Happiness buzzes under her skin like friendly bees as Larch carefully tends the Firework Snapdragons in her wagon. They are a culmination, proof of concept, solid evidence that she can do it, that she was strong enough, smart enough to do on purpose what she had done once before, filled with rage and wild power and hate as a child.


She was going to show the world what plants could do. Nature and magic were often one and the same, after all. They would not be ignored. And neither would she.


“Barbarian” or no.


Humming a song only half remembered to herself, she patted the dirt by the flowers. They bloomed in every shade of fire, red and orange and yellow, brilliant as a sunset, and they were faintly warm to the touch.


I shall draft a preliminary report on the first batch to Fibi. She will be interested in reading it, I think. A second for the Black Book, and a third for me. 


….Maybe a fourth? She paused. The library here was under construction, partnered with the Pathfinder Society. Glaz was heading that reconstruction, if she remembered right…. But surely he was only interested in professional publications…


“You look happy,” Flower observed, twining her way between Larch’s legs from her napping spot under the wagon.


“They work, Flower. They work perfectly. I am… delighted,” the shaman admitted softly. “Kellid or no, savage or no, I am going to make them listen to me now.”


“He’s dead, you know. You don’t have to prove anything to him,” Flower observed. She sniffed the snapdragons and sneezed.


“….Well, yes, he is. But not all of them are.”


“Also true,” the spirit agreed. “And it makes you happy, shaman mine. That makes me happy as well.” She snickered briefly. “I don’t think those two have ever seen you smile like that before.”


“Well, it was a-“ Larch froze.




“….I showed them my wagon. My work. Just… like that,” she said slowly. “I was so excited that I just… Spirits. Ancestors! All my caution, gone, in an instant. I’ve been so careful- …”


“But?” prompted Flower, an eyebrow raised.


“They didn’t… they- they appreciated it,” Larch said, slowly. “They respected it. Me. Glaz even offered to be a test subject.”


He trusted me enough for that…


She paused as memory replayed itself. The three of them, all smiling at one another: her, Glaz, and the Doctor, united by the joy of newfound knowledge.


“The… The Doctor even applauded,” she murmured, half to herself.


Flower waited patiently as Larch mulled this over.


“Perhaps I… hmm. They… perhaps I could… share a little more? They seemed to appreciate it?” She asked, quiet and hesitant. Glaz had been grinning almost as wide as she was, despite blinking heavily and rubbing his eyes. The Doctor seemed… impressed? Maybe. Maybe he was just being polite. But… he applauded. So… maybe not?


“They’re both quite intelligent. The Doctor wields his like a blade, of course, but Glaz wears his like steel armor under frilly clothing. You could do far worse for colleagues at the very least,” Flower said casually, though her gaze as it lingered on Larch was keen.


Larch furrowed her brow, thinking silently.


“Just an idea, anyways,” Flower added.


“An idea,” Larch said, nodding slowly. “In any case- I am pleased. But this is just the beginning.”


“Of course,” Flower agreed, and hopped up to her shoulder. Shaman and spirit both turned, and began their nightly ritual: checking the plants for weeds, watering those that needed it, and carefully applying handfuls of fertilizer where needed. Then she tended to her herbs, preparing more to dry to replace what had been used, wrapping poultices, and shaking her tinctures to make sure they were steeping properly.


When it was finished, the moon had risen. Larch went to the back of the wagon and unrolled her bedroll, taking comfort in the closeness of the earth. Flower settled in the crook of her arm, warm and soft. The smell of loam and the gentle breathing of her spirit next to her helped Larch drift off to sleep.


And no nightmares came that night.

Author Cael
Game: Pathfinder
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