Side A – Nia
Yasgrid had a plan. Nia could see the shadow of it lurking behind Yasgrid’s eyes. In their shared awareness, the idea hovered just out of sight. It was a secret whose details were fuzzy but whose general outlines were clear enough. Yasgrid meant to help Nia, and Kayelle, and everyone? Exactly how though was something that Yasgrid didn’t seem quite willing to share.
Maybe because she hadn’t worked out all of the details of it for herself?
Nia wasn’t sure, but when she thought about how Kayelle had needled and teased her for the details on every secret she’d ever had an immediate revulsion to doing the same to Yasgrid rose in her mind.
“Thanks for watching over me while I slept,” Yasgrid said as she rose and stretched. “I take it the Troubles were silent the whole time?”
“I probably should have been watching for that more,” Nia said. “You looked okay though, and then Kayelle started talking, and I got a bit distracted.”
Yasgrid looked over at Kayelle, who was staring into Endings crystal depths.
“We can get a move on after you have a bite to eat,” Kayelle said, without looking up.
“Nope,” Yasgrid said, shaking her head and gesturing to the comfy hollow she’d been curled up in. “We’re not going anywhere until you get some rest too.”
“I’m ok,” Kayelle said, standing up and sliding Endings into an improvised sheath on her hip.
“No, you’re not,” Yasgrid said, taking Kayelle by the shoulders and driving her over to the small bedding area. “I know you didn’t rest while I was sleeping, and I know you ran just as long and fought just as hard as I did.”
“I can do that,” Kayelle said, grumbling but still allowing Yasgrid to half force and half guide her down to the makeshift bed. “I’ve always been able to go longer than you have.”
Nia would have risen to the bait. Even with her new appreciation of her sister, she still bristled at the competitive insult.
Yasgrid on the other hand took no slight from the claim.
“Right,” she said. “And if you’re going to keep shouldering more than me, then you’re going to need to stay in the best shape you can be. So sleep. If you wake up before you’re rested, I will stab you.”
“Endings can’t hurt us,” Kayelle said with a scowl, though Nia saw that her shoulders visibly relaxed and she sank down into a sleeping posture.
“I didn’t say I would use Endings,” Yasgrid said, her smile sweet, cheerful, and sincere.
Kayelle’s frown deepened but was interrupted by a yawn that she wasn’t able to fully suppress.
“Fine,” she said. “But we need to move once I’m up. There’ll be more coming and we don’t want to deal with too many at once.”
“I know,” Yasgrid said, bending down as though to tuck Kayelle in. Instead she drew Endings from Kayelle’s sheath. “Don’t worry. I’ll be ready if any show up early.”
Kayelle looked more troubled by that than the threat of stabbing if she tried to wake up early, but whatever her concerns were, she chose not to give them voice.
Nia had never seen her sister at a loss for words like that, and for a long moment she wasn’t sure whether to cheer, or be even more worried.
Side B – Yasgrid
Yasgrid watched Kayelle’s breathing even out into the slow, rhythmic depths of restful slumber. Beside her, Nia sat looking more than a little tired herself.
“How about you?” Yasgrid asked. “After the playing you did this morning, I’m surprised you’re not falling over too.”
Nia shook her head and blinked, coming out of a reverie that had been roaming across memories of her past with Kayelle.
“I’m fine,” Nia said. “And there’s no need to threaten me with stabbing. I really am ok. Watching over you was pretty restful.”
Something about that struck Yasgrid as odd.
“What were you doing back in Frost Harbor?”
“Just meditating,” Nia said. “I always used to hate doing that but my mother wasn’t wrong about it being a good skill to have.”
“Is that how you stayed awake here?” Yasgrid asked. “I remember the last time I visited you as you went to sleep, it felt like I was going to pulled down into unconsciousness with you.”
“I don’t know if it’s the meditation that let me handle that,” Nia said. “There’s nothing magic about breathing right and clearing your mind. I think it was just easier because I knew I had to stay awake.”
“I don’t remember having a lot of choice in the matter,” Yasgrid said. “And now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve got to wonder how that worked at all.”
“What do you mean?” Nia asked.
“We’ve been pretty busy, and all of this has started to feel strangely normal in a really short amount of time, but there’s a lot here that’s still hard to explain,” Yasgrid said.
“I think I can chalk the ‘strangely normal’ part of it up to the help you’ve been giving me,” Nia said.
“But we haven’t spoken like this in a little while,” Yasgrid said.
“Yeah, but even without that I can still feel you out there, giving me the little bits of knowledge I need to make sense of the parts of your life that I couldn’t begin to guess at on my own.”
Yasgrid paused. There’d been a lot of ‘natural elven magic’, like her ability to track the Troubles through a preternatural awareness of the forest, that she hadn’t questioned. It had felt so natural. Like she’d practiced forming connections to the Darkwood for years.
“We must be doing that for each other,” she said. “But there’s more about what we share than that. Something we don’t understand yet.”
“Like what?” Nia asked.
“You were able to see Kayelle while I slept right?”
“Yeah. She stayed right here the whole time. We talked, sort of.”
“How did you see her though?” Yasgrid asked. “My eyes were closed.”