It was the smell that brought her out of the swirling thoughts that she couldn’t seem to shake. The earthy tones swirled around her, invoking the thoughts of hot summer days turning into autumn, drying herbs on the line.

She straightened up from the rock she had been slouching on, the familiar sight of her grandmother walking over at a slow pace, pipe in hand, smoke gently curling up from the end.

“Finally got bored of the mountain?”

“Cheek. This is my homeland, I wasn’t going to miss it’s liberation, even if we did leave before it got invaded. Well, by the Garleans. But you know my thoughts on the Mad King. I want to know what you’re thinking.”

Iscara wasn’t one for doubts under normal circumstances, but these were far from normal circumstances, her arms gripping her elbows as she crossed them, “They’re all…I don’t even know what they are Oma. They say their souls have just…gone, even Krile couldn’t follow what’s happened to them. All because of some damn disembodied voice.”

She figures squeezed as she spat out the last few words, pale fingers making red marks.

Raforta came and sat on the boulder next to her, and Iscara leaned into her shoulder, the way she had been doing since she was tiny. The elder Hyur held out the pipe, offering it to her, but she shook her head. Another puff, and the smoke swirled around the two of them for several minutes.

“I promised. I promised Alisaie that I wouldn’t leave her alone, but…I can’t help but feel like I broke it.”

“It doesn’t sound like you were given a choice.”

Iscara let out a snort, “That doesn’t make it any better.”

“Dragonling, nothing I say will make this any better, it’s a fucking mess of the situation. But, I know you, and I know how much your Scions mean to you. You might not know what to do, or how to fix it, but that doesn’t mean your going to stop trying.”

“As long as I try, I never really fail…” she whispered the words, a motto that had been her father’s favourite.

“Aye. And if you find yourself faltering, you can always swing by for dinner. And I daresay, all the other friends you’ve made will say something similar in the days to come.”

Iscara let out a low chuckle, her heart still low in her breast, but the resolve she was famed for starting to seep back in at the edges.

“Can you stay? Just for a while longer.”

Raforta adjusted so that she could rest her chin on top of her granddaughter’s head, something she hadn’t done in years, letting the physical contact do the talking for her, as she took another pull of her pipe, and the smoke swirled around the pair of them.