Scars of The Past
Villa De Karkaldwin, The Farmlands, Pryldahn, 1439 ATC
A completely bald Venser poured oatmeal into the children's bowls from the main bowl in the middle of the table and let Kari add some fruit, smoothing Lucinda's hair as he passed. ''Do we have to study after breakfast? Can we play ball or something instead before it snows?'' His oldest daughter asked, scooping up her hot cereal, trying to break the uncomfortable silence of everyone seeing their father completely bald. His lack of beard exposed many scars that were normally hidden by the thick facial hair. A few of the younger children like Elanaea and Asher were running around while Sedna and Timberlee tried to corral them and the other chaotic nonsense that happened in the home.
And as Ven moved around the dining room, sitting down to pour himself a cup of hot green tea with honey, he could not but help everyone gawk at the horrible scars on his beardless face.
Though long healed, the scars were easily noticeable, Ragged, uneven scarring on his cheeks and lower lip with the left longer than the right.
''Daddy why do you have cuts on your face?'' Young Soarin asked his father.
''It looks like you're smiling!'' Lucinda pipped, despite that their father was currently frowning as he sat down and held his mug with both hands. He was silent much to their further concern, and to Kari's, who looked at him with saddened city blue eyes. She adjusted her sun hat and sat beside Ven who sat across from the children they shared together. The handsome man unconscious raised his animated porcelain hand, before realizing what he was doing and raised his entirely flesh and blood hand to drag his fingers along the ragged lines.
''That's the point, Princess... I did this to myself so that I'm always smiling. No matter what.'' Venser said simply.
''But it looks like it really really hurt...'' Soarin said with his little voice as his father gently sipped his hot green tea, a nice contrast with the shrill cold breeze that entered into the house through the barely cracked windows.
''It did, son. And the pain at the time distracted me from the pain I had going on inside my head. I was a... Very awful person then. But... Now I'm good. I'm smiling. I got these scars long ago.'' He used two fingers to prop up his lips.
The life he had before coming to Laguna had become nothing more than a memory, lingering in the back of his mind. Her scars faded with her memories, growing better everyday. He smiled contently as she thought back to the days where his eldest children were born, admiring Soarin and Lucinda across the table. They had his original grass green eyes, the ones he had before he was cursed.
Venser's accursed serpent eyes, his glasgow smile, his magical mark on the back of his left hand made him stand out as a monster back in Pantia, a place where he could never go home to again or he would instantly be noticed and captured.
''Oh by the Trinity... You did that to yourself?'' Polina asked, walking in, sketchbook in hand and a cup of steaming tea in the other. ''Wait, what about your hair?''
''Okay my hair was just a prank from a friend of mine I was visiting. I uh... Ahem. I drank myself into a stupor, passed out, and Ro and her lover Nuikia decided it would be funny if they shaved me bald.'' Venser scoffed and frowned again, shrugging. He sucked in his breath and breathed out slowly. Choosing to forego his encounter with surviving Luektorem drones in Jalerno who were robbing up all the metal they came across for their nefarious purposes.
''It's just hair... It will grow back. Plus it doesn't get in the way when I have to wear a helmet, am I right?''
''That's true. It's a tossle.''
''Is that even a word? How do you spell that?''
They laughed lightly as Polina joined them and helped herself to some oatmeal, opening her sketchbook and turning to Ven.
''Do you mind if I draw you like this? Or even better like, what's the story behind the scars?''
He paused for a few more moments. In truth, having his scars on display reminded Venser of a time where he was too far gone, completely mad. A murderer, a drug addicted psychopath, a rapist, an exile... A heart broken monster who had to fill that hole in his heart with anything possible.
''If you want... But, later. Why don't we take the kids to play outside before it snows too much? I mean it's been snowing off and on it snows, melts and then comes back...'' He muttered changing the subject as Kari nodded and smiled.
''That sounds like a good idea, sweetie.'' The blonde woman knew the story and never asked, appreciating how much Venser had mellowed out since the day they first met. Kari kissed Venser on the lips and smiled up to him.
"You still drive me crazy. In a good way."
''Where's Megumi?'' Soarin asked, bending to the side to look under the table. ''She's around here. Ready for a game of fetch and even has her discus.'' Venser said, looking off to a side room, a faint bouncing was heard as Megumi the big pink anthro dog quickly jumped into the dining room.
''Sumone say mah name? C'mon den Last one outside be some goblin popsicle! Oo-wee!'' Before anyone got to say anything Megumi curled herself up into a round sphere the size of a basketball where she would roll, able to condense and expand rapidly in order to start bouncing. Despite wearing a black dress with straps and two silver buttons.
''Ooh! Can we go play outside first, mommy, daddy? Can we?!'' The blonde woman and Venser looked at each other, and he shrugged, letting the sunlight dance on his handsome features as he looked outside. ''Gotta enjoy the weather while we can. Soarin, Lucinda, take your siblings and we'll be right out soon.'' They perked up and cheered. ''Thanks!'' Soarin grabbed his twin sister's hand and tugged impatiently for his twin to finish her oatmeal and climb down from the chair. They grabbed their siblings hands and formed a chain as they all ran out the door, giggling all the way. Kari and Timberlee were quick to follow.
''Kids, let's get your boots on...''
Polina and Venser only remained at the table, her dark brown eyes were wide.
''I still have to say, Ven. That's the weirdest looking dog I've ever seen.''
''No you're just dreaming.'' He said sarcastically standing up.
“You’re still injured right Ven? You should really watch yourself.” The painter girl said softly, sending her older lover a smile. Leaning up against him now, they slowly made her way towards the door and outside.
Their father eventually lingered in the open doorway and watched his children bouncing and laughing under the grey sky. Laughter and joy and playtime.
A joyful smile grew across Venser's scarred face. If he was ever to experience a perfect moment, this was it. All of her troubles and hurts, wounds and regrets, seemed petty as he watched the family he had created enjoy the life he had made for them. Years of violent mayhem across the multiverse weighed heavily upon his shoulders, and now recent events. Awakening the Luektorem, getting many people he loved killed, being a direct agent for the higher forces. Doubt filled Venser's mind, he wasn’t sure why he felt this way, but it just felt... Right, somehow. Despite that he didn't really care about the world at large, only the world that was close to him.
The feeling was quite unexplainable.
“Is something wrong Ven? Do you want to talk about it?” Polina asked softly.
“It's complicated. It’s just... I’ve done many wrong things, Polina. The life I had before coming here, leaving home, some of the people I've killed. When I was younger I had so much anger and self loathing and pity, and I felt like I had no purpose and I just... Ran. It's complicated. And after we shook the hornet's nest I'm just thinking about what to do now. I know what I have to do but I just want to stay here and savor this life... Here. Without the scars of the past scratching at my present and future.'' Venser spoke as he fidgeted with his wedding ring, dull grey ring with two layers and coated in glowing lilac patterns that fascinated Polina. But the short painter girl said nothing, and just held his flesh and blood hand as they stood there. The man took a deep breath and watch the cold, visible stream appear. Winter was near, and on the other side of the villa the slaves were bundled up, and were storing picked produce and cannabis or putting away dirt-ridden tools. Venser was a financially established citizen of Pryldahn but he always felt like he had to make all the money himself even when Cierra and Gloria handled all of that stuff for him. He was at great advantage and life was much more simpler with more than one or two people.
''You've also done a lot of good things, I know. And you love your family. You helped bring down that flying cube filled with those porcelain zombies and then the army wiped them all out! I'm working on that piece right now...'' Polina pipped, squeezing his hand.
''Not all of them. Doulocel's body has never been found. Neither has Nadine's.'' Venser retorted. Lying squarely at the epicenter of his thoughts, Venser could not shake the feeling that one of her greatest fears and worst nightmares could eventually come true. Mercenary work was nothing compared to the duties that Kari and Marvella had, the role of being Defenders of Vorland. And the consequences of all that would eventually hit close to home and ultimately endanger his family. Being a bounty hunter or looting old ruins or killing monsters didn't compare to fighting ancient beings who wanted to assimilate the world and turn everyone into a porcelain metal drone. Venser always wanted his family to remain as far separated as possible from the growing threats that he would frequently be tasked to defeat.
He thought back to his adventure in the Alphonse Islands and regretted not helping Nodessa bring down the cult known as the Gods of The Slender Sea and help find her sister now.
Doulocel of Luektorem was more important. The Luektorem just out on the eastern frontier that could assimilate the continent. His home. His own personal utopia would crumble to pieces. Venser did say that she always wanted a farm like this one. Who was to say that they would not eventually take it for themselves, Venser, his wives, and their children out? Turn their beautiful land into a massive salt flat filled with nothing but hive minded magical cyborgs. And for what? The Luektorem would just stop. Doulocel spoke of bringing back Old Kundaland but that would only be creating a twisted shadow of a land and of a race long dead.
Forget everywhere else in the multiverse, forget the past, this was his home, and Doulocel being the leader had to die.
The Luektorem had to be stopped and now he would stop at nothing to annihilate them all. He would use the tools from the box beneath his bed, and then destroy them. Let the past die. Kill it.
''Just because I have scars it will not stop me from living my life and ruin what I am meant to do here on Laguna. Ahem... How much pleasure does your life bring you? We are always in such a hurry that we often do not notice the cool moments, do not live them, and do not enjoy them. Yes, life forces us to always be toned. But if you always care about the future, who will live your present? Money, career, home is super cool. It's cool when you have it all, but my family needs me here and now, just the way I am. Learn to stop sometimes and just get high in the moment.''
And Polina watched as the bald handsome man kissed both of her cheeks, and then her lips, and then walked off to join his wives and children as they played.