Side A – Yasgrid
No one stabbed Yasgrid as she knelt down by the side of the Fate Dancer’s cot.
That was good. Encouraging even. She hadn’t been sure how Kyra and the other Fate Dancers would react. She was happy for them that they’d made the sensible choice.
Or she would be happy for them.
Kneeling beside the writhing boy, Yasgrid felt light and distant, her thoughts swam in intuitions as her senses absorbed more of the scene before her than purely mortal perception could ever capture.
The boy had fought the Trouble. The fresh injures on on his left cheek, throat, chest, and legs told a story of an engagement that hadn’t ended quickly or easily for either side.
“The Trouble manifested as a mirror beast,” Endings said, speaking in Yasgrid’s mind to coalesce the wealth of knowledge being offered into a a quickly digestible form.
“We haven’t fought a mirror beast yet, have we?” Yasgrid asked, also silently. The Fate Dancers were already a hair’s breadth away from using their unsheathed knives, and while Kyra hadn’t unsheathed hers, Yasgrid didn’t see any need to test whether that would change if she gave them an excuse by rambling aloud.
“No. I have dealt with them with past Bearers, but not during this cycle.”
“Did you sense any at the graveyard before we left?” It was an unnecessary question. Yasgrid knew that even if Endings had known of the Trouble, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but a part of her needed to know if she could have chosen differently and spared the boy the agony he was enduring.
“There were too many Troubles there to differentiate them,” Endings said.
It wasn’t a complete relief to hear that but it helped to some small degree.
She raised a hand a placed it on the boy’s forehead.
A knife appeared at her throat.
Unexpectedly, it wasn’t Kyra’s.
In fact, Kyra’s hand settled on the knife wielder’s arm, not pushing the blade away but temporarily restraining its threat.
Neither of them were Yasgrid’s concern though. She could only focus on the boy.
“The Trouble was disrupted? Dying?” she asked Endings.
“Not dying, but disrupted is accurate enough.”
“The Fate Dancers can do that?”
“Disruption does not end a Trouble,” Endings said. “It can diminish one for a time, but that can give the Trouble time to grow new and unexpected abilities.”
“Is that what happened here?” Yasgrid asked.
“It is unlikely,” Endings said. “What you see is likely the result of the mortal struggling to stay alive despite their wounds and the Trouble seeking shelter while it recovers.”
“It feels like they’re mixed together,” Yasgrid said.
“That is how I perceive them as well,” Endings said. “The edges where one begins and the other ends have become blurred.”
“That poses a problem then doesn’t it?” Yasgrid said. “The boy won’t be able to survive for long like this.”
“And he won’t be able to survive at all if we end the Trouble which is sustaining him.”
Side B – Nia
Nia probably could have visited Yasgrid. Unconsciousness held a different sort of relationship for the two of them but since that would have meant both being at least dimly aware of the aches and pains of her injuries as well as admitting to Yasgrid that she’d kind of wrecked Yasgrid’s old body, Nia chose to embrace the sweet release of deep sleep.
That Doctor Prash had drugged her with one of his better sedatives after determining the extent of her injuries also played a small role in that decision.
Despite craving the release of sleep, and being pumped full of drugs to help ensure she got it, Nia did eventually wake nonetheless.
In Margrada’s arms.
So it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“You’ll want to support her head too,” Prash said, offering the advice in a gentle but clear voice.
Nia felt Margrada’s right hand shift up to provide the suggested support.
“Hey there,” Nia said, surprised at how quiet and rough her voice sounded.
“Hey,” Margrada said, her voice hoarser than Nia could remember hearing it.
“Should she be awake now doctor?” Belhelen asked.
“Normally, I’d say no,” Prash said. “She got worked over pretty well. She’s not feeling that at the moment, but the side effect of the pain medication is normally enough to knock out people twice her size.”
“Should we let her rest then?” Belhelen asked.
“In a bit, for now it’s good she’s awake,” Prash said. “It says she’s responding to the admixture I gave her well. You can talk to her while I do a few tests.”
“Tests? Admixture?” Nia asked. “Where am I?”
“You made it to a hospital,” Margrada said. “You’re safe here.”
“I know. I’m always safe here,” Nia said and wrapped her arms around Margrada to make it clear which ‘here’ she was talking about.
“Aww, she gets mushy when she’s loopy,” Belhelen said. “That’s kind of adorable.”
“Her pulse is good,” Prash said. “Fingers are responsive too. That’s a very good sign.”
Nia wasn’t sure what he meant about her finger’s being responsive since it felt like she had sleeping meat sacks at the end of her wrists. Through the fuzzy haze which remained from her nap, she recalled a boot slamming down on her hand and a particularly awful noise which followed that.
She didn’t like that memory.
In fact the more memories she pulled up from the well of sleep, the less she wanted to recall any of them.
She felt ok, but down in her bones she knew that was a lie.
She was hurt. Badly. Prash’s admixture might be disguising that fact but even the best Elven healers couldn’t have wiped away the damage she’d taken in just a few…
“Wait, how long have I been asleep?” she asked.
“Almost a full day,” Prash said. “You arrived here yesterday and were rather the highlight of our day. Apologies on the time it took to contact your friends, I didn’t know your band had made it to town. Gus mentioned it this morning though and we sent a runner out right away once we worked out what that meant.”
“A day?” Nia asked, trying to place herself in time.
A day was much too long.
She hadn’t turned up when the caravan arrived.
She’d been missing overnight.
The warmth of Margrada’s hug felt unearned. She’d left everyone wondering where she was. They’d probably been worried out of their mind when she didn’t turn up by the next morning.
It was worse than that.
“The Battle of the Bands!” Nia whispered. It was scheduled for the day after they arrived.
Margrada shook her head, and Nia could hear the message that was too big for words to convey.
Her hands were smashed.
She couldn’t play.
Maybe not ever.