By now, Earl and Marie had noticed Florine’s absence.
“I don't like it, I don't like it one bit.” Marie stated, adding to the ongoing conversation about the
“Something just feels wrong; I don't know her that well, but she seemed like the type that
would tell a person where she was going.”
Earl gripped her slightly gnarled hand with his own, leaning over in his saddle so the horses
didn't touch. “Now darling, I'm sure everything is fine. We'll just go to Arnold's Creek and wait—
but I do admit it's strange. She gave us no inclination that she needed to leave.”
Armaila shared her aunts concern. Since she noticed her missing, she noted about a half hour
had passed. Perpula had stayed quiet, but she sensed the lively little Dragon felt something was
wrong too. It bothered Armaila that there was so little traffic along the tiny, haphazard dirt road.
I've never been here myself, but there is normally at least ten people or so a day coming into
town from this way.
“I can think of one thing we can do though,” Earl said, releasing his wife’s hand. “we can all
pray. We can pray that your sister and her dear husband don't go to jail, or worse, Marie, and
we can pray that wherever she is, God will keep Florine safe.”
“Yes, that is really the only thing we can do—aside from waiting at Arnold's Creek which won’t
help.” Armailas aunt added, agreeing with her husband.
Bowing his head and clasping his hands together, Earl began to speak:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I know I don't have to explain our situation to You; You know everything
—so, I pray that You will help clear the name of Armaila's parents, Mike and Jennifer. I pray that
You will help the court to find them innocent; I know they would never have tried to poison the
king. They are Your children and I know they would never hurt anyone. I also pray that You will
be with Florine, wherever she might be now, and that You will guide her back to us. Please keep
Armaila and Perpula safe in the long journey that is ahead of them, and help them to make the
right decisions. Amen.”
Armaila felt her cheeks turning red. She knew it shouldn’t, but being prayed for made her feel
silly and somewhat helpless. She could also sense Perpula felt much the same, though she tried to
hide it as well, doing a much better job than Armaila.
Perpula suddenly looked sideways into the row’s of towering, ominous trees that obscured a view
of anything else. Armaila was surprised by the inhuman speed the Dragon possessed.
“Shh Armaila; I think I hear something. Be quiet.”
Even the horses stilled, becoming deathly quiet. Armaila could even hear her heart beating
faintly inside her chest. Suddenly a myriad of sounds erupted around her; a flock of black forest
birds flew out from the trees, like a frantic mouse dashing for its' hole with a cat behind it. A
massive roar of a creature she didn't recognize threatened to drown out all other sounds....