At least they knew what to do. Karida nodded to Dor, who began plundering the area quickly.
“My home,” the girl hissed. “Go ‘way.”
“No, it’s not,” Karida answered gently. “There’s not even a blanket. You may have been scrounging here, same as us, but you don’t live here.”
“My home,” she repeated stubbornly. Karida reached out again, but she could find nothing like a nest. Even the most feral of humans made nests.
“No,” she shook her head, and carefully took the girl’s wrists. They were thin and bony, with a bit of firm muscle under the skin. “Do you have a tribe? A village, a town, a family, a people?” She stopped, because with every word, the girl flinched.
“No,” she whimpered. “Did…”
“Aah.” A sole survivor, perhaps, a runaway? Karida lead her gently back into the basement, and from there up the stairs. “Where were your people?”
The girl’s words seemed to be coming more smoothly as she kept at it. “To south,” she gestured.
“In the towers?” Those were giant buildings. They could house a whole colony in one of those, and never need to split up again.
“No, no. No!” She almost shouted the last, pulling at Karida’s grip on her wrists. “No.” Her shoulders slumped. “Further.”
“Not the towers. Okay.” Those would need investigating, probably by the whole company. “Why… oh.”
The girl folded in on herself at they reached the sunlight, but nothing could hide the finely-pointed ears sticking out of her hair, or the faintly golden shimmer of her skin. “They threw you out?” she guessed.
“Guh,” the girl sobbed, pulling her knees to her chin. How long has she been on her own? Well, she wasn’t any longer. Dor had followed them out of the hole; he handed her a length of rope now, and a small bit of bread, and their canteen.
Karida knelt down. “It’s all right. What’s your name?”
“Fiery,” she managed, still flinching down as small as she could get.
“Okay, Fiery. You know this area pretty well?”
“Little.” She was talking into her knees, but it wasn’t the first time Karida had interpreted, and, behind them, Amalie was humming quietly, helping.
“Then here.” She pressed canteen and bread into the girl’s hands. “Eat. Drink. We will feed you and give you water. We will protect you.” And clean her up. “And you will guide us around this place.”
Fiery nodded, and nibbled at the food cautiously, washing it down with long gulps of water. “I can,” she agreed, her mouth full. “Protect?” Her pointed ears perked up at that.
“Protect you,” Dor agreed. He sat down to the other side of the girl, one hand on her shoulders. “Like you were our own.”
“And teach you,” Amalie offered, working it into her tune. “Like a little sister.”
“Like a sister,” Karida agreed. It would remain to see how many words the girl could learn, but that one, it was clear she knew.
“Sister.” She ducked her head to hide a smile. “Yes.”
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