Chapter Nineteen

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Chapter Nineteen – The Kidnapping Attempt

 

There was a shrill scream, a woman’s terror knifing through the air. Xiao Xiao dropped her jian and ran towards the source of the scream.

Xiao Xin’s bed was empty. Autumn was weeping, her face reddened by shock and tears.

“The man. The man just grabbed her and ran!” The maid wailed.

Xiao Xiao shouted for the guards and they came running, armor and spears clattering. While they ran through the corridors, looking for the kidnapper, Xiao Xiao grabbed her pouch.

The pearl shone with green light, sun-on-seawater and bright, as if a light pierced through the water.

She popped it into her mouth.

The dragon roared through the courtyard, causing a small swirl of wind that tore the tiles of the roof and more startled screaming from the maids. Nobody saw Xiao Xiao leave. All they knew was the roar of wind and the strength of it.

Xiao Xiao swept across the sky, keeping her eyes on the streets and alleys. People looked like ants and the building ant nests. Then she saw the running horse and a flash of waving arms. A thin wailing reached her dragon ears.

It was the dark man again. Or someone who looked like him, all swathed in black. The horse was a dark brown, not black as night. It was running as if it was being chased by a demon, its skin gleaming with sweat. The rider was urging it to gallop faster. Behind him, the banner men were pursuing him on their horses.

Rage filled Xiao Xiao’s chest. She swooped down. The man looked up and yelled, lifting something to his chest. It was a cross bow.

Ming Zhu screamed in Xiao Xiao’s head and this time, the dragon princess took over, bestial might over intellect and reason. Her claws crushed the cross bow and knocked the rider over. He tumbled onto the floor while his horse panicked, stomping its hooves all over the man now curled up into a ball, frightened beyond belief.

Xiao Xin was still strapped on the horse’s saddle, wrapped up. Her arms were free and they were waving frantically. Her eyes were large with terror. Ming Zhu reached over and tore the toddler off the saddle. With a burst of speed, she speared towards the sky.

A volley of arrows hissed through the air, narrowly missing the dragon’s tail. The banner men had reacted swiftly and were reaching for new arrows.

Ming Zhu swept her tail and rain lashed across the sky, whipping the banner men’s faces and scaring their mounts. With relief, she escaped from the banner men.

~*~

The banner men found a drenched Xiao Xiao holding a wailing Xiao Xin in her arms. She was unable to speak. They draped a warm cloak around her shoulders and brought her back to the palace.

Maids dried Xiao Xiao up and comforted the sobbing little toddler. Exhausted, Xiao Xiao curled up on her and slept a dreamless sleep.

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