Carpathia III: Episode 93: Earthquake

Yseri, The Island

Jaze leapt from his bed and tried to call out to Kagurain and Ryuu.

Jaze: Kagur...

Before Jaze could even get Kagurain's name out, a large chunk of stone crashed into the floor of the castle in front of him. Jaze jumped backward as Kagurain and Ryuu simultaneously leapt from their beds. Kagurain immediately grabbed his spear and frantically looked around.

Kagurain: What's going on?

The shaking intensified rapidly and another stone fell to the ground with a resounding crack. Needing no further explanation, Kagurain ran towards the door, followed closely by Jaze while Ryuu flew out of a nearby window. Soon, the shaking became strong enough to make it difficult to stand. Together, the three of them staggered as far away from the castle as they could. Kagurain turned just in time to see the entire structure collapse into a pile of rubble.

Kagurain: My castle!

The ground jolted and sent both Kagurain and Jaze tumbling to the sandy soil. So hard was the jolt, that Kagurain dropped his spear and the heaving ground bounced it next to Jaze. Between them, a fissure opened, spewing coarse sand into the air. Quickly, Jaze looked back to find where Kagurain fell. Jaze turned just in time to see Kagurain sliding toward the fissure as the ground heaved and began to collapse beneath him. Just as Kagurain slid inside the crack, he grabbed a freshly exposed tree root on Jaze's side of the rift.

Jaze swiftly wriggled to the widening fissure and blinked into the abyss, constantly brushing sand from his face. As the sand thinned, he could see Kagurain clinging to the tree root, swinging perilously as the ground swayed, just out of reach.

Jaze: Kagurain!

Kagurain gazed up at Jaze, desperately holding on to the root.

Kagurain: Jaze! Help me!

Quickly and carefully, Jaze leaned into the rift and stretched his arm toward Kagurain, though he was still out of his reach. Just as Jaze began to despair, losing hope of rescuing Kagurain, he felt a strong tug on his belt.

Ryuu: I've got you, Jaze! Reach for him!

Jaze glanced back only for a second to see Ryuu pulling on his belt, flapping furiously. Wasting no time, Jaze slid himself further into the rift until he was in reach of Kagurain.

Jaze: Kagurain, give me your hand!

Kagurain hesitated only for a moment as he waited for the root to swing back toward Jaze's hand. When he was close, he quickly reached up and allowed Jaze to catch him. Jaze took a deep breath, expecting a long, strenuous pull to heave Kagurain back to the ground. However, when he pulled, he found that it was surprisingly easy to lift Kagurain and he found that his grip on Kagurain's hand was much stronger than he expected.

With surprising ease, Jaze began to swing Kagurain back and forth. On the second pass, Jaze pulled as hard as he could, yanking Kagurain up high. At the peak of his swing, Jaze tossed Kagurain behind him, back on the ground.

Jaze: Ryuu, pull me up!

Jaze felt a pull on his belt as he used his own hands pressed against the side of the fissure to move himself up. Finally, he was back on the ground again. There, he could see Kagurain staring at him with eyes as big as teacup saucers.

Kagurain: Jaze, you're really strong!

Jaze looked away. Though he knew he was strong, he didn't want to think about the source of his newfound strength. He didn't have time to mull for long, however, as the ground suddenly began to shake violently once again.

Jaze: We have to get to the sandboat!

Jaze took two steps towards the shore of the Arid Sea before he realized that Kagurain wasn't following right away. Hastily, Kagurain ran to his spear and scooped it up into his hands before catching up to Jaze. Together, they ran as quickly as they could, stumbling several times on the heaving ground while Ryuu flew ahead to check on the sandboat. From far away, through the din of the ground grinding upon itself, they could hear Ryuu call out.

Ryuu: The boat is still here! Hurry!

Jaze and Kagurain ran closely together, supporting each other in case one began to stumble. Once in awhile, they both fell together and they quickly picked themselves up and hurried on. Bursting through the trees, they finally reached the sandboat. Ryuu was there, waiting, having already untied the boat from the tree. Jaze and Kagurain scrambled on top of the boat and pushed away from the shore. As they drifted away, they watched in awe as the island slowly crumbled into the Arid Sea.


Way Station

It was the day of departure and Kaoru was tasked with filling all the water bottles for the trip. As he spent the last two days practicing his newfound skill manipulating water, he was eager for the task. Over the course of his practice, he noticed that his new ability required gentle, flowing movements and he worked hard at figuring out the details. So far, he was only successful at creating small waves in the lake, but he felt he was improving little by little.

Though he tried filling the water bottles with his new ability, he was not successful with that level of precision, and turned to doing that the old fashioned way, by dipping them in the lake. One by one, he filled the bottles in this way before capping them and setting them aside. When he was done, he resumed his practice.

At times, during his practice, Kaoru swore he felt the ground tremble. At first, he thought it had something to do with the ways he was making the waves move, but the rolling shudders came in varying strengths and sometimes when he was not using his ability at all. There seemed to be, he thought, an earthquake occurring somewhere in the distance.

Adell: Are the water bottles finished?

Momentarily startled by the interruption, Kaoru didn't turn towards Adell, but rather regained his composure so that he could continue practicing.

Kaoru: They're finished. All of them are in that pile. Are you feeling these little earthquakes?

Adell: So you feel them too? I thought I was the only one. Probably nothing to worry about. They seem to be subsiding now. Anyway, we'll be ready to leave as soon as we find Azrael. How is the practice going?

Again, Kaoru kept up with this practice, moving his arms in a swirling motion, trying to create a small whirlpool.

Kaoru: I guess it's fine. I don't really know how fast this is supposed to go. Anyway, what was that about Azrael?

Adell lowered his head and scratched his chin thoughtfully.

Adell: Not sure, honestly. For the last couple of days, he's been disappearing. I'm not sure what he's up to.

As though on cue, Azrael strolled down the hill behind them, following closely behind Jonas.

Kaoru: Speak of the devil.

Adell: Azrael! Where have you been?

Azrael stopped, standing straight and tall, with his hand, as it often was, placed on the hilt of his sword.

Azrael: Master Adell, apologies for my absence. The journey henceforth will become more perilous as there is a higher likelihood of bandits on the trail. I took the liberty of scouting ahead and clearing the trail for you.

Adell paused for a moment, highly concerned over what Azrael meant by clearing a trail.

Adell: Azrael, please tell me you didn't...

Azrael seemed to anticipate Adell's question and began to answer before the question was complete.

Azrael: Not to worry, Master Adell. Both you and Master Artemis have been very clear that I should avoid killing unless absolutely necessary. I continue to firmly uphold your wishes. I merely frightened away anyone who appeared willing to do us harm.

Adell let out a sigh of relief.

Adell: Whew. That's good.

To the surprise of everyone, Azrael kneeled and bowed deeply to Adell

Azrael: Forgive me, Master Adell, but please have more faith in my loyalty. I will not betray your wishes.

Adell could feel the uncomfortable glare of both Jonas and Kaoru as he fidgeted nervously.

Adell: Um... sorry about that. Point taken. You have done very well, Azrael. Thank you for thinking ahead.

Jonas cleared his throat conspicuously.

Jonas: Ahem. Anyway, y'all seem to be ready. I got your critter all packed up for you and everyone's waiting. I can help with the water if you want.

Kaoru: Thanks, Jonas. We could use an extra set of hands.

The four of them kneeled at the pile of water bottles and each gathered a few of them.

Jonas: Much appreciated y'all stayin' with me for so long. You make sure you stop by again if you come this way, ya hear?

Kaoru and Adell smiled and each shook Jonas's hand in turn, carefully balancing their water bottles in the other arm. Together, they strolled up the hill to where everyone else was waiting to begin the next part of their journey.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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