Carpathia III: Episode 60 - Harvest Festival

The Outlands, Nita's House

Nita: Jaze, wake up.

Jaze's eyes opened slowly. It had been a long, restless night full of nightmares and he felt as though he didn't sleep at all. He rubbed his eyes and groaned, now noticing it was daylight outside.

Jaze: Morning already?

Nita: Nearly afternoon. Today is our harvest festival down near the river. I made something for you to eat before we go.

With great struggle, Jaze sat up in his bed and rubbed his forehead. He was only vaguely aware of what Nita was saying. Something about a harvest festival. Though wanting nothing more than to stay in bed for the rest of his life, he knew he couldn't do that and he forced himself to turn and put his feet on the floor.

Jaze: I would like to see the town. How long till we leave?

Nita: Don't worry about that. Just take your time and eat. I have a few things to do first.

Jaze rose slowly to his feet. Thankfully, it was only a few steps from his bed to a chair by the dining table. When he reached it, he plopped down hard on the seat.

Jaze: Did everyone else already eat?

Nita walked over to the counter and picked up a plate with a sandwich on it.

Nita: We did. We were quiet, but I don't think there was any chance of waking you anyway. You were sleeping very deeply.

Jaze was surprised by this, as he didn't feel like he slept deeply at all. Nita put the plate in front of him. He looked at it carefully and it appeared very hearty and appetizing. Two pieces of thick bread with meat and an egg in between. He picked it up and took a bite right away. He began to feel better immediately.

Nita: We'll clear a space in another room for you to sleep. It's no good having you sleep in the kitchen every night.

Jaze: Thanks. Just let me know what I can do to help.

Jaze continued to eat his sandwich in silence as Nita left the house to do whatever it was that she was doing. Jaze took his time to savor every bite, fully appreciating even a decent sandwich compared to what he had every day at the compound. The meat was piled high inside and had a rich, smokey flavor. The egg had a dark orange yolk and was equally rich and delicious. As he ate, he was becoming more and more interested in the harvest festival so he could see what other sorts of food he could try.

Nita returned just as Jaze finished his sandwich. She took his plate and set it near the wash basin.

Nita: We can wash that later. Are you ready?

Jaze: I am. I feel much better now. Thanks for that.

Jaze and Nita left the house together. and turned left on the dusty road. Very quickly, they came to a crossroad and turned left again.

Nita: Our village is technically part of the Kingdom of Zhail, but we're so small and so far away that we aren't bothered by them very much. We just do our own thing.

Jaze: The Kingdom of Zhail?

They continued walking as Nita explained as much as she could about Zhail and the compound and how neither paid their village much thought. As she spoke, Jaze became better acquainted with his new world.

Soon after the crossroad, they came to a steep hill.

As they carefully stepped down the steep hill, Jaze continuously looked over his shoulder, as though someone could pop out at any momement and chastise him for not being where he was supposed to be. Now, he was walking with someone because he chose to do so. The feeling was strangely abnormal to him now.

Jaze: By the way, some friends of mine came through the portal with me besides Ryuu. Have you seen any other new people?

Nita paused for a brief moment.

Nita: The last one to come through the portal around here is Aten, and that was a long time ago.

Undeterred, Jaze pressed on.

Jaze: There were four others with me. A tokki, Toma, two humans, Adell and Kaoru, and a nekohuman like me, Artemis.

Nita furrowed her brow as they continued walking.

Nita: I'm afraid we don't get much information from outside the village. I've never heard of tokki before, though. What do they look like?

Jaze: Not much different than us, but they have really long ears and little, poofy tails.

Jaze held his hands out wide when he mentioned the ears and then formed his fingers into a ball to emphasize the tail.

Nita: You know, I think I've heard my grandfather talk about such people before, but I've never seen one.

Dejected, Jaze looked to the ground.

Jaze: I see... I have to find out if they're here.

Nita: Yes, but not now. You should be at full strength before you do anything. You're so skinny right now. When we get back from the festival, I'll show you a map that my nephew made and sent here. That will help you plan things for your future.

Jaze looked down at himself and rubbed his stomach. He didn't realize it before, but Nita was right. He was rather emaciated and, as he ran his hand up from his stomach to his chest, he realised his ribs felt much more prominent than they used to.

Jaze: I guess I could stand to be fattened up a bit. And I would like to see that map.

Nita: That's right. Now, just put that from your mind. We're here.

Jaze looked ahead. There wasn't much to see of any description. There was a tall silo and building of some sort made of the same sun-dried planks that Nitas house was made from. There was also a windmill and a greenhouse nearby. The only thing that made this scene different from the rest of the village was several dozen people milling around, talking and eating samples.

Jaze scanned the crowd, looking for Aten, Jacob, and Ryuu, the only other people he knew. It didn't take long for him to spot Aten, tugging on Jacob's waistband and pointing in their direction. Ryuu was there too and they trotted towards Jaze.

Aten: Jaze!

Ryuu: You made it!

Jacob: Well, there ya are. Thought you'd sleep the rest of your life. Feeling better?

Jaze patted his stomach. Suddenly, he was feeling cheerier, surrounded by people who genuinely cared about his well-being.

Jaze: Better, now that Nita has put more food in me.

At this time, Jaze noticed that there was someone else with them. He saw someone else's head periodically pop up behind Jacob's shoulder.

Jaze: Um, who is that behind you?

Jacob looked over his shoulder as the unknown face continuously bounced up and down behind him.

Jacob: Oh, that's Roose. He's...

Before Jacob could finish, the person suddenly climbed up on Jacob's shoulder. Jaze thought Jacob would surely collapse under his weight, but he seemed to handle it with ease. He was small and skinny, rather like Artemis, Jaze thought, but even shorter. He even had nekomi ears, but Jaze could not see his tail.

Roose: New guy!

Roose suddenly leapt off of Jacob's shoulder like a cat and rocketed towards him. Jaze braced himself, sure that he'd be knocked hard to the ground. To his astonishment, Roose spread a pair of vast bat-like wings and landed gently on Jaze, clutching his chest.

Despite the gentle landing, Jaze fully expected collapse under Roose's weight. Instead, however, he found that Roose was shockingly light. He seemed to weigh no more than a pair of large bags of rice like his mother used to buy at the supermarket. Though Jaze strained to support Roose's weight, he could manage it.

Roose leaned in close to Jaze's face and sniffed deeply. Then, he sniffed lightly around Jaze's head. Jaze stood as still, trying to balance Roose on him as best he could and his legs were getting shaky from the effort. Roose started crawling around Jaze like a speedy bug circling his shirt, still sniffing.

Finally, Roose pushed off from Jaze's back and landed a short distance behind him. Jaze turned around to see him sitting on his hands and feet with his knees folded up to his chin. Jaze remembered how amazed he was that Keast was able to contort himself into tiny spaces and Roose was no different.

Roose looked up at Jaze like a dog awaiting a biscuit, his wings still spread wide.

Roose: You stink!

Jaze looked around at everyone, not sure of what to say. Jacob had his hand on his face while Aten giggled. Only Nita seemed nonplussed by the situation.

Nita: Now, Roose, don't be rough with Jaze. He's had a bit of an ordeal and needs to take it easy.

Roose folded his wings together behind his back and pawed at the ground.

Roose: I'm sorry.

Nita: Jaze, this is Roose. He lives here with us.

Jaze's ears perked up.

Jaze: Oh? I thought you said bats were solitary people.

Nita: Most bats are, but Roose is...

Nita turned and looked down at Roose, who was now alternately scratching his face with his foot and chewing on his toenails, making little grunting noises as he did so.

Nita: ...different.

Nita looked up again and held out her hand, gesturing towards the festival.

Nita: Anyway, shall we go to the festival?

Aten grabbed Jaze's hand and started pulling excitedly.

Aten: C'mon Jaze! Let's get some kinro! They're really good this time!

Jaze smiled and allowed Aten to pull him along while the others followed.

There, Jaze met several other villagers and sampled may kinds of fruit and vegetables. Though he found a few that were not to his liking, most of the fruit was as succulent as it was various. Some were crispy. Some were soft. Some were juicy. There were all sorts and he delighted in sampling as much as he could throughout the afternoon.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Kurama chan

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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