Side A – Nia
For a moment, the aches and pains which were leaking past the healing admixture were drowned for Nia’s awareness by the rush of seeing Margrada again.
Then Nia tried to move out of the bed.
That wasn’t a good idea.
It wasn’t that everything hurt. It was that the multitudinous places in her body which had been injured screamed in such impressive and discordant unison that Nia couldn’t identify which parts were damaged and which were merely threatening to fall apart if she pushed them any further.
Before she could topple to the ground though both Margrada and Doctor Prash were beside her.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a good idea,” Prash said. “Nia needs to rest.”
“I don’t she’s going to be able to rest too well with twenty people in here looking to trash the place and her,” Margrada said, reaching out to scoop Nia up.
Nia didn’t fight that at all, throwing her arms around Margrada’s neck and ignoring the protests from her injured hands.
“That blood you’re wearing,” Prash asked, “You weren’t just at the Wailing Well were you?”
“It’s not the nicest dive I’ve ever been in,” Margrada said, taking an extra second to glance over Nia’s bruised and battered face.
Nia guessed she couldn’t have been too mangled if Margrada could still bear to look at her with a warm and tender expression.
“Ok. Yes. We should leave. Now,” Prash said and began frantically sweeping things into a carrying sack, his brewing work apparently forgotten.
“What? Who’s coming?” Nia asked, fighting to clear away the potion induced cobwebs from her head.
“Nobody you need to worry about,” Margrada said.
Prash got the door for her and, before Nia could process what was happening, the three of them were moving at a brisk pace down a relatively crowded street. Or Prash and Margrada were walking down the street while Nia was riding in Margrada’s arms, gathered up as though Yasgrid’s body weighed no more than Nia’s old elven one.
“The Wailers aren’t going to respect the sanctity of your inn rooms I’m afraid,” Prash said. “I know a few people who would be willing to shelter us until after the Battle of the Bands though.”
“It’s not the inn that’s I’m counting on,” Margrada said.
“Am I making trouble for the band again?” Nia asked, struggling to imagine what kind of punishment she’d receive for this misadventure.
“Is there an answer I can give to that where you won’t do something like this again?” Margrada asked.
“You’re going to involve the rest of your Shatter Band?” Prash said. “I have to warn you, the Wailers aren’t likely to respect the sanctity of the official Battle of the Bands format either. If you escalate and give them an excuse, they’ll be all too happy to start the battle here and now, and they’ll be coming with weapons and drums.”
“I’m not involving the rest of the band,” Margrada said. “Just Osdora.”
Nia breathed a sigh of relief.
Things were going to be okay.
Side B – Yasgrid
When Yasgrid opened her eyes, the rainbow fire was gone from her thoughts. She was still Endings Bearer. She hadn’t lost that, or burned out her connection, but she and Endings were once more reasonably distinct from one another instead of whatever they had been at Denar’s bedside.
Beside her, there was a soft clink as a tea cup and saucer was set down on a polished stone nightstand.
“You will need liquids,” Naosha said, sitting into a chair beside the bed Yasgrid had been sleeping in with a slow, effortless motion.
“Yes,” Yasgrid said, feeling parched as soon as Naosha mentioned it. “Thank you.”
“It seems you are the one deserving of gratitude,” Naosha said.
“I don’t think so,” Yasgrid said. “I wound up doing very little.”
Despite the face that she was laying in bed and Naosha was all but motionless in a chair beside her, Yasgrid felt like they were dancing already, with each utterance a step which might lead her to trip and stumble.
“The citizens of Blue Falls disagree with that assessment,” Naosha said. “And they are not the only ones.”
“Denar!” Yasgrid sat up fast enough to leave herself feeling light headed. “What happened to him? Is he ok?”
“He is alive,” Naosha said. “There is some contention as to whether he would be had you not interceded.”
“He was dying,” Yasgrid said. “What they were doing couldn’t have helped him.”
“Drink some of the tea,” Naosha said. “You do not need to concern yourself with the Fate Dancers at the present.”
“I would like to see Denar again,” Yasgrid said. “His treatment was unique. It might have unique complications. Unless there are more pressing matters?”
Naosha’s lips curled up in something other than a smile. A glint of rueful amusement? Yasgrid struggled to work out what she wasn’t hearing and wasn’t being told.
“You are a more pressing matter,” Naosha said. “Both in securing your health and in what you represent to Blue Falls.”
Yasgrid turned her hands over in front of her, searching for signs of injury. There were none on her arms, but as she moved her head she felt the bandage on her throat pull a little. Reaching a hand up she felt a tend spot on the side of her neck which was covered in thick gauze.
“Further visits to the Fate Dancers will require more preparation than your first one this morning,” Naosha said.
“They stabbed me?” Yasgrid asked, wondering how deep the cut went. It couldn’t have been more than scratch. Could it?
“And then Marianne stabbed them,” Naosha said. “Though I gather you inflicted some damage as well. The reports are somewhat contradictory.”
“Was anyone…” Yasgrid wanted to say ‘hurt’ but her fear was that things had gone far worse than that.
“In spite of the injuries there were no fatalities,” Naosha said. “Marianne is quite precise it seems and what you did left no visible damage.”
“I’m glad,” Yasgrid said and breathed a sigh of relief as she relaxed back against the bed’s headboard.
“I imagined you would be,” Naosha said. “Though it does leave me with a question.”
“What’s that?” Yasgrid asked, too tired to dance around such a direct question.
Naosha gazed at Yasgrid for a long moment, her eyes seeming to search for either some hidden answer or the the courage to ask the question on her lips. When no silent answer emerged, she spoke.
“Are you still my daughter?”