In the dragon city, there was a structure. Calling it a temple would not be accurate as no deity was worshiped there. However, those of the Dark Dragon Clan who saw this prominent building were reminded of the emperor Zog, who used ancient technology to send his people away before the Dragon of Light defeated him. In a way, the massive complex was used for worship, much as the tombs of fallen and nameless soldiers were revered and respected for their sacrifice. On this day however, the building was lit up as a beam of light descended upon it. This sudden change in the status quo shook the people out of their collective routines as a crowd began to gather at the entrance. Nina and her group, which had been staying in the city since their arrival there, approached the building and were promptly shoved out of the way by the Elder Teepo and his entourage. The imperious, cold elder walked to the entrance and was nearly run over by Sten, whose hand was over his mouth; he looked panicked. Sten ran into a corner and promptly threw-up. Katt, Rand, Bow and the Wanderer exited the building next; Katt was shuddering, perhaps from disgust, maybe from anger, because her feet were covered in a multi-coloured vomit.
"He THREW-UP on me!" She cried out.
"It was just a little teleportation sickness." The Wanderer said, trying to calm her down.
"Highlanders were not meant... hau-haughhhhhhhhh" Sten tried to say, succeeding only in throwing up again. "Not meant to have our bodies blasted all over the world. If you want to get somewhere you ride a horse, or walk, or take a bird, or a boat, or, hell, you even take that overgrown fish! But teleportation?! It's an unproven magic at best! I don't wanna end up like no Sten-fly! I've heard stories about how those spells can mess up! If it failed, I'd end up with my head on a fly's body trapped in a spider web going 'Help me, Help meeeeeee'!"
"What about my warp magic, Sten?" Bleu asked smiling.
"Well that's different, it's... BLEU!" Sten said, when he turned to see who spoke.
The Wanderer had been speaking with the elder Teepo and the latter didn't seem too happy with what the former said. The Wanderer turned his attention from the grizzled elder to Bleu.
"I didn't know you were here. You guys go catch up with your friends, we have some things to discuss." The Wanderer said, waving Katt, Rand, Bow and Sten away.
The four went into the city as the crowd began to disperse; it seemed that this was nothing out of the ordinary for the citizens as they went about their business once more.
"Guys over here!" Nina called out from the ebbing crowd.
Jean engulfed Sten in a hug as the group reunited and began retelling their respective stories.
"So where's Ryu?" Katt asked.
Nina and Jean looked at each other and then back at Katt. Rand's face and hopes fell, Bow turned away and Sten was simply not paying attention.
"He's... he's not with us. We were hoping he was with you..." Nina said as she tried to look anywhere but directly at Katt.
"If he's not with you... and not with me... no... NO!" Katt cried out, her eyes brimming with tears. "Ryu... Ryu can't be dead... I would feel it, wouldn't I?"
Katt fell into Nina's arms; Nina bit her lip holding back tears of her own.
"After everything we've been through... Its really hard to believe you're gone, Ryu." Bow said.
Just across the street, Yua heard the whole exchange and she dropped the bottle she was holding. Being away from her family wasn't that big of a deal, she knew they would always be waiting for her, but now her big brother wasn't going to be around anymore. She put a hand to her mouth and tried to choke back tears. Draigan looked at her and thought about whom they had been talking. He walked over to Katt and Nina with Yua behind him.
"Ummm... Excuse me, but does this 'Ryu' have blue hair?" He asked them.
"Yeah... he did. What about it?" Bow asked.
"Well, I think I may have seen him. He was in the company of some of the Urkan folk." Draigan replied.
"R-really?" Katt asked, hope in her eyes.
When Draigan nodded in the affirmative, Yua smacked his arm and demanded to know why he didn't tell her that her brother had been there.
"I didn't know he was your brother at the time and you weren't around." He said sheepishly.
"Great... Now we have to go hunt him down all over the desert. I really don't like the desert, my fur gets all sticky." Sten complained.
Katt whacked Sten upside the head, she had an angry expression but her eyes were still brimmed with tears.
"At least we know he's alive. Now all we have to do is find him." She said.
"Oh I wouldn't worry about that." Bleu said slithering up behind them.
"Care to fill us in, Bleu?" Rand asked.
"Well, a couple of days ago a caravan from the Urkan city came through here on their way to the Inner Continent. Ryu is coming with the last group and he will be passing through here in the next couple of days. All we have to do is wait and watch." She said matter-of-factly.
"How do you know this anyways?" Nina asked.
"Come on guys, drinks are on me!" Bleu said, slithering towards the tavern.
"Stop changing the subject when I ask you these things!" Nina yelled after Bleu.
A week had come and gone since the last caravan had left the Urkan city and now the last vestiges of people were preparing to leave what was once their home. However, there was no caravan prepared for them, no horses and carriages waited their time of travelling. This was seen as an oddity and things that were considered out of the ordinary worried the people; the Sudama always spoke to calm them and even though there was an underlying nervousness, the people put their faith and trust in the Goddess and the Sudama who spoke as Her mortal voice. Ryu, however, had other things on his mind; for instance, a hollow and empty feeling that had been steadily increasing since his stay with the Urkans and it had increased a great deal more just before Gaist's ceremony. He felt drained, tired but found solace in Jasmine's close company.
"Are you all right?" She asked as she packed away the last of her things.
Neither she nor any Urkan had many things, materialism got in the way of worship of the Goddess. What she did have would fit in one bag and as Ryu had nothing but the clothes on his back, he did not have to pack at all. He looked over to her from his seat on his bed. He still seemed pale from when Gaw had returned him after the fainting incident the day before Gaist's ceremony.
"I'm not sure… I feel like there's an emptiness inside me and its getting bigger, like it'll consume me." He said, placing a hand over his heart.
She cast her eyes downward, placed her bag on the ground, walked over to him and sat beside him.
"You're a strong person, you'll figure out what's missing and fill that void." She said with a slight smile taking his hand in hers.
He looked over at her and smiled slightly.
"Will you help me?" He asked.
She nodded putting a hand to his cheek. Her short red hair, her emerald eyes, these things eased the void in his being, but caused him pain as well. For some reason, which escaped him, she reminded him of someone or something he'd lost, but he couldn't remember what or who. He drew his face closer to hers; she drew closer to him and, after a moment's hesitation, they kissed each other. It was a soft kiss, delicate and full of emotion. It was also interrupted by a knock on the door. They pulled away from each other and Jasmine's alabaster pale face flushed red with embarrassment.
"It's time to go. Are you two ready?" Garr called from the other side of the door.
Jasmine stood up and retrieved her bag. She looked at Ryu over her shoulder, a shy smile on her lips.
"Shall we go?" She asked.
"Sure." He sighed.
They went outside and were surprised as the people gathered outside the temple. It was a small crowd, maybe thirty people or so. They joined Garr who was entering the temple last, waiting for them.
"Why are we going to the temple, Garr? Is there going to be some prayer ceremony or some such before we leave?" Ryu asked.
"No, actually it's through the temple that we shall get to Kombinat." Garr replied.
"But how is this possible?" Jasmine asked, perplexed. "The temple is only for the Guardian Ceremonies isn't it?"
"I can answer that one." Gaist said as they reached the entrance. "The temple is actually a sort of teleporter. The dais can magically take you from here to another place with an identical device."
The four watched as group of people got onto the dais and a light erupted from beneath them. The people disappeared and the light died down. It was Ryu, Jasmine, Garr and Gaist's turn. Jasmine took Ryu's hand as they stepped onto the dais and a bright light erupted from beneath them.
A beam of light descended from the heavens and struck the teleporter building in the dragon's city; the people were used to it now as there had been such incidents going on all day and the novelty had worn off after the first of such incidents several days ago when Katt's group had come to their city. Ryu, Jasmine, Garr and Gaist, the last Urkans to leave, exited the building and looked around.
"Now if this thing was this fast, why didn't they use it before?" Ryu asked.
Gaist shrugged, indicating he didn't know the answer. Jasmine still held onto Ryu's arm and to those around them it would seem to be a lover's touch, but to Ryu it felt wrong somehow. The second he had stepped off the platform in the building he had felt this wrongness as well as a feeling of anticipation, as though something was going to happen. He had felt this way once before, in the company of the man called the Wanderer.
"I'll be headed to Kombinat. Are you going to come?" Garr asked.
"Look around, there are people about. I'm going to stick around, enjoy the sights before we leave." Gaist said.
"We'll probably never see this place again, so why not?" Ryu shrugged.
"I'm staying with Ryu." Jasmine said, still holding his hand.
"Suit yourselves. I'll see you later then." Garr waved as he left.
"What's wrong with him?" Ryu asked Gaist.
"Oh, he doesn't like it here. He thinks the people here may be the great enemy that some of the priests always harp about." Gaist replied with an unconcerned tone.
"And what about you?" Jasmine asked.
"They've got good ale, so they can't be all bad." Gaist smirked, or at least he tried to; in with his draconic visage it was more like a toothy grin.
The trio began to explore the main market, but Ryu felt odd; like something in his mind was about to burst.
"Hey, Ryu, you okay?" Gaist asked.
Jasmine let go off Ryu's hand as he leaned up against a wall, rubbing his eyes.
"I'm fine, just a little dizzy. No problem." Ryu replied.
"Ryu, you rest here. We'll keep exploring and come back for you later." Gaist offered.
"But what if he's sick, maybe we should take him to a doctor?" Jasmine said worriedly.
"Ryu, what do you think?" Gaist asked.
"Its probably nothing, like you said. You guys go on, I'll catch up." Ryu waved them off.
Gaist dragged Jasmine away who was protesting slightly, but she eventually conceded to leaving Ryu. For his own part, Ryu looked around, searching for something that may have been the cause of his sudden malaise. He felt that there was something here that was prodding his unconscious self, the self that remembered, to try and resurface.
A short distance behind him, Katt was examining some merchandise. She had been depressed these last few days, waiting for Ryu to arrive. That day, however, was different. She felt light-hearted; as though she knew something special was gong to happen that day. She had a tingling sensation that ran up and down her spine and her tail writhed in anticipation of... something; she wasn't quite sure what. She sighed in annoyance as the feeling irritated her more than anything. She turned and stopped, before her was Ryu and for a brief moment she feared to blink, for she as certain that if she did he would disappear. Her eyes began to tear and she couldn't move; he was a vision to her, a part of her that she couldn't live without.
"RYU!!" She cried out.
Ryu turned at the sound of his name and was tackled by Katt. The force of her impact sent them both into the air, crashing to the ground her embracing him. But for Ryu, as they were in the air, time slowed as the dam in his mind broke, allowing memories to burst through.
There are two schools of thought on how to cure amnesiacs: one way, is to reintroduce them to their lives gradually, settle them into it delicately. The other way is to give them a physical or psychological jolt, hoping that the impact will force memories to the surface. In Ryu's case, he received both a physical and psychological jolt.
Ryu was not the only one to receive a jolt, however, as a block away Jasmine's eyes widened and she screamed in pain and agony. She collapsed, shivering, into the arms of a shocked Gaist and she kept mumbling over and over.
"He was promised to me... He was to be mine... my precious... my Ryu." She said with delusional fervour.
With some difficulty, Ryu and Katt were able to get up, but they never once broke their tender embrace. She was crying tears of joy and he was chocked with emotion and couldn't say a word.
"Katt, I..." He finally managed to speak.
"Baka (stupid). Just shut up and hold me." She said through joyful sobbing.
And there they stood holding each other in a tender embrace. And there wasn't a dry eye in the market place at the tearful reunion. However, this moment of bliss would not last long.
"BOSS!" Sten yelled rushing up to them, hugging them both.
"Uh... do you mind? This was a tender moment." Katt glared at him.
Of course, hearing the rest of the commotion the rest of the group rushed out and upon seeing their lost friend and leader, they ran to express their elation. It ended up being a giant group hug, with Ryu in the middle.
"Uh... guys? I... appreciate the... sentiment... but I can't breath!" Ryu said.
After they had their moment they gave him some room to breath. Katt still clung to him, but he didn't seem to mind too much. The reunited group went to find some seats around which they could all speak and they told their collective stories, though there were some details that Ryu omitted, so as not to unduly upset Katt. Gaist came looking for Ryu, Jasmine shivering in his arms. Looking at Ryu and his group he smiled.
"I see you've found people who know you." Gaist said.
"This is my wife, Katt." Ryu introduced.
"She could be like your human double or something!" Bow said to Katt, referring to her uncanny resemblance to Jasmine.
She said nothing for she was looking at Ryu. Ryu looked at Jasmine; once he would have said that his feelings for Jasmine were the same as his feelings for Katt, but now, looking at the small shivering human, he felt nothing but sorrow for her current condition. Ryu and Katt looked each other in the eyes and any she may have had about his fidelity were dispelled in that instant.
"What's wrong with her?" Ryu asked.
"I don't know. It's like some enchantment bound her mind and was broken in the most brutal fashion. Don't worry, she'll be fine, but we'll be long gone by the time that happens." Gaist said sadly.
Gaist was lying through his teeth; Jasmine would never recover. The force through which whatever had gripped her mind had been repealed had damaged her mind to such a point as to be permanent. But Gaist didn't want Ryu to worry; there was nothing either of them could do about the state of affairs.
Unknown to all of them, a heavily cloaked figure lurched its way into the city and it was headed for the teleporter.
The End is near.
Music for this chapter: 'Dyluck Come Home' from the OCRemix site.
Artificer Urza's Fanfiction