Mathla came from a long line of Questers. A wild bunch, her father perhaps the wildest. Three wives – one died in childbirth leaving behind a sickly son who soon followed her. The second was barren. And the third, for a high bride price, was at least 20 years Garthen’s junior. Tesla had but one child – a healthy baby girl. By then, Garthen gave up and turned to drink. Still a Quester for hire, he used whatever outlaw or mercenary available to do the actual deed.

Mathla was left to her own devices; her father assumed the long line of Questers would die with him. But she had it in her blood – there was no denying her birthright. She could never be a common wife. She pricked herself with needles, wove strange fabric on the loom, burnt venison stew, her bread did not rise. Her mother simply said: “Get out of the house as you are no use to me.” Being Garthen’s wife tended to make one grumpy.

So she ran wild with the wind. Watched the local mercenaries practice; had a short sword forged to replace her childhood wooden one. Learned archery from a young man who fancied her. In exchange for a kiss, an arrow. By the time she was of age, Mathla was ready to be a Quester. Trouble was how to let the world know. 

Then she remembered stories of Lord Casthva’s castle, set upon an island, surrounded by mist and trees. Fairy lights burned at night. Song birds entertained by day. During the wintering, the azure lake froze making for easier access. No need for a boat and oars. The few times Mathla had been upon the sea, her stomach did not agree with the voyage. She was only half Quester – her mother’s family was bound to the earth. Only land-based quests Mathla determined.

She stole some ducats from her father’s cache; she needed a wardrobe to go with her skills. A suit of armour of woven leather and argon – a special light magical metal – which fit only her. A staff of living heartwood carved for her by a blind master woodworker. A bow of ancient yew; arrows with her special flights. And, girded about her waist – the short sword from her trials of learning.

She plaited her long raven hair with bright ribbons; donned a thin gold circlet – “borrowed” from her father’s years of questing and looting. Put metal studs upon her the soles of her tall leather boots. She was a Quester in name and in image.

Her first quest: to the Lord’s impressive castle. Surely some one living in such fairy tale real estate would be in need of a resident Quester. Mathla figured she was perfect for the job. As long as it was the wintering; the awakening and liquid lake would be another story.

For Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver/Fairy Tale #113: the quest