Side A – Yasgrid
Denar. It was the boy’s name. Yasgrid had asked. It seemed appropriate, or necessary perhaps, that she remember who he was. Who he had been.
“There’s a very real chance we lose him,” she said. She wasn’t speaking to the people in the room with her, but they didn’t know that.
“If you can’t do anything, get out.” The Fate Dancer’s voice was flat with barely bridled malice. Yasgrid didn’t know which Fate Dancer had spoken, except that it hadn’t been Kyra.
“Can we revive the piece that have been shattered?” Yasgrid asked.
“Restoration is not in the Bearer’s domain,” Endings said. “Our role is absolute and so by necessity it is very specific.”
Yasgrid could have spoken to Endings in the privacy of her own mind, but the borders of her internal and external perceptions had overlapped almost entirely as she reached into Endings essence.
Laying before her, she could see Denar shining in lights that no mortal eye could ever glimpse. He was less an elven boy and more a child of shadows tattooed with the light to give them form and meaning.
And in his center, just offset from the blazing star of his heart, a river of lava gushed, elemental hate ceaselessly birthing ever more hate.
The Trouble had done more than invade his body. It had spread and replaced bit of the boy which were missing.
In places were shadows should have lurked, keeping secret the thoughts and feelings the boy hadn’t finished crafting in full awareness, pools of lava throbbed, permeating the shadows with the seething light of rage.
Where the intricate tattoos of light should have stretched all across the boy’s form, revealing who he was to the world, the elegant skein was shattered in dozens of places, with the only glue holding the fragments together being a searing lattice work of incandescent anger.
And underneath all the rage, and hate, there was pain. So much pain.
Yasgrid saw the underpinnings of the Trouble’s existence.
Injustice. Death. Betrayal.
The details were lost to time, but their shape was unmistakable. There had been evil done to someone innocent. Someone who could never be replaced, and the evil had never been amended. The guilty never punished. No expression of remorse or repentance.
Fixing the problem wasn’t an option. The Trouble might be a year old or a decade or a century, but the loss which had created it was forever. Yasgrid couldn’t give the Trouble the justice it needed, but she could grant it peace.
Denar too. She could give him an ending. Could free him from the agony he was wrapped in. He could be at peace.
“We can do better than that,” Yasgrid said, eyes blazing with rainbow light as she sought out a path forward that didn’t lead to tragedy.
“Then do it,” Kyra said. “Prove how much better you are and fix him. Make him whole again.”
“No. Not whole. Not what he was,” Yasrid said. “Something else. Something new.”
She waved her hand as though drawing forth Endings but in the place of a single blade, a thousand crystal scalpels appeared, suspended around every inch of the boy’s body.
Side B – Nia
Margrada had left. It had to happen eventually, and Nia had assured her that it was fine. Doctor Prash had gently suggested that it would be best for Nia to get some more sleep and that had been the deciding factor. Neither Margrada nor Belhelen wanted to delay Nia’s recovery. Nia knew it was a sign of their concern and appreciated it.
But she still wished they’d stayed.
“Drink this,” Doctor Prash said, handing Nia a goblet of surprisingly mild liquid. “It’s another dose of the bone mending admixture. You seem to be responding well to it so far, so I’d like to keep you on it for at least a week.”
“Will it fix my hands?” Nia asked.
Speaking wasn’t easy. Her brain felt like it was wrapped in a pile of dry leaves and her body was numb in enough places that she was worried both that the numbness wouldn’t go away and that it might and she’d wind up feeling all the pain the admixture was suppressing.
“Yes,” Prash said. “As much as they can be fixed. Hand injuries are difficult. You have a lot of nerves there and a lot of small bones. I set them as best I could, but with the swelling a perfect realignment may not be possible.”
“But I need them to play,” Nia said, her head swimming as the fresh dose of the healing draught began to take effect.
“I know,” Prash said. “We’ll work on that as you heal. The admixture should be helping them adjust to their proper position. If we’re not able to get close enough there are techniques we can try to improve things.”
“All I need to be able to do is hit the drum,” Nia said. “I can play them better from there.”
It seemed like such a brilliant idea to her drug addled mind but even so she knew Osdora would not be happy with idea.
“I’m not a drummer, but I can tell you that won’t be an option,” Prash said. “If you try to play with hands in the condition yours are in the, the magic you generate will be fractured the same as your hands are. You won’t be able to control it at all.”
“I need perfect hands to play?” Nia asked, despair washing over her.
“Not perfect,” Prash said. “No one’s perfect. There is no such thing when it comes to bodies. You’re injured though. You have to let yourself heal before you can do anything even remotely as taxing as try to shape a fundamental force of the universe.”
“So once I’m healed, I can play and make them better?” Nia asked.
The Battle of the Bands was lost so she was grasping for what parts of her future still could be saved.
“Maybe,” Prash said. “The change in your hands may require relearning a lot of what you know about playing though and by the time you’re good even to ‘fix’ your hands, you’ll be good enough that you won’t really need to.”
“But I’ll be able to play? Someday?” Nia asked.
“If your hands heal well enough, yes,” Prash said.
“And if they don’t?” Nia asked, already knowing the answer. Already knowing that it was unacceptable. Already knowing that she was going to find a way to play again.
She was going to play at the Battle of the Bands.
The undertow of fatigue from the admixture carried her down into unconsciousness, but it couldn’t drown the spark that had kindled within her.