Leafiara (prime)/Melodies/The Ballad of Reflection and Rooks

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I had a perennial vision since my earliest remembered days
Dashing through fields, always swinging my prized toy sword as a little girl
I held a longstanding ambition with fantasies of all the ways
I'd become a hero of epic deeds and rise to be adored by the world

In my favorite meadow, as the time flew by,
I'd annually turn toward the azure sky
With my feet planted firm, my hands clenched in fists
I'd renew my vow to build toward the life that I wished

Year by year, through my sweat and my tears,
I kept pursuing that dream, my heart young and sincere
Growing bigger and faster, wiser and stronger,
I swore that I'd master working harder and longer

But I faced a recurring dilemma while ascending to Wehnimer's fame
The wars we survived always left me to wonder: could we have been more prepared?
I raced into every battle and the frontier hailed me with acclaim
Yet although we'd win, all the lives torn asunder left behind a chord of despair

Through a long line of evil, "wait and see" went awry
Gave the benefit of doubt, but each time people died
Some called me a hero--spreading word, sharing tales
But all around stood the proof that I'd tried and I'd failed

Threat after threat left me filled with regret
Every casualty screamed I'd need to do better yet
I'd worked to dig deeper, I'd worked to push farther
But the strength I'd sought taught me I had to be smarter

I came to profound realization looking back on the paths I'd walked
I'd been a lone wolf, militia, mayor, councilor--told myself I'd done it all
One last thing I tried: cast away my pride and being uplifted by talk
A Rook in the background, unseen and unknown, that would be the most selfless call

Tossed aside reputation, praise, adulation,
Transient glory, and misplaced affirmation
Epiphany struck: even invisible deeds
Would save lives and that's the only validation I need

Day after day, I knew I'd found my way
Being a hero's not determined by what people say
If I protect just one smile, I don't care if I'm seen--
I'm doing good and that's the only truth that matters to me!


Thadston said he wanted to see how the Rooks sing at their trial, so I actually considered whether Leafi would take that literally and perform a song in Moot Hall. I ultimately had to side with "no," even if only because she hadn't been in the room when he said that. ...but then, on the first night of the trial, his opening statement again said that people should expect to hear the Rooks sing of their heroics. I really thought about it. I truly did. If Leafi had been the first or second defendant called down, I honestly might have gone with it, but as the last, there was no chance. Alas!

In any case, I'd written some of this song over five years earlier for a Leafi dream sequence vignette, but it was basically just freestyling fluff to frame the rest of the vignette that was the meat. I rewrote even a lot of what I already had, then built on it with a looping structure of three verses where the first sets the stage for a point in her life, then the second and third go through the thick of it and reflect afterward.

The original ended on a note that was optimistic yet also sort of hollow, basically just saying she'd hold true to younger self's ideals. This one ends up being more optimistic because it's more substantive: her earliest goals were in direct conflict, so she found only disappointment after achieving one of them, then found fulfillment by pursuing the other one.