Two Hearts One Beat – Chapter 223


Side A – Nia

Nia wanted to run away. She also wanted to stay and show off what she could do. And she wanted none of what was happening to be any big deal. 

Bearing that sort of conflict in the Darkwood could lead to its unique brand of mystical problems forming. Playing a Shatter Drum while being torn in multiple directions emotionally was a wonderful method of getting oneself torn into multiple pieces physically.

For Nia though, all the chaos, all the uncertainty, it all worked out.

With each beat of the Shatter Drum, she let the music carry away threads from the snarl of conflicting desires that had wrapped around her heart. She gave them, one by one to the Darkwood’s keeping, each harmless once they were free, each a tiny spark to nourish its magic.

Nia loved Frost Harbor and offered its solid stony weight and brilliant, clear skies to the Darkwood. In return, she drank in its comforting shadows, and the soft curves of the trees, and the smell of the impending spring.

She felt the song of the wood reach out to her, so very different from the mockery of the Stoneling gods in the Calling. It spoke to the part of her that would always be a daughter of forests and brooks.

Did she hate her life within its borders?


She loved the Darkwood still. 

But her life within it hadn’t been her own. She would never part fully from the wood, but she needed a different rhythm, a rhythm of stone, to move inside her to truly be herself. The Darkwood too needed someone else too, someone who could dance the paths within it with the grace that Nia neither truly possessed, nor wished to.

There was sadness there, in the recognition of those things by each. All change comes with some measure of loss, but the song of the Darkwood carried happiness as well as grief. As Nia recognized her love for her birthplace, so too did the Darkwood recognize the place she would always have within it, and as Nia offered the exhilaration of the beat of the mountains, the Darkwood echoed back the joy she shared with it.

With a slow and steady breath, she came to the end of the song, feeling the sort of serenity she’d witnessed so often and even more frequently failed to capture.

She would have stopped playing entirely, but strong hands were there beside hers beginning a new rhythm to keep the spell they wove spinning around them for a short while more.

Nia let Yasgrid take the lead, opening eyes she hadn’t noticed she’d closed to take in the sight of her audience. 

The people she loved, who had all gone strangely silent as she played and were gazing on her with a quiet sort of awe.

It had been a good song.

But the fact that she was glowing probably had something to do with it too.

Side B – Yasgrid

Yasgrid was not glowing.

She took that to be a good thing.

She was also not floating, which she also took to be a good thing, and guessed that Nia had noticed that just yet.

A glance over at Drum Master Pelegar showed exactly the look of disbelief Yasgrid expected to see. A glance at King on the other hand, showed him to more concerned with grooming his right ear than with the spectacle in the small grove. Somehow both reactions were equally comforting.

With another long, slow breath Nia joined her, playing in tandem rather than trailing along behind Yasgrid in the song.

Yasgrid didn’t have any grand designs or transcendent insights for what they should play next. The song they wove was instead a simple one. Nothing more than music sinking down into the ground and rising freely into the air. A good, simple song, suitable for a beginner. Something so unadorned didn’t seem like it should have been able to carry the weight of the spell they’d woven, but it was honest, and it was true, and it was grounded, and that was what they needed.

“Sorry,” Nia said, the glow around her fading as she settled back to the earth. “I know there’s a lot we could fill our time with, but I needed to say that I think.”

Yasgrid knew exactly what Nia’d expressed in the song, and who she’d been speaking too. She wondered though if Nia was fully aware of either of those things?

Music is an inexact medium both in vocabulary and direction. It spreads out to everyone and holds different meaning to every heart it touches.

The gaze the Nia and Naosha shared however suggested that what had needed to be communicated had rung out with crystal clarity.

“These lights are shielding us from scrying aren’t they?” Kayelle asked, catching one of the rising motes around them in her hand.

“Among other things,” King said, without bothering to interrupt his grooming.

“Then we may speak freely,” Naosha said.

“There are some things we should tell you,” Margrada said, nodding towards Yasgrid.

“And some we should share with you as well,” Naosha said.

“Since Yasgrid and Nia can exchange info at any time, we should focus on the most important items though,” Kayelle said. “The first of which is that Nia’s okay, and happy?”

Yasgrid saw a shy smile spread across Nia’s face followed by a quick nod.

“I am,” she said. “And thank you.”

“And in love?” Kayelle asked, sisterly mischief alight in her eyes.

Yasgrid didn’t have any sisters, but she suspected had Belhelen been in Kayelle’s place she could have expected a similar bit of good natured teasing.

“Yeah, I am,” Nia said without hesitation or self-consciousness. “Mother, allow me to introduce Margrada Naswuf. Margrada, my mother Naosha M’Kellin and my sister Kayelle.”

“It is…it is my please to meet you,” Naosha said.

The simple catch in her voice seemed to rock Nia and Kayelle to the core.

Yasgrid had only a small fraction of their experience with Naosha but she immediately understood why.

Naosha’s words hadn’t been duplicitous or feigned in any sense. She was honestly happy to be meeting the woman her daughter loved. It was accepting that Nia was both well and happy, in the face of worries that could have crushed the mountain around Frost Harbor that caused the crack in her voice.

Naosha M’Kellin’s facade of serenity was unbreakable, except it seemed when she was faced with losing a daughter.

“Fear not,” King said, winding between her legs. “All will be well.”