"I do not answer to Hal," Aran pointed out simply. In fact, even though they were no longer in Ilythelin, it was the other way around. Aran's frown deepened to think the fox's mother might have abandoned him. "Why would she do that?" he asked uncertainly. He was more inclined to believe something might have happened to the fox's mother that had left him an orphan.
"Maybe because he was injured?" she suggested, uncurling her fingers to stroke the furry head as they spoke together. "If he can't keep up, then he can't hunt, and that makes him more trouble than he's worth. She can have more."
"That's sad," Aran said, realizing how she might be right. It was a simple matter of survival. "I can't just let him die, Carina," he told her, sadness in his eyes for the fate of his little friend.
She smiled, leaning up to kiss his cheek fondly. "Then we won't," she told him. "You said something about his paw being hurt?" Finally, she looked down at the little cub she was stroking, taking in the details of the adorable little face looking back at them.
"His paw, yes," Aran confirmed. "I was going to try healing him, but I thought I should get him home first." Even if he could heal the fox's injured paw, he was too young and too small to be out in the wild on his own.
"What's wrong with his paw?" she asked, still stroking the little head, addressing the fox directly as though it could answer her. "You been in the wars, little one?"
"I think he might have been attacked by something," Aran said. It wasn't just what he'd seen, but it was a feeling he'd gotten from the fox. "I told him he'd be safe here," he added, hoping Carina agreed.
"Of course he will," she agreed, smiling. From their bedroom came a faint thump as Alu finally got the blanket box open. Carina bit down on the grin that wanted to make itself known. "All right, little one, let's get what we need and take a look at that paw, shall we? If we need any poultices or anything, I'm pretty sure my father has something."
"Thank you, Carina," Aran said, with a soft smile. He'd had a feeling she'd want to help, but he'd been unable to ask her in advance. Thankfully, he knew she had a soft, caring heart, especially in such a circumstance as this.
"I'm just glad it was a fox cub and not a giant spider or something equally awful," she teased, turning away to fetch warm water and cloths to wash and bind whatever injury she was yet to see.
Aran chuckled. "Do you really think I'd have brought home a giant spider?" he asked, as he followed her into the kitchen, the little bundle seemingly content to remain in his arms, despite his curiosity.
"If it looked pathetically grateful enough?" she said, testing the water to make sure it was warm enough before filling a bowl. "Yes, I do. You're a soft touch for big eyes, and spiders have lots of those."
Aran couldn't help but chuckle, amusement clear on his face. "Even spiders have their place in the world, melamin," he chided her gently. That didn't mean he was about to bring one home as a pet though.
"Not in my house," she said firmly, though she was smiling. "Come and sit at the table with him, a'mael. Let's see what the damage is."
He smirked, but said nothing more about spiders, as he made his way over to the table and took a seat, the little fox peeking out of the blanket to inspect his surroundings.
"All right." Carina set her bowl and cloths down on the table, sitting beside Aran and his newly adopted fur baby. "You're probably going to have to soothe him, a'mael. This is going to hurt the little thing."
Aran nodded his understanding. "I will," he promised. He drew a deep breath, closed his eyes, and focused him thoughts on the little red ball of fur in his arms, reaching out with his mind and his heart and offering soothing and comfort and understanding.
As the fox cub seemed to slip into a kind of relaxed stupor, Carina carefully unwound the blanket from about it, seeking out the injured paw to inspect and clean. She felt a faint smile touch her lips as she noticed something else, but kept it to herself for the time being.
"There's a thorn in this pad," she murmured, keeping Aran informed fondly. "I'll have to pull it out."
Aran heard this and nodded, as he tried to visualize it in his mind so that the little fox would understand what Carina was about to do. His fingers instinctively stroked the fox's fur, soothing him with a tender, caring touch.
"He's ready," he told her, his voice almost a whisper.
"All right." Like Aran, Carina kept her voice soft and gentle even as she turned the little cub's paw in her hand, holding it in place to carefully draw the ugly thorn out with a pair of tweezers. And despite that soothing, the little creature still whimpered and snarled for a moment as the blood flowed once more.
Aran turned to his native Elvish - a language his people had once used in their world to communicate not only with each other, but with that of nature around them. He spoke in a calm, soothing voice, words of comfort and encouragement, so that the little creature would understand they were trying to help.
He certainly got through to the fox cub, who managed not to snap at Carina as she gently washed the bloodied paw and wrapped it carefully with a poultice to draw out any infection. By the time she was done, Alu was standing next to them, watching in worried fascination over her armful of old blankets.
"Is it all better?"
"Not all better," Aran replied. "It will take some for his paw to heal, but I think he is no longer in so much pain," he explained. The little one was not going to be running around on that paw, until it was completely healed though.
"And he is a she," Carina added with a smile, packing away her little kit before gently stroking the little head.