Side A – Yasgrid
Yasgrid wasn’t surprised at the idea that a Shatter Drum might be able to fix what had happened to her and Nia. She had no trouble believing that her mother would be the one to suggest trying it either. For all that Osdora spoke of the unfettered transformative powers of drumming though, and for as much as Osdora believed everyone was capable of drumming their own stories into the world, Yasgrid was nonetheless blown away the idea that Osdora would ask Nia to try something so far beyond what any Shatter Drummer had ever done before.
Osdora had always been exceedingly clear on the dangers and the prices of changing the world through Shatter Drumming. Turning the mountains Frost Harbor was built on and around into a prison for the gods had changed the world, but it’s cost was unending service as prison keepers and yearly struggles that more than once claimed the lives of those who sustained the great working.
Yasgrid had known that the Shatter Drums could, in theory, restore Nia and herself to their original bodies, but she’d known just as surely that the price would be unthinkably high.
Osdora had to know that too.
And she was willing to pay it.
Yasgrid’s breath caught in her throat.
In the Darkwood, living Nia’s life, she’d fallen into the tangle of the Fate Dancer’s hate, been stabbed, and lost, and rejected.
And here, her mother was willing to break down the walls of creation itself to see her again.
Because that’s how important she was to Osdora.
“Can I do this?” Nia asked, speaking silently so that Yasgrid would be free to offer her own advice. “And should I do this?”
“I don’t know,” Yasgrid said. “Honestly, I’m kind of terrified.”
“That it’ll work, or that it won’t?” Nia asked.
“Ah, that much of a disaster I guess?” Nia asked.
Yasgrid shook her head and chuckled. Nia really wasn’t being modest. From what Yasgrid could see, Nia genuinely didn’t see herself as talented. She loved Shatter Drumming just for itself.
And, to be fair, she was pretty shaky on the basics.
But ‘shaky on the basics’ after the tiny bit of training she had was phenomenal. In terms of technique, there were lots of better players. In terms of expressiveness though? Nia gave herself to the drums more deeply than anyone else Yasgrid had ever seen, including Osdora, and that love and passion was contagious.
“I’m not worried about your playing,” Yasgrid said. “I think you can do this. Or, huh, no…” An idea ran ahead of Yasgrid’s words, snowballing into an understanding. “Not you. Us. I think I we both need to play.”
“Do you mean like we did the first time, where you showed me how to hit the drums?” Nia asked.
“No, I mean together, you playing your rhythm, and me playing mine.”
“Can you do that? I mean, you’re not physically here.”
“I don’t think I need to be,” Yasgrid said. “You can feel my hands when we touch. I think the drum will be able to feel them too.”
Side B – Nia
Despite the fact that it had been her idea, or her and Margrada’s idea, drumming up a connection the others could use to see and speak with Yasgrid was feeling more and more like a wildly bad idea with each passing moment.
But Margrada wanted to understand who Nia really was, and Osdora was willing to let her play to see the daughter she clearly loved more than the world and stars above.
She owed it to both of them.
For Margrada, it was payment on the promise to share who she really was.
And for Osdora? Would it make up for the deception? Would it be a step in building a new relationship? Was it the chance to prove she belonged in the Shatter Band? Or did none of that matter? Looking at Osdora, who was so different from Naosha, Nia saw a clear parallel emerge.
For all the flaws in their relationship, Naosha would break the heavens and the Darkwood for Nia too if her role was reversed with Osdora’s.
“I guess the only way to see if I can do this is to try?” Nia said.
“Listen to the music as you play it,” Osdora said. “Hold onto what you want and let the music lead you there.”
“You’ve walked in the music before,” Margrada said. “It’s inside you, don’t be afraid to let it breathe.”
“And, remember, you won’t be alone,” Yasgrid said, sitting down on the opposite side of the drum from Nia.
“Isn’t this dangerous?” Nia asked privately. “Osdora told us the who story of how she played with someone she loved and they wound up knowing to much about each other to stay together.”
“I’m not sure that’s a universal experience,” Yasgrid said, “and I think our condition is a special case. We’re already, I guess ‘entwined’ for lack of a better word.”
“I hope we don’t break that,” Nia said.
“Then we won’t,” Yasgrid said. “Our intents and desires shape the magic, and I don’t want to be split apart either.”
“We should begin then,” Nia said, eyeing the drum before her, feeling its weight in her hands. It was such a small thing, but it held her entire future within it. “Which one of us should start?”
“You,” Yasgrid said. “This is your song. You’ll be guiding it. My rhythm will be in answer to the one you lay down.”
Nia drew in a long, steadying breath, centering herself as best she could.
As she exhaled, she opened her eyes and looked up to meet Osdora’s eyes, then down to Yasgrid’s.
“Let’s do this,” she said and slammed her left hand down onto the Shatter Drum.
The magic filled her, filled the universe, and then grew so much deeper still as Yasgrid joined her, playing Nia’s rhythm back to her.
Two beats melding into one song.
Joyous, strong, and broad enough for both of them to hear Osdora’s gasp of disbelief and Margrada’s exhalation of wonder.