Friday, August 18, 2017
Flash Friday # 264 -- Dusty & Friends/9
Dusty had hoped that the orcs would go for at least a full day, maybe two, before they realized they were missing their most prized possession. Blue cried in fear and burrowed back into the bag even before she could say anything.
Which was good since Happy came out of her room, pulling a tunic into place and her hair in disarray. People began making sounds all through the building, but Dusty grabbed her bag and cowered back against the stone by the fireplace.
"You're safe, Dusty," the older woman said and even stooped to pat her shoulder. "I don't know what brought those monsters back, but I'm sure the others will sort it out."
Inis rushed into the kitchen, crying and hysterical. Watching her, Dusty realized she had to stop being so afraid. The fear made her want to run and hide, and she even wondered if she could get the door open and run before any of the others stopped her.
And that would be a very stupid thing to do.
Looking at the faces, though, she realized that telling everyone about Blue and what the orcs wanted wouldn't be a good idea, either. She saw desperate people, and she'd seen those types in the castle. They were apt to act on the moment and not think about the consequences of what would happen later. There would be dangerous consequences if Blue did not get back to his mother. She had no doubt the mother dragon could trace her child --
And that made sense out of what the orcs were doing! They wanted the dragon to rampage through the human lands, following the trail to her son. Humans might kill the mother dragon, but that would be even worse for them. Then the entire dragon empire would descend on the lands.
Dusty feared she'd already wasted too much time.
"Are the soldiers back do you think?" she dared to ask in a moment of silence.
"Good question, little one," a man said. "I'll go see what I can learn. Let me out the back and lock up again, ma'am. Not that the door would stop the orcs, you understand, but who knows what else might be going on? I'll knock three times when I return."
Happy had to pry Inis off of her, and Dusty feared the daughter would begin wailing again. Something told Dusty that Inis liked the attention. However, Inis must have started to realize the seriousness of the situation. The orcs still yelled, their voices alone shaking walls, though they'd stopped stomping their feet.
Did they really know this was where they'd lost the little dragon or was it a guess based on the last time they'd stopped on their journey? She had the feeling they didn't know, and better yet, she suspected they had no real way to track him. Dusty wished she could ask Blue what they might do to find him, but right now she moved back to the corner and sat while still holding tight to her bag.
"I don't care why their back. They wouldn't dare attack us, or they'd have all the good Queen's soldiers on them before they could get home," another man said. A trader, Dusty thought. He had that look about him. "Whatever brought them running back here must be important, though."
"Well, if they'd stop yelling we'd probably just give it to them," Happy replied. She'd begun to walk around the room, looking at the larder and her horde of spices. Dusty doubted so many people had ever been allowed in the room before and it clearly made her nervous. "Go on out to the main room -- go on. I'll wait for our friend to return and make up a bit of tea and some cheese and fruit --"
"Oh, how can you even think of such things?" Inis wailed. "We'll all be killed --"
"If they wanted us dead, we'd be dead already," Happy said with a sigh. "We might as well be practical. Go out and light the lamps, Inis. Or shall I have Dusty do that for you, too?"
Inis glanced around the room until she found Dusty. She glared, but Dusty didn't note quite so much anger there as contemplation. Maybe she thought she had to win her mother back over. Dusty wouldn't stay, but Inis couldn't be entirely certain of it, could she? So she lit a taper and went out to the other room, the rest of the group trailing along behind her until only Happy and Dusty remained in the kitchen.
Dusty had hoped that Happy would go out with the others for a moment, but when that didn't happen, she reluctantly put her bag carefully into the corner where it wouldn't get pushed into the fire. A mouse came out and grabbed hold of her hand, panic in his face. She carefully brushed a finger over his head and set him back in the shadows hoping that Happy didn't see. Dusty doubted the woman would take kindly to such a creature in her kitchen.
Then she went to work with Happy, which did help. Dusty calmed as she worked. The orcs only yelled now and then. Dusty thought they might not be able to do anything except to yell.
While she diced fruit and bits of cheese, Dusty tried to figure out a way to get her and Blue out of the town -- but not leave the orcs here to make trouble on their account.
Three quick knocks on the door. Happy still looked uneasy as she pulled it open. Two men hurried in, one in the gray uniform of the guard. Dusty gave a sigh of relief to see him.
"We have a serious problem," the guard said. "The orcs say we stole something from them, and they'll tear the town apart looking for it. We have to find what they want and give it to them right now or people will die, and we'll have a war."