She sniffed the air, pausing. That was strange. It didn’t smell right. It was salty, and sorta like fish. And not good fish like you’d get for dinner. This was raw, or rotten, or both.
It was also new, different.
Nessa adjusted the pack on her back, smiling at the birds that flew overhead. They were heading north, back toward the wood where she lived. That meant spring was here, and summer would be coming soon. All the plants would bloom and the air would smell sweeter.
Wandering aimlessly, she let her feet find the path through the trees. She hummed tunelessly as she walked.
The forest ended and the bright afternoon sun made her blink. Raising one hand to shield her eyes, her jaw dropped.
Beyond the town that sat below her was a vast body of water. The sunlight danced across the waves, making it shine like a thousand diamonds. Boats sat tethered to docks, bobbing up and down in rhythm.
Nessa blinked, staring at the older man in uniform that stood not far from her. “Hello, are you talking to me?”
“Yes, miss. It’s my job to talk to anyone coming into Saltmarsh.”
“What’s Saltmarsh?” she asked.
He pointed at the town, “That’s the town’s name.”
“Oh.” She looked at the collection of buildings and boats. “It looks like a fun place. Is it?”
Smiling, he said, “It can be. What brings you here?”
“I was bored,” she said. “Is there anywhere that I can get a job? Or something to eat?”
“Lankus, down at The Wicker Goat. If he can’t hire you, he’ll know who can. First building on the right as you head down this road. You can’t miss it.”
Nessa bounced lightly with anticipation. New people to meet! “Thank you!” she said as she started to skip down the road.
“Miss!” He hollered at her.
Turning around, she looked at him, “Am I going the wrong way?”
“No,” he smiled at her, “It’s just that I need to tell the Council the name of any newcomers to Saltmarsh, that’s all. And you didn’t tell me your name.”
“I’m sorry! I don’t want you to get into trouble! It’s Nessandra Fiosrach. But my friends call me Nessa.”
“We’re not friends, though, Miss Fiosrach.”
“Not yet!” She waived at him and continued down the road to the inn. The people here were so friendly!