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Ray

August 2013

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[livejournal.com profile] bsg_epics comment fic

Prompt by [livejournal.com profile] baliao, Snow White and the Seven Leobens

A/N: A much better version than my quick!fic posted at epics earlier



Once upon a time, there was a fierce woman named Kara. She was a hero who battled all the slimy and malevolent beings cursed to walk the forests and mountains and swim in the rivers and seas.

One day, her patron goddess came to her and said that she must understand that there is more to her existence than fighting. So she set Kara three ordeals.

The first ordeal, the goddess revealed, was to learn to talk to the people she saved from her foes. And so, after Kara helped a merman named Samuel, rescued from the clutches of enchanted rocks, she asked him to tell her his story and teach her the songs of his people, which he did. Kara found she knew one of them and they sang it together.

She passed this test.

Her next ordeal was to look a child in the eye and feel love and no fear of it. And so, after Kara found a girl named Kacey, lost and far from home, Kara held the girl close at night and let the girl twirl fingers through her hair. In those moments, Kara felt the child’s potential and felt more than just victory in returning her to her mother.

She passed this test.

Kara’s last ordeal was a secret to her. Her mother goddess said she must pass it without knowing what it was that she passed. In a forest, some moons later, Kara came upon an old man. It had been so many days, that the thought of her ordeals had long since faded from her mind. And so, when the old man said to her that he had seven brothers named Leoben who were wicked, evil monsters whom trapped unsuspecting people and ate them, Kara set off for their cottage without thought.

When she got there, it was empty. Strangely, Kara found it the saddest of homes. It was beautiful but spare somehow, as if it longed to be filled. She went in and examined all the rooms, searching for victims. There were none. For many hours she waited for the evil brothers to return, but the day and then the night ticked by, and still they did not appear. Eventually, Kara felt drowsy, and then sleepy, and tired beyond all measure, she slumbered.

When she awoke, it was to the smell of food, clean sheets, and soft laughter. She went for her weapon and drew it high.

The first Leoben held up a plate of bread: “Please, have some bread?” he offered, but Kara struck him dead.

The next Leoben did not react to his brother’s death. Instead he offered her some wine. “Please, have some wine?” But again, Kara didn’t accept and struck him dead.

The third offered her fruit, the next a bath, and the next a clean bed, but she struck them all down.

Their bodies lay in a circle around her, broken and dead eyed when the sixth brother approached as calmly and as gently as his brothers had.

“Please,’ he asked, ‘will you not take my love?”

By this time, Kara was tired and felt sickened by all the death she had caused. It had also occurred to her that none of the brothers had caused her harm and none of them had shown any hunger. It also seemed strange that they would have so much food and yet wished to have devoured her.

When she raised her sword to the sixth brother, she paused and asked, “Do you not love your brothers?”

To which he replied, “Of course. I love all creatures.”

Kara, scared of this, cut him down.

As his body fell and the seventh Leoben approached, inside she felt an intolerable grief and self loathing.

The seventh Leoben opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, Kara asked, “Please, do you forgive me?”

The Leoben knelt and exposed his neck. “I cannot forgive you for that which you do not understand. It is not my place to forgive.”

Kara left the brother kneeling, and ran into the forest. Their blood dripped from her clothes and fell into the snow. She ran for many miles, over hill and river, yelling for her mother goddess to appear and tell her if she had passed the third ordeal. She called and prayed for days and days, becoming thin and without a weapon, wishing she could know the answer. But her mother goddess never spoke.

In time, Kara returned to the cottage where she had left the last Leoben. She expected him to shoot her down with an arrow, but instead he invited her inside.

“Kara, please come in? Will you not take some bread, wine, fruit, a bath, and a clean bed?”

Kara paused, and shook her head. “No," she said. "I offer instead to help you make bread, wine, fruit, a bath and a clean bed.”

Neither of them mentioned love or forgiveness.

And never again did Kara ask if she had passed her ordeal, but she always prayed for understanding.
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