It was cold at the new old Lair. Cutter was still working on the heating system. Most ducks were moving around to keep themselves warm, or at least rugging up.

Not Marshall.

He felt old. Older than he really was. Mentally, he was quite willing to be put into a home then and there.

The faded grey duck’s stare into space was somewhat disconcerting, and he sat slumped on the bed, leaning against the wall hopelessly. He was quite unaware of his surroundings.


The voice called him back into reality, and the man looked up to meet the eyes of Leila deSilver. "Aye."

She walked closer to stand in the middle of the room. "It’s yours."

He knew what she was talking about. "No. It isn’t."

Leila’s forehead creased. "You don’t understand. You’re the highest ranking member left. You know more about the Brotherhood than anyone else. You…"

He cut her off. "Child, I understand more than ye’ll ever know."

She felt strange, being called a child. "Then why won’t you…?"

"Th’ day is yours, Leila."

Her eyes widened. "I can’t lead!"

Marshall sat up more. "Most of the people here owe you their lives, lass. You got them out."

"You don’t owe me anything."

His voice was soft. "No, I don’t." He sighed, and shook his head. "I can not lead. I have nothing left to give right now. The only thing I have to give is my life, and I gave that chance away to run."

She could see the self-blame in his eyes. "What good could you do dead?!" He didn’t answer, so she continued. "You have to take the leadership."

He ignored her, and spoke to the air. "They are gone. Everyone and everything I held dear are gone." He paused, and amended that slightly. "Though, there’s Sparky…" Leila suddenly found herself pinned by a blue begging look. "Is Iliana alive?"

Leila was slightly startled, but she nodded. "She just got here."

"Then maybe there’s still something…" he murmured, far off.

"This isn’t the issue! The issue is that you have to lead!"

"Why can’t you?"

Leila was confused. "I don’t want to lead. You outrank me."

The larger duck shook his head. "Forget rank, girl. Yer a leader, while I’m not. And that’s all there is to it."

She was firm. "No. That’s not how it works. Besides, the remaining older members won’t stand for it."

He raised an eyebrow. "That’s not how it goes, aye? Well then, we’ll do this properly." He stood up, and walked over to her, placing his right hand on her right shoulder. "Leila deSilver, I pass my leadership rights to ye." He pulled his sword out from his belt, and flung it into the floor at her feet. It stood, quivering. He got to his knees. "I swear allegiance to the new leader of the Brotherhood Of The Blade," He nearly smiled. "May she live forever."

"You can’t do that!"

"If I was the leader, I was fully able to pass it on to who I deemed fit. Lass, I can do that, an’ I did."

They looked at each other, him up, her down. Leila gave her first order. "Stand up."

He did so. "Aye, lass, we did the right thing. Ye’ll see in time." He suppressed a dry chuckle as she glared at him. "DuCaine bless ye."

She rolled her eyes. "What would Drake DuCaine care about a bunch of thieves?"

More than you’ll ever know. He shrugged, and returned to his bed. He closed his eyes, and leaned his head back.

"It isn’t over, you know."

He opened his eyes. "Lass, I’m sure it isn’t. But to me, it is." He sighed wearily, and looked down.

Leila decided to go. She was at the door to leave, when she turned back to him. "Marshall?"

He glanced up from his glum inspection of the floor. "Yes, lass?"

"What's your real name?"

He gave her a slight smile. "What's yours?"

She left.

Story Copyright Rachel Baker ’99. Marshall Copyright Rachel Baker ’99. Leila Copyright Leila deSilver, and used with permission.