Side A – Yasgrid
Naosha smiled and Yasgrid felt a shiver sashay down her spine. It was a small, pleasant smile, and Yasgrid was able to read it clearly.
She’d played exactly into the position Naosha had wanted her to be in.
“How did you envision we would work together?” Naosha asked, neither agreeing to the request, nor offering any guidance on what would be acceptable.
“The Fate Dancers,” Kayelle said before taking a gentle sip from her tea.
To Yasgrid’s Stoneling eyes, the two seemed perfectly relaxed, as though the chance of finding a disagreement was as remote as the sun suddenly rising in the middle of the night.
Life as a Darkwood Elf had given her a new perspective though. Sometimes quiet and soft words were neither yielding, nor kind.
“They will not work with the Bearer,” Naosha said. “They never have and have pledged that they never will.”
“But they will listen to reason and act accordingly,” Kayelle said. Specifically, they would Naosha’s reason and act according to her desires, but those facts were self evident enough that they went without saying.
“Is that how the endeavor is to be managed?” Naosha asked.
“No,” Yasgrid said. She pitched her voice to be bright and cheerful. It felt aggressive in contrast to the serenity Naosha and Kayelle exuded, which was exactly what Yasgrid was looking for. She’d never felt completely comfortable with Shatter Drumming, but she was still Osdora Kaersbean’s daughter. There was a fire in her soul as hot as anything her mother could summon. “They can manage themselves. But they’re going to listen to us first.”
“You can compel them?” Naosha asked, allowing the hint of surprise to color her voice.
Nia wouldn’t have spoken in declaratives to her mother. It wasn’t the proper mode of address for someone speaking to an elder, or someone making a request.
Naosha knew how to deal with those who used improper modes of address, but from the subtle shift in her posture she hadn’t expected to be required to do so with her own daughter.
“We won’t need to compel them,” Yasgrid said, meeting Naosha’s gaze without flinching. “Our message is one they’ve been waiting for since they were formed. Curiosity will bring them to our table better than a mandate ever could.”
Or, it would, if Naosha didn’t stand against it. Yasgrid wasn’t taken in by illusion that the Fate Dancers were a self governing force. Naosha may not have been openly their superior, but given the number of Fate Dancers who dropped what they’d been doing the moment she called it was impossible to miss the influence she held over them.
It was also impossible to miss just how sharp Naosha M’Kellin was.
In the heartbeat after Yasgrid spoke, there was silence. Naosha’s gaze had turned inwards as she considered what message her children could have which related to the Fate Dancer’s formation. Before the next heartbeat, Naosha’s eyes widened and a flicker of concern rippled across her face before being clamped down with an iron will.
“What message would you excite their curiosity with?” Naosha’s asked. Her pleasant tone was devoid of anger or tension, but Yasgrid could hear the steel threaded through every syllable.
“We’re going to End them,” Kayelle said.
Side B – Nia
Despite her best intentions, Nia was pretty sure she was in hot water with everyone in the caravan.
Margrada had gaped at Nia’s explanation for why she’d drummed the Cloud Divers away. Nia wasn’t sure that Margrada had wanted to strangle her, but given how Margrada had turned and left wordlessly afterwards Nia had to assume she was at least somewhat unhappy.
Osdora had been much easier to read. She’d been cheerful and nearly congratulatory. For about five seconds. Then she’d picked up yelling where Margrada had left off.
Drum Master Pelegar had been next, followed by both Horgi and Grash, and then other senior members of the Shatter Band.
Their message had been conveyed loud and clear. Shatter Drums were meant to be played together. Solo performances meant that if the drummer made a mistake there was no one who could correct it. Was she so suicidally arrogant that she thought she couldn’t make a mistake? Did she want to throw the world out of rhythm? Did she want to destroy the entire caravan? Or was she aiming higher? Perhaps she wanted to loose the gods from their volcanoes. Yes, volcanoes. Plural. All of them. Was that a trade she was willing to make to get rid of a few aerial pests? Just plunge the entire northlands in rivers of lava and clouds of poison and a flood of death, but at least a flock of ugly birds would be the first to go?
Great thinking wasn’t it!
Nia hadn’t protested that she’d pulled it off. She might have been a fool for picking up the drum, but she knew better than to use a stroke of unearned luck as an argument that her actions had even been in the same hemisphere as a good idea.
Thinking about the damage she could have done had been sobering, though to her shock, she’d already been fully sober. Sober and in no need of a hangover cure.
“Of course you don’t have a hangover?” Grash seemed puzzled that she would even have needed to ask about such a thing.
“What? You don’t think we drink that bilge because it tastes good do ya?” Horgi asked.
“Wait, it is alcohol, isn’t it?” Nia asked.
“Course it is,” Horgi said.
“But it’s Roady Booze, ain’t it?” Grash said.
“You’ve got booze that doesn’t make you drunk?” Nia asked, perplexed because for as fuzzy as her memories were, she was beyond certain that she had been completely hammered the night before.
“Oh, we got all kinds of booze,” Grash said.
“The stuff we were drinking last night though? That was Night Hash.”
“And Night Hash doesn’t make you drunk?”
“It makes you drunk nice and quick,” Horgi said. “But like daylight breaks the night, same thing happens with Night Hash. Any you’ve got in ya turns to water the moment the sun hits your eyes. No more drunk. No more hangover. Just ready to go about your day like a good likky Roady ought.”
“Huh, that almost makes the taste worth it,” Nia said.
“It’s good ya think so,” Grash said. “Cause you’ll be drinking a lot more of it tonight.”
“What? Why’s that?” Nia asked. She’d assumed she was going to banned from ever touching the stuff again.
“Why else? There’s a party to go to! And your the guest of honor!” Grash said.
“Yeah, the other Roadies want to meet the drummer who was crazy enough to blow up a flock of birds with her head.”
Nia pictured Margrada, Belhelen, and Osdora’s faces when they heard the news that she’d been partying with the Roadies.
They would each kill her.
So that would be fun. A night of partying and then dying three times. What more could a girl hope for from a road trip?