Moonday, 21 Desnus, 4734
Trying to ignore the sense of foreboding hanging over her like a cloak, Lea heads straight for the Rusty Dragon as soon as she steps ashore at the Sandpoint docks. It’s early afternoon and the happy hour crowd is just starting to trickle in. Ameiko quickly hands off the bar to her halfling deputy and rushes to greet her girlfriend.
Lea presents Freezemaw’s head to Ameiko, attempting to put on triumphant airs while her stomach ties itself in knots. After ascertaining that Lea didn’t pick up any gruesome new scars battling the dragon, Ameiko remarks that she’s running out of wall space. Once the severed head has been seen to, Lea asks to speak with Ameiko alone, away from the inn. An uncertain look flits across the bard’s face, but she cheerily invites Lea to join her at the Kaijitsu manor.
As they stroll along the edge of the bay, Ameiko brings Lea up to speed on what has transpired in Sandpoint since the Rune Wardens left. The Glassworks is finally back up to full working order and its finances are at last getting back into shape.
A gang of Sczarni criminals attempted to take advantage of Vivi’s naivete to kidnap her for sale to unscrupulous artificers, but bit off more than they could chew. The survivors are in jail and Vivi is now a beloved member of the Sandpoint Watch.
Nualia has been spending her days helping minister to people at the Sandpoint Cathedral and her evenings in the Rusty Dragon trying to teach Vivi how to be an adult. She’s had middling success at both tasks.
Brodert Quink has been exchanging large amounts of letters with scholars from across Varisia and looks more worried each time he visits the inn. Ameiko’s tried to ask him about it, but he won’t talk until he’s “verified” his speculations.
Shayliss has been flaunting her dragonhide vest and other gifts from Marcus around the town. Whenever questioned about the items, she always talks up her boyfriend’s business and assembled taken up a list of commissions for his return. Shayliss has also been checking in with Ameiko every morning to let her know that the party is safe as Marcus had visited her dreams the previous night.
Lea is only half-listening to all of this, her thoughts already turned towards the conversation to come. Each step towards the manor feels like a step towards doom, but she knows she cannot shirk from this task. Ameiko can tell something troubles the young paladin, but doesn’t press the case during the walk. Instead she puts an arm around Lea and tries to turn their attention to the beauty of the sun dappling across the water and rustle of the wind in the trees.
It has been months since Lea visited the Kaijitsu manor, and in that time Ameiko has decisively made the place her own. Her father’s austere and traditional décor has been replaced with his daughter’s more eclectic style, which mixes Minkaian furnishings with Varisian rugs, Vudrani drapes, and Andoren statuary. Lea can’t help but notice some pieces by Korvosan artists on the walls, including a street scene in Old Korvosa by the renowned Trinia Sabor that hangs in the main dining room. The paladin realizes that Ameiko must have purchased these quietly during their visit to the city.
Finally sitting down with Ameiko in the study, Lea begins to describe the party’s adventures in Runeforge. She shows the glowing runes inscribed into Iomedae’s Wrath and explains that with these weapons, the party’s final task is to confront Runelord Karzoug in his stronghold of Xin-Shalast. She notes that this is likely a one-way trip. Ameiko thinks she’s underestimating their chances.
Lea then comes clean about what happened in the Iron Cages of Lust. She says that her goal at the time was to make sure that she did whatever she could to get back to Ameiko. She admits to losing faith in herself and her companions’ ability to do so after seeing the massive complex and its protectors first hand.
She wanted to protect all of Varisia and in particular Ameiko so much that she was willing to do anything to achieve what they set out to do. Even if it meant essentially prostituting herself to a demon in order to obtain the components for the Runeforged weapons. Lea recognizes the cruel irony that not valuing herself meant hurting the person she values the most. She blurts out that her death in Jorgenfist really shook her, and she’s only starting to understand that its affected her very core.
Ameiko grows quiet, which is usually a bad sign. She softly reminds Lea that they had specifically discussed this sort of situation and agreed not to do anything without consulting the other first. She also notes that she’s already put up with a lot in their relationship. Ameiko suggests that they take a break until Lea can figure out what this thing between them really means to her and what she’d be willing to do to keep it going.
Despite huge lump in her throat, Lea asks Ameiko to either end things or reaffirm their relationship before going away to Xin-Shalast. She can’t go into the final battle with her heart in two places, as the fate of the world could depend on her being fully committed without distraction or doubt. In light of all that she’s asked of Ameiko, Lea vows that if she makes out alive, she’ll quit the adventuring life for good and come back to her in Sandpoint and spend the rest of her life with her.
After receiving this ultimatum, Ameiko sizes the paladin up and says that if that’s how it is going to be, then she will be at Lea’s side to the very end. She’ll join her in traveling to Xin-Shalast to see this whole thing through together. Besides, things have gotten stale in Sandpoint now that the Glassworks has turned around.
But regarding Lea’s promise to give up the adventuring life, Ameiko tells her that she knows from experience that you shouldn’t make promises you won’t be able to keep. Adventuring is in Lea’s blood, she’s good at it, and she’ll be called off on some other quest soon enough. Ameiko knew that when she got involved, but processing what that really means has taken a while. So she’s made her piece with Lea going into danger, and even intends to join her now and then. Just no more sex with demons please, and no third partners without consulting her first.
Lea is caught completely off guard by this response, but is quick to pull Ameiko into a big hug. Tears start streaming out as she nods along with all the conditions that may apply. Lea promises to take Ameiko on a long overdue vacation together, just the two of them, with all the royal trappings to whenever she wants to go after they make it back.
Ameiko can tell that this is probably the first time in a long time Lea’s been able to fully let out all the negative things pent up inside her, and that reaffirming things with her will probably be the thing that gets her through this final push.
Lea then excitedly tries to fill her in on all the other stuff that happened in between, especially mentioning Aspexia and Daggermark as a possible vacation spot. Once the stories have run dry, Lea suggests getting “reacquainted with her bedroom.” Since it’s been such a long time and all. Ameiko archly agrees to show her around.