Side A – Yasgrid
There was trouble brewing and Troubles gathering and Yasgrid knew it was going to be a long and dangerous night. For just a moment, as the sun set and the the world around her turned to gold, she sat in peace and stillness.
“”You really are going to give away that you’re not Nia if you keep looking like that,” Marianne said. Yasgrid hadn’t heard her approach, though given that the steps leading up to the balcony Yasgrid was sitting on had been shaped into the living wood of the giant tree it wasn’t a surprise they didn’t creak.
“Nia never sat still before this?” Yasgrid asked without opening her eyes. There was a light inside her, a swirl of sparks, dancing round and round. One for each Trouble she had ended.
She’d been afraid they would overwhelm her, somehow break free and take control, but the dark behind her eyelids was like an endless sky, capable of bearing untold points of light. With slow and steady breaths, she drank in the relaxation of the moment and blew gentle puffs of air to stoke the tiny flames.
“The stillness isn’t the problem,” Marianne said. “It’s the peacefulness. Shouldn’t you be a bundle of nerves at the moment?”
Because Kayelle was meeting with Naosha, and the result of that meeting could be almost anything.
“I could do that,” Yasgrid said, “but it’s peaceful here.”
The rapidly falling night was even cooler than the chilly day had been, but sitting on the balcony of one of the great trees had left Yasgrid surrounded by the warmth which kept it green and vibrant year round.
“Is it?” Marianne asked. “I thought Kayelle said there would probably be Troubles lurking in close tonight. More than one.”
“She was right,” Yasgrid said. “Endings can sense their nearness.”
“I thought Kayelle had Endings tonight?” Marianne said. “Something about wanting to show your mother…her mother, that she had been probably chosen.”
“It’s not about whether Endings chose properly,” Yasgrid said, lifting her face to feel the last rays of the sun falling on her eyelids.
“It’s not possible for Endings to chose incorrectly, is it?” Marianne asked. “Or does Endings not read the Bearer’s mind like they say?”
“Endings can read all of our minds,” Yasgrid said. “To a certain degree anyways. But that doesn’t make the choice a perfect one.”
“Because most people don’t know themselves well enough to understand how they would face the sort of trial Endings represents,” Marianne said, crafting her understanding of the situation as she spoke.
“Knowing ourselves seems to be something we work on our whole lives,” Yasgrid said. “Maybe longer.”
“That would seem to leave an opening for Naosha to claim that someone else should be the Bearer rather than you two,” Marianne said.
“Ending’s choice might have been flawed, or based on our own incomplete understanding of ourselves, but ultimately, it’s not the choice which truly matters,” Yasgrid said. “The choice which is important here, is the one we made.”
She turned to face Marianne and opened her eyes, revealing a swirl of rainbows which faded away to normal.
“We’re not Bearers because Endings chose us,” Yasgrid said. “We’re Bearers because we chose to answer the call.”
Side B – Nia
Nia’s new boots fit perfectly, her clothes were packed, and she was heading to the Shatter Band’s gathering point not a moment too late. That was the dream she had, but alas, dreams do not survive in the waking world.
“Don’t worry about the boots,” Belhelen said, racing ahead of Nia and carrying two of her own trunks in her arms. “You’ll break them in as we go.”
“I’m pretty sure they’re going to break my feet first,” Nia said, but nonetheless kept pace with Bel. “Why couldn’t I just wear my old pair?”
“You said those were fine!”
“They were in the shop,” Nia said. “Or fine enough.”
“Fine enough! Only you would think that. Only you.”
“Are we going to be on time?” Nia asked, noticing how far away from their destination they still were.
“Nope. Not a chance of that. If we’re really lucky we’ll get there before they leave.”
“They can’t leave without us though. Can they?”
“They can and will,” Bel said.
“But they need us for the Battle of the Bands,” Nia said.
“Yep. Which is why we’ll get to run after them, carrying our trunks the whole time until the carriages stop tomorrow morning.”
“But aren’t they expecting the Band to be attacked?” Nia asked. She could see how things were going to be, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
“If we’re on foot, we get to be the early warning system. Doesn’t that sound fun!”
“Without our drums?”
“You get that there was a reason the try-outs for this involved a steel cage brawl right?” Belhelen asked.
“I thought that was just for bar brawling with the other bands!”
Belhelen belted out a laugh.
“It’s adorable how optimistic you can be.”
“We’re positively going to die.”
“At least they’ll play drums at our funerals though right?”
“That would be great only if we got to get up and play them too,” Nia said.
“Keep thinking happy thoughts like that,” Belhelen said. “But for now, focus on running. We might still catch them.”
The good news was that Belhelen was correct. They were able to catch the Shatter Band before the carriages departed. The bad news was that they only arrived in time because of the usual planning snafus which plague any sort of group activity.
That meant that they were able to get their travel items loaded onto the carriages and didn’t have to walk through the night, but they didn’t exactly have their pick of carriages to ride in.
“I tried to save you a seat in Margrada’s carriage,” Osdora said with a helpless shrug. “It filled up about two minutes ago though. Now all that’s left is are spaces in the roadies carriages.”
“How bad can that be?” Nia asked, turn to look to Bel for guidance.
Bel’s grimace answered that question with brevity and clarity.
It was going to be a long night.