A typical rags-to-riches story, about servant Marilda feeling she must fulfil her late mother's wishes of songstress-ness in a world of medieval magic.

Listen. Can you hear that strain on the air?

Affix it to the wall of your heart, my dear,

This image of you and I.

Affix it to the wall of your heart, my dear;

Place it quick, for soon I shall die.

My name is Marilda Varre, and that’s a song that my mother wrote for me. Either myself or my father, but I do not know either of them anymore. There is no one else to ask.

She was a proper songwriter, my mother was, one with greater ambitions for her only child.

It’s not anything I’ve dreamt of. Trials are not few for the palace musicians. Time and chance might ever push me to the front of Bartholemue Hall, but would I necessarily be worth the fuss? The King has been so kind to me these few years, taking me up at the palace as a maid when I lost my mother; I couldn’t pester him for more charity. Who was I to be given so great a task to fill? It was one reason to resent my mother, even if she had only wanted a better childhood for me than she had had. Alas, it was not to be.

So I could never manage yet to complete my poor mother’s dream…and the stars rage down at me.

Were you asking the way to the halls? I’m sorry. My useless biography should not bother you. As for the way…

When you pass the apothecary with an eye sign hanging, continue down this cobblestone street. At ‘Aliza the All-Seeing’’s house, one with a black-straw roof and Edlewood walls, turn again. Watch out for Aliza’s pet sheep and the cauldrons scattered in the courtyard though. It hurts to trip over one of those.

Further down the next path, there’s a shimmering door that leads into the Diam caves, the admission times are from the earliest of nine am to the latest of six pm. Nevertheless, servant times sweep right around that schedule. To the side of the caves will be a marble path. That’s your final line into Bartholemue Hall. Don’t worry about the servants that you’ll see above you, in the corners of your eyes; they’re just off working. They need to be inconspicuous to do their job. Ignoring them is for the best.

Oh, but if you happen to see an intimidating maid, black-haired and blue-eyed, that’ll be me, busy.

In fact, I shall accompany you.

The End

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