Snippet Saturday: Adventures and Adversities #2

1:00 AM

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The inside of the castle walls was nothing like what Alditha had envisioned. They entered through an opening in the wall, which the captain said was a half-finished gatehouse. Everywhere she looked in the large open area inside the walls, people were busy. Off to one side were merchants selling their wares; to the other side there were men hammering away on blocks of stone. In the very middle, workers were placing finished blocks on what appeared to be the beginnings of a large house. She eyed the captain, knowing better than to ask.
“The beginnings of the keep,” he offered.
Alditha wasn’t sure what a keep was, but she didn’t want to bother him with a question.
As they began to cross the courtyard, Alditha took a deep breath and instantly regretted it. The bad smells seemed to be trapped by the walls. It was so different from the openness of her village. She looked to the sky, wishing a breeze would come and clear the air of the foul smell. She reached up and rubbed her already wrinkled nose.
Captain Harold chuckled. “You’ll get used to the smell soon enough. The first day is always the worst.”
“Does it always smell like this?”
“In the summer it is worse, but in the winter things freeze over, and you don’t smell it as much,” the captain said as they reached an area that appeared to be the stables. It was a big wooden structure with room for a large number of horses inside. The captain handed the reins of his horse to a stable boy and put his hand on Alditha’s shoulder, guiding her through the people and horses that were moving about, past the stable and toward a door that seemed to lead into the wall of the castle.
“Maggie? Maggie? Are you there?” the captain called, banging on the door. He then stepped to the side.
“Who’s hollering my name loud enough to be heard clear to the sea?” a strong female voice called back. A moment later, a large woman filled the doorway, wiping her hands on a rag. Her faded indigo dress, as well as her chubby cheeks, were dusted with flour. Her long head-covering fully covered her hair and draped in a semicircle in the front.
Maggie regarded Alditha severely. “Who might you be? Did you see the rogue that was hollering for me?”
“Is that the way to treat the girl I have brought to help you?” Captain Harold stepped into her view.
Maggie’s mouth dropped open. The rag she had been holding fluttered to the ground, and her hand went to her heart. “Harold? I mean Captain, what a surprise! I didn’t expect you for another week.”
Captain Harold shrugged. “I made good time. I hope you have something for a hungry soldier to eat. I have been dreaming of your bread for weeks.”
The color rose in Maggie’s cheeks. “Then bread you shall have.”
Alditha followed the captain and Maggie through the door. The stone room was much longer than it was wide. It was uncomfortably warm from the heat of several ovens. Alditha’s stomach grumbled at the delicious smells that greeted her nose. Two girls were standing in front of a table nearby, kneading bread. One of them, a young girl of about ten or eleven, gave Alditha a shy smile.

Find out what happens next. You can add the book to Goodreads HERE or by it on Amazon HERE

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