by Dean Murray
Copyright 2010 by Dean Murray
On'li sighed as she looked around the dull-gray stone cavern. It was packed with people, but they were still too few for the task at hand. Every Guadel and guardsman in the city could have been tasked with exploring the underbelly of the Capital and they still wouldn't have had a decent chance of finding the child that'd wandered off into the darkness.
The adults all seemed to understand the futility of the search. An unprecedented number of glow spheres had been brought down from the main caverns but instead of adding warmth and light to the gathering it just revealed too many faces defeated before they'd even started.
Some of the searchers were only a few years older than the missing child. It seemed irresponsible to be sending teenagers out in a search that was all too likely to yield a body at best, but every passing second decreased the odds of finding anything and there were simply too many tunnels to search for them not to recruit every able body.
The only exception to the somber mood was the circle of Daughters gathered in one corner. The entire group of girls was giggling at something, as if this was nothing more than a holiday. One of the teenage girls looked up in time to catch On'li's scrutiny and actually threw off a perky wave.
Betreec, the girl who'd just waved, giggled again at whatever story her friend was relating, but it was obvious from the way she was craning her neck around that she wasn't really listening. She was doubtlessly looking for On'li's adoptive son, I'rone, which wasn't something designed to calm On'li.