Friday, August 04, 2017

Flash Friday # 262 -- Dusty & Friends/7

Dusty had not gotten far into the little opening before her dress caught.  The area ahead looked even smaller, but she dared not stop.  The sunlight shining into the crevice showed her too clearly, and even if no one could see Blue, they would still wonder what she was doing.

A bit of a scramble forward and her dress tore.  She didn't care.  However, she could not get more than her head through the next area, even if she turned sideways.  She had to hope no one would look --

A dark shadow passed over the opening behind her and stopped.  She gave an almost silent gasp of despair and fear, expecting to find an orc reaching for her.

When she looked back, though, she found instead a large dog that had sat down with his back to them and blocked the opening.

"Oh, good dog!" she whispered.

The dog's tail thumped twice.

Beyond the opening, she could hear the growing chant of the orc.  The buildings trembled at the sound and when they began to go stomp their feet, Dusty feared she and Blue would be buried in rubble.

The cart began to move, though, and slowly the intense sound of the orcs disappeared down the road.  The dog moved on, and she could hear people starting to stir again, so she did her best to get back out of the crevice.

She was nearly out when she thought to put Blue in the bag.  "We must be careful now.  There are some humans I wouldn't trust much at all.  I'll find a way to get us back to the capital."
"I trust you," he whispered in her ear and then leapt down into the open bag.

She continued to back up and try to get out of the crevice, but her sleeve caught and tore --

Someone took hold of her by the waist and pulled her out of the opening.  She gave a gasp of surprise and fear as she found herself on her feet and turned around to face a very tall man with short white hair and narrow gray eyes.

"Well now.  What were you doing in that hole, missy?" he demanded.  He had an odd accent that she'd heard only a few times in the capital.

"Orcs," she said. The truth would do well at the moment.  "I was afraid of the orcs."

"Yes, maybe wise to hide," the older man said with a nod.  A few others walked by and gave her a curious stare.  "You aren't from around here."

"No sir," she said.  She'd have to come up with a non-truth now.  For a moment her mind went blank, but then she remembered an adventure story she'd read and decided to borrow from that tale.  "I am heading to my grandmother's house in the capital."

"By yourself?"

"No, sir.  A man and woman were supposed to escort me, but they took the money and left me here."

"Well now!"

"I just want to find a way to get to my grandmother," she said and held the bag closer.  Tears came to her eyes, though she fought them back.  "How can I get there?  They took my coins, too."

"You're still three days out -- too far for a little thing like you to walk, even if it were safe," the man said.  "You might ride with the guards, but they took off to watch the orcs and can't say when they'll be back.  Well, let's find you a place for now, shall we?"

"That would be very kind, sir," she said with a bow of her head.

"Polite little thing," he said with an odd look as he stared at her.  Then he turned and urged her along with him.

The village turned out to be only a few twisty streets and perhaps twenty buildings.  Dusty was glad because she was already so tired she could barely jog along with the tall, long-legged man.  Should she trust him?  Dusty kept herself a little to the right, almost out of reach.

Then she smelled food.  Her stomach rumbled as the stranger headed up the two steps to the door.  She looked up at him with open trepidation since she had never been into a common tavern before. The swinging sign said Happy's Place. She hoped that meant someplace safe.

"My niece owns this place. We'll see if she can keep you for a bit.  Come on now, missy. What's your name?"

She knew instinctively not to claim her true name.  He wouldn't believe her and might not want to help her afterward.

"Dusty, sir."

"Dusty. Well, the name suits you.  Come along."

She followed him up into the darker room, holding tight to the bag and Blue, who shifted a little but otherwise was probably asleep.  He probably wouldn't understand how harrowing this was for his new friend.  Well, that was all right. She didn't want to upset him.

Dusty had trouble seeing anything inside the room, but she liked how cool it felt as soon as they stepped inside.  She followed her rescuer into a room behind a cloth-covered door.

"No one's allowed -- oh, Uncle," a heavyset woman said.  She had a knife in her hand and had been dicing something on a huge table.  "What brings you -- who is this?"

"Dusty, ma'am," she introduced herself.

Uncle took over telling the tale while Dusty looked around the room.  She had sometimes spent a little time in the kitchen with Cook and Geren, hoping to find her calling even there.

"Leave her with me, Uncle.  Just make certain you send the guards this way as soon as they get back."

Uncle nodded, gave Dusty a bow of his head, and hurried away.

"Thank you, ma'am."

"You can call me Happy." The woman looked her over.  "Lucky that Uncle found you. You'll be here a day or two, I'd guess.  Can you wash dishes?"

Not the kind of adventure she'd imagined....

995 Words

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