The second part–where things get exciting. Enjoy! 🙂
Part Second: “Dragon!”
“Ready to head home, Penny?” Henry asked, as he lay on his back in the grass.
“Never!” Penelope answered, tilting her head back to look at the sky as she leaned against the rock they had raced to.
“Sounds like I’m not the only one who would rather do this than anything else,” her brother teased.
“I assumed it was obvious. But we probably should go back soon, it’s—Henry, look!”
The Prince sat straight up and turned towards the mountains, that they had ridden quite close to. A group of six people were running towards them—five men, and a girl close to Penelope’s age. “Shepherds!” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet, grabbing Penelope’s hands, and pulling her up.
As the group approached the Prince and Princess saw all of them were out of breath and pale with fear. Henry started walking towards them. “What’s wrong?” he called. The man closest to them gasped for breath before cupping his hands around his mouth and weakly shouting the single word, “dragon!
Henry whirled and ran back to his sister, kneeling down and cupping his hands. Penelope stepped into them and he hoisted her up (so quickly that she scrambled for the reins and nearly fell off again). The Shepherds had reached them by now. “It attacked us in the hills and killed scores of sheep,” another man informed them. “It has a cave in the Mountains that we passed underneath while moving our flocks. It probably heard the noise we were making—it came down on us like lightning. It must have already seen your City and had an eye on it, but we apologize if we’ve stirred it into action.”
“No need, you can’t be blamed,” Henry answered distractedly, grabbing the Shepherd-girl by both hands and pulling her towards Captain. “Do you ride?”
“Yes, sir; but—” she began.
“No buts about it,” the Prince interrupted. “Ladies first.” He helped her into the saddle and barely gave her time to grasp the reins before shouting, “Captain—run—home!”
The horse recognized the urgency in his voice and was gone like a shot. “Penelope, go with her.”
“But what about you?” the Princess protested.
“We’ll be fine—trust me. Go!”
“I don’t trust you! Not to—” she managed before her brother drowned her out shouting, “Run, Snowflake!” Whether he was her master or not, the mare obeyed the Prince’s voice. Penelope gave in and let Snowflake carry her back to the City. She managed to pull the excited horse to a stop inside the Gate, after the unknowing guards permitted her. She called to Captain, who was a few paces ahead of her. He hesitated, but slowed his pace and returned to the Princess.
“Good boy,” Penelope encouraged as she scrambled off of Snowflake’s back and ran into the guardhouse.
“There’s a dragon! In the mountains—it attacked the Shepherds!” she shouted, and did not wait to see the chaos it created but ran outside and climbed (rather awkwardly without her brother’s help) back into the saddle.
“Stay here and wait for your men,” she told the shepherd-girl. “Keep the horse in case you need it. The guards don’t keep horses here, so I have to go warn Mother and Father—the King and Queen.”
She urged Snowflake to a run, and heard Captain whinny uneasily as she left. She glanced over her shoulder, but her mare was swift and the Gate had already vanished around the corner. She prayed that Captain would stay calm enough for the poor Shepherd-girl to handle him.