Thursday, December 21, 2017

Flash Fiction # 282 -- Dusty & Friends/27

They pressed in as close to the gate as they could manage while the soldiers fought the orcs.  The orcs had seen her, though.  After that, the power of their yells and the pounding of their feet and hands unsettled the horses, and she couldn't get control of her frightened mount. Fox grabbed her and pulled her off one horse to his, but it was no better.  He got them both down to the ground and with their backs to the gate.  Fox pushed Dusty behind and put himself in front of her --

The gate opened. They both fell inside, Fox landing on her and apologizing as he stood and helped her up.  Then he saw that the orcs had shoved themselves right up to the gate and were trying to get inside while the guards fought to hold them back.  Fox leapt to help them.

"Go Dusty!  Get to the Queen!"

Dusty spun and ran, her heart pounding with fear for those she had left behind.  More soldiers were arriving, though.  She saw Kratis with them, but he didn't notice her, the somewhat ragged girl darting away from the trouble.

Guards stood at the main doors and tried to stop her from going inside the building.

"I'm Destiny!" she shouted in frustration.  "Princess Destiny!  Let me get in.  I have news for my grandmother!"

They looked at her in shock. Then one shoved a door open, and she darted past them.  Servants and even cousins tried to stop her and ask where she'd been.  She had to shake them off, and they probably thought she'd gone mad.

"Blue!" she shouted as she ran.  "Blue!"

Dusty found no sign of him.  She ran, frantic and yelling, her voice going hoarse.  The Queen was in the Great Hall as Dusty had hoped.  She ran past guards.  People began to shout, and the guards caught her.

"No!  Grandma -- I have news about the orcs!"

"Let her go," Master Stuart ordered.  "Princess --"

"He has to be here!  Blue!" 

She thought heard a little voice somewhere above her, but it was soon drowned out in the shouts of the others.  All the people seemed frantic, and they were growing louder.

"Everyone be quiet!" she shouted.

Dusty wasn't certain why they all obeyed her, but everyone fell silent, except for movement -- and a voice --

"Dusty!  Dusty!  I'm here!"

The sound had come from above her, probably along one of the columns that braced the ceiling.  She couldn't see in the shadows though.  "Come to me Blue."

"So many angry people.  Afraid!"

"They won't hurt you.  Come to me.  You can trust me."


He scurried straight down the column to her right and leapt to her shoulder and then wrapped his little hands around her neck.  She felt almost faint with relief.

"That --" Grandmother began. She left the throne and came to stand before Dusty, her eyes wide.  "That is not a lizard."

"He is a baby blue dragon, Your Highness.  He was stolen by the orcs and his mother will be looking for him."

Silence for a heartbeat or two -- and then the Queen spun to the person standing by Dusty.

"Master Stuart!  To the mages.  Tell them to get a message to the dragons immediately!"

Master Stuart left the room at a run.  Dusty had never seen him run before.  For a moment she could only stare in wonder.  Then she thought she ought to sit down.  Queen Olivia called for chairs, and the two of them sat right there in the middle of the Great Hall. Dusty did her best to tell the story of her adventure while Blue crawled up on her shoulder and surveyed everything.

After a little while, she became aware of the silence, not only in the room but outside the building as well.  The quiet worried her, especially when Master Stuart hurried back into the room, looking a little red-faced and defiantly winded.

"The mages have sent the word, Majesty," he said with a bow to the queen followed by an unexpectedly bright smile.  "And then the mages stood on the walls and told the orcs what they'd done.  It worked better than any other defense we've tried against them.  They are retreating in haste.  I suspect they'll run all the way back to their mountain caves and hope the dragons can't find them if they burrow in deep enough there."

"Now all we can do is wait for the dragons to come to us," Queen Olivia said.  She sounded, rightfully so, worried about that prospect.  "Destiny, you and your friend will have the Green Suite until Blue can go home to his mother.  I think you could both use some rest."

"Yes, thank you," Dusty said.  She could hardly force herself to stand again, and Blue, who must have fallen asleep, tumbled into her arms and curled up again without much notice.  Even Queen Olivia smiled at the sight.

Master Stuart walked with her out of the hall and toward the stairs.  People stared where she passed, and a whisper of words followed her.  There would be some who didn't approve of what she'd done, but that was a part of life at the court.

A few servants had rushed on ahead of them.

"Sir, there was a soldier who helped me, and I want to know if he's all right --"

"This Fox you mentioned?  Don't worry, I'll see to him.  You've had quite an adventure young lady!"

She took the next two steps in silence.  "I always wanted an adventure, you know," she finally said.  "But it was scary, and so much depended on me.  I'd never tried to use my ability with animals like I did."

"And you did well," he said.  They'd reached the door to find a servant who usually served the queen, an honor Dusty had not expected.

She was so tired, though, that she barely remembered sitting down on the bed, just to rest....

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