Carpathia III: Episode 136: Keyhole

The Outlands

Sitting on the porch, the intoxicating aroma of the flowers dulled Jaze's mind, making him sleepy. Splayed out carefully on his lap was the heavy tome, written by Nita's grandmother and given to Quilyon at the wedding. The thick, heavy pages had a feel more of fabric than paper and were also deceptively fragile. Once already, in his haste read ahead, Jaze turned only half a page, the bottom half remaining where it was below a rip neatly cut the paper into two halves.

Jaze was exceedingly careful from then on, making sure each page came in its entirety upon turning. This wasn't just to preserve the information contained therein, but he also had no desire to damage such an exquisitely crafted journal. Nita's grandmother's exploits were not only vividly described, but also crafted in lovely penmanship and nearly everything of note was accompanied by a beautiful sketch. Jaze lingered on a particularly haunting image of what appeared to be a ruined city. Now that he knew the nature of the world he was on, he felt quite keen on seeing it for himself.

Jaze opened his mouth in a wide, prolonged yawn and he looked ahead for a moment before returning to his book. That's when he caught sight of Kaoru trotting up the road.

Kaoru: Hiya, Jaze.

Rather than a response, Jaze yawned again.

Kaoru: You know you look like a vampire when you do that.

Jaze rolled his eyes and smirked.

Jaze: Or maybe, you know, a cat?

Kaoru gave a hearty grin.

Kaoru: That works too.

Jaze rubbed his ear, causing it to flutter several times.

Jaze: You're in a cheerful mood.

Kaoru swung his hand in front of him and suddenly stopped, as though he had hit an invisible wall.

Kaoru: I'm alive! I can't clap my hands now, though. I keep forgetting it's not there. It's weird that it feels like it is.

Kaoru swung his arm in front of himself a few more times and plopped down next to Jaze on the porch.

Kaoru: So, whatcha doing?

Jaze: Just reading. I was curious if Nita's grandmother found anything interesting. It seems she did.

Jaze carefully tipped the book toward Kaoru so that he could see the page.

Kaoru: Looks like a ruined city. We should go there after things quiet down here a bit.

Jaze: There are lots of things we could do. I hate to say it, but we're kinda like superheroes now.

Kaoru smiled delightedly again.

Kaoru: Yup! I just have to get my water skills back up again. It's a little tricky with one arm. So, what's the plan? Subdue Volcano? Depose the king? Install you as ruler?

Kaoru scooted closer to Jaze and grinned.

Jaze: One thing I know for sure is that I should not have any sort of leadership responsibilities. I'm very keenly aware of how easy it is to go bad, thanks.

Kaoru reached up and rubbed Jaze's ear, causing it to flutter again.

Kaoru: Aw, that's fine. I can be the evil ruler.

Eager to change the subject, Jaze refocused on the book.

Jaze: Anyway, Nita's grandmother was a very good artist. I've only seen up to this page and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Kaoru: In that case, just flip through and we can look at the pictures together. If something interesting pops up, we can read about it.

Jaze paused for a moment and then shrugged.

Jaze: Why not? It's not like it's a mystery novel, I suppose.

Jaze carefully turned to the next page. Since there was at least a doodle on almost every page, there was no end of things to look at and talk about. Together, pointed at the pictures and skimmed the text, sometimes laughing, sometimes curious.

Jaze froze completely on one page after his eyes widened and his mouth fell open.

Kaoru: What is it, Jaze?

Jaze continued to linger on the image until he finally took a deep breath and shouted Toma's name.

Jaze: TOMA!!!


A Short Time Later...

It didn't take long for several people to hear jaze's voice and come running. Jaze did his best to avoid telling the others what he guessed before Toma arrived, but that did not stop each from taking a look at the picture in the book and speculating. Artemis was particularly elated by what he saw.

Artemis: That's it! That's what we've been looking for!

Jaze: We can't be sure of that yet, Artemis.

Artemis growled at Jaze's pessimism.

Artemis: Well, what else could it be?

Jaze took a deep breath, doing his best not to get his hopes up.

Jaze: Let's just wait for Toma and see what he says before we start making plans.

Artemis: And what would he know about wormholes?

Adell leaned in and took another careful look at the picture in the book.

Adell: I feel like I've seen that before. Why is that?

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Toma ran up to the house. Seeing that Jaze was okay, he grabbed his knees and panted heavily.

Jaze: Did you run the entire way? Where were you?

Toma took several more breaths before responding.

Toma: I was having a wash down at the river.

Jaze: You heard me all the way down there?

Toma stood and scrunched up his face. Without a word, he grabbed both of his ears and pulled them straight out from the sides of his head.

Jaze: Right, of course.

Toma: What's wrong?

Jaze turned the book to face the picture at Toma.

Jaze: You know what this is, right? Isn't it the same as what we saw on your home planet?

Toma leaned in close and studied the picture. At the same time, Adell pounded his fist in the palm of his hand.

Adell: That's it! It was in a Tokkastra travel brochure!

Toma stepped back from the book and scratched behind his ears.

Toma: That looks way too much like the Keyhole Monument in Valefor. What's that doing here? Didn't you say this is the nekomi homeworld?

Jaze sighed with disappointment.

Jaze: So you don't know what the thing on Tokkastra is for?

Toma shrugged.

Toma: No idea. I thought it was just a decoration.

Ryuu: We could ask Keast if he's been out that far.

Jacob patted Jaze on his shoulders.

Jacob: Try to relax. This might be good news. It's not going anywhere, so let's have some dinner and then talk about what we're going to do next, right?

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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