Two Hearts One Beat – Chapter 88


Side A – Yasgrid

A pleasant evening stroll wasn’t what Yasgrid was in the mood for. Not when strangling Kayelle seemed so much more tempting.

“So can you tell who sent that Trouble?” Marianne asked as they walked side by side down one of the wider roads in Bluefalls.

“I don’t think anyone sends them,” Yasgrid said. “They’re not tools or weapons. They’re more chaotic than that.” It wasn’t the answer Marianne was looking for, but it passed by virtue of being honest.

“They do something strange to your eyes,” Marianne said. She wasn’t looking at Yasgrid, instead choosing to gaze at the stars as they twinkled in the moon bright sky above them.

“Something strange? Like what?” Yasgrid asked, thinking back to when she’d seen Kayelle finish off one of the Troubles. Had anything stood out then? There’d been a shower of lights that had wreathed Kayelle but Yasgrid couldn’t remember seeing Kayelle’s eyes.

“You glowed at first, and then your eyes went dark,” Marianne said. “And deep. Just impossibly deep. Like I was overlooking something endless.”

“My eyes turn black when I end a Trouble?” Yasgrid wasn’t sure what that could mean, but it left her with a faint, uncomfortable tremor. 

“Not black, exactly,” Marianne said. “There’s light in them, but it’s like star light, if the stars were so much farther away than they are now.”

“That’s…thank you, I didn’t know that.” 

You gaze not upon this world when you are within a Trouble’s heart, Endings said. I can feel that you wish for more explanation than that, but that is all I have to give you.

“Does Endings…?” Marianne began to ask but trailed off when she glanced over to Yasgrid.

“Endings doesn’t have much on that,” Yasgrid said. “Apparently it’s natural though? When we end a Trouble, we’re connected to it for a moment. With all its power gone we can see its heart.”

“What’s that like?” Marianne asked, her gaze remaining on Yasgrid as their pace slowed.

“Like being in a storm at sea,” Yasgrid said. “Without a boat. All the emotions that were twisted up in the Trouble are there, surging around you. Without Endings work, I think we’d drown in them, but they can’t hurt us by that point. They’re just a memory, an echo the Trouble is holding onto because its their only connection to the world.”

“So you use Endings to make them forget?” Marianne asked.

“No. Endings work is done at that point,” Yasgrid said. “When we stand in a Trouble’s heart, we can speak to it and it has to listen to our words.”

“What do you say?” Marianne asked. She’d been walking closer to Yasgrid, but in turning to look at her had stepped farther away.

“The usual thing is to tell them that their done and that its time to fade away,” Yasgrid said. Something about how she said it caught Marianne’s attention though.

“And what have you told them?” she asked, her curiosity and attention something Yasgrid imagined Nia must been painfully eager to capture months ago.

“I’ve told them to sleep,” she said, knowing as she spoke the words the horrified reaction they would provoke.

Side B – Nia

Dinner with Belhelen wasn’t a nightmare. Nightmares are things you can wake up from.

“It’s on me tonight, so no complaining that you’re broke, you’re going to eat and build up your strength, right?” Belhelen wasn’t asking a question. She’d taken Nia to one of the restaurants down by the docks, and it was apparently famous (in Belhelen’s words) for having the best seafood in the city and the most of it. Nia wasn’t sure she believed the former claim, since every restaurant they walked by had someone out front shouting the same thing, but she was willing to entertain the idea that Belhelen’s second claim was true.

“How many boats worth of fish is this?” Nia asked, staring at a collection of aquatic…things…on her plate which was surprised fit on the table much less were intended to fit inside her.

“Come on, they’re good for you,” Belhelen said.

Nia wasn’t sure how that could be true. Some of them were cooked, and none of them seemed to be moving, but the forest dwelling elf in her refused to believe that eating an entire lake’s worth of fish wasn’t going to cause her serious intestinal distress.

“Is that good for me going down, or when they come back up?” Nia asked, not sure where to even begin on the plate.

“Hey, I haven’t even whispered about getting seconds this time,” Belhelen said and Nia caught the flash of a memory from Yasgrid where “seconds” had been attempted. Even the fleeting glimpse of what had been left Nia feeling queasy.

“Let’s not speak of that,” she said, forcing the echo of nausea away.

“Right,” Belhelen said. “Not when there’s good food to be eaten in front of us.”

Nia rolled her eyes, but gamely picked up her fork and stabbed something that looked like a filet of lake bass.

It wasn’t lake bass.

The sour sauce it was covered it shocked Nia’s pallet. She’d been expecting a light, buttery flavor with a hint of spices. What she got was a mouthful of lemon, followed by a heat that kept building the more she chewed.

The temptation to spit out the fish was powerful but the broad smile of anticipation on Belhelen’s face convinced Nia to stifle the impulse. Instead she reached from the tall glass of water on the far side of her plate.

“Oh, being daring?” Belhelen said as Nia downed a quick gulp of water.

The heat in her mouth ignited into a blazing inferno. 

With no other option, Nia took the horrible choice before her and swallowed. 

“Have some of beer,” Belhelen said, stifling a laugh. “Did you forget how much hotter the Prislima gets in water?”

“Clearly,” Nia choked out as she grabbed her beer and downed a long pull from it.

“I’m sorry,” Belhelen said, her laughter trailing away. “It’s just, we haven’t gotten to talk much since the Calling, and it seems like you’re almost a stranger now. I just wanted to see how my old friend was doing. And. You know. Whether she actually remembers me or not?”