Missed the beginning? Start here.
Betsy doled out the limited rations as well as a few blankets. “Try to get some sleep after you’ve eaten. You are safe here, so just rest.”
Sabrina and Juniper made themselves as comfortable as they could, and soon fell asleep, curled up together. They were both totally exhausted.
The next morning, or at least Sabrina figured it must be morning even if she couldn’t see daylight, Betsy roused them all. “Time to head out. I know you are all hungry, but we’ll just have to make the best of it until we reach the other side of the river.”
Betsy led the party and Sabrina and Juniper brought up the rear. “I feel sorry for the kids,” said Sabrina to Juniper.
Juniper nodded. “We may not be adults, but at least we understand what is going on. Benjamin may know nearly as much as we do, but for sure little Millicent doesn’t!”
Betsy set a fast pace from the beginning. After they had been hiking for what seemed like hours to Sabrina, Betsy called a halt.
“Let’s take a break here for a few minutes and catch our breath. You guys are real troopers. We are already past the half-way point. We should be out of the tunnel by mid-afternoon at this rate.”
Sabrina looked at Juniper and smiled. “You’ll be back with your family soon.”
“Yes,” said Juniper, “and I’ll be glad for that, but what about you? What’s going to happen to you?”
Sabrina looked down at her shoes and said, “I just don’t know. I don’t even know what I want.”
Just then Betsy called, “Time to move again.”
The hours passed in a monotonous haze. Sabrina just kept putting one foot in front of the other, glad to have Juniper at her side. She’d even stopped marveling at the tunnel’s construction. She just wanted to find a soft bed and sleep, after a nice hot meal, that is.
Juniper nudged Sabrina and said, “Look! I think I can see light up ahead.”
“Your eyes are better than mine, but are you sure?” said Sabrina. “Maybe it is just another of these great cave lights.”
A few minutes later Betsy called out, “Anyone out there? We’ve arrived.”
“You made excellent time,” said someone with a really deep voice.
“That’s my dad,” shouted Juniper as she tried to move even faster.
Soon everyone was out of the tunnel and in a deep forest. The largest blue dragon that Sabrina had ever seen was racing toward them.
“Juniper,” he roared. “We’ve been so worried about you. Are you OK?”
He hugged her between his two front legs and then looked her over carefully.
“I’m find, Dad, truly I am. But I wouldn’t be fine if it weren’t for my friend, Sabrina.”
The dragon looked over at Sabrina, and then he smiled. Sabrina never knew dragons could smile, but then she realized that she really knew nothing about them except for Juniper.
“Hello, Sabrina. My name is Alfred and I can’t thank you enough for helping our Juniper.”
He lifted his front paw as if to shake hands so Sabrina shook it as she said, “I didn’t help her any more than she helped me. We took care of each other and we had a lot of help along the way.”
Just then a gorgeous green dragon came over with Bertha. “Mom,” yelled Juniper with delight, and soon the two were hugging.
Then the green dragon looked at Sabrina and said, “My name is Earthstone and I am so happy to meet you. I’ve been hearing a lot about you.”
Sabrina blushed and said, “Pleased to meet you, too.”
Bertha motioned to a tall white-haired man with a long white beard standing with Roger and his family. Soon everyone was gathered and Bertha began, “Wilson, here, is the head of the human community on this side of the river. He was one of the very first to escape, and he actually had to make his own way across the river since we didn’t have a tunnel back then.”
Wilson chuckled. “That was back when I wasn’t much older than you, Sabrina, and it wasn’t any fun. Sure couldn’t do it now.”
Bertha laughed as well and continued, “Thankfully no one has to. Wilson, I want you to take Roger and his family and get them settled. I know you and your excellent wife, Mildred, will be able to make them feel at home and help them integrate into their new lives.”
“Certainly, and Roger, Anne, you don’t need to worry about a thing. There are lots of folks here who know all too well what you’ve been through. You’ll find lots of friends here,” said Wilson.
“You mean there are more of us here?” asked Roger. “How?”
“The same way you got here,” said Wilson.
“But the mayor always told us that those who went missing from the village had been eaten by wild animals and only their bones were found,” said Anne.
Earthstone said, “That’s what he wanted you to think so that others wouldn’t leave. He even killed wild animals to provide the supposed bones. But no one has been eaten. The mayor is the only one capable of killing without reason. Thankfully, because of Georgette, Bertha, Tom and others, all the missing villagers are right here living happy and productive lives.”
Anne breathed a big sigh of relief. “That is wonderful news!”
“OK, let’s get you guys settled,” said Wilson.
With that, they headed away from the tunnel entrance and through the forest.
“Now what about you,” said Earthstone as she looked down at Sabrina. “What do you want?”
“I don’t know,” mumbled Sabrina looking at the ground. After a few minutes she said, “Juniper and I have become friends and I’ve never had a true friend before.”
Earthstone came over and with a front paw, gently lifted Sabrina’s chin and looked into her eyes. “You should have many friends. You are brave and kind. But for now, how would you like to come stay with us.”
Sabrina said, “Oh, yes, if I could and if I wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
Earthstone released Sabrina and said, “I can’t imagine that you would be too much trouble for anyone.”
“Oh, goody,” said Juniper. “I get to have a friend over!!”
Alfred and Earthstone both laughed and soon the four of them were headed through the woods. I wonder what a dragon home is like, thought Sabrina as she and Juniper walked with Alfred and Earthstone.