All eyes of Iven were on the magical shield shining above the town. Flavus and Kangassk, grateful for the time it had bought them, were holding a tiny war council in the dark room. What they were doing - hiding the demon host from the Inquisition - was a crime, both against the law and against common sense, but they weren’t going to step back now.
“...I know several simple spells for banishing lesser demons but that’s ridiculous!” said Flavus. “The worldholders had tried the strongest magic they knew and still it was the demon who had the last laugh: the host died in the end.”
“What was that phrase… ‘low hanging fruit’? Yes, exactly...” Kangassk mused out loud. “There were only five dvoedushniks and only two attempts to exile the vitryaniks. Was that enough to even ‘pick the low hanging fruit’, as scientists say? I don’t think so. I think there are lots of untested and even unpredicted possibilities left. In plain sight.”
“Well, we can teach her to use magic, then…” Flavus didn’t finish the sentence. “No, she has an ocean of ambassa. Her casting magic will stir some energy at the surface at best, the vitryanik will just dive deeper…”
“And it will take time…”
“Years worth of time.”
They fell silent, both out of ideas.
“You and me here, we are like those fairy tale hunters who swore to catch a sea serpent,” Kan gave his friend a sad smile. “They chased the monster from sea to sea and it killed them when it got bored of the game. That serpent, too, just dived deeper when it needed to hide and resurfaced whenever and wherever it wanted.”
“I didn't know you had sea tales in Kuldagan,” Flavus returned the smile; his lips trembled.
“We don't. I ordered books from other lands from time to time… But what I wanted to say is that I’m a fool. The solution is here, right in front of me: we should do to Sylvia what Sereg did to me yesterday. Without the sea to hide in, our ‘sea serpent’ will lose its advantage. Then we will finish it. Sereg cast some spell on me to make me a donor. Do you happen to know it?”
“Drain. It was Drain.” Flavus looked grave and full of doubts as if he didn’t like Kan’s idea at all. “It’s simple but doesn’t work without the future donor’s permission.”
“Teach the spell to me!” demanded Kangassk. “And I will get to that sea serpent!”
“The demon won’t give up easily,” Flavus shook his head. “It will raise the winds in the daytime, kill the host, kill everyone in the town… No, Kangassk, my friend, it’s not a way to go. Thank you for trying to help us. There is nothing I want more than to save my sister but the price of the failure is too high.”
“I will warn the Hunters and tell them to get people back to the town and be ready to raise the shield at a certain time.” Kan refused to give up. “I will speak with my masters’ authority, they will have to listen. As to Sylvia, we will protect her from the winds. Tell me, do you know how to cast the shield spell?”
“Good! We will do everything by the book then, except that there will be only three people in our battle unit. I will cast Drain on Sylvia and link it to your shield. With the amount of magic she has, it will be impenetrable. The only person risking his life will be me. It’s me, the aggressor, the vitryanik will try to kill.”
“You will do that, Kangassk? Risk your life?” Flavus’s eyes were wide, he breathed heavily. “Why?”
“You know,” the young Kuldagainan beamed at him, “I’ve never had friends before and thought that I never would. Now, when I have them, I want to protect them, always. Let’s waste no more time. Show me how to cast Drain…”
The spell was so short and simple that the obligatory permission from the donor must have been the only thing that prevented half of Omnisians from turning to magical vampirism. That evening, when Kangassk’s spirits were higher than ever, he stepped over the beginner’s phase and learned to cast Drain quickly and without words.
With that done, the war council dismissed itself and the two tired boys went to their rooms to have a nap before the incoming battle.