195 The Cost of Burdens*
When Kit and Olly had left early that morning stating that they were going to see Falla about the blood contract, Iah and Sharli had been sceptical. They weren't capable of carving runes because they were human. Olly may have been able to read the Mist, but he was no Magician either. Would he even be capable of making the runes? What if after signing the contract he discovered he wasn't?
But whether through his own knowledge or Olly's constant pestering, Iah and Sharli were more inclined to believe the latter, Kit was sure he'd be capable so they left without delay.
"Do you think he's really capable of making the Charms? That being able to see the Mist is the only thing that's required?" asked Iah.
Sharli sighed, pausing in doing her chores as she turned back to Iah.
"Kit seemed sure," Sharli stated, "Still, I can't help but think I'd be much more sure of everything if Rassa was here with us".
Iah rolled her eyes at her sister, "Sharli, you were in charge of this place for years before Rassa showed up, it's why he was confident leaving you in charge. Sure there are different things to worry about now than just the next meal, but that doesn't change the fact that we all trust your decisions. You always made them when thinking about what's best for us and nothing is going to change now".
"I could barely get us to the next meal, Iah," Sharli sighed, tossing the rags she was washing back into the water as she sat down, "How can I get a business off the ground if I could barely find food?"
Iah looked at the pitiful vision of her sister and moved to sit beside her, "Sharli, you need to have more confidence in yourself. In your decisions. Rassa was sure you could do it. I'm sure. Why can't you be?"
The question was left unanswered as one of the children, Meg, burst out in the little courtyard at the back of the Ruin breathing deeply.
"Meg?" asked Iah, "What's wrong?"
"Kit…he's hurt," said Meg.
Iah and Sharli jumped up immediately, moving into the Ruin and following Meg to the bedroom where Olly had unceremoniously dumped him. The troubled young man was now rapidly drawing on a sheet of paper. Runes by the look of it, but he didn't appear to have a care in the world for Kit who looked pale and covered in sweat where he was sprawled on his bed.
"What by the gods did you do to him?!" shouted Sharli as she rushed forward, her hand going straight to Kit's pale and sweaty skin.
Olly looked near uninterested, "He'll wake up later".
"Gods, he has a fever, Iah go and get some water," said Sharli, then she turned to Olly, her eyes fierce, "What did you do to him?"
Olly didn't even look up as he repeated what he'd said, "He'll wake up later".
Sharli's expression turned frustrated and she stood, crossing to Olly's bed in two short steps before knocking the paper and charcoal from Olly's hands. Olly looked genuinely surprised as he looked at the scattered papers, then up at Sharli.
"I'm just practicing-"
Olly's head whipped to the side, a sharp smack ricocheting off the walls of the small room as Sharli's palm connected with his cheek. There was silence in the room, the only sound Sharli's rage filled breathing and Kit's ragged one. Olly raised his charcoal stained hand to cup his rapidly reddening cheek as he slowly turned back to face Sharli. His expression was different this time. So much so that Sharli took an unconscious step back. Gone was the innocence and childlike mania that usually graced his eyes. In its place was a cold, uncaring expression that terrified her. Olly stared at Sharli for a moment, then his eyes flickered to Kit and they softened ever so slightly. He dropped his hand, then he dropped to his knees on the floor, taking up the paper and Charcoal.
Sharli sucked in a breath of frustration, "I don't give a damn about your practicing. I give a damn about my friend. My family! He was fine when he left this morning with you but is now looking like he's on the verge of death. I'm asking you, what happened?"
Olly gathered his papers and charcoal, then he stood, taller than Sharli. She'd never noticed because he was always so hunched over whatever drawings he was working on. She noticed it now, his cold stare intimidating her.
"He will wake up, later," Olly repeated, then he moved around her and walked out, clearly sensing that he wasn't welcomed. Sharli watched him leave, only snapping out of it when Iah returned.
"What's wrong?" asked Iah.
Sharli huffed, wiping a hand across her face, a hand that she realised was shaking. Had he scared her that much? He'd never appeared dangerous before. Sharli wasn't even sure what she was scared of. What was it about him that made her so instinctively terrified?
Sharli balled her hand into a fist, arresting control of her emotions as she moved to Kit's side and helped Iah to wipe the sweat from his body.
"I don't know, Olly would only say that he'd wake up soon," Sharli admitted.
Iah glanced over her shoulder to where Olly had disappeared down the hall.
"Well I'm sure he's not wrong," said Iah.
"I don't trust him," Sharli admitted.
Iah turned back to her sister.
"You don't think Kit will wake up?" asked Iah.
Sharli shook her head, "That's not what I meant. Olly he's…does he really expect us to believe that his only motivation to learning these Runes is that he just wants to learn them?"
Iah frowned, "Well, by the looks of it he's signed the blood contract now. He can't give away any secrets about the Charms, not without severe consequences".
"That blood contract was made by Rassa," said Sharli, "Did he ever tell you what happens if one of the parties dies before the contract is fulfilled?"
"No," Iah admitted.
"Me neither," said Sharli, "But something tells me we won't be able to take the consequences".
Iah watched her sister for a moment, then the two of them tended to Kit in silence.
"Is he awake yet?" asked Iah as Sharli exited the room.
"He'll wake up later," Olly spoke from halfway down the hall. He'd taken a seat there and continued with his 'practice'. It had irked Sharli. He was doing nothing to help Kit. Only serving to get in the way from her perspective. Yet that cold look he'd displayed earlier, the one that had all but disappeared by now, kept her from telling him off again. The red hand print on his face a reminder of their earlier disagreement.
"No," Sharli sighed in answer to Iah's question, "But he seems to be improving at least. His fever is going down and his breathing isn't as ragged".
Iah watched her sister eye Olly before she stepped forward, lowering her voice to a whisper, "Are you okay? Why'd you hit him earlier?"
Sharli scoffed, "Why? Are you kidding. That's the only thing he's said for the last five hours. He's not giving us any clues as to how or why this happened to Kit. He doesn't even seem to be concerned. He's just drawing those runes like it's a gods damned competition".
Iah sighed, "Sharli, he's been sat in that same spot ever since you kicked him out of the room. He'd be in the room if you hadn't. He is concerned about Kit. At the very least he's showing a positive attitude".
Sharli rolled her eyes as she shoved past her sister towards the kitchen, "And when has a positive attitude ever saved anybody, Iah?"
Iah watched her sister go in disappointment. Where was the sister who'd stood strong and confident? It only appeared to Iah that she was getting further and further away. Iah looked over at Olly. Maybe the guy was right. Her sister was standing on a cliff, and the way things were going, jumping off it would do none of them any good.