Carpathia III: Episode 49 - Recoil

Unassumed Lands, Vayhama House

Kaoru felt a general sense of unease, but he wasn't sure what was causing it. Was it because Quilyon was going to teach him how to shoot a gun? He'd never held a gun in his life and, before he arrived in Yseri, had never even seen one before. Almost everything he knew about them came from movies, and this did nothing to alleviate his apprehension. You hold one end, and speedy, murdery things come out the other. That's all he knew.

Or was it that he was going to be with Quilyon, alone, in the forest? It was probably both. Kaoru was so queasy that he was clutching his stomach.

The clothes he had to wear weren't helping either. Boots, long pants tied tight at the ankle, and a long sleeve shirt. It was all to protect from bugs and poisonous plants, but all he could think about was how hot it was going to be. Altogether, he was expecting a very scary, awkward, sweaty day.

Kaoru was finished dressing and, swallowing one more time in an attempt to keep his breakfast down, exited his bedroom and found Quilyon by the rifle cabinet. Quilyon was busy rummaging through it. There were few rifles left in the cabinet. Most of them were scattered on the table along with several boxes of ammunition. Kaoru was afraid to approach because getting closer would mean passing the side of the table where the ends of the guns were pointing. Quilyon pulled another gun out of the cabinet and held it out towards Kaoru.

Quilyon: Hold this, will ya? I don't have any more room left on the table.

Kaoru reached out hesitantly for the gun, stretching as much as he could so as not to put his body in front of the ends of the guns on the table. He finally grabbed it and, as Quilyon loosened her grip, he nearly dropped it to the ground, not expecting it to be as heavy as it was. The butt of the rifle landed on the floor with a thud and Kaoru half expected it to go off. Fortunately, it didn't.

Kaoru: This is a lot heavier than it looks.

Quilyon: Well, yeah. It's not made of paper, you know.

Kaoru lifted the rifle off the ground, taking great care to keep the end pointed at nothing important.

Quilyon: We'll take six. I'm sure we'll find one that suits you. I'm just trying to pick out the ones that are most different from each other.

Quilyon looked thoughtfully at the pile of rifles on the table, eventually selecting two of them and placing them back in the cabinet. She took another out of the cabinet and placed it on the table finally arriving at a total of five plus the one that Kaoru was holding.

Kaoru noticed that Quilyon was different. Almost every other time he'd seen her, she was nervous and fidgety. Now, she was calm and confident and barely noticing him at all, which he found strangely annoying.

Quilyon put two long, narrow bags on the table.

Quilyon: Three in one bag, three in the other. I'll pack the supply bag.

Quilyon grabbed another bag from the floor and took it to the kitchen to fill it with salt-cured meat wrapped in brown paper, bread and water, leaving Kaoru to stare stupidly at the table covered with guns. Starting with the one he was carrying, he opened the bag and placed it inside one of the bags. After that, he reached out awkwardly, taking extreme care not to place a single skin cell in front of one of the gun barrels, and picked up another rifle. He carefully placed the second one in the bag and was just beginning to contemplate reaching for another one.

Quilyon: We'll be here all day if you keep up that pace.

Kaoru: Eep!

Kaoru was so engrossed in the rifles, he didn't hear Quilyon coming up behind him. She walked around him and quickly put all the all the rifles in the bag. She then packed the ammunition in the pockets of her bag.

Quilyon: So you carry one rifle bag and the supplies.

She handed him the two bags and picked up the second rifle bag and slung it over her own back.

Quilyon: Okay, let's go.

Quilyon turned and walked out the door as Kaoru followed.

After they left the house, they quickly turned off the road and went into the woods. There was little conversation as they walked as Kaoru found it difficult to keep up. Quilyon twisted and turned through the endless trees. Kaoru had no idea how she knew where she was going. Everything looked the same to him ever since they left the road. As they walked, another sense of unease compounded on top of Kaoru. The only time when he had been in the woods, off the trail, was the day Quilyon shot him.

Kaoru: Do we really need to go this far?

Quilyon: It's razorbear mating season and I want to be far away from their territory when we do this.

Kaoru quickly looked around and hurried to follow Quilyon closer.

Kaoru: All the guns are in bags. What if one shows up?

Quilyon: Don't worry, I can smell them coming from a long way off. More than enough time to get a rifle out and load it.

They carried on for awhile longer until Quilyon abruptly stopped.

Quilyon: Let's stop here.

Relieved, Kaoru put his two bags on the ground.

Kaoru: Should we eat now?

Quilyon: Sounds good.

Kaoru immediately dove into the supply bag and pulled out the food. Bread, meat, and water. Not a gourmet meal, but it was good enough. Kaoru used the ingredients to make two sandwiches and handed one to Quilyon. After a few bites, Kaoru started feeling a little more relaxed.

Kaoru: You know, I've learned a lot living here.

Quilyon: You mean with my family or in our town in general.

Kaoru: Both, but mostly with your family. We don't have elves where I'm from, but we have a lot of legends about them.

Quilyon's ears twitched, which Kaoru found adorable.

Quilyon: Oh? What are they like?

Kaoru: Similar, in many ways. They're tall and pretty, just like you.

Quilyon's cheeks turned a delicate shade of pink.

Kaoru: There are some differences though. Elves in most of our legends don't really sing rock music and they live in harmony with nature.

Quilyon smiled and giggled a little.

Quilyon: Hey, I like nature! Grilled with some vegetables on the side, of course.

Kaoru: Well, they're just legends. I like real elves better.

Quilyon: If you don't have elves where you're from. What do you have?

Kaoru: Hmmm... Our country has humans, nekomi, and nekohumans. We're friends with the tokki and we just met our first dragon. That's about it, really.

Quilyon: No komodo?

Kaoru: No, but if they're out there, I'm sure we'll come across them someday.

Quilyon: No demons?

Kaoru: No... wait, did you say "demons?"

Quilyon: I guess I'm not surprised that you haven't met any yet. They rarely leave their territory. I've only met two. They're tall and very thin, but they are really strong. They have horns on their head and a thin tail. I've only met two in my life and they were one-horned types.

Kaoru: Interesting. What are they like?

Quilyon: Very proud. Very polite. That's all I could tell from the short introductions I had.

Kaoru: I guess there's a lot I still don't know.

Quilyon stood up and picked up the supply bag.

Quilyon: Anyway, this is a good chance for you. I can teach you to shoot like nobody else can.

Quilyon reached into the bag and pulled out several empty cans.

Quilyon: I'm going to set up some targets for you.

Quilyon walked several yards away to a small clearing in the trees and placed the cans in a line. She came back and picked up one of the rifle bags. Pulling one of them out, she started demonstrating it.

Quilyon: Okay, it's pretty simple. Point, aim, and pull the trigger.

Quilyon pointed, aimed, and pulled the trigger. There was no noise other than a click. She reached into the supply bag and pulled out the little boxes of ammunition.

Quilyon: It's not loaded, of course. This one can hold fifteen rounds, but five will be enough. First, you open the chamber.

Quilyon opened the chamber by pulling back on the bolt. She then pulled a bullet out of one of the little boxes and pushed it into the slot.

Quilyon: Just keep pushing these in like this until you're done.

Kaoru: Seems simple enough.

Quilyon handed Kaoru the gun she just loaded.

Quilyon: Okay, take this one. First rule of safety, be careful not to point it at anyone.

Kaoru carefully reached out and took the gun, this time, prepared for its weight. He then turned and awkwardly pointed the gun at the cans she set up in the clearing.

Quilyon: Alright, let me show you how to hold it.

Quilyon slipped behind Kaoru and reached around him. Kaoru suddenly found it very difficult to concentrate as she gently repositioned his hands around the rifle. His girlfriends in the past all had soft skin and fragrant perfume, but Quilyon was just as sweaty and dirty as he was and, for some reason, he found this more exciting than anything he experienced before.

Quilyon: Hold the end up to your shoulder like this. Now aim by looking down the barrel at the sight at the end.

Kaoru did his best to do what she told him and found it much easier when she slipped to the side and picked up another rifle.

Quilyon: Just practice aiming for awhile while I load the others. We'll practice with a few of them to find the one that suits you best.

Kaoru held the end of the gun up to his shoulder again and looked carefully down the barrel at the sight at the end while he listened to the click, click, click of Quilyon loading the other guns.

Quilyon: Oh, I didn't mean to bring this one. Well, who knows, we can try it later.

Quilyon set aside the freshly-loaded gun.

Quilyon: Okay, now try shooting one of the cans.

Kaoru carefully aimed the rifle and squeezed the trigger. There was a bang and a kick and, finally, a puff of dirt near one of the cans.

Kaoru: I missed.

Quilyon: Of course. It's only your first shot. Keep trying.

Kaoru carefully squeezed off four more rounds, each time missing the target and watching a little puff of dirt pop up next to the can he was aiming for.

Kaoru: It looks easier than it is.

Quilyon: Don't worry. Maybe that one doesn't suit you. Here, give me that one and I'll reload it while you try another.

Kaoru handed Quilyon his rifle. She immediately opened the bolt and started reloading it. Kaoru picked up another rifle and held it against his shoulder like Quilyon showed him. This one was different. It looked almost the same, but it was definitely lighter than the other one. He felt a little more comfortable with this one since his arm didn't feel so tired from holding it.

Quilyon: No, not that one! It has a really strong...

Kaoru pulled the trigger just as Quilyon came in behind him to take the gun away. The shot recoiled much harder than Kaoru expected. He dropped the gun and tumbled backwards. For a few seconds, he wasn't sure where he was. All he knew is that he dropped the gun right away.

Finally, he found himself face down with Quilyon under him with a very shocked expression on her face.

Quilyon: ...kick.

Kaoru and Quilyon didn't move. For a moment, Kaoru was planning to stand up, but he became transfixed by Quilyon's face. He stared at her chocolate brown eyes, her shapely nose, and most of all, her long, pointed ears.

Quilyon: So, what are you going to do now, Kaoru?

For reasons he didn't understand, Quilyon saying his name filled him with courage and passion. He gently ran his hand up Quilyon's side as he leaned in and kissed her.

Commissioned art in this episode from:

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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