Side A – Nia
They were farther from the Inn where the Frost Harbor Shatter Band was staying than Nia had imagined. With everything step Margrada took, the pain radiating through Nia’s body crept a bit further into her awareness. That wasn’t what filled her chest with ice though. It was the quiet focus Margrada and Doctor Prash showed towards getting through the crowded streets as fast as they could.
They weren’t safe.
Even surrounded by people who meant them no harm, they were in serious peril.
Nia tried to look behind them to see if there was anyone pursing them yet.
“If you need to split off, we’ll understand,” Margrada said, speaking to Doctor Prash. “The Wailers are probably focused on us.”
“They probably are but Nia will need to have her injuries looked at when you’re able to put her down,” Prash said.
“I’m ok Doc,” Nia lied.
“Then I’ll come along because being with a rival Shatter Band is probably safer than any other spot I could pick in the city,” Prash said. “If that’s okay?”
“Absolutely,” Margrada said. “We owe you a lot for taking care of Nia.”
“It’s a free clinic,” Prash said. “But we do take donations.”
The banter was soothing.
The sight of several muscle-bound Stonelings pushing a path through the crowd behind them was not though.
“We’ve got some new friends following us,” Nia said softly enough that only Margrada could hear her.
“I know. I saw them coming down one of the side streets,” Margrada said and picked up her pace. “I’m not leaving you behind though.”
“Wasn’t thinking to ask you too,” Nia said.
“Wait, did they beat some sense into you?” Margrada asked.
“If you stash me somewhere, we both know they’ll overlook me and keep tracking you,” Nia said. “Yeah, I’d be safe but I’m not letting you fight alone!”
“Ah, yeah, there she is,” Margrada said.
“Who?” Nia asked.
“The idiot I’m in love with,” Margrada said.
Nia wanted to punch her.
And kiss her.
And tell her she loved her.
Instead she settled for, “I’ll remember that later,” leaving whether it was a promise or a threat deliberately unclear.
“If they catch up to us, let me do the talking,” Prash said. “I may be able to buy some time or talk some of the newer members down from doing anything too ill considered.”
“I think they’re trying to box us in,” Margrada said.
“Not just trying,” a deep voiced man said as he grabbed Margrada’s arm. “Thought you could just get away did you? You really don’t know this town. It’s ours. And pretty soon, you two will be too.”
Nia saw the people behind them rapidly catching up.
Margrada needed to put her down. Nia needed to be on her feet if it was going to come to a fight.
And there was no chance it wasn’t going to be a fight. The barrel chested Stoneling still had his hand locked around Margrada’s bicep and his sneer made it clear that violence was the only answer to the situation.
Until it wasn’t.
“You’ll want to let them go,” Osdora said. “And you’ll want to do it right now.”
Side B – Yasgrid
Naosha M’Kellin was gone. She’d left with nothing more than a short “we shall see then.”
“And that was all she said?” Kayelle asked.
“Just that and small nod,” Yasgrid said. “She even left the tea she brought.”
“Of course. It’s yours. You know she’d never take back a gift,” Kayelle said. “Or would you?”
“I can understand that line of thinking, but I don’t think I could have predicted it,” Yasgrid said.
“You really are someone else aren’t you?” Kayelee asked.
“I know it’s hard to believe,” Yasgrid said.
“It’s not,” Kayelle said. “I think I’ve known for a while now in fact.”
“Not in the sense that I was consciously aware of it, but, yes, you have…” She struggled to find the right words for a moment before settling on, “There has always been a tension between Nia and myself. One I’m not sure either of us ever tried hard enough to move past. But you? Though you look like her, and sound like her, and move like her? It’s not the same between us.”
Yasgrid smiled and nodded slightly. If there was a reward for trying to reach out to Kayelle as someone other than “Nia’s sister” it was in the small quiet moments like the one before her.
“I didn’t notice it at first,” Kayelle said. “New Years day I was so focused on being chosen by Endings and then we were traveling and being hunted. At some point though it was impossible to ignore just how different our time together was.”
“I wondered if you’d attribute it to our being Endings Bearers, or perhaps from being in such an unusual situation,” Yasgrid said. “Nia thought no one was likely to notice she’d changed at all.”
“Yes. That sounds like my sister,” Kayelle said. “But of course I noticed. I have always been aware of her. Not in a kindly manner, I have to admit, but still, I always knew her better than she thought I did.”
“Was there a moment that gave me away?” Yasgrid asked. “Not that I wanted to deceive you, but I was hoping to not worry people too much before Nia and I could understand things better.”
“I think the idea grew slowly overtime,” Kayelle said. “If I had to fix it to a point in time though, it would probably have been when we worked out our strategy for confronting the Troubles.”
“Nia wouldn’t have approached it the same as I suggested?” Yasgrid asked.
“Nia wouldn’t have approached me,” Kayelle said. “It was strange, sitting there and talking with my sister and finding her filled with enthusiasm, not just for the topic before us but for my input and ideas. So strange that I started to wonder. When you spoke of going to our mother though, that sealed the idea in my mind.”
“Do you think Naosha knows that?” Yasgrid asked.
“I think that’s why she came to speak with you today,” Kayelle said.