“Greetings, traveller!  

Make yourself warm by the fire. We have much to talk about.” the old Wizard chuckled.  

“Perhaps I might offer you a cup of tea? Or something stronger, like a stein of good, Carpathian Ale?” “As I’ve always said, a gem for every vice in my larder.” 

So, tell me, how did you come to our world? How did you manage to pass through The Forest unscathed? You must truly be of an adventurous sort, and I daresay, a might foolhardy! What with the wood-folk and goblins about…frankly, you astound me, dear friend. But you wouldn’t be the first. Whatever possessed you to make this journey?” 

The wizard gathered the wealth of his robes into his hand, and somewhat ungraciously plopped down in a large wingback chair. Once he was comfortable, and a smile emerged from behind his extravagant white beard,  

“You remind me of someone,” he spoke in a low, warming voice. “There was once another like you who found her way here. She was lost, in every sense of the word. A bard, or troubadour of sorts. She wrote her verses, sang her rhymes, and even sold trinkets and wares at the village market. And, like you, she came here from another world—without the slightest idea of what she would find. 

Her name? Of course! 

Her name was Shayna.  

Immediately I could tell there was more to her slight frame than met the eye. There was, a depth, if you will, that lay within her soulful eyes. I sensed the tribulations of a hundred lifetimes lived, and the fortitude that only comes with suffering. She found her way to this very woodland cottage at midnight on All Hallow’s Eve. Downhearted and exhausted, in her rain-sodden cloak, I treated her wounds with herbs and incantations. She drank in the warmth of my fire and my finest mead in near equal parts. We spoke of many things: of laughter, loss, love, and even a little magic. 

She mentioned that her homeland was a large, coastline metropolis, ravaged with peril and pandemonium; a place without peace, or a seemingly fair chance in fate. Her journey to this world began in refuge.  

For all the things that she would say, there was much Shayna never spoke aloud about her past. But, I suppose, in every legend and fairy tale, there is both the joyous and the grim; the dark and the light. And it is our experiences that shape the people we become. Inside her, the fire fought the frustration. I could see it in her eyes, the zeal, the restlessness, the discontentment. And I, the most ancient of Wizards, knew that despite the attempt at escape, Shayna’s journey here was only the beginning.  

In the years to come, she chronicled her adventures in song. Shayna wrote about the splendid characters she came to know in her travels, and the magical places she discovered over the vale. She became known in the village as a friend and storyteller.  

Huh?  

What’s that you say?  

Yes! Of course she still lives here.  

I would be delighted to make an introduction!  

But for now, rest. The guest room is upstairs. Don’t mind the owl, he disapproves of everything. And tomorrow we will take my horse and wagon to O’Brian’s Tavern, just beyond the village. And there, amongst the wayward knights, the Gypsies, and the vagabonds, that is where we shall find her. And where you, dear friend, shall continue your journey."

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