Side A – Nia
Being naked before someone was one thing. Nia found it was even more enjoyable than she’d imagined it would be. Being together within the space of the same Shatter Drum beat though? That was something far more revealing and intimate.
The prospect both terrified and thrilled her.
“It’s ok if you don’t want to,” Margrada said, looking away from Nia and into a darkness inside their covered wagon.
“Are you kidding?” Nia said. “Of course I want to!”
And she did. It was a monumentally terrible idea. There were so many things Nia needed tell Margrada about. So much that she’d kept hidden which a joint session on the same drum would uncover. Despite that, the thrill of being that close to someone who lo…was interested in her, was intoxicating for Nia.
She’d pined for love for so long, dreamed of a warm connection with someone who could see her for who she was. Playing on the drums together wasn’t something she should do, but it was something she had to do. Her heart was done waiting. She had a the first person she’d ever dared be intimate with in her arms. She wasn’t going to hold anything back from Margrada.
“We could get in a lot of trouble,” Margrada said, looking back to Nia, the hope in her eyes at war with the intent of her words.
“You’re so worth it,” Nia said and drew Margrada into a long and hungry kiss.
“You might not like what you see,” Margrada said after they parted. “It’s not just the nice stuff you get when you do that.”
“We had to punch each other’s face in for me to get a first kiss from you,” Nia said. “I’m okay with ‘not nice’. And. Well. There’s a lot of stuff you’ll see that…”
“That’ll surprise me?” Margrada asked. “I don’t think so. I know you’re not perfect. Or a copy of your mother. I know you’ve got some dark corners. Everyone does.”
“I’m not worried about that,” Nia said. “I want you to see how messed up I am. I don’t want it to be a surprise for you later.”
Because that might drive her away.
And how easy would it be to explain things inside the moment of the drum beat? Nia tried reaching for the words to say ‘I’m actually a Darkwood Elf, who swapped bodies with the real Yasgrid, and I seem like a hapless baby when I play because the first time I touched a drum, you were there’. Somehow no permutation of those words was able to pass her lips. They were too unbelievable. Margrada would think Nia was trying to scare her off. Or might just be scared off in general if she thought Nia was that delusional.
If Margrada could literally see Nia as she really was though?
That was still terrifying.
The last girl Nia had tried to give her heart to hadn’t wanted it once she saw what Nia was really like.
“This is crazy,” Margrada said, but there was a gleam of anticipation in her eyes.
“Let’s do it,” Nia said, a fiery rebellion against all common sense and her own fears blazing on her lips.
“What? Now!?” Margrada sat upright, clutched the thick blanket they shared to her chest.
“Yeah,” Nia said. “Right now. Tonight’s been everything I’ve ever wanted. I want you to see that.”
And with that, she scampered out of the wagon, taking the blanket with her.
Side B – Yasgrid
Yasgrid had planned for a wide variety of scenarios. The Troubles trying to distract her with clever lies or insightful observations had been an area Marianne had brainstormed with her, so that Yasgrid would have the right answers prepared to throw the Trouble off its game.
Staring at Faceless though, Yasgrid had nothing.
“That’s…wow,” she said, buying time for her brain to come up a witty response. Nothing showed up though. “It’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard today. Which is impressive. I thought we covered every childish argument you might make, but that one? I just couldn’t come up with an argument that bad. Kudos. Did you work long on it?”
Faceless had no eyes to be clenching closed. No bridge of a nose to be crushing between a thumb and forefinger. No jaw to be set in a rictus of stymied rage. Somehow all of that was conveyed anyways though.
“It’s the truth.” Faceless spat each word out with enough force to scald flesh.
“Sure, let’s go with that,” Yasgrid said. “How, by all the gods baked in lava, did you plan to get me to believe you?”
“By presenting a reasonable and measured argument,” Faceless said. “We know you Nia M’Kellin. You are supposed to be the reasonable one! REASONABLE!”
“Am I now?” Yasgrid asked. “When were you watching me?”
“All. Your. Life.” Faceless said, gritting teeth which weren’t there.
“Nope,” Yasgrid said.
“What do you mean, ‘nope’?”
“I mean that’s not true. It’s a line to try to convince me of your prowess, but it’s patently false.”
“It…it’s not false! How can you say that?”
“Leaving aside the logistical issues following me for my whole boring lifer up till this point, you clearly don’t know me at all beyond how I’ve acted since I got to Blue Falls. All the rest of is extrapolation, which, unfortunately for you, is pretty far off the mark.”
“I argued to be given this assignment,” Faceless said, speaking towards the nearest Trouble, though the words weren’t meant for anyone in particular. “I said, ‘let me talk to the reasonable sister, I’m good at reasoning, I can make her understand our position’. I was supposed to have the easy, safe assignment. I was supposed to have the one who acted like a CIVILIZED BEING!”
“Still don’t think you’re using ‘civilized’ correctly there,” Yasgrid said.
“You really want me to order the attack, don’t you?” Faceless said. “Are you suicidal? Or just that incredibly arrogant? Or…no…you have something planned.”
“Me? Nah. Why would you think that?” Yasgrid asked. “Just because I’m sitting here, apparently alone and defenseless, tying up a sizable chunk of your army, while my sister ties up another big group? I mean, clearly our strategy here has failed right? You’ve got both of us pinned down and so the rest of your army is free to ravage Blue Falls. And there’s just nothing we can do to stop that.”
“Well, yes, but that’s a completely separate discuss…wait, you know about that?”
“No. Of course not,” Yasgrid said. “Still, you might want to check on how the rest of that army is doing. You know, just to be sure.”
Yasgrid estimated that she had roughly thirty seconds until all sorts of mayhem erupted, and she was very much looking forward to it.