Side A – Yasgrid
The Lost Road wasn’t a comfortable place. Danger loomed around every corner, and living breathing mortals like Yasgrid were anathema in the sight of every creature which lurked beyond the road’s boundaries. Despite that, Yasgrid felt waves of relief washing over her.
“I don’t know how you did that,” Kyra said, her voice as unsteady as Yasgrid’s heart felt.
“It was all of us,” Yasgrid said. “You, me, and Endings. I think if any of us had faltered in there we would not be having this conversation.”
“How could Endings have faltered, it’s just a blade,” Kyra said. “Isn’t it?”
“It’s the instrument of the departed gods,” Yasgrid said. “It is its own being and while as a Bearer I can direct it, if it had chosen to strike against the forest I can’t imagine I’d be in a position object.”
“Can it do that?” Kyra asked. “Act on its own?”
“It has a will of its own,” Yasgrid said. “It chooses who will bear it each year, and the only dictates I believe it is compelled to follow are those of its makers.”
“We have tales about those dictates,” Kyra said.
“I imagine fairly dire ones?” Yasgrid asked. She’d seen how much the Fate Dancers loathed Endings Bearers. They’d been willing to work with her only when an army of Troubles had given them little other choice.
“You are an unusual Bearer, if our tales are true,” Kyra said.
“Have you know any of the others?” Yasgrid asked.
“No. I’ve seen the devastation left in their wake, but you’re the first that I’ve met in person,” Kyra said.
“What will it mean for you with the other Fate Dancers that we made this trip together?” Yasgrid asked. She didn’t mind that the Fate Dancers hated her on general principal. Or she could at least pretend she didn’t mind that, despite how unpleasant the reality of it was. The thought that associating with her was somehow tainting Kyra in her peoples’ eyes was quietly rage inducing.
For the first time in a long time, Yasgrid’s fingers itched to strike a drum, but she knew that would the worst possible thing she could do under the circumstances.
“That I’ve flown ahead of them to protect Denar is not going to sit well with,” she paused before sighing and admitting, “well, with almost any of them. There are several who will no doubt agree that Denar is not deserving of death, but even among those, most won’t accept that I acted against our leader’s designs. Disharmony is dangerous in any group, and all the more so with the magics we work.”
“And my presence?” Yasgrid asked.
“That is complicated,” Kyra said. “As a Bearer, any aid I render to you is suspect, and any aid you provide me is something I’m supposed to reject.”
“What harm have the other Bearers done in the name of helping the Fate Dancers?” Yasgrid asked.
“Endings slew the first Fate Dancer, and its because of Endings that we can’t dance the Darkwood to a brighter fate,” Kyra said.
Side B – Nia
In a fit of reasonableness that would have made Naosha proud, Nia found herself standing before Osdora and proving that she was capable of learning from past mistakes by acting as a responsible adult.
At least under the circumstances where a disaster wasn’t immediately imminent.
And when there wasn’t a Shatter drum at hand.
Okay, she had to admit that the lack of Shatter drum access was a large part of restraining her impulses. But it wasn’t the only part anymore, so that was certainly good.
“Hi there, I…” Nia got as far as saying that before she was engulfed in the most motherly hug she’d ever been crushed by.
The force of the hug wasn’t enough to snap her like a twig, but it did remind her forcefully that Yasgrid’s body was still mending from the various forms of abuse Nia had subjected it to.
The tears weren’t a reaction to that though, and at first they weren’t hers.
Naosha M’Kellin had never been discomposed in front of anyone, and certainly not her daughters. Osdora, by contrast, unleashed the torrent of emotions that she’d held bottled up ever since they set out on the Battle of the Bands trip, and showed no shame or regret at the tears that soaked Nia’s shoulder.
“You’re okay! You’re really okay!” Osdora said in between sobs of what had to be joy but held too much of the pain that had been tearing at Osdora’s heart for Nia not to clutch her as tightly as Osdora was holding her.
Osdora wasn’t her mother. They’d only known each other for a short time. The emotions between them were just confused. Weren’t they?
If so though, why did it feel so bad to imagine the days of anguish Osdora had suffered, and why was it such a relief to feel Osdora’s arms holding onto her as though to shield her from anything bad ever happening to her again?
Nia knew what she had to do. She owed Osdora the same truth she’d shared with Margrada. Osdora had accepted her as a new person, but only in theory. When she saw Nia it had to be through eyes that remembered everything Yasgrid had ever done and ever been to her.
They hadn’t been a perfect family. From Yasgrid’s memories, Nia caught glimpses of fights they’d had, of absences when Yasgrid had been left in the care of other people for achingly long periods, and the sort of unthinking expectations that Yasgrid would or even could follow in Osdora’s footsteps that had torn Yasgrid up inside for years.
Osdora wasn’t a flawless wonder. Nia knew that. Nestled in her embrace though, there was no denying the fact that Osdora loved her daughter as well and as fiercely as she knew how.
So Nia let her have the moment, and let herself enjoy it too. The truth would create new wounds, and with all the bravery in her heart she resolved to see those through, but for the moment, after so many days of uncertainty, a beat of healing was what they all needed.