Two Hearts One Beat – Chapter 189


Side A – Yasgrid

Unarmed and facing a foe of unknown capabilities she couldn’t see or reach wasn’t, perhaps, an ideal situation to be in, but Yasgrid made no move to change it.

“A foolish move,” a voice said from inches behind her.

She didn’t turn to look.

It wouldn’t be there if it she did.

Instead she simply waited. Saying nothing. Letting the silence stretch on until the weight of it compelled the Trouble to break it.

“But you would have to be a fool to agree to that thing’s pact, wouldn’t you.”

It was farther away now, and maybe a bit less certain. With how fast it crossed the distance, the relocation could have been a taunt or a threat.

But it wasn’t.

Yasgrid was sure of that.

The Trouble wanted distance between them because that was distinctly safer for it than the alternative.

“Why even though you’re a Trouble who’s appeared to taunt me in the middle of the woods for no good reason, I see that you must be right. My thoughts are so unclouded now,” she said. “What with Endings being so far away over there.”

“You think you can reach it before I can reach you?” the Trouble asked.

“You certainly seem to think so,” Yasgrid said. “Or is something else holding you back? You did promise that you would try to woo me over to your side, if only the terrible blade wasn’t corrupting my mind.”

“You are not receptive to the message,” the Trouble said, still holding its distance.

“I might be,” Yasgrid said, turning on her heel and beginning to wander aimlessly. “Being the Bearer hasn’t been easy after all. I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been at odds with people who are close to me, I’m even hated by all the Fate Dancers. Why don’t you try to convince me how wrong Endings is?”

“You are not receptive,” the Trouble said. “But you will be.”

“Oh! You know me even though we’ve just met! You can read me like an open book. Tell me, what else will I do? I always enjoyed going to the fortune tellers,” Yasgrid said.

“You think you are different. Special. Because you alone of all the people who gathered together were Chosen. Picked out above all the rest and given a Sacred Duty,” the Trouble said. “Just like all the other Bearers before you.”

“That is an excellent point,” Yasgrid said, rapping on a tree trunk as she wandered. “I’m probably just the same as the Bearer from last year, and the one before that, and the one before that. I mean, Endings must have a type of person it looks for, right?”

“You don’t believe that applies to you though, do you?” the Trouble said. “You still think your cut from a different cloth – and perhaps you are? None of your immediate predecessors have managed to stir up quite the adversary you have. So maybe there is something unique about you. Tell me, what vow did you make on the blade? What quest did it lay before you?”

“That’s a secret,” Yasgrid said. “If I tell you that, it might not come true. Or does that only apply to wishes?”

A stones throw into the forest, Nia turned and smiled to Yasgrid, pointing behind one of the trees which the Trouble had, quite tellingly, not spoken from at all as its voiced bounced around.

Side B – Nia

Sleep hadn’t been an option for Nia even before she felt Yasgrid’s alarm at the arrival of the Trouble. Laying down had made it easy to ignore the bedding and all the rest of her surroundings and focus only on the Darkwood though.

“What’s happening?” she asked as she appeared at Yasgrid’s side.

“Why even though you’re a Trouble who’s appeared to taunt me in the middle of the woods for no good reason, I see that you must be right. My thoughts are so unclouded now,” Yasgrid said, addressing the creature that was menacing her and indicating its last location with her gaze.

Nia didn’t need any more explanation. Yasgrid being hunted by a stray Trouble wasn’t terribly surprising. That she hadn’t already dealt with it was a little unexpected, but as Nia approached the spot where the Trouble was supposed to be, Nia saw why Yasgrid hadn’t ended it yet.

Turning back to Yasgrid, she shrugged and shook her head. There was no Trouble there and no sign of one being there either.

The Trouble spoke again and Nia didn’t need Yasgrid’s guidance. She lit off through the Darkwood towards the sound.

It should have felt familiar. She’d raced through trees like the ones around her more times than she could count. She knew the unseen paths that led from bough to bough even though she’d never been in this particular spot before. Her heart’s may have found a new home, but the Darkwood had sunk its roots into her bones and she doubted she’d ever forget its ways.

Despite that though, peril raced in lightning bolts up and down her arms and legs.

She was on the edges of the area Yasgrid could perceive and instinct held her from moving farther. She could be Yasgrid’s eyes and ears in distant spots, but there were limitations which they’d already run afoul of.

The Trouble spoke a few more times and Nia raced to catch it, but it was always faster.

Always moving away before she could even catch a glimpse of it.

Nia scowled, wondering if she could teleport her position around to catch the Trouble when a thought occurred to her.

Maybe she didn’t have to.

“Maybe this thing isn’t moving around at all,” she said, her voice one only Yasgrid could hear. “It would be a lot easier to cast its voice from one spot to another to move all itself so fast it can evade me when it can’t see me at all.”

“That is an excellent point,” Yasgrid said and Nia changed her course.

Stalking the Trouble wasn’t a matter of speed.

Nia looked carefully at the woods around her.

The Trouble would want a spot with hard cover from Yasgrid. It would want a spot that was close enough to observe her from. It would want a spot it could retreat from if it needed to.

One by one, Nia mentally checked off the areas around her.

Until she found it.