Kurama moved to and fro gathering ingredients from with the Rusty Dragon’s kitchen. After the day’s recent events he needed some quiet time to reflect. Collecting some salmon he couldnt help but dwell on the goblin incursion. Blood was spilled and buildings burned. “Not again… I thought I finally escaped this kind of stuff. So much death.”
“Kurama what are you doing?” From the sound of Ameiko’s tone she may have asked the question several times. He stopped dicing ingredients and adjusted his neck to meet her gaze. “Hm? Oh, restless mind; I thought I’d get an early start and help prep for the day”. The attractive bar owner could only chuckle. “I didn’t mean why are you cooking, but why you’re doing it while wearing your gloves?”
He couldn’t help but chuckle a little nervously. “Don’t worry, I made sure Verthas cleaned them before I got my hands into everything.”
“How long have we known each other other Kurama? A few weeks? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without your arms fully covered.”
“That’s true, you haven’t. No one has in a long time. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the question. In fact, I’m surprised you haven’t asked the question before now.” He couldn’t help but offer her a teasing smile. “You’re bardic curiosity must have been driving you crazy.”
Ameiko laughed and shared a most unladylike snort. "Kurama, regardless, I’m glad you decided to visit Standpoint. Our people are rare in these parts and it’s good to be able to share with one of our own. That last sentence had its desired effect. Kurama was wracked with guilt. She had opened her home to him and kept him fed. He had to admit that this recent time with her had been nice. She reminded him of the home he was too ashamed to return to.
“Let me tell you a different story my most generous hostess.” Kurama stopped what he was doing and propped himself up on a counter. “I always loved to cook. It always brought me a sense of peace. I used to cook for my sister all the time when we would travel. She always insisted I had a gift, but I think she was just being kind. To this day I always try to keep a wide assortment of spices and exotic flavors. We live in a dangerous world, but around a campfire my cooking always brought a smile to my friends’ faces. It was in those small but perfect moments where we could bury the days events and enjoy family and friends.”
“I didn’t know you had a sister Kurama. Trust me when I tell you I understand complicated family dynamics.” She was almost too afraid to ask her next question; almost. “You speak so fondly of her, where is she now?”
A profound sadness appeared on his face. Without being aware, Kurama took another drink from his hip flask. “She’s dead Ameiko. She died along with the rest of my friends the Jade Lions. She died because I wasn’t strong enough to protect her. To save her.”
She could see his body language change as the tale unfolded. She was concerned she had asked him to share too much.
“Our group had been sent to combat World Wound incursions. The land had been torn apart and ravaged. We had reasonable success in dealing with the hordes of demons. We quickly earned a name for ourselves. But quickly we grew over confident and took increasingly difficult missions. Unbeknownst to us, our recent guide had already been corrupted. We were led into a trap and ultimately betrayed. We all fought valiantly against insurmountable odds. We never had a chance. It all happened so quickly that we never had the chance to establish a proper defensive. Fighting back to back with my sister, we watched our friends quickly overwhelmed. One man was pulled In half by massive clawed pincers. I watched as my friends become nothing more than viscera.
My sister Heideko fought valiantly as she roared praise to Iomede. I tried to support her but we both knew we weren’t getting out of this alive. The last thing I remember of that night was her summoning her horse. I was confused until i blacked out. she knew the same thing as me. She knew I would never leave her side. I’d have rathered die with her. She stunned me, and threw me over her horse and covered my escape. We didn’t make far. Within minutes her mount dissipated and I fell to the ground paralyzed and rolled like a rag doll. She died so I could live. With no other choice I slowly crawled away seeking a place to hide and recover. I traveled south for days until I could endure no more. My body gave out and I was sure I was dead. I woke up later and found myself recovering in a bed owned by a family of famers. They had found me near dead, brought me back and nursed me back to health. I had spent months here working the farm as I tried to find answers to my many questions.
Eventually I left and continued my journey south; to be left alone as a broken man. It was in Riddleport I met Verthas. We recognized the pain and loss in each other and quickly became friends. He would pick the job and I’d help ensure our treasure venture was successful. He gave me purpose once again. Treasure hunting is easy. There’s nothing at stake. No one innocent gets hurt. I suppose you know how the rest of the story goes from here.
With a smile but sad eyes, Ameiko couldn’t help herself. She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and leaned against him. Had her focus not been elsewhere she might have noticed how odd his arm felt. “Trust me when I tell you that I’m well versed in the structure of a good story. I promise you that yours isn’t over yet. Where do you think your story will go next?”
Kurama stared into Ameiko’s large eyes. “Im not sure. I know two things. I’ll die before I allow Standpoint to see the horrors I’ve beared witness to. That and for the time being I don’t think I’d rather be anywhere else…or with anyone else.”