Carpathia III: Episode 13 - Family Outing
Kaoru was becoming accustomed to his new life at the lakeside cabin with the Vayhama family. They had so far shown him nothing but kindness over the last couple of weeks. Whether it was out of genuine kindness or guilt from Quilyon having shot him, he wasn't sure, but every day that passed made it more difficult for him to entertain the idea that they were only feeling guilty. He was now out of his wheelchair and able to hobble around the cabin on crutches. As if the floor of the cabin wasn't creaky enough, the loud "thunk thunk" that accompanied Kaoru made his every coming and going known to all.
Kaoru did his best to make himself as useful as possible under the circumstances. He helped Ixon and Reuli cook, wash dishes, and clean. He saw Quilyon rarely, since she spent much of her time hunting and Kaoru wasn't yet healed enough to help her with that. When she was home, she awkwardly offered assistance to him for even minor tasks, such as sitting down or putting away his crutches. After she helped, she always dashed off before he could even utter a "thank you."
Meanwhile, Kaoru was learning a great deal from Ixon about both the family and the area where he was. Tarja took the meat and pelts from Quilyon's hunts across the bridge to Zhail to sell them at a hefty profit and bring back food and other supplies. When she was puttering around the house, she often sang softly to herself, no matter what she was doing at the time. It was beautiful and soothing to hear.
At first, he thought that Ixon was little more than an armchair scholar, but Kaoru surmised, judging from how many visitors he received, he was considered the elf to go to for advice on many things. Reuli helped out wherever he was needed. When he wasn't helping out, he was often visiting friends. As for Yseri, he learned of ancient relics and monuments left behind by an unknown, previous civilization, most of which had been dismantled and repurposed for other uses.
For the first time, Kaoru was preparing to leave the cabin. Tarja was outside getting the truck ready with Quilyon while he stayed inside with Ixon, helping him put away his maps and notes.
Kaoru: So, it's like a festival?
Ixon: Yes, I suppose you could say that. You're lucky that you got here in time to see the Blue Star. It doesn't come into view often.
Kaoru: I don't really feel all that lucky.
Kaoru regretted his words the instant he said them. Not wanting to appear ungrateful, he awkwardly attempted to backpedal.
Kaoru: No, that's not what I meant... I mean... I don't know where I'd be if not for your hospitality... Uh.. It's just that...
Ixon held up his hand and smiled.
Ixon: Don't worry. I know what you mean. Just remember, in this place, you take your luck any way you can get it.
Kaoru: Yeah, I guess so.
Just then, Reuli bounded excitedly into the room, carrying an electric guitar.
Reuli: I got it!
Ixon: It's about time. We're all just about to go!
Kaoru looked closely at the guitar Reuli was holding. It was red and covered with several random white stripes along with a few black ones. Something seemed familiar about it, but he couldn't think of why.
Kaoru: Reuli, could I see that?
Reuli held up the guitar and passed it into Kaoru's hands. He looked it over carefully until he finally spotted a small signature on the bottom edge that read "Shuichi," accompanied by an image of a fox.
Kaoru: I know this guitar! Where did you get it?
Ixon: Quilyon found it in the woods a long time ago. How do you know about it?
Kaoru: We have a famous rock star in Carpathia named Shuichi Fox. I saw him play this guitar in a concert a few years ago. Not long after that, it disappeared, along with three kids from his orphanage. The police thought it was some sort of robbery kidnapping, but nothing was ever found. It was huge news.
Ixon: We didn't find any kids around that time, but I'd say it's a safe bet that they came through the wormhole with it. It's not unusual for objects to come though too.
Kaoru passed the guitar back to Reuli.
Kaoru: Other objects?
Ixon: Of course. All sorts of things come through the portal besides humans. Let me show you!
Ixon trotted over to a rickety old cabinet and opened it. Kaoru winced as he knew what would happen next. Many of Ixon's papers immediately spilled all over the floor. He ignored them and dug deep inside, pulling out a dusty box.
Ixon: You've already seen some of the things that have come through. Our truck was pieced together from other trucks that fell through long ago. Other things are more simple, like these.
Ixon opened the box and Kaoru peered inside. Ixon reached in and pulled out some small plastic cases with artbooks visibile behind their clear covers.
These came through in my grandparents' time.
Ixon handed one of the plastic cases to Kaoru. He opened studied it for a moment, noting it that it had a picture of three women on the book inside and the title, "Dixie Chicks." He noticed that the case was hinged and opened it. Inside, he could see the back of the artbook and a shiny disc. Finally, it dawned on him what he was looking at.
Kaoru: I know this! It's called a compact disc! These are really rare on Carpathia!
Ixon: Yes, that's what I heard. We have lots of them. We also have this, which plays them.
Ixon held up a small, portable CD player.
Ixon: My grandfather said it took days for them to figure out how it worked.
Kaoru took note of one particular CD that was in the box.
Kaoru: Can I see that one?
Kaoru pointed to a CD that was partially covered with others. On it, he could make out a partial picture of a blonde woman on the cover.
Ixon pulled out the CD that Kaoru indicated and handed it to him. Kaoru couldn't believe what he was seeing and his hands trembled in excitement. He looked at the top of the artbook and even though the letters were crystal clear, he could hardly believe what he was seeing.
Kaoru: Madonna! This is a Madonna CD! I love her! And this is worth a fortune back on Carpathia! You could buy your own private spaceship with how much this is worth!
Ixon threw his head back in laughter.
Ixon: Kaoru, you have been a perfectly lovely houseguest, but I must say this is the first time I've seen you truly happy about something! You keep that, in commemoration of this moment.
Kaoru looked between the CD and Ixon many times, resisting the urge to squeal with delight.
Kaoru: I couldn't...
Ixon: Nope, I won't hear a word against it. If you're the first person to get back to your homeworld, you sell that and buy a spaceship and come see us, alright?
This time, Kaoru laughed. It was a teary laugh as he wondered if this was what a family was supposed to be like.
Kaoru: As long as you're sure.
Ixon: I'm sure. Reuli and Tarja know all these by heart now. They're going to be playing some of the songs from these discs tonight. Not that one, though. Reuli and Tarja prefer a different style.
Reuli grabbed one of the CDs from the box.
Reuli: I like this one best!
Kaoru looked closely at the CD that Reuli was holding.
Kaoru: Hmmm... Nightwish. I don't think I've heard of them.
Reuli: I've been practicing these songs a lot!
Kaoru arched his eyebrows in surprise.
Kaoru: Really? I haven't heard anything at all.
Reuli: I havta practice at Wolfram's house. We don't have an amplifier.
Kaoru: Well, that explains where you've been. I look forward to hearing you.
Ixon: And he's a natural too! Most elves are, but I'm afraid I have no talent for it. Unfortunately, Quilyon has also inherited my complete tone-deafness. Reuli gets his musical talent from his mother. Unfortunately, neither are very good at songwriting. That's why we use the songs from these discs. Have you ever heard an elf-song before?
Kaoru: Not really, except for Tarja's humming around the house, but we have legends about them on Carpathia.
Ixon: Then you are in luck again! Those who hear an elf-song never forget it!
Just as Ixon finished speaking, the front door of the cabin opened with a bang, with Quilyon standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips and a cross look spread across her face.
Quilyon: Hey! We've been waiting for you slowpokes for ages! Get your asses out here!
With that, she turned and stomped down the stairs towards the waiting truck. Ixon turned back to Kaoru with a knowing smirk on his face.
Ixon: Did I mention that Quilyon seems to have inherited her grandmother's attitude?
Kaoru smiled as he grabbed his crutches, preparing to head out the door.
Ixon: Reuli, go turn off the generator and meet us at the truck. I'll take your guitar.
Reuli handed Ixon his guitar and ran to the back door. Kaoru followed Ixon towards the truck.
Outside, the truck was waiting, rumbling roughly at idle. Tarja sat behind the wheel with Quilyon next to her. Ixon and Kaoru climbed into the truck bed in the back. He was pleased that it seemed to have been thoroughly cleaned and some nice, soft blankets were laid down inside. He found a reasonably comfortable place to sit in the corner where he could stretch out his leg. Ixon sat next to him as Reuli ran through the front door and climbed into the truck. He sat next to Kaoru and took his guitar from Ixon.
Ixon: Quilyon, why don't you ride back here with us? It's a nice night for it!
Quilyon shivered nervously at the suggestion.
Quilyon: Ha ha! No, I'm okay up here with Mom!
Ixon: Suit yourself!
The truck suddenly lurched forward with a sputter. Slowly and with difficulty, it picked up speed down the lumpy, dirt road.
All city pictures from SimCity 4