The Glass Fallacy: a theory that unskilled men will overestimate their ability to perform an action, usually resulting in complete failure and humiliation. See Broken Glass Heart.
— A Gathering of Useful Phrases
As the buggy took a hard corner around a steep hill, the force drove Linsan's shoulder into the side of the door. She winced at the pain before levering herself back into position. With a sigh, she pushed her hair over away from her face. “You could take those curves just a little slower.”
Brook's jaw tightened. Twisting her hands on the steering wheel, she shook her head. “We're so close. I have to keep going.” Her voice was tense, almost vibrating.
“Ragon said it was going to be almost a day until we reached Fanasis Village. Even then, it's going to be another half day—”
“Not the way I drive,” snapped Brook. “I need to get those bastards and I'll be damned if I'm going to let the sun set with them f-free.” Her voice cracked slightly and her eyes shimmered with tears.
A wave of guilt slammed into Linsan. As passionate as she was about Palisis, it was nothing compared to losing a parent. Her own throat seized up as she thought how she would respond if it was her own father who died. Sniffing, she turned away and looked out the window before Brook noticed.
As Brook's driving continued to jostle her, Linsan wondered what she was supposed to say. She glanced back just as Brook reached out for one of the cups of tea that she had ordered from the inn.
Her fingertips picked up the cup by the rim. She shook it slightly and then set it down. A few papers rustled. The fingers moved to the next cup and rejected it as empty. Shaking her head, Brook gripped the steering wheel again.
Linsan reached back to where two more cups were nestled in hooks behind the center ridge. It was heavy and still warm in her hand. Surprised at the heat still inside after almost five hours in the car, she held it out to Brook as she moved one of the empty cups into the back.
Brook's fingers brushed Linsan's briefly. She tensed for a heartbeat before she took the cup gently from Linsan's grip.
Linsan sat back in her seat.
Brook took a deep drink and then let out a long sigh of pleasure. She seemed to relax minutely. Her eyes flickered to the side toward Linsan and then back. “I… thank you.”
There was just a hint of the same reluctance that Brook had at the inn.
Linsan shifted slightly. She clasped her hands together and squeezed. “I'm really sorry, you know.”
“Y-Your father. I can't… I'm sorry. I don't know what to say or how to say it. I liked Duncan. He was an uncle to me, but he was your father.” Linsan's throat was tight. “I would be broken if they killed mine and I can't really find words to say how much I'm sorry.”
A tear ran down Brook's cheeks.
The vehicle slowed.
Trembling, Brook tried to set down her cup in the hook. The rim kept slipped on the edge. After a third try, she managed to get it in.
With tears in her eyes, Brook just nodded.
Linsan struggled with her own emotions. As she did, she noticed that the world was blurring less. The buggy was slowing down dramatically. She watched through the window until she could make out the branches of the trees. “Why are we slowing?”
Brook cleared her throat. “I… I don't know what to do when we get them. Do you?”
Linsan almost said that she didn't, but then she remember how well they had fought together in the first garage. They had a talent together. “Fight?”
Brook tensed. “Fight?”
“Why not? Between your…” Linsan hesitated knowing how much Brook hated her power.
“Blast,” came the disappointed answer.
“… and my violin, we might be able to do something by ourselves. It might be better than just finding them and running for the nearest guard to tattle on them.”
“That was your idea?” Brook looked at her incredulously.
“What was yours?”
It was Brook's turn to look sheepish.
“You were going to run them over?”
Brook suddenly smiled and Linsan noticed that her lipstick was also coordinated with the colors of her outfit. “No, but that's a better idea than I had. I was just going to clap as hard and loud as I could until their eardrums burst.” She gave a bitter laugh. “Failing that, just slap them until they pass out or my hand breaks.”
Linsan smirked. “I could see you doing that.”
“Remember that fight?”
Brook didn't need to give any more details for Linsan to know what fight she was talking about. Even years later, some of the memories were still raw. She sighed. “Yeah.”
“Do…” Brook hesitated. “Do you think we could learn how to fight together?”
“We did at the garage.”
Brook's grip tightened on the wheel. “Do you think we could do it on purpose? To win?”
“Against three men with fire powers?” Linsan took a deep breath. “I don't know about you, but I'm willing to try. You lost your daddy and that is the most important thing we need to focus on.” Despite her desire to get Palisis, she was surprised that she meant it.
Brook didn't respond. Instead, she picked up her tea and took a sip.
When Brook didn't say anything else, Linsan wondered if she had said the wrong thing. She turned back to the window and fretted to herself. Talking to Brook was always a thorny problem for her. She never knew when something would ruin the mood or her chances to ease the conflict between them.
A few minutes later, she saw a road sign for Fanasis. They were only a few leagues away and it was just past noon. If they hurried, they would make it to Gabaw's home before the end of the day.
“I think we should stop.”
Linsan glanced at Brook. “What? Why?”
“Because we're idiots and about to do something stupid. These asses have probably been robbing and murdering people for years and we've only been in three fights together. And the first time,” she said in a low tone, “we were trying to kill each other.”
Linsan blushed. “I wasn't trying to kill you. I just wanted to be left alone. That's all I wanted to ever be.”
“Fine.” She opened her mouth as if to say something else but then shook her head. “Even a little practice would be good, right? I don't really understand your music, but things seemed to flow better when you were playing. If I know the song, maybe we can do more damage.”
“So just find a field or a clearing and try it out?”
Brook's lip curled in a smile. “Why not? We'll do it in sight of the road from Fanasis to Little Rock. That way, we'll see and maybe even hear them leaving.”
“Why if they don't go to Geb's barn?”
“Daddy's car doesn't go that far. They went there.” The muscles in her jaw tightened. “They have to have gone there.”
They drove in silence for a little while.
“Should we see if people in town would tell us if they passed? That might help. I think I've gotten decent at that.”
Brook nodded, her eyes back on the rock. She reached for the cup but then pulled her hand back. “I'll get us rooms for the night while you do that. Then we can change and get some practice before dark.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Brook held out her hand, palm up.
“What?” asked Linsan.
“I-It was something daddy always did when you said that. You slap palms. Slap as in ‘Sounds. Like. A. Plan.’ It was…” She sniffed. “It was always his joke. None of us could stand it but right now….” Her voice trailed off and she sniffed loudly.
Linsan reached out and gently smacked Brook's palm. The soft leather glove felt like skin against her touch, soft and delicate.
Brook coughed and pulled her hand back. She took a deep breath and grabbed her tea again. Before she drank, she whispered something to herself but Linsan couldn't make out the words.