Leafiara/Tales/The Light of Hope, Death, and Chaos

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Original Story: Lormesta 17, 5120

Militia Courtyard

"I can't take it anymore!" blurted one of the trainees. "I haven't landed a hit yet! I'll never be great in combat!"

Leafiara raised a hand, motioning for her other four sparring partners to stop. "Do you really believe that?"

"It sure feels that way," the man muttered.

Leafi nodded. "I don't believe that," she said, "or else I wouldn't be here training you--any of you. For all I know, any or all of you might surpass me eventually."

Another trainee raised an eyebrow as she sheathed her blade. "Not likely," she said flatly.

"Never said otherwise," Leafi said, grinning, "but the beauty of the future is not knowing it."

The half-sylvan had never resolved most of the questions Raznel made her wonder about, but one answer had always been obvious to her: what she would have done if she had the witch's power.

I just wish I'd realized earlier that I don't need her power to do it.

Nearby, in an alley, a hooded figure watched.


Inspiration's Sanctuary

Leafiara closed Beyond the Arkati and set it back down. The cleric had brought the blasphemous book into Tilamaire's sanctuary for the third time since a friend had told her where to find a copy.

The first time gave her clarity on why some viewed Grishom Stone as such a threat.

The second and third were failed attempts to reconcile the memoir with the things he'd said in the last vision of the Future Stormyrain.

He killed hundreds, but in the future he's glad that we stopped "a world of death."

"Much as I'm seeking a way to make my dad young again... Much as it hurts when I can't resurrect someone I was moments too late to save..."

Images raced through Leafi's mind. Her father's wolf companion Ari hunting and feeding in the sylvan woods. Bandits falling still before her on the trails to Icemule or Vornavis. Victims of the first Rone, Malluch Burdos. Praxopius Fortney dripping blood on the shores of Glaoveln. Years of conversations with Severine Veneuve, Cruxophim, Chaoswynd, Khylynnia SparrHawk, Marijka, Shinann Autura, Goblyn, Elphieya.

"I've made my peace with this 'world of death.' No... more than that. I'm happy with it."

At least... I'm happy with the version of it that I mean. What did he mean?


Library

Leafiara returned Grishom's book to the shelf and moved to leave, but halted with a start as she nearly bumped into a hooded figure. Her surprised mouth turned into a smile as she caught sight of the figure's beaked mask, and she gave a nod of greeting.

"Our eyes follow you," came a somewhat quiet voice, gender indiscernible. "Our feet likewise, tailing you."

Leafi raised an amused eyebrow. "Well, thank you. I'd certainly hope so! You all have saved me before and I'd appreciate help again if--"

"And to whom do you give aid? Will planted seeds of favor flourish?"

Leafiara blinked, her face fading into a frown. "If you ever want help, you can just ask. You or anyone else in town, as long as--"

The figure nodded briefly and withdrew into the shadows.

A voice came from behind Leafiara--"I wonder where your loyalties lie"--and she spun around only to be met with thin air.

She glanced over her shoulder again, but the figure was long gone.

"--as long as it doesn't mean going against my conscience," Leafi finished. "...that's where my loyalties lie."

A message from Mother? No. No, probably not her. She would have come again to meet me herself. A Rook gone rogue? Everything about the way they spoke seemed practiced--the disguised voice, the thrown voice, the flowery language. Reminds me of being on stage...

The half-sylvan pondered. That was no Rook at all. Ruse or illusion, someone wants to play games.

A slow grin crossed her lips. Leave the pursuit of power to mad witches and blood gods; Leafiara chased challenge.