The cart smelt like rotten meat, that was the first thing she noticed. It was a cloying, sickly smell that filled her lungs and nostrils, making her want to dry retch. It was hard to think of anything else, Cara fought the urge to cover her nose.
The sky was grey, the night had left a fine mist that twisted around the trees and hung in the air. Cara had hardly slept the night before, she was certain that she had never been so cold, the thin threadbare blanket the men had given her made little difference, all night she had been wracking with cold, her hands were numb and sore in the morning and the haze of sleep clouded her senses. She hated that she had to travel like this, surely she was a little more valuable to the night's watch?
The new recruits got better treatment, but then again they wouldn't be inclined to treat her with much respect, she was a woman travelling to the Night's watch, the very idea would be enough to earn her this poor treatment. A knife-like smile spread across Cara's face, it wouldn't be hard to earn a little respect, it was easy for people to misjudge her, and it was just as easy for her to skin them alive. She flexed her cold fingers and pulled out her small dagger and the small carving of a deer she had stowed away in the folds of her cloak. With a swift motion she began to whittle the extra wood away. It was probably not the most sensible idea, right now it was better that they thought she was nothing, it was easier if they disrespected her. Soon her journey would be over and she would never have to see the twisted faces of these low-lifes again. The Night's watch was the last place she wanted to be, but it was this or jail.
"My lady." The timid voice of her squire Henry broke her concentration.
"What is it?"
"You can just see the wall from here. we should arrive before dark."
Cara nodded. "Thank you, Henry."
He smiled awkwardly and sat back down.
Cara pulled her cloak tighter, not long. She only had to spend three weeks at Castle Black, three weeks and she would be free. There was a part of her that wanted to jump off the cart and run, she knew what type of men she would be training, and she wasn't looking forward to it, but running wasn't an option. Cara's knife slipped suddenly, instead of cutting into her wooden creation it sliced into the side of her hand. Cara grunted, dropping the knife and turning to examine the wound, it was shallow, but painful. Her knife had been blunt and her hands had been numb, it wasn't a good time to try and carve.
Henry eyed her wound with a startled look. "Do you need help, my lady?"
She shook her head. "No, it's only a shallow wound."
Cara dug around in her saddle bag, she found a small greying sqaure of linen, she had a few stuffed into her bag for emergencies. She tore a strip of and wrapped it tightly around her hand, the blood soaked through almost instantly. Cara crossed her arms under her cloak, ignoring the stinging pain emanating from her right hand.
"Welcome to castle black." A tallish man with a brown pony tail and high cheekbones wandered across the muddy yard. He looked about twenty or twenty five, Cara's age. "You must be Lady Cara," He swiftly grabbed her injured hand, attempting to place a kiss on it. "I am Aaron."
Cara scowled and yanked it away almost instantly. "Just Cara, thank you."
"As you wish, Lady."
She gave him a dark look, but he only laughed.
"We'd better report to the lord commander...Cara." He put particular emphasis on her name, flashing her a grin.
"Of course. Is there somewhere my squire can take our supplies?"
Aaron looked confused for a second then his eyes slid to Henry, who was lingering behing Cara. "Of course," He turned to a round faced young man who was obviously listening to their conversation while pretending to sharpen a sword. Cara smirked, he clearly didn't know how to.
"Sam." Aaron placed a hand on his shoulder. "Sam, can you show this young man where to go?"
Sam nodded and put down the sword.
Henry looked awkward until Sam beckoned for him to follow.
"I will show you your room after we have seen the Lord Commander."
Cara nodded, curiosity biting at her. The current Lord Commander was the Stark bastard, Jon Snow. She was intrigued to meet him.
"Three weeks." Jon Snow stated. "You have three weeks to shows these men how to fight, you don't need to teach them anything amaing. Just show them the basics."
Cara nodded. "Of course Lord Commander."
Jon Snow looked tired, he had deep purple shadows under his eyes and his skin was milky pale. He wasn't well. Cara also noted he had a fair amount of bruises and scratches on his face, obviously he had been in a fight quite recently and not recovered.
"You can go now." He looked up from his scrawled letter, frowning slightly.
Cara instantly realised she had been gaping at him, the first signs of heat began to crawl up her face as she dissapeared out the doorway.
Aaron fell into step behind her, chuckling quietly. "I don't blame you, he is quite the sight right now."
Cara gritted her teeth but didn't answer.
They wandered down some stairs and through a rather damp kitchen area, then Aaron stopped in front of a closed door. "Here we are." He swung the door open. "Make yourself at home."
Cara took in the small room, there was a pallet in the corner, already made with thick patchy blankets. In the corner there was a small desk with a candle and some writing supplies. "Thank you."
"You are welcome, lady, and one more thing, don't judge Jon Snow too quickly, he's been through a lot." Aaron looked grim. "And I think you might benefit from his friendship." He dissapeared before she could ask any more questions.
Cara sighed and wandered into her room. What had she gotten herself into?