"Tandy! Help that youngster over there. He has a cut that needs looking after." Commanded Mama without so much as a pause. I could tell from the way she said it that she was relieved that I had been found, had assessed my health and decided I was all in one piece, and figured out how to make the best use of my meager talents. All in a single blink. A lot of people thought my Mama was a cold, hard person. They just don't know her like I do. The "Help that youngster over there" was practically a hug coming from my Mama. Some people hug... well... differently than others.
The little boy did indeed have a cut on his arm. A deep one that was going to need some stitches. Before she realized that my talents didn't run towards healing, Mama and I had a few weeks of "training" that nearly put us at each other's throats. I love to create, to invent, to build magic devices. Healing? I just don't have any talent for it. Mama, no the other hand, is so bursting with healing talent that it practically sings from her. Not that she can't build magic devices too, she just tends to build small ones that are useful for healing. Like the stitching needle in my med kit. Mama made it out of Kinderling silver, and enchanted it to sew stitches with little to no pain. She also added a bit of something in there that kept wounds that are stitched with it from becoming infected. It was practically the most valuable thing I owned.
I may not have a talent for healing, but the skills I learned during those few weeks, and the med kit Mama helped me put together, has really come in handy. I can't count the number of times and the number of ways I would have been in real trouble if I hadn't have had it with me. I never go anywhere without it.
That little boy sure looked scared though. Mama would have just snagged him and zip zip zip, the stitches would be all done before the first tear had time to fall. I, on the other hand couldn't do that. Luckily, a tiny lavender furball intervened. With the kitten distracting the boy, I was able to do what needed to be done. The boy was a bit wiggly, and the stitches weren't exactly my best ever, but they would do, and he seemingly didn't even feel them, so there was no crying. I told you my Mama does some good enchantment work.
I left the kitten to watch the boy... or the boy to watch the kitten... or, well, they would watch each other while I asked around to see if I could locate the kid's parents. He wasn't exactly a toddler any more, but he was still far too young to be away from his parents. I'm not dumb, I did keep an eye on him. A kid like that can wander off when you are least expecting it and it was a bad time for a kid to wander off. I asked around to see if anyone knew where the kid's parents were. What I found was heartache. His parents were gone. I couldn't tell him. I needed to tell him something, anything, but I couldn't even muster up the courage to lie or say a lame "everything will work out fine". If it weren't for the kitten being there to distract him, I don't know what I would have done.
Look, I'm not a coward. For the past few years, I've been out in the forest where the Gorfs live almost as much as I've been safe at home. Cowards don't go out into the forest. But I couldn't tell this poor little boy that his parents were gone. Late that evening, the boy's Aunt found us and I was finally able to give the boy back to his family. What was left of it anyway. His Aunt seemed like a nice lady and I hoped things would work out and they would both have nice lives. I wished there was something, anything, that I could do to make that happen. There were so many hurting people all around, the village was gone. There was nothing I could do.
I was so worn out, I just unrolled the sleeping roll from my pack and curled up in the corner to sleep. After a few minutes, the furry little kitten crawled in with me and I fell asleep with my face buried in her fluffy fur.
Mama woke me up. To most people, it would have seemed abrupt, but I was used to Mama. I think most people's Mamas can be like that when they are "on a mission". Mine was like that all the time. Sometimes my brother and I wondered how they got Mama to stand still long enough for us to be born. When we asked Father, he just laughed. Then said "Never ever say that to your mother." Hey, I understood. Mama knew what people thought of her, but she was who she was and couldn't, wouldn't change for anyone. It's one of the reasons she opened a clinic at our home rather than working in the village infirmary. It's also why a lot of older Kinderlings preferred to come to Mama for treatment. As one old GrandMum once told me "The infirmary tends to coddle patients and lets them lie around and be worthless. Your mother whips them back into shape and gets them back on their feet."
This time Mama wanted to talk. Privately. That's never a good sign.
"Both your Father and Zon are in jail, and I think Baot is looking for an excuse to put me in there with them. Everything is going below and that bloated ego fool is playing power games."
"Can't, too many hurt people. General Baot wouldn't dare put you in jail where you can't help out." I replied, hoping that I was right.
"It gets worse. Baot says he's declaring martial law, and saying that anyone not doing their part can be executed. I think he's working up to having Zon or your father to prove he's in charge. He's also been asking about your whereabouts, and saying what a good match you would make for his nephew."
I almost laughed. "Well that isn't happening."
"He has enough Kinderlings scared enough to do whatever he says. I think it's time we left, and I'm not leaving without your Father."
"Sounds like it's jailbreak time. Where do you want me?" I was all for this idea. I didn't know this General Baot, but he seemed like a bully, and I really can't stand a bully. A bully is a good part of the reason my parents had been letting me go out into the forest. Oh, not for me to hide me from the bully. They let me go to protect the bully from ME. Mama caught me constructing some rather nasty devices and demanded to know what I was doing. When she heard what I had in store for the poor lad, she took them away. Most of them she wouldn't even let me test on the Gorfs! And nobody likes a Gorf!
"Your job is to spring Zon and your Father from the cell they fashioned out of the old offices on level two. For my part, I'll see about finding your brother and a few others and getting supplies. Can you handle that?"
"Tomorrow night, at the old barrel." Was all Mama said. She knew I would know where to go.