Friday, August 25, 2017

Flash Friday # 265 -- Dusty & Friends/10

Dusty gave a  cry of despair, the sound lost in the shouts from the others.  She held the bag close and could feel Blue trembling.  She wanted to reassure him.  Even if he went back to the orcs, they would keep him alive.  He'd be safe.

"There's more trouble.  I don't know what it is, but a couple soldiers arrived and said they'd be talking to everyone.  One was only a little ways behind me," the soldier said and looked at the door.  "Shouldn't be long."

"More excitement than we ever had here," Happy said with a shake of her head.

Others had wandered back in again, the sound of voices growing louder.  They wanted the person who had brought this on them.  They would give back what was stolen. They would --

Someone knocked at the door. The soldier went to it, a hand on his sword.  Dusty had turned to see, but at the same moment someone caught hold of her shoulder and began to viciously shake her.

"It's you!"  Inis shouted.  "You're the one!  What did you steal, you little fool!  What have you got in that bag!"

"Don't do that!" Dusty cried out in dismay as Inis grabbed the bag away and turned it upside down, shaking vigorously.  Dusty gave such a cry of despair that the guards both pushed their way to her.

"Here now," the first guard said and took hold of Inis.  "Let's take this calmly, shall we?"

"It's her!" Inis shouted.  "She showed up right after the orcs left and she holds that ratty little bag like there's something in it.  It's her that's caused us all this trouble!"

Blue must have held on tight inside the bag since he didn't fall out.  Dusty tried to grab the bag back, but Inis held it out of reach. The guard looked sternly at Dusty now. 

"Is this true, girl?  Are you --"

The second guard had pushed in beside the man and gave a cry of surprise.  "It's you!  Your grandmother is sick with worry about you, Princess Destiny!"

Silence fell across the little room.  Inis let go of the bag which fell to the floor with a thump.  Dusty quickly knelt and grabbed it back.  Time, she realized, for truth all the way around.  She and Blue needed help.

"I hadn't meant for there to be this kind of trouble," she said as she stood.  "We'd hoped that the orcs would go on for a few days before they noticed," she offered.

"We?" the new guard said.  She recognized him from the castle and felt a huge welling of relief to see someone she knew.  "Is someone helping you, Princess --"

"I --" Happy said and looked faint.  One of the men took her by the arm and settled her on the stool by the table.  "I -- I made a princess wash dishes and sleep on the hearth -- I --"

Inis went pale and looked as upset as her mother.

"You helped me," Dusty replied.  She stood straight and tried to seem like a princess rather than a homeless child.  "And if I'd told you I was Princess Destiny, you would have laughed at me.  And rightly so."

Happy looked a little less frightened and more intrigued.  Inis, though, apparently realized the sort of trouble she could be in for the way she'd treated Dusty.  Under the circumstances, Dusty could hardly blame her for getting carried away.

"How did you come to be here?" the palace guard asked.  "Did the orcs take you?  We feared as much."

"I was in their wagon, but they didn't realize it."  She looked around and shook her head.  People stared at her, and she'd never liked to be on show.  Dusty felt small, dirty, and far too unimportant for this much to be in her hands. 

This was her responsibility. She'd made it so when she went to help the crying child.  That seemed, in fact, a good place to start.

"I don't know why no one else heard the child crying," she admitted now.  "He sounded terrified.  I thought I would get to the cart, see if he really was in there, and then call the guards.  The orcs, though -- they made so much noise and started moving almost immediately.  I had to hide inside. There was no way to escape until we reached this village.  We'd hoped that the orcs would go on for another day or two and by then I'd have found someone to take us back to the capital."

"Us?" the guard asked.

Dusty opened the bag and looked inside.  "It's all right.  We have help now.  Are you okay, Blue?"

"Afraid," he whispered.  "So many loud people!"

"You are safe."  She held her hand down to him, and he took hold, his little fingers tight as she pulled him back up.

Silence again.

"Is -- is that --" Happy said softly.

"A baby dragon," Dusty said.  "The orcs trapped him.  So I had to get him free and back to his mother before she came looking for him.  She'll track him you know and grow more frantic.  There will be trouble if he isn't returned soon."

"Already trouble in the north," the guard admitted.   "We didn't know why."

"I want to go home," Blue cried and scurried up to nestle near her neck  She felt little dragon tears flowing against her skin.

"You will go home now, Blue," she promised.  "We'll do our best to make you safe."

"Do you promise?" he asked, looking into her face.

"Yes, I promise," she said and even offered a smile.

"Ummm, Princess?" the palace guard said leaning a little closer.  "Do you understand what he's saying?"

Dusty looked at the others in surprise.  "The rest of you don't?"

She knew the answer from their startled looks.  That changed things.  Dusty dared not hand Blue over to someone to get him away as quickly as possible.  He needed her.  They must move carefully -- and quickly before the orcs found them.

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