Leafiara (prime)/Tales/Who Are You People?

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Original Story: Eoantos 26, 5119

"Seriously? You want us to evacuate and one of the choices is wagons led by the Rooks?"

Leafi grinned at the woman. "Yes ma'am! Listen, I know about the ugly, violent history, but they're a very different group under very different leadership now. They're working in full cooperation with the militia. People can change and the Rooks have--for the better!"

"...right," said the woman sarcastically. "I'll take my chances in town, thanks."

Leafiara shifted her weight. Had to know this would happen sooner or later... seven people moved and she's the first to react so negatively. "Well, remember, there are the other options too. You can go underground or out to sea. If you've never been on a ship, it's quite the--"

The woman scoffed. "I think not. You people are working with crooked merchants, criminals--"

"Former--"

"Stuff it, lady. You people are working with crooked merchants, criminals, and those creepy golems from the Empire's Hall that's given us no end of trouble. At a time like this we don't need you. We need a Rone to cleanse the corruption."

"Well, I--I can't say I didn't appreciate Rone's work too, but... like I explained earlier, your life is on the line here."

"And?"

"And... nothing, I guess," Leafiara conceded. "If you don't want to go, you don't want to go."

"Yep. I don't want to go."

Leafi nodded and turned away to leave, but stopped herself and approached the woman close. "...this very night," she said quietly, "the militia will sweep through houses looking for those who refused to leave. ...and will force them."

The woman stared a hole through her. "Are you threatening me?"

"...no, I'm just saying what Thadston has planned. Right now, for me, that--"

"Who are you?"

"What?"

"Who are you people? Are you the Landing militia? Imperial plants here for a hostile takeover? The Brotherhood of Crooks trying to put on a newer, friendlier face?"

"Believe me, I understand," said Leafiara. "Let me finish what I was saying earlier. Right now, for me, Thadston's plans are only the words of a traitor. Maybe by some miracle he'll see sense and not go through with it, but if that doesn't--"

The woman smacked her hard, the sound echoing off her home's wooden walls. "Get out!" she shouted. "You scum are going to drive me out? I'll drive you out first!"

SMACK. SMACK. SMACK.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Another twelve people moved successfully. Nineteen so far, but all I can think of is the one who didn't...


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"Hey, chin up, eh?" said the grinning half-elven man. "You guys are gonna defeat the witch, there's no doubt!"

Leafi smiled. "We will, for sure."

"So there's nothing to worry about, huh? The Landing blowing up is just doom and gloom, a pile of nonsense. We all believe in you."

"Y-yeah, your trust is well-placed," said Leafi. "But--"

"Ahhh, takes me back to 5116. Shame about this year's Frontier Days, but back then I was one of the minstrels..."

My first Frontier Days here.

The man's eyes sparkled as he gathered a mandolin from the corner of the room and strummed a few bars, then sang: "Wehnimer's Landing! We'll never fall! Enemies at our gates? We'll kill them all!" He grinned ear to ear at the cleric. "Remember that?"

Leafiara smiled despite herself. "I could never forget it. That Landing spirit... it's one of the reasons I decided to live here."

"Is that so?" The man gave her a friendly slap on the back, chuckling. "It's good to inspire. Maybe even better to know I inspired." He winked and set the mandolin back down, then rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I got that nasty black blood curse right around then, ya know."

"You too?"

"Was pretty horrible, huh? Could've sworn I'd be seeing Gosaena, but I kept thinking back on our song for strength. We overcame. That's how I know we'll win this time too." He nodded.

Leafi nodded faintly. "We definitely will. But Thadston still wants everyone moved..."

The man waved a hand in the air. "Pfff. He can want whatever, but it's not his call," he said with a wink.

"Actually..."


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Another refusal. Didn't touch me, but that one hurt so much worse...


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Eight more successful evacuations. That makes twenty-seven.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"I'm familiar enough with you, Leafiara," said a scholarly-looking lady, peering at her from behind a large pair of glasses. "The first time you ran for mayor, you hadn't lived here for even a year and yet you got more votes than any runner-up candidate in my lifetime. It piqued my curiosity."

"I mean, it was only by one vote more than Crux's runner-up the previous year, but yes, that's technically true--"

"To achieve that," the lady continued, "I wondered if you were some big shot hero, so I did some research... but I couldn't find much to validate that theory. You battled on the front lines against Chaston, but who didn't back then? I thought I was on the right track when I read about your work with the black blood curse, but it seems you only gathered blood samples while Cruxophim did all the challenging studies."

"Hey, gathering the samples and convincing the people was important work and someone had to do it. We worked amazingly well together and he acknowledges how helpful I was--"

"Maybe he's just too kind to you." The lady shook her head, then pushed her glasses back up and added, "Maybe history is too kind to you. After my research was finished, I had concluded that you were a promising upstart and this is why the Scions of Shaundara recognized you, but apparently they--and I--were mistaken. What I see before me is no hero nor even an upstart."

Leafiara visibly tensed up and the lady smiled to herself, then said, "I'll leave your imagination to fill in the rest, but I trust you are at least intelligent enough to guess where I'm going with this. Hopefully I'm not mistaken in that as well."

The lady shrugged. "Nonetheless, thank you for the warning. I will get my things ready, if I've no choice in the matter anyway."


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Closing in on fifty evacuations.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"You're one of the rogue militia, right?" asked the pale man, scratching at festering sores along his arm. "What'd they call themselves, the Fire Cats?"

"...Warcats."

"I like Fire Cats better, but whatever. The point is you guys won't let Thadston do this. So good luck--I'll be cheering you on."

"I'm not one of the Warcats. I'm not even sure if they're still around. And the militia's just following orders--"

"Following orders? I'm sorry, but how about you do your job instead?"

Leafi clenched her jaw. "In many eyes, protecting the people is the militia's job--"

"Serving the people is the militia's job! Do you even understand the people anymore?" the man practically screamed. "If we wanted to evacuate to be safe, we'd have done it already!"

He shoved his sore-covered arm into the half-sylvan's face. "Do you see this? I could've run away to Icemule months ago, but I'm fool enough to stay and bear it because this is my home. That's my choice."

Leafiara cast her eyes down and didn't say a word.

"You're the militia. Every bloody month--every bloody week, sometimes many times a week--you go out there and face horrors most of us here can't even imagine! Don't you think for a second we don't respect you for it--but don't you dare vomit up a pathetic excuse of following orders! It's because you all are so brave that I'll never buy it!"

The man trembled as he lowered his arm, clenching his fist. "I'm not budging," the man concluded. "Let him come take me or let the witch do her worst, but I will not move."

Leafi let out a long breath. "I like your spirit," she said.

"Don't give me that. Just do what's right."