TITLE: The Meddler
GENRE: YA fantasy
I had reluctantly taken inventory of my kidnappers’ weapons. Two were armed with daggers while the other two carried bows and fully stocked quivers.
Maybe they would cut me open like a sack of flour or snap my neck like a fattened, frantic chicken. Maybe they would leave me to freeze to death and I wouldn’t be found until spring thawed the snows. As we navigated the bleak fields, the thought of the first two fates sounded preferable to the last; my neck would crack like solid ice or my blood would spill like freezing water, and then it would be over. But the cold would seem to last forever.
Each icy gust bit me to the bone. A daydream of roasting next to a fire in the kitchens while eating fistfuls of my favorite foods made the cold feel even harsher, the wind wetter, and my stomach all the more empty. But the thought of death made me coldest of all.
“You’ll get no ransom, if that’s what you want,” I said to Hagan, the redheaded gardener. My arms were wrapped around his freckle-spotted neck, numb from taking the brunt of the snowy gusts. My teeth chattered so often I could barely prize them open to force out the words. “You ought to have kidnapped the lord and lady’s daughter. You could have asked a fine price for Hazel.”
Hagan snorted with laughter. “Aye, if I managed not to kill her in the meantime. I wouldn’t go to that trouble for a thousand aurions.”