Side A – Yasgrid
If Yasgrid had wanted to horrify Naosha M’Kellin beyond reason, she was sure she couldn’t have picked a better method than making Naosha believe her daughters were going to destroy themselves because of their belief in their mother.
“That is not an acceptable answer,” Naosha said, her jawline taking on a firm cast for the first time in decades Yasgrid guessed. “Nothing about being my daughters makes you invulnerable. If you’re reasoning is predicated on your relation to me, then you should heed my counsel and lay Endings to rest now.”
“We can’t,” Kayelle said, forcing the words out on a voice of quiet rebellion.
Not ‘we won’t’ or ‘that would be wrong’, both of which would also be true. Yasgrid saw the struggle twisting Kayelle’s heart. To stay within her mother’s love and graces had become impossible when those graces were contingent on Kayelle living within limits that would keep Naosha’s child safe but would shatter the adult Kayelle was struggling to become.
Naosha had succeeded in undermining her own desires. In an effort to raise daughters who would be safe and whole, she’d raised women who were too strong to stay within the shelter of her embrace.
Yasgrid felt like she was looking into a snowglobe, observing the M’Kellin family dynamics from the remove of her experience as Osdora’s daughter.
Osdora had wanted her to grown up strong and tough too, but Osdora’s heart hadn’t been ripped in half by the loss of her greatest love. Yasgrid’s childhood had seen her mother punting her into danger rather than shielding her from it, more than Yasgrid had ever desired, and more than was good for her in hindsight, but she’d learned an important lesson from it.
Sometimes you had to stand up to the people you loved.
“Wait,” she said, putting her hand on Naosha’s as Naosha’s eyes darkened.
Naosha was upset. Moreso than she’d ever been possibly. Her reactions and emotions were so incredibly muted compared to a Stoneling’s but Yasgrid found she could read the clearly nonetheless.
If Osdora had been cross with her, words would have fallen like boulders and Osdora’s anger would have exploded outwards like a thunderclap.
Nia’s mother was different though. She was calm, and quiet, and every bit as enraged as Osdora could have been. Naosha’s rage was a cover though, a shield against a bone deep fear of unbearable loss.
And that was the obstacle that Yasgrid couldn’t overcome.
No matter how good her arguments were, none of them could deny that she and Kayelle would have to face perils they might not be able to overcome.
What Naosha M’Kellin needed, ultimately, wasn’t something Yasgrid could give her.
“And what should I wait for,” Naosha asked, hard etched lines forming at the corner of her eyes.
“You know what Kayelle’s vow was,” Yasgrid said. “Before you choose whether you’ll stand with us or not, you need to hear mine as well.”
Side B – Nia
While Osdora’s love wasn’t the most comforting of things, Nia was able approach the party with the Roadies with a bit less trepidation. Osdora was clearly willing to have a good laugh at Nia’s expense, but Nia was also sure that Osdora wouldn’t let her face a truly dangerous situation alone.
Osdora would hate to feel left out of the mayhem if nothing else.
“And lookie here, our guest of honor has arrived,” Horgi said hoisting a mug as Nia wandered into the small encampment the Roadies had setup away from the rest of the camp.
The previous evening the road had been a relatively clear one, so travel throughout the night had been an acceptable risk – wildlife hazards like the Cloud Divers aside. As they moved higher up through the pass they were traversing, and farther away from Frost Harbor, the terrain became more difficult and so night time travel was curtailed.
That wasn’t much an excuse for a party, but from the looks of it, the Roadies didn’t need much an excuse. At least half of them were singing in off-key voices only the very drunken possess, while around a quarter of them (some singing, some not) were engaged straight up brawling.
“You didn’t tell me it was a formal occasion,” Nia said, gesturing to the Roady who was already passed out near the fire. “I would have prepared a speech.”
“Eh, nobody want to hear you speak, they just want to talk to you,” Grash said, appearing at her side and punching Nia in the shoulder hard enough to make her stumble into Horgi.
“Hey! You made me spill my drink!” Horgi said, though whether he was accusing Nia or Grash wasn’t clear.
“Only one thing to do then,” Nia said and yanked the half full mug from Horgi’s hands. “This one’s mine now, so I spilled my drink. Get him another one.”
Grash looked at her in momentary confusion and then let out a broad laugh.
“We shoulda brought her sooner,” he said.
“We just met her last night,” Horgi said.
“Coulda met me sooner,” Nia said and downed the truly awful beverage Horgi had chosen for the evening.
“Hey!” The Roady behind her smacked Nia in the back of the head, nearly making her spill what was left in the mug. “You the idiot who almost broke a drum?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” she said, turning with the quarter full mug still in her hand. “Why? Got another one I can get my hands on?”
“You are never…” the Roady began.
Nia rammed the mug into his open mouth.
“Not interested,” she said. “You can keep the mug. I need another drink anyways.”
Half the Roadies watching burst out laughing while the others who noticed scoffed.
The Roady who’d been gifted with a mug to the face, spit it out and cranked his knuckled.
“Gonna teach you a lesson little girl.”
“No,” Nia said, cracking her knuckles too and letting a wolfish smile spread across her lips, “You’re going to try.”