Shield of the Ishim Pt 3

Ishim Shield

Maya woke up suddenly and started to cough, her ribs and back ached horribly but she couldn’t stop. As the coughing slowed, she started to look around and realized she had no idea where she was. There was a plush but worn couch below her and a musty basement that was definitely not below the collapsed floor she had just left. She also realized that her mask was off, her hair was undone and her right arm was in a sling. She spotted her mask and realized her boots were off too when her bare feet hit the carpet. Her vision blurred and she lost balance as she tried to stand up to retrieve her mask. She fell back onto the sofa with pain that had her left hand reaching for her ribs. She heard footsteps and creaking from the stairs and she poured power into her runes of defense.

“Stay back! I can deal with you without my gear!” Maya cried out, raising her hand like a shield in front of her. The runes on her rings and bracelets lit up enough to shine through her shirt sleeve. The strain was painful, it felt like sharp knives everywhere and she heard herself groaning against her will.

A young woman walked down the stairs with her hands up, fingers splayed to show she meant no harm. She had long red hair and matching red-tinted round sunglasses. She had a little Mona Lisa smile on her lips. “I come in peace. Sit down before you hurt yourself. Seraphim, already.” She said with a laugh.

She had said the latest Ishim code word so Maya relaxed and slumped onto the couch. “Who are you? What’s going on?”

“My name is Ivy. I’m Kerry’s older sister. Here, take some tea.” She held out a steaming cup to Maya. Maya watched it for a moment before taking the cup. She sniffed it cautiously and then took a slow sip.

“Who’s Kerry?”

“She’s my little sister, usually goes by China Gray. It’s kind of a dumb name but what are you going to do?”

“Wait, China? What happened to her!? Is she alright?”

Ivy’s smile faded a little. “You both took a bad fall. When the floor collapsed, you landed on the dragon which cushioned your fall a bit. You dislocated your shoulder, cracked your wrist and broke several ribs. Not to mention all the bad bruises. You’ll be ok though, Grand Maeve looked you over while you were out. Kerry had worse luck.”

“Is she going to be alright?” Maya asked, sitting up again.

There were footsteps on the stairs and a petite girl walked into view. She had a gray cast on one arm and several bad bruises and bandages all over. She even had a pearl white patch over one eye. There was a familiar gray jacket carefully draped over her shoulders.

“Stop leaving her in suspense, dear sister. We don’t really have the time, do we?” The girl said, she had a reserved smile but a twinkle in her eye.

“China? You’re my age? Wait, are you OK?” Maya stood and found herself carefully hugging China and then carefully touching her cast.

“We were very lucky. My sister caught the Grand Maeve just before she left to meet up with the council. She healed us the best she could and then left.” China stepped back and put some distance between herself and Maya. It was a practiced and professional gesture and Maya was barely offended.

“The Grand Maeve? Wow. But that can’t be a coincidence, right? ‘The Ishim Will Die’, right? Do you think something big is happening?” She ran a hand through her hair, trying to collect herself. She was still trying to impress this girl who was the same age. She put on her best serious face even though she was still feeling a little dizzy.

“I would think that’s right. Regardless of what we think, we have been summoned to the council to discuss the matter as material witnesses.” China said with more than a hint of pride in her voice even if she successfully kept it off of her face.

“How are we getting there?” Maya asked. Looking around for the rest of her gear but finding none of it close at hand. She was anxious to tell everything to the council and get back to normal, boring monster hunting.

Ivy stepped back into the room and held up three slips of card stock that were heavily scribed with magical runes and symbols. She had a big smile on her face. “We’re taking the Spirit Train. Three tickets courtesy of the council. Fancy, huh? Come on, let’s pack your bags so we can get going. You can rest some more on the way.”

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