Jett let Finn lead her to the dining room, a large room with a long wooden table. The room was illuminated by multiple candelabras. The two men looked up as the children entered. “Princess Jessica, Prince Finnegan, you came!”
Jett glared at Finn. “Our full names?” she hissed quietly.
“Princess Jett doesn’t sound real!” he whispered back.
“Uh huh, and that’s what you were going for. Realism,” she sighed, approaching the table. “Hello,” she said. “I’d like to thank you for the bandage,” she touched the bandage lightly.
“We were so sorry to misunderstand the circumstance,” the father rose from his chair to bow. “We come across many robbers, considering our wealth.”
“I understand,” Jett nodded.
“Your brother explained to us that you are royalty,” the son said from the table. Jett glared down at her step brother.
“Yes, about that-” Jett sighed, preparing to explain the truth.
“It’s nice to hear there is royalty visiting,” the father interrupted. “This way, we can treat you like a guest and feed you a suitable meal,” he motioned to the table, and Jett’s eyes widened as she finally noticed the meal spread out on the table. Her jaw slowly started to unhinge as she scrutinizingly studied the meat, fruit, and cakes that covered the table. She started to realize just how hungry she was, having only eaten small rations of the food she got from Mama Mint’s.
Finn, grinning proudly, rose to his tip toes and pushed Jett’s mouth shut. “Why, thank you, Sir Jefferson. How very nice of you to offer,” he said in a surprisingly deep, mature voice that Jett had never heard him use before. It was clear and articulate, as prince-ly as he could be. Jett knew her step brother was slimy and a good liar, but man, she never realized just how good of an actor he was.
“Will you be joining us, Princess Jessica?” the father, Sir Jefferson, asked. Jett blinked in surprise before curling her lips in the best princess-smile her ballet instructors have ever taught her.
“Why, of course,” she giggled, smooth and silkily. “I would love to.”
Finn’s step sister was still unconscious, and he wasn’t sure how long it would take for her to wake up. Sir Jefferson wanted to bandage “Princess Jessica’s” head, so Finn decided to wander outside of the knight’s mansion and contemplate just how weird his situation was.
That’s all he could really say. He didn’t know there were still knights these days, but apparently it’s possible. He supposed he shouldn’t assume things anymore. Dragging his shoes through the dirt, he pondered what else could exist. Were there actually dragons in the olden days? Or, these days, rather? He wanted to see one. And maybe keep it as a pet? But only a mini one, though. Like his friend, Roger. Roger had a lizard. Finn could one-up that lizard with a mini dragon!
Finn’s deep thoughts were interrupted by a sound of rustling leaves. He turned to the border of woods surrounding the fields of the mansion. A bush wiggled for a moment, and then stopped. Finn looked over his shoulder at the mansion, then back at the bush.
A different one wiggled, followed by growling. Finn shuffled forward, pushing back the branches of the bush. Nothing was there. He rustled through the leaves, digging through the bush. Not even a chipmunk.
“Huh,” Finn straightened his back, planting his hands on his hips and looking down at the bush with narrowed eyelids. He heard a scratching sound to the left of him, and turned around quickly. Near him was the shack that he had been tied up in before. This time, there were claw marks on the door. Something had just scratched the shack’s door and ran away. Finn rushed over, looking in the bushes surrounding the shack before hesitantly opening the door.
Two figures snapped to attention, on their knees and pressed against the wall. They were the cowgirl and cowboy that attacked them earlier. Finn froze in the doorway as they stared back up at him.
“Howdy,” the cowgirl’s lips peeled into a nasty smile. “If it ain’t the well dressed little boy. We missed ya.”
Finn was determined to stay brave. After all, he was eight now, it was high time he acted like the big boy he was. He was sure that knights didn’t cry. So, he crossed his arms and glared down at them.
“I didn’t miss you.”
They howled with laughter, and, for a moment, Finn was worried he said something bad. Unable to wipe the tears of laughter out of their eyes with their hands tied behind their backs, the cowboys just lifted their shoulders and wiped the tears on those.
“I like ‘im. He’s got moxie,” the cowboy told the cowgirl.
“What can we do for you, pardner?” the cowgirl asked, cocking her head to the side innocently.
“My name is Finn,” Finn said. “Stop calling me pardner.”
“Alright, Finn, I can respect that,” the cowgirl chuckled. “The name’s Gail. He’s Gary.”
“Gary and Gail,” Finn stated.
“That’s right, boy,” Gary smiled proudly. “The best dagum robbers in the wild west.”
“But...we’re not in the wild west,” Finn pointed out. Well, if there could be knights where he lived, he supposed there could be cow folk too. So, he decided not to judge and move on. “Did you hear something scratching at the door?” he asked.
“Yeah, ‘been hearin’ that critter ever since we were locked up in here,” Gail said. “Sounds small, probably nothin’ to worry ‘bout. Why? Ya seen it?”
“No, but I was just hearing it in the bushes…” Finn explained. It was probably just some woodland critter. It was weird that it was trying to get into the shack, though.
“Say,” Gary grabbed Finn’s attention, studying him carefully. “You aren’t from ‘round these parts...right? ‘New in town’, so to speak?”
“I-I guess,” Finn internally flinched at his stutter.
“Gary,” Gail whispered. “They must be Lost.”
“Yeah, we are lost, actually,” Finn said. “That girl you were trying to steal from earlier? She’s my sister. Well, step sister, actually. You see, we were trying to get home after her ballet show, right? And-”
“On a train?” Gail interrupted. Finn choked a bit.
“Well, yeah. How did you know?”
“We’re by the train tracks, boy,” Gary laughed deeply. “Everyone from ‘round here has been on a train.”
A light bulb flashed above Finn’s head. Well, a metaphorical light bulb. Really, his eyes just brightened with a new idea, like said metaphorical light bulb. “Really? So you would know where the closest train station is?” Boy, Jett is going to be so proud of him, focusing on priorities and helping them get back home!
“Train station?!” Gail gasped, and the two of them cackled with laughter. Loud, shrieking guffaws filled the shack, and Finn consciously took a step back.
“You really ARE new, ain’t ya?!” Gary shouted between laughs. “THERE AIN’T NO TRAIN STATIONS, BOY!”
“T-There aren’t? But-”
“Yer more lost than ya realize, Finny,” Gail snickered. “Keep followin’ that daisy meadow like ya were, you’ll jus’ walk yerself to yer deaths!” That sent the cowfolk into more fits of howling laughter.
“Hey! HEY!” Finn yelled over their laughing. “We’ll get home!”
“Good luck with that, Finn,” Gail scoffed as the boy turned around, ready to leave the shack. “Hey, kid!”
Finn hesitated before looking over his shoulder. Gail struggled to rise to her feet, only to be knocked back down on her rear by the rope around her wrists. Her cowgirl hat fell to the dirty floor, leaving her brown hair in a disheveled mess. Yet she smiled up at Finn, chunks of brown hair falling into her eyes. “Here’s some advice for those new ‘round here; don’t trust nobody. There’s a fine line ‘tween Good ‘n Evil, y’hear?”
Finn froze for a moment of deja vu, sure that he had heard that last line before. He pushed the thought away, nodding to the cowfolk and shutting the shack door shut. He was hit by a chilly breeze, and noticed that the sun was starting to go down. Their second night away from home. He tightened his suit jacket around himself, hurrying back to the mansion. Maybe Jett has woken up?