Side A – Nia
Yasgrid wasn’t exactly lying. She wasn’t claiming that she held the power of the Troubles who slept within her and could unleash it as she willed. From the look in Osdora’s and Prash’s eyes though, the unspoken claim was what was filling their ears, blotting out the host of more practical questions they might have been asked.
“So if you can make the journey, does that mean you’ll try to stay in Frost Harbor once you’re done here?” Margrada said.
Nia held back a smile from all but the corners of her lips.
Her girlfriend was a lot quicker than people tended to remember. It was an oddly happy thought, and filled Nia with a warm glow, despite the the awkwardness it introduced.
“I don’t think so,” Yasgrid answered easily and without hesitation. “I don’t think I’ll ever be completely done here. The Darkwood is where this life I’m in now is connected to. I don’t think the old limitations need to constrain me – Darkwood Elves do not travel, but that’s tradition, not a divine imperative – but there are connections I’ve already made that I need to honor. No,” she shook her head, “that I want to honor. This isn’t something I’m bound too. It’s something I’m holding onto.”
“It sounds like you want to hold onto somethings from our world too though,” Margrada said, her voice soft and without accusation. “Can you stretch that far?”
“Maybe not alone,” Nia said. “But she doesn’t have to bridge the distance all by herself.”
“Because she has you?” Margrada asked and paused, considering her next question.
“Because she has us,” Nia said. “All of us. I’m not saying we’d go to meet her halfway, I’m not sure we’d even need to. She’s distant, yes, but that doesn’t prevent her from being involved in each our lives. And the lives of anyone else she cares to stay in contact with. Belhelen for example. Those two can still have long conversations and swap tales of their days whenever they want.”
“Through you,” Margrada said. “Or through the drumming?”
“Either,” Nia said. “I never wanted to usurp Yasgrid’s life. My whole reason for going to the Calling was to help her keep her life from falling into a shambles. It was only later that I discovered that her life held so many things that I’d been longing for.”
“And she still tried to give it back to me,” Yasgrid said. “Our first night, before we fell asleep, we didn’t know if the change was only for that single day, a fluke of the New Year, and we talked about what we wanted.”
“I don’t think either of us wanted to admit that the other’s life was drawing us in even then,” Nia said.
“And you have no idea how you wound up bound together like that?” Margrada asked.
“None,” Nia said.
“But it sounds like you’ve discovered or decided for yourselves what you are to each other,” Margrada said.
“I think, like with any relationship, that’s evolving still,” Yasgrid said.
“But it is a relationship,” Margrada said, “and a close one. Would you say you love each other?”
“Yeah, certainly,” Nia said.
At the same time Yasgrid said, “No.”
Yasgrid saw a shocked looked flow across Nia’s face like a wave, passing into one of curious suspicion. For all that the M’kellan’s thought of Nia as being the family hothead, she was as sharp as her sister or her mother. It was personality more than aptitude that kept that from being displayed as openly as with the other two.
“Those were interesting answers,” Margrada said.
“She’s answering a different question from the one you’re asking,” Yasgrid said.
“I thought it was a pretty simple question,” Nia said.
“It’s not,” Yasgrid said. “Allow me to rephrase it though and it may become clearer; Nia, do you feel about me the same as you feel about Margrada?”
“Uh, no, that would be weird,” Nia said, understanding rising as she listened to the actual words Yasgrid was saying, not the strange translation that seemed to effortlessly occur in her head.
“Then how do you feel about her?” Margrada asked.
“I love her?” Nia said.
A flash of concern passed over Margrada’s face, though it too was cast aside, as Margrada guessed at what Yasgrid was leading them too.
“And how do you feel about me?” she asked, aware only as she said the words that she was asking the question in front of Nia’s mother – or, sort of mother? – someone older and important to Nia.
“I…I love you. I know I said that before, and I can totally get if that’s hard to believe now, but…” Nia began.
“She’s not saying the same words, is she?” Doctor Prash asked, speaking up the moment the idea dawned on him.
“No. She’s not,” Yasgrid said. “Nia speaks in Elvish, Ki’lianelle specifically. Just like I’m, speaking in Low Quand.”
“Oh. Oh wow,” Nia said, puzzling out the difference between the two languages. “When I said I love you, you thought I was only saying I love you not I love you. Ugh, I can hear it now, that sounds so…why doesn’t Low Quand have more words for love than just love. That’s so silly. Do you love your mother? And your sister? And…and Sleeping Gods that is ridiculous!”
Margrada tried and failed to hold back a laugh.
“So you still think like an Elf then?” Doctor Prash asked.
“No she doesn’t,” Osdora said. “You can hear her playing. That’s not the magic that’s in this place. That’s our magic. I don’t know what the words in her head are, but she thinks like we do.”
“And I think like they do Mom,” Yasgrid said. “I always have. You know it. You’ve heard my playing too, right?”
“No, that’s not…it’s different,” Osdora said, but her gaze went distant before she closed her eyes to really listen to the music of the Darkwood.