Carpathia III: Episode 92: Wishmaster
Jaze continuously stepped backward, expecting Maelstrom to attack him at any moment. Aside from fear, he also wondered if he heard correctly. Did Maelstrom just call himself "Wishmaster?"
Wishmaster: Many apologies for startling you, for you arrived sooner than I anticipated.
Maelstrom turned and held out his arm, indicating each of the two bloody cat statues in turn.
Wishmaster: You see, Miw and Ammit have a tendency to eat first and not ask any questions at all.
Jaze stopped and glanced at the two statues and he swore that they turned their heads just slightly to get a better look at him. Briefly, he considered running away, but could not think of anywhere he could go.
Wishmaster: It is understandable that you are confused. Yes, I am Wishmaster. I take the name of "Maelstrom" at the compound so that I...
The more Wishmaster spoke, the more angry Jaze became. Cornered, there was nothing he could do but allow Wishmaster to toy with him again. Everything Wishmaster did and said sounded more and more like an elaborate manipulation.
Jaze: If you're going to kill me, just do it, already! I'm not playing your stupid games anymore!
Jaze braced himself, staring at the floor, but with his head just high enough to keep Wishmaster on the outside of his vision. He expected rage from Wishmaster, but was surprised when, instead, he simply widened one eye.
Wishmaster: Very well. Believe what you will, but I do have business with you. Have a seat.
Not sure where, besides the ground, he could sit, Jaze looked around. Looking behind him, he was surprised to see several stones had appeared near his feet, just high enough for sitting.
Wishmaster: You're right. Not very comfortable, is it?
Jaze turned toward Wishmaster, who held out his hand just to Jaze's side. Jaze looked back again and let out a little gasp. The stones were gone, replaced by a pillowy sofa.
Wishmaster: That should be more suitable.
Wishmaster narrowed his eyes and bared his teeth as he slowly leaned in toward Jaze. Taking this to mean that he should sit immediately, Jaze backed toward the couch, which sat very high, requiring that he hop to maneuver his bottom onto the cushion. It seemed to him that Wishmaster did not intend to harm him, at least not right away, nor did he have any intention of letting Jaze go. All he could do was wait to see what Wishmaster was planning this time.
Once Jaze was seated, Wishmaster came and joined him. As Wishmaster sat on the couch, Jaze's cushion leaped, nearly sending him tumbling off.
Jaze: If you're not here to kill me, then why did you bring me?
Wishmaster put his arm around Jaze's shoulder, causing his body to immediately tense.
Wishmaster: Try to relax, Jaze. You're here so that I can tell you a story.
Jaze was suspicious, but said nothing. Surely Wishmaster would not have called him here if it were merely to tell him a story.
Wishmaster: I once had a companion and, back then, I travelled the universe with him, though mostly, we stayed around Earth and the nekomi homeworld. Together, we created all sorts of delightful mischief. His name was Lucifer.
Against his better judgement, Jaze suddenly became interested in this story.
Jaze: Lucifer? As in...
Wishmaster: Some called him Satan or other nasty things. I admired him, though. He had a lightning-quick wit which I could never hope to match. I did quite a nice business granting wishes, but the things he could say to get people to sell their souls to him... He was quite a silver-tongued devil.
Jaze's mind raced. He listened with rapt attention, not sure whether or not he should believe anything Wishmaster was telling him, but also, more importantly, he tried to guess from Wishmaster's words what any of this might mean.
Wishmaster: Hee hee hee. I didn't mean to say it that way, but it was funny.
Suddenly, a horrifying thought came to Jaze. With all this talk about Lucifer, assuming Wishmaster was telling the truth, he was worried that Lucifer might actually show up. Considering all the crazy things Jaze had seen since he arrived, he thought it was not outside the realm of possibility.
Jaze: Um... Where is Lucifer now?
Wishmaster squeezed Jaze's shoulder and looked down upon him.
Wishmaster: He died long ago, and I've been without a companion since then.
Jaze's ears twitched as he could hardly believe what he was hearing.
Jaze: He... died?
Wishmaster: Everything dies, Jaze. It is the nature of the universe. Lucifer was the one who found me. He transformed me, using his crystal, from an ordinary nekomi into what I am now, granting me long life. He showed me the universe. He introduced me to a delightful people known as "Egyptians." They certainly were fun to play with. Now, I am here to make you the same offer.
Jaze's ears twitched again.
Jaze: You... what?
Wishmaster: I have been seeking a new companion for a very long time. A nekohuman would be ideal, as you embody all that is great about both Lucifer and myself. It would be a simple affair. I have my crystal stored in a safe, hidden place. All I must do is retrieve it and drain its remaining power into you. I had hoped that Rhoskel would be be amenable to the same offer, but he chose otherwise. I had hoped that the many kings I have placed on the throne of Zhail would produce a worthy companion, but alas, their progeny always turn out to be disappointing. Therefore, I now make the offer to you. What say you?
Jaze thought quickly as he considered many possibilities. If he accepted, would that give him the power to fight Wishmaster? Since Wishmaster said that everything dies, could Jaze even destroy him? It was a tempting offer and Jaze considered it carefully while, simultaneously, wondering if Wishmaster could read his thoughts on the matter.
Tempting as the offer was, Jaze only needed to take one look at Wishmaster to know what his answer was. If he had truly been just an ordinary nekomi, as he said, his powers had twisted him into the grotesque form Jaze now saw in front of him. Jaze made his decision and now his only worry was how Wishmaster would react to it. He rapidly formulated his answer to be both as polite and clear as possible.
Jaze: I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I have decided to decline.
Jaze's ears went completely flat as he braced himself for whatever rampage Wishmaster had in store for him. Certain that there was a good chance he was going to die in the next few minutes, he thought about his home, his family, his friends, and Toma, and lamented that he would probably never see any of them again.
Wishmaster rose from the couch and took a few steps forward before turning to face Jaze again.
Jaze: I see. That is, indeed, disappointing. If you are not willing, however, I shall not force you.
Jaze hesitantly looked up. This was going much better, almost impossibly so, than he ever expected.
Wishmaster: If you will not become my next companion, perhaps you might consider making a wish before you go?
Before he had time to consider carefully, Jaze's mouth jumped ahead of his mind.
Jaze: Fine. I wish you were dead.
Right away, Jaze regretted blurting out his thoughts. Wishmaster took one great step forwards and reached out to grab Jaze's chin.
Wishmaster: Nice try, Jaze. You may, indeed, make any wish that you like, but I have the right of refusal over any wish that you make. Now, try again.
Even before he'd spoken earlier, Jaze's subconscious was already formulating a wish and now it was beginning to take shape. At first, he thought he might wish to go home, but there was no guarantee that Wishmaster wouldn't follow him or find an insidious way to torment him even if he wished against it. As Wishmaster let go of Jaze's chin and stood back, awaiting his new wish, Jaze was now choosing his words carefully. He wanted something simple, clear, and direct, as he remembered that it is possible to craft a wish that Wishmaster could not manipulate. Finally, after his careful, internal deliberations, he arrived at a wish that he believed would fulfill the requirements. Hesitantly, he spoke his desire.
Jaze: I wish... for the ability to protect my friends...
Jaze suddenly thought of an important clarification and hastily added it.
Jaze: ...from people like you.
Wishmaster said nothing and simply glared at Jaze for a very disconcertingly long time. Jaze was nearly ready to cry out in frustration when Wishmaster suddenly lunged forwards and only stopped when his nose was barely an inch away from Jaze's face.
Wishmaster: You shall have your wish...
Wishmaster placed his finger on Jaze's forehead and pressed hard.
Wishmaster: ...precisely as you say.
Wishmaster straightened himself and glared down at Jaze one last time before he turned and began walking away. Jaze wondered if there was anything more, a ritual, perhaps. Before he could ask, Wishmaster stopped and turned his head so that Jaze could see only one of his brilliant, yellow eyes.
Wishmaster: Care to test your new strength? The island on which you currently reside will sink into the sand very shortly. I suggest you run.
Before Jaze could say anything more, an inky darkness enveloped him.
Jaze suddenly sat upright and gasped. Looking around, he could see that the inside of the castle was exactly as he remembered it when he went to sleep. Kagurain slept peacefully on a bed of straw on the other side of the room, as did Ryuu on his own little straw pile. Through the straw, he could feel what seemed to be a slight vibration and a little bit of dust tinkle to the ground. Jaze looked up into the rafters to see more little puffs of dirt descend from above. Somewhere, in the distance, a low rumble began to fill his ears.
All city pictures from SimCity 4