Bailey looked up at the clouds, it was the first dry day they had seen in a week. He hated working in the rain, the cold he could handle but when you got wet to your skin no amount of drying could rub the chill from your bones.
It was planting season on the farm and there was plenty of work to be done. As usual his brother was no-where to be found. It wasnt that Chase was lazy, more that he was easily distracted. At least he was easily distracted by Rose, Jeds teenage daughter and Chases long term sweetheart.
Bailey envied Chase, he seemed to have everything figured out. Next summer Chase would move into on of the cottages on the farm and start earning a wage from the farm, then the year after when the farmer allowed he and Rose would marry and his life would truly begin.
Bailey however lived a significantly less certain life, he had intended to train as his brothers groom, but after Orrick found Anya hiding at his house that job had evaporated. He knew Jed would allow him to rent a cottage if he wanted, but farming was not for him. Sometimes life seemed very unfair and as he looked out across the fields towards the The hallows manor his heart pined for what might of been.
These days the manor was little more than a burnt out shell, there where a few rooms still serviceable but Lord Hamduns man had certainly made a mess of things and word had it that Lord Vaux could no long bare to even look at the place since Christopher had died.
Taking a deep breath he thought of Anya, those memories still stung. He had always known he would lose her, she was a fantasy, a dream a flitting memory… she had been his first and only love and he had never been given chance to say good bye. He wondered if she was happy with her baron, did he treat her well and did him give her the love she deserved? He would never forget her he decided, but it was time to move on and look for more obtainable girls.
Cursing he berated himself, his mother had always called him a dreamer and perhaps she was right, but standing here looking motionless at the clouds was not going to find his brother nor was it going to get the seed sown. Pulling his jacket around himself for warmth he returned his focus to his chores.
Climbing the hill he decided perhaps it was not so bad that it had been raining as least the earth would be soft and easy to plow. He hoped Chase would be found in the barn, it was where he and Rose could usually be found upto no good when her father was down at market and he had no desire to attempt to haul the plow down to the sable alone.
“Chase you there?” he called out, giving his brother plenty of warning to get himself and Rose decent before he interrupted. That boy was going to get minself into trouble, he decided. He didnt know exactly what the pair got up to, but he was sure his mother would not approve.
Reaching the top of the hill he paused, briefly to catch his breath. It was the only problem with farming, during the winter there was little to do but eat and sleep, by the time the snows melted your belly had got fat and the smallest exertion took the wind from your sails.
“Ruddy hell” he complained, “I sware that hill gets bigger every year” and that was when he saw her… face down in the muck, a girl lying dead.
His heart raced as his thoughts instinctively went to Rose but the girl was much too young and even though Roses hair got dark when it was wet this girl was much too dark to be her.
Racing over to her side he flipped her over and held his breath, he had never seen a dead girl before. Infact other than animals he had never seen a dead person before at all, calling out once more for his brother he knelt beside her awe struck. There was nothing graceful about death, her face smeared with muck it filled her nose and mouth. Using the sleave of his coat he tried to clear it but the more he tried the dirtier she became.
“Oh jeeze…” he complained, unsure what to do. She was clearly beyond help but likewise he knew he couldn’t leave her for the crows to eat “What are you doing up here?” He asked as though expecting a responce. His heart pounding in his chest like a herd on a stampede.
They where miles from any where. The only village close by was the Hallows its self but a tiny place where everyone knew everyone and a missing child would have been reported within hours. Her clothes where caked in mud but even as a boy to whome clothing mattered little he could see they where not home made, they where good clothes of a well to do family, not nobility but high class merchant for sure.
Suddenly he wished Chase had found her or Jed, perhaps if he walked away the problem would become someone elses. Typical that he brother was nowhere to be found at a time such as this. Jed was at market and the only person he could tell was Maria the farmers wife, but he didnt really like her much she weird and frankly scared him sometimes more than a liitle.
‘The Ice Queen’ Chase called her behind her back. Chase was certain that once she had been a fine noblewoman, either that or a princess from a far off land. Perhaps one who had been cast out to exhile and married to jed as punishment for some untold crime. The only thing however that was certain was that there was no love bettween the farmer and his wife, while Jed seemed a warm and loving man, his wife kept everyone at distance.
Perhaps he should just wait for Jed he decided, perhaps he should just get on with his chores and see what the farmer said? standing he headed to the barn, the door was open a just crack…
Pulling the door open he headed towards the plow which was resting in the corner but it wasnt until he reached it that he realized the latch of the barn door should have been closed…….