Carpathia III: Episode 139: A Loose End
The party hugged tight to the coast of the Arid Sea, keeping as much distance as they could between themselves and the ruins of Nekramentia. It was no longer visible as it once was, with the tower collapsed on the ground. The most anyone could make out was distant rubble and the walls that still formed a ring around the complex. Two enemies still lurked somewhere, Wishmaster and Thirteen, and nobody was keen for a conflict. With a tight formation and especially Azrael on high alert, the group passed quickly and carefully, taking no time to rest during the tiring, treacherous path.
With the compound passed, Jaze suddenly urged the group on a slight detour.
Jaze: I just thought of something important. We need to turn west, I think.
The new path was not hard to find, as it appeared before them, long and wide as though a heard of buffalo had once roamed the land. After several hours, they came across a sight that was familiar to most of them, as they had seen it before in Jaze's shared memories.
Jaze's memory of the village was not so crisp and clear in his own recollection, and he wondered if Ryuu had been able to see more than what he thought he remembered. The last time he saw the village, it was overrun with Nekramentians, terrorizing the small populace and then everything else was a blur. Jaze knew he did his best to stop as many of the Nekramentians as possible and he knew he didn't get very far before everything went dark.
Upon sighting the group, the villagers scattered, seeming to lock themselves in their homes. The panic didn't last long, however, as it quickly became clear to them that the group approaching was not a hoard of armed kids, but a group of weary travellers. Slowly, the villagers started to curiously emerge and their behavior did not seem to indicate that either Wishmaster or Thirteen was hiding there. A woman, presumably their new leader, approached them.
Jaze and Ryuu sat with the elder and calmly explained everything they knew of the current status of their long time tormenters. After that, something happened that took even the jaded Jaze completely by surprise. Upon recommending that they all pull up roots and make their way north to the Outlands, they not only happily agreed, but none of them even knew that there were others living on Yseri besides themselves and Nekramentia. Even the prospect of living and working side by side with former Nekramentians didn't seem to faze them much. Anything, the elder told them, was better than staying in their miserable little mudhole in the middle of nowhere.
At the conclusion of the conference, Oliver approached, insisting on apologizing to the villagers, which they accepted gratefully. After that, the party was given a place to rest.
Jaze: Hey, Keast. When you're feeling up to it, do you suppose you could fly back to the Outlands and let them know these people are coming?
Keast: Oh, I'm to be your errand-bat, am I? Is that why you brought me along?
Jaze looked away, concerned that he may have offended Keast in some way.
Keast then grinned devilishly and pinched Jaze's cheek.
Keast: You're cute when you're flustered. Of course I'll do it.
Keast suddenly gave a big, fangy yawn.
Keast: Eh, tomorrow, though. Don't worry. I'll be able to find you after.
As the next day dawned, the villagers prepared to move north, while another group focused themselves on the opposite direction. After bidding farewell, Jaze and the others set off once again. It wasn't long before any hint of a trail simply disappeared and they had to rely on the landmarks both drawn and described in the book. There wasn't much. Most of the time, a landmark was simply a small hill or muddy pond and a vague direction to go once found. If it weren't for Ryuu, who was able to fly and spot the landmarks, they would have been hopelessly lost long ago.
Kaoru: This is a good place to stop. There's water near the surface here.
Without a word of complaint from anyone, the rest of the group gratefully dropped their backpacks to the ground and took a seat.
Kaoru: Adell, if you don't mind? It would be good to have a small basin right here.
With little effort, Adell created a small, bowl-shaped hole in the ground. Kaoru followed by waving his hand above the hole and up sprang a little, crystal-clear fountain.
Kaoru: Okay, we can refill our water bottles.
Everyone immediately got into a line behind the little fountain and began to fill their bottles one by one.
Jaze: I'm glad you're still able to do that, Kaoru.
Kaoru: It's taken some adjustment. I'm not as strong as I was, but maybe I will be.
With the water filled and the little fountain still burbling merrily, the others took a rest, drinking the water and feasting on the provisions from their packs. Naturally, little conversations began taking form.
Adell: Hey, Ryuu. You've said before that you're not allowed to share too much of what the dragons know about other species. Why is that?
Ryuu scratched his chin for a moment, taking time to compose his reponse.
Ryuu: Hmmm... It's a bit complicated. We used to get involved, trying to be a force for good in other civilizations. It honestly didn't go well, no matter how well-intentioned we were. After all, look at your own human myths. Dragons usually aren't shown very nicely in those, right?
Adell raised an eyebrow.
Adell: Not usually, come to think of it.
Ryuu: It seemed like every time we tried to help, something would go horribly wrong.
Adell: This does sound familiar. Carpathia used to try to help Earth, but everything we did just made things worse. Finally, we decided to completely cut all contact.
Ryuu: It's for the best that way. The dragons decided to eliminate the devils, like Wishmaster, Lazmaedia, Nibelakul, and the others, and then withdraw from the affairs of others until they developed the ability to come to us. Besides, our numbers were so badly reduced after the Battle of the Demon Planet, there wasn't much we could do anyway.
Suddenly, Reuli scooted up next to Ryuu and Adell.
Reuli: Can you tell me anything about elves?
Ryuu rubbed his chin again.
Ryuu: Not much. We have met, long ago. They called themselves vashta and their society was built on art and learning. Someday, I'm sure the vashta will meet the humans, nekomi, and tokki. That's all I know, really. So far, I've mostly absorbed the history of the dragons. I hadn't yet gotten to the details of other species before I came here.
As soon as Ryuu finished, Keast landed nearby, fresh from his flight back to the Outlands.
Adell: Oh, hey Keast. How did it go?
Keast sat cross-legged on the ground and grinned.
Keast: Surprisingly well, actually. It seems the people in the Outlands were rather happy to hear that adults are coming to help out.
Adell: I suppose that's true. They kinda have their hands full at the moment.
Keast pulled a small bag from his back and opened it.
Keast: It also seemed like a good idea to top up the supplies a little.
Keast pulled out a strand of jerky and took a bite, offering some to each of the others.
All city pictures from SimCity 4