Side A – Nia
Osdora was either giving Nia the time she needed to process the discovery of what she’d done or the time to find an explanation for it. Nia wasn’t sure she could manage either option, at least not right away, so she changed the subject.
“Why did I sleep so long?” she asked. “Did Doctor Prash give me a special potion or something?”
“No. That was all you,” Margrada said. “Prash has been checking in on you but he didn’t want to give you anything exotic until we had a better idea of what had happened with you.”
“I guess he’s a smart doctor,” Osdora said. “I threatened to toss him off the trail and he stuck to his diagnosis.”
“This was while the side of the trail was overlooking a thousand foot drop,” Margrada helpfully pointed out.
“Do you remember anything about what happened?” Osdora asked. “Were you dreaming? It looked like you were dreaming for a while there.”
“You were talking in your sleep at least,” Margrada said. “Not words, just babble, so we couldn’t tell what you were saying.”
“It sounded like more than babble,” Osdora said. “It was musical, but high and chirpy. No rumble or beat to it at all.”
Nia had a sinking feeling that she knew exactly what they’d been hearing. Definitely not babble. Elven speech. A glance over at Margrada, who gave a tiny nod, confirmed her suspicion.
Alone it wasn’t enough to reveal her, but it was one more question that had been answered by the revelation of her true heritage. One of many reasons why Margrada had believed her.
Nia felt embarrassed but on reflection knew she should be grateful for anything that made the truth easier to believe.
Something in Osdora’s words overshadowed that thought though.
“How were you able to tell that the people I, uh, broke, couldn’t drum anymore?” Nia asked.
“They tried to pick up the drums after you did whatever you did to them,” Osdora said. “We were still playing and the crowd around them didn’t have the sense to try and stop them, but it turned out they didn’t need to.”
“They would have killed you, but they couldn’t,” Margrada said. “The Shale Shard band checked the drums afterwards and the drums are fine. Whatever happened, it happened to the people.”
“So…” Nia didn’t want to even give the question the weight of her breath. “I guess I’ll need a drum won’t I?”
“Yeah.” Osdora didn’t whisper the word but it was close. “That can wait a bit though. We should make sure your hands are in shape to play again.”
“Or my head,” Nia said with a forced laugh.
“Wait, is that what you did?” Margrada asked.
“I couldn’t play with my hands, and I…I had to stop them. So I hit the drum with the only thing I could think of that wasn’t broken.”
Nia was rewarded with the sight of a slack jawed Osdora and a long horrified silence that was broken by the deepest belly laugh she’d ever heard.
“You are so definitely my daughter,” Osdora finally managed to gasp out after the laughter passed.
She was looking at Nia with a combination of adoration, disbelief, and rapidly dwindling concern. Nia hated to break the relief that Osdora was feeling, but she knew she couldn’t let the truth remain hidden any longer.
“About that…” she began.
Side B – Yasgrid
Kyra tried to pull her hand free from Yasgrid’s. They’d come almost to the end of the Lost Road. It might have been okay for them to separate.
But Yasgrid hung on anyways.
“Don’t leave,” she said, hoping to calm the wild look of flight and disorientation in Kyra’s eyes on their sudden return from Endings internal realm.
Kyra pulled once more but then froze in place, her gaze sharp and unblinking. She focused on Yasgrid’s face and seemed to come back to herself, her expression thawing as quickly as it had set into stillness.
Altogether the transition back to the Lost Roads had taken no longer than a second and Kyra had recovered herself just as fast, but it had been a perilous second.
“Of course,” Kyra said and leaned her weight back so that she wasn’t pulling away from Yasgrid.
“I know that was only Endings side of the story, not the objective truth of what happened” Yasgrid said. “One thing that I believe though is that while I carry it, Endings works according my will, not its own. It won’t do anything that I don’t decide for it to do.”
She meant it as a reassurance, but as she spoke the words Yasgrid imagined them being twisted into a threat. She tried to read how Kyra took them but the Fate Dancers expression was a firm mask, holding back any emotions she was feeling.
Not unlike when she’d stabbed Yasgrid.
Which was not the sort of comforting thought Yasgrid needed at that moment.
“We should go,” Kyra mumbled. “We’re not safe until we’re off the Lost Roads.”
Yasgrid nodded but didn’t squeeze Kyra’s hand. There was a time and place for gentle reassurance, and that moment didn’t feel like one of them. Not when Kyra seemed to be processing – or perhaps refusing to process – a lot already.
With her eyes fixed firmly ahead, Kyra lead them down the last winding stretch of the Lost Roads to their destination. Yasgrid still felt the same malevolence around them that she’d felt when they arrived, but the void beside her was more concerning.
She’d been sure that together they’d be able to get through to Denar, being able to speak both from the perspective of his people and the wider world.
Had she been wrong to show Kyra what Endings take on the history of the Bearer and the Fate Dancers had been? Maybe. But she wanted them to present a united front. To be speaking together to Denar, not two separate forces arguing over him.
Glancing over at Kyra she saw that the woman she’d been growing to know was only a small part of who the Fate Dancer was. Life as a Fate Dancer meant more than fighting Troubles once in a while and Yasgrid had tried to call into question one of their most fundamental beliefs.
With each step, she liked their chances with Denar less and less.