Chapter 6: The Wreckage - Charl

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The human, Charl, was still asleep when Renzo woke up. That didn't matter much though, the boy needed as much sleep as he could get. Renzo wouldn't get in the way of that. So, instead, Renzo wrapped him tighter in the blanket and set to work dismantling the camp.

The ashes of the firepit were buried and the stones used to line it were tossed far. The pouch of food and supplies was retrieved from the tree it was hidden in. Lastly, Renzo used magic to extract water from the ground to refill his canteen. The nearest water source was too far away and Renzo didn't want to leave the sleeping boy completely alone.

As he was shoving the cork back into place on the glass canteen Renzo heard shuffling, a sign that the little human was waking up. Renzo slowly walked back to the bedroll, where the red-haired child was now sitting up, a sad and slightly confused expression firmly in place on his face.

"Good morning Charl," Renzo greeted him.

Fresh and silent tears were his only response. Renzo didn't react, not that he didn't care, but because he doubted the child would want comfort from him.

"We'll be headed out soon, it's not safe to stay too long in one place," Renzo explained.

The boy nodded, still silent. He had not spoken a word after revealing his name the night prior, despite several more questions being directed to him.

"Do you..." Renzo said, thinking as he spoke. "Would you like to go back? To see if we can find anything you want to keep?"

The boy didn't respond, just bowed his head, likely in thought.

"We would have to be quick, as I said, it would not be safe to stay."

Slowly the boy nodded, and Renzo gave him a small smile in return.


When they returned to the place where his home once stood, Charl felt tears gather at his eyes again. He was surprised because he thought he had run out.

Charl opened his mouth, ready to say something, and then closed it.

He felt Renzo touch his shoulder gently. "Take your time," he said with his odd voice.

Charl nodded and approached the crumbled mess he once called home.

"Wait, Charl!" Renzo called. "Let me do something first, to make this easier."

Charl stopped, turned around, and watched curiously as Renzo got down on his hands and knees, fingers spread wide on the ground.

Renzo's hands glowed and Charl's eyes widened in fear. The stone blocks that covered Charl's house shuddered and slowly, ever so slowly, moved out of place. Despite how helpful that had been, Charl couldn't help but feel his heart squeeze with panic.

"There, that should help," Renzo announced.

Charl nodded absently in response and continued towards the destroyed house, Renzo not far behind him.

"I..." Charl trailed off, he didn't want to talk right now, but he had to. "I had a... toy, a chicken. It was my favourite. I want to... to find it."

"Of course," Renzo said softly. "I'll help you look."

Charl began to dig through the wreck, moving around broken bits of wood and cracked bits of dried clay that once made up the walls of his home. The dust and small splinters clung to his hands, and Charl had to stop every little bit to shudder his way past watery eyes that threatened to spill over.

After many minutes of sorting through nothing but broken pieces, Charl found something. It was a box, small and wooden. The lid was broken, and inside was his mother's small amount of jewelry, three necklaces and four sets of earrings. He was in the ruins of his parent's room.

Footsteps approached and stopped behind him. "What did you find?"

Charl didn't answer and just handed over the box.

There was silence for a moment. "Do you want to take something your father owned as well?"

Charl nodded as his tears began to fall.

"Did... did he own a satchel?"

Charl nodded again.

"I think I found it. I'll put the jewelry in there for you."

"What... what about m-my chicken?" Charl's voice sounded small, like a breath of air.


"R-Renzo?" Charl asked, turning to face him.

"I'm very sorry, Charl. But I think it was destroyed."

Renzo held up a lump of coloured cloth, ripped and insides still covered in half rotten flour. Charl instantly recognized it as the remains of his favourite toy.

Charl stared at it and felt nothing. He wasn't angry, wasn't sad. He just... was. There were no more feelings to have.

Renzo opened his mouth, but then closed it, humming in thought.

"We'll take it with us. We'll find a way to repair it."

"Okay," Charl replied flatly. He didn't have the energy to care anymore.

"Is there anything else you want to take?" Renzo asked.

Charl didn't reply.

Renzo sighed, leant over, and picked him up. "We have a long way to go today, Charl, and I won't be carrying you the whole time. You're too big to be carried for long."

Charl turned his face into Renzo's neck, feeling the smooth touch of the leather strap of his father's satchel against his cheek. "Okay."

"While we are walking I would like to tell you about where I come from," Renzo said softly, his voice rumbling through both his and Charl's chests. "Perhaps you will tell me about your home, and we'll cry together for the places we have lost."

Renzo chuckled sadly. "Hm, yes, I think we will be doing a lot of crying together, Charl."

Charl just buried his face further into Renzo's neck. "If you say so."


"I come from a far away city, hidden and long forgotten by all who do not live there."

Charl nodded from his spot beside Renzo.

"There live all Ichneum, the children of fear, who were forced there by the anger of the other races. They all feared what the Ichneum could do, they feared that they would be destroyed by them."

Charl frowned, confusion worming through him.

Renzo smiled at him, but it wasn't a happy smile. "We could have ended them all, but in doing so become the monsters they saw us as. We had no choice but to be driven."

Charl thought for a moment, a small bit of curiosity had taken root in his mind.

"Why aren't you in your city?" He asked quietly.

Renzo sighed, sounding very tired. "I can't tell you, knowing would only hurt you."

Charl didn't get it but nodded anyway. One day he would understand.

Late that night, while Charl lay awake, not even attempting to rest, he could hear Renzo crying in his sleep. It felt wrong to listen to it, like a secret he wasn't meant to know. But, it made him feel better.

It was comforting to know that adults had nightmares too.

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