“Oww…” Trace groaned as she rolled over onto her back. She tasted blood, but a quick running of her tongue over her teeth confirmed she’d just bitten her lip. “What in the world is the matter with-“ she hissed, but the rebuke died in her throat as she caught sight of her companion.

Blue had scrambled to her feet, had backed herself up against the cavern wall. She was staring wildly at the empty space a few feet in front of her, her breath frantic and shallow. Even in the dim light, Trace saw how pale she had become.

“Blue?” the scholar began, carefully. “What is it? What just happened?”

“He was…” Blue whispered. “He was right there…”

Trace said, frowned. “What are you-whup!” The mage squawked as a pair of pistol-callused hands grabbed her by the coat. The gunslinger’s eyes blazed with a fierce, desperate fury as she hauled Trace to her feet.

“What in the hell have you gotten me into, magician?” Blue snarled as she gave her a shake. “What in the hell is going on here?

“Have you lost your mind?” Trace said, trying to free herself from Blue’s grip and succeeding only in shaking loose her spectacles. “What is wrong with you? What did…”

“This is what I get for truckin’ with mages,” Blue muttered, as much to herself as to Trace. “You were anyone else, I’d have told you to go scratch. But since I’m a sentimental idjit, I let myself get magicked halfway ‘cross the Frontier, with barely a by-your-leave and without any real explanation beyond ‘bad things’re happenin’, Blue’! Sam always said I’m too soft at times…usually it’s my heart, but now I’m thinkin’ it’s my damn head!”

Trace had known Serrada Blue for a long time and had rarely ever seen her so …out of sorts. Considering the gunslinger’s usual barbed composure, it was unsettling, to say the least. But this wasn’t fear…it was shock. There was a haunted look in Blue’s eyes, as if she’d seen a…

Cold realization hit. Trace’s eyes widened. “You saw something…”

Blue released her with a shove that was more weary than vindictive.  “I’m done,” she declared. “I don’t give a damn what this all about. Whatever it is, it ain’t worth it, old times or no. Adios.”

“Blue…” Trace said, composing herself. “Blue, wait! You actually saw something?”

“Saw and heard,” Blue muttered, turning on her heel. “Don’t really feeling like talkin’ about it right now. Or ever. Bye, now.”

Trace grabbed the retreating gunslinger’s arm- a move that might have been considered foolish by a rational person, but the scholar was spurred on by equal parts concern and curiosity.

“Blue…” she said. “Blue! For the sake of all that’s right, what did you see?”

“Conjure yourself some new ears, ‘Mistress Scholar’,” the gunslinger snapped, yanking her arm away. “I’ve seen enough, you hear me. I got enough weird in my life without seekin’ it out!”

“Please, I understand your…unease,” Trace said, calmly. “But as I said, this is a place of unstable magic; there’s bound to be some …unusual phenomenon here. But it’s just old memories brought back to the surface; old times, old faces, maybe…”

“Oh you got that right,” Blue chuckled helplessly. “But this wasn’t no memory, not by a damn sight! “It was…he was so real…”

“That’s the second time you’ve said ‘he’, Blue…” Trace said, her voice even. “Which ‘he’…?”

“Aw, hell, Trace…” the gunslinger replied, helplessly. “Who do you think?”

“Blast…” said a new voice, one they both heard. “And here I’d thought I’d hidden myself so well.”

Both gunslinger and mage whirled, guns and spells at the ready.