Chapter Twelve(Part two)
It was four hours after the babe had been born when Ari rose from her seat on the crate, drawing her unit's attention, and Nyala's. Nyala and Zolan had been playing with the babe all the way up until it finally fell asleep, and Ellie had set about stringing a carrier for the new mother from the scraps of leather and material that she had found in the vacant camp. Zolan cast his eyes over to Ari, frowning at her when she started to gather her things.
"Where are you going?"
He asked in confusion, drawing attention from everyone else. Ari didn't reply straight away, motioning for Ellie to hand her project off to someone else -Sahm ended up being the one to take it- and the girl gathered her things quickly.
"Reconnaissance. We need to figure out how far away the next exit out of this mountain is, and whether or not it's safe to try and make it to the Balvedarian border. Aunty wasn't around during the fights in this area, so hopefully, she'll assume that we tried to cut through the pass to the Balvedarian settlement on the other side. We need to know how long we're going to be trapped here. I'll need one of your men, General Keita."
Keita looked like he wanted to argue with her at first, but he slowly nodded his head instead, nodding to Rolo, who stood at the ready in the blink of an eye and watched Ari and Ellie expectantly.
"Be careful Commander. We're boxed in as it is, do not let them know of our position."
Ari rolled her eyes at him in response, obviously insulted, as she started off towards the exit the Rolo directed them to. Ellie looked pleased as punch to have been picked as her spot-man, while Nyala and Kei both frowned unhappily.
"How come she gets to have all the fun?"
Nyala asked on a huff.
"How come I have to babysit? I don't like babysitting. You're far too annoying."
Kei countered, narrowing her eyes at Nyala, who only laughed at the complaint and batted her eyes in an innocent manner.
"Nonsense. We all know you love being around me; because I always attract the most fun."
Kei seemed to give the statement some thought before she shrugged her shoulders lightly in agreement, her eyes flickering to the babe. A sudden thought seemed to strike at her and she got an outraged look on her face, cursing viciously at she glance up into the dark tunnel that Ari, Ellie, and Rolo had disappeared into. Nyala looked to her Commander's second with worry.
"That slimy little witch! The baby hasn't been named yet!"
She shouted roughly, startling the wiggly pile of flesh in question. The other woman around them stilled and then repeated her curses, and they all looked to Nyala in question.
"It is bad luck to leave a child unnamed too long, my Queen. I do not advise waiting. Someone has to go through with the ceremony."
Vera and Nikki pipped up as well, adding their agreement to Sahm's statement, and Nyala glared after her Commander.
"Damn coward. I can't believe that she's so afraid of children. What is she going to do when it comes time for her to have her own? I'll tell you what, she'll likely fake her own death and run. Damned, dirty . . . Do you have a name for the child?"
She finally asked the Princess and her husband, her eyes softening when they lighted on the Babe, and the others in the cavern drew in, seeming amused by the revelation that Ari's recon quest had a hidden motive. The Princess slowly looked to her husband, and the two seemed to be communicating in some way, their eyes speaking volumes. After a lengthy silence, the Princess finally spoke up.
"Miska. We were thinking about Miska."
Nyala seemed pleased with the name, as did the remained warrior's, and they gathered in the same manner, only Nyala now sat in the place that Ari had. The knives were pulled out and placed down, and more essence was burned. The entire time that Nyala preformed the ceremony, she was imagining all the ways that she could kill Ari for leaving such a task to her.
* * *
Ari's ears began to burn, and she smiled the slightest bit. Nyala must have been cursing her name through all the levels of hell and back again. Not that she much cared. Handling babies was not her specialty, and she had barely managed to make it through the protection prayer. Why would she want to preform the naming ceremony when there was someone else perfectly capable of doing it for her?
"I smell smoke . . . and I can her yelling. Are we close to an exit point?"
Ellie's question drew Ari's attention, ans she again marveled at the girl's heightened senses, smiling the slightest bit, and they both looked to Rolo, who was usually a quiet man, rarely speaking unless he was forced to.
"Yes, actually. This particular one opens from the bottom up, and is located on a cliff-side path. Actually, we will probably be able to peek under the door and see how bad the damage to the manor is, and even if there's a clear path back towards the City."
Are and Ellie both nodded, and when Rolo stopped to mess with the wall, they watched in amazement as a sliver of light and air appeared at their feet, seeping from the wall steadily. He was careful about how fast he opened it, but that didn't matter; all of them were patient. When it was finally gaped enough that one could probably fit a head into the crack, they all carefully, slowly ducked down and peeked out. Ari was thankful beyond reason when there wasn't a face on the other side, waiting to jab a mighty spear through her head, though she frowned at what she could see.
There was rubble where the manor roof had once stood, and people milling about it steadily. But that wasn't what caught Ari's attention the most. What caught her attention the most was something that made her stomach shrink and her mind narrow into focus. She could feel Ellie searching next to her, trying to figure out why Ari had stilled. When both Ellie and Rolo caught onto the same sight that had Ari frozen.
"This is not good."