Side A – Yasgrid
Speaking about herself was never easy for Yasgrid, and the presence of Naosha and Kayelle should have made that infinitely harder. Naosha was, from what Yasgrid could tell, the living avatar of Poise and Refinement, and Kayelle was an acolyte who had studied under her since birth. Yasgrid, by comparison, was little more than a clumsy, soft spoken Stoneling.
But, perhaps that “little” mattered more than she gave it credit for.
“I’ve told you that my name is Yasgrid Kaersbean,” she began, unsure of how to encapsulate the whole of who she was in the short time they had. “I don’t know if you are familiar with Stoneling family names, but the Kaersbeans have a long standing reputation for being strong Shatter Drummers. My mother is one of the best of them all currently, and I trained for most of my life to follow her.”
“You mentioned Shatter Drumming earlier, as a magic your people can do. Is that something you can still do?” Kayelle asked.
“In theory? Yes. Anyone can provided they have a Shatter drum to work with,” Yasgrid said. “In practice though, I don’t know if that life was ever for me. I spent years working on my skills and gained a reasonable level of competence with it, but I don’t have my mother’s gift and I’m definitely no genius at it. Not like Nia is.”
“Nia?” Naosha asked. Her voice was gentle but behind it lurked a hungry beast, forever tamed, but so very eager to be fed with news of her missing daughter.
“Our first day together was New Years day. We celebrate a different sort of festival than you do,” Yasgrid said. “With the turning of the year, and the longest night, we play to our gods to ensure that their bindings remain firm and their prison strong so that they can’t work any divine mischief on us.”
“By drumming for them?” Kayelle asked.
“Not for them, against them,” Yasgrid said. “We set our selves and our songs against them and fight to make sure we have a future to look forward too. I wasn’t there to help play, and so Nia stepped in.”
“Even though she had never played before?” Naosha asked.
“I helped her with following the rhythm, but when she first struck the drum, she fell deeper into the magic than any drummer is supposed to,” Yasgrid said. “It’s difficult to describe the sensation of the timeless moment the magic waits within, or how it radiates out from within us rather than from the drum, but she understood it. I spoke with her, and gave her the answers I could, but she was the one who found her way back to the world.”
“What if she hadn’t been able to do that?” Kayelle asked.
“Usually? Someone else would have to play her out,” Yasgrid said. “Children who begin playing make similar mistakes from time to time, and teachers know how to draw them back. In Nia’s case though, she was playing in the Calling, the great ritual to control the gods, and there wasn’t time for that. She doesn’t understand it yet, I think, not with the other problems that arose, but the breakthroughs that she made saved my people that day, and I think she was the only one who could have made them.”
Side B – Nia
Nia was in awe of Margrada’s playing. Without touching the drum, or even fully hearing the rhythm due to the rushing wind, Nia could make out the edges of what Margrada was saying with the beats she struck.
It wasn’t just a simple command or an imperative either. Margrada was speaking through the drum and listening as well, her conversation with the Cloud Divers was nuanced and rich enough that Nia was fairly certain one set of beats was a joke, another a bold boast, and a third a wistful remembrance of a shared memory between the two sides. They weren’t just relaying critical information. They were chatting.
“Can they take us to where Osdora was really dropped off?” Pelegar said.
“They can,” Margrada shouted back, trying to be heard over the rushing wind. “They’re warning me that she’s not still there though.”
“Didn’t figure she would be,” Pelegar said. “Just want to see if she thought to cover her trail there too.”
Nia guessed the odds were about even between “Osdora working more mischief” vs. “Osdora making best possible time towards the Darkwood”. The more interesting question in her mind was how exactly Osdora was planning to make the trip at all.
The Cloud Divers had been an interesting resource to call on but they hadn’t taken her more than a tiny fraction of the distance she needed to travel. Mostly they’d just made following her more difficult, and Nia couldn’t imagine that Osdora was that concerned about someone catching up to her.
Or she wasn’t until she cast a glance over towards Pelegar.
It wasn’t rage, or even anger that set hard lines into Pelegar’s face. Nia didn’t think it was love either, or if it was it wasn’t the sort of love she’d ever felt.
There was determination there. And irritation. Mostly irritation.
Nia took a mental step back and considered just how good of a player Osdora was? Could Pelegar be convinced that they needed her to survive the other Battle of the Bands?
Maybe? Osdora was an amazing player, but Nia had watched their band play and the other Shatter Drummers were no slouches either.
And Pelegar didn’t seem to be afraid.
So maybe it was love?
Not romantic love, but rather the sort of deep, abiding friendship where the other person knows all of your flaws, can’t stand half of them, but will always stand beside you even so.
Nia had hoped that she’d be able to get to know Osdora better. It had been part of the reason why she’d told Osdora the truth of who she was. So that she could build a relationship on a foundation that was real. From how Pelegar was pursuing Osdora, Nia could see that the two of them had been through some ‘interesting’ stuff.
The trick was going to be getting Pelegar to share the details of their exploits and Nia knew that started with listening.