“What will you do now?” The professor inquired.
“Something.” I replied as I hastily climbed up the rope.
“Something is not a valid answer.”
Towering above me, the professor put out his hand.
“Well, it’s the answer I have!”
Ignoring the professor’s hand, I ran quickly in the house, attempting to come up with a solution to our dilemma.
“Nice hound. When is he going to eat you in your sleep?” he asked sarcastically.
“He is passive.”
“Oh, really?” The professor questioned in a mocking tone as he stared down at Fitz.
Swiftly I ran past the professor and into the hall, gazing out of the window in utter terror.
“They sure are fast, are they not?” The professor remarked.
Ignoring his presence, I stepped into the hallway, attempting to compose myself.
“Think, young Augustine, what are you missing?”
“Let me think for a second!” I replied in irritation.
“Tick, tock, tick, tock.” The professor said playfully, as he fingered a silver pocket watch.
Going through the storage room, I found a wooden stick, which I then put on the dining table.
“Is that a stick? How wonderful!”
“Keep it quiet, will you?” I replied, while blankly staring at the wooden stick.
“Think, young Augustine,” the professor uttered, as he leaned over the table beside me. “What do the hounds thrive in?”
“The darkness…and the suns light they despise, I know that already!” I replied angrily.
“Is that so? Is it the hound that dulled your intellect?” He smugly countered.
“What else!? I have no tools, weapons or anything of use in this bloody house, but books and candles. Maybe I should start chugging books at them and see if that works.”
The professor looked at me with a look, indicating that I may have at last uncovered the mysteries of the unknown.
“Fire?” I inquired.
“Perfect, young Augustine. I’ll get you some tea and biscuits. Just wait here.”
“But there are hundreds of them, if not thousands!” I answered tersely
“Use that petty brain of yours!”
The professor continued to stare at me as I attempted to think of the answer. He then sighed in disappointment and said, “You need to distract them, young Augustine!”
“With WHAT!” I shouted angrily.
I looked up at the professor, with worry coating my eyes.
“Do you want me to burn… the…-“
“Oh, at last he has wit!” The professor interrupted.
“I can’t, it’s-”
“Your home? Well, it is now. It listens to you. I did feel a sense of betrayal, but I’m over that now.” The professor admitted.
“This is all I know.”
“Oh, please! So was London! So was the Athenaeum, so, what?”
The professor went to the sink to make some tea as he spoke, “You have to learn to find different homes, different people; learn to rid yourself of the past, and move on…”
I stared at the professor with tears filling my eyes, knowing there was no other way.
Rushing upstairs and donning my black cloak attended to my chore. I piled the sawdust from the crate in the hallway and topped it with a stack of books, finishing by arranging some dry wood on top. I stood in the hallway looking at my makeshift fire pit with a sense of hesitancy, knowing what needed to be done but hating the reality. I struck a match and stood there watching as the it slowly burned.
“Throw the match.” The professor commanded as he stood next to me.”
“I can’t! It’s too-“
The professor grabbed the flaming match from my hand and threw it on the heap.
“There we go! Simple as that.” The professor turned to me with his sadistic smile.
“Come, Fitz, quick!”
I hastily picked up Fitz in my arms and rapidly descended the rope.
The Shadow hounds were not far from us, as Fitz and I directed our path toward the southwest which was the only place where the red eyes of the hounds were less populated.
Cautiously I ran, trying in vain to not stop and look back at the burning house. Unable to fight the urge any longer I paused, turned and gazed back.
As I looked back, there stood Amalia, Bartholomew, Rahil and the professor, all standing on the burning porch, looking down at me their faces exhibiting their pride.
Faint tears fell down my cheeks and with it a smile.
“I will miss you all,” faintly I whispered.
Fitz grabbed my pant leg with his mouth, urging me forward. Sadly, I picked him up, and covered him with my black cloak. Putting my hand toward the house I pushed out as far away from it as I possibly could. As the house hovered away, Fitz and I headed into the darkest of nights whilst the flames engulfed the old wooden house.