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A Peek Into The Adventure In Zeppler

Here is a little something extra for you: I'm revising my latest Wolfsburg Adventure, and I am removing bits that don't do anything for the story. That doesn't make the bit bad however. So, for your reading pleasure, I present to you a sample of my fiction writing.

They arrived at the iron grate in Itzen's wall early in the evening. Cold and the metallic tang of snow bit into the three travelers. Brynhild, Karl, and Jutta leaned on their horse and stared into the city.

A guard lurched forward, poking his pike tip at them. “Who goes there?”

“Brynhild of Meiser and Karl of Wolfsburg. We’re out shopping. May we enter?”

It was early evening, and they were cold from the biting mountain air. Hard bread and fish paste had made up a lunch eaten hours before, and their hose was a shade darker from the snow melt and debris. Karl’s shoulder still throbbed, and Brynhild’s short legs ached from the climb against heavy skirts.

The corner of the guard’s lip ticked up, revealing more of his snaggle tooth. “Who are you shopping for?”

Brynhild’s ears flicked forward. How was that his business? And what answer does he want? She canted her head in a demure angle. “Why, my father sends his servants on his business. Why do you ask?”

“Because we’re not allowing pleasure-seekers in just now. You’ll have to go skim for your father’s New Year’s present in Hildig or some other place.”

She raised her brows. “I didn’t realize that you were being selective. But I think there has been a misunderstanding. I’m not buying presents and baubles. We are after supplies for the winter.”

“It’s nearly Christmas. You’re late.”

She blinked. His face was set and stolid, the bear unwilling to move from his den. Very well, it would be battle. She dropped the smile and brought out the crest. “None-the-less, we need to complete my father’s business. However late you might think our shopping is, your lady approves of our travel. Margravine Adelberta sent us salt and it is here. Please let us in.”

“Why would she send you salt here?”

“I don’t know. I am only the daughter of Burgrave Eric of Wolfsburg, I merely do what the great man says. Right now, he directs me here.”

The guard squinted at her kerchief and then at her. “You talk big for such a puny girl.”

Karl huffed and puffed up. “And you talk big for a mere lackey addressing a burgravine. Now let us in.”

Brynhild’s ears flicked back, but her expression remained flat as the guard shifted his hard glare to Karl. The two men sized each other up, neither looking impressed. The guard said, “Is she a burgravine? It’s easy enough to fake a crest, and I don’t remember all of the lords’ heraldry.”

She cleared her throat. “I am. What makes you doubt me?”

“I’m a guard. I doubt professionally.”

“Your other job is allowing the right people into your city. Your burgomaster will be disappointed if he has to talk to Eric.”

“He might or he might not. Where’s the entourage?”

“Do I need one? Karl isn’t impressive enough of a companion for a simple retrieval? We merely grab what is ours, and speed is of the essence when it comes to salt.”

“Where is an invoice for it, hmm? Where is someone to vouch for you?”

“I don’t need vouching for. The crest is my word.” Her jaw set. Fortuna pessimi, this guard would ground down granite with his obstinacy. “As for an invoice, that is in my letters. I have no intention of waving it around to just anyone as my father prefers to keep his business private. Now, you see the girl we brought with us? She is growing cold out here, and I will charge you personally with her health if you don’t open the gates.”

“Girl or no, I need to see some papers.”

She pulled the nearest thing she could find to paper in her bag and fluttered it at him. His brow wrinkled.

Jutta sniffled, and Brynhild glanced behind her. The girl’s nose was pink as a sunset. She swung around and fixed the guard with a fierce glare. “Now you see you make her sick. She sneezes, I will call the burgomaster. Get every official out here and make them explain in excruciating detail why the emissaries of Eric of Wolfsburg are getting sick at your door while our salt is in your city. It’s enough to make a grown man cry, the cold out in the mountain, let alone the delicate foster daughter of Wolfram. A lady out here having to bring out her credentials in this -of all the tiny nowhere cities- when Margravine Adelberta herself sends for us. Why, if we have to go through the back and rouse her I will personally-“

The guard groaned and put out a hand. “Enough. Show me the crest.”

Brynhild shook the kerchief at him. He squinted, but he was clearly using this as a face-saving maneuver to avoid being yelled at for a solid hour. She was glad she wouldn’t have to go for an hour, though she could in a pinch carry on for a couple of hours. A lady always knows how to wear down the opposition. Puny in body, big in mouth, that was her.

The guard cranked up the inner gate and then the outer one by turning a pair of handled gears attached to the gate lintels, and Brynhild lead Jutta past him on their horse, giving him an icy smile and thank-you. Karl did not bother with a smile and kept his thanks curt. Nasty little functionary.

The grate screeched closed behind them, and Karl hooked his arm through Brynhild’s and grabbed Jutta’s hand. “Come on, let’s get the horse settled and hit up the market. We’ll eat there.”

Jutta sniffled and rubbed her nose. Clear snot smeared over her oversleeve. “Will we get almond milk and bread? I like almond milk and bread.”

“Come on, Girl-child. We’ll work out the details later.”


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