((Continued from: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1763&start=15
Once they were out of earshot, Rollick quietly asked Orion, "Do you know them?"
Orion shook his head, "No, but that doesn't mean they weren't around. I didn't... get out much. It's Jenny you should be asking about that. She knows everyone."
Rollick nodded. "Do you think I was overreacting?"
Orion gave a little shrug with the shoulder that wasn't helping to support Rollick's weight. "Dunno. Maybe. But you're less likely to go wrong being careful than doing the opposite."
"That was my thinking. They're almost certainly harmless, but..." But he wasn't quite sure enough of that to trust them. "Can you ask the warriors to keep an eye on them? Nothing harsh or invasive. I don't want them locked up or anything of that sort. Just... a watch? Until we're sure about them?"
Orion nodded. "Sure, I'll tell them." Whether Orion approved or disapproved of what Rollick asked wasn't clear to Uluki. Maybe the Elf didn't really care after all.
They ran into Eemay in the corridor, and retrieved Martin from her. The baby settled into Uluki's arms, pleased to be with his parents again, and Rollick kissed his son's forehead and stroked his hair. The baby smiled back, not seeming to notice anything amiss about his father in spite of the blood and bruises. Uluki considered that a blessing. A crying baby wouldn't help matters, and would have added to Rollick's discomfort.
Once they reached their set of rooms, Orion took his leave of the couple and returned downstairs. Uluki knocked on the door of the girls' bedroom, and she and Rollick, with Martin, entered when Dash gave them permission to come in.
Rollick felt slightly nervous, not sure what to say to the girls. How did you talk about what had just happened? Should you talk about it at all? He sat down on the bed by Zee, caressed her cheek, then turned his gaze to the other three girls. "I'm glad you're all safe."
Dash just stared at him for a moment, then she abruptly dissolved into sobs. Her face was red and she was having trouble catching her breath, but Rollick could barely make out the words, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."
Rollick motioned Dash beside him and wrapped his arm around her. "It's alright, Dashie."
"No it isn't! You lost your hand, and it was because of me. I shouldn't have let you. I should have told you to take Zee and run..."
"And I wouldn't have. There is nothing you could possibly have said or done that would have made me leave you there. I lost a hand, but a hand is nothing
compared to your life. Nothing. You have no need to feel guilty." Dash snuggled against him, burying her face in his shirt, still crying. Kira, meanwhile, had wrapped herself around Uluki and Martin, beaming a delighted and relieved smile that everyone was home again. Not wanting to leave Kaydee out, Rollick offered his other arm to her-- the left arm, the one that still ended in a hand.
As usual, Rollick felt a little awkward about initiating physical contact with Kaydee. It wasn't that he saw her as unclean or contaminated because of her past; in his eyes she was just as clean and pure as the other girls. No, it was instead that her past made him worry that she would misconstrue his actions, since she wasn't used to being touched by males in ways that weren't either sexual or meant to inflict pain. Rollick cared very much about Kaydee, but it was in a purely paternal way, and he didn't want to give her the wrong idea about his motives. Didn't want his conduct to make her feel unsafe. Still, she had hugged him the day before after he was attacked by the evil creature, so clearly she didn't feel that touching him was inappropriate. If she wanted the hug, she was welcome to it, and if not, he would understand.
"It was all worth it to spare you and Zee from harm, Dashie," Rollick assured his daughter. "I would do the same for any of you." He made eye contact with both Kira and Kaydee specifically, trying to ensure they knew they were included in that statement.