Carpathia III: Episode 133: Friend of Nature


The Outlands

Slowly awakening, Jaze was only dimly aware of his surroundings, still not sure whether or not he was in a dream. He knew he was in a bed, but he wasn't sure where. Once his sense of smell returned to him, he slowly began to understand that he was in Nita's house. Still somewhere between dreams and consciousness, it took some time before he opened his eyes.

Light filtered through the tattered curtain of the lone window in Jaze's room as he sat up in the bed. Looking around slowly, he gave his eyes time to adjust. Sunk low in the chair next to him with his head resting on the back was Toma, his ears draped over the wood like soggy handtowels. His eyes were half open, even though he was breathing heavily.

Jaze reached over and gently touched Toma's arm. Immediately, Toma gasped and bolted from the room, gone before Jaze could even recoil his hand in surprise. A moment later, before Jaze could begin to wonder what just happened, Toma poked his head back inside.

Toma: Jaze?

Jaze took a moment to respond, longingly gazed at Toma, wide-eyed.

Jaze: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you.

Toma took a shaky step into the room.

Toma: It's okay. I'm still a little on edge even though it's been a couple of days since the battle.

Jaze's mind was still slow and groggy and it took several moments for him to recollect anything that had happened earlier.

Jaze: The battle! What happened? Did we get all the kids out of the compound? Is everyone else okay?

Toma held out his hands and gently waved with both, gently shushing Jaze.

Toma: Everyone's... well, surprisingly fine, considering what happened. Let me get Ryuu. It will be a lot easier if he shows you rather than me telling you everything.

Jaze blinked and rubbed his eyes, wondering what went wrong as Toma left the room to fetch Ryuu.

_______________

Later...

Ryuu: Okay, that's it. I'll go get the others and change back.

Ryuu hopped down from the bed and gathered up his clothes before he left the room, leaving a very shellshocked Jaze to ponder over what he'd just seen. Moments later, Ryuu returned, in his humanoid form, along with several others. Toma sat next to Jaze on the bed and wrapped his arm around him. Kaoru was also there, missing his right arm.

Jaze: Kaoru... are you okay?

Kaoru glanced at where his arm used to be and shrugged.

Kaoru: You know, I should be much more upset about this than I am, but by all rights, I should be dead. It's really not so bad when I think about it.

Mouth agape, Jaze stared longingly at his now incomplete best friend until a tear rolled down his cheek. Jaze sniffled as he hastily wiped it away.

Jaze: I'm sorry, Kaoru. I wish I could have been there for you.

To Jaze's surprise, Kaoru smiled.

Kaoru: Don't worry about that. You were kind of occupied with recovering from being dead, after all.

Kaoru put his remaining arm around Quilyon.

Kaoru: And I still have what matters most.

Kaoru smiled sweetly and gazed upon Jaze, giving him to understand that Kaoru meant him as well. Jaze's eyes panned across the room until they fell upon Artemis, with whom he now regarded with new admiration.

Jaze: Artemis! You're...

Jaze paused his sentence momentarily when Artemis cringed.

Artemis: Don't say it.

Despite Artemis's protests, Jaze continued.

Jaze: You're a friend of nature!

Artemis swayed his head from side to side and muttered a cat-like growl under his breath. Then, he started gesticulating wildly as he began to rant.

Artemis: Right. That's me. Artemis Leingod. Friend of fucking nature. You know what I was going to be before I came here? I was going to design pulse cannons and torpedoes for the Carpathian Exploration Force. Explosions! Now I'm just going to end up a vet or something.

Artemis's ear twitched as he caught sound of Adell taking a deep breath. Right away, Artemis reached up and yanked on Adell's shirt.

Artemis: If you sing that stupid Disney song one more time, I will break you in places even I can't fix.

Adell raised his eyebrows and stroked Artemis's ear.

Adell: Okay, I'll stop.

Artemis released Adell's shirt before sighing and slumping his shoulders.

Artemis: No, I'm okay. It's just... I'm not really sure who I am anymore. Not that I knew before. I thought I knew, but... I dunno. Maybe the Angel was right.

At this point, Azrael stepped forward and slapped his hands on Artemis's shoulders. Not seeing Azrael coming, Artemis shuddered in surprise.

Artemis: Mryow?

Azrael: If I may, Master Artemis, you are a true warrior and a loyal friend. Whatever else you decide to be is incidental.

Artemis turned and craned his neck so that he could see Azrael and the earnest expression he bore on his face. Out of the side of his eye, Artemis caught the eye of Kaoru, smiling upon him. Quickly scanning everyone's faces, he could see that they were all the same. Without a word, but definitely with a sniffle, Artemis tilted his head onto Adell's chest.

Jaze: Ryuu didn't show me quite everything. I still have questions. What about Wishmaster?

Ryuu stepped forward and sat on the end of the bed.

Ryuu: I wasn't able to drain all of his power, but I managed about 85 or 90%, I think. He won't be able to connect with other peoples' minds. His strength is about equal to you, but Blue is far more powerful now. He could take on Wishmaster easily if he shows up.

Quite a lot of time passed in silence, as Jaze digested the gravity of what Ryuu just said. This meant that Wishmaster was only a minor threat to the world now, at the most. Though the thought passed through his mind several times, he could still scarcely believe it.

Jaze: And Thirteen? There was nothing in Ryuu's memory about him.

The others looked at each other and shrugged.

Adell: No idea. Nobody has seen him since before the battle started.

Jaze continued to struggle organizing his own foggy memories with those of Ryuu's.

Jaze: I think I remember that we rounded up most of the kids from Nekramentia. Is that right?

Adell: We did, and we managed to bring most of them back here. They're with Jacob and the Elders now. Most of them are confused and scared. They're working out a plan on resocializing everyone.

Jaze's ear twitched as soon as he heard the word "most."

Jaze: Most of them?

Adell: Blue, Zet, and several villagers are at the Nekramentia mines right now, clearing them out. A lot of the kids in there are in a bad way.

With this news, Jaze suddenly remembered the last thing that he did before waking up in the village, the battle with Pestilence and the rescue by Toma. Jaze reached up and pinched the end of Toma's ear.

Jaze: Toma... You saved me from Pestilence. I remember now.

Jaze rubbed his temple and shook his head, still trying to clear the fog that cluttered his mind.

Toma: I'm sorry I had to do that, but I'm glad I made it in time.

Jaze: I'm glad you did too. Even Pestilence didn't deserve the life he had. Everything bad in this place is Wishmaster's fault.

Jaze looked up at the others and sighed.

Jaze: Did you bring his body back? Even he deserves a proper resting place.

kaoru: I knew how you'd feel about that, so we did. You can do what you decide best for him.

The somber mood was suddenly broken when Kagurain, Reuli, Wolfram, and Roose exuberantly burst into the room. Kagurain threw himself upon Jaze and collapsed into a heap of sobs.

Kagurain: Jaze! I was so worried when Toma brought you back! I thought... I thought... you were dead.

Jaze smiled and patted the back of Kagurain's head.

Jaze: It seems I was, but don't worry. It got better.

Wolfram: Kagurain took care of you whenever Toma had to leave the room.

Reuli: We all helped, but those two most.

Jaze grabbed Kagurain's shoulders and gave him a gentle push. When Kagurain didn't release him, Jaze pushed again, a little harder. Finally he got the hint and sat up.

Jaze: Thanks to everyone, in that case. I suppose I should get up. I can find out more later.

Kagurain stood as Jaze reached for the covers.

Kaoru: Jaze, wait!

Kaoru's plea came too late as Jaze flung the covers from his entire body in one fluid motion. Suddenly, he paused and surveyed himself from his chest down to his feet.

Jaze: Why am I naked?

Some fidgeted. Others conspicuously looked away. Jaze, however, seemed relatively unruffled by the situation.

Toma: Well, your clothes were covered in blood, so we took them off and cleaned you up. Didn't seem to be any reason to dress you up again.

Jaze raised an eyebrow.

Jaze: "We?"

Suddenly, the hands of Kagurain and Roose shot up.

Kagurain: I helped!

Roose: Me too!

Jaze chuckled and slowly slid his body to the side of the bed so that he could put his feet on the floor. He attempted to stand, but only managed to get his rear a few inches off the mattress before he dropped back down on it again.

Jaze: Seems I'm weaker than I thought.

Kaoru stepped between the bed and most of the others and gave a pushing gesture with his arm.

Kaoru: Okay, everyone, let's get him some food and drink. Toma will take care of the rest.

The others turned and left with Kaoru waving Kagurain to come along with him. Finally, Jaze was alone with Toma once again.

Jaze: So, where are my pants?


Commissioned art in this episode from:
Miyumon
Atomic Clover
Kay-Jay97
Thatwildmary
Pokeguin
Iniphineas

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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