Carpathia III: Epilogue 20 - Rhoskel
The Palace, Zhail City, Ramewet
The next several days were an exercise in uncanny valley surrealism and the first victims were Adell, Artemis, and Azrael. Though the palace was no longer there and some of the gardens had been redesigned, the back garden and fountains, where Adell saw Prince Riven for the last time, were the same, though now surrounded by lush greenery. The road and canals in front were also unchanged and occasionally, modern cars would pull up to deliver visiting parliamentarians and others engaged in official business. Interestingly for Artemis especially was that the palace basement was still largely intact, mostly sealed away under the foundations of the new building save for one hidden door. Mostly untouched through the decades, the rooms were still intact, except for one destroyed room that was once Artemis's lab still in precisely the same state it was when Adell pulled the ceiling down on top of it.
Adell spent much of his free time sitting in the gardens, facing away from the back of the building, which rose like a granite slab and looked nothing like the ornate palace that stood there before. His eyes followed the paths passing between the fountains and up the mountains, where they had made their escape, now covered with trees and shrubs.
Artemis: I thought I'd find you here again.
Adell sighed and continued to stare dreamily into the distance.
Adell: It's a good hiding place for now. Ever since Judge Hathor found out who I am, it's hard to get away from her. She keeps asking questions and trying to get me to take my clothes off.
Artemis folded his arms across his chest and smirked.
Artemis: So, a female version of you, is she?
Adell turned just for a moment to laugh sarcastically.
Artemis: You didn't pick this spot for nothing, though.
Adell: No, I didn't. I hope you understand that Riven was an important person in my life. You're the most important person in my life. I guess you could call Riven more of a friend, in spite of all the sex. I don't feel the same about him as I do for you. Still, he was a friend and I hoped I could see him again.
Artemis kneeled next to Adell.
Artemis: If it makes you feel better, it's certain that what you taught him stuck. Not only that, but Sra's shop has turned into a department store chain.
Adell laughed again, this time earnestly.
Adell: Heh. Yeah, he did well. It's strange to hear people being talked about as historical figures when we actually knew them, isn't it?
Before Artemis had a chance to agree, they both heard footsteps coming up from the side and Adell snapped to attention, jumping to his feet, fearing that Judge Hathor had found him. It was, however Azrael, who uncharacteristically trudged toward them with his head down.
Adell: Azzy, are you okay?
Azrael lifted his head slowly, revealing his melancholy face with a tear stream running down his cheek.
Azrael: He's really gone. I don't really understand all of this, but I just visited my Prince's grave. He really is gone.
Adell and Artemis watched in disbelief as Azrael's lip quivered and tears began to flow more earnestly until he completely broke down. Both Adell and Artemis sprang into action, reacting as though Azrael had just been shot.
Adell: Oh my god!
Adell reached Azrael first and threw his arms around him, squeezing him tightly followed soon after by Artemis.
Former Unassumed Lands, Ramewet
In contrast to Zhail City, Kaoru and Quilyon found little nostalgic about their former home. Though the area appeared to be prospering, little was familiar. Roads had been rerouted. Friends were long gone. People walked around with cell phones. The only thing left that was familiar was the tavern, which had been modernized extensively. With little to see, Kaoru and Quilyon did not visit for long.
The Outlands, Ramewet
The Outlands fared a little better, nostalgically, than the Unassumed lands. New, paved roads followed the same paths as the dirt ones. Little of the farms had changed, aside from the volume of crops grown. Kinro fruit was still a popular crop and it tasted just as good as it did before.
Jaze discovered quickly that many of the townspeople were descendants of former Nekramentians, a history that the town preserved, but for which the details had faded into legend, particularly Wishmaster, who some said was an actual being but others believed to be nothing more than a story concocted by overzealous minstrels.
On the hilltop, Jaze and Lynx, accompanied by Toma and Ryuu, easily found the old grave markers for Rhoskel, Jump, and Pestilence, complete with Jaze's now worn and moss-covered chiseling on the headstones. Together, they sad on the damp grass in silence, oblivious to the guards behind them, keeping confused and curious onlookers away. Surely they must have been wondering why these denizens from space were interested in some old graves.
Lord Lynx: To think, for so many centuries, people have gone missing without a trace. I wonder how many people ended up here?
Jaze didn't answer, because both he and Lynx knew that there wasn't one, though it was a question that had breezed in and out of the back of his mind for years. Rather than the past, the future was more immediate.
Jaze: So... what now?
Lord Lynx rubbed his chin and pondered the question before answering.
Lord Lynx: That's a good question. There is much for me to do, but I think my path is clear. I will speak with Judge Hathor to see how we can arrange take Rhoskel and the other two home. After that, there's the issue of the relationship between us and Tokkastra. I shall stay on as Lord until that is resolved, hopefully in a few months, and then I shall resign.
Jaze's ears popped upon hearing this news.
Lord Lynx: I would resign right now, but with this situation, it's not a good time for a major government change and I think I would like to see this through. Besides that, I have no interest in work anymore. You brought Kagurain back to me and I think it's long past time I transitioned to full-time family man.
Jaze sighed and took a moment to reflect.
Jaze: It feels strange to hear that. You've been Lord for most of my life.
Lord Lynx: Too long, in fact. I'm getting old and it's time for those younger to take us forward.
Lynx shifted where he sat so that he could face Ryuu.
Lord Lynx: Speaking of old, what does Blue want to do? Does he want to go back with us?
Ryuu looked down, seemingly trying to find the right words as he rubbed his paw through the grass.
Ryuu: He does want to go back, but you were right about him being old. He can't take humanoid form now. It's too painful. Your ship is too small for him. He'd have to go back on the tokki ship.
Lynx pursed his lips and nodded slowly.
Lord Lynx: I hadn't considered this when we set out. I would have brought a bigger ship if I'd known. I'll speak to Kradik and see if he can arrange something.
Lynx shifted his feet and placed his hand on the ground, slowly pushing himself up while the others, following his lead, did the same until they were all standing and brushing dew and bits of grass from their clothes. Jaze and Toma were prepared to follow Lynx back to the shuttle, but instead, he turned to face them.
Lord Lynx: How are you two doing? This place must bring back memories even if it does look different.
Jaze's mouth came open, but no sound came out, only just realizing that he hadn't considered Lynx's question until now. This gave Toma the chance to speak first.
Toma: It's different enough for me. It was more about the people instead of the place.
Jaze nodded, finding that Toma expressed the same feeling as his.
Jaze: Same for me, I think. I still have nightmares and I still get randomly, but no more than before.
Lord Lynx: That's good. And your... how do I put it... monster form is still in check?
Now, at least, Jaze was able to smile mischeviously.
Jaze: No problems there! The training took care of that.
Jaze clenched his fists and closed his eyes. Lynx took a step back and watched as Jaze gradually transformed in front of his eyes and this was the first time he'd ever seen it.
Jaze: The best part is that I don't have to buy Halloween costumes anymore.
Jaze gave Lynx a snaggle-toothed grin sending Lynx recoiling even further.
Lord Lynx: Um... heh. That's nice Jaze. Now you can just go right ahead and turn that off.
All city pictures from SimCity 4