Side A – Yasgrid
Yasgrid woke slightly before dawn, to a day which was never going to end.
“How are you feeling?” Nia asked.
Yasgrid was alone in the guest room at Marianne’s family’s estate, but she could sense Nia beside her.
“Like I’m far better rested than I should be after we spent the night talking,” Yasgrid said, stretching lazily and enjoying the warmth of the thick covers. Intellectually, she knew the Darkwood couldn’t be colder than Frost Harbor, but wearing an elven body had definitely left her with less insulation against winter chills than she’d been used to as a Stoneling.
“You remember it too!” Nia was greeting the sunrise in Frost Harbor with a drum in her lap.
“Pretty clearly, I think,” Yasgrid said. “Have you been up for long?”
“Nope, I just woke up too. I think it was the sunlight that pulled me away from the beach in fact.”
“There should be some curtains at the bottom of one of the trunks in the bedroom if you’d rather sleep in?” Yasgrid offered.
“Thanks,” Nia said. “It’s probably good if I get up though. It doesn’t sound like we’ll get to sleep in much while we’re on the road.”
“At least you’ll get a lot of sunlight. Usually the band does a lot of indoor practices during the winter,” Yasgrid said. “Mom used to complain that she could go for a whole week without seeing the sun.”
“If I want sunshine, I can always come visit you,” Nia said.
“Kayelle and I will probably be doing a lot of our work by night,” Yasgrid said.
“All the better,” Nia said. “I can stand guard over you while you sleep. And, you know, while I’m not distracted here.”
“I’m thinking you’ll have to get in line behind your mother for that,” Yasgrid said.
“Think you’re ready for her?” Nia asked.
“Definitely not,” Yasgrid said. “But she’s going to be here today, and it’s not like I’ve been ready for any of this yet.”
“You’ll do fine,” Nia said. “You’re already better friends with Kayelle than I ever was.”
“I think I’m more a puzzle to Kayelle than a friend exactly, and I think she loves you a lot more than either of you know.”
“Maybe,” Nia said. “I do kind of miss her. Still though, be careful and give me a yell if something comes up. I don’t think my mother will leap to any amazing conclusions but she’s definitely not going to be happy with the current situation. If there’s any avenue she can exploit to get you and Kayelle out of the Trouble hunting business, she is absolutely going to take it.”
“And Kayelle’s going to try to help her,” Yasgrid said. “At least in terms of getting me out of the game.”
“That’s a lot to handle on top of an army of Troubles,” Nia said as she readied herself to begin practicing her drumming.
“Yep, and if I’m really lucky, they’ll all come for me at the same time,” Yasgrid said, a hint of mischief creasing the edges of her eyes.
Side B – Nia
Nia chuckled in relief that, while her life seemed to be bound up with a lunatic, Yasgrid’s special brand of lunacy was probably just what her family needed.
“How are you feeling with the drums?” Yasgrid asked as she rose from the warm bed and slipped on a pair of voluminous slippers.
“Like I’ve bitten off more than I could chew in a year,” Nia said. She tapped out a simple pattern, and missed the timing on the last beat. The drum was just a normal pot with a skin top. No loud booming instrument to wake the neighbors and no magic to destroy the world with. It was just what Nia needed, but her fingers itched to play “for real” again.
“Getting all the technical details down takes time,” Yasgrid said. “Even my Mom drills each day and she’d been playing since she was a toddler.”
“So my chance of becoming a decent player by the first Battle of the Bands isn’t exactly stellar then?” Nia tapped out the pattern again, and missed the timing on the third and seventeenth beats.
“Your chance of mastering the technical skills by then is pretty low. You’re already better than a decent player though. Anyone can bang on things. Lots of people can do it in time to a song’s rhythm. Doing it with magic though?”
“That does seem to need more than technical skill,” Nia agreed. She tapped out the practice pattern again, finishing it this time without missing a beat.
“Find that and you’ll blow the competition away, every time, without fail,” Yasgrid said.
“I though I had found it,” Nia said. “Each time I touch the drums though, they feel new.”
Yasgrid stiffled a laugh.
“Oh god that sounds familiar,” she said. “The drums feel new each time because they are.”
“But aren’t I going to playing on the same drum the whole time? Pelegar said we had to make sure to keep our drums safe and in good shape.”
“Each time you approach a Shatter Drum, it’s a new thing,” Yasgrid said. “You’re a different person than you where when you last picked it up. It’s an older drum than the last one handled, all around you the whole world is different than it was. That’s why each performance is special. Even if you play the same songs, each performance is its own moment in time, and you have to find something to drive you, something to pull a creation from, something that the you in that moment can call on to make it happen.”
“Oh, well, that sounds like it’ll be easy then,” Nia said, her head swirling as the scope of the challenge before her loomed higher than the mountains Frost Harbor was nestled in. She repeated the pattern and dropped the eighth and thirteenth beats. She tried again. And again. She missed beats on some and played it without an error on others.
“For you, I think it will be,” Yasgrid said. “You’ll just want to be careful of all the other problems they’ll throw at you.”
“I think I’ll take a page from your book there,” Nia said.
“How so?” Yasgrid asked.
“I think I’m going to focus on making my problems be careful of me.”