Leafiara (prime)/Tales/Last Dream Standing
Original Story: Fashanos 1, 5120
Charlatos 16, 5117 - Mayor Puptilian's Office Rysus says, "Sometimes, he's called..." Rysus says, "Quinshon the Dissembler." Rysus leans back slightly, looking down at something written on his palm. Rysus leans forward. Rysus says, "He was once a Magister of the Hall of Mages in Phannus." Rysus says, "Particularly known for his...darker sorcery like skills..and.." Rysus taps the side of his head. Rysus says, "It's always the mentalists." Rysus says, "So, I won't begin to tell you how to live your life..." Rysus says, "But you should probably just kill him the next time you see him." Rysus shrugs. Rysus asks, "You guys still do that right?" Rysus asks, "Kill first, ask later?" Rysus asks, "Or are you slipping?" Rysus says, "I would just say..." Rysus says, "Imperial knights moving in..." Rysus shrugs. Rysus says, "Manageable." Rysus asks, "A cluster of Hall Mages trickling in?" Rysus shakes his head. Rysus says, "That is a deep root you should never let grow."
Phoenatos 25, 5118 - Town Square Central Speaking to Rysus, Maags exclaims, "Are yous recuiting again!" Rysus says, "We don't need recruitment drives." Rysus says, "You all bedding imperials and elves is driving them in."
Jastatos 6, 5118 - Valeria Street Rysus says, "The only pain is watching you all lose your freedom..." Rysus says, "And you aren't even fighting for it..." Rysus says, "You're giving it up..." Rysus says, "Handing it over..." Rysus weakly says, "You....will see your freedom die..."
Fashanos 1, 5119 - Dragonsclaw Arms Back Yard Mother softly says, "I can assure you, while I demand fierce loyalty of the Brotherhood, and will advance the freedom and independence of Wehnimer's Landing with every action..." Mother softly says, "The age of Drangell and Rysus are over." Mother softly says, "We will not unnecessarily bleed our own to protect our own." Mother softly says, "We serve to protect Wehnimer's Landing and its freedoms. We still exist to do that which many cannot bring themselves to do." Lylia murmurs, "I see. You are not far off from Rysus' promises in that regard." Mother softly says, "Truthfully, he did more to work against that promise, than towards it."
Lormesta 26, 5120 - Abandoned Inn
Leafiara growled to herself as she put the four TownCrier reports back in order and them on the table. Of all things, the one that Mother and Hapenlok alike agree on is that all Rysus did was bring in more Imperials. ...what do we do? What's the solution?
"Interesting collection of papers," a voice whispered, gender indiscernible, in the cleric's ear.
"You again, hm?" Leafiara said. "So Rysus haunts my nightmares and a Rook impersonator wants to haunt my waking life."
Leafi rose and turned--seeing not a hooded figure, but a white-robed one. The half-sylvan chuckled. "Taken to a Rone costume this time? Missing the gauntlets, but... Do you have a name I can use no matter how you dress up?"
It spoke in an even, toneless voice: "You may call me Echo. I am a keeper of every word and deed, returning them to their owners. My place, for now, is at your side."
Leafiara raised an eyebrow. "And why me? To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Your soul. Your choices. Your crossroads."
"'No matter that we may be done with the past, the past is never done with us.'"
Leafi smirked. "Okay, I gotcha. That's really cute, 'echoing' Ysharra. You're so mysterious and full of inside knowledge?" The cleric chuckled. "More like you picked up a copy of the Crier."
"I needn't. I read only from your memories."
Leafi shook her head. "You do intrigue me, but the Empire is coming. I'd love to play along with your games, but the timing--"
Echo stared at her, no hint of expression in its eyes nor body language, and wordlessly withdrew a bound manuscript from its cloak and tossed it with a thud onto the table. "Your crossroads are no game."
Leafi's expression plummeted as she read the manuscript's title: Last Dream Standing. She hurriedly flipped through its pages, staggered with deja vu at every word--her words, her play. "Where did you get this?!"
"I am a keeper of every word and deed," Echo repeated, "returning them to their owners."
"...no. What are you, really? I burned all my papers! I never told another person!"
The figure spoke over her, unfazed. "Which will be the 'Last Dream Standing'--in no play, but in life? The rivers of your memory roar as they flow with dozens of voices. Maags. Balley. Wolfloner. Shinann. Chamorr. Madmountan. Shiril. Evia. Xorus. Lazaryth. Taloin. Razanetika."
"No," Leafi interjected. "I don't know how you got this script, but even Quinshon couldn't go through Pylasar's memories as quickly as you're pretending you can. You're just vaguely naming people I know."
Echo spoke again without emotion: "Recently you have been remembering Puptilian vouching for the Spider Temple's defense when you were willing to let it burn. Remembering Goldstr affirming there can be no light without darkness nor darkness without light. Remembering Ysharra asking that you tell Chaston Griffin she was sorry about what happened to his mother."
Leafiara stood transfixed.
"You have been remembering your surprise when Stormyrain said that some of those on dark paths have brought her joy. Remembering your vow to respect each walk of life as Jastalyn inducted you into Twilight Hall. Remembering Chaoswynd bearing witness as Khylynnia challenged your limits outside of Vornavis."
"Alright, that's enough!" the half-sylvan shouted.
"If it were enough, your memories would not reach out to me. You have been remembering Severine's comfort in your time of need. Remembering asking your mother what the word 'kingmaker' meant after Cruxophim uttered it. Remembering Goblyn questioning you at this inn whether you acted for yourself or the town. Remembering Draccor saying that those in the Landing will always defend their home."
Leafiara shook her head. "Fine, I believe you, but--"
"You have been remembering when you first learned the story of the mortal Tilamaire seeking to question Cholen. Remembering returning to embrace Marijka after running pale from her an hour earlier. Remembering Saranja, Khylynnia, and your mother saying that relationships are their own form of war. Remembering telling Pukk that he is the light and hope of the town."
"...and what of it," Leafiara whispered.
"You have been remembering reassuring Lyrna that the world is black and white."
Echo snapped its fingers and vanished from Leafi's sight; the cleric lunged to seize the figure, but her hand passed through empty air. She slumped back into her seat.
"And you have been realizing," came a whisper, "that you could not now say so sincerely."
All fell silent.
Fashanos 7, 5120 - Twilight Hall Lockers
Leafiara tucked the last of her shoes away. She wouldn't need them for at least a week--no, not on her sojourn, her vacation, her spiritual retreat to the most sacred ground she knew.
She was once a little girl delighting in the flowers of the sylvan woods, brimming with fantasies of returning home triumphant as one of the heroes she marveled over in plays. Soon she'd indeed hear the cheering crowds, but as always they'd be everything she'd hoped for and nothing like what she'd hoped for.
Onward to Bloodriven Village--where symbolism and legends were made as manifest as they'd ever be, where no words mattered save spell incantations, where violence was always the answer. Onward to the sands of the arena, her final cherished bastion of childhood wonder.