Avai couldn’t complain about his life. Not really. He’d never known anything but serving his master; being [i useful]. Not that he was being used as he had been intended. Originally, he had been given to his master as, put lightly, an attractive companion. In the end, however he became his guard. Because he was broken. Defective was how Master Belmir had put it; which was just a prettier way to say it. He had been young at the time, so there had been time for reconditioning. Instead of being just a pretty trinket to use for pleasure, he was going to be a pretty trinket that could protect his master.
It was difficult. Avai was slender and up until that point hadn’t had to do much heavy lifting. Still, he was eager to please and to show that, despite being defective, he was still useful. As determined as he was, he managed to progress in leaps and bounds. After he built up his muscles and endurance all he had to do was drill the sword fighting techniques into his brain. It was a good thing that he was good with routines and was a fast learner despite being illiterate. Eventually he became good enough to be his master’s personal guard. Over the years of training he had bulked up but retained his slender frame and pretty features. That was something that Master Belmir was pleased about, so he was too.
Being a wealthy merchant, his master did have enemies. While he was mostly intended for show, Avai did his fair share of fighting. In the first couple years as a guard there were more bold attempts on his master’s life that required him to defend him, but as time went on and word of his guard spread attempts became rare. This led to Avai being the intimidating figure in the room when a business rival was being ‘talked to.’ Anyone that needed to disappear was taken care of by Avai. This meant they had a certain reputation. It was only a matter of time before something catastrophic happened.
It was a boring night the night that the incident occurred. He hadn’t needed to intimidate anyone and there had been no attempts on his master’s life. Everything was quiet. As such his master dismissed him to eat while he spent some alone time in his study. He was reluctant to leave his post, but his master shooed him away saying that his replacement would be there shortly, and he was no use to him if he was faint from hunger. Unable to argue Avai obeyed and retreated to the kitchens for his meal.
Meals were a rare moment for him to relax; and he struggled with it. Avai wasn’t the only slave in the household, but he was the only one that had been groomed from birth. Rebelliousness and laziness had been conditioned out of him from a young age. Sitting around without a reason made him anxious as did the idea of sleeping too long. At most he took cat naps to remain fresh and alert. Only ever taking a couple of hours off at any moment so that he was always ready to defend his master.
This mentality apparently didn’t sit well with the others that worked in the household. Some avoided him entirely if possible and acted skittish around him. Others tried to get him to loosen up and mocked him when he didn’t. Then there were those that simply did things for him without asking. He liked them. Like the cook. From time to time he’d give him a small treat or something extra with his meal. It felt extravagant and, in the beginning, he’d protested, but the man had simply told him that he’d need the extra energy to protect Master Belmir. It was sound logic in his mind. That particular night it was a sweet roll of some kind. Not that he got to try it- he was saving it for last and he didn’t even get halfway though his meal before a loud explosion rocked the manor.
Avai was up in the blink of an eye and grabbing his sword. Around him the kitchen was in chaos, but at least they had some sense to stay out of his way. He sped out of the room, panic gripping him. If something had happened to the master- if something had happened to the master… What was he going to do? His master was all he had. If he failed him again- No. He wouldn’t fail him, he couldn’t. Before he reached the study he could smell something sickening- burning flesh. A smell he remembered from times his master branded would be assailants and rival business associates. [i Someone] was burning. Heart racing, he rounded the last corner and was met with a horrific sight. The door of the study was splintered across the hall, some larger fragments embedded in the wall from the force of whatever explosion had happened. Flames flickered at the edges of the room casting an unusual purple tint in the area. Strangely smoke was mostly absent. Considering the size and nature of the explosion the air should have been thick and choking.
From the doorway he could see a figure. A figure much too tall to be his master. Avai gripped his sword tightly and got into an offensive position when the figure fled the room quickly, only to stumble upon realizing the human was there. Now that he was closer, he could properly make out the figure. It was strange enough to make him pause. Whoever it was, was tall and slender with a hood covering their hair and a mask covering their face. The mask was what threw him off. It looked like a fool, crafted of porcelain. Something that he might see on the wall of one of his master’s business associates. People actually wore those things?
His brief moment of shock over, Avai’s expression hardened again. “Who sent you? Where is Master Belmir?” Perhaps he should have attacked and asked questions later, but on the off chance this was someone his master was associates with, he’d be loathe to attack them. It was unlikely, but… If this person had something to do with the destruction around them, he had to know. It appeared that his replacement had never shown up so this person was the only witness- and suspect.