As the break of day arrives, a man takes his usual stroll through his village which was once filled with life.
In the distant past he was an amnesiac; he stumbled into the village and soon passed out on the streets. The residence of the village were only elderly, however they were very kind as the leader welcomes him in with open arms.
With the man being the only one capable of certain duties in the village, he took it upon himself to repay the villagers kindness that they've showed him. With everything looking up, a part of him thought he could live out his life peacefully in the village with the others. However, the truth sank in as years pass. Gradually, the village's population decreased until only he remained.
Breathing into his cupped hands, snow starts to fall from the skies.
"Snow, huh? ...Yeah, I guess it's that time."
Rubbing his hands together to create friction, he presses them against his cheek and heads back home before he falls ill.
"If the snow increases, I'll have something to do before the evening."
With every passing year, he feels as though time has slowed down. Thoughts have left him to abandon the village he's come to love, however the unknown that awaits him scared him dearly. If he were to collapse once again on the road, it's no guarantee he'd survive.
Entering the hearth side room, he ignites the firewood beneath the kettle and sits beside it.
"I should make some tea."
Knowing well that tea would not only warm him up but calm his nerves, he begins heading over towards the kitchen. However, on the way he notices beds of flowers flattened through the window, tinted with red. With the flowers being white as the falling snow, it piques his curiosity as he steps outside and follows the small trail until finds a body.
A tall woman in strange clothing and long silver hair lies against a bed of flowers as blood continues to seep through her visible wounds.
"Why's there- N-No, more importantly-"
Gathering his strength, he attempts to carry the woman with much distress. The woman weighed a lot more than he expect but eventually places her down inside. Taking no heed towards anything else, he begins to thoroughly treat the stranger.
Throughout his daily life in the village in the past, it became noticeable to the residence that he practiced medicine and was well experienced with treating injuries. It's without a doubt the man was some form of doctor, however that was only a single fragment from his past that could be discovered.
"Phew... All set."
With her breathing returning to normal intervals, the man was relieved that the worse didn't come. As the procedure lasted longer than expected, the sun already began to set. Ensuring that the woman stayed warm and comfortable, he moves into the kitchen to process the tea leaves before making dinner.
Grabbing a few seasonal vegetables, he makes up a simple stir-fry with boiled rice.
As the man could only sit by and watch the woman wake up by herself, he soon notices that not only is she dressed strangely, but her ears were longer than humans. Elves are what they'd call them in a fantasy world, but in reality they don't exist or so he thought.
In a moment's notice, her arm twitches as the man instantly places his bowl down and runs to her side. Her eyes slowly open as she blankly gazes at the ceiling.
"Crackling fire... Such a nostalgic sound..."
She utters a few words before turning her head to take in the rest of the surrounding area.
"This place is..."
The instant she tries to move her body she reacts in pain and soon realises the bandages wrapped around her as she carefully pats her waist.
"T-This is... We were finally victorious and then-"
Cutting her sentence short, she falls silent as though to process her memory. The man could tell something severe occurred which lead her to this place, with grave injuries also.
"...Betrayed. Ha, hahaha... When I thought it was all over... In the end I was discarded."
She squeezes her fist enough for the wound against it to reopen and begin to bleed once more. Unlike before where she reacted sharply to the pain, her strong emotions alone were enough for her to endure it.
"If you do that your wounds will reopen."
She looks to her side and realises she's not alone, moving in to fix her bandages against her hand, the woman jolts the moment he touches her.
"Sorry, this may sting a little."
Unable to speak a single word, he carefully removes the bandage and thoroughly cleans the wound before reapplying a fresh bandage.
Her eyes widen and begins to water, unable to figure out where she is or who the man beside her is. The only thing that's soothing her soul is the sound of the crackling fire.
"No one special. The more important question would be, are you okay?"
Switching the topic over to her, he felt that there's no need to tell the woman who he is. After all, as the only residence of the village, he is nothing more than a man clinging on to what he has left.
"...Yes, I am."
"That's great news. If it were any later you would've been in serious trouble out there in the cold. It was a good thing I found you when I did. I managed to treat your wounds as best I can."
"Is that so..."
Despite receiving news that she dodged a fatal bullet, the woman doesn't appear in the least happy with the result.
"...So, are you hungry?"
"Aren't you going to ask?"
The man moves to get food for the woman; however she interrupts him as though another matter was more important.
"Who I am... Or what I am."
"Hmm. I could ask many things; in fact I have plenty of questions for you. However, I don't think the times appropriate."
"...You're a strange one."
Smiling in response, the man became used to being called that.
"Yeah, I get that. If you're comfortable with it I'll get you something to eat."
"T-That won't be necessary!"
Suddenly raising her voice, the man's taken aback as her eyes pleaded for him to stop.
"Is that so?"
Replying using her words, the woman's stomach soon loudly grumbles which is a clear sign of one's hunger. Her cheeks redden beneath her dark skin as she's a loss for words.
"It may not be the best, but anything's close to perfect on an empty stomach."
The man moves to the kitchen for the rice gruel he prepared earlier for her as she couldn't do anything except accept his hospitality.
Returning with a hot bowl, he sits beside her and gently blows against the food whilst the woman gazes at him with uncertainty.
"Ah, sorry. You can probably manage that yourself. It's rice gruel, haven't seen it before?"
"N-No... I-I umm..."
Unable to put her thoughts into words, she adjusts her gaze elsewhere.
"...Why are you doing this?"
Questioning the man, the woman could only thing he's putting up an act. An act that'd surely only benefit him despite his good intentions. Betrayed by her former colleagues, she thought of them as the ones closest to a family she never had.
"Why? Hmm, no real reason. I'm just a lonely man who yearns for human interaction again."
"...But I'm not one. I'm a dark elf! I'm!-"
Responding strongly, the look of the man showed only disinterest in the matter she's so firmly projecting. As though to say that because she's a dark elf, she should be treated differently. As if it's normal for others to do so.
"A dark elf, hmm? And why should that matter?"
Putting it in blunt terms, the man couldn't see any reason for him to treat her differently to others. If a person's in need, he'd lend a helping hand. Such is the man he's come to be.
"W-Why? B-Because, I'm a dark elf! I'm no good, I bring misfortune and... and-!"
Falling silent, she begins thinking of other reasons as to why she should be treated differently; however nothing else comes to her mind. As if she never had to explain the reason to anyone, being a dark elf was reason enough for others to treat her harshly.
"I don't really care about all that. You're different; the first dark elf I've seen. But that doesn't mean I should be treating you in a hostile manner."
"...You'll regret it. You will..."
"Perhaps. But there are lots of things I regret not doing so I want to do what I can now to prevent it."
"...You really are... a strange one..."
"No need to tell me twice, now hurry, the food's getting cold."
Lifting the spoon close to her mouth, at first she wanted to stay true to her word and resists the temptation to eat. After a few moments however, she bites down on it.
"How is it?"
A surge of emotions begin flowing inside of her and eventually tears start forming around her eyes and falls effortlessly down her cheeks
"So good it makes you cry?"
He says it in a joking manner to lighten up the mood, expecting for her to shake her head in denial, she surprisingly nods.
"... Then be sure to eat it all, there's plenty more waiting in the pot if you're still hungry."
Offering another spoonful to her, she anticipated the heat by the steam emitting and looks aside.
"It's... too hot..."
She subtly indicates for him to cool it down for her as the man accepts it with no issues.
After the woman cleanly finishes two bowls, he begins brewing tea in the kettle over the crackling fire. The woman is left staying in bed as she's not in the position to move until tomorrow.
"Oh, I almost forgot. What's your name?"
Staring at the ceiling, she tries recalling what others would call her.
She softly utters a name almost close to inaudible, if the man didn't have keen senses it would've been lost in the crackling fire.
"Tsurugi, that's a nice name."
Despite his honest remark, Tsurugi doesn't buy it. Her sole purpose when she was found beneath a pile of rubble was to be a unsheathed sword to her Master. A sword known only for killing, not protecting.
"I'm Bora, or so they called me."
Taking a seat beside her, he pours a cup of tea for the both of them.
"It's a name that was given to me by the villagers. It originally belonged to a woman who passed by a long time ago."
"I don't know her; however they told me I resemble her so they gave me that very name to live by. Quite a lovely thing, I didn't want to be nameless for the rest of my life."
Tsurugi's eyes shined a new glow as she begins thinking of the situation the two can relate to. Despite the circumstances being drastically different, she felt somewhat at ease.
Bora takes a sip from his cup of tea and exhales aloud. How many years have passed since he's last shared tea with someone?
"Go ahead; the tea will calm your nerves."
Tsurugi simply stares at her cup as all her attention is on a stray tea stalk that rose to the top.
"There's something in my cup..."
Wondering if a stray piece of material found its way into her cup, Bora stands and looks over at it as she showed it to him.
"Ah, that's a tea stalk. It's quite unusual to see it in the cup though it's not harmful."
"O-Oh... I didn't know..."
Embarrassed that she was concerned over nothing, Tsurugi pulls her cup towards her whilst sheepishly looking away.
"Someone told me a long time ago, an upright stalk in your tea is a sign of good fortune."
Tsurugi allows her mind to process his words; however she shakes her head and thinks of it as foolishness.
"Hmph, that's nonsense."
Whether or not it's complete idiocy remains unknown, however the words will hold true if one believes.
As the cold morning rises, the events of yesterday caused him to sleep in as he woke up at a loss.
Sliding the door, his bedroom was just beside the hearth side room. He anticipated for her to still be asleep however she's nowhere to be seen as her futon's neatly made.
A strange surge of emotions well up inside of him as he couldn't figure out why she left without a word. Searching the house, the last place he checks is the garden where she watching over it.
As she turns around, she appears to be in good health.
"Bora. ...Good morning."
Seeing her gentle smile against the pure white snow, a strange emotion firmly latched itself against his heart.
"Y-Yeah... Good morning, Tsurugi. Are you sure you should be moving so soon or out here in the cold?"
"I'm fine; the cold doesn't affect me as much."
To justify her statement, she gathers a ball of snow and holds it against her bare skin.
"Is that a trait all dark elves carry?"
Effortlessly tossing it between both her hands, it soon loses its shape and crumbles onto the ground.
"I had to learn to adapt if I so wish to carry out my purpose."
Gripping her arm, she looks to the spot in which the fallen snow has crumbled and remembers the countless days she's spent in the harsh snow, waiting for her target. It became clearer to Bora that not only do they differ in race, but how they lived was drastically different.
An unexpected remark came from Bora as it catches Tsurugi in surprise.
"I don't like the cold, crops don't grow and it leaves me wishing for a hotter climate. If I spend too much time out I'll most likely catch a cold."
Speaking from his heart, the villagers always reminded for Bora to keep warm and stay indoors. But he always argued that keeping himself busy out in the cold and helping others warmed his body. His statement however always becomes invalid the moment he does come down with a cold.
"So let's get inside, I'll get breakfast ready."
Taking a moment to think about it, Bora signals for Tsurugi to follow him inside as she accepts his invitation after a brief delay.
"Is there anything I can do?"
Taking out a few ingredients, feeding two mouths isn't difficult however, he of course didn't anticipate having a guest after all these years and so he'd have to visit the warehouse earlier than he planned to.
"The job for the guest to simply wait for breakfast to be made. Just leave it to me, okay?"
Providing her with more hospitality than she could ever hope for, Tsurugi wanted to assist Bora in any way she can, however she found it difficult to deny his kindness.
Accepting his request, Tsurugi sits by the short legged table and patiently waits for Bora to finish. Whilst waiting thoughts lead her wondering the current state of her world. After assassinating the opposing lord and defeating his forces, Tsurugi believed that she would no longer be frequently sent out on missions and that there'd be peace. Just having that very thought made her smile deeply from her heart.
At that very night, she simply sat against the castle walls, looking at the moon she wondered what tomorrow would bring.
"Breakfast is here."
Placing a bowl of rice in front of her, he made enough servings for the both of them.
"Sorry that it's so simple, aha. Here we have fried tofu and on the other plate, steamed bok choy with soy sauce."
Explaining the dishes to her, the fact that she didn't know what rice gruel was made him wonder if she's familiar with these sorts of food.