Excerpt from Queen of Fangs

I stood facing the window, my back to the two men standing on the other side of my desk. My two advisors, closest friends, and the only men I trusted in this world. I tapped my fingers against each other, as I listened to the two rivals argue with one another. It was the same argument they always had, who would have made the kill first in one situation or another, the merits of different weapons. I let out a heavy sigh and turn back around to face them, they both shut their mouths and looked at me, waiting for orders.

I pulled my chair out and sat down, I shifted a few pieces of paper on my desk and glanced up at them. “Tell me again what we need to do today,” I said.

“Ma’am we need to find a new accountant, to replace Cin,” The man on the right said, he was slightly shorter than the other man, with swept back dark brown hair, his blue green eyes sparkles, having spoken before his counterpart.

I pressed my fingers to the bridge of my nose. “A new accountant?”  I whispered.

I looked up and there he stood, his green eyes smiling down at me. “Are you ready my dear?” He asked, I smiled, and pushed myself up from the table. I straightened my apron and grabbed my basket from the table. He would walk me to work as he always did, it insured that I would not be harassed or stopped on the streets. Once I was safely at the bakery he would make his way to the bank and pick me up at the end of the day.

“The weather is very pleasant is it not?” I asked my husband as he escorted me down the cobblestone path outside our door. We were fortunate to live in this part of the city, this district was only one step down from the nobilities winter housing. I was fortunate that my father was well liked by my husband’s father, and had been able to make this match for me. We had been married for six months and I enjoyed his company, he was kind and cared about my well being.

“It is indeed,” He replied, “Do you have plans for this evening’s supper?”  He asked.

I had not given it much thought, it was not unusual for us to stop at the butchers on the way home, “Perhaps a nice hen, I can ask Milda if I can prepare a special loaf for our dinner tonight and she can remove the cost from my wage,”

“That sounds like a great idea,” He said politely, as we stepped out onto the busy main street and joined the throng of people headed about their mornings.

The Hatchling Bakery was the finest bakery in the Gold District, and the only bakery in the commoner city that had a dragon fueled oven. The sign over the door was a little golden dragon, curled around a golden brown roll. The smell of fresh bread wafted out of the open windows. I turned to face my husband, he smiled down at me, took my hand and kissed it.

“Have a pleasant day dear,” He said.

“You as well husband.”  I said, he nodded and headed of further down the street.

I turned through the door to the shop, and greeted the owner. Milda was an older woman, in her late fifties, her hands bleached white from years of kneading dough. Her gray hair was pulled back in a tight bun, her brown eyes met mine as I stepped through the door.

“Good morning dear, how was your evening?” She asked in her pleasantly high voice.

“Quite well, how has your morning been Milda?” I replied.

“Oh well indeed,” She said, “Ras is already hard at work in the kitchen. Are you ready for your walk yet?” She asked.

“If you have a batch ready of course I am,” I replied.

“Just about, how about you set your things in the back, and I will get the basket ready to go,” I nodded, and handed her my basket. I placed my small bag, with my personal items in the back room and called a greeting to Milda’s husband in the kitchen.

The old man was hard at work, mixing a new batch of dough, and singing to the draling perched near the stove. The miniature dragon, was chortling along with the man’s song, Ras waved to me, and continued singing. I pulled my vest from the rack and put it over my shoulders, on the left breast was the Hatchling Bakery’s symbol, and the pockets would hold my change and the money I earned throughout the day. I made my way back to the front counter, where Milda was filling my basket with rolls, loafs and buns.

“How is your husband?” Milda asked, as I came around the counter to help her.

“Oh he is well, he was looking forward to some great new account he is working on at the bank,” I said.

“Oh bless his heart, I could not bring myself to do such work, staring at numbers all day, sounds dreadful,” I smiled, yes I imagine it would be for someone who had only known baking their whole life.

“It is not so different from what you do managing the shop,” I said politely, “You handle all the numbers here, he handles many more numbers and large sums to be sure but it is not so different,”

“Oh deary aren’t you just a sugar cube,” She laughed, “Hear that Ras, she thinks I can be a banker,” She called to her husband.

“What are you on about woman?” Ras laughed, “You can barely do the sums for our own accounts how could you be a banker?” Milda laughed, and handed me my basket.

“Here is your change,” She said, handing me a sack I knew contained, ten silver coins and fifty coppers.

“Oh Milda, can I ask for a special loaf for my supper tonight, and have you charge my account?” I asked before I went to leave.

“Oh but of course dear,” Milda assured me, “Ras, get a dinner loaf in the oven next chance you got,” She called.

“It isn’t even lunch,” Ras snapped back.

“It’s not for you husband,” Milda roared, “Besides the last thing you need is more bread,” I laughed and pushed the coin purse into a pocket.

“I will see you in a little while,” I called to her, as I headed out the door.

Like every day I made my way through the market, calling out for people to buy some of the Hatchling’s bread. I would make my rounds until either I was out of bread to sell, or midday when I would return to the bakery to eat a small meal before heading back out. As with most mornings the market was full of women going about their daily shopping, and I was able to empty my basket within an hour.

I made my way back to the Hatchling to refill the basket, there was a line out the door of people waiting to make purchases. I greeted the regulars and made my way behind the counter. I took out the bag of gold in my right pocket and dropped it into the deposit box. I helped Milda with the counter deliveries over the next few hours.

At midday I sat in the kitchen beside the heat of the stove. Flicking chucks of meat from my stew through the air to the draling, he greedily snatched them from the air, his little wings carrying him around the room as quick as any pigeon. I was lucky to work here and be able to interact with such a creature. The dragon trade had become illegal a few years back, and their eggs were more precious than gold. Fortunately the Hatchling had a license to own one draling for its kitchen.

After lunch I refilled my basket and headed back out into the heat of the afternoon. It took longer to empty the basket this time, as the market was always emptier in the afternoon. Many people were at their jobs by this time, and the women in this district would be home attending to their households. I made my way through the market to the outer edge of the district, in hopes of finding a few customers in the homes there.

With some luck I returned to the bakery with an empty basket. Milda was happy to see me, she took the basket from me, I dropped the bag of gold in the box and handed her the silver and copper.

“How was your day darling?” She asked as I took a seat on the stool behind the counter.

“I believe it was a good day, as far as I could tell not one roll was swiped, and everyone seemed happy to see me.”  I said.

“What great news,” She sang. “Here is that loaf you asked for,” She said, handing me a linen wrapped parcel, “And your wage,” I took the coins and counted them in my hands, three silver, one gold and nine copper.

“This is my normal wage,” I stated, “How much for the loaf,”

“Dear, I have never charged you for your loaves or your lunch, I’m not about to start now,” She stated, wiping down the counter with a damp cloth. She greeted a customer as he came in, handed him his purchase and turned back to me. “Without you out there willing to face the heat and the cold we would not bring in as much coin, you have been a blessing these last months.”  I let out a sigh and gave the older woman a hug.

“I greatly appreciate it,” I said. “I’m sure Jon will appreciate it as well,”

“What do I appreciate?”  Jon asked as he stepped through the door, his over jacket look a little ruffled, and his black boots head extra dust on them today.

“That Milda and Ras take such good care of me,” I said, picking my basket of the counter and stepping around to greet him.

“That I do,” He nodded. “Have a pleasant evening Milda,” He waved, as he held the door open for me.

We made our way down the street, stopping as we usually did at the butcher’s and the produce stands. Jon was greeted by people he knew, and he was often so lost in thought that he did not acknowledge them until I pointed it out. As we made our way through the housing back to our own home I continued to note that he seemed far away. As he fumbled with the key for the front door I gently took it from him and did it for him.

“Dear?” I asked, he looked at me, blinking for a moment.


“Are you well? You have seemed quite distracted since we left the Hatchling,” I said.

“Oh,” He whispered, “Yes I am well, I just had a long and unpleasant day, I am glad to be here with you.”

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