Carpathia III: Episode 99: The Decisive Moment

Yseri, Desert Trail

Quietly, Jaze tiptoed around the campsite and loaded a backpack with as much food as he could find. Focusing almost entirely on the food, he knew there would be no way to pack enough to keep him nourished all the way to Zhail City. Nevertheless, he took as much as he could carry and hoped that if he dropped dead from malnourishment, his friends would still be safe since that, techincally, that would not count as a refusal to follow Wishmaster's orders.

Death, in fact, was one of the options Jaze considered. It would be a long journey to Zhail City and if he didn't think of any other options before then, killing himself would be a last resort. Gingerly, so as not to make any noise, he closed his backpack and checked his gun tucked into his waistband. His eyes swept the campsite, taking one last look at his friends, all sleeping peacefully. With a lump in his throat, he turned away and trudged down the road back in the direction that they came.

He didn't get very far when he heard a familiar voice behind him.

Kaoru: Jaze, where are you going?

Jaze halted so suddenly that his last step skid across the ground a few inches. Slowly, he turned around, desperately trying to think of what he could possibly say to Kaoru. The look on Kaoru's face was heartbreaking as he gave Jaze a doe-eyed expression and appeared as though he was about to cry.

Jaze: Kaoru... um... you're awake?

Kaoru: Quilyon falls asleep sometimes, so I wanted to check up on her. That doesn't matter though. Where are you going?

Jaze turned away, the prospect of looking his best friend in the eye being too much.

Jaze: I'm sorry. I have to leave.

Jaze turned and began to walk away again, foolishly hoping that would be the end of the conversation. Unsurprisingly, Kaoru rushed to him and grabbed his shoulder.

Kaoru: Was it something I did? Talk to me!

Jaze hung his head low, but could not bear to turn and face Kaoru.

Jaze: It has nothing to do with you. I... don't want you involved.

Jaze tried to pull away, but Kaoru yanked him back again.

Kaoru: Involved in what? Tell me what's going on!

Jaze spun around suddenly and threw off Kaoru's arm.

Jaze: If I did that, you would be in terrible danger! Don't make this harder than it already is!

By now, Kaoru felt a mixture of both anger and sadness. Anger at Jaze's stubbornness and sadness that he seemed hellbent on leaving.

Kaoru: Look, we've all been through terrible ordeals. Just tell us what's going on! Let us help you!

Jaze: I'm sorry, but this is something I have to take care of by myself.

Jaze tried to leave again, but Kaoru grabbed his arm and stopped him.

Kaoru: Jaze, please.

Jaze quickly shook loose from Kaoru's grip and continued walking away.

Jaze: Goodbye, Kaoru. Whatever rumors you hear... just try and remember the good times, okay?

Kaoru continued watching in disbelief as Jaze continued on his way. At the same time, Kaoru felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Adell, who had his backpack slung over his shoulder.

Adell: What's going on? Are we leaving now? Where is Jaze going?

Kaoru sniffed and wiped his eyes. Through trembling lips and gritted teeth, he struggled to speak.

Kaoru: Jaze isn't going anywhere. Wake everyone up. We'll drag his ass back here by force if we have to.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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