Carpathia III: Episode 77 - A New Quest
Unassumed Lands, Vayhama House
Kaoru stood still as Ixon rifled through his overstuffed backpack.
Ixon: Can't have you forgetting anything.
Ixon could take all the time he wanted as far as Kaoru was concerned. While Ixon looked through the backpack, he looked back and forth between Tarja, Reuli, and especially Quilyon, who were standing in front of him. Quilyon fidgeted and kept her eyes averted the entire time. Kaoru didn't want to leave, but he knew he must. He deeply desired to find his friends somewhere on Yseri, but even if he didn't, he hoped the effort would bring him some peace of mind.
Finally, the rifling through his backpack ceased.
Ixon: What's this doing in here?
Kaoru turned to find Ixon holding his book, Peter Pan and Wendy, which Tarja gave him long ago. As everyone looked at him, awaiting an answer, Kaoru squrimed in embarrassment.
Kaoru: You know... I thought I might need something to read while I'm gone.
Ixon: Heh. You are a sentimental one.
Kaoru felt his backpack move again as Ixon stuffed the book back inside. As Ixon came around from behind him, Tarja approched, holding a small, silver card in her hand.
Tarja: This is a permissions card. If you are ever stopped by a soldier, they will probably ask for your papers. Show them this.
Kaoru hesitantly took the card, knowing how important it is.
Kaoru: I hope you'll be fine while I'm using this.
Tarja: It will be okay. I don't sell to the farmers in Zhail often, but we can do our business on the bridge if need be. Now, remember, this card will get you into any place in Zhail except Zhail City and Volcano and it also lets you include up to ten people in your group. Keep it somewhere safe.
Kaoru reached down and unzipped a pocket in his pants. From inside, he pulled out a small, leather case into which he placed the silver card.
Kaoru: It'll be safe here.
Kaoru put the case back inside his pants pocket and zipped it tight.
Ixon: And you remember what we went over?
Kaoru needed little prompting beyond this, as he had gone over the details with Ixon more times than he could count.
Kaoru: Stick to the farming areas. Avoid the industrial zones if at all possible because there is a lot of violence there. Watch out for bandits on the west side of the lake.
Kaoru: And if I ever make it to the Outlands, ask for your Aunt Nita. She'll take care of me.
Ixon enthusiastically patted Kaoru on the shoulders.
Ixon: Good man. You'll do just fine!
Kaoru: I hope so. I'm a bit nervous.
Kaoru absentmindedly adjusted his backpack again.
Kaoru: The book is nothing compared to all the guns and ammo I'm carrying.
Kaoru took a moment and looked at the four of them. Each, except Quilyon, bore a brave smile. He felt like he was about to be sucked through the portal again, losing everyone he ever cared about. Finally, Reuli, unable to contain himself any longer, rushed up and threw his arms around him.
Reuli: I wish you wouldn't go!
Kaoru patted Reuli gently on his back.
Kaoru: I wish I didn't have to. I'll write when I can and I'll come home as quickly as possible.
Reuli sniffled as Kaoru looked up at Quilyon. She was still averting her eyes. He and Reuli parted and Kaoru kneeled to look him in the eye.
Kaoru: I'll be back soon, okay?
Reuli wiped his eyes and nodded.
Kaoru now turned his full attention to Quilyon.
Kaoru: You've been awfully quiet.
Quilyon sniffed and wiped her eye, but still did not look at him.
Quilyon: You big dummy. Proposing and then leaving like this.
Kaoru approached cautiously and gently wrapped her in his arms and, for a little while, they cried together.
Kaoru: When I get back, we'll have the rest of our lives together.
Finally, they kissed, and, for perhaps the first time, Kaoru didn't feel nervous about doing so in front of the entire family. Afterwards, they spent a few more moments holding each others hands.
Kaoru: Well, I guess that's everything. Wish me luck!
Ixon: Are you sure you don't want to wait for Kaut to come and fix the truck? Then I can drive you to the bridge.
Kaoru smirked as he rolled his eyes.
Kaoru: Ixon, this is the fourth time you've delayed my leaving over the last several days. I'm starting to think you're just pretending the truck is broken.
Ixon: Heh. Well, you found me out, but the truck really is broken this time.
Kaoru shook his head. Ixon being Ixon as usual.
Kaoru: Honestly, I'd rather not go through all the good-byes again. Besides, I'm going to be walking a lot. I may as well get used to it.
Kaoru gave his backpack one final adjustment.
Kaoru: Okay, for real this time. I'll see you again soon, everyone!
Kaoru waved and was greeted with a cacophony of farewells from the Vayhama family as he turned and walked up the hill to the main road. Several times, he turned around to look at the house again to see everyone still watching him and waving. Each time, he waved back. He did so one lat time when he reached the main road. Once he started down the main road, the trees blocked his view of the house. His journey had begun.
As Kaoru crossed the bridge, he could see a soldier at the end of it. He patted his pocket to make sure his silver card was still there. One more time, he decided to look across the river to see if he could catch one more glimpse of the Vayhama house in the distance. He turned and looked over the high railing. What he saw horrified him.
Smoke was rising in the distance exactly where he surmised the house was. Without another thought, he turned and ran back in the direction from which he came.
All city pictures from SimCity 4