Martha is slightly disabled, mongoloid could you say, some facial features that tiny bit larger than others, enough to make people notice. But in a world full of exotic creatures, and non-human races, she is just considered ugly.
Mentally, there is a small mark on her: people call her slow, for she is slower in understanding what even the simple farmers grasp easily. Currently in her forties, she has lost at least some of her former naivety. She knows who around her is mean, and who to trust, in the small circle of her relatives and sympathetic people she leads a fine life. Outsiders may notice something childish in her, but rarely think her truly odd.
A few years ago, Hartian’s wife has died on a wasting disease. Having three children growing up, and twins born only recently, he despaired of all the work that had to be done. His brother Filius proposed a surprising solution: to marry Martha of the Saddlecreeks family. While considered ugly, and out of age, she loved children, and in fact cared much for the her deceased friend. Old Saddlecreek would surely spare some of his lands and wealth as endowment, helping the family in these hard times.
And so it happened, and worked for years.
But recently, the peaceful living together has become strained. Not that life would become any harder, it actually became better. But her husband was all of sudden displeased with her work and manners, and, absent-minded as he often was when talking to her, he accidentally revealed a divorce may be the solution. It almost broke her heart. Oddly, even those she considered friends were not really listening. What would she do?
Brothers tend to have a relationship that combines rivalry and friendship in odd ways. Often is the older brother an example, or protector for the younger brother. These two took a different direction than most. It was the younger, Filius, that had a stronger will, and he learned to manipulate his brother first, then the rest of the family, then others. Now he is the head of their ‘clan’, and has made it to his task to bring them upwards on the social ladder. True enough, their family has gone through hard times - but now they are well off, and if he becomes the chief of this little settlement, they never have to worry about the future.
So Filius will be the chief, and everyone will be fine. An ideal means is a bond with another family of note, and Hartian is just the right candidate, he deserves more now. The decent man is a little reluctant about the whole thing, but won’t resist his arguments for long, he never could. Few know, that the so-called marriage was never consummated, and can be easily declared invalid. And Martha… well, hands are always needed somewhere. She served her purpose.
- Raised on tales of stalwart knights, Martha gathers the courage to approach heroes that happen to visit her village, and begs them for help. Sadly, she is not very good at explaining her plight, made worse by the fact that she doesn’t really know why is this happening. Will the heroes save her marriage? Will they even want to help her, obviously weak of mind, with little reward to offer?
- It all happened as was supposed to. The parting, a new marriage, and everybody was happy… except the poor Martha, who didn’t fit anywhere. One day she just left - maybe for a walk, maybe for good - and lost herself in the woods, poor thing expired days later of the stress. But her spirit cannot pass on: she doesn’t understand how and why, but feels an injustice has been committed on her; and she cares for the children greatly. To placate the ghost that scares the locals without meaning any harm, many of the secrets untold have to be investigated and brought into the light.
- If things don’t go the easy way, then try the hard way. Accidents starts to happen in this little village, and slowly multiply, hinting at witchcraft, hinting at… Martha. It is all Filius’ doing, hoping his brother will condemn her at last, not wishing to divorce her formally. He does not really want her hurt or anything, but you never know when a little witch hunt starts out of such humble beginnings…