(( OH, yes, and Caravan asked if they could have a reference of clothodile… so here you go! For everyone who ever wants to do a thing with the precious baby. ))

(( Currently it has a bandage around its chest and stomach, but I was too lazy to scrawl it in. ))

(( It is also a very dusty little thing… ))

// Please stop, little one… //

The cloth crocodile squirmed and writhed about the floor, trying to fight its pain. Each time its body so much as twitched, it loosed a hurt hiss, and there was not much she could do about it. From what she could gather, it was possible that it had broken a bone; a rib, likely.

If such was the case, she knew no doctors; no one who could extract the bone or put it back in place to stop the misery. She could only watch on as it fought to stand on all fours.

// Please, listen… You need to rest… // She began to sob, // I am begging you, please stop… //

The creature shot an angry glance at its master, chattering its jaws. It felt betrayed that she didn’t go to the lengths it did to protect her.

But it could see the regret in her eyes, tears flooding her once lustrous vision. Still, it felt abandoned.

// I am so very sorry that I had you involved… I should have never done so… // Etoile murmured and leaned in, the tips of her fingers running along the cloth of its back - avoiding the injury it sustained, // But understand how lucky you are right now… I have no doubt that if he wanted to, you could have been split in twain. //

It stopped thrashing for just one moment to consider her words. The way it curled up in defeat - laid listless on the floor - was the same as he had done hours ago.

// It does not make this any less of my fault. I am sorry, little one… I am truly sorry… //

She curled her hands around the bottom of its jaw, lifting its snout up just enough for her to kiss its nose. Her tears ran down her cheeks and she struggled to quiet her lament.

// I will go in search of a doctor… Please, rest while I am gone. I am in no position to ask anything of you - not now or ever again - but please heed my word, if only just this once. //

And with that, Etoile rose from its side and hurried out her door. She hadn’t the foggiest how dire the situation may be, but she’d be damned if she let it suffer an ounce more than she had already permitted.

She walked solemnly down her vestibule towards her home, tired and worn from the fruitless search. No doctor was found in this vast desert, and she would have to try again come morning. For now, she needed to see if the clothodile was alright; she’d been out all day, praying for its safety.

But Etoile was met with a sense of terror when she saw the creature unmoving on her bed. She hurried to its side as fast as her feet could carry her. She fell to her knees and huddled over her pet, a sense of dread washing over her.

For a moment, she couldn’t bring herself to touch it. She was riddled with fear… Oh please, please, she could not handle taking a second departed soul to the summit, not so soon after the first. Not so soon, when she had just begun to bond with the crocodile.

In hesitation, she rested the tips of her fingers upon its snout. Quickly its eyes snapped open and a curious puff of air expelled from its nostils. Etoile was so overcome with relief she nearly fell over when she slackened.

// Oh thank the ancestors… // she sighed in praise, stroking the reptile’s nose so gently. Never before did those words mean so much coming from her.

And she was also surprised that it had obeyed her; it had rested, or at least gave the illusion of doing so. Either way, she was happy just to know that it was still alive.

Closer she inched and embraced the tiny beast, again careful not to strike its sensitive wound. Its tail wavered weakly side to side; it was at peace and greatly welcomed the comfort she could provide it. It almost seemed as if, somehow, it knew that her venture had been unrewarded, but it would not judge her on her failure.

// I will go out tomorrow morning after Imoumen comes by to deliver my gifts, // the girl cooed, nuzzling its hardened forehead, // And I will find you help. I swear, I will not let anything take you… My word is my bond. //

In silence, she held it until short snores of slumber echoed from its maw. Satisfied that it had fallen asleep, Etoile’s arms loosened, and she retreated outside once again to reflect upon what tomorrow would bring.

A silent, overcast evening. She hoped - begged - for something good to come of this.