Kensu was a known scoundrel. Although few of his fellow noblemen would call him a villain. According to Kensu's social circle villains were low born, disgusting and crass. Kensu on the other hand was born with title. He could be charming, and he was handsome. In the city of Dragonsram, Kensu also had the good luck to be an a respected outsider, and thus managing to have his foot on the threshold while being above the petty feuds and prejudices of the powerful families. Kensu succeeded in using his charisma, guile and comely appearance to turn his noble acquaintanceship into social and economic opportunity. His persona was one of a dashingly simple figure that touched on the urban nobility's nostalgic romances regarding the rural aristocracy. He used outmoded and overly formal greetings and dressed in fine but old style country garb. The rumors that he was no stranger to common houses, brothels and gambling stalls only added to the romance of his character: at least among the young nobility of his own age. It was commonly held wisdom that young men of noble birth needed to be indulged in their youth in order obtain disciplined in adulthood. Kensu's scoundrel status was believed by many of the peerage, among which he was very popular, to be the result of youthful innocence or naivety.
Kensu didn't understand innocence any more than a bear understands why the salmon run upstream. Like the bear and the salmon, Kensu knew just enough about the nature of innocence to exploit it. Eventually these liaisons and exploitations lead to an arranged marriage with the daughter of powerful family and a landed him significant dowery. Kensu had not only seduced the daughter to the family, but had managed to enamor his bride-to be's father and brothers. Thus, when Kensu gambled his wife's entire dowery on the Duke's sailing regatta, it was not only his wife that felt betrayed but her brothers as well.
To be fair, Kensu still intended to marry the girl. He just now needed more money to keep the Lord's daughter in the life-style with which she was accustomed. When Kensu explained this to his almost brother-in-laws they berated him with insults and attacks. The argument eventually grew into a violent exchange with Kensu rejecting their sister out right and insulting the family publicly. The family's honor demanded blood and Kensu had no friends left in the city. So it came to be that Kensu was being pursued by his former fiances brothers through the streets of Dragonsram.
The chase occurred on a stormy summer's day. Rain came down in great cooling sheets and made the cobble stone slick, and the slightest piece of damp rubbish dangerous to man's footfalls. Kensu's pursuers had come prepared wearing running tunics, steel bracers and high laced soldier's sandal. Kensu was forced to run through the streets in a leisure robe and soft house sandal. He must have lost his feet a dozen times during the chase, falling into the closed up stalls and trash piles that went uncollected on storm days. Not only did the storm undercut his feet, but the rain had pushed all the people from the and their was no there were no crowds to hide Kensu.
Kensu had one advantage of over those men. Although they were born in Dragonsram, Kensu new the streets better, and he knew the town's secrets. He knew about the Glade of Innocence.
The Glade was beneath the great two faced stone bridge which joined the Duke's Ridge to the Dragon's ridge. The steep narrow canyon between the two ridges held Undertown. The small buildings of Undertown were made of scrap stones, cooper's rims and drift wood. These sad sparse house held tight to the steep hillside like ticks and the little alleys that moved around these shanty house had more cracks and turns than the hands of an old stone mason. The canyon narrowed at the Ram's Heart river, which by the time it flowed past the first house of Undertown, was already a sewer. Just Beneath the Dragon's face of the bridge, there was a little grove of innocence flowers: the glade. The glade was located at the site of ancient Fort of the Dragon Worshippers. I knew this site as well, for over a decade ago it was me and my mason brothers which a gathered and repurposed the stone of the Fort in order to build the great two headed bridge. It was there that I first encountered the flowers. The flowers are enchanted, or at least they enchant some. The aroma of the flowers turns the stars of pain and time back in people. It puts them under the sky of their childhood. When somebody who once possessed a state of purity smells the flowers, then regain that purity for a while. They become innocent again. The flowers make people hopeful, trustful and naive. At least that is what it does for most people. For men like Kensu they are just flowers and for men like me they an irresistible call. I am drawn to them every chance I get, but for me they never bestow the promised state of innocence. Perhaps because I never had any innocence.
A accomplished patron of vice like Kensu new the glade well, for the prostitutes and whores of Undertown loved to adorn their lapels with the enchanted and stunning blossoms. Indeed today, on the day when Kensu ran, despite the cool air, grey sky and work stopping rain the flowers were in full bloom. Kensu had not planned to lead his former friends and almost brother-in-laws to the glade, he had planned to pick the winner of the Regatta but things had not gone as he had expected. And even though Kensu did not understand innocence, he hoped the flowers would force an innocence upon his pursuers, and that they would spare his life.
Kensu in truth had never known innocence. He had killed his mother while she birthed him and at the age of two his said to have pulled out the eye of his baby half sister. While he remembers neither of these acts his father never forgot nor forgave nor understood. His father judged. Thus Kensu had become use to feelings of guilt and shame, expecting only condemnation from his loved ones, and thus never seeking to avoid it. Perhaps this is why the flowers had no effect on him.
As I said the flowers never effected me as they did others as well. Thus my understand of their nature is only craftsman's guess, but the flowers enchantment appears restore the ideology of child hood to who ever inhaled their fragrance. Those who breathed the flower regained a lost innocence that was perhaps hope or joy. I could not say, because although the flowers did touch; their touch was different to me. I could smell the flowers as soon as I came to the city, and I was drawn to them But to often the guild kept me away, cutting stone for the new amphitheater. But not today, the rain had taken away our labor and I found myself drawn to the glade. I needed to find innocence again, I needed to forget about the black hand of death that laid for ever on my shoulder and I knew. I knew without explanation that today I must go to the glade to find that innocence, to the find a women that could reveal to me that innocence.
When Kensu's would-be murders finally caught up to him he was standing the middle of the slopping glade, grey rain raking his face and a flower held to his nose. The prostitutes were aligned around the upper shore in little tents. Stone masons and whores it seemed only worked when the weather was dry. An odd fact it seemed since we both had to wet our labors before working. Kensu stood still, leaning against a poorly cut 20 ton load stone that had been discarded when we were building the bridge. His attackers rushed him, but always the gambler Kensu played the only card he had. "Wait, brothers please." he yelled pleadingly. I saw them pause from my perch between a refuse pile and shanty home behind the women. The angry noblemen's eyes bulged and their faces relaxed. One seem to grow very uncomfortable in the rain. Kensu like myself never felt anything but nausea in the glade, while most love the smell of innocence flowers, Kensu found the odor unnerving. But he could tell the flowers had worked on his attackers.
"I am sorry, it was a terrible error. I love your sister so much more than my life and only wished to provide for her better. I have talked to my father, and he will give the sum of the dowry." This was a lie, despite his title, Kensu's father was poor. Indeed Kensu told me I have more money in my purse than the his father has coins in his entire estate. From my perch I could see the lie, but among the flowers his bride's brothers could not. They were innocent again. Kensu knew who how to pray on other's innocence. He shook their hands, smiled warmly and yelled loving promises after them when they left.
As the men left the glade I found my query. A young girl, a sprig of life. I descended on her as she made water behind a shed. I cracked the back of her head with my awl, then used to split her ribs before I spread her chest apart with hands made strong by years of cutting stone. I was fast and her heart still beat. Around her neck were a string of flowers and she smiled a bit, as I watched her heart die. Just as every time previous the sight of a young woman's heart stopping pushed the hand oft death off my shoulder. I felt alive and safe again. Unfortunately when Kensu came around the corner and saw me in my private scene I had to take him too. He laid out his entire life story as he pleaded, but in the end the only innocence I could offer him was death.