Carpathia III: Episode 90: Brothers
Yseri, Zhail Falls
Two weeks passed at the way station. Adell and Artemis, flush with money, paid for everyone's rooms along with everyone's meals. This made Jonas very cheerful and went about his daily business very enthusiastically almost every day. The one exception was on day three when Quilyon finally had enough of the smell and everyone got together to throw Jonas in the lake and scrub him clean. A few days later, everyone was shocked to see Jonas dip himself into the lake of his own accord and wash.
The effect of a comfortable routine seemed to lift the spirits of Reuli and Wolfram in particular. They spent their days playing with Phobos and Deimos and swimming in the lake. Zet spent a lot of time with Wolfram and they were quickly becoming like brothers. Kaoru and Quilyon spent most of their time together, as did Adell and Artemis.
Kaoru strolled leisurely down the hill toward the lake. The cool evening air meant that another big meal was on its way, which made him feel hungry. There was a lone figure laying at the bottom. He knew it wasn't Quilyon, because she was still in the room. The figure had his hands propped behind his head and he appeared to be gazing at the stars. As Kaoru got closer, he could see that it was Adell. Kaoru sat down beside him.
Adell: Ought to be dinner time soon.
Kaoru's voice trailed off as he picked up a small stone and threw it into the lake.
Adell: You alright?
Kaoru: I'm fine. I'm really glad you and Artemis are here now. I've just been thinking about Jaze lately.
Adell sat up so that he could see Kaoru's face better.
Adell: I guess it's almost certain that Jaze, Ryuu, and Toma are here somewhere.
Kaoru: I really hope none of them ended up in Nekramentia. If half the things I've heard about that place are true, it would be really awful.
Kaoru sighed before he continued.
Kaoru: I've been thinking about the old days, before we came here. I've told you before that my parents often forgot about me and went off on vacations, right?
Adell: Yeah, I remember that.
Kaoru: Jaze's parents always took me in when that happened. Frankly, they always felt more like my mom and dad than my real parents ever did.
Kaoru giggled to himself as he smiled and looked up at the sky.
Kaoru: Heh. I can still remember so clearly... both of us, sitting on his bed in just our underpants, watching an old TV show called "Thundercats." Jaze loved that show. I thought it was silly, but it was good enough just to be with him. Honestly, I consider him my brother. By almost any standard, we were, basically, sorta... kinda like brothers.
Adell thought for a momment and then scrunched up his face in confusion.
Adell: Sorta... kinda... almost? You don't sound so sure.
Kaoru slowly turned his head and faced Adell with a smirk on his face.
Kaoru: Jaze and I... did things... that brothers don't normally do.
Kaoru waited for Adell to have his moment of dawning comprehension. He knew that Adell understood when his eyes grew wide.
Adell: Are you serious? You? And Jaze? But... but...
Kaoru: Oh, don't get me wrong. I still prefer girls. What can I say? I was a teenager. He was a hundred percent willing. Why not, right? We did that fairly frequently for about two years. That ended when Toma showed up.
Adell stuttered before he could get his words out.
Adell: I... I... I'm completely shocked.
Quilyon: So am I.
If Kaoru had the ability to leap clear into outer space, he surely would have at that moment. Instead, he fell forward and nearly tumbled into the lake.
Kaoru: Quilyon! Ha ha! I didn't know you were there!
Quilyon: Obviously. I hope I get to meet this friend, Jaze, of yours even more now.
Kaoru looked around at nothing in particular before focusing on Quilyon again, unsure of what to say.
Kaoru: Um... really?
Quilyon began crawling seductively towards Kaoru until she was close enough to pat him on the chest.
Quilyon: Oh yes. I want to thank the one who taught you everything that you know.
Suddenly, Quilyon lunged forward and pecked Kaoru on the lips.
Adell: Oh, shall I leave you two kids alone for awhile?
Quilyon: I don't think so. Jonas should be right behind me.
As though on cue, Jonas showed up carrying another large, dead animal for the night's dinner.
Jonas: Howdy. The usual spot, then?
Jonas tilted his head towards the firepit they used every night. It still had the spit set up and ready for the next meal.
Quilyon: That will be good. I'll help you get it set up.
Jonas took off his hat and ran his fingers lovingly through his hair, an activity he seemed to relish with fervor since they first threw him in the lake many days ago.
Adell: I'll go back and tell everyone it's time to come down. I have to get something from my room anyway.
As became their custom, everyone gathered once again around the firepit, each carving a slice of smoked meat from the spit.
Artemis: How much longer do you suppose we should stay here?
Kaoru: I suppose a couple more days wouldn't hurt. What do you guys think?
Kaoru turned toward Zet and Quilyon as he said this.
Quilyon: Sounds reasonable.
Zet: Fine by me. What are you three going to do?
Zet held out his hand to Adell, Artemis, and Azrael.
Adell: When we left the palace, Riven told us that we should either head to the Unassumed Lands or to the Outlands. That said, of course we'll go with you guys.
Kaoru: That's good. We should all stick together from now on.
Adell looked around at everybody and at their meals in particular. Most of them were either finished with theirs or close to it. Now seemed like an appropriate moment.
Adell: What do you think Artemis? Now?
Artemis stuffed the last piece of his meat into his mouth.
Artemis: Now's good.
By now, everyone was looking at Adell and Artemis, wondering what they were up to. Without saying anything more, Adell held out his hand toward a small stone laying on the ground. After just a moment of concentration, it rose up and he brought it close to his hand, making it spin as it hovered over his palm. The others looked on in amazement. Reuli and Wolfram were especially entranced.
Wolfram: So cool! How do you do that?
Adell flattened out his palm and raised the stone into the air. Suddenly, without any physical intervention, the stone took off like a shot and arced high over the lake.
Adell: That's my ability. Artemis has one too.
Right away, all heads swivelled to Artemis, expecting a demonstration of his own.
Artemis: I can heal people. Unless one of you guys wants to beat your head on a rock, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Zet: I've never seen anything like this before. Have you?
Everyone else shook their heads.
Quilyon: Nope. When did this start?
Adell pulled out his backpack and reached inside. He pulled out a lump wrapped in cloth. Carefully, he unwrapped it, revealing the shiny, green crystal underneath.
Adell: Remember the old man on the island we told you about? He found this and it gave him the ability to use fire. Not long after we arrived, he allowed each of us to hold it. It gave me abilities with stone and Artemis healing.
The others leaned in close to have a better look at the crystal.
Adell: So, who wants to go first.
Suddenly, everyone returned to their normal positions again.
Kaoru: Are there any side effects?
Adell and Artemis looked at each other, having never considered the question before.
Artemis: Not really. Come to think of it, since I touched the crystal, I feel stronger than I ever have.
Adell: Yeah, me too. I didn't really think of that until now. Neither of us have experienced anything bad.
The others looked at each other, considering what to do next. Finally, Kaoru scooted over.
Kaoru: Well, okay. What do I do?
Quilyon put her hand on Kaoru's shoulder and gave him a little tug.
Quilyon: Are you sure about this?
Kaoru: If they say it's safe, I trust them.
Quilyon reluctantly removed her hand and allowed Kaoru to proceed.
Adell: The old man said that two people should never touch the crystal at the same time. I am going to drop it in your hand. You'll fall asleep for a few minutes and have a dream. When you wake up, you should have a new ability.
Nervously, Kaoru held out his hands.
Kaoru: Okay, let's see how this goes.
Adell slowly reached over and held the crystal over Kaoru's hands. Then, he released it and let it fall. Kaoru caught it perfectly, finding the crystal much lighter than he expected. Suddenly, a feeling of serenity washed over him as he held the crystal closer to his face in order to see it better. In the center, he could see a swirling, blue speck that quickly became larger and larger until he didn't know where he was anymore.
Kaoru found himself soaring above a vast ocean with turbulent waves full of whitecaps and swirling tides. He watched the waves, mesmerized by how they crashed into each other, combined, and then separated again. Though chaotic, he found meaning and interconnectivity in what he was seeing, though he didn't understand why these thoughts were coming to him.
Even when he realized he was descending towards the waves, he did not panic. Plunging through the surface, he found that he was still, somehow, able to breathe. Unlike the chaotic surface, the world was calm and serene. Through the clear, blue sea, it seemed like he could see for miles. He ran his hand through is hair as it flowed with the current.
As soon as his dream began, it seemed to end by the light of the nearby fire. Kaoru opened his eyes and found everyone staring down at him.
Quilyon: Are you okay?
Kaoru slowly sat up, still holding the placid, blue crystal.
Kaoru: I feel good. Great, actually. You should try it too.
Quilyon looked at Kaoru skeptically.
Quilyon: Are you sure you're fine?
Kaoru: Better than fine! Really, you should try.
Quilyon: Hmmm... well, if you say so.
Quilyon heitantly held out her hands. Like Adell did before him, Kaoru held the crystal over her hands and dropped it. Quilyon deftly caught the crystal and held it near to her face for a closer look. Everyone watched expectantly for quite awhile until it was clear that nothing was happening.
Adell: That's strange.
Artemis: Maybe it doesn't work on elves?
Kaoru: Do you feel anything at all?
Quilyon adjusted her glasses and examined the crystal more closely.
Quilyon: It feels cool and wet, but that's it.
Puzzled, they tried again, this time with Adell dropping the crystal into her hand. Again, nothing happened. They tried the same with all the others, with different combinations of people giving and receiving. Once again, the results were the same. The only one the crystal affected that night was Kaoru.
Artemis: We've tried everything we can. The only other thing I can think of is that it only works on people who are at least part human, but that doesn't explain why it didn't work on Wolfram either. I'm stumped.
Adell: At least it worked on one person. Kaoru, tell us what you saw.
Kaoru began to regale the others on his dream, leaving no doubt in anyone's mind what new ability he was going to have.
All city pictures from SimCity 4