Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 47

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 46

Leonard swallowed his mouthful of gojai and took a prolonged sip from his own mug, as john-mark-kuznietsov-61914crop.jpgmuch to give himself time to consider his answer as to draw strength from the rejuvenating brew. The flavors refreshed his tongue and his spirit, but it was no help in supplying words or the thoughts to form them.

If someone had asked him that question last night or before he’d come to Krosis, he would have had a more ready answer. Leonard would never have claimed to have become Wilhelmina’s confidant in the short time they’d known each other, but he had expected, and believed, there to be a certain level of trust and understanding between them; but the room that doubt had made for itself in Leonard’s chest seemed to expand as it had furnished him with its reasons.

Then there was all that Leonard had learned about his father over the past day or so, and the gaping chasm between it and what he’d believed to know and be true about him. He wasn’t sure how well he knew anyone anymore.

He mentally shook himself from doubts and redirected his attention to what he could do, be more discerning. His wonder had made him more willing to believe the first person to sound like they had answers. Now that he knew that there was even more to this picture than previously thought, he could adjust accordingly. Or at least do his best to.

Finally Leonard lowered the mug from his lips and swallowed, hoping that the right words would come to him.

“Well, that’s a difficult question to answer,” Leonard replied, slowly tasting the words along with the tea.

“How do you mean?” Osric asked. He replaced his own tea on the tray and let his palms rest on his thighs, an amused tilt to his mouth, but interest evident in the in crinkle around his eyes, the shadow of a narrowed brow.

“Well, for one thing, who is to say how well I thought I knew Wilhelmina corresponded with how well she believed I knew her. Or if what I considered to be knowing someone well corresponded with what you considered to be knowing someone well. Perspective and all.” Leonard knew he was being evasive, possibly even difficult. He couldn’t entirely explain why, but he wanted to see how Osric would react.

Osric’s smile was more like a grimace as he said, “You’re either dodging the question or stalling. In either case, I’d like to know why.”

“You might say some of both and a little of neither. But I think an equally important question would be, how well would you say you know your sister? Perhaps just as importantly, though, is, what is it you want from me?” Leonard channeled all of his energy into holding Osric’s stare, refusing to blink or look away, waiting for the other man to speak first.

At long last, Osric’s stoic face cracked into the boyish grin Leonard had grown familiar with earlier. Then Osric smacked his knee and laughed. “Straight to the heart of the matter. I like that, Leonard. I appreciate a straightforward man.” Osric’s tone was conspiratorial and he leaned in closer to Leonard as he spoke.

“I’ll be honest, Leonard, I wish I knew my sisters better. I know them only enough to imagine the things they’re capable of, but their motives are another story. Even though Etta has spent more time on Krosis, I didn’t get to know her much. She spent her time mostly on Krosis at another base and”-

“Wait…” Leonard held up his hands, flailing them in the air to stave off the words he wouldn’t catch after hearing the words ‘another base.’ He thought fleetingly of Jerra’s note. He licked his lips with a suddenly-too-dry tongue as he processed this surprising information.
“You mean, you know that Etta has another base on Krosis? Do you know where it is? Is she there right now?” Leonard was unable to control his questions, so they fired from his mouth at will until he needed to pause for breath, and Osric could respond.

“Woah, woah, there, slow down,” Osric held up his own hands, moving them in a slow downward motion, the internationally recognized signal for ‘calm down’ or ‘easy there.’ Leonard clutched at his cup of tea and busied himself with another sip, his eyes searching Osric’s face as he waited for him to continue.

Play stay tuned for Part 48!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 46

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 45

“It took longer than I expected getting back here, sorry about that. Everyone seems to be wanting a word.” A cloud briefly darkened Osric’s face, but it was soon replaced it with an apologetic smile as he peered into the chamber over Leonard’s shoulder.

“I thought you could probably use a freshening of refreshments,” he continued and raised the tray, the tea’s aroma wafting directly under Leonard’s nose; his mouth watered. “Mind if I come in?”

Leonard hesitated, surprised by the actual request. Aside from Coppa and the young woman who had stayed only long enough to leave her advice along with his meal, no one had asked if they could come in, they’d simply entered.

“Oh, sure, of course. Come on in,” Leonard said, summoning a welcoming smile as he stood aside and held the door open.

“Oh, um, please forgive the mess,” he added sheepishly after shutting the door and turning to face the room.

Osric stood at the foot of the bed, one of the few uncluttered spaces of floor in the room, ducking away from the wall-lamp. Leonard’s rucksack and its disgorged contents looked multiplied when littered with such abandon. The remnants of Leonard’s meal were scattered over the tray, which had been somehow pushed partially under the bed.

Leonard crouched and started gathering the items. For a moment his heart jumped at the thought of Jerra’s note, but he then remembered tucking it safely into his boot.

“It’s no problem at all but, is everything alright?” Osric inquired as he placed the tray in pexels-photo-169685.jpeghis hands on the bed then stooped to join Leonard in gathering the papers, clothes, and various adventuring debris.

“Yeah, I’m“- Leonard hesitated, his hand hovering over one of the maps as he actually considered his answer. “I actually don’t know, to tell you the truth.” His answer surprised himself; less so for the fact of it being true than sharing it aloud with someone else.

“I can only imagine there’s a lot to take in,” Osric conceded, reaching for the last loose page to add to his stack. “Anything I can help with?”

It wasn’t the question itself that made the hairs on the back of Leonard’s neck stand on end. It was that there was something more pointed about pitch or the tone in Osric’s voice as he’d asked, like someone trying to stealthily sheath a blade before sinking it into your side. Leonard shook this unbidden thought away, blaming it on the influx of information, his weariness, and the many warnings against someone he thought he could trust; it was certainly enough to warrant a touch of paranoia.

“It’s hard to say. I could use some more information, though. That meeting was a lot to take in,” Leonard eventually replied as he stacked the remainder of his littered items on top of the pile he’d created at the feet of his weapons in the far corner. He took the pile Osric handed him and added them as well, making a mental note to properly repack his bag the next free moment he had.

When he turned to stand he found Osric’s hand waiting to assist him. The taller man pulled Leonard to his feet with ease and gestured to the bed and waiting food and drink.

“I have some questions of my own so I believe a chat would do us good. How about we start over a snack? I haven’t eaten since morning patrol, which was before you and Mina came along.” Osric flashed another grin at Leonard.

Leonard nodded and took a seat at the head of the bed. Osric lifted the tray and then sat at the foot, replacing it in the space between them. On it there were two mugs, both steaming with tea; a compact teapot, presumably containing more; a plate with a few pieces of the same bread from earlier, making Leonard the more grateful to the waiting teapot; a bowl filled with pieces of a bright purple fruit soaking in a juice of the same color; and lastly, a plate packed mostly with hunks of what looked like white cheese and a few fragments of some sort of meat.

“The bread is good to dip in the tea as well as the gojai juice,” Osric said, pointing to the bowl of fruit. He then reached over a grabbed the top piece of bread, ripping a chunk off and dunking it in the closer of the mugs.

Leonard followed suit, taking a sip of the rich liquid before dunking his own broken off piece of bread into it. He eyed the plate of meat dubiously but hazarded a slice of the fruit. He waited until he’d finishing his bread before placing a purple piece of gojai in his mouth; at first it was so tart Leonard almost spit it out, but a moment longer on his tongue unlocked a collection of sweet flavor he had not thought possible in one fruit. He nodded appreciatively.

“So, Leonard,” Osric began, lifting the large cup to his lips and pausing, “How well would you say you know my sister?”

Click here for Part 47!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 45

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 44

Leonard was oblivious to time’s passing and was too tired to care. His head was much too heavy to bother with moving, so he didn’t. His only concern lay in the freedom his mind would have to roam without the focus of animating his limbs. Mercifully, his mind remained still enough to drift off to somewhere resembling dreamland.

Leonard’s dreams were made of the familiar luminescent blue and purple lights from his travels between the ponds, winking at him in their plethora of shades. He drifted through an endless tunnel of the memorable storming hues. Arcs of colored lightning streaked past his weightless form, ruffling tufts of his hair and feeling like a warm breeze.

A sound suspended somewhere between voices and music seeped into the background. Occasionally they blended and became what could have passed for an enchanting song, but the thread would break and the oscillating would begin again; the colors seemed to vibrate and meld in conjunction with them.

Eventually all that was left were the voices whispering, murmuring, chanting, in the palette of his surroundings. The surrealness made him no less eager to catch hold of the words wafting around him like he could tuck them into a bag and take them back to the waking world as long as he managed to gather them.

From across a distance too impossible to fathom, with a certainty too improbable to explain, Leonard recognized his father’s voice and knew this was not entirely a dream. He grasped with frenzied fingers towards the disembodied sounds of Gerard Letterman; it had no beginning or end, nowhere to follow a voice to, and still Leonard wandered through the colors in search of his father.

Leonard tumbled past an amethyst eruption of lights and caught a thin string of distinct words in his father’s recognizable baritone, as deep and encompassing as he remembered:

This will become the end, or the beginning…

Then, he was awake.

Leonard was not aware of when he shifted from the enchanting wonder of the luminescent realm to the muter settings of reality, but he felt the change acutely. He was lying on his back, arm still shading his eyes from the wall-lantern light. He was hesitant to move, unsure of what had pulled him back and wondering if staying immobile would lead him back to the colors, and a certain voice.

But it was not to be. He remained stationary on the bed, silence stretching further all around.

Leonard moved with a sigh, pushing himself into a sitting position and bracing his back against the wall. He blinked groggily as he surveyed the room, subconsciously searching for a clock he knew wasn’t there. He was all the more disoriented, uncertain of how long he’d been dozing, or how long it’d been since the tea; his stomach surprised him by giving an expectant grumble.

He shook his head and repeated the words, this will become the end, or the beginning, their meaning no more clear than when originally uttered. Before too long he was massaging his temples and muttering under his breath, throwing in the occasional curse out of pure frustration and lack of anything resembling progress.

Then there was a knock.

Leonard leapt in surprise and thumped his skull against the wall. He winced as he reached back to rub the newly sore sport; his head was becoming a minefield of tender areas. He chose not to bother with wondering who was on the other side and settled for finding out when he got there.

He rose from the bed on unsteady limbs, momentarily struck by a wave of dizziness from getting up too fast. He stumbled against the wall, gripping it for support and grazing his shoulder against a nearby bookshelf as he regained the ability to stand and see straight.

At last, he was able to step towards the door, sparing a moment of curiosity for the identity of this patient visitor. So far, they had left the steady knock-knock-knock as their only appeal to entry. Leonard was grateful.

He took a deep breath for no particular reason, then pulled the door open.

Osric’s sizeable form filled the entryway, his arms occupied by a tray laden with an assortment of food and what looked to be two large mugs of tea. Leonard took an experimental whiff and was pleased to recognize the same sweet scent from before.


Click here for Part 46!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 44

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 43

Leonard’s legs were weak and shaking beneath him. He stumbled his way back towardsStockSnap_JE1ESWH97H.jpg the bed, seeking to sink down on it, or fearing he would abruptly greet the floor again instead. One meet and greet with the floor, with a side of concussion, was enough for one day; and a long day it was turning out to be.

He sat on the bed, knees at right angles to the floor, elbows digging into the muscle between thigh and kneecap. He leaned forward until his hands cradled his head.

Leonard wasn’t sure if he felt more deflated, the air seeping out of him until he was shriveled up, or popped, violently punctured and rendered useless; maybe somehow, both.

“What am I doing here?…What am I going to do?” the muttered words dropped from Leonard’s mouth like saliva from a sleeping man.

He didn’t know.

The pieces he had of this puzzle weren’t fitting right; some seemed to be the devious kind that appear to fit until you pay a little too much attention to the details and realize the picture is obscured, or uncover a few of the right pieces, and find that there’s an impostor.

Leonard reviewed the most important of things he knew, or thought he knew, alternately massaging his temples and tugging at his hair.

He’d received a letter. The writer asked for help. Wilhelmina was the writer and sender.

Leonard had come. Wilhelmina had been surprised, suspicious at first, but she’d been relieved and happy too, right? Especially after Leonard had helped find the shard. She’d definitely been happy about that, at least. His stomach clenched.

Wilhelmina had given him information. Answered his questions (for the most part). Taught Leonard to defend himself (his clumsiness no reflection of Wilhelmina’s teaching). It was still time and effort she had put into Leonard, for a purpose, presumably for his own good as much as anyone else’s.

According to Wilhelmina, the problems in Palloria (and in some ways, Krosis), could be attributed to Etta. Also according to Wilhelmina, there was reason to believe that Etta was more than a problem, but also a traitor; to who, what, or in what way, exactly, was still fuzzy.

Wilhelmina was not sure how much she (and Leonard?) could trust Osric. She had kept and was still keeping information from Osric and the group (and Leonard). For all her talk of answering his questions later, he was not so sure she would answer half as many as she asked.

Osric had claimed there was no need for secrets due to…. Leonard couldn’t quite remember. He shifted his hands to gingerly touch the part of his skull that had met the stone floor earlier in a different room. Was that the cause of this lapse?

Gerard? Was that the reason? Like a bolt of electricity, Leonard thought he vaguely recalled that Osric had pronounced the need for secrecy over after mention of Gerard, Leonard’s father, being alive.

Leonard shivered and moved back to cradling his head, moving his thoughts back along with it.

According to Osric, there was no need for secrets.

No one seemed to have accepted Etta’s guilt in any matter (other than being absent), except for Wilhelmina. Osric was cautious, perhaps suspicious, but ultimately uncertain of Etta’s possible crimes.

There was Coppa. Coppa’s encouragement to listen to what people besides Wilhelmina had to say about what was going on. His promise to Leonard.

And Ursa. Ursa’s anger towards Wilhelmina. Ursa’s warning. Ursa’s pledge to help Leonard specifically.

Then there was Jerra. Jerra who had betrayed Wilhelmina. Jerra whose daughter was not well, not at home where she belonged.

Jerra’s claim that Wilhelmina was not being truthful. Jerra, who had written that certain truths had lives at stake.

Leonard groaned, threading strands of his hair between his fingers and pulling at them hard. He was torn between desperately needing more information, and not knowing what to do with or how to process all that he’d learned thus far.

How was Leonard to know who was telling to truth, what the right course of action was, or who to trust, when his only sources of information were the same people he was uncertain of? It’s not like they trained him for something like this working for the Post Office.

Leonard mulled these thoughts over, unable to escape the sensation that he’d been through them all before. Confusion, uncertainty, was exhausting.

In the end, things boiled down the same: without more information, without understanding the possible motivations of everyone around him, there was no way Leonard could determine who really needed his help. More accurately, whose cause was one Leonard would willingly fight for.

Though Leonard hadn’t ruled out the possibility of going home sooner rather than later, he was determined to find a few answers first.

With this much certain, Leonard felt uncharacteristically fatigued. His suddenly heavy eye lids were desperate to rest. Leonard surveyed the bed, the contents of his pack still littered across it. With one arm, he swooped everything off the bed in a haze, clothes, papers, pens and more hitting the floor with muffled mayhem.

Then he lay down, wriggling into a comfortable position on his back atop the covers. He moved his arm to fall over his face and cover his closed eyes. He let go a heavy sigh that had been rising in his chest, imaging his worries drifting out of him like smoke from exhaled lungs.


Click here for part 45!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 43

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 42

Leonard froze in mid-step as he listened to the knocker finish their polite but determined series of taps. Since his back was to the door, he slowly turned to peer over his shoulder, uncertain of what he should do next; he could only hope that his indecision met with a better fate than most deer caught in headlights.

The minutes of silence stretched on until enough time passed to warrant yet another succession of knocks, this set with a shade more impatience added to the end of each rap. Still, Leonard remained motionless like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar, afraid that movement would break the spell of stillness and trigger a reprimand.

Would they give up and leave? Should he answer? Try to hide? Leonard’s options flitted through his mind as he remained peering at the door over this shoulder.

The next insistent and less friendly sequence of knocks made Leonard jump and turn toward the door, deciding he had no choice but to open it. He expected the now impatient person to let themselves in at any moment but desperately hoped that they either weren’t rude enough to, or that there was some locking mechanism he had not noticed that would keep them out.

Just as Leonard took a breath and intended to reach for the door, he froze and turned back toward the bed. Jerra’s note. His own note. Both sat there, waiting for just anyone to read. Leonard grabbed and folded the notes as fast and neatly as possible, then tucked them into his boot.

He gave the bed a cursory glance to be sure there was nothing else that might provoke undesirable questions. The mess was easy enough to explain with most of the truth; he’d had trouble finding an item in his bag.

Leonard nodded then retraced his earlier steps to the door, just in time to pull it open and interrupt the knocker with her fist raised in mid-rap. In that moment, Leonard wasn’t sure who was more startled.

Wilhelmina lowered her hand immediately and then gently but firmly pressed the door open enough for her to slip inside. She yanked the door from Leonard’s grasp and shut it with a muffled thud. She turned and took stock of the room before turning her attention fully to Leonard.

Leonard’s mouth was uncomfortably dry. He fleetingly wished he hadn’t already finished his tea.

What were you doing? Why did it take you so long to answer?” Wilhelmina whispered emphatically, speaking fast and closing in on Leonard until his back was literally to the wall.

“I-I must have zoned out, maybe nodded off a minute. I’m sorry I didn’t hear you,” Leonard replied, flustered as he struggled with relief and dread. He elected not to ask why she was whispering, but kept his voice low too.

The scrutinous look Wilhelmina gave Leonard made him gulp and want to curl up under the blanket on the bed like a child hiding from the monster under it. Her narrowed eyes threatened to slice him open and find all he was not telling her.

I beg yeh not to show this to Wilhelmina, lives are at stake. She’s not what yeh think, an’ her aims isn’ what she says they are.

Leonard tried to swallow but his throat was too dry.

Wilhelmina flicked her eyes to the door then said, “I haven’t much time now, since you took so long to answer. Has Osric been to see you, yet?” She asked casually, no longer threatening to dissect him with her eyes, but Leonard found nothing casual about her question, not anymore. He told himself he’d ask himself why that was, later.

Leonard shook his head, brow furrowed as to voice the question of his confusion.

“Then I imagine he’ll be along any minute. When he left me in my room, he said he was going to check something in the kitchen before coming to see you.” Wilhelmina’s reply hardly provided Leonard with the answers he’d hoped, and instead raised more questions; he vaguely wondered if it were possible to become physically ill from having too many unanswered questions, because he thought he might be closing in on the limit.

“Has anyone else come by? Spoken with you?” Wilhelmina’s voice still soft, mostly likely in attempt to avert possible eavesdroppers, but Leonard felt her question like crushing blow knocking the wind out of him.

Leonard was unsure what to say or to admit about who had come by, so he stalled. He gestured to the tray and evidence of his meal and rasped, “well, there was a young ah, woman-girl, the uh, the young lady came by with, um, tea and stuff.” Leonard wanted to kick himself.

Wilhelmina glanced over her shoulder and confirmed the presence of the tray with a brisk nod. She turned back to him, her face expectant as she waited for Leonard to continue.

“Wolfhart,” Leonard blurted as if he’d just remembered. He’d decided it would do no harm to admit his less than enjoyable conversation with Wolfhart. The man’s disdain and utter lack of confidence in Leonard would hardly be a secret.

When Wilhelmina remained silent, Leonard continued, “yeah, he uh- he came by and pretty much told me to go home because I wasn’t useful anymore.”

Leonard waited, expecting Wilhelmina to defend him in some way. He tried not to feel her momentarily downcast eyes like a jolt to his nervous system.

Everyone is useful in one way or another,” Wilhelmina began, reaching out and grasping Leonard’s shoulder. Somehow it was devoid of real warmth, and the look she gave him was more reminiscent of pity than encouragement. “It would be difficult to bring someone along who is less familiar with, well, skills necessary to our task. It would not be impossible, but more difficult for some in the group than others. Don’t take his words to heart, but do what you feel is best.” She gave his shoulder a friendly squeeze then released him.

Leonard was not comforted by her words, no longer secure in his belief that she wanted him here. Though some of her words sounded encouraging, there was an edge. He couldn’t escape the impression that Wilhelmina wanted him to leave, but he didn’t know why. It didn’t make sense to him.

Her next words cut off his train of thinking.

“Anyone else?” when Leonard looked confused Wilhelmina followed it with “did anyone else come by, or was that everyone you spoke with?”

Leonard pretended to pause and think a moment before shaking his head. Though his gut clenched, something told Leonard to admit nothing more.

“You’re sure?” Wilhelmina pressed, her face coming within an inch of Leonard’s.

“I’m sure. Just the tea lady and Wolfhart.” Leonard smiled weakly.

“No wonder you were so lost in thought that you didn’t hear me knocking,” Wilhelmina said with a feeble smile of her own, the slight reprimand coated in apparent compassion.

A noise in the hallway that sounded like muted voices and boots effectively ended their conversation. Wilhelmina turned to the door and pressed her ear to it.

She whispered to Leonard as she braced herself to flee, “I’ll be back later to talk more. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of questions. Remember, tell no one about the shard.” Wilhelmina waited for Leonard’s nod before cracking the door barely enough for a child to traverse and somehow disappearing through it like vapor.

The scent of water lilies followed the snap of the door closing.


Click here for Part 44!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 42

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 41

Leonard sat further back on the bed so that he could lean his head against the cool stone. He closed his eyes and sat there without moving until the dizziness lessened. His heart kept an erratic beat in his chest, as if to further illustrate to Leonard the extent of his unpredictable situation.

He eventually opened his eyes to study the note yet again. Taking a moment to adjust to the nearly illegible script, he read, subconsciously hearing it as he imagined Jerra would impart it to him:

Whatever yeh believe to be true, I beg yeh not to show this to Wilhelmina, lives are at stake.
I can’ tell yeh all, in case the wrong hands or eyes find it.
If yeh’re the man I think yeh are, like yeh’re da’, put yeh’re trust in others ‘sides Wilhelmina. She’s not what yeh think, an’ her aims isn’ what she says they are.
Tell Osric abou’ the shard, they need to know she has it. If yeh don’ wan’ ta get between kin, then tell Nox.
An’ when yeh need to find the missin’ Pond, look for the map the doesn’ belong and study it close. Don’ let her go with yeh.
Can’ say more.
Watch yeh’re back.

No matter what Leonard tried to tell himself, he couldn’t escapes the sensation of the floor repeatedly being pulled out from beneath him; a fall and a nasty scrape would be bad enough, but Leonard felt more like he was plummeting down an abyss, scraping, scratching, and slamming against the sides as he descended. As time passed, he expected to look down and the find marks.

The more he considered the note, the sicker Leonard felt. His stomach roiled as he thought about sharing the contents with Wilhelmina, and he instantly rejected the idea. Whatever was going on, Jerra had claimed that there were lives at stake. Leonard had seen nothing that warranted such a potentially hasty step, even if it did make him squirm more than ice down the back of his shirt.

Leonard had never been an overly secretive person; he kept certain personal thoughts to himself (as common decency alone demands), but he generally didn’t have information that was relegated to certain contacts. In fact, other than any sensitive work-related material, the last couple of days had been the most Leonard had every dealt in secrecy.

There were many things that bothered Leonard about the note and its contents. One of the top contenders was the fact that this was not the first warning to involve Wilhelmina. The mention of motives other than those that Wilhelmina had claimed had moved her to call for help further sank Leonard’s heart in an icy sea of doubt and dread; going under was all too likely.

He’d also been warned to watch his back, again not for the first time.

With the frenzied movements of a drowning man trying to save himself, Leonard launched to his feet and resumed his pacing; it was much more difficult to keep to an unhurried pace when he so desperately wanted to outrun his thoughts.

After many dizzyingly successive turns, Leonard tried to slow his pace to one question per step.

Who put the note in Leonard’s pack? If not Jerra, then who? And why? (turn)

Could the note be trusted? What could Jerra hope to gain by lying? Did the lives at stake include Jerra’s daughter? (turn)

Why would Wilhelmina lie? Why did so many people seem to think that Wilhelmina’s motives were questionable enough to warn Leonard? Did Ursa know something? Is that why she seemed to have such a problem with Wilhelmina? (turn)

Why was it so important to tell someone that Wilhelmina had the shard? Why tell Nox? And why did Wilhelmina really ask Leonard to keep quiet about the recovered shard? (turn)

Did it have anything to do with Leonard’s father? Why hadn’t his father told him about all of this? Where was his father now? (turn)

What about Etta? Would Leonard actually be able to find her when the time came?

On and on he went. His thoughts were so loud that Leonard didn’t hear the knock on his door the first time. It wasn’t until Leonard’s second pass near the door that coincided with a louder and more distinctive knock that he was startled from the track he was wearing into the floor.

Click here for Part 43!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 41

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 40

Leonard paced with a plodding tread, stretching out the moments between turns in the barely-four-small-stride length room; too quick or too long a gait would make him dizzy from the rapid turning. One hand waited impatiently at his hip while a finger of his other hand tapped his chin to the beat of his steps in a thoughtful tempo.

He puzzled over the things he knew, the things he didn’t (of which there were many), the quandary of emotions thumping in his chest. He asked himself countless questions, tried to examine things from every angle before eventually integrating his own desires into consideration.

In the end, the necessary decision was clear.

With a heavy but determined heart, Leonard reached for his pack as he took a seat on the bed. His back and gluteus maximus thanked him for the stretch and time pacing as much as their more pleasant placement on mattress over stone floor.

Leonard’s fingers fumbled with opening the bag and sifting through its contents in search of paper of some kind, and an adequate writing utensil. He found everything he needed after emptying more than half of the pack; Leonard maintained that the pen and ink had hidden themselves like a game of hide and seek and had only relented after many mutterings and threats of upturning the bag entirely.

He thought about replacing the items strewn across the bed before attending to the task he intended, but decided he would rather this task be behind rather than waiting for him. So, Leonard prepared a pen (after almost breaking the nib and ruining half of a piece of paper with trying to fill and write with it properly, not being used to pens that pexels-photo-211291.jpegrequired manual refilling or practiced hands), and set to writing.

Occasionally, Leonard paused in his scribbling to listen for footsteps near the door, anticipating Osric’s visit with every passing second. He was oblivious to how long he’d been waiting in here, but three visitors and plenty of time on his own was longer than Leonard had expected. At this point, he was almost hoping to miss any knocker that may come to his door next.

At last, Leonard thought he was done.

With a solemn sigh, Leonard nodded his begrudging approval after reading through his note again; part of him screamed about how cowardly it was to sneak out like a thief in the night with only a note left in his place instead of bringing the option (and ultimate decision) to the group as a whole; another part assured him that his absence would only make this conclusion easier on those that would include him for reasons not related to usefulness; plus, he wouldn’t hesitate to return if they asked for him, if they needed him. He would be only too happy.

It wasn’t that he was giving up, which he repeated furiously to himself in hopes he would believe it, because he didn’t want to give up. He wanted to stay and see this through more than anything, not least of which to uncover the truth regarding his father; but Leonard acknowledged his lack of vital skills or useful information and refused to allow his deficits to become a liability to anyone.

Placing his note on the nearest bookshelf, Leonard turned to the bed littered with items. He sedately began to gather and replace them in the pack before realizing that his chaotic search had made it impossible for everything to fit properly, or with any semblance of order.

Leonard sighed again and upturned the bag. Everything came tumbling out in disarray, clothes, papers, books, food, supplies Leonard hadn’t realized or remembered had been tucked into it. Something about the bag disgorging such an eclectic and unexpectedly large pile of things put Leonard strongly in mind of Mary Poppins.

As he started sorting the stackable materials from the abstract, Leonard noticed an inconspicuously folded piece of paper. It wasn’t among any other papers or books and had no writing on the outside to indicate its purpose or subject.

Curiosity took hold of Leonard’s attention and he turned away from the pile on the bed and set to unfolding the paper. It was a small, ripped piece of paper, obviously written in haste by an unmercifully untidy scrawl.

Leonard read over the contents and signature four times before believing what his eyes were telling him; it was a note from Jerra, for Leonard.

Click here for Part 42!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 40

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 39

He also had the growing impulse to cry, something Leonard hadn’t done in many years; he wasn’t ashamed by it, though. The growing stress and frustration of the overwhelming unknown of the past two days was enough to make anyone weep, not to mention Leonard’s multiplying qualms and Wolfhart’s harsh, if true, words.

Leonard pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes, resting his elbows on his now pulled up knees, the back of his skull pushed up against the cool stone of the wall. He wanted to melt into the surroundings, maybe become a piece of furniture…useful furniture…

He thudded his head against the wall, trying to knock those thoughts from his mind, but more just seemed to creep in through the cracks. With a frustrated growl Leonard wrenched his hands away from his face and dejectedly glanced around the room.

Its homey feel seemed to have left with Wolfhart. The shadows looked more menacing than sleepy sweeps of a painter’s brush along the walls; the walls themselves now seemed to crowd him instead of enveloping him like a cozy blanket.

The glint of his sword’s hilt caught Leonard’s eye. He ruefully wondered if it would do any good to practice the few things he’d learned. Wilhelmina had said that endurance and muscle memory were some of your greatest assets in a fight.

Leonard soon dismissed the idea; it was entirely too likely he would hurt himself or destroy something in the small space of the room, not to mention he highly doubted Wolfhart would be impressed by any number of hours Leonard may put into practicing at this point. He also had a notion that Wolfhart would find fault with him even if Leonard had been a skilled fighter, but it gave him not comfort.

He wrenched his gaze from weapons and Wolfhart from his thoughts. Leonard’s gaze shifted around the room again, looking for a focus for his mind as much as his eyes.  Sometimes he followed the creases where stone met stone from one corner to the next. Eventually this calmed him enough for pieces of other recent conversations to bubble up.

Such as Coppa calling Leonard his mate and a good man, words that warmed Leonard’s heart in his disheartened state; Coppa’s imploring Leonard to make his own mind up about things. Leonard mulled that one over that for a while. He settled on wishing that Coppa had stayed to explain further, if not to deter less welcome company.

Leonard’s thoughts turned to Ursa. He would have preferred that even she had stayed longer too. She wasn’t the most welcoming of people, but even she seemed to have the makings of a friend; she had vowed to help him after all, whatever that specification was supposed to imply.

Leonard’s shoulder warmed where Ursa had squeezed it, like she had only just removed her hand. Leonard moved his hand to that shoulder, imagining giving Ursa’s hand a grateful squeeze of his own. It brought him more comfort than he expected, enough to further loosen the cords of despair compressing his chest, giving hope more room to maneuver and grow.

photo from Flickr by IceBone

He had no idea how long he’d been sitting on the hard floor, but it was long enough that

his limbs were starting to ache and protest. Leonard rose slowly to his feet, letting his body stretch itself from its previously crumpled form.


He stepped away from the wall and took a deep breath as he stretched his arms behind his back, the muscles of his chest pulling as his back cracked, easing some of the tension that had been there. Then he shrugged and shimmed his shoulders to loosen them as well.

Finally, Leonard felt like he might be in a place to make some decisions, and maybe work out a plan.

Click here for part 41!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 39

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 38

photo from Flickr by Andria

“Do you know how to use these?” Wolfhart gruffly asked, holding up the sword then using it to point to the weaponry. He continued to rotate the grip in his hand, occasionally swiping the air with lazy strokes.

Leonard kept his eye on the sword’s tip, but his heart relaxed enough that he could take in air again, perhaps even let out some words.

“I uh- well I’m not exactly skilled, but I learned some basics. Haven’t had much time to practice, though,” Leonard admitted, unsure if he was being wise but feeling it would be useless to lie to someone with Wolfhart’s expertise; Leonard’s inexperience would be evident in seconds if Wolfhart asked him to spar…or decided to test Leonard by surprise, which he feared was more of Wolfhart’s style.

“You’re honest. I can appreciate that,” Wolfhart’s deep voice rumbled, his head nodded once. “And you’re under no illusions about your skill. Good.” Something chilly crept into Wolfhart’s voice.

Leonard was painfully aware that Wolfhart still had the sword, now holding the blade against the palm of his open hand, peering closely at it from different angles. He took another swipe at the open space between him and Leonard before replacing the sword in it sheath with a swift snap and leaning it against the wall again; Leonard tried not to sigh audibly in relief.

“What do you think you are doing here?” the burly man asked as he turned away from the weapons.

“What do you mea”- Leonard began in polite confusion before being cut off.

“What use will you be to anyone?” the man gruffly questioned. He took a menacing step towards Leonard, who couldn’t resist backing up until he met the wall. Wolfhart moved closer until he was essentially towering over Leonard, blocking his view of everything in the room except the intimidating figure only a breath away.

“Well?” Wolfhart demanded.

Leonard felt like a goldfish, opening and closing his mouth dumbly; words were impossibly hard to find and form.

“As I thought,” Wolfhart said cruelly, crossing his arms and shifting so that he wasn’t as close to Leonard, no longer looming over him like a nightmare. “You are a liability. Osric will say all we need is to train you up, assign someone to look out for you, but it will make us vulnerable. If someone is too occupied making sure your neck isn’t snapped, they’ll miss something.

“Lettermans serve two basic, essential, purposes,” Wolfhart continued, holding up a finger for each point. “To travel between worlds, and inform. You can do one. But an ignorant Letterman is nigh useless. One that can’t even fight, well….”

Leonard felt Wolfhart’s words like a whip’s stinging lick. He wanted to protest, defend himself, say something, but the harsh words sounded too much like Leonard’s own fears to merit rebuttal. He settled for trying to keep his heartbeat steady and doing his best to swallow his hurt.

More than anything at that moment, Leonard wanted to be alone.

Whether he sensed Leonard’s desire, accomplished what he’d set out to do, or he’d merely finished his ruthless say, Wolfhart’s beard twitched in what might have been a smirk, and he turned towards the door. The hinges groaned as it opened.

Standing in the entryway, Wolfhart waved mockingly and said, “Thanks for the pleasant chat,” before exiting and pulling the door closed with a resounding thud.

Leonard’s knees shook and he collapsed to the floor. His stretched his legs out in front of him as he miserably recounted Wolfhart’s words. At each repetition, Leonard tried to insert a string of replies regarding his usefulness, that he could learn to fight, that he wouldn’t be a liability, but each sounded flimsier than a straw man.

He leaned his head against the wall, shut his eyes, and tried to suppress the urge to scream.

Click here for part 40!

Fiction Friday: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 38

Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 37

It was instead, a young woman with white eyes and skin to rival Ursa’s in its paleness that barely reached Leonard’s navel. She had a simple smile on her face and held out a tray with a annie-spratt-227757.jpgmodest meal and a mug of some liquid with a sweet scent; the refreshments that Osric had said would be along.

“Uh- Thank you,” Leonard said with an uncertain smile as he reached for the tray, unsure if she could see him.

Her dainty fingers released the tray into Leonard’s hands. He was about to turn and place the tray on his bed when a voice as soft as feather pillow halted his movement. “Dip in the tea, much tastier,” she said with a big smile, pointing without looking at what appeared to be a large hunk of bread on Leonard’s tray with.

“Thanks,” he replied lamely, returning her smile. She saved him the struggle of finding something else to say by turning and skipping down the black hallway, seemingly without a care. She too was soon swallowed by the darkness.

Leonard shook his head with a chuckle and shut the door with his foot after reentering his room, his hands occupied with holding the tray level; the mug was filled nearly to the brim and in danger of spilling over.

He lowered the tray carefully then took a seat beside it with equal caution and examined his meal. Besides the bread, there looked to be a couple of pieces of some sort of dried fruit that Leonard had never seen before and was sure did not grow on his own world.

Leonard tore off a piece of the bread, then tore it in half. He popped the first piece into his mouth and chewed the rough and mostly tasteless morsel, unable to keep from making a face. He looked at the piece in his waiting hand and dipped it into the mug while he swallowed the last bits in his mouth, hoping his delivering friend was right about the tea making it better.

With a shrug, Leonard ate the other piece; the difference was night and day. The sweet scent of the tea translated to a rich and satiating flavor that tickled Leonard’s tongue. The bread had soaked up the tea the way sponges do water, making each bite a rush of flavor. He broke off another piece and dunked it, grateful to his unnamed benefactor of a more pleasant meal.

Leonard was reaching for the mug, intending to try a sip of tea on its own, when another knock shook the door. For a brief moment he thought it might be Osric, but the rattling of the door from the force of the knocker convinced him otherwise.

He rose slowly and inched towards the door, which continued to shake from another forceful series of raps. Leonard cleared his throat and took a deep breath before pulling the door open.

Wolfhart’s untamed and alarming appearance loomed in the doorway, pushing the door open with a boorish shove. Leonard was forced to step back to allow him in or be shoved backwards. Wolfhart closed the door with a heavy thud, surveying the room briefly before turning to Leonard.

“You know, it’s more polite to wait for an invitation before entering someone else’s room,” Leonard said, unable to help himself as the mountainous man glared at him.

After a solid minute of hard staring, Wolfhart severed eye contact and turned to the weapons tucked in the corner. Leonard’s heart beat faster as the other man pulled Leonard’s sword from its sheath. Wolfhart weighed it in his hand, shifting it deftly from one hand to the other.

Leonard’s heart found its way into his throat.

Click here for Part 39!