Carpathia III: Epilogue 10 - Shopping

Shopping Center, Rune Lake, New Carpathia

At last, the day finally came to leave the house and venture outside as the anticipated day for Lord Lynx's shopping trip arrived. Lynx himself insisted in driving the group to the shopping center, though Elektra and Tier thought it would be better to walk, given that the shopping center wasn't far from the house and a general sense that a walk down the street would be good for all. A brief, though amiable, battle of wills ensued, after which Lynx finally relented once Azrael swore dramatically upon his life that he would protect the group.

Though most stores were closed, the streets were still quite lively with club-goers just getting started with their evening. Experience was key in keeping the group together. They had, after all been through this sort of thing before, except now the dangers were inattentive drivers and tipsy pedestrians. Azrael swiftly rescued an inattentive Wolfram as he nearly wandered into traffic while looking up at the buildings around him.

During the walk, Jaze spent most of his time staring at the ground.

Toma: You okay, Jaze?

Toma waited patiently for a response, which Jaze eventually gave.

Jaze: I'm just nervous. The Queen and the dragon leader are arriving tomorrow and they both want to come to the house.

Toma reached up and scratched behind Jaze's ears.

Toma: I'm sure everything will be okay. After everything we've been through, this should be easy, right?

Jaze: I suppose. I'm glad that Ryuu can show them everything so that I don't have to tell the story, at least. It still hasn't stopped the nightmares. I wake up exhausted on most days.

Toma: I know what you mean.

They continued on and, after a fine lesson on how traffic signals work and how to cross a busy avenue, they arrived at their destination, a massive, old-world style fortress-looking edifice brimming with lights and featuring cheery, complex displays in all the windows. Before any of them even went into the store, it was hard to peel the amazed Yserians away from the window displays.

Wolfram: What's that? What's that?

Kaoru stepped up to the window that Wolfram was looking into and found an elaborate model diorama, with a particular focus on the trains and streetcars merrily circling the entire model.

Kaoru: Oh, a model train! I haven't seen one of those in the window in ages.

Wolfram looked away and up to Kaoru with a crinkled brow.

Wolfram: What's a train?

Kaoru's eyes popped open wide, having not even considered that to be a possible question. After hemming and hawing, he stammered out an answer while pointing at the trains in the diorama.

Kaoru: Well, uh... That, actually. It'll be easier to explain when I can show you a real one. We'll get to ride one someday soon.

Though clearly unsatisfied by the answer, Wolfram was quickly distracted by other window displays and the subect did not come up again. It took a good amount of time before the group was finally able to make their way to the front door, where they met a grinning Lynx, patiently waiting with several attendants to show them all inside.

Lord Lynx: Welcome, everyone! Feel free to pick out whatever you like. The store manager has selected the best attendants to assist you with your first shopping venture in Carpathia. We're here to get you some clothes and new phones, so ask any questions you like and try to stay together! We don't want anyone getting lost.

With that, the attendants opened the doors and bade the group to enter, which they did. Inside, though the store was more old-fashioned than luxury, the Yserians awed at the splendour, gazing up at the wide, marble columns that supported the ceilings and out toward the endless racks of clothing and beauty supply counters. None of the Yserians knew what to do until Adell made the first move.

I'm gonna check out the underwear. The elastic disintigrated in all of mine while I was gone.

Adell prancing happily toward the underwear department had an effect like a starter pistol going off, with the others darting off excitedly in every direction with Elektra chasing after them in vain.

Elektra: Remember, be careful with the merchandise!

Tier also had a notion to help, but not before having a quick word with Lord Lynx first.

Tier: I know we've said this a dozen times already, but thanks for helping out.

Tier remembered his former commanding officer as aloof and exacting, but now he was shocked to see a tear run down his fur.

Lord Lynx: Worth every penny. I not only have my son back, but it's not often one gets to witness this manner of wonderment. We might not think much of a department store, but to them, it's like a fantasy come alive.

Chaos reigned for at least fifteen minutes, made even worse when Reuli and Wolfram discovered the magical moving staircase in which Wolfram got his tail stuck. Fortunately, Elektra was nearby and had the presence of mind to hit the emergency stop button before any damage was done. Once the initial panic subsided, Wolfram was quickly freed. Though uninjured, Wolfram now instinctively clutched his tail around his chest any time he came near the escalator.

Over time, the chaos subsided as everyone divided into groups, each with at least one Carpathian to help out. From around the store, bits and pieces of several conversations could easily be heard, the first of which came from the novelty t-shirt section.

Oliver: Hey, Jaze. What does "Boycott Pants" mean?

And the same continued from other areas of the store, with people shouting out their most interesting finds.

Zet: Look at all these tail bracelets!

Aten: I want a new hat!

Adell: Oh, they still have Captain Carpathia bikini briefs!

Elsewhere in the store, Elektra had taken a personal interest in Quilyon in particular, given that she was the only female in the group. Elektra pulled a pretty red sun dress from a rack and held it up.

Elektra: This is a sun dress. It's simple, easy to put on and take off, and feels good in the summer.

Elektra held it up close to Quilyon's body, who looked down upon it skeptically.

Elektra: It looks like it might fit you.

Quilyon took the dress into her hands and studied the dress for a moment, running her fingers up and down the light fabric.

Quilyon: Easy to put on and take off is good. Still, it's not very strong, is it?

Elektra reached out, about to take the dress from Quilyon and find something more to her liking when Reuli shouted at them from another rack.

Reuli: Hey, can I have this?

Both turned to see Reuli, standing next to an equally excited Wolfram, holding up a short, black, pleated skirt with a subtle, tartan pattern. Elektra and Quilyon glanced at each other and spoke almost at the same time, Elektra first.

Elektra: Reuli, sweetie, you can't buy that...

Quilyon: Oh, Reuli, you can't wear that. That's girl clothes.

Right away, Elektra tapped her clutch purse on Quilyon's head disapprovingly and then put her hands on her hips. Quilyon flinched dramatically, not in pain, but in surprise.

Elektra: Now, dear, let the boy wear what he wants.

Elektra then smiled sweetly and turned her full attention back to Reuli, whose eager, sincere expression had now deflated into a discouraged frown.

Elektra: I was just saying you can't buy that until you've tried it on first to make sure it fits. Now go find an attendant to take you to the fitting room.

Immediately, Reuli's excited expression and brightness in his eyes returned.

Reuli: Okay!

Together, he and Wolfram darted off in search of an attendant.

Wolfram: Let's look at the swimwear after this!

Meanwhile, Quilyon surveyed the sun dress in her hands, continuously looking back and forth between it and other racks in the store, her eyebrows and mouth twitching in all sorts of directions. Finally, she dropped her hands, still holding the dress, and looked Elektra earnestly in the eye.

Quilyon: Um... Would it be okay if I went to look at cargo pants?

Elektra snatched the sun dress away from Quilyon and put it back on the rack.

Elektra: Well, of course you can! I think they might be this way.

Elektra put her hand on Quilyon's back and gently started guiding her through the maze of clothing.

Elektra: Now don't take this the wrong way, but I think I might enjoy dressing up your brother more.

Quilyon giggled as Elektra continued to guide her through the store.

Quilyon: Hee hee. You know, I do like the sun dress, but mostly as a sometimes thing. I think I'd prefer to wear pants.

Elsewhere in the store, Jaze stood with Toma at a small open area to the side which afforded him a good view of the chaos amidst the clothing racks.

Toma: Jaze, don't you want to get anything?

Jaze's ears fluttered suddenly, as though awoken from a trance.

Jaze: Huh? Oh... Yeah, I will in a bit. I accidentally left my favorite kitty skull hoodie with the clothes that I gave to them. Reuli took it. I'll have to find a new one.

Jaze sighed, watching the Yserians excitedly going through the clothes racks, and let a few more moments pass before speaking again.

Jaze: You know, despite all the awful things we had to go through, at least some good came of it.

While Jaze continued to watch the department, Toma, on the other hand, only had eyes for him and he reached up and scratched behind Jaze's ears. Toma continued until Roose plopped in front of them.

Roose: Heya!

Jaze: Roose! Aren't you getting anything?

Roose sat on the ground and scratched his neck with his foot.

Roose: Nah, I don't need anything, do I? I like to feel the warm sun on my body.

Jaze raised an eyebrow at this.

Jaze: But what about when winter comes?

Roose suddenly stopped stratching, leaving his foot hovering in the air.

Roose: Winter?

Suddenly realizing that, of course, Roose wouldn't know anything about what winter was, he struggled for a way to explain. Finally, he came up with a question.

Jaze: Roose, what's the coldest you've ever been.

Roose put his foot back on the floor and thought carefully.

Roose: Hmmm... Probably in the tunnels under Nita's house, or the nighttimes on Yseri? That was too chilly for me.

Jaze nodded.

Jaze: And what if I told you that it's much, much colder than that for three months every year here?

Roose's eyes widened as he wrapped his arms around himself.

Roose: What am I going to do? There aren't any shirts for bats here! What am I going to do with my wings?

Roose fluttered his wings as Jaze kneeled and held out his hand, beckoning Roose to take it.

Jaze: Let's talk to an attendant first. If we can't get anything modified, maybe they'll have an idea on how to get something custom-made.

With that, Jaze found his purpose for the evening. With the help of an attendant, they browsed together through the clothes to look for things that could possibly be altered for Roose. Along the way, Jaze managed to find some things for himself.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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