Two Hearts One Beat – Chapter 208


Side A – Yasgrid

Naosha M’Kellin wasn’t holding the information she had on the woman-in-shadows hostage in exchange for Yasgrid’s knowledge about Nia. Despite her air of quiet and unyielding competence, Naosha wasn’t capable of playing games when it came to her daughter’s well being. It was a trait which could have been used against her to devastating effect, but Yasgrid had a rather clear idea why it never became a problem.

Naosha’s enemies were relatively few. She moved with grace and intellect and rarely left anyone feeling as though they had cause to be unhappy with her specifically. More importantly though, anyone who had ever tried to leverage Kayelle or Nia’s safety against Naosha wasn’t likely to ever be see again by another living soul.

With Naosha’s confession that she’d killed the woman-in-shadows, Yasgrid had no trouble believing that Nia’s mother was than capable of “ending” troubles to her daughters without the need to wield a divine artifact. 

“Travel on the road always presents dangers,” Yasgrid said. It was pointless to deny that or try to reassure Naosha than Nia was perfectly safe. “They are the mundane sorts of danger though, and she is not alone.”

“And her companions…?”

“Companion,” Yasgrid corrected. “The two of them have more support they can draw on, and which they’ll return to, but at the present they are merely at a tavern where they hope to find more information on the person who’s gone missing.”

Yasgrid saw Naosha’s jaw twitch, before Naosha drew in a small breath and took another sip of her tea. The maelstrom hadn’t stopped roaring within Naosha, but she was once again its master.

“I would like to know if that changes,” Naosha said. “And what aid if any may be given to her.”

“Of course,” Yasgrid said. “She wished to speak to you as well. Though we will need to be careful with repeating the technique we’ve developed.”

Naosha nodded and took another sip before putting the tea down in front of herself.

“Returning to the matter of the woman you met,” Naosha said. “She is unlikely to be a elven, or even mortal, any longer, assuming she is the woman I believe her to be.”

“Can you tell us who that might be?” Yasgrid asked.

“Her name was Elshira, Elshira Lightbower,” Naosha said. “We were of an age, though we weren’t introduced until I reached my majority.”

“Lightbower?” Kayelle asked. “Oh the high clan or the low one?”

“The high,” Naosha said. “Elshira wasn’t in line for any of the positions of authority within the clan, but she was considered a prodigy and one of their brightest scions.”

“I don’t remember her being mentioned in any of my classes,” Kayelle said.

“That’s unsurprising,” Naosha said. “Her name was stricken from the Clan Register following her fall. The Lightbower’s lost a great deal of prestige nonetheless but in disowning Elshira, they managed to retain most of their positions of power.”

“Was that what caused Elshira to turn on them?” Yasgrid asked. “Anger over being disowned?”

“No. Elshira was not disowned until after she was dead,” Naosha said.

Side B – Nia

To say the tavern keeper was unhappy with Nia and Margrada summoning another set of Cloud Divers to his establishment would have been incorrect. Unhappy people grumble and complain. It is something well beyond unhappy that leaves them reaching for knives.

The only thing that surprised Nia more than the depth of the tavern keeper’s rage was how swiftly it vanished in the face of a literal chest of gold.

“Again my apologies,” Drum Master Pelegar said. “Usually we arrange for things like this in advance. I’ve included the standard late booking surcharge in there as well, and twice the cancelation penalty fee. Of course the usual medical stipend is present too, since it seems like that was unfortunately incurred. Lastly, we’ll be returning this way in a few months, should you need entertainers for a week or so, we can delay our return and provide our services gratis in appreciation of your understanding.”

The tavern keeper didn’t seem to be taking any of that in. His eyes were simply wide reflections of the pile of gold in front of him.

“That seems like a lot, is that what normally gets paid for a wrecked bar?” Nia whispered to Margrada.

They were standing a short distance away, allowing Pelegar to smooth things over as they had been demonstrably unable (and it had to be said, unwilling) to do.

“Can’t be,” Margrada whispered back. “That’s enough to buy a whole new inne and put it on top of this one, after you paid to have this place fixed up.”

“What do you think the odds are that they’ve got a special fund just for Osdora?” Nia whispered.

“I don’t know. She couldn’t have been this freaked out about that many things, could she?”

“Probably not.” Nia wondered if it was worth asking Yasgrid about that, but it seemed like any moment Pelegar would be done bribing the Shatter Band back into the tavern keeper’s good graces and then it would be time for Nia to start answering questions which she really wasn’t sure she wanted to deal with.

“Think Pelegar is going to be onboard with our idea?” Margrada asked.

She said it with a casual, disinterested tone, but to Nia the tension in Margrada’s back and neck was practically screaming out a very different message.

“We’ll talk her into it if she’s not,” Nia said, taking Margrada’s hand in her own. “She wouldn’t be dropping this much gold if getting Osdora back wasn’t important.”

“Yeah, but she might not want me to do it,” Margrada said. “She might want someone better.”

“You are someone better,” Nia said. “Pelegar has had decades listening to people play. She knows how good you are. And if she doesn’t, I’ll box the old age out of her ears until she listens to you properly.”

Margrada chuckled and gave Nia’s hand a quick squeeze as Pelegar turned from the tavern keeper and started heading over to them.

“And you two,” Pelegar said. “What are you waiting for? The Cloud Divers aren’t going to come flapping in on their own. Get at it! We’re falling farther behind her ever minute.”