Leafiara (prime)/Witchful Thinking

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Suicide Mission

Marshal Thadston began leading the pursuit of Raznel in mid-5119, a mission Leafiara stood in full agreement with--as she sought revenge for the black blood curse of years earlier. The witch retaliated with plagues, invasions, scarabs, famine, and more, causing tensions to run high throughout the Landing to the point of [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-07-24_-_Saraphene_Siren_Song#Rioting_at_the_Docks|rioting]] and obvious stress in the mayor, marshals, and captains. However, Leafi seemed unfazed...

Having regarded Raznel as her greatest enemy for three years, she'd also built her up in her mind as a foe who wouldn't be possible to kill without many of even the most powerful heroes giving their own lives--and she resolved to be one of them, thinking it would make up for perceived mistakes and failures in her past. And if she was to die in the war, then she'd leave everyone with a memory of optimism and a level head [[::Leafiara/Tales/No_Matter_the_Situation|no matter the situation]].

Unrequited Hate

Raznel's attacks against the Landing intensified, especially after diving through Pylasar's memories turned up the source of the witch's immortality: paragons, people who the two of them had abducted from the past and who the witch had imbued with her essence and sealed away in time pockets.

The first [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-08-21_-_Instantiation_of_Imagination|quest to undo them]] saw adventurers journeying into a twisted, illusionary version of Tamzyrr where Princess Mynalari Adoheles reigned as Empress. However, as Mynalari came to realize the truth of her twisted reality, she faded away and left behind only her staff, crown, gown, and sandals. Leafi collected the gown, believing it might be a trap.

...but it wasn't. Nothing was. Not the gown left behind by Mynalari. Not the bleakstone she'd collected from the Bleaklands and etched with a rook in honor of Rysus, whose death had been set in motion by [[::Naimorai Kestrel|Naimorai]]'s curse. Not the necklace Cyph Kestrel [[::Keeping_Up_with_the_Kestrels_-_5117-11-15_-_Revelations,_Repentance,_Requiem#The_First_Uncomfortable_Truths|gave her]], handed down to him by Drandea--who Naimorai had killed. Not the seashell anklet [[::Reannah Kestrel|Reannah]] had made for her during the time she believed her daughter not to be [[::Keeping_Up_with_the_Kestrels_-_5117-11-10_-_Reannah%27s_Many_Delusions#Reannah.27s_Delirium|defined by her sins]].

Leafiara had single-mindedly sought revenge on Raznel for years, with a compulsion leading her as far as dressing in an [[::Shimmer_Trinket|illusion]] of all the mementos of the fallen along with her militia badge, but Raznel didn't seem to reciprocate the hate. Quite the opposite, Leafi noticed that she was [[::Leafiara/Tales/In_Noise,_Melody;_in_Chaos,_Choreography|never being attacked]], plagued, or infected with a scarab even though the captains and other militia members were frequent targets...

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

Drowning internally in paranoia while outwardly keeping up an appearance of everything being alright, Leafi [[::Leafiara/Tales/A_Matter_of_Will|drew up a will]] in preparation for the worst and then began [[::Leafiara/Tales/Cleric_of_Life,_Angel_of_Death|heavy contemplation]] of why the witch wasn't targeting her. Though her adoptive brother Chaoswynd said Raznel might simply be mad and acting without purpose, Leafi had to consider otherwise; though Shinann said all the blood collected in 5116 had been used to create the Bleaklands, Leafi had to consider otherwise.

After eventually settling on the possibility that Raznel had control of the [[::Brotherhood of Rooks|Rooks]] or was capable of controlling her--as she'd controlled Hapenlok in the past--to somehow influence them, Leafi quickly arranged a [[::Landing_Discussions_-_5119-10-06_-_The_Rooks_of_5116_to_5119|public discussion about the Rooks]] in an attempt to suss out the possibility. However, none of the people she suspected of allying with the witch showed, nor did the behavior of anyone who did show seem suspicious.

Out of ideas, Leafi [[::Leafiara/Tales/Change_of_Plans|presented her notes]] to her fiancees, hoping that someone like Lyrna with a fresher perspective on the Landing could see what she couldn't. However, instead Saranja was the first to reply, indicating how she was focusing on anger and vengeance instead of protecting and saving lives.

At this, a shaken Leafi saw the truth of her obsessed pursuit--and that she'd undermined her own effectiveness. Refocusing, she approached Shinann with an apology for how blind she'd been and a new determination to at least try to survive the war. Perhaps not coincidentally, that week she got the plague for the first time in the entire conflict.

Resolve and Revelation

As the paragons' numbers dwindled and the time for the final strike against Raznel approached, Thadston grew concerned about the witch's own final retaliation and sought to [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-11-20_-_Emergency_Maneuvers#Evacuation.3F|evacuate citizens]], including removing those who didn't want to go.

Leafiara, having thought for months that she would die in the war against the witch--and presently still thinking she might die--found the notion of a forced evacuation abhorrent and raised concerns with other militia members. When it was pointed out to her that a refusal to help might mean she'd be ordered not to go to the Bleaklands, Leafi at first hesitated, but ultimately blew it off.

Throughout the conflict, a question had been bubbling beneath the surface: how much was her revenge really worth? The witch had certainly made her life miserable for months, but it was comparatively nothing to Raznel cursing Thrayzar for decades, killing Pylasar's wife and daughter, corrupting Thadston's son Disean and killing his wife Saraphene, and killing Falvicar's parents and unborn sister.

Thus, even if it came down to a choice between personally being there to end the witch or [[::Leafiara/Tales/Anything_But_Neutral|upholding her values]], Leafiara had to favor the latter. Though she aided with [[::Leafiara/Tales/Who_Are_You_People%3F|evacuating those who wanted to go]], she [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-11-26_-_Last_Stand|took a stand]] along with Maags, Puptilian, and Wolfloner in opposing Thadston's evacuation order for those who didn't want to be moved. Thadston was ready to proceed anyway, but Mother and the [[::Brotherhood of Rooks|Rooks]] intervened with a threat to destroy the evacuation ships if anyone was removed against their will.

As Pup had suggested, many townspeople took up arms to contribute during the final conflict. Pup and Leafi [[::Leafiara/Tales/Balancing_Act|began training them]] and they ultimately aided with defense of the town as the more experienced adventurers entered the Bleaklands to destroy the final paragon before eventually confronting Raznel herself at the Hendoran outpost. There the witch was defeated in a last climactic showdown.


Fresh Start

Though a bit of a footnote in the overall war, another priority for Leafi had been rescuing Thadston's son Disean from Raznel's control, hoping to repay him for the time [[::Eyes_of_the_Dawn_-_5116-10-08_-_Emperor%27s_Denouncement_and_Chaston%27s_Attack#Leafiara.27s_Capture|he'd rescued]] her. Though it took months, the collective efforts of the Landing eventually had Disean subdued and sent off with the Eloth Dai, presumably with Thadston's hope that they could undo the witch's corruption. Leafi was relieved to repay a years-old debt. Between the capture of Disean, the curing of Larsya Caulfield, the Rooks well on their way to a genuine alliance with the militia following several nights of coordinated plans during the war, and the death of Raznel, every bit of Leafi's unfinished business from 5116 was concluded, leaving her with a clean slate during whatever conflict would come next.

Course Change

For a year and a half, Leafiara had struggled with the question of what purpose she'd still have in the Landing if all her grudges and debts were settled. Even if she survived the war against the witch, she'd intended to leave the militia afterward since structure, organization, and orders weren't her style. However, to her surprise, Leafi discovered new meaning in [[::Leafiara/Tales/Return_to_Form|training the new militia recruits]] who signed up after refusing to evacuate, as they reminded her of her younger, more eager self from two years earlier who fought with more to prove. She's said that only now she feels she made the right call joining the militia. For the foreseeable future, at least, she's there to stay.

Rook Relief

Leafiara had shown initial skepticism toward Mother when she [[::Landing_Events_-_5119-01-09_-_Rook_Rebirth|first became known]] by killing Rook dockworkers, then fear that her [[::Landing_Events_-_5119-02-01_-_Reprise,_not_Reprisal|earliest stated goals]]--her similarities to and differences from Rysus--seemed [[::Leafiara/Tales/Mother_and_Mother|too good to be true]]. She softened back toward optimism [[::Leafiara/Autumnwind_of_Change|after months of no conflict]], but then cheered them on as the war against Raznel raged and the Rooks acted as peacekeepers and protectors [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-07-18_-_Not_Disean_Eye_to_Eye#Farmers.27_Markup|again]] and [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-07-22_-_Good_Moaning_Militia#Zombietrayal|again]] and [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-08-03_-_Fall_Together_Now,_Concert_of_Chaos#Unite|again]] and [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-08-18_-_Firewalkar#Mino-r_Problems|again]] and [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-11-12_-_Binding_Agreements#Elanthian_Firewalls|again]], including putting a stop to the sweeps and [[::Witchful_Thinking_-_5119-09-13_-_Tangled_Web_We_Weave#Friends_in_High_Places|rescuing her]]. Presently, Mother has her full support.