Side A – Yasgrid
Pain tended to linger in Yasgrid’s experience. Sometimes it faded swiftly. Sometimes it held on for days or weeks or month, but it was always with you for a while. As a result, the sudden cessation of pain which followed the brilliant flash of light from Kyra’s daggers was somewhat disconcerting.
“I’m not dead?” Yasgrid asked after a long, wordless moment.
In front of her, the Fate Dancer Kyra knelt panting in ragged, wretched breaths.
“I feel ok? I feel fine?” Yasgrid felt the spot on her chest where the knife had struck her.
No pain. Still a sensation of being touched, so she hadn’t gone numb. But no pain?
“That’s…that’s great for you,” Kyra fought for the breath to get the words out and then another so that she could rise back to her feet.
“Thank you,” Yasgrid said. “But how did you do that?”
“The wound was recent,” Kyra said. “We can fix those.”
She turned and began to walk away on unsteady feet.
“Wait, where are you going?” Yasgrid asked, rising as well. She wanted to take Kyra’s arm to help her stay on her feet but she hesitated. Yasgrid saw the set of Kyra’s shoulders. Kyra was not interested in help or further conversation.
“Back to the others,” Kyra said. “There’s a lot of fighting left to do.”
Yasgrid looked around. She didn’t recognize where they were at all.
Still around Blue Falls, she was pretty sure.
But farther out than she’d ventured, or planned to venture. Even Nia’s memories weren’t much help.
“Where are we?” she asked, not expecting an answer as Kyra limped farther away.
“You’re safe,” Kyra said. “We’re far enough from the fight that none of them will come for you. Even if they can smell Endings scent on you.”
Kyra staggered for a few more steps before catching enough of her breath to walk with a firm gait. Yasgrid watched as she adjusted the bracer on her left wrist and raised it to point upwards into the canopy.
“Wait, you’re going back there?” Yasgrid asked.
“There’s still fighting to do,” Kyra said. “We don’t get to quit just because there’s a few less Troubles out there.”
She said the last words with an accusatory scowl as she glanced back to where Yasgrid was standing. That, more than the knife blow, hurt and confused Yasgrid.
“I know that,” she said. “I was the one who came up with this plan.”
“Yeah, that’s the story everyone’s going to believe,” Kyra raised her arm again and began scanning for a likely target.
“I don’t care about that,” Yasgrid said and was surprised by the sudden tightening which swept across Kyra’s eyes. “I just want to see this work. So bring me back there too. Or show me which direction to go and stay here until you’re rested.”
“No thanks,” Kyra said. “We don’t need you.”
An enchanted line leapt from her bracer and pulled her away, soaring into the night darkened forest and leaving Yasgrid all alone in the clearing where she’d almost died.
Side B – Nia
Osdora ran her finger around the edge of the Shatter Drum. Not striking it or invoking it’s magic, just silently reflecting on the events she’d recounted to Nia and Margrada. They gave her that silent moment, each trying to imagine what it would be like to live in the space Osdora had described.
“So that’s my story,” Osdora said at last. “Or one of them. I don’t know if it’s yours. What you’ve got? It looks a lot like what Gossma and I had, but I’m seeing it through my own experiences. Maybe it looks different to you. Maybe you’re not the fools we were. Or that I was.”
“Or maybe we are,” Margrada said.
Nia wished Margrada would meet her gaze. She wanted, more than anything, to know what was going on inside Margrada’s head.
Osdora’s story echoed too clearly though for the drum to seem at all appealing anymore. She’d been just as driven by fear, and just as overwhelmed by feelings of love. Just as ready to rush in and make something permanent before it turned to smoke like her dreams of being with Marianne had.
“Maybe we should sleepwalk back to our wagon,” Nia said, remembering the weak excuse Osdora had suggested for them.
“That’s not a bad idea,” Osdora said. “Walking up beside someone important is a great cure for sleepwalking.”
Few of those words weren’t code for something else, but Nia was more struck by the message which lay behind the reassurance.
Osdora supported them.
Nia had formed a bond with someone without any permission and her mother, or Osdora – it was still hard to slot Osdora into the role of ‘Mother’, approved. No vetting process. No subtle direction on how to select a proper partner. Just acceptance, and love. For her “damaged” daughter.
Maybe seeing her as ‘Mom’ wasn’t that hard?
Osdora offered Nia and Margrada a nod and a smile as they rose and shuffled out of the drum’s tent.
The walk back to Nia’s wagon was less wild than the run to the drum tent had been. The night was cold but being close together under a blanket kept things tolerably warm.
When the got to the wagon though, Margrada paused.
“You could pass me my clothes out here if you want,” she said as Nia began to climb into the wagon.
“What? No? Don’t you want to come in?” Nia asked.
“It’s ok,” Margrada said. “I don’t want to be…”
Nia’s mind leapt to all sort of different scary places until she let herself hear the softness in Margrada’s voice.
Nia wasn’t the only one who felt chastened by Osdora’s story. They’d both been reaching out, desperate to make something more real than it had earned the right to be yet.
Slipping back into the blanket, Nia put her arms around Margrada, drawing her into the warmest hug she could.
What they had was new, and uncertain, and too fresh to bear the weight of label but Nia knew one thing for sure already; she wanted to put in the work to see where it would go. Together, apart, she wanted to see who this wonderful, beautiful person in her arms could be and who she could be to her.