I noticed that Ryuu and Blue seem to be immune to it, though.
Toma: We might be able to use that somehow. You should wait to practice singing until we're sure there's absolutely nobody around.
Jaze nodded in agreement and resumed practicing with his fire without Toma's assistance.
Kagurain looked suspiciously at the strange, wooden wall that Kaoru had built for him. It was just big enough to conceal Kagurain's entire body and several inches thick. Nevertheless, he was still nervous about this new practice that Quilyon thought up for him.
Kagurain: Can this really stop a bullet?
Quilyon responded by raising her gun and pointing it at the wall that Kagurain was standing near.
Kagurain leaped backward into Wolfram's arms and Quilyon fired. The bullet landed dead dead center in the wood and lodged within, sending a few small splinters scattering to the ground. Kagurain carefully inspected the other side to make sure it didn't come out. After his inspection, he quickly returned to Wolfram's side while Quilyon pulled the bolt on her rifle.
Quilyon: It can.
Kaoru's scrunched up his face, pondering Kagurain's reaction.
Kaoru: Kagurain, you're going to have to toughen up. We can't take you with us if you're this jumpy.
Quilyon: Oh, I can handle that. We'll add it to his training. For now, we need to test his ability. Now get behind the wall.
Wolfram gave the hesitant Kagurain a solid push.
Wolfram: Go on.
Kagurain glanced nervously back and forth between Quilyon and the wall and slowly tiptoed his way to his position. Quilyon, frustrated with Kagurain's pace, raised her rifle and fired it at his feet.
Unwilling to risk more motivational bullets flying his way, Kagurain ran behind the barrier wall. Quilyon pulled the bolt on her rifle, readying another bullet while looking over the top of her glasses at Kaoru.
Quilyon: I changed my mind. We can toughen him up and exercise his ability at the same time.
Kaoru nodded enthusiastically.
Quilyon, now keen to push Kagurain harder, called out to him.
Quilyon: Alright, let's see some electricity back there!
Kagurain: O... Okay!
The others watched and waited until, finally, the view between them and the wall began to ripple and spread wider. It wasn't long before the wall and everything around it looked like a drunken fever dream.
Kagurain: I'm ready!
Quilyon smirked as she raised her gun.
Quilyon: About time.
Quilyon took aim at the thick, wooden wall and fired. The bullet immediately struck the wall, but this time it did not burrow as much into the wood as the last one. Unlike the other, the latest bullet was still easily visible from where they all stood. Quilyon pulled back the bolt on her rifle again.
Quilyon: Well, that's all fine and good for the wood, but not enough for squishy people. Kagurain! Make it stronger!
A few moments passed before a mousey acknowledgement came from behind the wall.
Kagurain: Yes ma'am!
The others waited patiently. Not being able to see Kagurain behind the wall, they all had images in their mind of him back there, straining as though he were doing some rigorous exercises. The distortion between them and the wall wavered, sometimes appearing weaker, sometimes appearing stronger.
Reuli: Quilyon, I think you scared him.
Quilyon lowered her gun and smirked in a self-satisfied way.
Quilyon: That's the idea. He is going to go up against a lot worse than me and he needs to be ready.
Kaoru pointed at the distortion, which now seemed to warp the wall less than before. The difference this time was that it was now accompanied by a low hum.
Quilyon: Well, that's different. Let's see what happens now.
Quilyon raised her gun again and fired at the wall and, this time, the wall was not affected. The distortion wavered as it carried the bullet up and away from the barrier, apparantly soaring high above Kagurain's head. Quilyon lowered her gun and passed it to Reuli.
Quilyon: Reuli, hand me that other rifle.
Reuli placed the gun that Quilyon gave him on the ground and picked up another.
Reuli: This one? But it's not loaded.
Quilyon: I know.
Reuli did as he was told and gave the rifle to Quilyon. She dutifully opened the bullet chamber and looked inside. She then pointed it at the ground and pulled the trigger, producing nothing more than a "click." Satisfied that the gun was truly unloaded, she called to Kagurain.
Quilyon: You can come out now!
Immediately, the hum ceased and the landscape before them returned to normal. From the side of the wall suddenly appeared a pair of wiggly ears and nervous, red eyeballs.
Kagurain: No more shooting?
Quilyon lowered her gun completely, pointing the barrel straight down at the ground while Kaoru stroked his chin thoughtfully.
Quilyon: Not right now.
Kaoru: This might actually work.
Kagurain gingerly stepped from behind the wall and slowly made their way toward them.
Quilyon: Not yet. If you thought I scared him before, just watch this.
Suddenly, Quilyon stood firm and raised her gun, pointing it directly at Kagurain.
Quilyon: Think fast!
Kagurain threw his hands into the air and dropped to his knees.
Quilyon: Bang! You're dead!
Quilyon handed the gun back to Reuli.
Kagurain: You're like Dementus all over again!
Kaoru: Heh. You're right. He isn't ready.
Quilion placed her hands on her hips and glowered menacingly at Kaoru.
Quilyon: Heh heh, yeah right. Don't get cocky, chuckleface. I'm gonna train you too. I'm going to train all of you. I may not be able to go with you, but I still want to make sure you get out of this alive!
All city pictures from SimCity 4