Leafiara (prime)/Non-Canon/Rest for the Relentless

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Original Story: Eoantos 30, 5119

The cleric half-stumbled, half-limped into the militia barracks, forcing a weary grin as she leaned against a wall for support. A pair of alarmed militia members rushed to her side to prop her up.

She gave the faintest nod. "S... special agent Leafi..." She gave a hollow, distracted chuckle, then drew a deep breath. "Reporting in!" The half-sylvan cleric let out an exhausted sigh. "Mission..." She trembled and reached for the badge hidden under the outer illusion of her shimmer trinket, but her fumbling fingers couldn't unpin it and her hand fell to her side. "Accomplished."

A fresh wave of fatigue swept Leafiara and she collapsed, unconscious, into the arms of the militia members holding her up. They exchanged nods and escorted her up to lay her on a bunk.

"She needs help," said the woman. "Think she'd be safe with just me if you go?"

"Probably. You know the rumors," said the man.

The woman nodded faintly. "Yes..." she said distantly. "Rooks, Warcats, the rest of us... she'd have nothing to fear from any of them, they say."

The man nodded. "Right. I don't know how she does it."

"Just take a look. This is exactly how she does it." The woman nodded at the unconscious cleric.

"Yeah, I see what you mean," the man lied. "I'll go get help." He turned on his boot and marched out.

"I always wonder," the woman whispered aloud, looking at the unconscious cleric. "Are you just a naive, idealistic fool or are you playing us all? The way you throw yourself out there, it's hard to imagine, yet..." She moved to lay her hand on Leafiara's arm, but instead of skin her touch was met with leather as the cleric's shimmer trinket briefly faded, revealing a red vambrace emblazoned with the symbol of a white rook.

The woman nodded once, not even blinking. "Or both."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

No dreams came to Leafi. Raznel had betrayed and killed hundreds, thousands in a dizzying array, but she was dead now and the fallen were avenged--and with that, Leafiara's dreams couldn't come because they couldn't have taken her anywhere other than the one time and the one place her mind always resisted revisiting.

Charlatos 30, 5118. The night of Malluch's capture. The night of her greatest mistake.

Reverse Larsya's aging. Save Disean. Establish a lasting cooperation between the militia and the Rooks. End Raznel forever. See those goals through and think nothing of what would come afterward--but "afterward" was now. Unfinished business was finished, the last mission was over, and her promises were fulfilled.

[it would have continued had I not abandoned this one to non-canon]


Why did I (start to) write this?

So... vignette after vignette from me had been building toward an outcome something like this, through basically a year and half of implying that Raznel, Disean, Larsya, and a peace with the Rooks were Leafi's focus--with Raznel being the endgame out of those. Lingering guilt over helping capture Malluch brought her to the point that she was willing to throw her life away in a war on Raznel, was convinced it would happen, and borderline wanted it to happen... believing it was the only way she could atone for that mistake and others.

This was all playing into what I'd hoped would be her rather noticeable lack of reaction to the blight. That might have gotten lost in translation because a lot of players tend to ignore ambient messages and such in a less intentional way (to say nothing of the more callous or evil characters who simply don't care about people dying or even delight in it), but regardless, Leafi's apparent non-concern was coming from a place of wanting to, as it were, try to enjoy her last months no matter what horrors surrounded her.

The idea was that because she'd been driven for months if not years on the promise of ending Raznel, accomplishing that goal would leave her out of energy. While everyone else was celebrating a victory, she'd be left empty. How that would manifest, I never knew. It was entirely possible I'd retire her from KST, go with a cheesy amnesia story, or any number of possibilities. But either way, a problem cropped up...

A tiny handful of characters who picked up on Leafi's indifference toward the blight finally did call her out and talk her down from pursuing Raznel as a suicide mission. So then the question was: what next? If she'd been fighting to atone as a martyr, but then got talked out of it, where could I possibly go with her character afterward?

And I couldn't think of any answer, so my verdict was to have her collapse with months of exhaustion catching up to her, then consult some other players, RP out some events of her waking up near friends and loved ones, being in a weakened state for weeks, and their reactions would decide what came next.

Why did I decide against it being canon?

Things veered off in a different direction once Thadston wanted to forcibly evacuate citizens. Leafi was of course opposed, but another militia character floated the idea that if she refused to aid, Thadston might not allow her into the Bleaklands. My first thought was that it didn't matter and she'd just sneak in with an Invisibility imbed, but my second thought was that she actually wouldn't--because it would be too inconsistent for her character to go to the Bleaklands if she didn't take a stand then and there.

The extreme situation hit me in the face with the epiphany--or maybe just reminder--that if there's anything Leafi stands for, it's not vengeance, but freedom and adventure. She's a reckless thrill seeker, so denying anyone a shot at the same is one of the most offensive things anyone could do in her eyes.

Taking a stand against the evacuation meant reclaiming her purpose and motivation, leaving no more reason to go the route of a collapse and an open-ended future.

Even non-canon, what can you take away from it?

I do still like the idea that other militia members gossip about her. Seems to be a recurring theme in my vignettes both canon and cancelled, with everyone from militia members to Rooks to nameless Twilight Hall NPCs to town clerks to Landing townspeople running the spectrum of reactions to her. Weariness, indifference, friendly curiosity, politeness, laughing with her or at her, skepticism, violence and jesting and condescension and anger, eagerness, acknowledgement, kidnapping, mockery, and now here suspicion and uncertainty.

What's the actual canon?

These vignettes: Balancing Act, Return to Form, and Awaiting Orders. Instead of wanting to hand in her badge because her one mission is complete, she rediscovers purpose in training new recruits who remind her of herself.