To my guard:
The first thing you need to know is that the king died last night, as I am certain you have by now heard. Indeed, for our mighty kingdom, this will be tragic news. He was a merciful king, a kind king. May the king rest peacefully.
Of course, not everyone held a fondness for him.
“Top straps to Level 4, middle and bottom straps to Level 3,” he instructed his new boots.
The straps tightened into a snug fit around his feet. Too snug.
“Top straps to Level 3.”
The top straps loosened. He took a stroll around his ship, but the fit was still a little off.
“Stop that boy!” Hands blackened by layers of coal dust grabbed at him as he shoved his way through a group of workers. It was pouring rain, and the normally dusty path had transformed into a muddy mess, making it nearly impossible to run. Several powerful lights on generators glared down, gleaming off the men’s hardhats and casting hard shadows from every object. He tried to stay in the dark, but it wasn’t working.
Each breath inside the mill is a battle. Overhead, iron pulleys spin flour dust into every cubic inch of air, drying my eyes and choking my lungs. Every so often, my chest fights back with a violent coughing spell, and the outside air is my only reprieve.
We trudged through the snow, praying for sure footing beneath each step. The wind hurled ice at our faces, trying to push us back. A corpse back home, absent warm blood coursing through its veins, would have found itself still warmer than us — three frostbitten adventurers.
Darby Ferne was doing well on his first voyage as a cabin boy. Like every other cabin boy, he dreamed of someday becoming a captain with his own vessel to steer and crew to command. But he never dreamed it would happen so soon, and he certainly wished it had happened differently…