Undersin Town, in the country of Ardor was at peace. The sun was at its highest and the people of the town dozed in the shade. Children, who never tired even when the heat was unbearable, laughed as they played in the almost deserted streets. The headman, Ben Larson, strolled casually along, toward The Griffin, an inn on the south side of town. He often took time in this part of the day to walk down to the inn, for it was a lively place. The headman chuckled softly to himself when he thought about it. The innkeeper was a drunk and was always throwing unannounced parties for the people there, because he could use it for an excuse to drink.
Suddenly the calm was broken when a group of young boys ran into town from the woods. The headman smiled, for his two sons were at the head of the pack of boys. As he watched them he realized that something was wrong. These children were not playing, but running in fear. Their faces were pale and all of them were gasping for breath when they stopped in front of him.
"My son," he asked, "What's wrong?"
His eldest son, Tom, stepped forward and said, "We saw a stranger in the woods traveling on the rode toward Port Voys."
The headman snorted with amusement, "Why should that scare you? Folks travel that road all the time. And Port Voys ain't a secret."
"But dad," said Benin, his second son, "This was a girl and she wasn't right."
"What do you mean 'wasn't right'?"
"She didn't feel right," said one of the younger boys, "She felt wrong like sickness feels wrong."
"When she saw us she glared at us and…" the boy who was speaking stopped, uncertain.
"And what?" demanded the headman.
"She glowed!" Tim cried out, "Like she was usin' magic or something."
The headman thought about this for a second. The girl might be a wood witch. They were particular nasty and tricky beings. Wood Witches lived in forest and mountain. Though they looked human they were said to be immortal. They liked only other witches and despised humans and would only talk to them if they were selling their charms and potions. She surely couldn't be a mage. The mages stayed at the university or at the royal palace. The mages who weren't there were out fighting in the war.
"I will send some men out to see if she is a wood witch and if she is we will have to just leave her alone. If not we will send a letter to the king telling him there is a loose mage about." He said. This seemed to reassure the boys and they went back out to play. Somehow, it didn't reassure him.