Original Story: Jastatos 6-7, 5118
Deep in Burrow Way beneath Wehnimer's Landing, a scavenging rat snapped to attention, standing on his hind legs and lifting his nose to the air. He picked up an approaching smell: cookie dough and chocolate. To the citizens above ground it would be a faint and unnoticed scent from a distance, but to the rat's keen sense it was an overwhelming attraction in the tunnel's stale air, as shocking and sudden as a light in the darkness.
The rat plopped down to all fours again and rushed toward the aroma--but soon stopped in his tracks and backed into a corner, his ears twitching as he heard the jingling of bells and a steady rhythm of sandaled footfalls. He watched, hidden in the shadows, as the sounds grew closer and the scent of cookie dough and chocolate grew stronger, but nothing appeared before him in the pale torchlight.
A nervous confusion overtook the rat; his nose, eyes, and ears were at odds with one another. Still, the scent was passing through the middle of the tunnel right before him, and at last he took a chance and darted toward it.
The sound of two steps in quick succession, accompanied by a jingle of bells.
The scent of sweets subtly moving a short distance away.
The sight, still, of nothing save the emptiness of the tunnel.
The rat froze.
"Daring one, hm?" came a female voice--weary, dejected, but with a lightly melodic inflection that strained for optimism. "Your instincts aren't wrong, just incomplete... but I mean no harm."
The voice spoke no more and the sounds and scents grew slowly more distant, continuing toward a dead end in the tunnel. The rat turned and ran the other way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A sense of safety pervaded the dead end--a temporary magical sanctuary--and all was silent. No approaching rats. No adventurers escorting travelers. No militia on patrol.
A half-sylvan lass faded into visibility, leaning against the wall, her cheeks wet with tears, her eyes nearly as red as her hair and her bell-adorned skirt. She slipped a wiregrass bracelet from her wrist and tucked it away, and in the same motion withdrew a parchment from inside her cape.
"If you're here," Leafi whispered aloud, "I have a message..."
I am sorry for your losses. If I can rest easy again, it won't be until I've seen Praxopius Fortney slain. And maybe that will be as soon as next week on his journey, though I dare not think it'll be easy. I have little doubt he'll betray us again at Glaoveln or out at sea, but I'll do all I can.
Already some are wondering who if anyone will lead you next and raising the specter of Stephos DeArchon. I hope that won't be the case--since now seems like an opportunity to move forward, not backward.
Meanwhile, I have a proposal. I'm asking nothing of you except spreading word among yourselves and anyone else you choose...
The letter continued on, but Leafi tucked it back away and braced herself against the wall and waited. Maybe the Rooks were still in hiding. Maybe they'd come and hear her out. Maybe they'd kill her, blaming her more than Prax. Whatever fate awaited, she'd face it.
Looking Back OOC - August 28, 2019
Alas, poor Rysus, Leafi and I knew him... not all that well, actually. We just knew he was funny and charming!
I wanted to write a sort of "outside perspective" vignette, which ended up being the first half. At times I think I interject too much filler into Leafi's dialogue, but her talking to the rat is one of the cases where every word matters--her observation, hope, curiosity, kindness, playfulness, theatrics, and goodness all in three lines.
I'd like to think that Leafi stands out wildly as someone who shouldn't like the Rooks yet does, and I'd like to hope that people wonder as to why. The mentioned proposal was actually to have a memorial for Rysus, where I'd been hoping to really lay all of her reasoning out in a very public setting, but that never quite came to pass. I guess that makes sense, though, since the Rooks were the very ones who killed Rysus in the end; why then turn around and hold a funeral for him?