211 The Slow Turn*
Meg grinned up at Iah as she handed her finished plate over.
"Thank you, Iah," she said.
Iah smiled down at her, "You're very welcome, Meg. Why don't you go and get the baskets and our coats. We need to go down to the Market today".
Meg ran off excitedly as Iah dipped the dirty plate into the sink before her to wash.
It'd been nearly a month since Kit and Olly had left the Island. They were well into winter now, though Winter in the Southern Isles rarely saw snow like Eldovia.
The Ruin had gone through a qualitative change nonetheless though. With Kit and Olly gone, the Ruin seemed to lose some sort of life. There had always been a warm presence in the shadows behind doors and under tables. Everyone living at the Ruin had always thought of it as Kit's element. As nothing to be feared. Now...now they just seemed empty. Some of the children had even started having nightmares in the dead of night, the shadows no longer a comforting presence with out Kit nearby. No, now with the stories surrounding the Inktress and the Ruin, the shadows had taken on a darker, inkier quality that wasn't the least bit warm.
Iah often found herself shivering when she past the darkest ones, and when she held the Tracking Charm in the palm of her hand in the depths of the night to check and see that Kit was okay, that Rassa, Ebony and Aegin were still alive, she couldn't help but wonder if that cold darkness was what Rassa had felt when he had been attacked by the Inktress.
She paused in cleaning the dishes now, her hand straying to the pocket in her skirt where she kept the charm. The blue lines filling her vision. There was less brightness now. Even less than before. Still solid though, all accept the line that connected her to Rassa. That connected them all to Rassa. Iah stared at it. Her sister had been talking recently. Bringing up how Rassa's presence would not doubt help their situation. Iah couldn't deny her. But there was a reason Rassa left. They could not ask him to sacrifice for them whenever they needed him. It was too selfish of them. He needed his own life too. Still, she did hope he would come back.
But now...was that line dimmer than before? Was he moving somewhere further away? It flickered like a dying candle flame in a breeze. Was something wrong?
Her sister's call broke Iah out of the trance and snatched her hand away from the charm, turning to look over her shoulder at Sharli.
"You okay?" asked Sharli, concern in her tone, "I called you three times".
Iah gave a small smile, "Fine, I was just away with my thoughts. I was going to the market after this with Meg, do you need anything? I remember you saying something about needles".
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Sharli watched as her sister turned back to the dishes then her eyes softened, "If you can, yes. Some thread as well. Carter's torn a hold in his trousers again".
Iah smiled, "You know, we have got the coin to buy him a new pair. He's working at the docks so he really should get one".
Sharli waved a hand dismissively, "No use wasting coin when all that's needed to fix them in a short stitching job".
Iah nodded in return, "Alright, anything else?"
"No," Sharli said, "I think I can grab the rest myself. I'm headed to the Elenius district for some herbs, we're running low and I think I'd rather not see the boys suffer through colds as they try to pick up work".
"Ah, good idea," said Iah, "Some Redia as well if you could?"
Sharli nodded, "Of course, see you this afternoon".
"See you," Iah smiled. Sharli put on a scarf and turned to walk out into the hallway, almost bumping into Meg on the way. She chuckled and righted the little girl before she headed on her way. Iah smiled at Meg.
"Ready to go?"
Meg held up the basket with a big grin, "Ready!"
"Really?" asked Iah, "Where have you put your boots then?"
Meg looked down, "Oh, they're in my room".
"Better go get them then, and don't forget your scarf!"
Meg ran off again, leaving the basket on the table. Iah shook her head with a smile on her face as she turned back to the dishes, then she paused. Has Sharli taken a basket? She didn't remember seeing one...Iah shook her head. She'd probably picked up one of the ones at the door.
Iah pointed to the more ripened tomatoes at the back of the stall as Meg picked up a few of the apples to the side and put them in the basket she was holding. Iah caught the basket as it was tipping.
"Careful Meg, don't want too many bruises on those apples," she smiled as Meg righted herself and began to watch the basket carefully as she picked a couple more.
"There you are, Miss," the vendor smiled as he handed over ten of the tomatoes and Iah handed him back the coin, "Thanks for your business".
"Thank you," Iah smiled as she took Meg's hand and walked down the market, "Alright, what else do we need".
Meg thought for a moment, looking between hers and Iah's basket, "Cheese".
"Cheese?" asked Iah, "I'm sure there was plenty when we left. Did those mice get into it again?"
Meg blushed and looked away, "I saw it, that Mouse, it was big and fat. I think he really must like cheese".
"Big and fat?" asked Iah, "Are you sure we're not raising a rat?"
Meg shook her head, "Maybe it's got a family too. Maybe its sharing the cheese".
"Is it just? I thought you said it ate it itself," Iah smiled.
"Nah uh," Meg insisted, "I said it was big and fat. I didn't say it ate all the cheese itself".
Iah chuckled, "Alright, cheese it is. Maybe we should get some extra for that mouse and his family, huh?"
"Right!" Meg said excitedly as she pulled Iah in the direction of the cheese vendor.
Iah laughed as she looked from Meg to the crowd around her, watching for any dangers that Meg might miss in her one-track mission to the cheese vendor.
Iah suddenly paused, her eye catching a cart on the nearby road, or more specifically, its passenger. That was...
"Iah, come on!" Meg insisted, pulling Iah. Iah turned to Meg as the child tugged her along, then Iah turned quickly back to the road. But the cart was gone, disappearing past the crowd and down the street.
Iah frowned, turning away. No. She must have been seeing things. Iah turned back to the task at hand and followed Meg through the Market.