Chapter 4 – Darkwater Rising
Part 3: A Child’s Flight
The following weeks were heart-wrenching for Silas and Azurine as they tried to deal with Ienarath’s constant question of “where’s papa?” At first, they thought it would be easiest to gloss over her questions, telling her not to worry about it, that papa was on a long voyage and wouldn’t be home for sometime. And at first it was, but it became clear quickly that they would have to tell the child the truth. But what was the truth? Velroth was much too skilled and cautious on the docks to have been caught off-guard and tangled up in netting. Something wasn’t right. But those questions would have to wait.
Azurine looked up from her chair by the fireplace, Silas had come in with an armful of wood. As Silas set the logs down, Azurine closed her book and placed it on a nearby table. Ienarath was playing nearby with some blocks on the floor.
“Iena, come here, child.” Said Azurine. “There’s something you need to know.”
“What is it, Auntie?” Asked Ienarath in her squeaky, playful voice. Silas walked over, sat down beside Azurine, beckoning Ienarath to come sit on his lap.
She climbed up and bounced into place, a quizzical look on her tiny face.
“Iena,” Azurine began, “I’m afraid there has been a terrible accident. Papa has been badly hurt.”
“Oh.” Responded Ienarath. She then paused and furrowed her brow, as if thinking hard about something. “I can help,” she suddenly blurted out, with a smile beaming on her face. “I make papa better. I make papa laugh.” She continued with a giggle. She then started to look around, searching for her papa.
Azurine’s eyes began to well up. At that point, Silas took Azurine’s hand and pressed it gently, and continued for her, fighting back tears of his own.
“I’m sorry, Ienarath, but I’m afraid your papa can’t be helped this time.” Then, turning so as to be able to look directly at her, he said slowly, “Papa won’t be coming home any more, Ienarath. He was hurt too badly, and no one could help him. I’m sorry Iena.”
A dark shadow fell across Ienarath’s face, as her smile faded. Her expression became slightly confused, and she looked down before looking back up. “Papa is gone?” She asked. Silas could only nod.
And then everything fell into place as the small girl suddenly understood what she was being told. She jumped from her uncle’s lap, turned and faced both of them, and with a flood of tears, she screamed at them, “You lying! Not true! You lying!” She then quickly ran towards the door.
Stunned at the child’s reaction, Silas and Azurine watched, as if in slow motion, Ienarath run for the door. Looking at the door, Azurine yelled, “Silas, the door!” Not having latched tightly when Silas had come in with his arms full, the door had inched open, enough for the small child to slip through.
They both quickly ran to the door, but it was too late, she was gone.
“Iena! Iena!” Screamed Azurine, as she desperately scanned the darkness, terror in her voice.
“Ienarath!” Yelled Silas, from behind her, searching the darkness, as well.
At that moment, several residents burst out of their homes. “What’s going on?” Asked a neighbor with great concern.
“Ienarath’s run out!” Exclaimed Silas, as Azurine began running down the street, stopping every few feet to call out for her. Looking down, he said in a low voice, “we told her tonight…” his voice trailed off.
By that time Sadri has come down from his shop to see what the commotion was all about. Looking at Silas, but getting nothing, Silas’ neighbor spoke up. “They told her,” was all he said.
“I see,” replied Sadri, in a somber tone. Then, without further hesitation, he quickly began to organize all of those that had come out onto the street, as well as those just coming out of their homes.
“Quickly,” he said, “Little Ienarath has run off, and we need to find her!”
They set out in groups of three and four and began sweeping the Quarters.
An hour into the search, Sadri and his group rounded a corner and almost ran over a figure in the dark. “Watch where yer goin’, gray-skin!” Growled the silhouette. Sadri instantly recognized the slurred speech of the Nord, Rolff.
“Not tonight, Rolff.” Replied Sadri angrily. “One of our children has run off, and I don’t have time to put up with you right now.”
Rolff then grabbed Sadri by his arm. “You’d better show a liddle r’spect, gray-skin! This is my home, not yers. Don’t forget that!” letting go of Sadri, Rolff stumbled back a step or two and continued, “Wass amatter? Th’iddle brat finally realize she wazz a gray-skin? Couldn’t bear th’thought, eh? Had’a run away, huh?” He then let loose a snort of a laugh. “Bah!” He kept going, “Let her freeze, she’d be better off than growin’ up a gray-skin, like you.”
Trembling with rage, Sadri was about to jump on him, but the rest of his group had a hold of him, and just then a call came out. “WE FOUND HER!”
Tucked beneath an old splintered enchanter’s table that had been discarded inside an alcove, the girl was found with her tiny knees tucked up under her chin and shivering uncontrollably in the cold night air. Azurine was soon there and gathered her up in a blanket that someone had handed her. She clutched the girl in her arms, not unlike she had done on the day of her birth.
“I want papa.” Whispered the little girl, as she clung to her aunt, still trembling.
“I know, dear, I know.”