The two gnomes sat across the table from one another in complete silence. The two older mages never returned and an hour ticked away with Star and Robin sitting uncomfortably separated by only a table set with a plate of now very, very cold muffins.

 

Robin still had that blank, unbelieving expression. Star sighed, leaning forward. “Going to turn me in?”

 

Her elder sister blinked. Robin lifted her head to look her dead-on. “No, you couldn’t help it. It isn’t your fault. I mean…you didn’t mean to.”

 

Star leaned back in her chair, smirking. “Oh, I meant to.” She laughed.

 

“No, I mean…you wanted to, but you didn’t at the same time. You’re trying.” Robin looked frustrated, Star figured she would feel that way, too, in her situation. “How did it happen?”

 

“I was looking for information about Min, potentially, he likes to try and save people, remember? My better half…definitely. I got word that this guy was with a group catching and selling kids.” Robin nodded, she was listening intently. “Anyway, just a link in a long chain. I was hired to get information from him.” Star paused, taking a breath. “The client heard I excel at that sort of thing. The guy was involved. But…midway through…things…I found out his kid had been kidnapped, too. He was doing it to get her back.”

 

“You did it anyway.” Her sister’s voice wasn’t accusing, just acknowledging.

 

“Yeah, you know…how I get. I don’t really think. Or I do…it just gets fuzzy. Min has had to pull me back more than a few times.”  Star shook her head. “No, that isn’t yet. I get focused. Super focused. Just on that.”

 

Robin nodded again. “But he was a criminal. Doing horrible things to kids. In a way it was justice. He wouldn’t have faced much better if he were caught by the guard.”

 

“I’m probably better than Bibbit getting ahold of someone, yeah, but not by much. The guard definitely would’ve been less brutal.” Star picked up a muffin, but didn’t take a bite. “And you’re talking a weird form of justice. You should know better than most that it isn’t all black and white.”

 

“I do. I learned that from you.”

 

Star frowned, setting the muffin down. “Robin, I’m broken. There’s something wrong in my mind that can’t be fixed. It’s my nature. If…things had been different. It may have manifested as something else. Like throwing people into magical coffins. But it didn’t. It ended up like this.”

 

Robin reached across the table and place a hand over Star’s. “I used to think you were evil, Ciera. That you were past saving. But there’s too much there. Too much will and desire to be something better. To be something good.” Star blinked, then stared at the other gnome as she spoke. “Maybe it is in your nature. But what sets you apart from her is that you’re fighting it. You don’t accept that this is all you can ever be. You don’t accept that it was meant for you.  You aren’t her. You will never be her. That is why I left my life totally in your hands. Because that was the safest it has ever been.”

 

“Robin—“

 

The pressure on Star’s hand increased as Robin squeezed it, almost painfully. “You’re not evil. I don’t know what happened to her…to make her that way. But the only thing we get to thank her for is she made sure it never happened to you.”

 

Star reached up with her free arm and wiped the beginnings of tears from her eyes. “Alright. I’ll keep trying. This is why I should’ve gone to Draenor. If I can’t…I’ll try to keep it to the worst sort of criminals. Bounties, you know.”

 

Robin nodded again, sighing. “If that’s the best you can do for now. I’d rather it be people that are hurting others with little chance at redemption.”

 

“You break the rules for me. You don’t do that for others.”

 

Robin smiled. “As I said. You didn’t even know I existed until that day. And you decided to die for me to be free. I owe you everything. Most people wouldn’t have done that.”

 

Star returned the smile. “I only did because you decided to die for me. I feel we have something in common.”

 

“One thing, at least.”

 

“No one can ever say the Gyroshocks aren’t self-sacrificing.”

 

“Ciera…I’m going to act like an older sister just this once. I will make fun of you forever if you ever make that horrible joke again.”

Star grinned and leaned back in her chair again. “So, what did you find that has you panicked?  As long as you’re dealing with an insane murderess…you should probably consult another.”

 

“Right.”

 

Star waited as Robin rifled through bag until she produced a sketch book. She flipped it to a page that held an incomplete binding rune and handed it over. “Hm. Mal might know. Or one of dad’s books might have something.”

 

“Star, it’s a binding rune.  Not for demons. I think it’s for people.” Robin’s voice was tinted with fear and anger. It was the kind of nervous edge Star was used to in her victims. Before they started screaming, anyw—

 

Ciera shook her head and cleared her throat. “Sorry, drifted for a second. Yeah, I can see that. Maybe you should stop being involved in this. You’re too emotional about it.”

 

“You don’t think I’m strong enough to handle this.”

 

“I know you’re plenty strong, Robin. You’re intelligent and strong. A dangerous combination. But you’re still just as gnome as me. And you have feelings. This could lead you somewhere you don’t want to go. I saw your notes, Robin. Don’t do it. It isn’t you.” Star waited calmly, braced for the potential explosive reaction.

 

“No, you’re right. I won’t go down that road. It was just a theory, anyway.” The older gnome slumped down in her chair. “But I won’t quit here. There are people counting on me. And people I want to protect. This woman…she has to be stopped.”

 

“That goes without saying. Just don’t let her destroy you in the process.” Star tugged on a strand of her own pink hair. “I’ll help you figure this out. Mom will be useful. She won’t let Ceera see it.”

 

An expression of pure relief settled over Robin’s face. “That sounds good. I need to eat…and sleep.” She picked up a muffin with a brief look of disgust, but ate it anyway.

 

“That evil witch makes good muffins, doesn’t she?” Star kept the book in hand, watching Robin enjoy the muffin in spite of her hatred of the person who made it.

 

“Dammit, yeah, she does.”

 

The rune on the paper seemed to stare back at Star. She shivered. This wasn’t good for Robin. Not good at all. She’d have to keep an eye on her, assuming she could keep herself together. 

Author Robin
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