Side A – Yasgrid
The run back to Blue Falls went quicker than Yasgrid had expected thanks largely to Ending’s guidance. Where she’d been completely lost and Nia unsure of exactly where they were, Endings knew the length and breadth of the Darkwood from the crossing it over and over with its Bearers.
Her reception wasn’t quite what she expected though.
Kayelle was waiting for her just outside town. She was alone, sitting on the branch of a tree, directly in Yasgrid’s path.
“You’ve been gone for quite a while,” Kayelle said, swinging her legs back and forth.
“I didn’t plan to be,” Yasgrid said arresting her flight from tree to tree by somersaulting to a stop.
“I gathered as much,” Kayelle said and dropped from the tree to get a closer look at Yasgrid.
“Endings?” Yasgrid asked, guessing at the source of Kayelle’s knowledge.
“That and the Fate Dancers,” Kayelle said, wandering around Yasgrid as though searching from hidden stab wounds.
“They contacted you last night?” Yasgrid asked.
“Oh, you’ve been gone for several days,” Kayelle said. “It’s one of the costs of Fate Dancer’s method of traveling. Or at least that’s what Mother intuited. The Fate Dancers are not speaking with us officially at the moment.”
“Several days? But I didn’t travel that far?” Yasgrid said.
“According to Endings you did,” Kayelle said.
“I’ve only been half a day coming back though, I couldn’t have been more than that getting out there?” Yasgrid asked, despite a peculiar feeling to the contrary lurking in the back of her head.
“You asked for the quickest route back,” Endings said.
“The Fate Dancers aren’t the only ones who know shortcuts through the Darkwood,” Kayelle said. “Which is good. I don’t think Mother enjoyed the uncertainty, or the waiting, and your friend Marianne has been looking somewhat ‘stabby’ lately.”
“You’re here to take me to them, I’m guessing?”
“No,” Kayelle said. “I’m here because there are things we need to talk about.”
“Things related being the Bearer?”
“That and more,” Kayelle said. “You met someone. Or something maybe? Endings wasn’t clear on who or what it was. But it caught the blade.”
“Yes. The one who did that appeared to be, and maybe once was, an elven woman, but she was dressed all in shadows, and whatever mortality was once in her? It was gone or twisted into something unrecognizable.”
“Mother believes she knows who the woman-in-shadows might be,” Kayelle said. “She began looking into it the moment we learned from Endings that there might be one of the former Bearers involved.”
“That’s excellent. Nia suggested I come back here for exactly that reason,” Yasgrid said. “She said your Mother was the best person we could turn to to help discover the woman in shadows identity.”
“Nia suggested that?” Kayelle asked, looking momentarily surprised. “Begrudgingly?”
“No. Her mother was the first one she thought of, and she told me to make an offer that we could all meet together if Naosha wishes it.”
“All meet? Wait, I don’t…okay, clearly we have more to catch up on than I expected,” Kayelle said.
“Is everyone still awake? I thought it was only early evening but with what you’ve told me I’m not sure quite when I am,” Yasgrid said.
“They are, and it is,” Kayelle said. “But we have something to discuss first.”
Yasgrid searched Kayelle’s face for some emotional tell for what topic she was driving at, but Kayelle was a picture of serenity.
“It’s time we talked about what we pledged to Endings when we became the Bearers,” she said.
Side B- Nia
Nia wanted to stay with Yasgrid, to act as an extra pair of eyes to keep Yasgrid safe as she traveled back to Blue Falls. After the encounter with the woman-in-shadows, Nia felt a deep foreboding for Yasgrid’s future, but she knew that wasn’t any sort of prophetic foresight. It was anxiety, and it was cruelly demanding despite being less accurate than the flip of a coin or the toss of a die.
Yasgrid had seen that too and, gently, demanded that Nia let herself settle down into a proper slumber.
Yes, Nia had spent several days in a coma, but pretty much everyone agreed her body still needed time to recover.
It had been the argument that only proper sleep would fully restore her hands to Battle of the Bands-level Shattering Drumming quality that had finally won her over.
“I’ll sleep lightly”, she’d told herself, intent of listening for any cries for help Yasgrid might make as she slid down into the embrace of surprisingly soft and fluffy dreams.
What woke her wasn’t a cry from Yasgrid though.
It was her father.
“You have grown so much,” he said, quiet adoration wrapped around every word.
“Papa?” Nia asked, rousing herself up onto her elbows.
She wasn’t in the wagon anymore. She wasn’t even on the road. She was laying on a wide bed in a house built of smooth shaped stone.
“I’m dreaming still, right?” she asked
“Mostly,” her father said. “You haven’t been in a while, and before that your dreams were wrapped up too tightly in pain and memories.”
“You saw what happened to me?” Nia asked. “To my hands I mean. Or Yasgrid’s hands. And at the concert?”
“Not all of it,” Ayas said. “But yes. I saw you fight and I saw what it cost you.”
“Did…did I do something wrong? Did I break something more than Yasgrid’s bones?” Nia asked.
“No! I’m not here because you did something wrong. I’m here because you had a quiet moment and I wanted to see you.”
Ayas sat on the bed beside her and Nia noticed that it was much wider than even Yasgrid’s wonderfully enormous frame would need.
Wide enough for two in fact. Herself and someone else who might have risen early. Who might be in the next room, and responsible for the wonderful aroma of breakfast which she caught a hint of.
A thrill twinkled up into her eyes, but she didn’t give it any thought for fear of spoiling the idea it suggested.
“I’m glad you’re here,” she said instead. “I think I’m going to need to talk to Mother soon, and I could probably use a lot of help with explaining, well, all of this.”
“I can’t tell you what to say, or how to say it, I don’t think you’ll remember this well enough when you wake for that to be of any use, but I can tell you about her if you’d like. Share the Naosha M’Kellin I met when she was just about your age. Or at least a little bit of her in the time that we have.”
“Aww, do you need to go soon?” Nia asked.
“No, I’m here with you for as long as you need me,” Ayas said. “But I think you can expect to be woken up a bit earlier than you planned.”
“Oh! Is Yasgrid in trouble?” Nia felt herself pulling towards wakefulness when Ayas placed a warm hand on her own.
“Yasgrid’s okay,” he said. “Her mother on the other hand…”