"Wake up men! Those grain fields won't harvest themselves." a task overseer shouted from the dungeon doorway.
The slaves dungeon was a pitiful sight to behold. Disease was common among the captives and filth caked the moss stone walls. The offensive stench of unbathed bodies carried itself from one catacomb to the next. Men of any social standing turned their noses up at the unfortunate creatures who were forced to reside in such a hovel.
Edward rolled over on the cot, groaning. He'd arrived a week before when trying to rescue his daughter Isabella. As he entered the pair of massive castle gates, a knight halted him.
"State your business."
"My name is Edward of Winchester Valley. I've come to take what has been stolen from me."
"You are a serf, are you not? You own nothing, for all that is in your possession belongs to King John."
With that, the knight commanded Edward to dismount and he was taken into castle custody.
Here he was a week later, harvesting grain for the kings granaries.
A dimly lit candle was Edward's only source of light. He carefully worked his way up the winding stairs for fear he'd fall and break his neck. As he reached the top landing, he walked out into cool country air. Work had officially begun and Edward was eager to complete his tasks. Lately, his mind had been occupied with thoughts and worries of his daughter's safety. Guilt constantly overwhelmed him. How had he allowed this to happen? How had he lost his riches on such foolish investments? What pained him most were not the taunts his neighbors chanted, "Edward, Edward, was rich as a king. Edward, Edward, you now feel poor mans sting." but the terrible circumstances his family was now forced to endure.
"Dear Lord, have mercy on my family" Edward silently prayed. Feeling like a failure hurt his ego, but he was willing to do anything to right this wrong.
The sun shone brightly now. It's radiance overwhelmed him and it's precise location spelled out noon. Noon meant lunch time.
Today, the burden of an utter failure seemed heavier and the lunch line seemed endless. Who would stand in such a line for nothing more than slop.He would. He was desperate. Picking up his pace, Edward reached the end of the snake-like mass of people and waited. His gaze pulled away from the group of gentlemen in front of him to a young girl walking into the castle with baskets in her hands. Probably near Isabella's age he mused. She had on a gray work dress and hat, but a few stray blond curls had escaped. Oh, Isabella had blond curls just like that his mind dared to press on. As if he'd lost control of himself, Edward walked off the line in hopes of reaching the little girl. It would put his mind to rest in knowing that she was not his daughter. He couldn't bare knowing that his little princess was slaving over a hot stove, but he couldn't bare not knowing where Isabella was. He neared the entrance... he walked faster... he opened his mouth to call Isabella, but before he could speak, the heavy door slammed shut. He was left with his words in his mouth and pain in his heart.