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|I don't really want to say anything about this. Just read it.||
Annie smiles as she watches her daughter playing with the dog. The dog is large and hairy, and ever so gentle with the dark-haired child. The two have grown up together since they were both babies; sometimes Annie feels that Shepard is even closer to her daughter than she is. Michelle giggles furiously, wriggling on the ground underneath the huge dog licking her face. Annie calls out to her daughter, who comes running through the golden evening sunlight to her, Shepard close at her heel.
"Time to get ready for bed, sweetheart." Michelle pouts without conviction before she skips inside. Annie basks in the last of the day's sun for a while, her bright blue eyes looking out into the distance.
She smiles again as Michelle returns in her nightgown and climbs into her lap. Annie stands up, holding the tired little girl that was only moments before full of energy. She carries her inside and lays her on the bed, then covers her with a blanket before kissing her on the forehead.
"Goodnight Michelle." Shepard climbs onto the bed and stretches out beside Michelle, sleeping on her bed as he has always done, ever since Michelle's father left. Annie draws the curtains and closes the door as she leaves the room.
Annie awakes with a shaft of sunlight falling across her face. She gets up and goes to the kitchen to begin preparing breakfast. Michelle and Shepard are already up and making the most of the time before breakfast by playing in the yard again. Annie lights the stove and begins preparing porridge, made with milk, just the way Michelle likes it. Annie hears a scream from the yard, and Annie knows straight away it is not the result of the duo's normal play. She rushes to the door to see a large, brutish creature emerging from the trees and advancing towards Michelle.
Annie rushes outside and scoops Michelle up in her arms, holding her close to her breast. Shepard stands between them and the ugly creature, a deep growl rumbling from between his jaws. The ogre advances regardless, easily brushing aside the huge dog when he tries to leap at it.
"Shepard!" Michelle cries out to the injured animal, fallen and whimpering from the brutish ogre's strike. Michelle struggles but Annie backs toward the house, clutching her protectively. The ogre takes step after step as it slowly advances.
"Please..." Annie pleads, her quiet voice almost whispering, quivering with fear. "Leave us alone, please" The ogre takes no notice, and advances regardless. Annie gasps and bites off a small scream of surprise as the step to the porch trips her. Her eyes water at the pain but she still clasps her daughter close to her as she backs away, half-crawling, from the ogre still coming towards her.
Annie pulls herself up when she reaches the doorway. She turns to run inside, but a rough hand grabs her around the waist and pulls her child easily from her grasp.
"Michelle!" Annie cries out.
"Mommy!" Michelle screams in return. "Help!" Her little legs are kicking the furiously as she struggles in vain. Annie tries to pry herself from the giant hand, which surprisingly releases her, discarding her on the porch. Momentarily shocked, Annie struggles to her feet and runs after the retreating figure of the ogre as her daughter is reaching towards her, crying and pleading. Annie grabs the arm of the ogre, tries to pry its fingers open and release Michelle from its terrible grasp, but it is too strong for her and ignores her as though she were a butterfly, simple and harmless.
Annie struggles against the ogre as it marches relentlessly into the trees, both her and Michelle crying and screaming, both powerless. The ogre soon tires of Annie and hits her with a massive fist, sending her sprawling against a tree, unconscious. Michelle's cries for her mother reverberate around the forest as the ogre carries her away, never to be seen again.
Annie awakens. Her head is throbbing with pain, drowning out the lesser complaints of the rest of her body. Through the haze of her aching body she suddenly remembers what has happened.
"Michelle!" She cries out. "Michelle!" Her calls go unanswered, lost in the forest. She struggles to get to her feet, but her body is too broken and she stumbles to her knees. She feels so weak and powerless, that a brute like that could take all that she loved from her, and there was nothing she could do. Bitter choking sobs rise in her chest, closing her throat until she has to gasp for the air to scream out. She lies on the forest floor, alternately crying and screaming, too heartbroken to move.
|Before the Tide||Adele|
|Knight Champion||Soma of the Silver Knights - Devil's Night|