Sero hums pleasantly as he finishes sewing the newest gash on his favorite cloak. He remembers when he was given this... It was his fathers. An heirloom of sorts. It was given to him on his first mission. As it was for his father, and his father before him. It’s a battered, worn old thing. Almost more stitches than cloth at this point. Sero chuckles softly and holds it up.
The brown cloth holds many memories... Has seen all of his many missions. All his successes and failures.
Its seen, and felt, when he fails the most.
His first mission...
Sero frowns as the memory seems to play from the cloth itself..
"Really, Papa? I can go already?!" An 11 year old Sero bounces in joy, grinning at his father.
"Aye! You're at the age i was when i went on my first mission! It's time, son." The man stands, walks to an old chest that’s kept in the corner of the house, and pulls out a worn package.
"Take this, my son. It is a symbol, of your birth as a mercenary of the House of Sero. It is our legacy." The man holds the package out to his son, a warm and comforting smile on his face.
The small boy takes the package with reverence, smoothing out the wrinkles before looking at his father with a sparkling gaze.
"Can i really, Papa? Can i open it?!" His excited question elicits a booming laugh from the bear of a man.
"If you didn't, you wouldn't be able to wear it on your mission! Go on, boy! It's yours." He lays a heavy, but warm hand on his sons tiny shoulder, face serious, but proud.
The boy nods, then very carefully opens the package, pulling out a large, near tattered bit of cloth.
"....It's falling apart." His dry reply almost makes his father lose it. His laughter reverberates throughout the entire valley they live in, thundering through the forest with his glee.
"Well it's seen a lot of battle, boy! Not a one man in our family has had the skill to fix it! Maybe you'll be the first?" The man claps his son on the back, sending him to the ground as another round of thunderous laughter breaks free.
"Papa! I can already sew! I will fix it before my mission, and it'll look better than ever! You'll see!" He looks up at his father with a determined glare on his face.
"I hope to see it, my boy." His fathers soft face is the last he sees before he runs from the house, determined to prove to his father that he can take the torn, beaten symbol of his family, and return it to his former glory.
That was the last time he saw his fathers carefree smile....
Young Sero Hanta had spent all afternoon in the tailors shop in the village several miles from his home, working diligently to fix the cloak. He pricked his fingers a few times, but finished after a few hours of work. He held the cloak up and smiled. It still looked battered and old, but it was no longer a tattered mess! He couldn't wait to show his Papa and his Mama!
The jubilant child raced from the village, a bright grin stuck to his face, clutching the cloak to his chest.
He ran, and ran, and ran.
Then, finally, over the horizon, he saw his home!
What was left of it, that is.
The childish grin slips from his face as he takes in what lays before him. His home, the only home he's ever known, in ruins. Burnt to the ground.
He cries out in shock, stumbling forward. Then drops the cloak and sprints to the ruined house, desperate tears falling from his eyes as he searches the ruins for any sign of life.
"P-papa... Mama! Papa! MAMA!" He plunges his shaking arms into piles of burnt, crushed wood, ripping piece by piece from the pile, crying out in the hopes that he gets an answer.
An answer never came.
The boy screams out in agony, fear, rage, and loss. His broken scream echoes through the valley, haunting all who hear it. The calls of ravens are the only answer.
He sits in the ruins of his home, sobbing, for hours... Night falls, and he's still alone.
He resumes his search. Hoping that.. maybe.. just maybe... his Mama and Papa are alive....
After searching all night, he finds something he never wanted to see.... His fathers leg, burnt to char...
He feels a scream bubbling up in his throat, letting it go, letting his broken screams and sobs fill the valley, echoing so far that even those residing in the village can hear him.
Only, this time, there’s an answer
He barely hears it.... A groan of pain. A small whimper. He rushes over to the remains of the bed, throwing chunks of house off with wild abandon, not noticing as pieces seem to throw themselves away....
He throws the bed to reveal a sight that brings him joy and grief.
His parents, in each others arms, bleeding, burned, beaten... but alive.
The boy cries out with joy, falling to his knees by his parents and checking the extent of their injuries...
His mama has burns on her arms, legs and back, but she's mostly unharmed.
His papa is missing a leg... a sword did this.... He's burned all over, his body a mangled mess of burns, bruises, and sword wounds.... The worst is his eye. It looks as though someone took a burning piece of wood and shoved it into the eye, charring the flesh and blinding him.
"Papa... Mama... Who..?" His scared, broken, hoarse voice causes the two to slowly wake and look his way.
"Hanta... My son.. You're safe?"
"Yes Papa... Unharmed... I returned from the village at sundown...." He chokes on sobs as his father tries to reach out to him.
"I am glad.... Your Papa tried to hold them off... They wanted you... When you weren't here... They... they beat us, then left us for dead.... They burnt the house down as a warning... They're after you." His Papas eyes are sad, sadder than he's ever seen before.
"Wh-what can i do, Papa?"
"Leave. Flee, and never return. Your Mama and Papa will rebuild. We will be safe, but you will never be safe so long as you are here. You must go, make a new life, carry on our legacy, and never die." The broken man cups his sons face, smiling sadly.
"All will be well, my son."
The boy sobs, hugging his fathers hand to him, and nods.
"I will go, if only to keep you safe, Papa, Mama." He grins weakly at his Papa and helps them sit up.
"I know you will do great things, my son. Now. Your first mission." His face is steely, grim.
The boy nods, face just as grim.
"Your first mission is to leave, take what you can, and go, far away. Make a new life for yourself. That is your first mission. And tell no one your family name."
"...yes papa..." The boy hugs his parents one last time, then turns to leave, taking only his Family Chest with him, and retrieves the cloak from where he dropped it.
He looks back, seeing his parents supporting each other as they watch him go. And smiles.
He looks ahead with a determined face, throwing on the ancient cloak, hefting the chest over his shoulder, and starts his journey.
Sero blinks as he comes to, smiling bitterly as he folds the cloak and places it aside.
His Papa would be proud if he saw him now.
He knows, they're alive, still in that little valley. They rebuilt their house, rebuilt their lives, and are safe.
He knows they're happy.
His smile softens as he thinks of the last time he visited.
They never saw him, but he saw them.
Saw his Papa hobbling around on his wooden leg.
Saw his Mama sewing a little outfit....
And saw his new baby brother running around the meadow, squealing with glee as his Papa chased him, laughing joyfully.
He knows they remember, knows they regret.
But he also knows they're happy.
And that makes him happy.