Carpathia III: Episode 51 - The Pipes
Ryuu flew for a short time until he found Keast right where he left him: in a crevice out of sight of the compound. Ryuu tipped his wings forward and went into a dive. He sped towards the ground, pulling up at the last moment, landing on the soft, powdery dirt next to Keast.
Keast: I didn't expect you back so soon. Did you find him?
Ryuu: I did, but there's a problem. I need your help.
Keast: What's wrong?
Ryuu skipped everything about how he found Jaze and started describing what he looked like and how he acted. He described Jaze's apparent confusion as well as his physical appearance.
Keast: He's dehydrated.
Keast reached into his pack and pulled out a bowl and pestle.
Keast: Over that hill are some berries. I need you to go and get as many of the red ones as you can find. Use my bag.
Keast dumped the rest of his things from his bag and handed it to Ryuu. He took off immediately over the hill and easily found the berries that Keast described. He picked as many berries as he could find.
Ryuu brought the berries back and found Keast, ready with his bowl and pestle, along with a funnel and his water pouch, which was flat and empty.
Keast: Dump the berries in here.
Ryuu did as he was told and Keast went to work right away mashing the berries into a juice. As he worked, Ryuu paced, wondering how long Jaze could last in his current state. Finally, Keast put the end of the small funnel into his water pouch and poured the berry juice inside.
Keast: Take this to him and make sure he drinks it slowly. After that, come back here and I'll have more ready for you. It's going to take several trips before he gets better.
Ryuu took the pouch and immediately flew back to the compound. He hurried inside and retraced his steps back to the oubliette where Jaze was. He was pleased to discover that Jaze was still alive, though looking just as bad as he did before. He did as Keast said and made sure Jaze drank the juice slowly, though it was difficult to prevent Jaze from grabbing the water bottle and attempting to drink the juice all at once. All the while, Jaze kept mistaking Ryuu for some member of his family. This time, Jaze thought Ryuu was his sister.
When Jaze finished the pouch, Ryuu took it and left through the pipe maze again.
Ryuu made several trips between Jaze and Keast. Each time he went back to Keast, he had another batch of juice ready and Ryuu took it to Jaze, who seemed to get a little better each time.
Though it took the rest of the evening and halfway through the next day to get Jaze well again, Ryuu was still surprised that he looked much better after looking nearly dead before. Ryuu went out one last time after Jaze fell asleep and picked up a proper meal from Keast, consisting of a hearty portion of meat and some vegetables. Keast didn't have anything easily transportable for bringing the meal, so Ryuu had to carry it in the same bowl that the juice was made in, making it very difficult for Ryuu to sneak it into the pipes. He clutched the bowl in his arm as he slowly made his way through the pipes on three legs, being extra careful to mind his claws and make sure he didn't bang the bowl on the side of the pipes.
Ryuu sat, watching over Jaze as he slept. The meal was already long since cold, but he knew it wouldn't matter. He placed it near the wall where it wouldn't likely be seen by anyone walking by above. Nobody ever seemed to walk by above, but he didn't want to take the chance. Ryuu finally curled up by Jaze's chest and fell asleep.
Ryuu awoke to the feeling of someone running his fingers through his fur. Lazily, he opened his eyes and looked up to see Jaze stroking his fur.
Ryuu: Jaze! Are you okay?
Jaze: I'm feeling much better now, thanks to you.
Ryuu leaped onto Jaze's chest and hugged him as much as his tiny legs would allow. Jaze gave him a hearty squeeze in return.
Ryuu: Oh, I brought something for you.
Ryuu jumped down and hurried over to the meal that he brought for Jaze earlier.
Ryuu: It's almost all gone.
Jaze: Sorry. I was so hungry, I ate most of it. I saved some for you if you want it.
Ryuu: Are you sure you're okay?
Jaze: I'm fine. Go ahead.
Ryuu: Well, if you're okay, then thanks!
There was, at least, enough left for Ryuu to satiate his hunger for a short time and he ate the food quickly.
Jaze: So, now what?
Ryuu: That pipe up there leads to the outside. It'll be tricky, but we can try to escape when it's night.
Jaze looked up at the pipe and noticed for the first time that there was no longer a grate covering it.
Jaze: How did you get the grate off?
Ryuu: I can melt metal now!
Ryuu hopped excitedly when he said this, pleased with his new ability.
Ryuu: I'll go up and check to see if it's night yet.
Ryuu leaped into the air and flapped his wings hard to reach the opening of the pipe. He crawled quickly through the labyrinth, now knowing the layout very well. As he approached the opening, he could see that the sun was still up, but he wasn't sure how much daylight was left. He slowly poked his head out of the pipe to get a better view and looked around. An orange light blanketed the landscape before him. It was too early, but the sun would be down soon and and then they could make their escape.
Ryuu scurried quickly back through the pipes to the oubliette.
Jaze: So, what did you see?
Ryuu: The sun is still up, but not for long. The pipe leads out to the side of the compound. Since you can't fly, we're going to have to sneak around to the entrance of the compound and make a run for it.
Jaze: Well, it's simple. I'll give it that.
Ryuu: It's going to take awhile to get you through the pipe, so we should go ahead and leave.
Jaze took a deep breath, knowing that he just escaped death by a close margin and he was getting ready to attempt to cheat death once again.
Jaze: Well, let's go then. What should we do with the bowl?
Ryuu: Just leave it. Keast said he can get another one.
Jaze: Oh, Keast, the bat-guy. Um... Batman?
Ryuu: Yeah, him. He gave me the juice I used to make you better.
Jaze: I hope I get a chance to thank him.
Jaze looked up at the opening that would take him to freedom.
Jaze: Getting up there won't be easy. It took several tries for me to get to the grate last time.
Ryuu: I can't fly you up there, but I might be able to give you a boost.
Jaze positioned himself under the pipe while Ryuu put his little paws on Jaze's butt.
Ryuu: Okay, just jump when you're ready.
Jaze squatted for a moment and then jumped as high as he could. As he did so, Ryuu flapped furiously as Jaze clawed at the uneven metal seams leading up to the pipe. Just as Ryuu was losing momentum, Jaze gave a final, big stretch and grabbed the bottom of the pipe and he hoisted himself inside. It was only barely big enough for him to fit.
Jaze: Okay, I'm in, but I need to follow you. How are you going to get past me?
Ryuu flew up into the pipe behind Jaze.
Ryuu: I can squeeze through. Just lay as flat as you can.
Jaze lay flat as Ryuu told him to. Right away, he could feel Ryuu wriggling past his legs. When he reached Jaze's body, it became a little more difficult, as Ryuu squeezed his way through and finally past Jaze's head.
All city pictures from SimCity 4