Two Hearts One Beat – Chapter 107


Side A – Yasgrid 

Naosha M’Kellin didn’t arrive as a storm. She didn’t burst through the gates of Blue Falls and declare herself in authority over all which transpired. She didn’t even opt for a grand parade to call attention to the corp of scholars and Fate Dancers she’d assembled and led to city.

Despite that, her arrival was noted and spoken of by everyone, the town’s Council found themselves in a special, if informal, session by midday, and Yasgrid had the same sense of a charge building in the air as though a massive thunderbank was rolling over her.

“We should probably pay your mother visit shouldn’t we?” Marianne asked, as she, Yasgrid and Kayelle finished lunch at the tavern Kayelle had selected.

Yasgrid had noted that the tavern was located roughly as far from Blue Falls main gates as it was possible to get in town, but had declined to comment on Kayelle’s desire to put off an encounter with Naosha for as long as possible.

“She will have things to settle with the Council first,” Kayelle said. “She will send for us once she’s ready.”

“Maybe we should take advantage of the daylight to do some more scouting then?” Yasgrid suggested. “We know the army is going to want eyes on us before they move to attack. The more scouts we can root out, the longer they may delay.”

“Mother will want to speak with you as well,” Kayelle said. “You can escape by going off scouting.”

“I wasn’t thinking to be the one to play scout today,” Yasgrid said. “You’re carrying Endings at the moment. If you’re up for it why don’t you head out and see if you can find any more observer types? I’ll spend some time with…” Yasgrid paused, unsure of how to refer to Naosha. ‘Our mother’ wasn’t exactly the truth, and ‘Naosha’ seemed to lack the respect which Nia’s mother had instilled in her daughters.. “…her,” Yasgrid finally settled on.

Kayelle looked like she wanted to accept the offered chance to escape, but a frown showed her conscience and her courage get the better of her.

“We should both go,” she said. “She’ll have questions for each of us, and we’ll be able to give her a more complete picture of what we’re up against if we’re both there.”

“Kayelle’s got a point,” Nia said, projecting herself to Yasgrid’s right as a participant only Yasgrid could see or hear. “Still time to run though if you want?”

“Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to this,” Yasgrid said silently, casting her thoughts across the trackless miles to where Nia was busy packing up the clothes and travel necessities she’d be bringing on the trip to Shale Peak, the first stop along the Shatter Band’s trip.

“I just hope she doesn’t try to undermine you or Kayelle too much,” Nia said. “You’re the Bearers. This whole thing is about you, not her.”

“I think it’s about even more than that,” Yasgrid said. “And I guess I’m curious to see if she knows that too?”

Side B – Nia

Nia’s reply was cut off when she heard the wrapping on her door that she’d been waiting for all day.

“You decent in there?” Osdora Kaersbean called out.

“Yeah,” Nia called back.

“Why?” Osdora asked as she opened the door and let herself in.

“It’s the middle of the afternoon,” Nia said. “Why wouldn’t I be decent?”

“I thought you’d caught some cute things eye? Isn’t that enough of a reason?” Osdora asked.

Nia flushed. Talking about her significant others with her mother, or anyone’s mother, was something she had precisely zero experience with. 

That she also hadn’t come close to indecency with Margrada yet, also left her little speechless concerning the topic.

“Ah, plenty of time for indecency on the road I guess,” Osdora said. “How’s the packing going? You’re not getting cold feet are you?”

Nia wondered at the alignment of expressions between the Darkwood Elves and Stonelings. As far as she could tell through the language filter she and Yasgrid enjoyed, the expression of “cold feet” seemed to be the same in both cultures, despite their significant physiological differences.

“No cold feet here, just itchy fingers,” Nia said. She’d meant to echo Osdora’s boastful demeanor, but Osdora’s smile suggested she’d missed the mark.

“Don’t worry about it Yazzy,” Osdora said. “It’s always like that on your first Tour. Once we play, it’ll settle down. You’ll see. And more importantly, everybody will see you!”

That was somehow less comforting than a punch in the nose.

“Do we know who’ll be playing in the other band yet?” Nia asked, trying to shift the conversation away from the disaster she was all too likely to be.

“Nope. They’re being cagey,” Osdora said. “Could be we won’t find out until they show up for a concert but that doesn’t usually happen. More likely we’ll run into them at the brawl.”

In theory, the Frost Harbor Shatter Band was Touring to provide entertainment and a show in tandem with the local Shatter Bands of the towns they played in.  That was the polite fiction which, from what Nia could see, no one actually believed in. 

Instead Frost Harbor’s Shatter Band was more of a very small, roving army being sent out to show their neighbors that any sort of assault on Frost Harbor would go rather poorly. Magical musical talent was, of course, one deterrent to outside aggression, but as the Stonelings were not impractical folk, demonstrating a measure of physical prowess was also considered good form in establishing a resume for the town which said “for your own good, do not trouble us.”

Nia considered how her mother would have arranged such a political alliance. Naosha wasn’t unaware or unwilling to demonstrate force, but her preferred methods were routinely quite circumspect. A game of wood cutting, or a Dance of the Petal Blades, would illustrate the underlying qualities which made each side of a dispute one to be cautious of offending. In extreme cases a game of strategy or a formal ball might be called to show tactical acumen and the resources each side could present.

Stonelings, by contrast, got to gether, got drunk, and bashed each other’s faces in.

Nia smiled. She really was looking forward to the trip she decided.