Leafiara (prime)/Tales/Change of Plans

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Original Story: Eoantos 2, 5119

(though it takes place in Jastatos 6-8, the previous month)


Jastatos 6, 5119 - Leafiara's Sanctuary, Evening

Leafi slumped back in her chair. She'd thought she was on to something with Raznel somehow manipulating her through the Rooks, but not anymore. She'd just returned from giving a talk on the Rooks' history and the crowd wasn't filled with people she suspected of allying with the witch, nor had anyone made any efforts to guide the conversation in overly suspicious directions.

The cleric sighed. On the bright side, she might be clear of the worry that Raznel was pulling the strings of the Brotherhood. On the other... "I'm out of ideas." My big brother doesn't have any. When I'd just moved here, I had endless ideas because everything was fresh and new. Maybe I should look for someone like that... Lyrna? It's only been a bit over a year...

Leafi pondered it briefly, then began preparations to make her way to Solhaven, where her pregnant fiancée had been spending most of her time lately to keep the baby safe from the blight.

Jastatos 7, 5119 - Solhaven Inn, Twilight Hours

A tiring night of meticulously recording her thoughts, but she was done leaving all of her fears on paper. She sealed her parchments and presented them to an inn worker to be delivered to Lyrna's room, with instructions to her or Eyona not to let her notes anywhere near the Landing nor to let anyone see them except their loves.

Back north... she thought in a sleepy daze. I'll see them when I'm more awake...

Jastatos 7, 5119 - Caligos Isle, Evening

Shopping, shopping, shopping!

Jastatos 8, 5119 - Solhaven Inn, Twilight Hours

Leafiara wiped away tears, alone at a table, clutching a note the inn attendant had delivered not from Lyrna nor Eyona, but another of her fiancées: Saranja. She scanned parts of it over again from misty eyes...

I just finished looking through the large pile of notes you left on Raznel. [...] You think of her as your opposite. You would never harm another to get back at an opponent. But she would. You would never take hostage or a prisoner. But she would. You would not work through a minion. But she would. You are direct. She is devious. [...]

Because you are focused on vengeance, you assume that she is not. There, I fear you may be wrong.

A disturbing possibility occurs to me. Remember, she loves to control and transform people and places. She breaks down the most basic bonds between them, warps their very identities. Look at Drangell and Thrayzar. Look at Falvicar, forced to bear attacks from his own father. Look at Disean serving his own mother's murderer. Look at Talador. Look what is happening at home. Not just death, but suffering and change at the most fundamental level.

"It all lines up," Leafi whispered to herself, withdrawing her notebook of preparations for the witch and flipping toward the end.

Scenario 97: Thrayzar's soul is being siphoned into Shinann and Stormyrain

I thought this might be a possibility because it would be a way to strike at the captains and take out one of the marshals, but that's too straightforward for the witch--and, anyway, I couldn't get the theory to line up once Evia started feeling pains too. I figured it would be easier to take his humanity and put it into those closest to him.

So I was off... that's not the process. Sara's right... the witch twists and transforms. For all these years Raznel's made us believe she was our target, confident in knowing it didn't matter if we killed her or not as long as she had her paragons--but now that we know about the paragons, she has to turn us against one another. Undermine us.

She might have expected that the militia or at least the Gryphons wouldn't be willing to take the paragons' lives. But now, seeing that we are willing... she's making use of the fact that we have no idea how to reverse the paragon process. She... can use the process against us.

Shinann, Stormyrain, Evia... are they being prepared as paragons? If I'm right, then the next to feel these pains would be--perhaps Thadston, Cryheart, Geijon, or another of the Gryphons. Target those least willing to turn blades against others in their organizations.

I'd better take this idea to Shinann, but in the meantime...

Leafiara winced as she looked back over Saranja's letter.

I believe that you have been attacked, but not as you expected or would recognize. Raznel saw something in you she could use to hurt and transform you, me, our family and the Landing. She has been slowly chipping away at you, patiently plotting. It isn't what you think of as a battle. But it is one. I am talking about the desire for vengeance. [...] you have made the current troubles about YOUR vengeance against Raznel. Not about protecting, or helping cure the sick or clean the bay. But about you and your anger. [...] So self-centered. So arrogant. So unlike you.

I believe Raznel has purposely pushed you to this, to change you. [...] She wants to push you toward [...] ugliness, chaos, and isolation. [...] Holy rage. And hate. So much hate.

Do you know why the Huntress' symbol is an eight-pointed star? Because She killed her enemy and his seven sons. That is bloodlust, not justice. [...]

There is still time to avoid the trap. Don't make this about vengeance or about you and the witch. Focus on the job. Eliminate the threat. Save lives. Protect. Repair the damage.

If you change, we all lose. And Raznel wins, gone or not.

I will love you no matter what you choose.

Sara

You had the answer to a question I didn't think to ask, but also the question I did... I haven't been as effective as I should be. That's why I've been left alone.

"...change of plans," Leafi whispered to herself. She scribbled a brief note and sent it with a messenger hawk to find Shinann.

"Yes... I think I'd better actually try to survive this war."