Leafiara/Tales/Crisis of Conscience and Clash of Character
Original Story: Jastatos 17, 5116
I don't know if this one will really belong on TownCrier or anything since it's not in-game knowledge to anyone and is more just me having fun, but hey... wrote this up and had to share it!
Crisis of Conscience and Clash of Character
A flickering lantern cast light over Leafiara's face in her room at the Raging Thrak Inn--a light over the fair skin with which she was born and over the black veins with which she was cursed. It was well into the Hour of Ronan and she would sleep soon; she was reflecting before she retired to bed.
A small amount of light settled on the item resting on her table: a pin from the last Wehnimer's Landing election, an event from before her time in town. Its far right side read "Vote For Cruxophim!", its far left side rested in the blind spot of her shadow, and the middle portion had been drawn over with red paint.
Cruxophim smelled foul and looked even worse, but at one time she'd thought she had no greater ally this side of Icemule. She distinctly remembered a time when he'd been so set on healing her fallen body that he overstretched and died himself in the process.
That was her way as well--to push too far because the world required it, because the world rewarded the quick and decisive action that she committed to every day when rescuing the fallen. In that one and only way Leafiara had considered Cruxophim a kindred spirit, which hadn't been escaped the notice of others. In fact, her friends Rubi and Ylandra, the High Priestess of Cholen, had somehow come to believe she was in love with him, which had amused her at the time but now made her smirk.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She'd been gathering blood donors for Crux for over a month now, openly in the streets, but nobody in the Landing had told her the tale of Cruxophim's history; no, for some reason it had taken a visiting outsider from the Elven Nations to finally tell her the truth of his past alliance with a lich, his becoming a lich, and his crimes against the Elven Nations.
She hadn't fully believed it until she went to Captain Stormyrain to corroborate.
How had it come to this? Sorcery scared her, dark magic scared her, the Lornon Arkati scared her, blood magic scared her, and the undead were her sworn enemies both as part of the Order of Voln and even before she'd joined it, but she out of anyone in the Landing had allied with someone so twisted?
Leafiara had cried for well near half an hour the afternoon she found out, thinking of how many friends she'd gladly taken to Crux as donors, her conscience ripped so asunder that when she was taken away by Raznel later that night she half-hoped she'd be slain--a punishment she would have deserved.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Somehow she'd survived. This was her life; somehow and some way she always survived, and her better nature could only be held back by emotional trauma for so long. She had to make amends.
The Landing's leadership couldn't help her people, the half-elves. Their leaders were hesitant, too-tentative souls, all the way up to the Mayor who showed such disgust with Rysus that he'd almost ruined the Landing's chances at making one of the most vital alliances they now had. Rysus' Rooks had killed Leafi many times, but right now she'd give near anything to meet with him personally and arrange a deal in the shadows--because even he could be a force for good.
Now Leafi clung, barely, to the faintest thread of trust in Crux--and no longer because she counted on him doing what was right, but because she counted on the folly of the Landing's leadership. All of Puptilian's overblown hostility toward Rysus and yet he hadn't ejected Cruxophim from within their gates. The militia hadn't warned her off either, and though Captain Stormyrain had told her it wasn't the militia's job to guide her choice of friends, Leafi read between the lines.
Leafi trusted only in the fact that the Landing's fear was suspiciously absent--that they didn't regard Crux as a threat to their safety.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Leafiara glanced at the pin on her table, the middle covered up with red paint and its right side revealed by lantern light: "Vote For Cruxophim!"
Yes... for now she'd vote for Cruxophim. She had two main goals in this war, and considering how long Raznel had plagued the Landing, the goal of killing her was optimistic at best.
Leafiara picked up the pin and drew it up before her eyes, its left side now in the light but covered by her hand. Her people, the half-elves, needed to be cured of the blight, to flourish again, to gain strength and power and acceptance in the lands, to regrow like trees after a fire. They needed only one thing...
Leafi repositioned her hand on the pin.
"Proud to Live," it read.
It didn't matter what Crux's motivations were. Either he'd changed or he hadn't, and she couldn't know which was true, but she did know that without him there would be far less progress toward a cure for the black blood.
She'd continue on and collect just a few more samples for him. She'd warned Stormyrain, who had promised to keep an eye on him. She'd done all she could and she'd continue to do all she could.
And her conscience was clear.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Leafiara nodded, smiled softly, and set the pin back down just where it had been:
"Proud to Live" in the shadow, "in Sin," now erased forever beneath the red paint she'd dried over it, and "Vote for Cruxophim!" under the flickering light.
The lantern was just about burned out now, though. She stepped silently to her bed, then slipped under the covers and pulled them over her, closing her eyes. Just when she couldn't see, the lantern shone its last remnants of flickering light back over the pin, illuminating a single word and moving backwards over its letters before fading away... e, v, i, L.
I don't know what Crux's player is thinking of doing with the blood samples and obviously I don't have any say in how anyone else plays their character, so I wanted the ending to feel ambiguous: maybe it's the light revealing that he's still a creature of darkness or maybe the light over that word fades to symbolize that that time is now gone and he's changed. Really, it's just that the mental image of the ending line kinda gave me chills, so I had to leave it in!
Looking Back OOC - May 17, 2018
I always think of Leafi and Crux as quite the odd couple--now and back then too. She gets along quite a bit better with him than she does with a majority of good-aligned characters and the funny thing is I don't even have to twist much to justify that. They're both quirky, outgoing rescuers with insatiable appetites!
...we'll just leave out the fine details of what those quirks and appetites are.
By the way, the part about her voting for Cruxophim wasn't meant to be about a mayoral election--keep in mind this was half a year before the 5117 race and she didn't know if he'd run again--but rather a vote of confidence in, if not trusting him, then at least needing him. (But not too long afterward she'd wind up coming back around to trusting him anyway.)
I will say that, both back then and now, I'm a little uncomfortable with this basically being me signaling with a strictly-OOC-knowledge-only vignette that Leafi's still a good girl and don't be confused just because she's so friendly with Crux. I like to go with the flow and keep things as IC as possible.
I don't know why that is, really, since pretty much everybody seems to think that coordinating things player to player is the way to go. Maybe I'm just an introvert, or maybe it's because this is actually the only roleplaying game of this type that I've played--no Dungeons & Dragons, no anything else--and I try to approach it more like a console game.
Either way, though, I had so much fun thinking of that final image of the button that I couldn't not post the vignette.