Cyrilla returns from her scouting mission and hears the shouting of debate before she even reaches the base. Her pace quickens once she sees the new coat of red plastered over what was always humble, faded browns and mossy greens. Scraps of intestine among rocks, pieces trapped in the cracked floor. Guill’s body has been dragged to the next room but it’s still hardly inconspicuous. A trail of blood leads into the heart of fire as Cyrilla overhears anger and anguish.
“We all knew this was going to happen eventually. It’s common sense, you bring something unknown into our midst and something unpredictable is going to happen,” growls a voice that Cyrilla recognises as Alan’s. His angry voice isn’t much different from his regular voice but Cyrilla has come recognize the tonal rumbling that gives his mood away.
“That’s why we were being careful. Cyrilla is a genius when it comes to determine the unique qualities of things and how to interact with them. That’s why we’re trusting her with Adrium. This only happened because Guill attacked her!” retorts a much louder and sharper voice. Easy to tell that it’s Shiva’s.
“So, what you’re saying is only Cyrilla can keep her under control? Any regular kid would’ve just run away instead of ripping into a person like that. She started eating her, for goodness’ sake! Are you saying we just have to sit back and hope this doesn’t happen again the next time Cyrilla goes out?”
“It won’t happen again. Not if we’re able to find out why-”
It is at this point that Cyrilla steps into the room. She’s heard enough to realize that Adrium is the one who turned Guill into the bloody mass she is now. The first thing Cyrilla does is look around to see where Adrium is and sees her hiding behind Shiva, drenched in blood and gore. Her expression is not one of just fear, she looks pained more than anything else. It’s clearly too much for her to be processing the fear and confusion and anger all at once. Adrium, Alan, Shiva, Garv and a couple of his students, Anna, Guill’s apprentice Heston and the base’s head doctor Lissa are all present and have now turned their attention to the returned runner.
“Tell me what happened,” Cyrilla orders to no one in particular as she kneels and motions Adrium towards her. Cyrilla is wearing that face again, that look of resolve. It’s a face that calms Adrium and eases what she was feeling. A symbol of certainty and, for the child, safety. Adrium moves into Cyrilla’s embrace, hiding herself from the atmosphere surrounding her.
“Your kid killed Guill,” Alan is the first to scornfully pipe up.
“In self-defence,” Shiva quickly and pointedly adds. The tenseness between the two grows again. Both are moments away from lashing out at each other again.
“Alan, I believe you’ve said enough,” Anna steps in before the situation devolves. “I would ask that allow Shiva a moment to explain what happened as the one who had the best angle.”
Alan grumbles in compliance. Shiva nods and turns towards Cyrilla. “Guill snapped. Started talking about how Adrium was a delicacy and how we’d be better off eating her than raising her up. I tried to get her to stand down but temper always was her shortcoming. No one inside the base was well enough equipped to stop her, I was pinned against the wall when Adrium…” Shiva stops for a moment as the violent image plays in her head once more. “I could only get a glimpse but it was obvious what happened. Adrium ripped through her like she was nothing. Then Adrium started… Eating her… I got her to stop but when I did, she was just as horrified as I was. It was like she didn’t even realize what happened.”
Cyrilla feels a guilty sweat begin to form as the shock hits her. Nevertheless, she keeps her expression even for the sake of the child who is nuzzled into her body. “I’ll take the blame for this. That’s what I promised when I brought Adrium here. Something like this happening…” Cyrilla places her hands on Adrium’s tiny shoulders and meets her eye-to-eye. “It’s my fault, not yours. I should have been here for you or done something to prevent this. You’re not in trouble, so could you tell me what happened?”
Adrium fumbles for a moment. She has a genius grasp of language for her age but still needs a moment to put the words together. “I felt angry… I thought I felt angry because aunt Shiva was hurt but I was hungry too… I wasn’t hungry before, not until she was in front of me. I felt like I wanted to eat her. So, I did, but then I was sick and scared and now…” Adrium turns to look at the appraising eyes of everyone in the room. “I don’t know how to feel and it hurts.”
Cyrilla draws her into a close embrace once again. “It’s ok,” she assures her, “you don’t have to worry about how to feel. We’ll figure this out, alright?”
“Do you have any ideas?” Anna intervenes to assuage the mounting uncertainty in the room.
“Isn’t it obvious from what Adrium just said?” Cyrilla questions, “She felt intense anger and hunger when Guill came upon her. She felt sick and scared when Shiva stopped her from cannibalising the body. My conclusion is that she is heavily influenced by the feelings around her.”
“So, what?” Alan chimes in again, “We just can’t ever be angry around her? Isn’t that a bit unreasonable?”
Cyrilla stares at Alan with the penetrating, protective gaze of a parent. “I highly doubt she’ll attack anyone unless she is directly antagonized. While this does mean we will have to be careful about exposing her to certain atmospheres, I would say this case of her actually attacking and killing someone is an outlier. That is, so long as you can handle not being cruel,” she explains.
Alan grunts and cracks a smile, “You sure lost that over-politeness somewhere along the way, huh? Fine, I’ll defer to your expertise now, but the matter still remains that someone was killed. I’m not all for just calling the death of one of our own an outlier and leaving it at that. This shows us what can happen and it’s disrespectful to just disregard that.”
The intensity of Cyrilla’s stare dials back just a little. “… You’re right. We’ll have a proper send-off for her and I’ll do what I can to make up for this.” Cyrilla picks up Adrium and moves towards the bedrooms, intent on taking her out of this situation for now. “Just to make this clear, though. This won’t happen again.”
Cyrilla leaves the room with confidence in her words. The path forward seems so much clearer now. Yet, it has been said already. Raising a mythical creature can never be that simple.