“The good witch, Mariah, comely and wise…” The bard stood in front of the fire with his arms wide, like he wasn’t in front of a mere seven people, two of them slaves who didn’t have a choice. It was the first line of a Mariah story, and Mariah herself was going to have to sit through the gods-be-damned thing.
Mariah had slept the night in an actual bed. The owner of the bed—baker? armourer?—had offered it to her in gratitude to the great and mighty sorceress (witch, actually) and saviour of his cousin’s… something something? She’d stopped paying attention and started praying to Dionysus that there would be wine. When they got there and there was wine, she felt justified that she’d stopped listening to the story about his uncle. In celebration, she’d also invited him to join her in the bed, but neither his wife nor her curse would let her. For the hundredth time that day, she swore at the witch who’d put it on her, this curse of “justice.”
Another messenger. From another village. With another monster they needed her to kill. And she didn’t have a fucking choice. Mariah stared into the camp fire, took a bite out of her lump of cheese.
The messenger was just a boy this time, smooth-faced, high-voiced. He sat off to her right and a little further from the fire.