Princes and Pets

Another Wordle Prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

We went as far as the car would take us. This was exactly to a damp little town called Forest Bluffs. It was then apparent that the car had chosen the place in spite. I felt this was fair considering we’d driven it into the ground.

Alan on the other hand bemoaned the lack of loyalty to the mechanic. The town just had one, the letters above her tiny garage peeling and faded. The middle-aged woman listened to Alan’s indigence with a surprising amount of interest, feigned or otherwise. Made sense, how many people’s cars could break with a population of less than three hundred? She probably needed the business enough to put up with Alan’s less then sunny tale of our journey.

I dragged him out before he thoroughly annoyed the one person responsible for getting us back on the road. Alan shouldered his guitar case and pulled my backpack from the trunk of our useless sedan. The mechanic would tell us how screwed we were tomorrow, until than we were stuck and I was hungry.

Main Street was pretty much the only street and it was busy, being a Friday night in a small town. People glanced at us curiously as we searched for a place that was not a greasy diner. I looked at Alan, whose frown was deepening as we passed each little shop and ice cream parlor. “It isn’t that bad.” I said. It was a touch optimistic, but with Alan around someone had to be.

Alan didn’t look at me, his gaze finding each person we passed. His eyes flicked to each covered hand or large concealing coat. “We are stuck here until these yokels fix that shitheap. How isn’t this bad?”

A few ‘yokels’ looked askance at us; Alan wasn’t trying to be quiet. I smiled apologetically and pulled him into a small eatery. The food would be greasy but it was worth it to get Alan out of the street and complaining about something other than the people. He was too good at his job sometimes, it made him miserable. “A few days isn’t going to kill us.” I said.

“You sure about that?” Alan grumbled as he picked up the menu. I just sighed and went about choosing something that wouldn’t make me penitent later.

Despite his earlier contention Alan grinned when the waitress set his burger before him. I was less than enthusiastic about my potato which seemed to have died drowned in cheese. I poked at it with my fork.

“It isn’t that bad.” He used my own words to mock me.

I glared at him and set about excavating food from under the melted cascade of fat. It took up more of my attention than it should. I didn’t notice the bell above the door ring, or the man pausing at the doorway. Alan’s chair scraped back. He stood, back to me, setting himself between the newcomer and where I blinked in confusion over a dissected potato.

The man only had a chance to glance at me before Alan hefted his chair and swung it like a baseball bat. The man grunted and went down in a tangle of chair, floor and limbs. “C’mon.” Alan spun grabbing his guitar case with one hand and my shoulder with his other. I yelped and scrambled for my backpack, barely managing to get my hand around the strap before Alan hauled me bodily past the panicking waitress.

I was shoved from the backdoor as Alan backed from it, working to extricate his sword from the guitar case. “Keep moving.” Alan growled and I complied. Even with the curved sword set backwards in his palm the weapon was noticeable as we loped away from the restaurant’s back lot.

“That was—“ I started.

“One of her scouts. I told you they were closer than we figured.” He finished the sentence for me. I didn’t argue with him, Alan knew things for what they were. If he said a scout came to find me, then one had. He possessed the sight. When it came to my father’s enemies or even me, he saw true nature as plainly as other mortals saw color. The gift and his skill with sword blade, or diner chair, granted me the perfect bodyguard.

The noise of the main street faded behind us as we hurried into the sparse cover of the trees. Alan lagged behind, gaze sweeping for pursuit as we pushed deeper into the forest. I felt safer among the trees and the dappled shadows colored my skin. Finally Alan breathed out, relaxing as I slipped into my element. It was normally dangerous in the wilds. A place those angry with my father would look first, thus Alan kept us to mortal towns and roads.

But I needed to hide. My pursuit would think nothing of ripping apart a settlement like Forest Bluffs to get at me. Hiding there would not help us or its inhabitants.

Next to me Alan stiffened and whirled before I heard it. A low throaty laugh. She stepped out, glimmering armor to her chin and hair the color of midnight sky. Her blue eyes swept up me, taking in my jeans and sweatshirt with a sniff.  “Prince Kalil, my brother, how far you’ve traveled.’ Her gaze flicked to Alan as her warriors slunk from the darkness, surrounding us. “Hello pet.”

Alan grunted and set his sword. “It isn’t that bad.” He muttered at me as my sister smiled, resplendent in her battle garb.

“You were right.” I sighed.  Around us her soldiers hefted pin sharp cutlasses.

“I’m always right Kalil.” He growled.



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