Thursday, December 14, 2017

Flash Fiction #281 -- Dusty & Friends/26

Where was Fox?  She suspected he was still trying to lead the orcs away, but then she saw another two join the rest of them and thought those might be the ones who had been following them.  Dusty feared that they had hurt Fox and she didn't know how to find him.  The best idea seemed to go back to where she'd last seen him, so she grabbed the bag back up and hurried away from the square.

A shame she couldn't scurry across the shadows and up the walls as readily as Blue had and be safely inside the walls, though that shelter might be an illusion from the way the ground shook.

Dusty slid around the corner of the building --

And ran right into someone. They both yelped.

Fox.  He looked a bit more disheveled, and there was dust in his hair, but he caught hold of her arm and grinned.

"You're all right," she said, though she wasn't entirely sure.  He looked shaky and pale.

"Well enough," he answered.  "Sorry you couldn't get into the castle.  I saw the other orcs arrived.  Soldiers are coming, too, but I don't know what they're going to do.  We have to find another way --"

"I sent Blue in.  He climbed the wall and went over the other side.  So he's safe for now."

"Good work!"  His hand tightened on her arm.

"I just fear that he'll come back out and look for me," she admitted.  "I told him to go to the mages or the Queen if I don't arrive, but I don't think he will trust them."

"We need to get you inside.  Let's get to the soldiers.  They might be our best chance."

She gave a weary nod.  There was no telling what they were going to do now, but she supposed it wouldn't take long. That was her best hope now -- well that and the idea she could soon take a bath and sleep in her own bed.

Fox kept hold of her arm. She had been a little woozy there, and maybe a bit lost.  However, before too long Dusty got her senses back and helped to make certain they did not run into any other orcs -- because there seemed to be even more orcs out searching now.

There were also soldiers, and the one on the horse in the lead was her brother, Donid.

"Dusty!" he cried out before she could even greet him.  He leapt from the horse and threw the reins to one of the soldiers.  He grabbed her into a surprising hug. "Where have you been?  We thought the orcs had you --"
"They did, sort of.  We've been running from them for days.  I have to get inside, Donid.  I have things grandmother needs to know."
"Fox," Donid said to her companion and gave him a slap on the shoulder -- luckily not the injured one.  "You're with her?  Good.  We'd just gotten orders to charge and scatter the orcs at the gate so more of the soldiers could get out.  I suspect that will be your best chance to get in -- if we can get you close enough without the orcs realizing it."

"Just charge through," Fox said.  "Get Dusty on the horse --"

"I want you with me," she said and surprised them both.  "Fox has been smart and gotten us through the orcs so far."

"Then up you both go.  Don't argue, Fox.  Just get her inside."

There was no time to say anything more.  The orcs were bound to figure out the soldiers were coming up behind them.  Dusty let Donid help her up and then Fox got up behind her.  She had already whispered some calming words to the horse who stopped fidgeting. 

"We're going to go in a wedge up to the orcs and see if we can't break a path through.  I think, Dusty, that you should stay back until we get to the gate and it opens.  There's no use coming with us if we can't get that far."

"He's right," Fox agreed.  "I need a spear or something else I can use to shove them back.  Dusty, you just lean over the horse's neck and keep him going straight."

"Yes.  Yes to all of it.  Be careful, everyone."

Donid gave her a distracted nod.  He was directing the soldiers, and before she could say more, they formed up and began to jog forward.  One had given Fox a spear and drawn his sword instead.  They had shields, but she thought those wouldn't be strong enough to hold back the blows of orcs.

Where were the mages?  They had to be preparing to attack -- and with that thought, she realized that moving fast before the mages struck was the best idea.  No time to think.  No time to worry about anything except getting in, finding Blue, and sending word to his mother.

The soldiers were already up to the orcs and were doing an excellent job of knocking them back and knocking them down.  The opening appeared all the way to the gate, but it wasn't open yet.

Then she heard a worse sound still.

"More orcs are coming behind us!" she warned.

Fox turned to look back, and she heard him mutter a curse.  The gate was still not open.

"No choice. We have to go now and hope the gate is opened by the time we get there," Fox said.  "We don't dare get caught here with orcs at our backs and in front of us."

"Yes," Dusty agreed. 

She leaned forward and urged the horse to be calm one more time as they headed out into the mass of fighting men and orcs.  The gate had not opened.  Donid, his cheek bleeding, darted toward them with a look of worry.

"More orcs!" she called out as soon as he was close enough to hear.  "More orcs coming behind us!  We couldn't stay!"

"Get to the gate!"

And the battle closed in around them.

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