Side A – Nia
No one but the Bearer was supposed to be able to touch Endings, and by divine fiat a Trouble in particular should have been destroyed by contact with the blade.
That meant the woman holding Endings by its tip wasn’t a Trouble. Nia was sure of that.
Or mostly sure of it, because while the woman looked to have once been an Elf, Nia couldn’t say with any certainty that she still was.
“You have my attention,” Yasgrid said. “Now what was it you planned to do with it?”
She hadn’t called Endings back yet, and Nia wasn’t entirely sure she could. At the very least Yasgrid wasn’t willing to put that to the test yet.
“You’ve come quite far already,” the woman in shadows said. She wasn’t moving, which struck Nia as an important detail.
She might be capable of holding Endings, but it wasn’t necessarily easy for her.
“That’s not what I’m concerned about at the moment,” Yasgrid said, walking slowly to where the woman in shadows stood with a Trouble cowering behind her.
“Of course not,” the woman said. “But that doesn’t mean you’re concerned about the right things.”
Yasgrid laughed, a short, sharp sound.
“I see your minion was trying to emulate you,” she said. “By all means, waste more of my time being cryptic. That’s certain to win me over.”
“We both know you’re not ready to be won over yet,” the woman said. “But you will be.”
“You’ve seen enough of me to predict my choices that well?” Yasgrid asked. “What fatal flaw will you be exploiting then?”
“None,” the woman said. “You are shaper than this blade, and you’re already walking the path that will lead you to me. It’s only a matter of time before you understand. Only a matter of time before your heart beats for me.”
The shadows that clothed the woman curled around her throat and swirled within her eyes, distorting her features and rendering her strangely alien but Nia was still able to see the naked hunger behind the words she spoke.
It wasn’t a desire for intimacy though, however softly the words were spoken. Nia found herself picturing the woman’s desire as more holding Yasgrid’s still beating heart in her hand than touching it in an emotional sense, and from Yasgrid’s scowl Nia guessed she wasn’t alone in having that impression.
“And yet you felt compelled to come before me now,” Yasgrid said, walking just out of arm’s reach of where Endings hung suspended in the air. “That’s very interesting for someone who doesn’t need to do anything except wait for her prey to deliver itself before her. Were you growing bored? Or was it concern when you couldn’t see me for a while? It certainly wasn’t loyalty towards your minion there, was it?”
“I will admit to curiosity as to where you could bring the blade that I could no longer feel it, but I have my guesses,” the woman said. “Most of which involve meddling with the force the poor pathetic Fate Dancers dally with which are so soon to destroy them.”
Side B – Yasgrid
Yasgrid was sure the creature before her held useful knowledge, and was likely well aware of things Yasgrid had only caught the barest glimpses of. She was also sure that the woman dressed in shadows wasn’t at all what she appeared to be, and was seeing the world through so skewed a lens that believing anything she said was as perilous as dismissing it entirely.
“You’ve worked with the Fate Dancers then?” Yasgrid asked, guessing the reality was more likely to be the reverse, but keenly aware that she probably only had a handful of moments more to learn about the most serious threat she’d encountered since picking up Endings.
“No one works with the Fate Dancers,” the woman in shadows said. “Not even the Fate Dancers themselves.”
Yasgrid couldn’t entirely argue with that given the divisions she’d been witness to already.
“Did you think them kind? That you had found a kindred soul among their number? Someone you could stand with against all the things that crawl and slither through the minds and hearts of the Darkwood?” the woman asked. “Did you think those who bend and shape the strands of time to their will would ever bend themselves to yours? Do you know so little about how power truly sits within a soul?”
“Do you?” Yasgrid asked. The Stoneling in her want to grab the woman and squeeze a plain and simple answer out of her, but there was something enticing about the dance of words, something Yasgrid knew she needed to be careful of. It would be easy to lose herself in the verbal sparring and miss the subtle manipulations an experienced foe might have planned.
“I bear scars you cannot yet imagine,” the woman said. “But you will.”
And with that she flicked her wrist to send Endings tumbling back towards Yasgrid who caught it without breaking eye contact.
“Prophecy or planning?” Yasgrid asked.
“All prophecies are plans,” the woman said.
“So if I foil your plans, your prophecies won’t come to pass?” Yasgrid asked.
“I never said they were my plans,” the woman said. “What I foresee comes not from what I will do for you, but what you will do to yourself.”
“I will do your work for you then?” Yasgrid asked.
“You will do your own work, just as I did mine, and in following the path I followed, you will bring yourself to me,” the woman said.
“I am here before you now,” Yasgrid said. “Why wait? If you have designs on me, then delaying for an uncertain future is foolish, isn’t it?”
“You are not yet ready,” the woman said. “You still bear the blade. In time you will understand. In time you will cast it aside. Not the pantomime you performed in the glade, but truly, and then I will find you and you will find me.”