Aurene never really got to meet her mom. All she has are bright, blurry memories from when she was very, very small. Mostly what she remembers is the blood. There was a lot of it, all falling out from where her mom was ripped open. Aurene didn't realize how much of a bad thing that was at the time, she was too small. And then that was it, she never saw her again.
Her dad she remembers a bit better, he held her and kissed her forehead and called her princess and stood there emptily staring off into nothingness like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. He told her to live well, to have a happy life, and that he was so, so sorry. She's still not entirely sure what he was sorry for, whether it was for her mom or for leaving or something else entirely. She thinks she forgives him, though. He seemed like he was having a very bad time. Uncle Blair said it was a kindness to let him go, and she believes him.
Now Uncle Blair is gone too.
She doesn't know what happened, she had been sleeping. Then there was a rush of noise and Uncle Blair tossed her like she was catching a bird even though she had been sleeping, and yelled at her to run. This didn't make any sense, he was the one that was good at running, and really where was she supposed to run to, 'run' is really a very unspecific directive.
But it seemed like it was important, so she did it anyway, and she made her best guess about where she was supposed to go. The pictures helped. Most of them were dark and scary and had fire, or people in dark scary cloaks but she saw an artful representation of herself diving into a river and that didn't turn the pictures dark and scary. She needed to hold her breath for a very long time, it felt like forever. And then she needed to swim and come up for air in this little nook next to a beaver dam and then go back down and swim some more. It was very specific, she's not used to having her pictures come out so clear and directed. Maybe that was why Uncle Blair didn't explain further. He was very smart like that.
This seems like a bad plan, though, because Aurene has herself the most miserable time of her life. This is admittedly not saying much, because she is very small and hasn't lived for very long, but still. She is cold and shivering and catches fish instead of birds and it's barely any fun at all, and she's scared and alone and spends so much time not breathing, so long until it hurts. Then she has to do it again, over and over. The paintings get brighter as she does it, though, the collage of brilliant color that is her inner world, which is very promising, so she keeps at it. Uncle Blair will be very proud of her, she is so talented.
She spends a whole day on the run, and then when she's exhausted and the pictures don't get any better, even if she keeps pushing, she digs herself a little muddy cave, starting from underwater, going up up up into a hillside nearby. This is probably not necessary, the pictures don't say, but Aurene is a little gremlin and she is very good at hiding. She doesn't want anyone but her Uncle Blair to find her, and he is the best at finding her so she can really just go all out. The pictures also don't say anything about what happens if she cries or not, so she does, because everything is terrible and crying is a very reasonable way to handle that. And then at 8 PM sharp, she falls asleep, hoping that this time when she wakes up her Uncle would have dug her out and scooped her up and then cover her in kisses and take her to go have a bath that's actually warm. You would think that swimming in water would make her clean but no it just makes her more dirty.
But then he isn't there. She wakes up in her little muddy cave under a hill and he isn't there, not in any of the pictures, and she looks for so long. She waits for so long. She catches birds and sleeps in mud and waits for the pictures to change, and then she finally realizes that maybe he can't find her. Not because he wouldn't try, because he would, he said he would and he meant it, she could tell, but. Instead because he is with her parents now. Wherever they are. She can't see any of them, she doesn't know.
And Aurene is alone.
She decides that, actually, she would like to not be alone. It's horrible, it sucks. She much prefers when she had grownups. At least one, but maybe more so they can trade or something instead of going to be with her parents and leaving her alone again.
So she goes looking for new grownups, ones that the pictures say are good. With gold eyes, like Uncle Blair, because she knows what that means and people are not for eating.