Friday, November 10, 2017
Flash Fiction #276 -- Dusty & Friends # 21
The captain yowled, the guards yelled, and Fox did his best to keep between them and Dusty while she worked recovered Blue who had leapt off the man and darted under the desk. At least the baby dragon didn't try to run from her and scurried to her hand.
By the time she'd crawled back out from under the desk another man had come into the room and looked rather startled at the scene.
"Captain Yend, what in the name of all the hells is going on here?" the newcomer demanded.
"Sir," the Captain said, his voice muffled. He had one hand to his nose, but it didn't appear to be bleeding. "This hussy has some sort of trained lizard. It bit me! Dangerous beast --"
"Do get up, young lady -- oh. Princess Destiny!"
Dusty hadn't been prepared to be recognized in this particular situation, and the man's sudden bow flustered her. A glance at Fox and his bright smile gave her back some courage, though. She stood up, holding blue in one hand as she nodded to the man.
"I assume that you are the Commander here? I am glad you came when you did. I'm afraid Captain Yend has been a great deal of trouble."
"People are looking everywhere for you! There's been some worry that the orcs took you, especially since they're acting so oddly -- that is not a lizard."
"No, sir. This is what the orcs really want back. I helped Blue escape, and with Fox's help we were trying to get back to the castle where I could talk to my grandmother -- to the Queen --"
Yend made a little sound of distress. He sat down. Dusty ignored him.
"Sir, after I was injured, I thought it wiser to head for the outpost and get more help so that Dusty -- Princess Destiny -- and Blue would have a good chance of getting past the orcs who would be stationed at the bridge, waiting for us," Fox explained. "They won't want the baby dragon returned to his mother where he can tell the tale of what happened. I suspect the orcs are panicked, sir."
"So they are," the man replied and still looked rather shocked. "What have you got to say for yourself, Captain Yend?"
"I didn't know Commander Radol," he said and sat up straighter. He had his hand away from his face. His nose was bright red but didn't look so bad. "They said they were runaways --"
"We said no such thing," Fox said, cutting short whatever tale the man meant to weave. "You decided what we were and forbade us to say anything at all. You threw us in cells -- put a princess of the line in one of those dark, dank cells --"
"I didn't know! She didn't say!"
"He's right about that," Dusty said. "I could tell I couldn't trust him, so I kept my name to myself and certainly didn't tell him about Blue. But let's not worry so much about what's happened. We need to get back to the castle. Blue's mother and the other dragons will be hunting him. There was already trouble in the north the day I disappeared. We need to let the dragons know that he is safe."
"Yes," Commander Radol agreed. "Gods, yes -- we must get moving immediately. Are you fit to ride, Princess Destiny?"
"Yes, sir," she said. "Fox -- if you are well enough -- I would like you with us. Blue trusts you."
He smiled brightly again. "I made it this far. I would be honored to go the rest of the way."
"Well then," Commander Radol said. He didn't look like a man who flustered easily. "I'll have the horses readied."
"I would like to clean up a little," she admitted. "And if you have a small basket with a handle so that I can carry Blue?"
"Yes, of course."
When Fox held out his arms, one of the guards quickly untied him. Then Fox went with them and acted every inch her guard, standing at the door to the guest quarters -- oh how nice that bed looked! -- while she cleaned up. Commander Rodal even sent her a lovely cotton dress and a pair of pants for underneath, knowing Dusty was going to be riding and not side-saddled. She also had a hat to block out some of the sunlight. There must have been some women here. Probably servants? Or perhaps the wife or daughter of Commander Rodal. The clothing was well made.
They brought Fox a clean uniform, and he changed with some help from one of the men. The entire attitude of people had changed, and Dusty was almost tempted to tell Fox he should remain behind. Except....
Dusty felt safer with someone she knew at her side. She could hand Blue over to him if she needed to, while the little dragon might not go willingly with others.
And besides, with Captain Yend back in charge, it was better that he go with her and Commander Rodal.
When they rode out of the gate, Dusty had a place beside Commander Rodal and with Fox riding to her right. Blue sat in a small basket before her, peeking his head out for a moment but then dropping back into the shadows. Dusty couldn't blame him once she saw the vast expanse of golden sand again.
"Well, at least I've gotten some sleep," she said as they headed out into the hot day.
"I thought about delaying until late tonight or early tomorrow," Commander Rodal said. He didn't look particularly happy about heading back out since he'd only gotten to the outpost a few hours before. "However, the trouble I saw at the Miru River Bridge makes me think the sooner we get back, the better. The sun will be mostly down by the time we reach that spot."
"Faster than walking," Dusty said and patted the horse on the neck. She tried not to think about the trouble they still faced.