196 The Ruin is Compromised*
Illai was tentative and weak as she reported back to her Master's headquarters. She'd thought that by attacking in the middle of the day, that she'd be able to best the little Shadow Magician with ease. He'd been more efficient than she thought. Still young though. If he'd been older, it was likely that he probably would have been able to attack her rather than simply defend.
The Mist was a complicated thing. It only awakened in younger individuals, but when it did it was unlikely to give the individual full access to the scope and depth of their abilities. Until they came of age at eighteen, they were only capable of exploring that scope and depth in small steps. The little Shadow Magician had clearly had plenty of opportunities to explore scope, more so even than he would have in an Academy, but he had not done as well in depth. He still looked seven or eight years from coming of age, but that was a lot of time to explore depth.
Illai had severely underestimated her opponent on this occasion, and it was likely she would not have such an opportunity again. She had already let down her Master one too many times. It was likely that her punishment would not be light.
"Reporting to Master," Illai spoke as she knelt by the edge of his office. Ishta Alamone was alone this afternoon, clearly waiting for her return. The eagerness in his eyes faded considerably when he realised she was alone.
"You have failed me again, Illai?" he asked.
"I have no excuses, Master," Illai stated, leaning forward to place her forehead on the ground, submitting to him completely, "Please punish me as you see fit".
There was a pause, then a rage-filled roar echoed from Ishta's desk as he stood and flipped the desk and everything on it in the process.
"Incompetent, useless woman!" snapped Ishta, "Report to the Solarium immediately. Don't even think of getting out before the Summer Solstice".
Illai closed her eyes in sadness. Being in there for that long would very nearly kill her.
"Yes, Master. As you wish," stated Illai.
She stood and walked from the office, her steps strong until she was out of earshot of her Master, then they turned heavy and dragged terribly.
She would not die physically, being completely cut off from her element, but it was likely that she would want to. It was going to be a long two months.
Back in the office, Ishta glared at the mess on his floor. Even with Rassa Moonshadow out of the picture, this was beginning to become tedious. It had been over a month since he'd left the Island. Two months since he'd begun selling the charms. He must have made a fortune during the festival…
But now that Ishta thought about it, there had been no new stock on the market since. Despite Falla Startree taking over the business, and Illai having found the other individual capable of making the charms, they had not made efforts to make a profit out of such a commodity.
The question bothered him. Almost as much as his subordinate's inability to do as asked.
"It's time I have a conversation with Falla Startree," Ishta mused, "I refuse to believe that woman can continue to stay ahead of me when it comes to business wits".
Kit had a splitting headache. It was without a doubt the first thing that grasped his attention as he awoke. The next, as he groaned deep in his throat and raised a hand to nurse his pounding head, was that the rest of his body wasn't all that great either. He was aching as if he'd just recovered from a flu.
"Kit?" Iah's worried voice made its way through his pained consciousness and his eyes fluttered open. Iah sighed in relief upon seeing him awake.
"Thank the gods you're okay," Iah said.
Kit opened his mouth to speak, then, upon realising how parched he was, struggled to mime a cup of water to her.
Luckily, Iah caught on quickly and helped him up so that he could drink. After downing two cups of water and starting on a third. Kit finally took a breath to look at Iah.
"How long was I out?"
"Since Olly brought you back mid-afternoon," Iah replied, "It's the middle of the night now".
Kit turned to look around the room, "Where's Olly?"
Iah looked awkward for a moment before she replied, "He's sleeping in the workshop. Sharli kicked him out".
Kit frowned, "Why?"
Iah sighed, "You know how Olly is…Sharli was getting frustrated with him".
Kit titled his head in confusion, "He can't have done much harm. It's Olly".
Iah shrugged, "The only thing he's said since he brought you back was that you'd wake up soon. We don't even know…what happened to you?"
Kit sighed, finishing his third glass of water before he spoke, "We were attacked by the Inktress on our way back".
Iah's eyes widened, "What?"
Kit shook his head, "I'm fine, just exhausted. You know how I get if I'm in the sunlight during the middle of the day, it's worse if I try to use my abilities during the time".
Iah knew it well. When she and Sharli had first met Kit they'd encouraged him to play outside with the other children, but every time he did he'd come back looking at least twice as drained as everyone else, sometimes he'd even look sick. Eventually, he explained that being a Shadow Magician meant that when there were few shadows around him, he wouldn't be as active or as powerful. It had the opposite effect in fact. And that was just when he didn't use his abilities. Iah didn't have any abilities herself, but she imagined that being forced to use his abilities at the height of the day wouldn't have been easy.
"I'll go and get you some food," said Iah as she stood, "We should contact Falla about this. If the Inktress is attacking you-"
"Then she probably knows at the least that I'm close with Mr-with Rassa, and at worst, that I can make the charms," said Kit.