Alphonse walked quickly away from Sophie with tears in his eyes, unwilling to let her or anyone see his pain.

“We are forming a council. I’m sorry, but everyone really doesn’t feel comfortable with you on it because of what happened earlier.” Sophie’s words echoed in his head and he imagined those who might have been responsible. ‘Granny’ Jo. Corben. Marianette. Sophie herself, maybe? An enemy, certainly. The logical side of his mind, barely acknowledged in his pain, said that it probably wasn’t as bad as it sounded. But it HURT.

To his own mind, Alphonse has tried to express a sympathy and respect for the dead lord and lady that had gone unspoken in the face of the hellfire and brimstone preaching of the villainous false Melandihim, Father Billet. Valet? Bullet? Whatever. Father Hate. And the community now hated him for it. He had sought a kind word. He had sought a warm heart to share in mourning. And he had been soundly rejected both by Cole and Theo, but also by everyone else present. What more should he have done? And what should he do now?

Vengeance burned brightly as one option. Father Hate needed to die, but Alphonse had never killed someone with such directed forethought. He threw his clothing into a bag. He just needed to go. He needed to be away from the community and those who thought so little of him that they wished to excise him entirely. To neutralize him. He would not be part of a community where anyone could be his enemy hiding behind a polite smile, but whispering behind his back.

“Are you ok? Are you leaving?” Cadence spoke from the doorway. He was too lost in his miserable reverie to notice her come in. “I have to go,” he replied shortly. Even she couldn’t really understand. And even if she could, he couldn’t burden her. She was important now. She represented the community. Everyone looked to her and she shouldn’t have to handle his problems. And she probably needed to care about the majority of them than him anyways.

The truth was that it was hard to listen to someone familiar. To someone who saw what happened and made the choice to stay silent- probably correctly. He kissed her on the cheek as he moved out the door. She didn’t deserve to feel badly.

“Alphonse?” The voice gave him pause. Ludovic approached down the road. “We should have that talk now.” Alphonse examined the older man’s expression. He was utterly unaware of what happened or what Alphonse was in the middle of. Alphonse carefully hid his emotions. This was too important. And where was he going to go anyway? Home? The problems would continue. At least with arcane power maybe he could earn some respect. Be helpful enough to someone that they actually listened to his thoughts and opinions.

“Alright,” Alphonse replied with effort. He turned to flash a wan smile at Cadence and mouthed a ‘thank you’. She really didn’t deserve to have to deal with him. And then he followed an old wizard into the woods.

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