194 The Shadows Shrink in the Day*
"So what other runes did Mr Moonshadow teach you?" asked Olly, a grin of anticipation on his face as he turned to look at Kit. The two were headed back towards Port Leis after visiting Miss Falla and now that Olly had signed the Blood Contract he was more than eager to learn. Honestly, with how giddy he'd been Kit was surprised he'd lasted this long, they were nearly halfway back.
Still, Kit turned to glare at Olly, giving a side glance to the driver of the cart.
Olly looked, quite obviously at the driver, then back to Kit in confusion.
"Mr Moonshadow taught you…a driver's rune?"
Kit rolled his eyes, "No, Olly. I meant you shouldn't be discussing this stuff, it violates the contract".
Olly shook his head, "No it doesn't".
"You're revealing secrets to outside parties," Kit said.
Olly pointed at the driver who had kept silent with his back to them the whole time, "He is deaf".
Kit frowned, turning to look at the driver, "He is?"
Olly nodded, "He cannot hear us so therefore I am not revealing secrets and not violating the contract".
Kit sighed, then turned away again, placing his cheek in his hand in a bored gesture, "He taught me six others, but I haven't finished practicing yet".
"What were they?" asked Olly, leaning closer to Kit.
Kit glanced at Olly, just coming to realise what he'd gotten himself into, "I'll show you when we get back, not in the open".
Olly huffed and turned away, after a moment, Kit noticed that he started to get excited again.
"Sealing, Unsealing, Tracking, Truth, Clarity and Healing," said Olly.
Kit frowned, turning to Olly, "If the Mist was going to tell you anyway, why sign the Blood Contract?"
Olly frowned as if the answer was obvious, "The Mist wanted me to sign the contract first".
Kit tilted his head to the side, "If the Mist can tell you runes…can you learn new ones so that we don't have to wait for Mr Moonshadow to come back?"
"He might not come back," said Olly.
Kit frowned, "What do you mean by that? You said he could".
"He can yes, but that depends if he wants to," said Olly.
Kit looked like he'd been punched in the gut, "Why wouldn't he want to?"
Olly looked at Kit, and seemed to realise that he'd hurt his friend's feelings.
"He…he was given a choice when he became what he is, but he never really accepted it. He is being given that choice again," said Olly, "And if he cannot fully commit to his decision, he may not ever come back".
"The Mist told you this?" asked Kit.
Olly nodded, "The Mist allowed him the chance to make the decision again".
Kit didn't know how he felt about that. He felt somewhat betrayed, and sad that he might not see Mr Moonshadow again. Rassa. He'd asked Kit to call him Rassa.
Olly put a hand on Kit's head, "Losing faith so soon? What happened to all that trust you have in him?"
Kit sighed, "Faith isn't the same as trust".
"Isn't it?" asked Olly, "You sound like you're adding conditions again".
"Some forms of trust have conditions," Kit grumbled.
"Not the true kind," replied Olly as he took a piece of paper and charcoal from pockets of his coat. Kit wasn't even aware he'd brought that with him.
Kit sighed, "You can't draw here".
Olly paused, pouting as he looked at Kit. Then, before Kit could speak, Olly turned and looked away for a moment.
When he didn't turn back, Kit got annoyed, "Are you giving me the silent treatment? That's not very mature. You're older than me, you should be better than-"
Kit felt himself grind to a standstill, his mouth open to continue an annoyed rant, then he followed Olly's gaze, looking at the Mist in the distance.
Dark. Unnatural. Ink.
After their last encounter, Kit was positive that he didn't stand a chance against her. But just as he caught sight of her, she rose up from the inky sludge of shadows and paced forward across the field, her hands reaching out towards them.
The Ink rose behind her, she must have been straining considering it was the middle of the day, but it was directly because of that fact that Kit would struggle too.
"Get the driver to go faster," said Kit as he scrambled to his feet inside the Cart.
"He'll lose some of his sto-"
"Just go!" snapped Kit.
Olly moved as well as Kit took a deep breath and drew the shadows up from his immediate surroundings to form a barrier around them.
It was too thin. Kit knew before he even felt the stab of ink through his barrier that knocked the cart. Kit tumbled back into a sack of potatoes and grunted. The Driver, terrified at the prospect of Magicians battling it out over his cart, handed the reigns to Olly like he was passing burning coal then promptly bailed out.
"Sorry!" Olly called out after him, then frowned, "Oh, he's deaf he can't hear me".
Kit ignored Olly, huffing as he got back to his feet. A full barrier wouldn't work again. The sun was too high in the sky and the shadows too thin and small. He could already feel the strain it had taken the first time. Kit had never liked using his powers in the middle of the day. The Shadows were not nearly as cooperative, and it was becoming all too apparent here.
The only positive thing he had going for him was that the Inktress didn't seem all that powerful right now either. At least not compared to when he'd seen her the previous evening.
The cart jolted, the horses moving faster.
Another stab of Inky darkness towards the cart, this one faster and more forceful, and headed right for Kit.
Kit condensed the shadows right in front of himself. They held for just a few seconds before the ink broke through and stabbed towards Kit. The hit would have gotten him right in the shoulder if not for the protective charm in his pocket.
As it was, Kit stumbled back again from the force. He'd never been in a Magician's fight before. He wasn't even sure if this qualified as a fight considering he was pretty much just defending as much as he could.
"I can't hold on!" said Kit.
"She won't be able to keep up, we just have to get out of range!" Olly replied, "Once we get back to the Ruin, she won't be able to get to us".
Kit went to stand, then the cart hit a bump and he tumbled back down. As he turned to get back to his feet, he saw the inky spike already incoming.
He drew the shadows instinctively, but the spike went right through them without pausing. It hit him in the stomach this time, and he was pushed backwards, splintering the wooden divider before he tumbled past Olly.
"Kit!" called Olly as he grabbed for his friend.
Kit was terrified as he hung for a moment in the air, suspended between the cart and the back of the galloping horses. Olly pulled him back, and Kit took a deep breath of relief as he felt his stomach and realised the protection charm had done it's work again.
He turned to look over his shoulder, only to find that the Inktress seemed two distant. It occurred to Kit then that fighting on land was not her forte. Her element was a combination of water and shadow. It was not conducive to fighting on land during the height of the day.
"We're too far away, she won't catch up," Olly reassured him.
Kit sighed as he turned back around, the fear and excitement from the fight beginning to wear off.
"That's goo…d," Kit managed through half-lidded eyes, his exhaustion hitting him all at once.
He heard Olly calling to him as his heavy eyes closed against his will and he felt the weight of his body shift to the side.