I have a feeling you all are going to freak out about this one. . . :-/
Part Twenty-first: Trying to Save
Penelope knelt down beside the stream and gulped water from her cupped hands. Wonder of wonders, Abadalyx had brought her out to get a drink again. Never mind that he was breathing down her neck this time, she did not care. Getting water once a day was a grueling schedule, but at the moment she was just thankful the beast was not going to let her die of thirst.
The Princess rubbed the driest part of her sleeve across her wet mouth. How un-princessly! She fingered the gold embroidery that hemmed her dark purple cloak. Never forget that you are a princess, the Queen whispered in her thoughts. “I’m trying, Mama,” she whispered, eyes filling with tears.
Suddenly, Abadalyx stiffened with a frightful snarl. The Princess jumped and turned towards him, nearly falling into the creek in surprise, but he seemed to have forgotten her: he was looking down at something in the Valley. He left Penelope’s side and crawled to the cliff edge. She scrambled to her feet and followed him, curiosity overcoming her fear.
Leaving the City and striking out across the green slope of the Valley towards the cave was one small, vague figure. No, not one, but two creatures, running—or galloping. Horses? The dragon gave a low growl deep in his long throat and lifted his leathery wings. As the Princess leaned forward, trying to get a better look at the horses, the bright, morning sunshine flashed off of metal, somewhere in the midst of the dark, tiny spots. Armor?
Abadalyx noticed her movement, and seemed to become aware of her again suddenly. With a roar, he whirled on her, grabbed her in his forepaws and—for the first time—lifted her. Penelope screamed as he swept her off her feet and lifted them both into the air with a swift wing-stroke. He spanned the ledge with another flap and shot down his lair like an arrow, Penelope screaming again as they dove down the narrow tunnel, between the rocky walls. They came to a clumsy stop outside her small chamber, and the dragon shoved her in and banged the gates so hard the very stones shook. Penelope stood shivering with terror and excitement, not letting herself guess what might be happening, as he stormed back up the passage.
After what seemed like ages of standing leaning against the hard, cold walls and breathing hard, without daring to think, she heard a voice. Too soft and far-off for her to catch the words. Then, all at once, it began—the dragon ranting and roaring, flames crackling, steel clashing, horses screaming, men shouting. She laced her fingers into the criss-crossings of the gate and pressed her face against it, trying to see up the tunnel. Sparks blew down into the cave, lighting the dry leaves that lay in the passage. Smoke rose up in soft curls from them and more wafted down from the cavern mouth, making her choke; but still she held the bars until the iron grew hot from the flames.
Lord, why? She frantically complained. Why are you letting my hopes up? Why are you letting whoever those foolish men are die too? I tried to save my people—I tried so hard!