Thursday, July 20, 2017
Flash Friday # 260 -- Dusty & Friends/5
The orc hadn't made tied down the covering very well, and they had a little more light. Dusty crawled out from under the cloth, which turned out to be rags and discarded clothing.
"Oh, these will help!" She started pulling out the darkest pieces she could find. "My dress is too bright. I need something less noticeable."
The orcs began a new chant, and the cart moved faster, each pounding step taking them further from home. Dusty almost gave a cry of despair, but she didn't want to worry the poor baby dragon. She watched him pick at pieces of fruit that had stuck to the cage's wires. She went and helped him, and when he was done, she ate a few pieces herself, but she was careful to leave some on the floor.
"You're smart," Blue said with a nod of appreciation. "You know about clothes and how to fool the orcs about the food and everything. We'll get away with your help. Even if I could open the cage, I wouldn't know what to do."
"You've done very well, and it was smart not to try to escape. I don't know how we're going to get away, Blue." She caught at the wall as they hit a bad bump and she almost fell again. "Oh, I do wish they'd slow down or stop."
"They sometimes go like this for days," Blue warned. "Orcs don't tire very fast."
Dusty fought back a surge of fear at those words. If they went for days heading southward they might leave the lands her grandmother ruled behind. Even if they were still within the lands of Oserior, they would still be in a place she had never traveled and didn't know.
"How did the orcs take you?" she asked, hoping for some sort of answer that would help.
"Mama and I live in a high cave," he said. "We'd been there most of the summer, and I liked to go out and wander around. Never too far. The orcs pretended to be big rocks. One caught me, trapped me in a box, and then rolled down the hillside. It was awful."
"That sounds terrible!" Dusty replied.
"I was too far from the cave. Mama wouldn't hear me or the rocks," he said and sniffed.
"We're going to get you back home," Dusty promised.
She began sorting through the cloth again, hoping that the orcs wouldn't notice that the piles had changed somewhat. Orcs gathered cloth -- mostly rags -- in the north to trade with the tribes in the far southern desert where they had few resources and not even a good oasis. If they went that far, Dusty didn't think she and Blue could make it back to territory she knew if they had to travel across the open desert.
So she began looking for a chance to escape far sooner. Orcs, unfortunately, stood at all sides of the cart as they moved along the path. She happened to see them go on past the bridge where the Miru River curved toward them. A village stood the other side, but they didn't turn that way or break their pattern, so she sighed and hoped another chance came along soon.
The orcs did go on through the night, but they'd slowed. At dawn an orc threw another piece of fruit at Blue and Dusty ate a little of it as well. She'd changed from her lovely green dress, which she shoved into the pile of cloth so it wouldn't stand out, being so much better than the rest. Now she wore a dark brown dress with no frills, tied at her waist with a bit of blue cloth. She made a scarf to go over her hair, too. Then she knotted another cloth into a bag and put some of the softer material she had found in the bottom so that Blue could nestle in there.
They had to escape today. They dared not go any farther away from Dusty's home. For the first time, Dusty thought about how the others might have reacted to her own disappearance. She didn't want grandmother to worry! Oh, and they would write to her parents!
They needed to get away soon!
In mid-morning, the orcs reached a village. Dusty had expected them to rush through, but instead, the cart slowed to a stop and the orcs stopped chanting. Blue, who had been asleep, sat up quickly and looked around.
Outside the orcs were starting to shout and Dusty had a moment when she thought they might be saved, but after a bit, she made out what they were saying.
"Coins for cloth!" The ground shook as the orcs shouted.
Dusty pulled some of the cloth over her so she could drop flat if any of the orcs looked in, but she also inched closer to Blue.
"Do they bring the cloth in or toss it in?" she whispered.
"Toss," he said as softly. "They almost broke the cart putting me in here."
"Good. We have to hope for a chance after they throw the rags and before they leave," she said. "We don't dare take you out before then, or they would notice when they toss the cloth. But if they are not climbing in, then I can untie the knot for us and even get the cage unlocked if you can hold the door closed."
"I can," he said with a bob of his head.
This would be their only chance. If they were caught, she would scream for help and the local guards, who were likely not far away, would come to her aid. She'd also tell Blue to run away and hope he found help.
Better, though, if they got away quietly. The orcs wouldn't look again until they threw some fruit to the poor baby dragon, which she hoped would be a long ways from the village.
She unlocked the cage, and half untied a knot nearby. This was their best chance.