The dimly lit room reeked of refuse and carrion. Macabre art was liberally displayed along the room and reminded Kurama of the ugly situation he found himself in…again. The fact that he still lived provided a glimmer of hope.
He wondered if his friends managed to escape. He hoped he had bought them enough time. His head and back throbbed in agony. He imagined how he must look. It was hard to focus and gather his thoughts. His stomach growled and he cursed his hangover. “Hey” Kurama shouted into the darkness. “I’m not dead yet which means you want something. So let’s talk”.
Battered, he tried to focus on listening but couldn’t hear anything beyond his rasping breath.
“That much is true Kurama.” A familiar melodic voice drifted towards him from the shadows. Xenesia’s sister turned a corner and approached his cell. “Oh don’t act so surprised” she frowned, “You aren’t the only one that has contacts and knows how to get things done. You and your companions have made quite the name for yourself as of late. It won’t matter in the end, but even I’ll admit you’ve been problematic. I honestly thought my dear sister would have been sufficiently prepared to deal with you. Clearly I was wrong.” She shrugged her slender shoulders and studied the young man.
“What are you Kurama?” She lazily walked the length of the cell, “Those crystal arms, are they valuable?” She taunted. Determined not to show weakness to a predator, he met her gaze and simply shrugged. “They are valuable to me”.
She continued her appraisal of him while idly playing with her red hair. “We need not be enemies. In fact I think we could be superb allies. To have achieved so much in such short time speaks highly of you. It would be a shame to see your life snuffed out prematurely. Be reasonable Kurama, you may see us as opponents, but I know talent when I see it and I can tell by your actions that you’re a man of your word. I think we can both get what we want”.
He couldn’t help but chuckle. “And what is it that you think I want miss…”
“You may call me Lucrecia” She answered accompanied with the slightest of nods.
“Lucrecia, I need a drink. If you want a friendly conversation then bring me my flask. I can see it from here with the rest of my gear.”
She laughed. It was rich and deep. “Oh, I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. You’re quite dangerous with your equipment particularly that scimitar of yours. You can’t blame me for being cautious.”
“You’re wrong you know.” Kurama interjected. Slowly he rose to his feet and approached the cell wall. His tone promised violence, “Its not my equipment that makes me dangerous.” His crystalline arms briefly pulsed with energy. “Get me anything then. Ale, wine, it doesn’t matter.”
She studied him for another moment and saw something troubling in his eyes. “My my isn’t that interesting. Do you have any control at all? How addicted are you?” She clicked her tongue in disapproval, spun and approached his equipment. One incantation later she was confident the flask was harmless. Curiosity took her and Lucrecia unscrewed the cap and inhaled. She then sampled a small taste. It was strong and she scrunched up her face in displeasure. Her gaze return to the monk once again. “You drink this regularly?” She shrugged and passed the flask through the bars. She watched as he accepted it with a shaky hand.
Kurama took a deep pull from the flask. Anyone who understood addiction could see how much influence that flask had. He nearly drained it. Within a minute, tension melted away from his shoulders and his whole body language changed. He looked considerably better and more relaxed she noticed his hands no longer shook. “So inbred orgres huh?” He gave Lucrecia another look look over from head to toe. “Are they the normal company you keep?”
A genuine smile crept onto her face. “Oh no” she laughed. "Just a means to an end. “I prefer to surround myself with more sophistication. They are just a convenient tool to be manipulated and directed. We needed the Black Arrows out of the way. There’s always someone around looking for vengeance. It hardly ever takes more than a whisper. I’ll admit I’m bored here. I haven’t had good conversation since that young fool Kaven. It didn’t take much convincing for him to betray his brothers.”
“Oh I see now, drawled Kurama, “Am I just the next fool after Kaven; to be charmed by your words and beauty?”
“Hardly,” she scoffed. “Surely you can tell the difference between a lackey and a peer. Beauty? Well now. You do have some manners,” she teased. "Perhaps there was something magical in that flask of yours all along.
“Kurama, simply put there is something massive in the works orchestrated by people far more powerful than me. I am simply playing my part to assist in the upcoming change to Varisia. Mokmurian would love to meet you.”
He took note of the new name. “Who is that? Is he the one behind all this?”
Again there was more laughter. “It amazes me the trouble you and your friends have managed to cause with such little comprehension. My master is simply another cog in something much grander. We all answer to someone Kurama. I will say no more, but know that by meeting him you will get your answers. Join us. Join me and be part of something much larger. Surely its better then becoming ogre art.”
“Lacrecia, what makes you believe that I can’t escape whenever I choose?”
She studied the Tian Xai again and looked sad for the briefest of moments. "Because you haven’t. “Don’t allow your pride to let you pass up my offer. Look around, things are grim. You are running out of time and your friends would be foolish to return. I’ll visit you tomorrow and give you time to think on my offer. I’m the only one that can save you.”
Before Kuruma returned to his sitting position he handed her back his flask. It was empty any way. As he passed it along his fingers grazed the engraved holy simple and whispered a prayer to his god.
My friends will come. I just need to be patient. Kurama knew he still had one last trick up his sleeve. They all believed his magic was gifted to him through his gear. But they were wrong. The scimitar might help him focus but he felt the remaining pulse of arcane energy deep within. If things truly turned ugly he believed he could still melt into gas and escape. But that would mean losing his sword and his last connection to his sister. He shook his head stubbornly. He had too many unanswered questions. He tried to get as comfortable as he could under the circumstances and waited for his friends. He knew they would come and he had to be ready to play his part.