It was a quite, late spring day in Cimmeria. Soft breezes blew through the village and a soft, misty, rain fell giving the world a hazy sort of shimmer. This peace and calm was only broken by the sounds a new life entering into the world. Inside a home near the outskirts of the village a woman laboured, her husband nervously paced outside. His dark, peppered grey, damp hair was plastered to his head and clothes, wet with rain, clung to his body when the midwife cried out, “It’s an evil omen! We must kill it now before it brings trouble all of us!” The man burst through the door to see his wife defiantly defending the small new life cradled in her arms. The man didn’t know what shocked him more, the midwife trying to wrench his newly born child out of his wife’s arms or the fact that the babe crying mouth was met with silence. Coming to his senses he grabbed the woman and pushed out the door. The midwife banged at the door shut in her face and screamed, “That red-headed demon is our doom!” Thus began the life of Xanna…
Of course her parents didn’t see the red haired, silent child as anything but the blessing of Mitra. They had though that the time of children had passed for them before Xanna came. Though her parents adored her, the rest of the village looked on her with suspicion. “Cursed” was the word most villages associated her with, a convenient excuse when milk soured or a plough broke. It was only through the intervention of the village elder, Tagnar, that saved the child from death. The elder chastised the villagers, calling them small minded and superstitious. Despite how most of the village looked on Xanna, the local recluse, Edric, found he not only tolerated her presence but enjoyed the company of the silent woman more and more. He could often be heard to say, “You are as gentle as one of my lambs, Xanna” but he was shy and couldn’t tell her what he felt in his heart.
It wasn’t long after Xanna’s parents died that the village was hit with a pestilence. Crops failed and live-stock died followed by a peculiarly harsh winter. With spring came a plague and a large number of deaths. Then when funeral pyres for plague victims burned, the village caught fire and was half destroyed. To the villagers, this run of ill luck was brought on by the cursed woman, Xanna and it didn’t take long for a lynching mob to form. Tagnar couldn’t let the villagers kill this innocent woman. He beseeched Edric to tell Xanna how he felt and to flee with her, he knew that Xanna also loved Edric but now was a time of urgency and he couldn’t wait on the slow bloom of love to blossom.
Xanna and Edric frantically packed to make their escape but it wasn’t long before the coming mob could be heard approaching. “No, leave it all behind and go now! Out the back window and don’t look back!” cried Tagnar. “Bring us the girl!” the mob called out to Tagnaar as he stood, blocking the door. With a look of determination, Tagnaar rebuked the mob, “I cannot allow you to kill an innocent woman because of your backward and irrational fears!” It was too late, the mob was fervent and not even the elder could sway them. A pitchfork found home in the elders chest as the mad crowd broke through the door….
For weeks Xanna and Edric stumbled through the wilderness looking for a place of safety. Through the desolation they came upon a gentle steam and a waterfall. The area was rich in resources so here, it was decided, they would make a new start. “I’ve always fancied running an inn.” said Edric as he smiled at Xanna and put an arm around her. She nuzzled her head into his chest, wrapped her arms around him and deeply breathed in his scent. She had never felt more at home.