Friday, June 30, 2017

Flash Friday #257 -- Dusty & Friends/2

Dusty followed Master Stuart down the long path past the (thankfully) empty benches and toward the throne where her grandmother sat.  With each step, Dusty desperately tried to come up with an idea.  Not a guard.  She didn't like hitting people, even in practice.  Not a healer because she had no such magical gifts which also meant she couldn't be a mage, either.  She might become a personal servant to the Queen, but she'd always been klutzy.  Maybe she'd grow out of it?

Scribe?  She had neat penmanship, at least.  That future didn't sound very exciting -- and Dusty had always dreamed of adventures -- but at least she'd be able to write about other people's adventures.

One of the servants had just handed Queen Olivia a piece of paper. She scowled at the note, and that gave Dusty a moment to get ready.  Being a scribe as not what she wanted -- but a princess did have limitations, after all.  She couldn't run off on an adventure.

She bowed to the queen when the woman turned her way, and behaved quite properly, though she really wanted to run and hide.

"Ah, Princess Destiny," Queen Olivia said.  She still held the paper in her hand, but she smiled now.  "Welcome to your choosing.  What future do you see for yourself, my dear?"

Dusty took a deep breath and lifted her head.  "I would like to be a scri--scri --"

She choked on the word and looked appalled.

"Oh dear," Master Stuart said.  "I think that is not the word you really want to say, is it Princess Destiny?"

"I -- I don't know what I want!" she finally admitted and tried not to wail.  This was not fair.  She'd have to wait two more years and appear with her younger cousins. Everyone would make fun of her.  "A -- a scribe is a good choice, though, don't you think?"

"It might be," Master Stuart agreed though he looked bothered.  "However, your choice shouldn't be a last moment decision.  I'm sorry I failed you, Dusty."

Dusty wasn't certain which surprised her more -- the words or that he called her by the name she preferred.  "This is my fault, sir," she corrected.  "I saw all the others choose their way and I assumed something would come to me.  I'm sorry."

The queen glanced at the paper in her hand and then gave a decisive nod.  "I fear I will not be able to hear your choice today, Destiny.  There is some trouble in the North, and I must meet with the people immediately.  This matter will take at least two days and maybe more.  I hope you don't mind the delay."

"Oh, thank you, Grandmother," she said and bowed, tears of gratitude coming to her eyes. 

Queen Olivia went with her guards out the door.  Dusty could see a few of her friends gathered to wait for her, and they looked shocked when the Queen appeared instead.  Dusty saw a series of quick bows before the door closed.  How could she face them?

"I think we need to talk, Destiny," Master Stuart said.  "Come along."

Dusty followed him out another door and up the stairs to where he had taught the group of cousins for so many years.  His steps seemed heavy and he shook his head.  Dusty suspected she would be lectured.

They didn't go to the classroom, but instead to his office.  He chased off the assistants and closed the door before he crossed to sit at his desk.  He waved her to the chair before him and she settled in with a sigh.

"You have always been so quick to help others that I never thought you had no plans of your own.  I see now that you never pointed in any single direction."

"What shall I do, Master Stuart?" she asked.  "What should I choose?"

"I can't tell you that, Destiny.  I wish matters were that easy.  The truth is, I always found you to be rather unique.  I cannot imagine you in the future as a scribe -- or a cook, or any of the other choices your cousins made.  We must think this one out, my dear.  Don't worry. There is a future for you -- we just need to look at things that are out of the ordinary."

"Oh," she said and felt a smile start to grow for the first time all day.  "I like that idea!"

"I shall need to do some study," he said.  A bird came to the window and he gave it a nod, as though they were friends.  "You always seem to have a few animal companions, Destiny, haven't you?"

"They do seem to follow me everywhere," she admitted.  "My cousins didn't like the cats, but they've been rather rude about the mice."

A smile almost came to his lips.  "I imagine so.  Take the afternoon to think about your future.  I will study and I believe we can find something that will work for you.  Go on now."

Dusty stood, feeling a great welling of relief.  "Thank you, sir."

She headed back down the stairs, though she carefully avoided any places where she might run into friends and relatives.  She could give the simple answer about the queen and the trouble in the north, but she'd have no reason not to tell them her choice.

Dusty slipped out of the castle through the kitchens, narrowly avoiding Geren who was thrilled to know he would be working with Cook.  She hurried past the other workers and out the door into the garden.  From there she crossed behind the sheds and out into the edge of the courtyard.

She decided a walk through town would help clear her mind.  Dusty regretted wearing her good green dress still, but she'd be careful.  Just a nice, peaceful walk along the roads and fountains while she decided what to say to the others.

Unfortunately, her plans didn't work out that way.

To Be Continued

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