Waking takes a long time. The menders are concerned. Physically the Sister found in the forest was mending well. Mentally they were not so sure.

Even asleep, the Sisters aura swings from dizzying highs to dismal lows. Whatever she is dreaming it is as if she lives it. The warden patrol that found her had no idea who she was. They did report seeing other footprints. There was some sort of altercation. The Scout noted that there were a large set of prints near to where she lay.

Attacker or defender? Either way the large footprints followed those of the others, lending weight to the theory that the Sister had been attacked by a group. There were shell-casings from bullets that had been fired. A little sap spilt on the ground, but not so much to be concerned.

The menders knew who she was. Anwesu, was well respected for periodically sharing her medical supplies. She did so for some debt the menders could not fathom. The time she had burnt her hands in an experiment as a sapling was long forgotten. Forgotten by all except Anwesu. The kindness shown to her that day remained with her and she saw fit to redress the balance now she was in a position to do so.

She had been placed in a small hut, on a hammock, clothing removed. She appeared so much smaller and fragile with the robes gone.

She whimpered and her chest heaved as she fought her way back to consciousness. Her left eye occasionally fluttering open, showing a much dulled orange orb underneath.

Her arm was bruised from shoulder to elbow. Result of the robes deflecting a bullet. Her bark had been saved from piercing, but the impact had injured her regardless. There was also a deep gash over her forehead and extensive swelling and bruising all round the left hand side of her face. Her left eye was swollen shut.

Blunt trauma to the face had knocked her out cold.

It was just as the sun was setting when her good eye finally opened and remained open.

‘Llafn,” the name eases out of her lips, her eye still dull, not really awake. “W…why?”

Suddenly she sits up, a snarl on her full lips. Her head swims and a wave of nausea turns her stomach. She ignores it, struggling to get out of the hammock. The mender on duty, a pretty little sister with dark eyes and light leaves fluttered over to her. Words, half understood are spoken in a high tone. She needs to rest, this is unwise she has not even recovered.

The growl that leaves Anwesu’s lips is feral, like a cornered animal

“Get… out… of my… way” she demands, her tone dripping with venom.

The little mender gives a whimper as the toxic aura, swirling with hate and rage threatens to swamp her own. She backs away immediately. Her fear only goes to feed Anwesu’s fury. She would not be like this if he had not hit her in the head.

The barriers were gone, she was open, raw, vulnerable and oh so very angry.

How dare he? This was her duty and he denied her the opportunity to do as she should. Do what she had promised. When she gave her word it was never empty.

Where was he? Her orange eye turned on the terrified mender. Possibly a trainee.

“Where was I found? Was I alone?” the words lash out, answers are expected and quickly. Anwesu finally manages to get to her feet, clinging to the hammock for support. Her head screams at her, if she pushes herself it’s not a case of if she blacks out but when.

It did not matter. She needed to do something. Anything. She could not lie in the Grove oblivious and safe without knowing the truth.

“Y… you were alone,” squeaks the mender. “There were other tracks moving away but… please, you must rest! You have been unconscious for half a day there is no telling what…”

The bitter laughter from the tiny sylvari fills the hut. It is not a pleasant sound.

“If he is not dead I am going to kill him,” she says coldly. “I will hunt his blue hide down, tear strips of bark from his corpse and wear it as a dress!”

“Please!” the mender begs. “You are not yourself Sister. A blow to the head can…”

“Change personality and even alter memory,” Anwesu snaps. “Do you take me for a fool? Now step back from me before your aura makes me hug you or some other such nonsense.” The words are spat but there is less emotion behind them.

“I need to speak to Cedach, now,” she orders. “I either go myself, or you go and get her.”

“But…” the mender protested, she was swiftly cut off.

“NOW!” Anwesu’s one eye blazed with annoyance and not a small about of panic. “I am on borrowed time, there is a Brother missing!”

The little mender flees the hut.

An slumps back against the hammock, glad for a moments respite. Even having one sibling so close when she was so open made her heightened senses feel overloaded. She did not have long. Everything would soon shut down to save her from going half insane. It was her last line of defence. It was why she was such a weak seeming example of her race. Every day was a fight to keep the mental barriers in place to shield her from the world. Here, in the Gove… it was at its worst. So many bright, intrusive emotions. She could sense them, even at a distance.

Arren had once asked her why she lived like this. Why she did not go soundless and gain her strength back. She had answered that it would be like ‘them’ wining. The ones who made her this way had taken so much from her. She refused to let them take this too. Her ability to feel, her ability to connect to another without words. So she directed almost all her skill with barriers into her own mind. Dampening down her own empathy and over-active senses. It was gradually getting better. She could touch others again without screaming… but now…

She was afraid.

Frightened what she was capable of with nothing between her and the world. To feel fully what had happened…It was overwhelming. The acrimonious pang of resentment for being denied her duty, the distress that she may have been deceived, as she had been before… the hurt she felt for failing and… concern. She was worried and not about herself.

She did not matter, she never had, or someone would have found her, someone would have questioned…

They had not, she was gone over a year and no one missed her enough to seek her out. She had always faded into the background. No one of consequence. She had accepted this.

“When you wake… you will be changed. I cannot wait to see how.”

She screwed her good eye shut and shuddered. She did not want to remember. Not when she was like this… not when she would feel it all.

“Please…” she begged no-one in particular, an echo of the sapling she once was threading through her voice. “Please, not now.” Her throbbing head would not cooperate, it was only by a sheer act of will that she did not collapse into a sobbing and screaming heap on the ground.

She was needed… at least for the next few moments.

Cedach came swiftly, she took one look at An and folded her arms. The tall, imposing warden was pretty in her own way, but the bulky leaf armour covered a powerful body that was more than adequate to the task of swinging the huge blade on her back.

“What do you think are you doing?” Cedach demanded. “You should not be up yet!”

An could feel what she did not say. The warden was worried and her normally harsh gaze was full of sympathy as she took in An’s injuries.

It was too much, An’s chin wobbled slightly and her good eye misted with tears.

“They shot him,” she says in a rush. “They shot me, the Knight of Song and the gutter rats that follow in her wake.” There is was, the darkness in the back of her mind. She kept her attention on the freckled face of the warden and forced out the next few words, though they were slow and slurred.

“He knocked me out… please… please tell me he did it to save me…” she wanted to believe that. Wanted it so badly it hurt. She was not sure what she would do if she was betrayed again. She gave a strangled sob and a tear spilled from her eye.

She was pathetic.

That was the last thought, the darkness rushed over her and she slipped to the floor.

Cedach caught her before her before her injured head struck the ground.


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