Carpathia III: Episode 97: Suspicions
Yseri, Forest Trail
Slowly, Jaze became aware of the world around him. At first, it was the red glow of the sun hitting his eyelids. Soon after, he noticed the occasional breeze brushing up against his skin along with the sensation that he was laying in a pile of leaves. Finally, he opened his eyes started to take in his surroundings. That was when a familiar visage suddenly appeared before him.
Kaoru: Jaze! You're awake!
Jaze gasped as his eyes darted back and forth incredulously. Refusing to believe that he had the good fortune to be with Kaoru, he assumed that Wishmaster must be playing a trick on him.
Jaze: Not again! Why don't you leave me alone!
Kaoru scrunched up his face in bewilderment. Before Jaze woke up, he braced himself for a variety of reations, but this was not one that he had considered. Jaze clasped his hands tightly over his ears and shut his eyes.
Jaze: Just stay away from me! Haven't you done enough?
Kaoru, concerned that Jaze must be confused, grabbed his shoulders, hoping that a firm touch might bring Jaze to his senses.
Kaoru: Jaze! It's me, Kaoru!
Jaze: Stop it! Just go away!
Kaoru gave Jaze a hard shake.
Jaze suddenly stopped speaking. Slowly, he removed his hands from his ears and opened his eyes, looking up at Kaoru in childlike wonderment.
Jaze: Kaoru? Is that really you?
Kaoru smiled, pleased that he was finally getting through to Jaze.
Kaoru: It's me. Your friend, Kagurain, found us and then lead us to you.
Jaze suddenly remembered the bear and the fight that he had just before he blacked out. Jaze hastily sat up, his head nearly colliding with Kaoru's, and he checked his chest. Expecting to find deep wounds, he instead discovered three jagged, red scars extending from his left shoulder to the right side of his waist.
Jaze: How long was I out?
Kaoru: Several hours.
Wide-eyed, Jaze looked back and forth between the scars on his chest and Kaoru.
Kaoru: I know you're confused, but this is going to take some time to explain. For now, you need to rest. Quilyon said you should drink some water too.
Kaoru's words were becoming more than Jaze's addled brain to process. He wondered how he could heal so quickly and who this mysterious "Quilyon" might be.
Jaze: I... I have a lot of questions. Right now, just answer this. Are Kagurain and Ryuu okay?
Jaze was heartened when Kaoru smiled.
Kaoru: They're fine. I should find the others and tell them you're fine too.
Kaoru didn't have to go anywhere, for the others were already coming to him. First to arrive was Kagurain, who pounced on Jaze with customary enthusiasm.
To Jaze's relief, Kagurain did not perform a full body slam, but rather kneeled, straddling Jaze's waist before bending down to hug him.
Jaze: I'm glad you're okay, Kagurain.
Looking past Kaoru, Jaze caught sight of Adell and Artemis along with several others he did not know.
Adell: Hey, you're awake. Now Azrael doesn't have to carry you anymore.
Adell grinned slyly and glanced over at a tall, blonde man with a stern expression on his face and with a thin tail and a horn on his head.
Azrael: It was no trouble. Your friend is not very heavy.
Jaze's relief now began to turn to worry and sadness. Though happy to see his friends again, Wishmaster weighed heavily on his mind. He knew that this reunion would have to be short-lived for he did not want to put his friends in danger. Putting on a brave face, he tried not to allow his demeanor to suggest to anyone that something was wrong.
Jaze: Clearly, I have missed a lot.
By now, the others were also arriving to meet Jaze for the first time with Quilyon taking position by Kaoru's side.
Kaoru: First thing's first, then. I should introduce everyone.
Kaoru indicated the blonde man who spoke earlier first.
Kaoru: Let's see, of course you know Adell, Artemis, Kagurain, and Ryuu. This is Azrael, who carried you before. He's a demon.
Jaze didn't know what to think of this character. He'd never met a demon before, but everyone else seemed to trust him. Jaze nodded at Azrael as Kaoru continued by placing his hand on Quilyon's shoulder.
Kaoru: This is Quilyon, my fiancé. She's an elf.
This was a revelation that caused Jaze to momentarily forget his current plight and widen his eyes in surprise.
Jaze: Fiancé? Wow, congratulations Kaoru.
Quilyon: Good to finally meet you. Kaoru talks about you a lot.
Adell chose that moment to bring up his own news, starting by indicating Artemis with his thumb.
Adell: And Artemis and I are boyfriends.
Jaze looked for confirmation from Artemis, who silently stood with his arms folded across his chest and nodded.
Jaze: That's... a very big surprise.
Considering that it hadn't been mentioned yet, Jaze was sure he knew the answer to his next question before he asked.
Jaze: Toma isn't here, is he?
Jaze's fears were confirmed when the others somberly shook their heads.
Kaoru: Sorry. He's the only one we haven't found yet.
Dejected, Jaze wondered once again if he'd ever see Toma.
Kaoru: If it makes you feel better, Artemis, Adell, and I only just found each other just a few weeks ago, and now we've found you and Ryuu. We'll all keep our eyes and ears open, okay?
Jaze nodded somberly as Kaoru continued.
Kaoru: Let's see, there's Zet, who is a good friend of mine. He's nekomi, obviously.
Jaze took a good look at Zet, and he only just now noticed that Ryuu was perched on his shoulder, nuzzling his face.
Jaze: Oh, there you are, Ryuu. I'm glad you're okay.
Ryuu: Much better, thanks!
Zet reached up and scratched behind his ear.
Zet: Your little dragon friend is quite forward.
Ryuu lifted his head and rubbed his chin on Zet's cheek.
Ryuu: I can't help it. Zet is so pretty!
Kaoru cleared his throat conspicuously.
Kaoru: And these two are Reuli and Wolfram. Reuli is Quilyon's brother and Wolfram is Reuli's friend.
Jaze gave a little wave for the two boys.
Reuli and Wolfram: Hi!
Before Jaze could respond, he suddenly noticed two doll-like figures each sitting on Reuli's and Wolfram's shoulders. The one on Reuli's shoulder had a green and red aesthetic with kitty ears and a tail and she seemed vaguely familiar. The other, on Wolfram's shoulder, seemed even more familiar. Finally, the car ride just before his arrival to Yseri came to his memory.
Jaze: I remember now! You're the androids that Artemis built...
Though making his best effort, Jaze could not remember the androids' names. Fortunately, they were keen to help him with this.
Phobos: I'm Phobos!
Deimos: I'm Deimos!
Unbeknownst to Jaze, while his attention was focused on the two little androids, Azrael patted Adell and Artemis on their shoulders and silently indicated that he would like to have a private word with them. Quietly, they slipped away with Azrael and met in a somewhat secluded place nearby, out of earshot of everyone else.
Azrael: My apologies for pulling you aside, but I feel that this is urgent.
Adell and Artemis exchanged glances, both knowing that anything deemed urgent by Azrael was no small matter.
Adell: No problem, Azrael. What's up?
Azrael: I understand that Jaze is your friend, but I recommend that you keep your abilities and the crystal a secret for now.
Artemis: Surely you don't think Jaze is dangerous, do you?
Azrael sat on a nearby rock and hung his head low. Whatever he was thinking, it was clear that his confidence was shaken, which was the first time Artemis and Adell had seen such behavior from Azrael.
Azrael: He's not dangerous in the traditional sense, no. I am, however, quite certain that he is utterly terrified of himself right now.
Azrael raised his head and looked each of them in the eye.
Azrael: My apologies, but this is an entirely new feeling for me. I beg your indulgence while I consider the situation further.
Adell and Artemis turned to each other.
Artemis: What do you think?
Adell: A delay can't hurt, I suppose. If Jaze is a danger to himself, it probably isn't a good idea to give him any kind of magical powers. I'll explain the situation to Kaoru, so he doesn't say anything either.
All city pictures from SimCity 4