Friday, September 01, 2017
Flash Friday # 266 -- Dusty & Friends/11
Orcs shouted louder again, and something crashed to the ground. Dusty feared a building had been destroyed. Her heart caught with a combination of fear and anger.
"They have no right!" she shouted. Blue sat on her shoulder, observing the others. Dusty stood straighter though despair tried to make her feel helpless. "We have to get Blue away, but we also have to make certain the orcs realize that he's no longer here in the village so these people will be safe."
Everyone in the room nodded, but she didn't see hope or help there.
"You need travel food," Happy said suddenly. She got up and began moving. "No matter what you do, you need to be prepared."
"Yes, thank you," Dusty agreed. "And a piece of fruit for Blue would be nice right now."
Happy got him a nice slice of apple and seemed to have gone from afraid to enchanted, which Dusty appreciated far more. Dusty turned to the soldier who had recognized her and gave an embarrassed shrug. "I'm sorry, but I don't know your name," she apologized.
"Well, of course, you don't!" the young man said. He couldn't be more than a year or two older than her. "There are several hundred of us at the castle. I'm Fox, Princess Destiny."
"Fox," she said with a nod of her head. "And please call me Dusty. Just Dusty. I've always preferred it."
He looked troubled by that idea, but then they drilled etiquette into everyone who came anywhere near the royal family. Dusty couldn't be certain he would stop calling her princess, but she thought it might help the others.
"The orcs are fast," Fox said with a frown. "And they have more stamina than a horse. We might ride fast enough to get away from them for an hour or so, but that wouldn't get us nearly far enough, and we couldn't count on finding another horse."
Orcs yelled again. The ground shook. She feared they were closer and they had little time. "Is there anywhere we can go? Somewhere we can reach --"
"The river," Blue said. "The river can't be too far away."
She looked at him in surprise and then back at the others. "He says to go to the river."
"Oh yes!" Fox agreed and smiled so brightly that she almost wasn't afraid again. "He's right! Orcs are scared to death of water, and they won't even cross a bridge if they can avoid it. It's because they -- well -- they sink like stones."
"How far?" she asked.
"A couple hours of hard riding," he said and looked her over. "How good are you on a horse, Princess -- Dusty?"
"Better than my brothers," she admitted and won a slight smile. "I'll need something else to wear."
"I'll find you some clothing!" Inis said and hurried off. Dusty wondered if the young woman wanted to help or if she was anxious to get Dusty and her friend away from here. It didn't matter; Dusty appreciated the change.
"The orcs are out in the streets, and they'll see us get to the horses and leave," Fox said with a shake of his head. "They might overtake us before we can get more than a few yards since we'll need time to mount. Then there's the problem of finding a spot where we can cross the river."
Another building crashed to the ground. Dusty winced, but then her anger grew. "Tell the others not to despair. My grandmother will make good on the ruined buildings. We just all have to be wise and get Blue free from here."
"We need a diversion," Fox said and looked at the people around them.
"I think I can do something," Dusty said. "I've done it before by accident. Birds, I think."
She went to the door, Fox close beside her, and peaked out. A single sparrow sat on a spindly tree. Dusty gave a nod to the bird and thought about how much she would like to see others --
They started coming immediately. A dozen, then two dozen, then other birds as well, many that would not usually share a branch, all of watching Dusty with anticipation and being uncommonly quiet. Even a hawk took to the top of the building
"Ah. I didn't know you had the gift, Dusty," Fox said. He sounded pleased and surprised.
"Neither did I. I never knew I had anything special, even though creatures of all sorts have always taken an interest in me. Well, at least now I know I can help! But I do hope the little birds are careful. I don't want to see them hurt, either. Oh, maybe another diversion? Dogs, I think. Though they'll have to be careful as well."
Somewhere close by a dog barked, as though she knew exactly what Dusty wanted. She heard the sound repeated elsewhere. By then Inis had brought her a riding skirt, and they went to her mother's room to change.
"I'm sorry for the way I treated you," Inis apologized. "I shouldn't have, not matter who you are. I'm just so frustrated, living in this little town."
Dusty thought it must be much like living in the castle, though she didn't say so. Still, they were both small worlds.
"Maybe when this is done, you can come and visit me in the castle," Dusty said.
Inis looked at her with her eyes large and shock on her face. "Oh, I would like to see the city, at least once. Do you think mama would let me?"
Odd to be thinking about such mundane things right now, but it made Dusty feel better as she picked up Blue. "I think so. But maybe you should help her for a while."
"I should anyway," Inis said. "I'll try not to be such a brat. Thank you."
Inis hugged her as though they were equals and friends. Inis would never know how much that meant to Dusty as she headed out into danger.