Side A – Yasgrid
Endings wasn’t intended for the use Yasgrid was putting it to. The Bearer was supposed to wield Endings power in a simple, direct, and mostly unrestrained manner. The Elven gods hadn’t specifically prohibited more precise applications of its power though, and so when Yasgrid narrowed her focus down gaze on the smallest filaments her mystical vision could resolve she was able to carry the thousand slivers of crystal blade into that miniscule realm.
From somewhere else, a space outside the boy before her, someone tried to interfere with the procedure.
Yasgrid didn’t understand why, didn’t see that from another perspective it looked as though she was flaying the child alive. That didn’t matter. Her thoughts were alight with the same rainbow fire which wreathed her blades.
She wasn’t simply ‘using Endings’.
She was the Bearer, and she carried Endings regardless of whether there was a blade in her hand or not.
From that same somewhere in the hazy beyond, Yasgrid heard a cry of pain and the hands on her weren’t there anymore.
But the boy remained. Denar. Denar remained.
Or some of him remained.
His wounds were so much worse than they appeared.
As were the Troubles.
Yasgrid reached out to touch the Trouble, brushing it gently as agony flared up her arm.
She wasn’t seeing the injuries it had received in the battle. The Fate Dancers couldn’t inflict the sort of damage the Trouble had suffered.
Holding her hand over the worst of the shattered places, Yasgrid calmed the pain radiating up front he Trouble, cooling it in herself and sending a single, needle sized scalpel to deaden the Trouble’s connection to the wound.
Denar’s body relaxed, still wracked with pain, still fading, but surprised by the cessation of at least some of the pain.
There was shouting somewhere behind her in a world that might as well have no existed given how tightly narrowed her focus was.
Denar was dying. It had been true before she arrived. Her actions made it impossible to deny though.
And looked to be responsible for it.
Appearances, however, were deceiving.
The Trouble had been created from pain and had carried the wounds it carried from it’s creation. None of them were needed though.
A hundred scalpels at a time carefully moved in and out as Yasgrid’s attention traveled across each broken and battered bit of boy and Trouble.
Where there was damage, the blades made the finest of slices, disconnecting the pieces which would never work again, or had never worked at all.
Where there was good tissue, or solid lines of mystical forces, the blades cut at the boundaries which separated them, allowing flesh and spirit and magic to fuse together seamlessly and irrevocably.
In her trance, Yasgrid had little sense of time. All that mattered were the beats of Denar’s heart, and little by little they grew stronger until, at last, she came to heart of the Trouble.
“This should never have been your home,” she said, unconcerned how the words might be interpreted by any save the one she was speaking to them to.
There was no forgiveness in the Trouble. No relief. No gratitude. It hadn’t been made with any of those.
But there was acceptance as Yasgrid drew it forth from Denar and gave it a new home within her own heart.
Side B – Nia
Sleep wasn’t her enemy. Despite Nia’s rush of determination to play again, she didn’t find the deep pull of unconsciousness brought on by the healing admixture. Her goal wasn’t something she could sprint to. She needed all the strength she could gather, and willpower wasn’t her best resource for that. Not when there was still time to treat herself properly.
It was hours later, but still well before nightfall that she woke, her head felt fuzzy and light but her fatigue was rolling away, like the tide going out.
“I’m sorry, did I wake you?” Doctor Prash said.
Nia turned her head towards his voice and saw he was working at a bench on the other side of the room, concocting something over a small flame. There was the small of wildgrass and copper in the air in subtle enough quantities to be pleasant rather than overwhelming.
“I don’t think so,” Nia said. “I feel like I’ve slept a lot longer than I should have?”
“In a sense you did,” Prash said. “The admixture helps you heal, and the body heals faster in sleep, so it you’ve slept longer and more deeply than you’d normally be capable of.”
“How long?” Nia asked.
“Over a full day now,” Prash said. “It’s the afternoon of the day after you were brought in here.”
“The Battle of the Bands?”
“That’s later tonight. Your friends carried word back to your people though. They know you won’t be able to attend.”
Nia had her own thoughts on the matter, but kept those to herself.
“How are my hands doing?” she asked.
“I can test them out, but that should probably wait till we change the bandages tonight,” Prash said.
“Is this normal?” Nia asked. Her determination was still there, but the memories of the beating she’d taken sat right there beside them and that was what leaked out into her voice.
“Sleeping like this? Yes. In fact you’re doing very well,” Prash said. He looked at Nia and gauged her expression. “Oh, or you mean injuries like this?”
“No. They’re not,” Prash said. “I think you encountered some bad circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always fighting around these battles, but I can’t recall it being this bad before.”
Which meant, Nia knew, that her present state was her own fault.
Anyone else would have been smart enough to stay with the caravan.
Or headed out with a friend.
Or a pack of friends.
If she’d been with Margrada and Belhelen would the locals have jumped her? Maybe, but even if they had the fight would have been very different.
“How long do I need to lay down like this?” she asked.
“We should have you walking again tomorrow,” Prash said. “It’s not good to be stationary for too long, but we want to make sure everything’s solid enough before you start putting weight on it.”
“I’m not sure we should wait that long,” Margrada said. “To be accurate, I’m not sure we should wait more than another five minutes or so.”
Nia turned to see Margrada standing in the door to Prash’s combination recovery room and alchemical laboratory.
Margrada looked amazing as always.
Except for the blood that was smeared across the side of her face.
And on parts of her clothes.
And her knuckles were looking seriously raw.
Still amazing though.