You’re the artistic hippie. Seriously. You grew up in Berkeley, man. However, growing up with divorced parents and rebellious siblings, you never had a very happy home life. Your refuge was in art. Whenever things got too bad, you would just create. Your favorite place to go in your youth was Brushstrokes, a local art studio. The owner, Jessica, was always nice to you and let you work there regardless of the time. She helped shape your artistic development, and was almost more of a mother to you than your biological one. While her specialty (as well as Brushstrokes’ primary purpose) was in pottery painting, she was always happy to help you with your oil painting.
You had been working on one particular painting, one of a shining red dragon, for weeks. Your plan was to finish it in time for your fifteenth birthday, but as that was only a few days away, you weren’t sure. On your way back to the studio from a quick run down to the local paint shop, you knew something was wrong. From a block away, you could immediately tell something wasn’t right. The gate, which led around the side to the main entrance in the rear, hung open. Jessica, who lived in an apartment over the studio, always made sure to close the gate to stop deer from getting to her garden. Two doors away from the entrance, you heard a scream. You heard Jessica scream. You ran the last two hundred feet as fast as you could.
The first thing you saw were the smoldering flames at the edge of the garden. Then the shattered half-painted vase. Then the cracks in the pavement that led to a series of deep, three-toed footprints. Inside was chaos. Pottery was scattered everywhere, and the shelves had almost all fallen. The kiln had a large gash in the side, and the heat pouring out of it was nearly unbearable. Your eyes immediately found the source of the screaming.
Jessica’s body lay at an impossible angle. Her limbs were spread far wider than any joint should stretch, and her head hung from her neck limply. Her mouth stood open, and her eyes were wide with shock. Red blood seeped from a series of gashes across her chest, and her limbs were red with burn.
You knew instantly that she was dead.
It took you a moment to register the cause of her death through your shock. A horrific demon stood next to her body, its head slowly turning to face you. It was somewhat canine, with a wide face and too many teeth. Its claws burned ominously, and its glistening black eyes met yours. Its mouth twisted upwards in a cruel mockery of a smile.
Without thinking, you reached for one of the few undamaged things in the room: your painting of the dragon. You concentrated on it for a moment, and then threw it to the ground. There was a flash of light, and then there was a fully formed dragon standing where the painting had fallen. It roared, and you commanded it forward, fury burning in your eyes. It took one, two, three earthshaking steps towards the demon. The demon raised one leg to slash at the beast, but the dragon ignored the pitiful attempt and grabbed the demon in one mighty claw. You watched as your painting devoured the demon bit by bit. The dragon finished, and turned to you. It then calmly, almost serenely, rose up through the ceiling on its great wings, and flew away. You didn’t even make it out the door before passing out.
You dreamt that a young man calling himself Nod came to you, and gave you a piece of paper. When you awoke, you were in your own bed, and the paper lay on your desk. You called the phone number written on it, half expecting Jessica to answer. On the other end, Nod told you of magic in the world. Still half in a daze, you easily accepted his offer of training you. It meant an escape from your family, an escape from the pain of losing Jessica.
In the years since Jessica’s death, you’ve mostly recovered. You’ve made new friends at the Sanctum and the Monastery, and you’ve been learning well. You’ve been painting even more often, though your paintings do seem darker these days.
Not long after you came to the school, Knight named Ironwood arrived—a hippie like you. You found his love of nature and his deep-set kindness incredibly attractive. When he asked you out a week after his arrival, you couldn’t possibly say no. The two of you have been happily going out for almost two years since then.