“How are you doing, Aleska?” said Occela. “It looked like he hit you pretty hard.” Aleska said nothing, and she stood with her back to Occela, occupied with a couple of thugs armed with large clubs.

“You seem preoccupied at the moment.” Occela closed her eyes and focused on her breath. She pushed the sounds of the world around her away from her mind and for a moment, she saw the shimmering edge of the Veil. Aleska and the thugs appeared as three bright motes against a dark, roiling background. Like fish brushing the edge of a fisherman’s net, their lives danced in the folds of the Veil.

The Clamor was more faint than Occela had expected, and it was simultaneously simpler and more difficult to call out to her other-soul. She was used to the city, where she had to fight, swim uphill against the raucous din of spirits, and Gaia’s constant pleading, but here she heard only a whisper. She stirred the Clamor, and she knew Aleska sensed the ripples.

Occela reached across the Veil and eased her other-soul through until it manifest fully next to Aleska. She saw Aleska flinch, though she wasn’t sure why. Her conjured spirit close at hand, she reached to embrace Aleska with it, and poured into her the intent she saw that would protect Aleska — to strike.

Aleska warded off an attack from one thug with her shield and dealt him a precise and crushing blow in return. Occela closed her eyes again to focus and guide the next strike.