A grasp of thorns. A thorny grasp. Black walnut  rootlike vines with cedar ruddy thorns, grabbing the enemy.


“I think it fits you, in more ways than one.” It was hard to tell with the monotone, but perhaps he was… friendly? Smiling? Or was that sardonic? Even sarcastic?


Had that been an insult? She didn’t know. She hoped not. Larch remembered when her entangling roots HAD accidentally harmed her friends and winced.


She loved her new name. It filled her with a fierce singing pride. But it was also a double edged sword, though she does not know her companions intended such a thing.




She looked at her hands. Grubby, dirt under the nails, callused, inelegant; one tattooed, one heavily scarred. Oakspear was a great help, and that was good, because her arm hurt more often than not these days, and today it ached so fiercely she drank three times her normal dosage of willow bark tea.


I have to be better, she decided firmly. I do not wish for these hands to be uncontrolled or weak. I do not wish for these hands to hurt them.


She had a secondname. Now she had a legacy of her own; and if that legacy was to be violent, let it be violent in the defense of what she loved, and never directed towards those she held in her heart. And they were there: it was time to stop denying it. All of them were people she wanted in her life, possibly longterm. Maybe she didn’t deserve this. But they had her, as long as they wanted her, and…


I simply have to be better. And. Maybe- maybe less… like I am. Could I be… less sensitive? Kinder? More personable? Or am I simply obsessing over a passing comment? 


“Deep in thought, Sprout?” Flower asked, and Larch jumped a foot in the air. The cat laughed at her.


“Flower-! Don’t do that,” Larch muttered, embarrassed. Flower twined around her legs then floated up to head bump her affectionately.


“Not my fault you humans have terrible hearing. Smell too. What has you so intrigued?” Flower asked. Larch knew better than to try and deny her; the bond between shaman and spirit was deep as the ocean was wide, and lying was an excercise in futility.


“…My name. The Doctor said something. I am wondering… I just. I want to be sure my thorns are reserved for the enemy, is all. But I am not a good, kind person, or eloquent, or easy in social situations. I am… thorny. Blunt, arrogant, demanding… I did not care before. I do now.”


Flower sat. “You are who you are, Sprout. Oak grows from acorns. Would you really want to be an extrovert?”


“Well. No. Not really,” Larch admits.


“There you go. But I think you could be more open. You have already started- and that I am proud of you for. You told them of your rap sheet,” the spirit reminder when Larch looked briefly confused. The shaman blinked.


“I… did. I even joked about it,” she said, slowly.


“And your Doctor actually joked back,” Flower observed. “He’s a clever one, no matter the rest.”


“He… he isn’t my Doctor. He is Heibarr’s, and he earned that position. In addition, I would not dare presume to claim him like an object in such fashion unless he wished it,” Larch said firmly.


She knew what it was like to be a tool, a thing. He hadn’t been a slave, not like her, but he was in many ways enslaved regardless by Urvine.


“Do you think he was being sarcastic?” Flower asked, in the mild tone that betrayed nothing of her thoughts. Larch eyed her for a moment, sensing some sort of trap but unable to see it.


“Hmph. I have no idea,” she admitted with a sigh. “That damn mask makes it hard to read him,” the shaman grumped. “But… it bothers me. And I am bothered that I am bothered, when I did not used to care. But I do, and I find myself questioning my behavior.”


“Mmm. Growth is not always comfortable, sprout is mine.”


“Very insightful, thank you,” Larch drawled. She ran a hand through her hair.


“You’re welcome,” Flower said sweetly, and commandeered her lap for pets. Neither she nor Larch had more to say on the matter; the shaman was quiet for some time, and the spirit seemed content to let things lie for whatever they may be worth.




She had her secondname. Now to live up to it… one way or another.

Author Cael
Game: Pathfinder
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