The talk in the tavern that evening centered on the old woman. The patrons had divided into two camps. One believed, as Jeslynn did, that Tiria had
been a lonely, harmless widow who had no other family and lived on the edge of the wood and Som’s land because that is all she had. The other camp,
which I favored, thought she had been a witch; mysterious, possibly dangerous, and not someone to socialize with. She probably didn’t have family
because she’d been evil. Jeslynn didn’t have a high opinion of my opinion, especially since I had never had any personal dealing with the
woman. When I pointed out that she hadn’t either, she said she’d met her, thank you very much, one afternoon while out riding. Tiria had smiled and
bid her good-day.
“That doesn’t make her not evil,” I pointed out. “After all, the butcher will occasionally smile and bid you some sort of day.” The group near the
taps laughed at that. The butcher, Wulfgit, smirked at me over his beer from the back of the room.
Jeslynn glared at me.
“You’re a fool, Gestin,” she told me, and so some rowdy changed the board listing the evening’s meal to “Fool pie” instead of “Fowl pie.”
“Regardless,” Elder Ponmay announced, “we will have a ceremony for her in the morning. Som, do you want to claim her things after?”
Som nodded and said, “I’ll need some help moving whatever is there; furniture most like.”
“Gestin will help.” Jeslynn volunteered me.
I returned her glare.
Som raised his glass to me in a gesture of thank you.
“Tomorrow then, at sunrise. See you all at the meadow,” the Elder announced, effectively ending the evening’s gathering.