Monday, January 28, 2008

Chapter 2: The daily grind (Mark I)

        Caden woke up early. His father kicked him in the side. "Come on, boy," he said, "you're in my way." Caden rolled over and crawled away from the stone oven. "Why don't you ever sleep in your own room." He loaded more wood and stoked the fires.

        "It's warmer in the kitchen."
        "Well, get cleaned up. You're going to have deliveries to make."
        Caden stood up and walked outside. He pulled a bucket of water from the well. He washed his face with the cold water, and used the bottom of his shirt to dry off. As he rubbed his face, he remembered the stranger in Sir Eric's boat.

        The morning baking was done by sunrise. Caden returned to the kitchen to pick up the fresh baked goods. His father's apprentice, Sam, handed him two butter rolls for breakfast. "Okay, listen," his father said. "Take the meat pies and honey loaves to the tavern, the..."
        "I know," Caden interupted. "It's the same every morning."
        "Well, I have to tell you again. Valron came by yesterday and said he didn't get his breakfast delivered." His father wiped flour off his hands. "Now, the meat pies..."
        Grumpy old Valron, Caden thought. His apprentice probably brought them to his study and he forgot them in there. Caden looked Sam rolling out the dough. Maybe if he delivered to Sir Eric last, he could meet the stranger.
        "Now after you make the deliveries, go to the market. Get two fish for dinner," Caden cringed at the mention of fish, "and a bushel of potatoes. Oh, and Harron said his daughter was going to be in town today with fresh cream and butter. Don't leave it in the kitchen this time, take it down to the cellar. I also need you to..."
       Keilee is going to be in town! I wonder if she'll go to the town social with me.
       "You got all that?"
       "Yeah, yeah." Caden grabbed the two sacks, swung them over his shoulder, and lifted the large basket under his arm. He walked out the door. Sam looked at him and smiled.

        Caden walked through the town square. Both sacs were empty and rested in the basket next to the oat bread for Sir Eric. The ground around his feet swelled up and engulfed his legs to the knees. "Caden!" yelled Valron. "Where's my breakfast?"
       "I just gave it to your apprentice."
       "It's late," Valron walked up and stood in front of Caden. "I want my breakfast an hour after sunrise."
       "Your manor is on the other side of town." Caden struggled against the earthen embrace. "I have other deliveries before you."
       Valron raised his hand, and the ruby on his ring glowed with fire.
        "Now let me go. I'm not done yet."
       "Your father will hear about this." Valron waved his hand. The earth and stone crumbled away from Caden's legs. Caden ran off.
         Freak. Caden stopped running and looked where the sun was. How long is an hour anyway?

        When Caden got out to Sir Eric's house, he could see movement through Sir Eric's bedroom window. "Sir Eric," Caden called. "I got your order." Caden waited till Sir Eric answered the door. He looked up and saw someone looking out the window.
         Sir Eric opened the door. He had a straight slice across his unshaven cheek. He was holding a rag up to stop the bleeding.
        "How'd you cut yourself?"
        "Shaving." Sir Eric took his bread from the basket. He went back inside. He looked at Caden as he closed the door. "Do you need anything else?"
        Caden moved to see inside. "Well..." I can't ask about the stranger, he'll know I followed him last night.
       "Then go home. I'm busy." Sir Eric closed the door.
        Caden walked away. He looked up and saw the stranger in the shadows of Sir Eric's room.

        When Caden got to the market, he walked past the fishermen. He didn't want to smell like fish when he talked with Keilee. He looked for Harron's stall and ran over to it. Mika, Harron's youngest daughter was working. She was two harvests younger then Caden. She smiled when she saw him.
        "Hey, Mika," said Caden. "Where's Keilee today?"
       "She's helping Mom spin the wool." Mika twisted her toe into the ground. "Hey, Caden, do you..."
        "I'm kind of in a hurry today," Caden interupted. "Can you just give me a stone of butter and a cask of cream?"
        "Sure." Mika turned around and fetched Caden's request.
       Caden took the butter and cream and walked to the fishermen. He looked around the stalls. He knew his father wanted something else, but nothing looked right.

        Caden opened the cellar doors. "Caden, bring the cheese into the kitchen." His father yelled. Caden cringed. He put the butter, cream and fish away, before going into the kitchen.
        "Hey, sorry." Caden said. Sam looked at him. "They didn't have the right kind of cheese today." Sam shook her head and smiled.
        His father scratched his beard. "I'll have to give the Mayor something else then." He threw the dough to Sam. "See if you can make something else with that. So when did the woodcutter say he was coming by?"
       "Woodcutter?" Caden looked at Sam. She cringed and drew a spoon across her neck. "You know... He didn't say. I'll just run back and ask him." Caden ran out the door.
       His father looked at Sam. She started beating the dough with her spoon.