Animus Lost

House of Cards

“Sanna. Come here, please.” Renn called to his young daughter as she began to wander out of sight. He wanted to enjoy this moment with his family.

“It’s beautiful, Renn.” he could hear the smile in his wife’s voice as they stood together on their front lawn. It would be their first night staying in their new home.

“Daddy? What’s that noise?” Sanna was facing northward, her delicately pointed ears parting her dark curls, and after she had brought it to his attention, he could hear it too.

“Sounds like they’re having problems at the docks.” He told her, though he suspected it might be coming from the Blood Wall, further North. “Maybe one of the cargo ships bumped the dock.”

“Can we go inside?” His wife, Kara interjected, “I want to see the view from the balcony!” Sanna squealed and bolted into the house without any further negotiating. Renn began to follow when Kara grabbed his arm and pulled him in for bear hug. “Renn, this a dream come true. Can you believe it? A house in Old Town!”

“Please, Kara,” Renn was bashful now, “You can still see the South Wall from our lawn.” He gestured toward the general direction of the wall, which could not, in fact, be seen from their lawn.

“Come on. I’ve been dying to see this balcony!”

“I forgot to put the tools away. Be there in a minute?”

“Oh fine!” Kara waved behind her in a distracted, teasing manner as she walked toward the house. Renn smiled and turned to walk toward the North side of the house. He began to think of Kara, of all the decades that they had been married and how far they’d come since they had met. They’d both been artisans, working for the the same family by the Lake. She was a woodcarver, he a clothier. It had been hard times, then. He took another look at the house and smiled again. They’d been more successful than either of them had ever dared hope.

A noise broke him from his reverie. A booming and then… was that a scream?

Suddenly, there was a crack from behind him, inside the house. He was about to turn when he saw a man walking through the neighbor’s yard. He looked Cambion from where he could see, and there was something sticking out of his neck.

His neighbor’s granite home caved inward, and Renn could only stare a moment as his brain tried to process what was happening. The smell of a fire finally made him turn. The motion seemed to kick start his brain and he ran for the door, yelling the names of his family. He took a step inside the house and the floor seemed to shift a few inches to the left, causing him to fall back out the front door.

He watched as his beautiful new home began to fall down on him. It was agonizingly slow, but it was deceptive. His adrenaline merely made it seem that way, because it was as if a child’s giant hand had pushed a house of cards flat to the ground. Renn squeezed his eyes shut as the world fell down around him…

Somewhere nearby, there was a high pitched wailing.

“Sanna?” Renn swiftly came to and searched his surroundings. The doorframe, combined with the sloping porch, had directed most of the rubble away from him and he stood up quickly. He spotted Sanna nearby, buried to her chest in what remained of his new home. “Sanna, I’m here. You’ll be okay.” He started to attempt to dig her out, and the smell of smoke from the nearby fire was growing stronger.

Nothing he did could get her out. He glanced up and found the same man, walking toward them. His instincts told him to run. That his only chance was to run.

“Daddy! It hurts!” Renn was glad that his daughter couldn’t see the strange man coming nearer. He looked around for Kara, but there was no sign of her. The fire hopped over the nearest pile of rubble as if it were hunting blindly for prey. Reaching. Searching. It found his boot and he kicked to try and put it out, to fight it off.

“Get out!” Renn shouted as loudly as he could. It was infuriating, this man who simply walked toward them. This man, who so calmly tore everything he had worked his entire life for away from him. Renn picked up a nearby stone, stood, and hurled it at the Cambion’s head.

Inexplicably, the stone reversed itself, and Sanna’s hand found his just before he watched the stone embed itself entirely into his chest.

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