Discovering the Feral Child – A Sidebar in Gus Frank’s “Survey of of the Mendev Frontier,” as printed in the Pathfinder Chronicle, Issue 36.

In the third evening of our exploration of the complex nearest the Worldwound I was met with a terrible sight when I checked the traps near the supplies. In a bear trap, lodged between two dull blades, was a human foot. The leg had been severed above the ankle, above the exceedingly strong jaws of the trap, covered in blood from tiny desperate hands striving to gain freedom. The trap had lacked the strength or edge to severe the limb, but gnawing had freed the foot, the force of impact having thoroughly crushed the bone into being no hindrance to this desperate instinct.

And it was only twenty feet away that I’d lain the next trap, which I discovered crushing a young girl’s upper arm. She was laying with her chest and chin hunched into the ground, shaking with shock, her breathing shallow, but alive enough to finally recognize me and spit in my face. I suppose she figured I had something to do with her predicament.

The child could not have been older than ten, but her practically naked form was covered in more scars than those warriors who manage to fight into old age and retire to start a town around their tavern. The only recognizable sign of civilization on the girl was a tattoo, blue where it hadn’t been overwritten by pink scar, and seemed reminiscent of some glyphs I’ve seen related to Gorum.

She does not seem to comprehend any commonly spoken language among us, or even provide eye contact or other feedback to suggest that she recognizes an attempt at communication. Sir Anius had been camping with us for a little while, and while he was able to staunch her bleeding and heal her arm, the mangled remains of her leg remained bandaged, healing poorly. She was in pain, and we had no way to explain that our cleric was due back with supplies in a week, that she could be made whole with his prayers, or that any world outside the hell she knew was possible.

Things only got worse when Father Irving finally made it back to camp. The girl seemed to eye him warily from first contact, and his first attempt to heal her was returned with a full force knee to the groin. It took two men to get her to stop pummeling the poor priest, who broke his glasses and lost a tooth in the matter.

It took some amount of sedation, in the form of most of Irving’s well-known secret flask, to get her to lie still long enough for the magic to do its job. Even then, between the extent of the injuries, the time it took for healing, and perhaps interference from the first attempt, he restored right foot was visibly diminished from her left. I suspect she may prove hobbled the rest of her life.

It seems that this child has suffered long and hard out here in the last fringes of the world before it ceases to belong to this plane. Her will to live is so strong, and she lacks the cognizance to recognize a hopeless situation. One wonders, if the weather had turned and I’d saved checking the traps until morning, might I have found two sprung traps, both filled with nothing but a chewed off limb?

I’d rather not dwell on such possibilities. The crew has decided that with our planned return to Absalom already due after this expedition, we should bring this girl home with us, and see if a village of us can hope to repair untold years of neglect.

Addendum, Fifth Printing

In the years since her arrival in Absalom, Emma (as she came to be known) has grown into a productive member of the Pathfinder Society, exceeding expectations in studies both martial and scholastic. Her development and integration into society has surpassed anyone’s hopes, and earned her the upcoming privilege of her first mission. I suspect we may have more to hear from her sometime soon!

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