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Title: Rabbit Eyes
Author: [personal profile] lavendre 
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Rose/Lailah
Prompt: Sappho #18
Rating: all audiences
Word Count: 634

Notes: I love how jumbled the history is for Glenwood. Seeing how much of the continent doesn't get explored in-game left some room for the muses.

The tall, yellow field grasses nearly succeed in obscuring the shrine from view. Rose spots it at the beginning of the tree line, where the dark canopy of pine and spruce continue north forever. Maotelus’ continental barrier lays thin and spindly in these old decaying places. Eventually, it leaves Rose entirely. It’s just the forests and the quiet thrum of her nervous heartbeat. Lailah steadies her when she’s tired -- that’s not old news, but it is also decidedly new.

At the base of the pedestal is a pair of stone carved rabbits. They gaze in her direction with unseeing eyes and Rose starts down the incline. Whatever residual power the lord of the land of old may have bestowed sings no songs to her. It’s probably safe. They’re good omens, not curses.

“Animal worship. Probably remains of the old northern powers.” Lailah’s voice is quiet but breaks the heavy silence. “These kind were generally well-maintained.”

“They were this far south? I thought that Hyland had drawn lines in the dirt as soon as it could crawl.”

Lailah hummed. “I’m sure after the time of the volcanic eruption, the kingdoms were all that remained. But independent communities, like even Camlann, surely existed in these places unknown to the public eye.”

Rose curled her fingers. “The malevolence wouldn’t hit them as hard here, would it.”

“Who knows? This forest seems intact. But I highly doubt people remain here anymore. Malevolence doesn’t have to necessarily manifest in the shape of war. It can be disease -- it can be any number of things.” Lailah cut her way through the overgrown grass, pine needles crunching underfoot. “Oh, this is a cute one.”

Rose trampled over damp pinecones the size of small continents. “Okay, but suppose malevolence didn’t transform this land and humans still worshipped the seraphim -- why are these shrines abandoned?”

“I don’t know,” Lailah said softly. “Maybe the seraphim are the ones that left. That has been known to happen, too. Or the humans that maintained these sailed across the sea. I don’t think ships are completely outdated. I’m sure all shores eventually meet in the same place.”

Rose gazed down at her feet. The rabbits seemed to fixate on her, ears forward and perked like a dog’s, round eyes exacting judgment. Animal-seraphim, as equally lost as the shapes people prayed to. It was unnerving. The nude statues in Marlind that scholars fanned themselves over never felt as scouring as these. It always seemed more likely that the first seraphim were animals, but how long ago they’d roamed, or whether they continued to do so would always be myth to her.

Lailah began brushing off the weeds, hands coming away smeared with mossy traces. “I think cleaning this one should be enough. It’s not too bad off. I don’t think any small animals have been living here, either.”

“Offering. Can’t forget the offering.” Rose slipped off her backpack and removed a small leather bag. She emptied half of it in the stone basin, sunflower seeds she’d scraped off dead flowers in the fields from last month quietly colliding in the bowl.

Lailah furrowed her brow. “You remembered.”

Rose mirrored her expression, then laughed. “Well, it seemed appropriate for this place. Don’t get me wrong. Sorey’s obviously got the method down for these kinds of things better than me, but I figure. If the seraphim aren’t here anymore, at least the birds have something.”

“Rose, you’re very practical and kind. No seraph would begrudge you for that.”

“You think so? I don’t really know. Maybe they’ll come back someday, and then we’ll know for sure.” She stood.

Lailah held still for several nervous heartbeats, then outstretched her hands. Rose stuck hers out to meet her. “Someday will surely be sooner than you think.”

.

That night, Rose dreamt of woodland creatures.

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