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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 1

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I ran through the packed streets, pushing against the huge crowd. I struggled to move forward, but because everyone was going the opposite way, it was nearly impossible. Desperately, I pushed and shoved at those blocking my way, trying to clear a path for myself. But they all pressed back against me, trying to get away from the horror that I was going towards.  But none of that mattered. I needed to get to Lynn. No matter what that cost me. I had no other choice. 

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Lynn was my baby sister. Well, she was only a baby to me. She was actually ten years old, and the cutest thing, all blond hair and huge blue eyes. I lived with her and my father until he left for who knows where. Even before that we didn’t see him much. So it was mostly just her and me. But now she was in that horrible castle for such a stupid, petty crime. All she did was take a loaf of bread, and only because she was so hungry. And they but her in jail! They put a ten year old in jail. Just shows what kind of rulers we have. But there was no way I was going to wait around here for them to decide what to do with her. I needed to go get her out of there. Now.

But now might just be the worst time. Our king enslaved the dragons, foolishly thinking he could control them. But he was wrong, and the dragons have started a Rebellion. They were storming the castle at this very moment. It was such a fright that everyone was running away from the palace. But I needed to go get Lynn out of there. Before something horrible happened to her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was almost at the foot of the castle, but the screaming, running people were even thicker here, and it was much harder to move. My black cloak billowed behind me as I tried to force my way through. There was a dark pillar of smoke and flame rising near the castle, and I could see long shadowy figures snaking around the palace. Even though my whole body told me not to go towards it, my mind told me that I needed to. My hands trembled in fear as I clutched the edges of my cape around me, but I plowed forward. When I reached the castle gates I slipped through the people converged there; I was small enough to go unnoticed by them and the dragons. I climbed over a green scaly tale and jumped down to the gates. In the process, one of my shoes fell of, and I reached down and tore off the other one. Barefoot, I raced through the large entryway. A grand staircase on the far wall crumbled before my eyes as the castle shook with the force of the dragons. I ran across the huge room even as chunks of the ceiling started to fall in on me. The marble floor beneath my feet had giant cracks running through it. When I was younger I had come to the castle on a tour, and vaguely remembered where the jail was. Hoping that I was correct, I raced towards it. I tried the door, but it was locked. I shoved against it with all my weight, but it didn’t give. I backed away from it, and ran, shoving it again, but this time it gave, and fell in with a crash.

Holding my aching shoulder in my hand, I rushed through the doorway, stepping over the remains of the broken door. I was right; this was the dungeon, for a seemingly endless staircase led into darkness. I couldn’t be afraid because the only thought on my mind was Lynn. The floor and ceiling shook, reminding me that my time was running out. Without any doubts, I plunged toward the darkness, and hopefully Lynn.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cold, dank walls greeted me, what you would expect in a dungeon. But instead of cries and moans of pain, I heard whimpers and shrieks of fright. The prisoners weren’t oblivious to what was happening above them. 

The place was big, because many people did things the king didn’t like. It was also very poorly lit with dim torches on the walls. The floors were freezing, and slightly damp. I shuddered in disgust at what my bare feet might be touching.

“Lynn!” I cried out, hoping for a response. Nothing. I moved deeper in.

“Lynn, honey. It’s me, Helen. Honey, answer me.” I kept up with these cries as I moved further into the dungeon. I didn’t hear her, but other prisoners cried out to me.

“Help me.”

“Take me out of here.”

“Save us from the dragons.”

“Please.”

It broke my heart, but I had to find Lynn first. Suddenly a face I did not expect to see loomed out of the shadows.  It was one of the princes; not the direct descendant, not even close.  Still, I wasn’t prepared for his face. I could make out his features pretty well in our proximity, but I knew he couldn’t see mine. There was a light behind him, and my hood fell nearly to my eyes.

“W-what?” I mumbled. “Why are you down here?”

“It’s a long story…” He replied. “We don’t have time.” That reminded me of Lynn, and I brushed past him, already forgetting our brief exchange of words.

“Lynn!” I shouted, louder than before. I was growing desperate. But now I heard a faint cry coming from ahead of me.

“Helen!” I gasped and ran forward. The other prisoners around me tried to reach out, but I paid no attention to their outstretched hands. It may have seemed cruel, but Lynn was the only thing I cared about.

As I ran forward her voice became clearer. It sounded horribly frail and little, and it hurt my heart to imagine how scared she must be.  “Helen?”

“Yes sweetie I’m coming. Don’t worry.” I was gasping for breath, her voice becoming louder and louder. “Don’t worry. We are going to be alright.” Finally I saw her, and hated the king even more. She was huddled against the cold granite wall. She had only been here for about 24 hours, but already her blond hair was filthy and her blue dress was torn. I fell to my knees next to her, clutching her to me, rubbing her back with my free hand. I glanced behind my shoulder to see the prince still standing there.

“She must be your sister?” It was a statement but he said it as a question.

“Yes.” I turned back to Lynn to stroke her hair. “It’s okay. We are going to get out of here. Come on, come with me.” I helped her too her feet but kept my arms around her.

“My uncle won’t let you go, you know. He has guards surrounding the castle right now, fending off the dragons. He has more inside to protect him. He can’t win, but he can keep them away for a while.” My stomach dropped to my feet.

“Well there’s nothing I can do.” I said. “I at least have to try.” To Lynn I said, “Lynnie, this might be hard for you, but I’m going to need you to run, okay?” I wouldn't have made her if we had another choice, but if we acted fast we might be able to slip out before the king remembered the dungeons. I could tell that Lynn was scared and exhausted, but she put on a brave face. We started dashing towards the exit. Again, the prince followed me. When we got to the stairs, Lynn looked up with a gasp of dismay. They were slippery with mold and were so long that we couldn't see then end from down here. I knew that there was no way she could climb them. Even though it was going to be hell for me, I picked her up in my arms and started the treacherous climb.

But after only one step I felt a light touch on my shoulder. The prince stood there, and in his brown eyes was such a look of concern that I paused a moment before speaking. “Yes, Highness?” I wouldn’t call him that, but it was a severe offense not to call royalty by their titles.

“I can carry her.” I was shocked. A royal, showing compassion? I looked down at him. I didn’t want to trust Lynn’s safety in anyone else, but oh god I was so tired. So, reluctantly I handed him Lynn. He carried her up the stairs much faster than I would have, and set her down at the top. I grabbed hold of her hand, and opened the door.

A legion of soldiers awaited us. 

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