Friday, October 16, 2015

Marc is suddenly awake. The night is still, with only the usual rustlings and stirring of men in camp. He sits up slowly, thinking he had heard a muffled scream or yell. Slowly lifting the tent flap he peers out. Nothing seems amiss until he sees Dalana, one of the few women warriors in the troop exiting Lilys tent with a small bundle in her arms. Marc would have sworn he saw the bundle move and Dalana's movements seemed secretive and she was moving fast towards the woods. Marc waited a second and followed her.

Following into the woods Marc stops when he sees Dalana placing the bundle on a flat rock just a foot or so off the path. He startles when he sees a small arm reach up and hears a soft cry. He steps onto the path making himself known.

“What the hell are you doing? Is that a baby? And why are you leaving it here in the woods?”

The warrior woman backs slowly away. The look on Marcs face terrified her and no one in the troop ever wanted to piss him off. He was usually pretty easy going, but when he was mad everyone stayed completely out of his way.

Marc raises his voice. “I asked you a question and as your commander I demand a fucking answer!”

Dalana stops dead in her tracks. She slowly nods her head. “Its Lilys. Its come too early and she dont want it... told me to get rid of it...”

“Lily was pregnant? Why didnt she say anything? Bloody fucking hell....” Marc continues to swear, switching from English to French and starts to pace, his mind racing.

Lily's? Then the father could be anyone of the troop.... or someone from the human realm...or the UP....or me... but what to do now? This is no place for an infant, especially one whose own mother would leave it for dead...

Suddenly Marc stops his pacing. He moves towards the small bundle, silent in the cool night air. He scoops it up in his large hands and the blanket falls away revealing the sex of the infant.

“Poor little girl. Lets get you warmed up at least...” Marc cradles the baby close, knowing the baby girl would not have survived long with no food or warmth. Not to mention the beasts and other creatures that would have found her. The Drow not being the only race that would prize a human seeming child.

Marc stomps back to camp, getting angrier with every step. Dalana follows, trying to explain and making excuses for her friend. He stops outside of Lilys tent, still lit from within by the soft glow of a lantern.

Addley approaches, completely unaware of what has been going on. “Evenin' Capt. Breaking camp in the morn are we?”

“No. We wont be. Apparently Lily needs to rest for a few days.”

“What? Why? She get hurt?” Addley asks, puzzled at the anger he hears in Marcs voice.

“This is why. Hold her for a minute will you?” Marc hands the bundle to Addley who looks like he has been frozen to the ground.

“Ohh..ohh...a baby? I cant hold this... look how small...”

Lilys eyes go wide at the sight of her commander standing in the entry of her tent. His face was red, his expression telling of how furious he was with her. She thought at first it was because he thought she was holding up the troop and tried to explain.

“I can be ready to ride by morning, I wont hold you up, I swear....”

Her words are cut short by his approach and his raised hand. She doesnt cower, she never has from anything and isnt about to start now, but his fury, so seldom seen, scares her.

“I should beat you senseless, you stupid bitch...” Marc lowers his hand and instead grabs Lily by her shoulders. “If you hadnt just given birth I swear I would... How could you be so cold hearted? Leave a baby in the woods? We arent living in the fucking dark ages...”

“I dont want a baby... it will die anyway...” Lily starts to raise her voice.

Her words are cut off by a violent shake from her commander. “Shut up! Not another word. I swear I will leave you in the woods to rot like you would your own child..”

The words became louder, the argument heated and outside Addly starts to pace with the baby. Men are walking by wondering at the commotion. Addly shrugs at their questions, not sure how to respond. Suddenly theres a loud crash from inside the tent, Lily screaming in fury, “I will not feed that brat and you cant make me!”

Marc emerges, still angry and now frustrated as well. He yells for the guards and two come running, word of his fury having spread throughout the camp. “Watch this tent. Lily does not leave it until I get back. Dalana can bring her what she needs for now...”

When Dalana opens her mouth to protest, she was a warrior after all, not a servant, Marc cuts her off. “You will do as you are told. You are an accomplice in this... Do not give me reason to discipline you for it.”

He turns to Addley and gently takes the baby. “Send the medic to my tent and Devlin as well. And see if the cook has a goat in his herd... and then ask some of the women if anyone has something soft to wrap the baby in...”

After the medic had checked the baby over as well as he could, his expertise consisting mainly of patching up battle injuries, not newborns, he pronounced her healthy but small due to her early arrival. Addley arrived with a small bundle of clothing, a soft shift that was worn and ripped and a couple of old blankets. He also had a small glass carafe with goat milk.

“The cook says to just dip a corner of a rag in the milk and let her suck that, seein' as we have no baby bottles or the like..”

Marc nods, and follows the advice, surprised when the baby sucks hard at the cloth.

A firm but quiet tap on the post outside lets Marc know Devlin has arrived. The big man ducks as he enters the tent, his large frame filling the opening. Over six feet tall and a built like an ox, no one messed with Devlin on any level. To most he seemed completely humorless, but to the few that knew him well realized he was just very guarded and took his job more seriously than most. Marc knew his troop would be in capable hands.

“So the rumor is true it seems. A baby? Is it yours?”

“I dont know my friend. I dont think so... but still, I could not leave her to die as her mother wished. I will need to leave for a few days... I know someone who would care for the little one...”

Devlin holds out his hand to shake Marcs. “Say no more. I will command the troops as long as you need me too. I hear Lily is confined to her tent with Dalana to wait on her?” A slight hint of a grin lets Marc know that he is enjoying Dalanas enforced servitude. The woman was too proud and overbearing on a good day and most would enjoy seeing her knocked down a peg or two.

Marc nods. “Until I get back. I dont trust her not to take off. I dont need her bleeding to death on the road somewhere, although I cant say she doesnt deserve it..”

“I agree. I know the women fight as well as the men but when these things happen I am ready to send them all packing back to the bitches that bore them in the first place.”

A few details exchanged and plans gone over, Marc decides to leave immediately. Addly holds the baby while he mounts his horse and ties a sling in place to hold her close as he rides. He settles the baby in making sure she has enough blankets, gives Addly a few final orders, tells his closest men that Devlin is in charge while he is gone then turns his horse to Lilys tent. Dalana stands in front and Marc orders her to hold the flap open.

“Devlin is in charge while I am gone. You had both better be right here when I return. You know the penalty for desertion and you know he will not hesitate.”

Marc turns his horse towards the woods and heads for Rowans.

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