Side A – Nia
The Trouble had probably not meant for its ‘Grand Revelation’ to send a wave of relief washing over Nia.
If she’d been the one the Trouble was talking to, if she’d been the Bearer, it might have. Nia hadn’t ever considered that the Bearer’s might be Troubled. Endings was supposed to keep them safe from such things.
Most of the stories of a Bearer dying while carrying Endings involved meeting with Trouble inspired mishaps like logfalls, drops into inescapable caverns, or poisonings. A few Bearers fell to surprise attacks, or a power they hadn’t expected the Trouble to possess, but those were the rare, and potentially fanciful, exceptions to the rule that Endings existed for a purpose, and its purpose was backed by a divine mandate.
“I hadn’t given much thought to what other Bearers might have done or not done,” Yasgrid lied.
Nia could feel the slick and slithery shape of the lie as Yasgrid spoke it into existence, but Nia doubted the Trouble could. It wasn’t that Yasgrid was a master manipulator, it was simply that when she lied, she lied like a Stoneling and that didn’t sound like an elf lying at all.
“You should,” the Trouble said. “You stand poised to repeat the mistakes of the worst of them.”
“Again though, why would you care?” Yasgrid asked. “You can’t be trying to sell me that you have good intentions towards me.”
“Troubles never wish to bother the Bearer, only the Blade” the Trouble said.
It was such a ludicrous claim that Nia burst out laughing. Yasgrid flicked a glance at her and shook her head though.
And she was right.
This was a new tack for a Trouble to take. She and Yasgrid stood to learn a tremendous amount about the enemies they faced if they could just keep the Trouble talking for as long as possible.
“That seems hard to believe with how much Bearers want to bother Troubles,” Yasgrid said.
“That’s not the Bearers. It’s the Blade,” the Trouble said. “It is the enemy of us all.”
“Do you think Endings controls me?” Yasgrid asked. “You said you’ve walked my path, were you a puppet then?”
“I walked your path, but the journey I took was through memory and regret,” the Trouble said. “Only be standing apart could I see the cords with which the Blade bound the me.”
“Bound the Bearer you mean?” Yasgrid asked. “You said one like me birthed you, not that you had been a Bearer yourself.”
“You have no idea what we truly are do you?” the Trouble asked.
“You’re Trouble, I thought it was obvious from the name?” Yasgrid said. Despite her flippant tone though, her entire body seemed to focused on what the Trouble’s answer might be.
“A lie,” the Trouble said. “Told at the dawn of days, and passed down by those the Blade dominated.”
“What’s the truth then?” Yasgrid asked.
“We are you,” the Trouble said. “The Troubled One? The one we are born from? It is from their essence we arise. From them we take our form and substance. It is their memories we bear. We are them. We are you all.”
Side B – Yasgrid
The Trouble’s assertions struck Yasgrid as suspiciously full of holes and inconsistencies, but she didn’t dare point them out. Shutting the Trouble up was just about the worst idea she could conceive of. It’s rantings might be delusional. They might have only the barest whisper of a connection to reality. They might even be purposefully designed to engineer doubt in Yasgrid about her role as a Bearer. They might be all those things, but with each word the Trouble revealed the things it thought were important, and the things it thought would sway, or put a crack in, Yasgrid’s beliefs.
As temptations went, it had hit the dead center of the Yasgrid’s interests.
Ilia still had Denar, and while it was perfectly possible for their to be multiple Troubles operating against her independently, Yasgrid felt safe guessing that there was some connection between Ilia and whoever the General was who’d sent the Trouble Army to Blue Falls.
She hadn’t had many ideas on how to discover what that connection was, especially without the Fate Dancer’s help.
No. Scratch that. Especially with the Fate Dancer’s active opposition.
Thinking of her own troubles did little to help in dealing with the immediate Trouble that was stalking her.
“So you’re saying your a tiny bit of our soul that got snipped off?” Yasgrid asked.
“No! Not a part. The whole. We are all of you. Everything you were, we are. All of your rage, and hate, and pain, and sorrow. Every limit that tortures you, we must endure too.”
“So you can starve?” Yasgrid asked.
“Another thing the Blade did not tell you,” the Trouble said. “We are always starving, always suffering. Inside us is an unquenchable Inferno that can never be quieted.”
“And you think that’s all we are?” Yasgrid said. “Just pain, and starvation, and suffering?”
“All else are delusions which fall when faced with the face of the true misery of the world,” the Trouble said.
“And your memories tell you think?” Yasgrid asked.
“Yes. Gaze upon your life from an outsiders perspective and you will be horrified by what you see,” the Trouble said. “All delusions are blown away under the pressure of unbearable agony.”
“Is that what birthed you?” Yasgrid asked. “Physical pain? Emotional torment? What were you enduring when you split?”
“Memories,” the Trouble said. “I was enduring the memories of who I’d been. Of what I’d done. Of what had been lost and could never be undone.”
“And the good memories?” Yasgrid asked.
“Burned away. Not one of them was good enough to retain their meaning in the face of endless shame.”
“Nothing is endless,” Yasgrid said.
“You still wish to feed me to the Blade don’t you?” the Trouble asked.
“No,” Yasgrid said, with a sincere shake of her head. “I’ve left Endings behind. You can try to strike at me if you wish, but if you would prefer to keep talking, I am willing to listened. And I won’t feed you to Endings. I don’t want to destroy any of the Troubles.”
Yasgrid paused, and turned to face the direction Nia had shown her.
“I want to save you.”