The Fall of a Leader - Part II: Pearl
Once long ago, it was said, there was a Scyther who was a bit too adventurous for his own good. He was the kind of Scyther who would spend his days raving endlessly with childlike wonder about the world – isn’t it amazing, he would say, that we have minds? Isn’t it amazing that there are all these living creatures, all these different Pokémon, and they are all alive just like us?
And because life in the swarm bored him, he one day told his closest friends that he was going to leave forever and explore the world. They tried to tell him not to, but he refused to listen to them, and headed off the next morning.
He traveled through a forest, and it was not long before he was lost after walking around aimlessly for a while. He saw a Pidgey, and before it flew away, he shouted to it, “Please stay! I will not eat you, for I have never liked to kill other creatures. Will you tell me the way out of the forest?”
And the Pidgey, though wary, decided to do as he said, so it hopped between the highest branches of the trees, at a safe distance from the Scyther, to show him the way out. And soon enough the trees became more spread, and the Scyther walked out of the forest into the glorious sunlight, and as the Pidgey flew away in fear, the Scyther shouted, “Thank you!” because he had been telling the truth.
And on the Scyther went, over the plains and over mountains, past lakes and past rivers, until he came to a body of water so large that he could not see the banks on the other side. And he tried to drink from it, for he was thirsty, but found that the water had a strange, salty taste that made it undrinkable. He realized that this was no ordinary lake, and with fascination, he flew over the water to look over it. Not far off the shore, he looked down, although he could not see very deep into the water elsewhere, and saw a curious object there, a large, round, whitish-pink shape that gave off a peculiar sheen that reminded him of a scythe.
Enthralled, he flew back to the shore and sat there for a long time wondering what the object was. He was so captivated by it that he did not notice the pass of time, and only realized when it was already dark that he had not eaten anything for a while.
He eyed a small orange Pokémon stepping up from the shore of the water a short distance away. It had not noticed him because he had been still and hidden behind a rock, and it was dark; but now he saw it, and realized fully how hungry he was.
But his mind was so captivated by the object that rather than attack and eat the Pokémon, he revealed himself and swore a truce so that he could talk to it. The Pokémon introduced itself fearfully as a Buizel.
“Do you live in this lake?” the Scyther asked, and the Buizel smiled in response.
“This is no lake,” he said; “it is the sea. But I do hunt in it and spend my days there.”
“Then can you tell me what the round, shining object that I saw a short distance off the shore was?” the Scyther begged him, because he knew that his mind could not rest until he found out what it was.
“Oh, it must have been the pearl of a Clamperl that you saw,” the Buizel told him. “They only produce one in their lifetimes, when they evolve. The Spoink use them to focus their power.”
“I must get it,” the Scyther told him. “Would you dive down and retrieve the pearl for me?”
But the Buizel shook his head. “I cannot do that, Scyther; for I would need to risk my life to get it. The Spoink would be angry, and the mystical powers of the pearl are said to prevent anyone from getting it if they do not respect the pearl as the Spoink do.”
And the Scyther thanked the Buizel with sadness, and as it left he went to sleep.
But when he woke up in the morning, he spent the whole day searching for a Pokémon that would be willing to retrieve the pearl from him, offering all of them truce so that he could talk to them. And again he went to sleep hungry.
The next day he found a Spoink in the forest, a gray creature that bounced regularly on a spring with a pearl on its head; but the pearl was not as beautiful as the one he had seen in the water. He begged the Spoink to retrieve the pearl for him, but the Spoink was disgusted by the suggestion and told him that no Pokémon but the Spoink were worthy of the pearls.
And the Scyther spent several days in this way, eating nothing and thinking only about the pearl, until finally he was so hungry that he knew he would die if he continued to ask the Pokémon for assistance in getting the pearl. But he did not go and hunt, because he could not bear to kill a Pokémon that might have been the one that could have gotten the pearl for him. Instead, he flew over the water, eying the pearl, and then dove into the water to get it.
But he was a Scyther and could not swim, and the bottom was further down than he thought, and the salt burned his eyes such that he could only barely make out the shape of the pearl below him. He managed to cut it loose from the seaweeds it was tangled in, but he could not bring it up to the surface.
The Scyther drowned there, still desperately attempting to move his pearl out of the water. And, they said, he still lay there to this day, on the bottom of the sea, far away from the rest of his kind, his flesh rotted away and eaten by sea Pokémon, the pearl still lying with its deadly sheen just by the remains of his scythe.
Stormblade didn’t need to approach Shadowdart, because Shadowdart approached him first.
In the evening he returned, and Stormblade could tell how the duel had ended before his friend was anything more than a silhouette whose long shadow stretched out over the plains as if longing to flee into the forest. Shadowdart was walking too slowly, too shamefully, for it to be a surprise when Stormblade could make out the large gap that had been cut into the smooth blade of his left scythe.
Shadowdart sat wordlessly down beside Stormblade, stared at the setting sun and felt vaguely around the rough edges of the gap in his scythe with the other. Stormblade could see the other Scyther in the swarm look in their direction.
“I lost,” Shadowdart muttered, looking down at the ruined scythe that he had been sharpening only hours earlier as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was horrible, even disgusting, and Stormblade could easily tell that Shadowdart himself thought it even more so. “He was so fast…”
“He isn’t the Leader for nothing,” Stormblade said quietly. “Of course he’s fast.”
“All those Scyther watched it,” Shadowdart said. “They saw him outspeed me. I could see the disappointment in their eyes when he had pinned me down. And then he… cut into my scythe…” He shivered. “It was terrible.”
“Of course it was terrible,” Stormblade replied emptily.
“But I’m going to beat him,” Shadowdart whispered, his voice shaking with anger. “No matter what it takes, I’m going to beat him and kill him, like a true Leader should. I’m going to train until my body has reached its limits. Nothing will stop me from beating him, I swear, nothing. No matter what he does to me… I’ll… I’ll…” He shook his head. “Nothing…”
Stormblade looked at him. He did not understand Shadowdart’s feelings, and had it been him, he would have given up immediately. But he didn’t have to understand it. As long as Stormblade would talk to him. Be a friend. Better than they used to.
“I support you,” he said. “I don’t know why you want to be Leader, but I hope you will succeed one day.”
Shadowdart looked at him. “Why do you suddenly care?”
“I suppose… because we never were very good friends to you, Razor and I. I want to make up for it.”
Stormblade shook his head. “Friends. It’s not healthy to care too much about someone.”
But he stayed at Stormblade’s side anyway, watching the sunset with bloodshot eyes.
Shadowdart would have to train more. Much more.
That, at least, was what he had told Stormblade in muttering tones the next morning, and what he had been gradually regaining his enthusiasm about as autumn slowly turned to winter. The Scyther had once again lost their respect for him after the humiliation of his defeat and the still-missing piece of his scythe that the Leader now held, but Shadowdart no longer cared. He did progressively less dueling and progressively more singular attacks on air or plants, although he had given the oak tree a break. He often spent long hours training in Ruxido, sometimes returning with prey that was ever larger on average.
They talked when he returned, shared prey, discussed how his training was coming along, dueled, and even sometimes hunted together. But Shadowdart’s increasing tendency to train alone weighed against it, and Stormblade felt just as lonely as ever before.
It was not, however, until he found himself trying to convince his stomach that he was hungry so that he could have an excuse to go out and hunt – hunting for fun, without the intention to eat the prey, was always immoral – that he realized how desperately he needed company.
Stormblade stood up and sighed, looking over the swarm. Most of the Scyther – the ones who were not hunting – were engaging in duels, eating, or spending their time trying to slash the drifting snowflakes, but one caught his attention: a female sitting in the shadow of another lone tree, staring into space. Much like himself.
He grew curious, stood up and began to walk towards her, and as he trudged through the layer of snow on the ground, he realized that she looked a little familiar.
She seemed to have heard him, turned her head and looked at him, and he remembered where he had seen her before: she had been the female who was with Nightmare. The one she had called Sickle.
“Hello,” he said, stopping in front of her.
“Hello?” she responded hesitantly, and he realized from her expression that she didn’t recognize him.
“You were… you were a friend of the one who left the swarm last spring,” he said awkwardly, adding at her blank look, “I was with the one who named her Nightmare.”
Sickle looked down and shook her head. “Oh. You.”
He stood there for a moment, not sure what to say. She looked back up at him.
“What do you want?”
What did he want indeed? He wasn’t sure. Why was he bothering her again?
“You look lonely,” he finally said.
She looked at him, dull disdain in her eyes. “Of course I am. I had one friend, and she made the mistake of sparing the life of some idiot. She told me afterwards she didn’t really know why she’d done it, that she’d just suddenly felt it would be a shame. And she had to leave the swarm. You and your friend left me alone in the world. Now leave me alone again.”
“How do you think I feel?” he said quietly. “I lost my friend that day too.”
There was silence.
“So you did,” she admitted.
Neither of them said anything for a few seconds. He just looked at her and her gaze wandered between the other Scyther of the swarm and occasionally to him.
“I thought I remembered somebody else offering his First Prey to you that night,” she finally said.
“Shadowdart is too busy training to be Leader these days. He already challenged him once.”
Sickle snorted. “Him?”
Stormblade nodded and then, without really knowing why, sat down beside her. She looked at him, but did not tell him to move.
“He thinks the Leader is a hypocrite,” he explained. “He thinks he’ll be a better one with more respect for the Code in spirit as well as in word.”
Sickle looked away. “The Code,” she muttered. “I could never take it that seriously.”
There was another short silence.
“Why are you still here?” she asked, her voice more amused than annoyed.
He shrugged. “I… don’t know. Why not?”
As much as she was pretending she didn’t like having him there, she was silent and did not name any of the many reasons she could have used to make him go away. She enjoyed his presence after all. It made him feel a little warmer.
She looked at him. “So… what do you like to do?”
Before he had the opportunity to answer, however, he noticed a familiar Scyther coming out of Ruxido. A momentary twing of conflict struck his heart – he wanted to stay there and talk to the female – but his resolution to maintain his friendship with Shadowdart came out on top. They had such little time to talk to one another outside of the training sessions. He had to use it.
“Shadowdart is returning,” he told her quickly. “I’m sorry. Maybe we will talk some other time.”
She sighed. “I suppose so,” she said as he stood up and walked over to Shadowdart. It was obvious from her voice that she was not very optimistic on it ever happening, and when she bade him farewell, she said it as if they would never meet again.
Stormblade knew better.
The winter was cold that year.
Oh, yes, it was freezing, biting cold, and that coupled with the snowstorms that followed throughout the winter made it difficult for Shadowdart to spend as much time training as in the summer and autumn. As a result, he had plenty of time to spend with Stormblade, and they made a habit of going out hunting together to increase their chances of success now that many of the wild Pokémon of Ruxido were in hiding.
It was not until spring, when the snow had mostly melted and there was more prey around, that Shadowdart again began to seek seclusion for his training, and what he had rusted at during the winter quickly returned to him.
“Duel?” Shadowdart asked once after a session of training. Stormblade had been watching him and could easily tell that Shadowdart was several leagues above him in skill level; in fact, he had a distinct feeling that Shadowdart was only being friendly when he wanted to duel him, because Stormblade could certainly not pose any sort of challenge to him.
But he nodded anyway, and they positioned themselves a few steps away from one another.
This time Shadowdart did not rush to start the duel immediately. After the first few duels, it had become predictable, and he had stopped doing it. Instead, he now liked to wait until the opponent’s concentration faltered for a second and use that opportunity to strike.
And before Stormblade knew it, Shadowdart had noticed that his mind had wandered and was already coming at him with raised scythes.
He was preparing for a high horizontal slash, so Stormblade ducked, but as soon as he did, Shadowdart changed the direction of his slash to hit straight down on Stormblade’s back. He was knocked down towards the ground, but managed to swing his scythe behind him as he fell to push Shadowdart out of the way and regain his balance quickly enough while Shadowdart recovered. Stormblade threw a slash towards him, but Shadowdart blocked it easily enough.
The younger Scyther bent oddly forward. Stormblade was about to ask him if something was wrong when he sprang up and smashed his skull into Stormblade’s body. Stormblade gasped for breath as he was sent flying backwards into the ground, and Shadowdart flew right into him as he was falling, pinning him down fairly easily.
He gave Stormblade a quick smile as he stood up. “I’m trying to develop a strategy to surprise him. Doing something… unconventional might increase my chances.” He took a deep breath. “I think I’ll be ready to challenge him again soon. Maybe tomorrow. I’m going to win this time.”
Stormblade stood up too and sighed. “I hope you do.”
Shadowdart glanced at his ruined left scythe and the horrible gap that had shrunk barely, if at all, since it had been inflicted. Stormblade knew what he was thinking, and he was thinking the same: if he lost, he would have another piece cut out. The scythe would practically be ruined.
It was a fate worse than death.
“I think I should go and train some in Ruxido,” Shadowdart said quietly. Stormblade nodded and watched him walk off, slowly, nervously, towards the forest.
He sighed. He was alone again.
And like an answer to the very thought of it, he noticed Sickle sitting on her own by her tree again, staring off into the distance.
He walked to her, trying to look as if he were simply walking by. When he came to the tree, she turned her dull gaze over to him and said softly, “You came again.”
He nodded and sat down.
“Shadowdart is going to challenge the Leader again tomorrow,” he said emptily after a short silence. This time, Sickle did not mock him. She just nodded and continued to stare off into space.
“I don’t know. He could win, but… if he loses… he’ll have another piece cut out of his scythe, and…” He shuddered. “It’s terrible, looking at it. I’m not sure it will ever grow back.”
She raised one of her scythes vaguely in front of her eyes, apparently imagining a part of it cut out. He noticed that the blade had a particularly smooth, arching curve to it, and cringed at the thought of it being destroyed.
He was glad she didn’t want to be Leader.
“Why don’t you stop him?” she asked quietly, lowering her scythe slowly. “If he were my friend, I’d convince him not to do it. He’s not strong enough. He should wait until the Leader’s reflexes start faltering a few years from now. He’s the strongest Scyther to grace this swarm in living memory, I’ve been told. His Leadership isn’t meant to end until his body fails him.”
Stormblade shook his head. “I’ve talked to him about that. He wants to prove that he’s truly more worthy by defeating him at his best if he possibly can. He wants the respect of every Scyther in the swarm when he becomes Leader. If everybody thought that the previous Leader had been stronger, they would not be as loyal to him.”
Sickle sighed. “Competitive, isn’t he?”
They were silent for a while. Two Scyther were dueling viciously not far off; one of them was gaining the upper hand and eventually brought the other down.
“I like you,” Stormblade said suddenly, not quite sure why. “Can I give you a name?”
She chuckled. “Bit quick to judge, are we? But go ahead if you like.”
Something about her reminded him of a legend he had heard long ago, about an object called a pearl that had been so beautiful that a Scyther had fallen in love with it and driven himself to death trying to get to it. It had always been one of his favorite stories. He could only imagine what a pearl looked like, but something about her shape and form and the roundness of her scythes reminded him of that legend.
“I name you Pearl,” he said, and knew it was the right name the moment he had said it. She smiled at him, and he wasn’t sure whether she had ever heard the story of the pearl, but she didn’t seem to dislike the name and that was all that was important.
“Then I name you Loner,” she said. “Because no matter how often you tell me that you consider your Shadowdart a friend, he does not truly consider you one.”
Was he, indeed, a loner? Was he only deluding himself? Did Shadowdart just not care about him? His stomach twitched uncomfortably. No, he didn’t want to believe that. They’d been getting along so much better recently.
“Come on,” she suddenly said, standing up. “I’ll show you something I like to do.”
There was a gleam of excitement in her eye, in stark contrast with the previous dullness, as she led him in a dash towards the mountain in the south. He didn’t know why she wanted to take him there, but there was some wild excitement in keeping up with her, and he found himself enjoying himself more than he had doing anything in a long while.
“Where are we going exactly?” he shouted, hoping she heard him through the wind.
“Up,” she replied, and with that kicked off the ground, her glossy wings immediately beginning to buzz and carry her up over the steep slope. He followed her. The weather was cloudy, predicting coming rain, and for some reason he thought back to the day he had first met Razor and asked him what he thought the clouds were.
She landed on a flat rock that stuck out of the mountain in the middle of the slope and sat down, and he sat down with her, still catching his breath after the flight. Scyther weren’t made for using their wings much, and even a short upwards flight like that could wear him out easily, although he couldn’t help noticing that she didn’t seem exhausted at all.
“Isn’t this a great place?” she asked him quietly. “It makes you feel amazing, doesn’t it?”
He looked down at the Scyther swarm in the distance, and felt it too: it was a curious sense of being above them, greater than them, in a special way of his own. A sense of knowing a secret that they didn’t. It made him feel jumpy and excited. He nodded.
And as they sat there, he had a wild idea.
“Pearl,” he whispered. “Have you ever gone higher up?”
She nodded. “Once or twice. But this is my favorite place.”
“Ever… flown somewhere from there? The top of the mountain?”
She looked at him. “No. Why would I want to?”
“It would be a nice start if you wanted to go higher…”
She chuckled. “Why would I want to go higher? There’s nothing but sky up there.”
“Not just sky,” Stormblade said excitedly. “Clouds. Haven’t you ever wanted to see for yourself what the clouds really are? They say they’re Pokémon, but I never believed it.”
She looked unsurely at him. “I never really thought about it,” she said and shrugged.
“Then let’s think about it now!” he said. “Let’s fly up and touch the clouds! Let’s see what they’re really made of!”
She laughed, and it was a hearty, joyous laugh, not a mocking one. “You sound excited.”
He smiled and then kicked off the ground, soaring up towards the top of the mountain, daring her to follow him with his eyes. She took swiftly off, catching up with him easily; he sped up, laughing all the while for some reason he didn’t quite understand. They stopped briefly on the highest peak of the mountain to rest, laughing madly in excitement, and then jumped to fly still farther up into the clouds above.
He felt his heart beat faster than he had ever felt it beat before as he soared straight up into the air, towards a low, grayish-white cloud. Pearl was only inches behind him, and he drew ever nearer –
And he entered the cloud, feeling suddenly as if he were caught in a horrible storm. The first thought that sprang to mind was that it was a defensive reaction on the cloud’s part to make it suddenly rain – and then he emerged at the top, soaked wet, and looked with amazement down at Pearl as she ascended out of the wispy form of the cloud. He reached down with his scythe and it was immediately soaked in cold wetness.
He laughed crazily. “Water!” he shouted at nothing in particular. “The clouds are water!”
She laughed with him, and for a moment they hovered there together, full of all the happiness in the world, ignoring their tired wing muscles, before it became too difficult for them to keep themselves airborne.
“Let’s go down now,” he said and began to let himself fall, through the icy water in the cloud, down, down, down, past the peak of the mountain and Pearl’s favorite place in its slopes. He softened the last part of the fall with his wings and watched her land beside him a moment later. They were both shivering and panting, their wings aching from the effort – but every exhalation came out in an exhilarated laugh.
They knew something the other Scyther didn’t.
“Let’s not tell anybody,” she whispered. “It was our discovery and our moment. They don’t need to know. What does it matter to them?”
He nodded, and knew that it was a memory he would treasure forever, that he would never forget, that would remain with him until his death…
Shivering with cold and dripping wet, the two Scyther walked side by side back to the swarm.
Shadowdart was already back when they returned and was watching them from underneath the oak tree.
“I have to go see Shadowdart,” he said quietly to Pearl, true regret nagging him as he said it. He had enjoyed himself so much, more than he ever had in his life. He never wanted it to end.
She sighed. “Why do you stay around him? He doesn’t care about you. He only cares about Leadership. Don’t give in to him.”
Stormblade shook his head. “He’s a friend,” he just said. “I’ll come again. I promise.”
And he turned around to approach Shadowdart, feeling lonely the moment he looked away from her. He resisted the overwhelming urge to turn back and walked decisively towards the oak. He sat down as he came up to it, finding his gaze traveling towards the other tree and the female who was now again sitting underneath it, looking back at him without moving.
“Stormblade,” Shadowdart said shortly, his gaze following Stormblade’s line of sight. He didn’t say anything more.
“Shadowdart,” Stormblade just greeted in return.
There was a long silence while two voices fought inside Stormblade’s head: the one that wanted to remain loyal to Shadowdart and the one that wanted to go to Pearl. The former was stronger, but he didn’t really have any idea why anymore.
“This is the second time you’ve been with that female, isn’t it?” Shadowdart said, his tone neutral.
“Yes,” Stormblade replied without looking at him.
“You shouldn’t be doing this,” Shadowdart replied. He waited a few seconds for an answer, but Stormblade didn’t give him one. Why was he still there, anyway?
“If you get too emotionally attached to another individual, you begin to care for them more than the Code,” Shadowdart continued, reminding Stormblade uncomfortably much of the Leader. “You begin to dread their deaths. Your rationality gives way to feelings like protectiveness and fear. It is never a good thing to be consumed by fear of death. You should know that.”
“What do you think you know about feelings?” Stormblade found himself saying.
“It’s obvious, Stormblade!” Shadowdart said angrily, pacing back and forth behind him. “It’s a logical procession. If you don’t see it, you’re blinded already.”
Stormblade sighed. “I suppose you’re right, in a way,” he muttered. He could see the connection. He just couldn’t see how it changed anything – it didn’t make him feel any different, at least.
There was silence for a while.
“Stormblade,” Shadowdart said. “I don’t think you should watch my duel tomorrow.”
He had almost been expecting it, and didn’t really care. Why would he want to watch Shadowdart fail for the second time, anyway? He just nodded.
“Personally,” Shadowdart went on after getting no reply, “I think you should spend that time rethinking what the Code means to you.”
“I guess,” Stormblade just replied, the words empty.
Shadowdart looked at him in silence. “One day you’ll thank me for this, Stormblade,” he said. “Just wait.”
What does he know? Stormblade thought resentfully. I won’t. I’d never do that. I’m more true to myself than that. It’s none of his business.
And in that confidence, he drifted to sleep.
When he awoke the next morning, Shadowdart was already gone.
He noticed that a crowd had gathered near the Leader’s rock, though from the sound of it, it didn’t appear as if the duel had begun already. All of a sudden he was gripped with an urge to sneak down there and watch the duel, even though Shadowdart had told him not to, but it was quickly silenced by the sight of a female still sitting by her lonesome next to a tree.
She was looking at him.
And as if in a trance, he came over to her and greeted her quietly. She gave him a smile in return that made the walk worth it.
“What do you want to do?” he asked her.
“Let’s go to my favorite spot again,” she answered. He immediately realized that it was just where he wanted to go, too.
“That sounds good,” he replied, and they walked together – slowly, since they had plenty of time – towards the mountain. Stormblade felt fuzzy just remembering the previous day.
They flew up to the flat rock without speaking and sat down there, side by side. Far below, Stormblade could see the crowd of Scyther and vaguely that two of them were about to start a duel. He sighed.
“Shadowdart is dueling the Leader for the second time, but he didn’t want me to watch,” he said. “I think I lessen his concentration somehow.”
“Of course,” she replied spitefully. “He couldn’t care less about you if he tried.”
Stormblade didn’t reply to that and instead continued: “Yesterday when I came back from you, he started warning me about getting too close to you.”
“He said that possessing strong feelings towards somebody leads to fear of death.”
“Well, then he’d better have a good reason for why fear of death is so bad,” she answered.
Stormblade, although he had never thought of the Code as quite the sacred thing that he was officially supposed to, couldn’t help feeling that the words stung a little. “The Code,” he replied. “When you fear your own death, or somebody else’s, but yet kill prey to eat, you’re a hypocrite.”
“Aren’t we all hypocrites?” she asked quietly, staring down at the swarm. “It’s a part of life. Fighting back what makes you alive is not healthy.” She paused for a moment. “I can see where he’s coming from, but I mean… why is there such a thing as feelings if we’re meant to repress them?”
He shrugged. The two Scyther below were dueling fiercely, but soon he saw one of them falter, and the other ruthlessly took advantage of it. It was only seconds before the former had been driven into the ground.
He was definitely the darker of the two.
Stormblade looked away, not wanting to witness Shadowdart’s humiliation in having his scythe mutilated a second time. Instead he stared off at the clouds, those wispy forms that were after all, as it turned out, just a form of water, and at the oak tree that he and Shadowdart had for so long taken refuge under and previously Razor as well, and somewhere in the middle of it all he couldn’t help noticing the beautiful, smooth curve of Pearl’s scythe, the metallic sheen of it, the slender wings: she was beautiful, oh, yes. And he couldn’t resist moving a little bit closer, where all of a sudden he began to feel strangely warm despite the harsh wind.
He felt her position shift a little, moving closer to him as well, and the edge of her scythe stroked across his body in a manner that provoked all sorts of primitive but definitely pleasant feelings within him. He had the strangest of realizations about how much he really wanted to lick the elegantly pointed spikes on her head while she began to nibble at the edges of his scythes with her eyes closed. She shifted a little and moved her own blades rather too carelessly in the process. In fact it wasn’t long before he was fairly sure he was already bleeding in several places, but he was not in any state to care.
Soon everything about Shadowdart, his mutilated left scythe and Leadership was entirely forgotten.
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