Carpathia III: Episode 85: Rest Stop
Forest, Somewhere in Zhail
The map that Ixon made did not do the landscape justice. The path twisted and wound along the lake and was filled with rocks and potholes. Once in awhile, they passed a cluster of houses or a lone woodsman's shack. On the map, the distance didn't seem far, but it was now the third day of walking and there appeared to be no end in sight. Though Kaoru wondered if this was really the shortest way to go, he trusted that Ixon's map would not lead them astray.
Breaks were frequent. Often, they would stop while Quilyon hunted to supplement their food supplies or to gather fruit from nearby trees. Other times, it would be just to have a brief rest. At night, when it was cool, they would sleep while someone kept watch in case a curious animal decided to approach their camp.
As night fell on the third day, their somber procession halted near a clearing and they prepared for another night's rest. With the sleeping bags unfurled and a small campfire blazing, everyone went to sleep. Kaoru, however, failed to fall asleep, despite his best efforts. He sat up and looked around to see who was keeping watch at that time and that's when he spotted Quilyon sitting on a log nearby. He stood, breathing in the cool, night air, and made his way to Quilyon, where he sat down next to her.
Quilyon: Can't sleep?
Kaoru took a deep breath before he spoke.
Kaoru: Not really. I can keep watch if you want to sleep.
Quilyon: No offense, but your human senses really aren't cut out for this. It's best if Zet and I take turns.
Kaoru wasn't offended, since Quilyon was quite right.
Kaoru: In that case, I'll just sit here with you, if that's okay.
Quilyon: I'd like that.
Together, they sat in comfortable silence, taking in the sounds of the night. Quilyon was quite right that she would hear and smell more than he could. The insects and frogs made an awful racket that all blended together into one, giant roar to him. After much time passed, Quilyon suddenly and unexpectedly spoke.
Quilyon: I've been thinking a lot about you.
Kaoru could hardly believe what he was hearing. Turning his head, he nearly let out an exclamation of surprise. Quickly remembering that everyone else was sleeping, he checked himself before it could happen. Quilyon continued looking straight ahead, into the forest before them.
Kaoru: Me? Why me?
Quilyon: One minute, life is normal. The next, everything is in ruins. That's what it was like for you when you came through the portal, wasn't it?
Kaoru turned and faced the same direction as Quilyon, gazing at nothing in particular as he put his hand on her leg.
Kaoru: Sort of. It was nothing as traumatic as what you just went through, but I suppose there are a few similarities.
Just then, Kaoru heard Quilyon sniffle. Turning to look again, he could see a tear roll down her cheek.
Quilyon: There you were going through something awful and I was too wrapped up in myself.
Kaoru put his arm around Quilyon and pulled her close to him.
Kaoru: Aww, don't worry about that. You're a good person and that's why I love you.
Quilyon tilted her head, resting it on Kaoru's shoulder. Together they remained until they fell asleep.
The Next Day
Quilyon worked furiously getting the camp cleaned up and packed. Running back and forth, she rolled up the bags and strapped them to the pony while Kaoru, Zet, and Wolfram took a more leisurely pace.
Zet: Quilyon, I told you, it's okay.
Quilyon stopped for a moment and grunted.
Quilyon: I fell asleep when I was supposed to be keeping watch!
Zet: Nothing bad happened. Don't worry about it. You two were adorable together.
Quilyon threw the last sleeping bag roll on the pony and tied it on.
Quilyon: Still, that's not normal for me!
Quilyon stopped for a moment after pulling the last knot tight. She took a deep breath and sighed heavily.
Quilyon: Anyway, is that everything?
Before the others had a chance to speak, Wolfram quickly looked around.
Wolfram: Where's Reuli?
Suddenly, the others started looking around as well and they quickly realized that Reuli was nowhere to be seen.
Kaoru: Where did he go?
Kaoru looked to Quilyon, hoping that she might have an idea and that's when he noticed her ears twitching.
Quilyon: I hear something. I swear it sounds like Mom singing.
Quilyon looked in the direction of the trees to one side of the path.
Quilyon: It's coming from this way.
Quilyon immediately started making her way in the direction she indicated.
Kaoru: I'll go with you.
It wasn't long before Kaoru could hear the sound of Tarja's voice as well. Making their way through the trees, they came close to the shore of the lake. There, they spotted Reuli sitting on a rock, staring at Kaoru's phone.
Kaoru: He's watching the recordings I took of Tarja.
Quilyon: What should we do?
Kaoru only needed a moment to think.
Kaoru: I can handle this. You can go back.
Quilyon: You're sure?
Kaoru: I think so. You can go on back and wait.
Quilyon: Okay, then. Don't take too long.
Quilyon patted Kaoru on the shoulder before turning around and heading back to the trail. Kaoru took a deep breath and made his way forward. Reuli, engrossed in the video, took no notice of him.
Reuli gasped and jumped. Keeping a strong grip on Kaoru's phone, he made no attempt to brace himself and nearly fell off the rock. Kaoru took a seat next to him. Reuli switched off the phone and stared forlornly across the lake.
Reuli: I'm sorry I took your phone.
Kaoru: That's okay. I'm just happy you're okay. We were worried when we couldn't find you.
Reuli sniffled and rubbed his eyes.
Reuli: I'm glad I still have you and Quilyon. What about Wolfram? He doesn't have a family anymore.
Kaoru sighed and tossed a small pebble into the lake.
Kaoru: I've been thinking a lot about family since I came here.
Reuli: Mom told me a long time ago that your parents ignored you all the time.
Kaoru: That's true. I still had a family, though. My best friend and his parents took good care of me. Then I got you guys. You're like a little brother I never had.
Reuli: I don't get it.
Kaoru: It's sad, but we can't have our old lives back. Still, we can make a new life. Wolfram has Zet now. I think, though, that maybe Wolfram could use a brother too. Could you do that?
Reuli's eyes widened and he looked at Kaoru, who smiled gently back at him.
Reuli: Yeah, I think I can do that.
Kaoru: That's good. We're all going to need each other for a long time. You don't have to be strong. We just have to be there for each other.
Kaoru put his arms around Reuli and hugged him tightly.
Kaoru: We're brothers, alright? We help each other.
Kaoru held Reuli for a long time while he cried into his chest. Finally, Reuli pulled away.
Reuli: Here's your phone.
Reuli held out the phone, but Kaoru gently pushed it away.
Kaoru: Why don't you hang on to that. I trust you'll take care of it.
Reuli glanced at the phone and then stored it securely in his vest pocket.
Reuli: I won't let anything happen to it.
Kaoru: I know you won't. Now let's go back before everyone comes looking for us again.
Kaoru slipped off the rock and held out his hand. Reuli took it and, together, they walked back to the trail.
All city pictures from SimCity 4