Yuva played on for a while longer, and put the lute away after the song. There were a few groans, and mutters about ruining an evening, but Counterpoint customers knew how to treat musicians. They were happy she came by, and thanked her for her time.

“I promise some more songs later,” Yuva said as everyone returned to their drinks.

Zibnizik nodded appreciatively, and smiled. “You play amazingly Yuva.”

The elf blushed. “Thanks. I’ve played here a few times, so it’s easier to get through my nervousness.”

“It shows. I didn’t get any sense of worry from you.”

Yuva just smiled again. “So, what have you been up to, Zibnizik?”

The gnome shrugged. “Deciphering some older formulae. I have a few aromatics that are in the work that could help combat depression or anxiety.”

“That sounds amazing!” Yuva said. “Like soothing?”

“Not exactly,” Zibnizik said. “At the moment they’re too powerful. The recipes I’ve found need to be diluted, or they wipe away all of the negative emotion.”

“But isn’t that a good thing?”

“What’s life without anxiety?” The gnome asked. “It is the nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you have not done enough, that you still need to accomplish something, even if it is unknown. Remove it, and you could very well remove your very need to take your next breath.”

The elf stared for a moment. And then she looked down, depressed. “I’m sorry. I was just thinking about test preparation and the like.”

“And that could be great,” Zib said. “I just need to find a way to dilute it.”

They sat and drank in silence. Zibnizik wondered whether this was normal for a date. A silence so long it bordered on comatose. Yuva was a very nice girl, and beautiful. But she seemed…distracted. Like she was considering something, or anything, else.

“Something on your mind?” He asked.

“It doesn’t seem fair,” Yuva said. “To do this to you.”

“Do what?” Zibnizik asked.

“Ask you here. You’re obviously busy…”

“I’m happy to be here.”

“When I wanted to check on Bin.”

“Oh…” Zib’s face fell. Well, he might as well remove his own anxiety. This wasn’t a date at all. It was something bordering on a check-in from… from what?

“Why do you want to know?” Zibnizik frowned. She was an elf, after all. Could Raemillin be trying another stunt? He wasn’t going to stand for it. “If Raemillin put you up to this…”

“No!” Yuva looked around, scared. “If Raemillin found out what I’m doing, I could be expelled from the Circle.”

Which could only mean that she cared about Bin. Curious.

Yuva sighed, and waved her hand. “This, this place. And even my magic, was because Bin was trying to be kind. And he got in trouble because of it. I just want to make sure he’s ok.”

“He’s probably fine,” Zibnizik said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

“Okay,” Yuva relented. “I was just worried because he’s going to be relic hunting with the Season Leaves.”

“What?” Zibnizik frowned. The Leaves weren’t exactly exclusive or unknown, but they had a reputation for doing things a bit more recklessly. “Where, exactly?”

“The Glass Cliffs.” Yuva looked at Zib as the gnome sank into his chair, worry plain on his face. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m actually going to have to be a good friend to this kid…” Zibnizik said.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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