Rejecting the Call
Narrate: The Arc activates once again. The layout of the matriarch’s garden remains the same, but many of the old, old trees that border it have shrunken back to youthful states, placing this memory hundreds of years before the present day. Kasvarina stands among the flowers expectantly, and soon a pair of eladrin warriors escort in a young human man—from his fine clothes, you believe him to be some form of merchant.
Kasvarina: It has been some time, old friend.
Narrate: The man reaches into a pocket and retrieves a cigarette, but Kasvarina waves her hand. Reluctantly, he puts it away.
Kasvarina: Not in the garden.
Nicodemus: Apologies. Straight to business then. Did your operatives manage to get into the Librarium?
Kasvarina: No. I told you when you first sent word: it’s a fool’s errand. Were I twice as powerful, and with twice as many samurai under my command, I could never breach it.
Nicodemus: Then the backup plan I mentioned? Surely some lesser store of knowledge the Clergy owns could hold at least a hint of something that would help. (with dark amusement:) And I doubt you’d have any qualms murdering a Crisillyiri librarian or two…
Narrate: Kasvarina turns away from him, folding her arms as she looks down over the enclave. Nic wordlessly catches onto the fact that something’s off, and he waits for her to speak.
Kasvarina: I’m tired, Nic. Tired of vendettas. Tired of the same old excuses, of you promising a better tomorrow through today’s bloodshed.
Nicodemus: (angered) You never even tried to—!?
Narrate: Kasvarina turns on him, her eyes coldly silencing him.
Kasvarina: How much longer do you plan on doing this? On… coming in here and tapping me for another few drops of hatred? It’s been a century, Nic! The Clergy have been punished enough.
Nicodemus: How can you say that!? After all they’ve taken—!
Kasvarina: You should go. I have other matters to deal with now, beyond petty revenge. Athrylla is actually making inroads with them… It will be an uneasy peace, but peace nonetheless.
Narrate: Nicodemus looks at her as if gazing upon a stranger, though she refuses to meet his eyes. Slowly he composes himself, speaking more calmly.
Nicodemus: You’re… right. I could slay every man, woman, and child of the Clergy faith and it wouldn’t affect the underlying problem. Change… real change is what we need. And that’s why I’ve come to you today. Have you heard of the skyseers, in Risur?
Kasvarina: Do you know how long it took to grow this garden?
Nicodemus: Er… what?
Kasvarina: Do you know how long it took to look as it does now? The planning, the sowing, the watering, the pruning…? Guess.
Narrate: Nicodemus sighs, stuffing his hands in his pockets. He makes a token effort to look around at the majesty of nature around him. You can see the gears turning in his mind, calculations, considerations of man-hours, of growth rates, and perhaps more, but it’s clear this is one subject he knows almost nothing about.
Nicodemus: … I have no earthly idea.
Kasvarina: No time at all. The plants were already in place, and the palace was built around it. Not everything needs to be fixed.
Nicodemus: (scoffs) You expect me to believe you’ve never removed a single weed? A pest?
Kasvarina: You’re missing my point.
Nicodemus: You’re missing mine.
Kasvarina: Oh leave it, Nic…! Can’t you enjoy what’s in front of you? Are you so joyless you can’t take a moment to just live?
Narrate: Nicodemus cooly withdraws the same cigarette from his coat, and tosses it down at the matriarch’s feet.
Nicodemus: I have one creature-comfort left, and you’ve forbidden me from enjoying it, here. Now enough banter—how much do you know about planar magic?
Kasvarina: I’ve heard you out long enough. Guards!
Narrate: The samurai from before approach, but Nicodemus turns and leaves before they’re forced to restrain him. Kasvarina buries her face in her hands until they leave. Once they’re out of earshot, she growls in frustration, spying an ugly thistle among a patch of wild lotus blooms. Her hand closes around its thorny stem with startling intensity, but she cannot bring herself to pull the plant from the soil, leaving her hand wet with blood when she lets go. She curses, and the memory ends.