Side A – Nia
There are many opposites to happy and Margrada looked like all of them.
“Of course,” Nia said with a weary sigh. Seeing Margrada as her opponent at an underground fighting club which she hadn’t known existed ten minute prior wasn’t exactly something Nia had expected, but it fit in with how odd her life had become that she couldn’t find a mote of surprise left in herself.
Her lack of surprise was ok though, as Margrada stepped up to play that part for her instead.
“You knew about this?” she asked and then turned to Mourswin. “You told her.”
It was an accusation, and one Nia could have easily corrected, but she was intrigued to see how Yasgrid’s father intended to bail himself out of whatever social faux pas he’d stepped in.
“I am not directly involved in this,” Mourswin said. “The Council is here only in an advisory role, as I mentioned.”
“But some get more advice than others.” Margrada posture was calm but her eyes said she was one wrong answer away from letting loose well before anyone was in the fighting ring.
Nia decided that Mourswin had no shame or compassion. Rather than be a party to enraging Margrada further and causing her any more pain in the process, Nia chose to speak up and clarify things a bit.
“One question,” she said, catching Margrada’s attention. “Do I look like the someone who has a clue what’s going on here? Or in general?”
“Oh right. Your ‘fugue state’. I forgot.”
“Cute. But seriously, why do you think I’m here?” Nia asked. “Because I’m pretty certain it’s not for the same reason you are, given that Bel and I were quite happily wrecking the place upstairs about five minutes ago and would have joyfully spent our night continuing to do that if we hadn’t been promised some answers for coming down here.”
“But you knew I’d be here?” Margrada asked looking thoroughly confused.
“I knew you’d be in a place that I didn’t know existed? Uh, no. I’m just not surprised that one of the few people I know who doesn’t have the answers I’m looking for is the one this idiot is putting in the way of my getting them.” Nia glared at Mourswin who return an unconcerned smile.
“Wait, what did you want to know?” Margrada asked.
“Two things, which I’m beginning to suspect are related,” Nia said. “First, who the hell called the watch last night, and second, why I got a special pass this morning in the jail.”
“It’s because your mother…” Margrada began but Nia cut her off.
“Is it? Really? Because Osdora was stuck in a cell next to us and whatever pull she had wasn’t enough to bail her out.”
Margrada’s objection died on her lips and her expression settled into a contemplative frown.
“It was someone else,” Nia said. “Not one of the regulars, or the watch would be there every night, and not one of the neighbors either, for the same reason. Until I saw this place I thought the one who called the watch might have been someone in the Shatter Band looking to haze us newcomers. I thought they might have been the ones to get me out of jail too, but that didn’t really make sense.”
“Cause why would they leave your mother in there?”
“Right. So maybe it wasn’t that Shatter Band. Maybe it was someone with a stupid smile and their own scheme tied to this place.”
She glanced at Mourswin whose stupid smile hadn’t faded. If anything he looked proud of her.
Nia saw comprehension and agreement settle in to Margrada’s eyes. Wordlessly she glance at Mourswin’s jaw, tightened her first, and then glanced back to Margrada.
Mourswin never saw the two uppercuts that landed on either side of his face.
Side B – Yasgrid
The bolt which split the shadows wasn’t any one color. It wasn’t a stroke of lightning, burning cerulean and silver. It wasn’t lance of fire, blazing with orange and yellow fury. It wasn’t even a shaft of light, striking with the white hot fury of the divine.
What Yasgrid threw flew as all of the colors at once, a chromatic spear which reached from her to the Trouble, casting aside the concealing shadows and detonating on impact in a blinding shower of sparks.
Despite the distance, Yasgrid found herself drawn within Trouble’s heart as Endings coalesced back into her hand.
For the first time however she wasn’t alone.
It was a fleeting impression.
The barest hint of an image, fading in the moment she became aware of it.
There had been others. Other Troubles watching this one. Watching her.
This one had been expendable.
She staggered inside its heart. There was so much more left to it than the earlier Troubles, enough that she could make out hints of what it had grown to be and how it had seen itself.
The Trouble was intelligent. Refined. Not ancient, but it had passed through more years than she had. It was so many times deadlier than the Troubles she’d faced up before it. It knew how to hide, how to cloak itself from everything, Endings included. At least at a distance.
Everything except King.
And it had been expendable.
Of little consequence.
She touched the maelstrom which remained of its heart.
“How could you be cast aside so easily?”
The Trouble’s heart could offer no answer. Endings had finished the monster which had grown up around it. All it had left was its rage, and a deep sense of loss.
Yasgrid felt a void form within it, the absence as close to a question as the Trouble could create.
Must I go? Is there no place for me? the wall of anger asked.
Though she carried other sleeping Troubles already, Yasgrid hesitated to accept the one before her. It had grown far beyond what the earlier ones had become, and if she gave it time, she knew it would grow again.
This one is dangerous in a manner the others can not approach, Endings said. It would be safest to let it go, as with all anger.
Yasgrid brushed her fingertip against the wall and felt them burn. Even now it could hurt her.
“Sleep and rest in me,” she said. Endings was wrong. What was left after a Trouble was ended wasn’t part of the blade’s domain anymore. After Endings was done, the rest belonged to her.