Side A – Nia
Yasgrid’s play was a gamble, but then most of their successful ideas had been. The aggravating thing though was that while it wasn’t a lie, Nia knew that was something the Trouble couldn’t believe.
“You wish to save us?” the Trouble asked. “You are the Bearers, and you wish to save us? With what? Broken promises? False seemings? Empty words?”
“You’re not what you believe yourself to be,” Yasgrid said. “And the world isn’t the one you see through the prism of your pain and hate.”
She was standing well inside the borders of the forests, far off the clear path, and farther still away from where Endings rested point down in the dirt.
“It’s not going to go for that line of reasoning,” Nia said, taking a place at Yasgrid’s side.
“I know,” Yasgrid replied silently to her. “I’m not so concerned about what this one does or doesn’t do though. It’s the others that we need to play to.”
“Others?” Nia asked. She hadn’t seen any other Troubles lurking about. Troubles tended not to get along well with each other, so that wasn’t unexpected, but she was surprised that Yasgrid had spotted them.
“Watchers from afar,” Yasgrid said, keeping her voice silent so only Nia could hear her words.
She didn’t have to cast her glance around the clearing. Nia knew she wasn’t referring to other Troubles who were physically present, because she could feel the gaze of the distant eyes as well.
“How much danger are you in here?” Nia asked, wondering if Osdora had left behind the drum she’d let Nia work with. She’d bridged the gap from the Stoneling lands to the Darkwoods once already and there was no chance she was going to let Yasgrid stand alone against whatever cruel trap the Troubles were laying for her.
“Hard to say,” Yasgrid replied. “Less than this Trouble thinks, but possibly more than we’re aware of too.”
“I can be here in more than just spirit if you need?” Nia asked, her fingers twitching for the feel of a drum underneath them.
“Not yet,” Yasgrid said. “Your spirit and company are everything I need at the moment.”
The Trouble took that moment to emerge from its hiding place.
Or at least to appeared too.
Nia shared a nod with Yasgrid before moving closer while Yasgrid kept her distance.
“You would tell me what I am?” Anger brewed in the Trouble’s voice. “You think you know me already? That you understand my experience better than I do?”
“Why is that hard to believe?” Yasgrid asked. “Have you ever examined yourself? Have you ever questioned the beliefs you hold? Or have you clasped onto the pain and misery you feel and built a world out of them?”
“You know nothing of what created me,” the Trouble said.
“And how much do you know of other Troubles?” Yasgird asked. “Have you spoken to the others who share your circumstances? Do you think you are all alike? Do you know how you differ? Or have you been so wrapped up in yourself and the unbearable burden that brought you into existence that you just assumed their stories were the same as yours?”
Nia saw the Trouble swell as it stepped towards Yasgrid, it’s presence pull the heat from the air.
Side B – Yasgrid
Provoking the Trouble when she was unarmed wasn’t, logically speaking, the best of ideas. Yasgrid would have regretted it immensely, if she had, in fact, been unarmed.
“Given up on convincing me I see?” she asked. “Does that mean we can get to the violence now?”
“So quick to follow the blade’s way,” the Trouble boomed, it’s voice deeper and louder as it grew.
“If you’re not ready to fight, you might want to tone the menace down a bit,” Yasgrid said, her demeanor as calm as it had been, and her posture still relaxed.
It was an act, one Yasgrid hoped was good enough, given that part of her wanted nothing more than to run away.
That part, the ‘Old Yasgrid’ part as she thought of it, was neither so long gone, nor necessarily a part she wanted to let go of. She knew her bravado was going to cost her eventually, but it felt so much better to win with confidence than to eek out victory with the heart of a mouse. Even losing was less frightening if she imagined herself defiant to the end. She was tired of being the timid, careful one.
“You call me menacing,” the Trouble said. “But I am not the one carrying a blade sharp enough to rend souls asunder.”
“What a coincidence,” Yasgrid said. “I’m not carrying a blade like that either. The only one I can see that can do that is way over there, where you had me drop it.”
“Because you have lain a trap for me,” the Trouble said. “Don’t think you can fool me. You speaking of saving us, but there is nothing you can save us from except existence, just as the Blade would have you do.”
Nia signaled from deeper into the forest, indicating the place where the Trouble had actually fled to.
The image of the Trouble in front of her held no faults. As an illusion it was spectacular, but Yasgrid wasn’t terribly surprised to find it a walking falsehood.
“Maybe I have,” she said. “And maybe the best hope you have of surviving it is to flee now. You could abandon this conversation, scurry away from making your argument, and find a dark hole to burrow into where I won’t be able to find you. Lay there for a year and a day and you’re sure to be rid of me. But we both know you won’t. You can’t.”
“You have no idea what I can do.”
“You don’t want to be here. You don’t want to be forced to face me,” Yasgrid said. “You’ve lived long enough to find words and build a greater sense of self than any other Trouble I’ve found yet. You’ve only done that by being so very careful. You have every reason not to be here. But you are. Not because you want to be, but because they made you do this.”
The Trouble recoiled from Yasgrid’s words but its feet stayed frozen to the ground.
“So let’s put the posturing aside. Tell me about the one who loves me.”