Kardia stirred from a dreamy fog as her shoulders jostled against the bed ropes. She rubbed away sleep’s haze. Her father’s face blurred into view as he leaned over her. A fairy charm jangled from the cord gathering his lengthy beard. She parted her lips, but he clamped an icy palm over them.
He glanced from the door to her shuttered window. Sulphurous fog tendrils crept in over the sill. Their stench intensified as they slithered over her bed and coiled around her father’s neck.
He clutched the neckline of his apothecary robe, gasping. “They’ve taken your mother.”
Kardia snatched a chrism of sacred oil from the shelf. She uncorked it and flung the ambry into the mist. “Be gone!”
The odorous fog retreated with throaty laughter.
Her father coughed. Inky goo erupted and coated his chin as he stumbled backward.
She reached toward him. “Where did they take her?”
Arm trembling, he pointed toward her window and collapsed. Kardia knelt on the earthen floor and bent over him. She stroked her dripping tears from his cheek.
“Leave me. Prince Lur—” He squeezed her wrist and released it. His head lolled away. The glimmer faded from his eyes as his gaze fixed heavenward.
She cradled him and sobbed. After tucking her quilt over him, she rose and thrust open the shutters.