Avatar: Shura! I just wanted to say that I'm glad you joined us.
Shura: Thank you, milord. I promise I won't let you down.
Avatar: I believe it. I had a question for you, though. You don't have to answer it if don't want to. Why did you become an outlaw? You seem an honorable enough type now...
Avatar: ...I understand. Well, if you ever feel comfortable sharing, I'm all ears.
Shura: No, wait. The reason is...I needed money. There is a dream I must make a reality.
Avatar: A dream?
Shura: Yes. I dream of someday rebuilding Kohga, my home.
Avatar: I see. It must have been marvelous, to inspire such ardor.
Shura: It was. It was a beautiful, mountainous land, lush with greenery. And our people...they were so joyous—so cheerful. The laughter never truly ceased. In truth, it may not have been too different from other small countries... Nostalgia could easily have clouded my judgment in such matters. But for me it will always be an earthly paradise...one that must be restored at all costs.
Avatar: I wish I could have seen it. You make it sound so lovely.
Shura: That it was. And maybe someday you will see it, once it has been rebuilt. It would only be fitting; it was you, after all, that made me dare to hope once more. If Kohga stand tall again, it will only be because this outlaw met so noble a man. Which is why I vow to serve you until my dream might be realized.
Avatar: I am glad to know I have such a valuable and steadfast ally at my side. I'll be counting on you, Shura.
Avatar: Shura! You look upset. Is something troubling you?
Shura: Avatar...? No. I'm all right.
Avatar: Are you sure? You look like you could use someone to talk to.
Shura: It's just...I am beginning to feel my dream of rebuilding Kohga will remain just that.
Avatar: Don't say that. I'm sure you will make it happen.
Shura: I wish I could have that same faith.
Avatar: But you were so hopeful just the other day. What's changed since then?
Shura: Nothing. Just thinking... Suppose we do win this war. Even if we reclaim our territory, the people of Kohga are no more. Perhaps what made Kohga beautiful was not the lands but the spirit of the people. And perhaps others, living in the same way, in the same homes, will be...different.
Avatar: I see.
Shura: I could rebuild a Kohga a thousand times as grand, and it would not change this. Perhaps I am simply a child at his mother's wake, wailing for her to return.
Shura: On some level, I must have always known this. Perhaps I never became an outlaw for my dream. Perhaps it was to escape reality. Outlaws only have to think about how they are going to survive each day. That life has a way of pushing aside one's larger doubts. It makes them irrelevant. But now they return to me. And they will not go back to sleep.
Avatar: I don't know what to say.
Shura: Bah. You needn't worry yourself over this, Lord Avatar. Even if I cannot hope to achieve my dream, I will still serve you loyally. If only to repay the debt I owe for plucking me from the darkness. Now, I'll trouble you no more about this. Good day, milord.
Avatar: Why are you way out here? You know that everyone else eats in the mess hall, right? You should come over and sup with us sometime.
Shura: I'm fine here, thank you. I appreciate your graciousness in allowing me to travel with you, milady. But as a former outlaw, I don't think I am fit to dine at your table.
Avatar: What? Of course you're fit to do so. And I'm sure the others would all agree.
Shura: That's very kind of you. Regardless, I would prefer to remain alone.
Shura: It is best I remain in the shadows as much as possible.
Avatar: In the shadows? What are you talking about?
Shura: My face is not unknown. Many people recognize me as an outlaw. If it became widely known I was part of your group, it would damage your good names. Even if the mess hall is not exactly public, it is still large, and rumors spread. A soldier may write to their family, who would then tell their village, and so on.
Avatar: I don't think—
Shura: You cannot deny that the possibility exists, can you? I have no intention of allowing my presence to hurt your cause. Please try to understand.
Shura: Now, go rejoin your people. I am sure they are missing you.
Shura: You are very generous with your time and attention. Most royalty is not so giving.
Avatar: I-I don't— I mean, I haven't done anything special. You are an ally and as important to our cause as anyone else. I try to make sure I do not overlook any of the people we fight with.
Shura: Ally I may be, but I still must insist you avoid my company off the battlefield.
Shura: I only wish to ensure your honor is not tarnished.
Avatar: Do you really feel so much shame about your past as an outlaw?
Shura: Of course I do. You would feel the same. It's still strange to me...that I would wind up serving royalty after all I've done.
Avatar: But all you did you did to survive, right?
Shura: Do you think that excuses me? I murdered people for their coin. People who had done no wrong at all. A decent person would have chosen death over this.
Avatar: ...Shura, would you do me a favor? Spend some time talking to the others.
Shura: What for?
Avatar: I think it is important—more important for you than most—that you form new bonds.
Shura: New bonds?
Avatar: Yes. I feel it would do you a lot of good.
Shura: Have you not heard a thing I've said?
Avatar: Of course I heard. And I am giving you my judgment. I agree that it's important to remember and reflect on the mistakes we've made. However, sometimes it can become a weight too heavy for one person to bear. They need others to help them shoulder the load and carry on. At least, I know this was true for me.
Shura: For you?
Avatar: Yes. And for others as well. There are many in our company with pasts they would prefer erased.
Avatar: Yes. And they have all found comfort and strength in their comrades.
Shura: I see. Well, if you insist, I will try talking with some of the others.
Avatar: I do.
Shura: Very well. Thank you for your advice, Lady Avatar.
Shura: I tried talking with some of the others like you suggested.
Avatar: Oh? I'm glad to hear it! How did it go?
Shura: You were correct. I'm not the only one weighed down by the past.
Avatar: So you now understand why I asked you to talk to them?
Shura: Yes. I feel like I have learned anew the value of companionship. It helps you see things from other perspectives. You learn things. Seeing our comrades work through their struggles, I realized I could do the same. And that I in fact should do the same. I should not worry about damaging your honor or that of your comrades. I should be focusing upon what I can do to help.
Shura: After all, the walls of Kohga still must be rebuilt. And self-pity makes for poor bricks.
Avatar: I believe in you, Shura.
Avatar: Something funny?
Shura: Oh, no. Not really. I just never expected to hear myself talk like this again. I sound like a bushy-tailed, optimistic little youngster.
Avatar: There's nothing wrong with a little optimism. Takes a little gray out of your hair, doesn't it?
Shura: Ha! I wish. Anyways, thank you for helping me to remember what's really important. If you ever need anything from now on, please know you can rely on me.
Shura: For a long time, I lost sight of my dreams. When you are so focused on survival, you don't have time for dreams. But after I met you, they came back to me, stronger and more vivid than ever. The dream of a reborn Kohga has filled me with new life. But there is another dream that has come to me as well. I know it is one that will never come true. And yet...I cannot seem to give it up.
Avatar: Shura, I don't believe there are dreams that can't come true.
Shura: That's very naive of you, if you don't mind my saying so, milady. I'm too old to believe in such fantasies.
Avatar: Then maybe you should have someone who isn't? Someone who believes in you. Someone who you can share your dream with.
Shura: Someone I can share my dreams with?
Avatar: Yes. Maybe even someone like...me. What is your other dream, Shura?
Shura: Avatar, will you be with me?
Shura: In my dreams, you are there with me when I rebuild Kohga. In my dreams, we live the rest of our lives together, in peace. You see...I have fallen in love with you. And I dream you will return my love.
Avatar: You what?!
Shura: Avatar, do you share this dream with me?
Shura: I-it is all right if you do not wish to. I understand—
Avatar: I think it's a beautiful dream.
Avatar: Yes, I would love to share in your dreams. I am yours, if you will be mine.
Shura: Avatar...thank you. We still have a long road ahead of us... But together, I know we have nothing to fear.
Avatar: I feel the same way.
Shura: I am glad to hear it. And I promise you, I will do whatever it takes to help your dreams come true.
Shura:This dream was built to last. No matter where the future takes us...
Kana: Hey, Papa. There's something I wanted to ask you about, if it's OK...
Shura: Hey, Kana. What's been eating you?
Kana: Well, see, it's Mama. She's always treating me like I'm a little kid.
Shura: It's only natural. You are her son, after all. And last I checked, you're not that old yet. I was there when you were born, and I've kept a close eye on your age, you know.
Kana: Yeah, I know. I still have some growing up to do. But I just mean I’m not as much of a child as I used to be. I want to help out more. But whenever I try, she just tells me to go play with my friends instead.
Shura: Ah, I see. You want some responsibilities.
Kana: Right! I want to be someone she can rely on. Do you have any ideas on what I could do to make her happy?
Shura: Hm... Well, I guess I just tend to tell her about my life stories. Adventures I went on, people I met, exotic and stinky foods I've ingested, you know.
Kana: And that makes her happy?
Shura: Oh, yeah. Your mother loves new experiences. I think she was a born adventurer in some ways. Her eyes always have a sparkle in them when she listens to my stories.
Shura: Eh? What's wrong?
Kana: I guess I was just hoping for more ideas. You know, stuff that I could do too.
Shura: Hm. You do have a point there. Let me think...
Kana: Oh, I know! Let's make it a contest, Papa!
Shura: A contest? What kind of contest?
Kana: We'll have a contest to see which of us can make Mama happier! Between the two of us, I'm sure we can come up with all sorts of things! Whoever gets thanked the most wins! Heehee.
Shura: Interesting. A friendly competition between you and your old man, huh? Sounds like it could be fun. Count me in.
Kana: Really? Yaaaay!
Shura: Remember, though: you're facing the man who won your mother's heart. Defeating me will be no easy task. Are you sure you're ready for this? I'm warning you now, I'm not going to go easy on you.
Kana: That's OK with me, Papa. I'm gonna beat you fair and square!
Shura: Heh. All right, then. Let the best man win!
Kana: Hey, Papa! I’ve been doing so well for our contest! How about you? Has Mama been thanking you very much lately?
Shura: Yeah, actually. Although I don't think I've been doing much different. Here's my tally so far...
Kana: WOW! That’s a lot! And you got all these without doing anything special? That's crazy!
Shura: Yeah. I guess I never paid attention to it before, but she thanks me quite a lot. I do more for her than I realized. Haha.
Kana: Hmph! Well, I’m not going to let that stand between me and victory! Look, I counted all mine, too! Read them and weep!
Shura: You've got the same number as I do... H-heh. Um. Well done, kid.
Kana: Mhm! Say good-bye to your crown, Papa! Kana's gonna beat you big-time! After all, I don't have a job, so I can spend all day helping out for Mama!
Shura: Well mold my onions, you're a clever one, aren't you? Heheh. Gotta respect that. Just out of curiosity, what all is it you've been doing for her, anyway?
Kana: I’ve mostly been helping out around camp. In the mornings, I help make arrows for the archers. Then at lunch, I chop vegetables and give out the food. And at night, I bring Mama her maps and books for planning the war strategy. And I do a bunch of little stuff throughout the day whenever I have time!
Shura: Oh, just a thought. I think I might have been treating you like a child too, is all. It doesn't seem that long since you were still soiling your underclothes. And now, all of a sudden, you're making real, important contributions to the army.
Kana: Hehehe! I’ve been working real hard. There’s I can’t do now!
Shura: Oh, yeah? We'll see about that. I bet Avatar has been very pleased of all the good work you've been doing.
Kana: Hm... I just realized she hasn't actually been saying "thank you" very much. She just tells me I did a god job whenever I finish something. Maybe I haven't been helping her as much as I thought I was...
Shura: Hey, now. Don't get down about it. It's probably nothing. I'm sure you're helping her out a ton. More importantly, this means you've been cheating, you little ogre! I knew you couldn't match my score fairly!
Kana: Heheh! I guess you're right. I'll just have to work even harder for Mama tomorrow! I'm not gonna lost to you, Papa! I won't sleep until Mama thanks me twice as much!
Shura: Hrk... This might be closer than I expected...
Shura: What's with the long face? Where's the smiley Kana we all know and love? Our last tally has you in the lead. Shouldn't you be basking in the glory of your victory?
Kana: I am still happy about that, I guess, but... I was trying to help out Mama earlier, and she made me stop. She said I should be spending more time playing around with my friends. She still thinks I’m just a kid. Haven’t I shown her I can help with stuff too? Or am I messing up? Is she just pretending I'm doing a good job?
Shura: Ah, so that's what it is. Well, don't worry too much about it, yeah? I know your mother really does think you're doing a wonderful job. And I'm sure she's very proud of you.
Kana: But she told me she'd rather me not help with anything...
Shura: Of course she would. But it's not because you're not doing good work. Avatar is very happy that you're growing up, but she's also very sad.
Kana: Why would she be sad?
Shura: She doesn't want you to miss out on being a child. Lots of people are never given the chance to have much of a childhood. And beyond that, she wants to be able to take care of you. See, parents are fickle creatures. It might take a lot of effort to raise a kid, but it's also a little sad when your realize that they don't need you anymore.
Kana: I still don't really get it...
Shura: To be honest, neither do I. But that doesn't mean it's not true. How about his: keep helping your mother, but don't work for hours on end every day. Take breaks and see your friends, play some games, do whatever. Show her that you can still be a child sometimes, too. If you do that, I'm sure your mother will be very happy. It might even help if you asked to sleep in our bed sometimes, too.
Kana: It's just...only babies need to sleep with their parents. I don't want to be a baby.
Shura: No, Kana, that's just it. It's not for babies. It's for children. And she doesn't want you to grow up too fast. Neither of us do...
Shura: Kana, we know that you're growing and that you want to be more reliable. You're going to be a great man, someday. Everyone knows it. But for now...just relax. Enjoy yourself. At least for a little bit, here and there.
Kana: OK. Thanks, Papa. I’ll think about everything you've said.
Shura: Good. You know… I think maybe you and your mother should spend some time together tonight. Have a relaxing night in, just the two of you.
Kana: Wait! Aren't you going to stay with us too?
Shura: Me? Oh, no no no. I've got plans with some of the others in the camp, and--
Kana: But, Papa! Don't you need to take a break sometimes too? And I thought you wanted me to be happy!
Shura: ...Hmph. All right. Fine.
Shura: Staying in as a family, huh? I never really saw myself as that kind of guy. Heh, I guess little Kana isn't the only one who's starting to change.