Friday, October 27, 2017
Flash Fiction #274 -- Dusty & Friends/19
Dusty dared not move for a moment, afraid that her legs would give out and she would fall. Of all the things that might have happened, this was not something she had contemplated. The Captain should have been on her side! He wouldn't even listen --
"Can I come out now? Your hair tickles," Blue whispered.
Dusty smiled despite the situation. "Come out. I'm afraid this isn't a very nice room, though. And be ready to hide if you hear anyone at the door."
"I wish I weren't too young to grow my wings," he mumbled as he slid out of her hair and down to her shoulder. "I'd fly up and bite a nose or two!"
Dusty fought not to laugh since the little guy sounded so serious. He climbed down, and she did her best to keep track of him, not knowing what else might be in the room. There was a covered bucket with a drain through the floor. She used it and made certain the lid was on tight so that he couldn't slip in there and disappear. A bed of old straw and a ragged blanket sat on the opposite wall, and she settled with her head against the stone wall.
As angry as Dusty felt, she realized this was not the worst thing that could have happened. They were not out in the sunlight. They were not anywhere near the orcs, and while the Captain was a rude man with no good sense (which might be why he was out here away from everyone), she could still hope that the commander would be a wiser person.
Someone came to the door. Blue scurried into the straw as the door opened. Two men stood there, one with a tray. Food?
"Dinner, miss," he said and held the tray out. The other handed her a water skin and a blanket. "That'll get you through the night. The commander will be back before noon tomorrow if all is well."
"Thank you," she said and took the tray. The other man sat the additional material by the door.
"Blanket will help," he mumbled. Embarrassed, Dusty realized. They probably didn't often throw young ladies into cells here. And oh, if he found out she was a princess of the line -- but she said nothing. They were being kind.
Dusty was glad to see there was another tray outside on a rolling stand, and a blanket as well. Fox wouldn't suffer any worse than her, though she suspected his shoulder would keep him awake.
The guards closed and locked her door before they opened the one across the way. She tried to listen and thought she heard Fox say something -- but it was no use standing there while the food went cold. She took the tray back to the bedding and sat down, sharing with Blue. He was such a little thing that he really didn't eat much and afterward he curled up in her lap and napped.
Dusty slept off and on as well. Twice she awoke from nightmares about orcs, but she could hear nothing out of place outside the cell. The little sliver of light had disappeared, but there was a slight flickering around the door which meant a torch out in the hall. She found that reassuring as she gathered the second blanket and the water. Then she and Blue curled up to sleep through the night.
Now that it had gone dark, though, she began to feel more than a little restless. The stone walls creaking as they cooled sounded ominous, even though it was no different sound than she'd heard back at the castle. An occasional shout by the guards -- no doubt a common occurrence during the night watch, woke her with a start. By the first light of morning, she was growing bad-tempered and knew that would not help her case.
Dusty began to worry about when the commander might make it back, though. Hadn't the man said 'if all goes well?' If the commander was anywhere near the gathering orcs, it might not go well at all, and he might be forced to stay wherever he happened to be.
And the dragons -- they might be on the move by now as well, and it was unlikely anyone would know why. That thought got her up and pacing for a while. Blue stayed on her shoulder.
"Oh how I do hate waiting," she finally confessed when she realized that Blue had started to worry. "There is nothing worse wrong, you know. I just want to get somewhere we can do good. The Captain is going to have much to answer for by the time I'm done."
That made Dusty feel better, though she usually would not have been such a vindictive person. His behavior had been unreasonable, though.
They shared a few scraps of bread left over from the meal from the night before. Dusty tried not to think about the bag the Captain had emptied out, and the pieces of fruit and cheese left there in the sand. Mostly she tried not to feel sorry for herself.
So she paced a little more in the small room before she settled on the blankets to wait out the time. It couldn't be much longer, could it?
Blue played a bit with some straw, climbed up the walls --
"Oh please don't go out!" Dusty cried, startled to see his shadow fall across the floor. He stood in the slit of a window high up on the wall where she could not reach.
"I promise I won't go out. I just wanted to sit in the sun for a little while," he said and came back down. "It won't be much longer, will it? I don't think these are very nice people to keep you and Fox locked up like this. No nicer than the orcs!"
"It will be all right," she promised. "We just have to be patient."
But she hoped something happened soon.