Carpathia III: Episode 94: Razor Bear
Yseri, Arid Sea
In silence, Jaze, Ryuu, and Kagurain watched the island slowly crumble into the Arid Sea, sending sprays of sand high into the air. Before long, the entire island was gone, and the sand quickly calmed. It was as though the island never existed. Kagurain looked away as his ears sagged on his head.
Kagurain: My kingdom is gone.
Jaze said nothing of his encounter with Wishmaster or the wish that he made. As much as he would have liked to remain adrift for the rest of eternity, wallowing in self pity, the Arid Sea was the most vulerable place they could be. Now, his one goal was to get Kagurain to a place of relative safety and then disappear forever. The village, he thought, was a good place, and the first order of business was to get to shore.
Jaze: Ryuu, which way is closest to the shore?
Ryuu: I'll check.
Ryuu flapped his wings and quickly soared high into the air. After only a short while, he descended and gently landed on the canvas. With his little paw, he pointed to the north.
Ryuu: That way. It's very close, even if you can't see it through the sand cloud.
Jaze looked up at the sail. Having spent the entire time drifting aimlessly the last time he was on the boat, he had no idea how to use it. Both Jaze and Kagurain began tinkering with the pieces. It seemed simple enough, giving them hope that, with some trial and error, they could manage to get the boat moving in the right direction just long enough to make it to shore.
Kagurain pulled out one pin and the boom fell to a horizontal position, unfurling the sail at the same time. Jaze had to quickly roll out of the way when it came down and it nearly hit his head.
Fortunately, the wind was blowing north and, with only a slight manipulation of the boom, they got the boat going in the right direction. In very short order, they reached the shore.
Having left the boat behind, the trio now wandered aimlessly through the forest, trying to find a trail. Flying high, Ryuu could see the end of the trees in the distance, to the north, and recommended they head that way. With any luck, any trail they might find up there would lead them back to the village.
It was a longer walk than it seemed and, before long, night began to fall. Though Jaze feared the prospect of sleep, he knew that Kagurain could not go on forever. At the next clearing, they established a camp. Jaze and Kagurain gathered sticks for a fire while Ryuu went hunting for some small animals to eat. Ryuu returned in short order with a meal and promptly set the sticks alight.
It didn't take long to cook the small, rat-like creatures that Ryuu caught. They were quite unappetizing, and each did their best to salvage as much of the tough meat as possible from their bones.
Kagurain: Thanks, Jaze, for pulling me out of that hole.
Jaze froze in the middle of trying to wrestle a morsel of meat from his dinner and looked up. Kagurain had remained mostly silent since the island sank into the sea, and he was surprised to hear him speak again. Kagurain was staring at the ground, his half-eaten rat hung limply in his hand in front of him.
Kagurain sniffed as a tear rolled down his cheek.
Kagurain: I don't have a home anymore. Where am I going to go?
Jaze suddenly realized that, lost as he was in his own thoughts, he hadn't mentioned aloud his plan to go to the village.
Jaze: There's a village that I've been to. There are a lot of nice people there and they'll take care of you.
Kagurain hastily picked over the remaining bits of meat with his teeth and chewed them up.
Kagurain: Thanks, Jaze. I hope you'll stay there with me. I feel safer when I'm with you.
That last statement cut through Jaze like a knife. Kagurain yawned widely and threw the bones of his meal into the fire before he lay down next to his spear. In a very short time, he was asleep. Jaze was unsure of what to do. He was terrified of sleeping now, wondering what awaited him when he closed his eyes. He could only hope that he would have no more visits from Wishmaster until he delivered Kagurain to the village.
Jaze: Ryuu, do you want me to keep watch?
Ryuu threw his own rat skeleton into the fire before turning to Jaze.
Ryuu: I don't think you'd do any good, honestly. Even I'm having trouble figuring out what's out here. All the smells... it's like a soup. I can sleep and listen at the same time.
Jaze said nothing, as he was unwilling to disclose the reason why he wasn't keen to sleep.
Jaze: Well... wake me up if anything happens.
Jaze lay down on the ground and pretended to sleep, all the while, keeping his ears and nose alert for anything unusual. Many times, he nearly drifted off to sleep and, terrified by this, jolted awake each time.
After awhile, Ryuu seemed to fall asleep as well, though one of his ears stood straight up and his nose pulsed with rapid breathing. Now alone, with the others quietly sleeping, Jaze sat with his back against a rock. Only one thought passed through his mind over and over. What have I done? What have I done?
When morning came, Kagurain and Ryuu seemed reasonably rested, though Jaze was still frequently yawning. They carried on north, hoping to find a trail where the tree line ended.
Suddenly, Ryuu dropped to the ground and his ears perked up as he sniffed the air.
Ryuu: Something is coming.
Right away, Jaze and Kagurain could hear it too. It was large and sounded like a galloping elephant. Whatever was coming was on its way very quickly.
Jaze: We'd better run!
Right away, Ryuu lifted off while Jaze and Kagurain started sprinting through the forest. Still the sound came closer and, very soon, a massive animal burst through the trees between Jaze and Kagurain.
The animal looked like a cross between a bear and a badger, with a bear's massive body and a badger's long snout. Even standing on four legs, it was almost as tall as Jaze as it turned towards him, bearing its sharp, foaming teeth.
Jaze stepped backward, expecting the badger-bear to lunge at him at any moment. Behind the animal, Kagurain readied his spear and thrust it into the bear's backside. To everyone's shock, the pointed tip of the spear did not penetrate the creature's tough hide and instead just bounced off like it was made of steel. The badger-bear didn't seem to notice and continued snarling at Jaze.
Almost immediately after Kagurain's futile attack, Ryuu unleashed a series of fireballs at the animal's head. This only had the effect of causing the animal to shake its head before continuing to focus on Jaze. Now, the only chance seemed to be to climb a tree. With the animal focused on him, Jaze called out to Kagurain.
Jaze: Kagurain! Run and find help!
Jaze: I'll try and climb a tree! Go!
Kagurain took a few hesitant steps backward before turning and running full speed to the north. Now, only Jaze and Ryuu were left to contend with the badger-bear.
Jaze looked around frantically for a tree that he could climb while Ryuu kept unloading fireballs at the animal, keeping it distracted. Finally, it seemed to have enough of the little dragon and swiped at Ryuu with its paw. The badger-bear's strike hit Ryuu broadside, sending him sailing hard into a tree trunk. Ryuu flopped to the ground, motionless.
The animal took a few moments to re-focus on Jaze. During that time, Jaze felt as though his body was changing as a great strength flowed through him. Rage, immeasurable rage, coursed through every fiber of his being. Even the badger-bear hesitated, seemingly having second thoughts about his prey.
Jaze: You shouldn't have done that.
All city pictures from SimCity 4