Side A – Nia
Nia wanted to be wrong. She didn’t know Osdora. They weren’t actually family, despite the admiration and affection Nia felt for Osdora. The little voice inside of Nia that was telling her where Osdora had gone was the voice of her anxieties, not the voice of reason. It should have been no more than the whispers of a phantom conjured from her deepest fears.
Reason told her that Osdora wasn’t a fool. Reason said that Osdora wouldn’t have abandoned the Shatter Band in the middle of a Battle of the Bands road trip, and that Osdora definitely knew better than to trek across the world with less than one night’s preparation for the journey.
Nia wanted to be wrong, but every moment they spent searching for Osdora she grew more convinced that she wasn’t.
“Tell me she didn’t do what I’m thinking she did,” Nia said as she and Margrada walked to the Filled Flagon, the last place someone had seen Osdora.
“I can do that,” Margrada said. “As long as you aren’t thinking she’s gone running off to your old homeland?”
It wasn’t a comfort that the idea had occurred to someone else.
“I shouldn’t have drummed us there last night,” Nia said. “The trip’s too far. There are lands she’d have to pass through that no one calls home for some very good reasons. And if she makes it to the Darkwood? It’s not open to outsiders. Even if Yasgrid speaks for her – even if my mother speaks for her – she’s not going to receive the welcome she thinks she will.”
“Osdora’s resourceful,” Margrada said. “And she’s smart. If she’s just overwhelmed at the moment, a day or two of walking could bring her back to her senses.”
“If it was only a day or two I wouldn’t be worried,” Nia said. “After what I dumped on her last night, I couldn’t fault her for taking a week off, or even longer, to process it all. Gah! If we could just catch her, I could tell her that. I could let her talk to Yasgrid again and get Yasgrid to tell her that! Come on we should run.Should could be getting farther away every minute.”
Margrada clasped Nia’s arm firmly.
“No. You’re in no shape to run yet,” she said. “I saw you panting out of breath there after we searched the camp. Prash said even too much walking could be bad for you, but I knew we had to give you at least this or you’d sneak off and do something worse.”
“I would not!” Nia objected, knowing with absolute certainty that she definitely would have.
“No running,” Margrada grip was gentle but her gaze was unyielding.
“Fine.” Nia still felt her heart urging her own, but she had to admit that the rest of her body was more in agreement with Margrada’s edict. “Let me check in with Yasgrid. I can keep walking but I’ll be pretty spaced out so don’t let me go okay? I don’t think I’d walk off a cliff but with how things have been going…?”
“You’re safe with me,” Margrada said, looping her arm around Nia’s waist.
The warmth of the half embrace, melted away some of Nia’s anxieties, enough for her to believe Margrada’s words and feel the sparkle of joy that came from hearing them.
Side B – Yasgrid
Yasgrid had expected Kayelle to look confused by the assertion that pledging to vanquish all the Troubles in the Darkwood could have led to the creation of a far worse Trouble than any they defeated.
Instead Kayelle sighed and nodded. For long heartbeat, she didn’t meet Yasgrid’s gaze.
“Hey,” Yasgrid said, placing her hands beneath Kayelle’s. “You’re not alone.”
The stream of Endings’ light which was generating the sheltering dome intensified as both of the Bearers shaped it.
“I’m not,” Kayelle said, “which means I have a responsibility to you as well. If I continue as a Bearer, if my pledge stands, I risk more than my life alone.”
“There’s an important point there however,” Yasgrid said. “The one thing you can’t be responsible for are the choices I make. Or anyone else. Those are ours alone.”
“If my choices constrain yours though, if mine doom you, how can that not be my responsibility?” Kayelle asked.
“Am I doomed?” Yasgrid asked. “I am as free to walk away from this as you are. More free in many senses. You know I’m not from the Darkwood. It didn’t nurture me as a child, and it’s music is not the only rhythm my blood beats to. I could turn my back on everything here and let the woods around me burn and I would lose nothing from the life I knew before this year.”
“But you won’t,” Kayelle said. “Because you would lose something. You would lose yourself. I don’t know what your life was like before you became my sister, but I can’t believe you would have remained here if this life didn’t bring you something you’ve always needed.”
Yasgrid spent a moment in silent surprise. She knew Kayelle had discerned that she wasn’t Nia but she hadn’t expected Kayelle to see through her quite so clearly.
“Is this a bad moment to interrupt?” Nia asked, appearing near enough that she could have been part of the circle Kayelle and Yasgrid were forming.
“Your sister is questioning if she should be a Bearer anymore,” Yasgrid said.
“That’s Endings that you two are reshaping, right?” Nia asked. “I have an idea. Can you two move your awareness within Endings for a moment?”
“Yes,” Yasgrid said, guessing what Nia had in mind as she turned her attention back to Kayelle. “Can we continue this within Endings. There’s someone else who wants to speak with you.”
“Of course,” Kayelle said, and Yasgird could see in her expression the idea that Endings would need to weigh in on a Bearer abandoning her post.
That wasn’t at all the conversation that awaited Kayelle inside the blade’s mindscape though.
“Hiya sis,” Nia said, as Kayelle and Yasgrid appeared together within Endings.