Leaving the bathroom with the towel hanging on his shoulder, Drake headed towards the service area where he hung the towel to dry.
Looking around, he didn’t see the towel he had lent to Kara either, so he wondered if she was still showering. Since he didn’t have anything to do there anymore, he simply left the service area and walked towards the kitchen, opening the fridge to see if he had anything to snatch before his sister got home…
“What do you think you are doing, Drake Wellsworth?” A familiar feminine voice came from behind, making him flinch in surprise
“I’m doing an epic raid upon the enemy base in search for emergency supplies in these dire times where food is scarce.” He replied without turning back almost as if on reflex.
It didn’t take long for a small fist to connect with the back of his head, almost making him stumble forward and into the fridge.
“How many times do I have to tell you about getting snacks right before lunch?” The girl said with a clear angry tone.
“I wasn’t expecting you to get home so fast, you know?” Drake complained while turning back and seeing a girl with long golden hair and hazel eyes, wearing t-shirts and jeans with an apron above it. “What about the store? Don’t you have to look out for it?”
“No, with a storm like that I wouldn’t get many customers anyway.” The girl said with an annoyed look. “So I closed it and decided to come and look out for my useless little brother.”
“I’m not useless! I can make instant food on the microwave oven!” He said proudly.
“And still make it tasteless…” Aliss said with a small grin, and Drake replied with a click of his tongue. After their usual exchange of jokes, they both smiled awkwardly before Aliss took him out from the fridge and started to get ingredients. “So, what’s her story?” She asked while giving a brief glance towards the living room.
“Pretty much everything I told you on the phone.” Drake replied with a sigh.
“Was that all?” She asked suspicious. Drake grimaced slightly, but said nothing as he wasn’t sure on how to explain about her calling him a scribe. Aliss understood his expression and gave a helpless sigh. “Okay, I won’t ask anymore…” She turned back to the counter and started to prepare the food. “She is quite cute, though. And very polite… Big sis approves your choice.”
“Yeah yeah… As if!” Drake replied dryly to her joking tone.
Leaving the kitchen to the actual experienced chef, Drake made his way towards the living room, where he saw Kara sitting on the sofa while looking around curiously.
With a glance he saw that she was wearing some of his sister’s old clothes, a sleeveless t-shirt and some long shorts. The tomboyish get up matching her short hair and defiant expression.
Following her gaze, Drake saw as her eyes landed on a small packet laying atop the table. Being around the size of a plate in diameter and ten centimeters high, on top of the package was the symbol of a young girl wearing a cute apron with a cake in hands.
Giving a wry smile, Drake cleared his throat and said:
“Smells good, doesn’t it?” He said, feeling the alluring sweet smell coming from the object.
“Indeed.” Kara nodded. “It truly makes me wonder what lies within such container.”
“Quite a curious way of putting it.” Drake said with a smile. “Aliss is actually the owner of a famous sweets store in the city, so I’d guess that’s a cake for dessert or something of the kind.”
“Cake… Is it?” Kara said with a tone that leaked curiosity. Drake couldn’t help but smile a bit seeing her look at the cake container for some time.
“You speak as if you never saw a cake before.” Drake said with a wry look. “Anyway, if you don’t mind, there’s a couple of things I would like to ask you.”
“If it’s within my capacity to answer them.” She said with a shrug before turning towards him.
Then she immediately widened her eyes and opened some distance between the two of them while putting her guard up, tensing her body almost as if preparing to run away. Drake, however, simply watched the scene with a hurt look and said in a pitiful voice.
“I… know that’s the usual reaction… But it really hurts, you know?” He said while looking down. “This is just the way I look, it’s not like I asked to look this scary!”
“Ah…” Kara said while snapping out of it and relaxing her body. “Forgive me for my rudeness. You have the face of a cold-blooded warrior who journeyed through hundreds of battlefields, killing all of those who crossed your path while accomplishing your mission no matter what you had to sacrifice, even if it were your allies. This way I couldn’t help but put up my guard.”
“DID IT HAVE TO BE THAT DETAILED? NOW I’M REALLY DEPRESSED, YOU KNOW?” Drake said in a mix of anger and sadness.
“I think it’s a bit different, though…” Aliss voice came from the kitchen’s door as she peeked from it. The two turned to her with a confused look before she went on. “Doesn’t Drake looks more like a crazy psychopath who likes to kill his victims after torturing them for days and days within his basement while threatening to do the same with their families?”
“WHY ARE YOU MAKING THINGS WORSE?” He shouted to the girl who had let out such cruel words.
“Indeed, I can also see him doing that.”
“WHY ARE YOU AGREEING WITH HER?” Drake said angrily before turning to his sister and pushing her back to the kitchen. “You stay there and prepare the supplies already!”
“Okay… okay…” She said with cheerful tone.
Storming his way out of the kitchen, Drake made a point to take the non-prescription glasses he had and put them on before sitting on the couch besides Kara, who looked at him with a confused gaze. He simply looked coldly at her and said.
“From now on, I’m never taking these glasses off again.” He said sullenly before looking away from the girl.
“Why are you angry?” She asked him confused. “I was praising you, you know?”
“Huh? You were?” Drake said confused, but Kara nodded simply.
“For us, Hu-arii, being called a warrior is the highest grade of praise.” She said with a slightly annoyed face.
“But did you need to add the cold blooded all sacrificing part?” He asked depressed.
“That…” Kara became slightly awkward at his words, because she started scratching her cheeks wryly. “I might have gone a bit too far with that part indeed.” She said with a wry tone.
Drake smiled wryly for a moment before putting on a serious tone. Noticing his change, Kara also put on a serious face and prepared herself for anything he might ask.
“You mentioned it again. ‘War a’… or something…”
“Hu-ara.” She corrected him.
“Hu-ara.” He said with a nod. “You said that you are part of that Hu-ara thingy. Is it a kind of a tribe or something?”
“…Something like that.” She said with a smirk, leaving it clear that it wasn’t the whole truth. Sighing loudly, Drake nodded weakly.
“Then, is it similar to how you call me a Scribe and the drunkard a Tuum?” He asked once again, and she nodded.
“Indeed. Although there is a fundamental difference between the two of us, in a broad term it is indeed the same.” She said with a single raised finger, as if emphasizing a point.
Drake grimaced at her words. It wasn’t that he had the feeling that she was hiding something, as her tone let it very clear that there were things she wasn’t telling yet. Sighing loudly, Drake leaned back on the couch to think for a moment.
He had enough reasons to believe she wasn’t simply speaking delusional random stories, but he also had enough common sense to say that what she was speaking made little to no sense at all.
Bothered by this contradiction, Drake decided that thinking too much with so little information wasn’t good for his mind, so he sighed and went on to another question.
“Do those ‘tribes’ have something to do with why you approached me and the other guy earlier?” He remembered how she looked strangely disappointed when she saw him on the bus.
This question seemed to hit home, because Kara frowned slightly before sighing and nodding heavily.
“As much as it shames me to admit, I might be unable to accomplish the mission entrusted to me by my superiors while alone.” She looked strangely annoyed by those words. “So, while I waited for some reinforcements, I thought that I could enlist some local whom recovered enough to help me, but…”
“Recovered?” Drake asked confused. “Am I one of those?”
“Indeed.” She replied briefly. “You were the first one I sensed…”
“But a Scribe isn’t a good choice?” He asked, feeling slightly annoyed. Even if he had no idea what the girl had to do, being discarded so easily still left a bad taste in his mouth.
“Correct. Despite being fairly skillful, Scribes, due to their nature, are far too docile and inexperienced for what I need.” She sighed slightly disappointed, before blinking and turning to him with a suspicious look. “Although… That doesn’t seems to be the case with you.”
“Hmm? Me?” Drake asked confused while processing her information.
If his memories didn’t fail him, she had said that scribes were known for being story-lovers with a fairly pacific personality.
She also said that they are pretty skillful, but too docile and inexperienced in what she needed. Could she possibly mean…
“You needed someone who is good in a brawl?” Drake asked confused.
Kara nodded while putting on a pensive face for a moment. After some time she finally nodded and turned to him with a serious look.
“Scribe Drake… I have a proposal for you.” She said, making Drake blink surprised. “From today, I learned about your nature and know that I can trust you. I also know that you are no stranger to dangerous situation, seeing how you dealt with the Tuum and his companions. I would like to ask you to temporarily help me with the mission that was entrusted to me.”
Drake stared at her for a moment, surprised at how she suddenly became solemn, but managed to frown a bit as he understood her words.
“Are you asking to put my life on the line?” He asked warily. “I may have saved you today, but I’m not sure about risking myself just to help you with whatever you have to do just because you asked. I’m not that much of a nice guy.”
He half expected Kara to be annoyed or angry with his words, but she simply nodded as if agreeing with his words.
“You are correct. You have no more need to help me from now on without reason. So I plan to repay with something of high value to you.” She said while looking at him with serious eyes.
“Which is…?” Drake asked after gulping loudly in expectation.
“A story.” She replied simply, making Drake blink surprised for a moment. Following that, she put even more weight in her words, saying that she wasn’t simply messing around. “The true story behind what you all call ‘Your world’.”
As her words seemed to hang heavily on the air around them, Aliss came from the kitchen while carrying a large cooking pot and seemingly oblivious to the atmosphere between the two.
“There is no spoon. Could you wash some for us, Drake?”