Chapter II

"That one looks like a turtle!"

"Horsie!"

"Cows go 'mooo'!"

"I see a knight!"

The group of children groaned.

"Esesra, you always see knights!" The rest grumbled in agreement.

"Nu uh! Sometimes I sees chariots, 'n spears, 'n swords, 'n—!"

"Be quiet Esesra! We don't care! We're supposed to be finding animalses!"

"Knights ride horses, I think that's close enough," Princess Lynores defended Esesra.

"I don't wanna play anymore if Princess Lynores is gonna let Esesra cheat again." The group concurred.

"Well," Esesra mumbled, "I don't wanna play the cloud shapes game anymore anyway." Pouting, the five-year-old stood and walked away. Nearing the guards at the courtyard's entrance, Esesra brushed a tear from her eye. "C-could one of you please bring me to daddy's office?" she asked.

The guards smiled at her. "I'll go fetch one of the nurses," one of them replied.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome," he tossed over his shoulder, making his way down the hall.

Esesra slumped down the wall and sat on the floor. She sniffled, telling herself not to cry.

"Essie! Essie!" Princess Lynores tumbled through the archway. She slid smack dab into the opposite wall.

"Princess, are you alright?" the two remaining guards scurried over to the little heap of purple and red.

She giggled "'m ok." She stuck a few fingers into her mouth, poking at her teeth.

Esesra hid a smile behind her hand.

"I think I might'a knocked a tooth loose…" was Princess Lynores' report.

The faces of the two guards fell, but then one smiled. "You're just pretending, right your little majesty?"

Princess Lynores' face erupted in a huge grin. Esesra couldn't hold back her laughter.

The other guard looked back and forth between the two girls. "You're sure she's fine?" he asked his comrade.

He nodded.

"You ok Essie?"

"I tolded you not to call me that!" Esesra's smile betrayed her.

The guards chuckled. The third guard arrived with one of the nurses.

"Essie, do ya still wanna go home?" Esesra shook her head no. "We'd like to go up to my playroom, please. Do dolls sound ok Essie?"

"Can some of them be knights?"

"Oh Essie, you know that's always ok with me!"

Esesra couldn't contain her laughter.