Carpathia III: Episode 71 - The Proposal
The Inn, Unassumed Lands
Quilyon: Are you okay, Kaoru? You look a little green.
Kaoru rocked back and forth on his feet where he stood, frequently wiping his brow.
Kaoru: Do I?
Kaoru scanned the large crowd and nervously eyeballed the stage, which was still being set up.
Kaoru: There sure are a lot of people here tonight.
Quilyon crinkled her forehead as she looked at Kaoru in confusion.
Quilyon: Well, yeah. That's normal. Are you okay?
Kaoru: Maybe it was something I ate.
Quilyon squinted disbelievingly.
Quilyon: Mmm... you've been acting weird all day.
Before Quilyon could interrogate him any further, Ixon and Tarja appeared in the crowd and approached them.
Tarja: So, how are the shooting lessons going?
Quilyon spoke right away before Kaoru even had a moment to consider a response.
Quilyon: Not bad! I suppose he'll be ready after another two harvests
Tarja folded her arms across her chest and glared at Quilyon.
Quilyon: One harvest?
Tarja maintained her stance and steely gaze.
Quilyon: Okay, okay. He's pretty much as good as he's going to get.
Quilyon looked away and kicked at nothing in particular at the floor. Kaoru, momentarily forgetting about the upcoming concert, grinned in delight.
Quilyon: Yeah. To tell you the truth, I've been stalling. I don't want you to go.
Kaoru pulled Quilyon in and hugged her tightly.
Kaoru: I'm sorry. Hopefully, I can come home quickly.
Kaoru felt a familiar hand on his shoulder.
Ixon: They're almost ready, Kaoru. I'll walk you back.
Kaoru: Oh, already?
Kaoru fished around in his pocket and pulled out his phone. He handed it to Tarja.
Kaoru: You remember how to take video with this, right?
Tarja took the phone and tapped several buttons.
Tarja: I remember. Now get going!
During the conversation, Quilyon looked around at Kaoru and her parents, confused.
Quilyon: Time for what? What's going on?
Kaoru struggled for an excuse to give and fortunately, Ixon provided one for him.
Ixon: There's just a little something we're arranging. I won't keep him from you very long!
Quilyon: Um... okay.
Ixon tugged at Kaoru's shoulder, pulling him away from Tarja and Quilyon. All at once, Kaoru felt the weight of what he was about to do and began to feel even more queasy. If Ixon hadn't been steering him through the crowd, he thought he'd likely freeze right where he stood. After slowly making their way through the crowd, they finally encountered Reuli behind the stage. He already had his guitar slung over his shoulder and he was cheerfully talking with the other band members.
Reuli: Are you ready, Kaoru?
Kaoru scratched the back of his neck and laughed nervously.
Kaoru: Ha ha. I guess I'm as ready as I can be.
Reuli: Don't worry! I'll be there with you. I'll be watching, so even if you mess up, I can adjust my playing so that most people won't notice.
Kaoru started feeling slightly better having Reuli by his side. Before he could thank him, however, Kaut poked his head out from under the stage.
Kaut: Everything is finished!
Kaut slid out from underneath the stage and was surprised to see Kaoru and Ixon with the rest of the band.
Kaut: Oh, Kaoru! I didn't expect you to be here. No Tarja today?
Ixon: She'll be singing later. How have you been? I haven't seen you in awhile.
Kaut sat up and began to brush the dust from this clothes.
Kaut: I've been busy moving. I got my own place away from Ghestalt. By the way, speaking of Ghestalt, he has somehow acquired a large truck. Much bigger than anything he'd reasonably need.
Ixon: Hmmm... I'll mention that to the council next time we have a session.
Ixon grinned as he heartily patted Kaoru's shoulders.
Ixon: Got everything ready for our singer tonight?
Kaut: So it's Kaoru tonight? I didn't expect that. Well, good luck, then. Everything is ready for you to go.
The other band members took their instruments and climbed the short staircase to the stage, leaving Kaoru and Reuli behind. Kaoru wrung his hands nervously as Reuli gently grabbed his arm.
Reuli: Deep breath, Kaoru. Everything will be fine!
Kaoru inhaled deeply and slowly let all the air out.
Kaoru: Let's do it.
Kaoru didn't walk up the stairs onto the stage so much as allow Reuli to pull him along. Once on stage, Kaoru could see the entire crowd, milling around and enjoying their food and drink. He scanned around for Quilyon and was pleased to find her exactly where he left her. She was speaking to Tarja and paying no attention to the stage.
Reuli: Test, test.
With all his focus on Quilyon, Kaoru didn't notice Reuli at the microphone until he started doing a sound check. None of the crowd paid attention, as usual, but he knew that would change as soon as the real music started. Reuli moved to his own microphone and checked that one as well. Everything was working. Secretly, Kaoru was disappointed, hoping for some catastrophic equipment failure so that he could postpone until the next festival.
Reuli looked back at the rest of the band and they gave him the thumbs up. There was no more stalling now. Kaoru took another deep breath and nodded to Reuli, indicating that he could begin.
Reuli started playing a simple tune on his guitar. Kaoru approached his microphone and did his best to ignore the crowd looking up at him and instead focused on Quilyon, who had yet to look up at the stage.
Kaoru: When life leaves you high and dry,
I'll be at your door tonight
If you need help.
If you need help.
With the first stanza done and the absence of boos, Kaoru's confidence grew slightly as he entered the second stanza. Quilyon was still speaking to Tarja and, while he was in the middle of the second stanza, Tarja pointed at the stage, grinning widely. Quilyon turned and, as soon as she caught sight of Kaoru, her eyes became as big as dinner plates.
Kaoru: When enemies are at your door,
I'll carry you away from war
If you need help.
If you need help.
As Kaoru continued, most of the audience understood what was now happening. Some were still looking at Kaoru, but most were now looking at Quilyon. With the fourth stanza finished, Kaoru took a deep breath and launched into the chorus.
Kaoru: And I would do it for yooooouuuu!
Reuli: For yooooouuuu!
Kaoru and Reuli: Baby, I'm not moving on!
I'll love you long after you're gone!
Kaoru continued through the song and was happy just not making any major errors. All the while, Quilyon stood, mostly frozen, only occassionally looking around at the people who were staring at her. Tarja stood quietly behind her using Kaoru's camera to film the song.
Finally, at a lighter portion of the song, Kaoru reached out and beckoned her to join him on stage.
Kaoru: You're my backbone.
You're my cornerstone.
You're my crutch
when my legs stop moving.
With no movement forthcoming from Quilyon, Tarja gave her a hearty shove and she stumbled forward. The crowd parted, clearing a path between her and the stage and she staggered forth, slowly, looking back and forth at the audience encouraging her to head to the stage.
By the time Quilyon reached the stage, Kaoru was nearly finished with the song. He reached down to take her hand and helped her up. With Quilyon at his side, he no longer faced the crowd, but sang the last to lines to her directly.
Kaoru: And long after you're gone gone gone.
I'll love you long after you're gone gone gone.
As the song ended, Kaoru kneeled in front of the shellshocked Quilyon with her hand in his.
Kaoru: Quilyon, I know I'm going away for awhile, but I promise I'll be back. When that time comes, will you marry me?
Quilyon glanced once at the expectant crowd before facing Kaoru again.
Quilyon: You big dummy. Of course I will!
The crowd roared in approval as Kaoru and Quilyon kissed on the stage. Almost immediately afterwards, Reuli started playing a follow-up song. Kaoru and Quilyon hopped off the stage and began to dance together as everyone watched.
Reuli: Love is like a bomb, baby come on get it on.
Livin' like a lover with a radar phone.
Lookin' like a tramp like a video vamp,
Demolition woman can I be your man?
As they danced, Quilyon buried her face into Kaoru's shoulder and laughed uncontrollably.
Quilyon: Oh my god, did you tell him to play this?
Kaoru: Nope. I had no idea what he was going to play.
They continued dancing, attempting to hold back laughter, until Reuli got the chorus.
Reuli: Pour some sugar on me!
Ooh, in the name of love!
This time, Kaoru snorted and turned his face away from Reuli so that he couldn't see him.
Kaoru: Oh man, do you think Reuli even knows what those lyrics mean?
Quilyon: I doubt it!
Managing to make it through the rest of the song without collapsing in laughter, Kaoru and Quilyon spent the rest of the evening receiving congratulations from all the townsfolk present at the festival.
Gone Gone Gone by Phillip Phillips
Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard
All city pictures from SimCity 4