In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Eighty Nine
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
“Here?” Hao asked.
“Here.” Zeth replied.
Isobel shifted in Hao’s grip, still dazed and unaware of her surroundings. Zeth had wanted to kill her or leave her behind, claiming she had been ‘compromised’ but Hao knew better, she knew the beginnings of an apotheosis when she saw one.
So Hao had carried the other woman as they ran; the weight didn’t tire her or even slow her steps. In fact, she found something comforting about the sound of Isobel’s breaths and the beat of her heart.
All those comforts had been stripped away from her the moment she realized Zeth was leading her towards Culann manse.
Time and neglect had worn away the majesty of the great house but it had lost none of its foreboding. No non-vlodek could look upon the structure and not feel fear and not somehow know that every surface of every room had been christened in the blood of slaves and half-breeds.
She glanced over to Zeth to see he had an automatic in each hand, his every muscle was tensed. “Are you sure?” Hao asked.
He answered with a curt, “Magwier said so,” and then started walking towards the entrance. The door had been torn off the hinges, and to Hao the damage looked very recent.
In her mind she was reliving the night of her escape over and over. The manse of the Bizuneh family had been full of life and treachery and in her time there she had been treated at worst as a utility, at best as a pet. Hao shifted Isobel in her arms and began to follow Zeth.
Hao remembered that unlike so many other half-breeds and slaves she had learned to accept both humiliation and praise with indifferent grace. While some might claim there was a nobility to be found in suffering Hao had come to understand that for creatures like her nobility and survival were mutually exclusive.
She learned to let no opportunity go to waste. When she discovered a potential scandal brewing she made sure to push things over the edge with feigned ignorance and a mis-spoken word. When something valuable was left within reach she stole it and traded it later for information and necessities. When they sent her to learn magic, she whored herself out to her instructors for access to forbidden lore.
It took years to prepare for her revenge but when the time came not a single member of the Bizuneh remained alive.
And they were only the first. Hao thought.
Isobel stirred in her arms as they crossed the threshold, “What happened?”
“Hush now. Save your-” Hao’s voice became trailed off. The inferior of the great house great house a ruin, the scent of old death hung in the air.
But so did the scent of fresh blood.
Sig waited for them in the next room, his bestial form hung from his frame like a tattered filthy rug. His eyes burned with misery. Warren lay on the floor at his feet, his features slack and mottled, his eyes gazed emptily. He wasn’t breathing, it was obvious he hadn’t been breathing for some time.
“I’m sorry,” Sig said.
Zeth looked away from the scene, Isobel sobbed and Hao began to growl, it was a deep inhuman sound.