Having been ousted from her fairy dreams and nearly discovered among the folds of Rue’s blanket when the campfollower gathered up the child for a feeding, Tirlina had retreated safely to a dark nook nearby. There, she settled onto cold stone with a disgruntled “hmpf” at having been deprived of her warm nest against Rue. But her annoyance was short-lived as she watched her tiny charge feed, forgotten by her own
mother, but accepted by another. “Poor wee thing,” she whispered in a sing-song tone, then fell silent with fond adoration of her little human.
When Fionn approached the woman and made it clear that she had his permission to be nursing baby Rue, Tirlina scampered from her nook and off into the shadows, so that she could discreetly take flight. Humming very softly to herself with a voice like tiny bells, she flitted off down the now deserted corridors toward the kitchens, in search of milk for the other hungry baby that rode snug and safe in her pocket.
[Keir – Upstairs in the Dun]
As he climbed the moans and cries from the main hall faded but the signs of carnage were still there to see, or worse, to smell. Keir’s sensitive nose recoiled at the mixed scents of fresh blood and rotted flesh that permeated the Dun. Covering his nose gave little relief for his hands were steeped in the beetle juice he had used for an antiseptic and the foul fluid made his eyes water. Other smells registered as he neared their quarters, the unmistakable odor of burnt flesh, both long dead and recently live, plus a hint of one all too familiar – the same as when his own fur got singed. His pace quickened, slowing only when he reached his small room and saw the door lay ajar. He stepped gingerly over the blackened corpses lying on the floor, his focus intent on the small pile of charred straw that marked the remains of his pallet – and the small still body that lay upon it.