Fireside Musings

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not finished Sorcerous Rivalry there are spoilers in this! If you have finished, then no worries!

“Hey, Reshi.” Kila’s tone set Reshi slightly on edge; she had been sipping from a wineskin and staring into the fire for a while now, as if thinking deeply on some matter or other. “What would happen if I killed you and didn’t coalesce your magic?”

Reshi stuttered for words, shrinking back behind Kestral, who none-to-subtly set his hand on his sword.

“You looking for a fight, Kila?” Kestral asked, voice low.

“What? Oh, no.” Kila looked up, blinking as her gaze moved away from the fire. “I was just wondering that if Reshi’s power dispersed, would it be like we each got one of his animal forms or would it be too weak to even shapeshift?”

“This is what you wonder about when you drink?” Reshi asked, still cringing away from his sister. “That’s a little morbid, isn’t it?”

“It’s just a curiosity.” Kila leaned back, kicking her legs out in front of her. She smirked and shot a wink over the fire at her brother. “If I’d wanted you dead, you’d be dead.”

Reshi huffed and busied himself with rummaging through Kestral’s food satchel. Their dinner had only been a few roasted vegetables and a single shared waterbird, so he had thought to abstain from drinking. But now he felt he could better handle Kila’s musings better with a little drink in him.

Kestral tipped his head to the side as he released his grip on his sword. “When Cera died, you each got bits and pieces of her power, even though it was coalesced. I imagine that if Reshi’s magic were allowed to disperse, you would each get enough for at least one of his forms.”

“Why are you encouraging her?” Reshi asked, finding the skin of Goldwater Whiskey and taking a short sip.

Kestral shrugged, holding out his hand for the skin. “It’s as good a topic as any.”

“Disagree,” Reshi muttered, handing over the skin of whiskey.

“If you do die, I’m claiming your snake shift,” Kila called, tipping back her wineskin once more.

“I don’t think it works that way, Kila,” Reshi protested. “You can’t just claim whatever form you want. Especially not if you’re the one who kills me.”

Kila pursed her lips, staring into the fire again. “What if I just let you die? Can I claim the snake form then?”

Reshi made a noise of protest before Kestral tossed the skin back at him. Rather than contribute to the disturbing conversation, he busied himself with a long drink of the heady whiskey.

“I can’t see any of your other siblings wearing the snake form as well as you, Kila, so you might as well claim it.” Kestral glanced over at Reshi, still sipping from the skin. “Your brother Eagan would take your cat form.”

Reshi sputtered and choked. “What?” he gasped, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as Kestral stole the skin of whiskey from him. “The two of you are just doling out my magic now? How sick are you?”

“Oh, this is fun!” Kila cheered, setting her wineskin aside to rub her palms together. “Let’s see. There’s rats on ships, right? So that means Velyn would get your rat form.”

Reshi groaned and dropped his head into his hands.

“Then what form would Reina get?” Kestral leaned back on one hand as he sipped the Goldwater Whiskey. He nodded as he lowered the skin. “Spider form. That’s the form she first saw Reshi in.”

“All the stars’ luck to her,” Reshi grumbled, earning quizzical looks from the warriors. He rolled his shoulders in a shrug. “Wouldn’t it be a bother for her to make spectacles that fit?”

Kila and Kestral roared with laughter, Kila slapping her leg, Kestral tossing his head back in a rare moment of abandon. Reshi couldn’t help but smile at him as he stole the whiskey away for another sip.

“What does that leave?” Kila asked, wiping a tear of mirth from her cheek. “Your crow form, right? Who would get that?”

“Didn’t we cover everyone who—”

“Cera.” Reshi dropped his gaze sorrowfully to the fire. “I first met Cera as a crow. If she lived, she’d get my crow form.”

Kestral set a comforting hand on Reshi’s shoulder. Reshi nodded before toasting the stars with the whiskey. Even Kila fell uncharacteristically silent for the somber moment. Then she shuffled, a strange look on her face.

“But then, what would Laki have gotten?” she asked solemnly. “Do you have any other forms?”

“No, that’s all of them.” Reshi shrugged. “Maybe because the two of you are twins, he would also get the cobra form?”

Kestral shook his head. “I can’t imagine Laki with your snake form. It doesn’t suit him.”

“I agree,” Kila said, tipping her head up to look at the stars. “The crow form or even the—”

“I got it.” Reshi smiled wryly. “But after this, you both have to promise me we’re dropping this morbid topic.”

Kestral and Kila murmured their agreement.

“If the rest of you all got my shapeshifting powers, then Laki would have gotten my nature magic to talk to beasts and such. Would have made him a hell of a lot harder to beat, don’t you think, Kestral?”

Kestral snorted. “I don’t think we could have beaten him even with the magic he had. Your nature magic would have been…” The mage hunter just shook his head.

“Yeah, that’d suit him,” Kila said, nodding. “Good thinking, Reshi.”

“Yeah, great.” Reshi corked the whiskey skin and tucked it away. “And now if we’re all done killing me and dividing up my magic, I’m going to bed.” He paused, shooting Kila a skeptical look. “Kestral, I’m sleeping inside the bedroll tonight.”

Kestral chuckled, rising to follow. “Like she says, if she wanted you dead, you’d be dead.”

“Yeah, well.” Reshi glanced back to meet Kila’s smirk over the fire. “That doesn’t mean I have to make it easy for her.”

“You never make anything easy.”

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