Leap of Faith

Cursed by a servant of a Dark Goddess, the elf Daelynn, former rogue and once Tymora's Divine Seeker, tries to build a new life. But events conspire to drag her back into her past role as an instrument of the Goddess of Luck. Estranged and disillusioned, what can a blind young elf do against the forces of evil that imperil her city?

(Not Beta-read. Hope you enjoy. Constructive criticism is welcome.)

A/N: This story takes place several months after the events in 'A Devil in the Dark'. In order to better follow this story, the reader should be familiar with my past Divine Seeker stories (especially 'Graduation Day' and 'A Devil in the Dark') as an understanding of the characters and incidents in those stories are central to following and enjoying 'Leap of Faith'.

Chapter 1 – Fate, Or Just Bad Luck?

"But it wasn't funny", insisted the young man, regarding his two table-mates with a pained look. "Jokes are supposed to be funny."

"Not 'ha-ha' funny, you idiot barbarian", replied Sarise. "Funny, as in amusing, witty!"

Daelynn chuckled softly. "It is no use Sarise. Thursk's sense of humor is more direct. If you were to slip and fall into a muddy puddle…."

Thursk chortled. "Now that would be funny! The thought of common dirt touching Sarise's delicate form makes me smile!"

Sarise stuck her tongue out at her friend and class-mate, then turned to Daelynn. "I guess my sense of humour is more… sophisticated? Bon mots, double entendres, innuendo, puns. Those are humour. I see nothing funny in what is being presented these days by so-called playwrights at the Amphitheatre."

"I enjoyed last night's comedy", responded Thursk.

Sarise, eyes wide, slapped the table top. "It was a tragedy! Sune preserve me! Thursk, the protagonist's entire family was slaughtered and he ended up in hell!"

Daelynn laughed out loud. "Sarise. He is joking! Now who has no sense of humour!"

Sarise blushed at her own credulousness. She had the good manners to acknowledge the barbarian's jest with a bow of her head.

Dropping a few coins onto the table, Thursk rose from his chair.

"Many thanks for the delightful company, but I must take my leave. Unlike the two of you, I have yet to learn that Warding Glyph that Master Bekoe demonstrated. The afternoon's shadows lengthen. May I walk you home, Daelynn?"

The elf shook her head. "The end of day and the growing dark to not disturb me, my friend, but thank you. And I already have an escort for the walk home."

Thursk looked into the near corner of the kava house in which they were sitting. A very large dog lay there. The beast raised his head and offered the tall, bearded man a dignified 'woof' before settling back down.

Smiling, Thursk nodded to Daelynn, before realizing that the elf could not see the gesture, so he simply replied. "Then, good day."

Thursk stepped down from the shop's raised floor onto the street. He looked back at his two friends, making eye contact with Sarise. He shrugged his broad shoulders, turned and set out along the street. The man was a good head taller than most of Capitol's citizens, making it easy for Sarise to follow his progress down the street.

"Has he really gone, this time", Daelynn asked?

"Yes, my dear. He has. I think he learned his lesson from when he last tried to make certain that you arrived home safely", replied the elf's friend.

"I suspected I was being followed. Big-Boy took a bite out him before I knew what was happening. Overly chivalrous is our barbarian friend. Is he still limping?" Asked Daelynn.

Sarise laughed. "No. All healed. I think that your dog wounded Thursk's pride more than his leg.

The young woman paused. "He sports a beard, now. It suits him. And with the milder weather returning, he has started wearing his kilt again. That also suits him."

The elf nodded. "Thank you for painting me that picture, Sarise. I really do appreciate you filling in the little details of the day. And, before you too ask, no. I do not need help getting home. You live in the opposite direction, and on The Hill! Big-Boy and I will be fine! It is not that far and I have travelled these streets many times with only a cane. I know my way home."

Sarise reached over and took her friend's hand. "Daelynn. Brother Quintin came to see me a few days ago."

At the mention of the Tymoran cleric's name, Daelynn stiffened. Sarise would not let her pull her hand away.

"So, Mistress Alline is imploring my friends and using poor Quintin as her messenger?" The elf huffed.

Sarise angrily retorted. "Daelynn, you're a stubborn elf! Mistress Alline cares about you. We all do! Your decision to leave the College of Heralds is… wrong-headed. You've done all that you can to cut off your family, your church, and your friends. We see less of you each week that passes. It is not good. Why?"

The elf exhaled noisily. She had learned long ago that once Sarise set her mind to something she'd not stop until she got what she wanted. So be it.

Daelynn turned to her friend, sightless eyes looking into the space between them.

"I am blind, Sarise. Have been for almost six months. No physician can help me. Tymoran clerics cannot heal me. It is impossible for me to complete my training as a Herald, so why continue to attend classes? My friends feel sorry for me, and I hate that pity. As for the Tymoran church - if they cannot heal me, then why stay with them? I may as well ask help of Bane or Ilmater!"

Sarise recoiled at the mention of the Dark One's name. She quickly made a sign that worshipers of Sune used for protection from evil.

"I assume you jest, and jest poorly, using that name! And, while the Broken One is a god you might consider, why not ask blessings of your parents' gods instead?"

"You think I have not", asked an aggrieved Daelynn? "Nothing from the Protectors or Eilistraee. As far as the gods are concerned, I am on my own."

Sarise was quiet for a moment.

"You know", Sarise eventually responded. "Neither Thursk nor I attend the College to become Heralds. There is still much you can learn there. Even when blind. You still spar amazing well. You have learned most of the Herald cantrips. You may never become a Herald, true, but there is still much to learn."

Daelynn squeezed her friend's hand and replied to her earnest entreaty.

"Thursk was sent to Capitol and the College of Heralds to learn our ways. He was born to be a leader of his people. He is here to experience the customs of the south and learn something of diplomacy. You were sent to school to improve your family's social standing, and once your time as a Handmaid of Sune ends, find a suitable husband. You are both fulfilling your families' wishes. I came to here as a way to escape my family."

The elf sighed. "And now, I have been ordered back home to the Western Marches, Sarise. My parents think I would be better off living with them than staying here, in the city. How I hate being treated like a child!"

"Well, my love, in elvish terms you are still quite young, or so you have told me", said Sarise, kindly. "If that is their decision then I am surprised they have not carted you off to your dreary, dusty Western Province already!"

"Mmm. Father is busy dealing with a Wemic matter", replied the elf. "Dancer is chasing bounties in the north. They think me safe and secure in my uncle's house. I expect they will come and fetch me before mid-summer."

"They have no idea that you traipse about the city, unattended, do they", queried Sarise?

Daelynn shook her head. "No. But I have my dog. Street toughs leave us alone."

Sarise knew there was nothing to be gained by arguing further with the wilful elf.

"You are every brave. Or very stupid, Daelynn. But as I love you, I will call you brave. Now I too, must take my leave. The kava was… interesting. Next time, perhaps we'll go to a tea house?"

Sarise leaned over and kissed the elf on her cheek, then stepped out of the kava house and into the darkening street. Wrapping her green cloak about her, she headed north.

Daelynn did not need eyes to know what was happening around her. She had seen it many times. Men and woman of all ages stopped what they were doing to admire Sarise as she walked by. Draped in silks, auburn hair piled high, and with a figure a goddess would envy, the petite woman was nothing short of stunning. Around her neck she wore the holy symbol of Sune. As a Handmaid to the Chief Priestess of the Goddess of Love, her person was considered sacrosanct by almost all the city's inhabitants. Those few who might be tempted to cause an affront to a Handmaid could expect a searing power to be unleashed upon them. And if Sarise's Radiance of the Dawn spell effect was insufficient, then, half-blinded, they would have to face her dagger. The knife had been a gift from Sarise's grandmother, also once a Handmaid, and with Daelynn's and Thursk's coaching the young woman had learned to wield it quite effectively.

Daelynn sipped her kava, enjoying the bitter taste, and silently mused about fate and her friends. Thursk, destined to become a chieftain simply by an accident of birth. His role in life chosen for him, and as much as it grated on him, he had little choice but to fulfill it.

And Sarise. Generations of her female ancestors had been Handmaids in Sune's temple. That role bestowed honour and distinction to the family, but no wealth. Sarise's looks and flirtatious nature brought many suitors to her father's door, but her quick wit, fiery temperament, and modest dowry frightened them away.

And what was Daelynn's own life's role to be? After being cursed blind by an underling of the Goddess of Misfortune, the elf had struggled to come to terms with what the loss of her sight meant. That she might never complete her training as a Herald was an unfortunate truth. It was that loss which her friends thought was what disillusioned her. But her real loss was her no longer being Tymora's Divine Seeker.

Daelynn had been wounded before when carrying out missions for Tymora's Church. She had been healed and granted favours by her Goddess. But this, this curse, was different. Not even the Matriarch's prayers could lift the veil of darkness from her eyes. That had truly vexed Mistress Alline. After that, Daelynn started hearing the term 'It must be the Goddess' will'.

It was simply impossible to be a Goddess' agent, and the left hand of the Tymoran Matriarch, when she could not even see to walk down a flight of stairs! So, she stopped attending services. Stopped praying. Started roaming the streets of Capitol, at first with Brother Quintin, a young novitiate friend, then with her mastiff, Big-Boy, and sometimes by herself, aided only by her walking stick, a slender short staff she had used in training (back when there had been a reason to train).

Her cup of kava almost finished, Daelynn decided it was time to leave for home. It was that or sit here despondent and angry. After the anger came an emptiness, soon followed by more despair, then more anger. She liked the anger best. Bah! The walk home would keep her mind and body occupied. She might even make it there without tripping!

Trapped by her own dismal thoughts, Daelynn had shut out the buzz of conversation in the kava house and the noise from the street. She now refocused her senses, wondering how difficult it was going to be to extricate herself and her rather large dog from the small, open-air shop.

The elf ran her fingers along the polished wood table top. Small scratches and dents attested to the many customers who had sat here. The heavy scent of kava filled the air, but she could also smell the dust from the street, and the odours of animals and people. She picked out bits and pieces of conversations around her table. She was more interested in judging distances from the speakers than in anything being said.

Some merchants, it sounded like three of them, two middle-aged men and one older woman, still talking about the price of grains. What could one say about wheat for over an hour? She had never suspected that so much of the city's business was carried out in kava houses, inns, and tea shops.

Two more women who sat nearby, a mother and a daughter, were chatting about the week's happenings. They lived on opposite sides of the city and met weekly at this shop to catch up on gossip.

Faintly, heard only when all other conversation quieted, was the scratching of a quill on parchment and some muttering. Sarise had told them that Thessus, an up and coming poet, sat and wrote in this shop most days.

One other hushed conversation was going on behind her. Carried out in neutral tones, she assumed the two men were business acquaintances. They talked of an important job to be completed tomorrow.

Not quite ready to tramp home, Daelynn eavesdropped on the two men behind her. One voice was older, likely middle-aged, rough and untutored, the other one, younger – thirtyish? - polished and a titch imperious. That second voice sounded familiar. This was not the first time Daelynn had visited this kava house. Perhaps it was a returning customer? The men's business seemed to be drawing to a close. A chair was moved back, scraping on the wooden floor.

The older, rough fellow spoke. "It'll be done as you ask. Tomorrow, when all are gathered."

"Excellent, Goodman Poke", replied the younger man. "It will be a bad turn of luck for them. The remuneration is sufficient?"

"Er, the what, zur?"

"The payment", said the second voice, a little tersely. "It's enough?"

"Oh, yes, zur. It'll do jus' fine."

"Then I wish you a good day, Poke. No need to meet again. I'll know if you and your associates are successful."

"Very well", said the older man. "An' a good day to ye too, Master Braxes."

Cold fear washed down Daelynn's spine at the sound of that name. Her breath caught in her throat. She felt the room sway.

Braxes? Arch-nemesis of the Tymoran church; a man dedicated to the worship and aggrandizement of a dark goddess; an evil cleric whom she had confounded on several occasions. He was sitting, no, now standing behind her!

Trembling, her hand reached beneath her cloak for her dagger.