LotS fic, She's Going Soft
Summary: Cara rescues a little girl from banelings.
A/N:For the long-term fic challenged at legendland. This kind of...ambushed me. I started something completely different, then ended up with this. I may take this somewhere in a story of its own someday. Maybe.
The little girl stared up at her with wide, frightened eyes. Cara towered over her, her Agiels gripped in her fists. Banelings lay on the ground around her, one draped over the same log the child huddled under. Only after she was certain the banelings weren’t going to rise again—not yet, anyway—did she allow herself to relax. A little.
“Are you hurt?” she asked. Of course the child didn’t answer. All little girls were terrified of Mord-Sith. Oh well. Cara could see she was hurt without having to ask. “Hold still, I’ll—”
The girl launched herself at Cara. Before the Mord-Sith could react, she had a little kid clinging to her leg, sobbing into her red leather.
Cara blinked. Her first instinct was to shake the child off her leg. But she didn’t. Instead, she rolled her eyes and put her Agiels away. She glared down at the child’s red mop of curls.
“If you don’t release me, I won’t be able to tend your injuries.”
Instead of letting go, the girl turned her head to gaze up at Cara with red-rimmed eyes. “You--saved me.”
“Stop weeping,” Cara sighed.
The girl pressed her lips together and forced back a sob.
“Good,” Cara nodded. “Now, sit.”
The child did as Cara ordered, and Cara knelt in front of her. The most obvious wound was a gash just beneath her hairline, which was oozing a constant trickle of bright blood. Cara swung her pack off her shoulders and rummaged through it for a roll of clean cloth. She tore off a length and folded it. She pressed it to the wound and grabbed the girl’s hand. “Hold it. What else?”
Still fighting to hold back her tears, the girl nodded and lifted her leg for Cara to see. Through a tear in the skirt, Cara glimpsed a long, deep gash. She frowned. It looked fairly serious.
She pulled out her water jug and started to clean the wound. To her credit, the girl managed to keep her whimpers of pain low. Cara studied her, then sighed. She might as well try to keep the child’s mind occupied. “What’s your name?”
She sniffed. “Lora.”
“What are you doing out here alone?”
“My father…” Lora’s eyes welled with tears and, in spite of her best efforts, a violent sob escaped.
Cara realized then—she had seen a man’s body on the other side of the hill. He’d been the reason she found those banelings in the first place. She gripped Lora’s chin and looked her in the eye. “He fought well to protect you.”
Cara tried to ignore the girl’s cries of pain and grief as she cleaned the wound. It wasn’t as bad as she had first thought, though they couldn’t risk it becoming infected. She finished washing the bits of leaves and dirt from the gash, and then applied a salve Richard had given her, wrapping it securely with a bandage.
“Can you walk?”
Cara hefted her to her feet, only for the girl to crumple to the ground in pain. Obviously not. Cara sighed. Great. She hoped the child wasn’t too heavy.
“Come on,” she muttered. She crouched down on one knee and helped Lora up onto her shoulders. As soon as the little girl was settled, Cara holding her firmly, careful not to bump into her leg wound, Cara straightened. “I have friends nearby. We’ll take you somewhere safe.”
The girl wrapped her arms around Cara’s neck, nuzzling her cheek into Cara’s short hair. The Mord-Sith bit back a sigh. These people are making me crazy. I’m going soft.
She’d have to keep watch to make sure the others didn’t sneak up on her. She didn’t want them to see her like this, packing around a little kid like it was the most natural thing in the world. Her reputation would be ruined and they’d never let her hear the end of it.
Unfortunately, the girl proved to be more of a distraction than she’d first anticipated. She glimpsed Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd through the trees at the same time they saw her, before she had a chance to get the little girl off her shoulders. She sighed. Even from this distance, she could see the emotions play across their faces—first, concern. Then they tried to fight back grins.
Yes, here comes the mighty Mord-Sith with a little kid draped around her shoulders.
Cara scowled at them as they hurried closer.
“Well, Cara. What do we have here?” Zedd asked.
Cara arched a brow. “She’s injured.”
Zedd held out his arms to take Lora from her perch atop Cara’s shoulders, but the little girl clutched tighter to Cara’s neck with a panicked whimper. Cara grasped Lora’s arms and pulled, gently but firmly. “Lora, he won't hurt you. He’s going to heal your wounds.” The arms around her neck only tightened even more. “Lora. Let go. You must trust him.”
After a moment’s delay, Lora let go. Zedd smiled warmly and picked her up. “Well, well. Aren’t you a pretty little thing? I have just the thing for you. Let’s go sit down, hmm?”
Cara watched the old wizard lead the child over to a boulder along the trail. She belatedly realized Kahlan and Richard were watching. She rolled her eyes. “What?”
Kahlan shook her head. “Nothing. We just didn’t expect to see you come back with a child.”
“When you said you were going hunting, we thought you’d bring back a deer or something,” Richard added.
Cara sniffed, tapping her fingers against her thigh. “Of course. Well, you can take care of her now.”
“Oh no,” Richard grinned. “I think this one is your project.”
“My project?” Cara scoffed. “No, no. You’re not pinning this on me.”
Her only warning was a strangled cry before a pair of arms tangled around her leg. She sighed. Once again, Lora was attached to her red leather.
Kahlan broke into a grin to match Richard’s. “I think she likes you, Cara.”
“I’m inclined to agree,” Zedd spoke up.
Cara covered her face with her palm. Yep, she was going soft. Soft like some fluffy, sugary pastry.
This Lord Rahl was going to be the death of her.