This story was originally written for my World Mythology class. The assignment was to write a story about a trickster, and I think I've done that. I liked this story so much I decided to post it on here. Thank you for reading!


Maeve's Tale

Drem and Maeve sat side by side in their wagon, not speaking a word as the horses pulled them through the strange and dark forest. The city was far behind them and their home was far in front of them, but luckily the sun was still high in the sky. Neither would want to be caught out in those savage, feral woods when the sun went down; that was when the demons and the faeries came out of hiding and tore apart anyone they saw.

"We shouldn't believe her," Maeve told Drem. "She was probably wrong."

"I doubt it," Drem replied. "She's been right about so many things before. About storms coming in, about when twins will be born, about when there will be an eclipse. That witch has to be right about this."

"Drem," Maeve said with a sigh, "you can't possibly believe that you're going to be killed by a child."

"Not just any child! Weren't you listening, woman? Your first born will rise up and kill his father! I'm not too happy about that. Not happy one bit," Drem said.

"You're overthinking it," Maeve told him.

"Maybe, maybe not," Drem mumbled to himself. Suddenly, he tugged on the reigns and the horses stopped. Maeve lurched forward in her seat as the wagon slid to a stop on the gravely road.

"What's this about?" she asked.

Drem stood up, his axe in his hand. "Get out," he hissed.

"What?" Maeve asked.

"You heard me! Get out! Get out of the wagon!" Drem shouted.

Maeve stood up, facing her husband head on. "I'm not getting out of this wagon, you crazy old goat!" she shouted at him. "Put the axe down!"

"Get out of the wagon!"

"Put the axe down!"

"GET OUT OF THE WAGON!"

"PUT THE AXE DOWN!"

Drem didn't wait any longer. He kicked Maeve in the stomach, sending her flying out of the wagon and into the grassy ditch. Maeve grunted as she fell, her body immediately bruising and throbbing with pain. She opened her eyes just in time to see Drem snatch up the reigns of the horses and snap them against their backs, taking off barreling down the gravel road.

"Hey!" Maeve shouted, pushing herself to her feet.

She ran after the wagon as fast as she could, but she was no match for the horses. The wagon raced farther and farther ahead of her until she couldn't see it at all. She slowed down to a walk, a stitch in both of her sides and a limp in her step. She followed the gravel trail as far as she could before she had to sit down.

Maeve sat down under a tree, holding her sides. "Rat bastard," she cursed under her breath.

Maeve knew that she wouldn't be able to make it out of the forest before nightfall. She closed her eyes, trying her best not to panic. She'd make a shelter…yeah, that might keep her alive until the next day. She sat there under the tree, knowing that she needed to make a shelter or some kind of hiding place, but she just couldn't find the energy to do it.

Within minutes, she was asleep.

When she woke up, it was to a sharp, gnawing pain in her toes. Maeve drowsily looked down at her feet, only to see a shadow hunched over her feet, its sharp gleaming teeth biting through the leather of her shoes and breaking her skin, hints of red blood coating its mouth.

Maeve screamed and kicked it in the face, sending it flying. She heard it howl like a wolf behind her, but she knew it was no wolf. Maeve got up and ran through the forest, making her way through the trees and bushes and upturned roots. It chased after her, bounding over the tall bushes, tracking her bloody scent.

Maeve's former pains came back: the stitches in her side, the ache in her bones and muscles, and now the sharp pain in her feet as she ran. She ducked down beside a bush, trying to breathe as quietly as possible. She glanced around, seeing the shadowy creature only a few yards away from her. She thought of crawling inside of the bush, but thought against it when she realized that she was perched next to hemlock.

Hemlock. That gave her an idea.

Quickly and quietly, she plucked hemlock from the stems of the bush and shoved it inside of her shoes. All the way from her toes to her ankles, she made sure that the hemlock was covering every inch of her feet. Satisfied, she laid down.

When the creature spotted her, it pounced on her, grabbing both of her feet and shoving them into its mouth. The taste of fresh blood was all it tasted; the bitterness of the hemlock was slowly released, seeping into the creature's mouth. Finally tasting the bitterness, it howled and growled and whimpered, its paws scratching at its muzzle. The hemlock raced through its blood and body, and with a final sad howl, it fell down and died.

Maeve sighed in relief.

But her problems weren't over yet. The creature's screams had awakened thousands of spirits in the woods, all of them with glowing red eyes and sharp teeth. Maeve watched as the eyes got closer and closer to her. She grabbed another fistful of hemlock, but she doubted that would help.

Just as she felt a clawed hand reach around her throat, she said, "Didn't you see what happened to that thing? If you try to eat me, you will die."

The spirits stopped crawling towards her and the hand reaching around her throat retreated. She continued, "You want to leave me alone. I am poisonous. Run away. Save yourselves. Before I poison you too."

The eyes began to retreat, one by one, until only six pairs still surrounded her. The hand at her throat was gone, and she leaned back against the hemlock bush. "Go away," she told them, edging her way into the bush. "Save yourself."

When the last of them were gone, Maeve took the hemlock out of her shoes and stuffed it into her pockets, along with some extra plucked from the bush. With all the hemlock she wanted in her pockets, she started walking again. Whenever she heard a sinister hiss or the snap of a branch or a distant growl, she would put her hand next to her pocket, feeling the hemlock and reassuring herself that she could make it out alive.

As Maeve walked, hunger started to gnaw at her stomach and thirst clawed at her throat. She struggled to swallow, and her stomach growled.

Maeve walked off the gravel path and into a clearing. Past the thorny bushes and willow trees with sagging branches, there was a clear spring pool, the water placid and cool, reflecting the moon and stars. Surrounding the pond were hundreds of blueberry bushes, cranberry bushes, and apple trees. Maeve smiled, plucked off a few blueberries from the bushes, and then went over to the pool of water. She cupped her hands and drank it, the water soothing her sore throat. As she drank, she heard the sinister whispers of something behind her.

Lightning bugs lit up the trees surrounding her, and the willow branches began to sway. She heard the beating of wings, but knew that it was no bird that was making those sounds. But at that moment, she didn't care. She was too hungry to care. She popped another blueberry in her mouth, then another and another.

"You have stolen our blueberries," someone whispered in her ear. She waved her hand at her ear, shooing it away as if it were a mere bug.

"You have stolen our blueberries," hissed a thousand tiny voice from all around her.

Maeve knew then that she had found the faeries. She'd heard plenty of stories about them to know that they were malicious and vicious and cruel. If they asked you to dance for them, you would dance until you died. If they asked you to sing for them, you would sing until you suffocated. If they asked you to serve them, you would feed them everything you had until the only thing left was your body, and they would eat that too.

"I did not steal them, I paid for them," Maeve said calmly.

"Thief. Liar," they all whispered together.

"I am no liar. I paid for these blueberries with my blood," Maeve said. "Look at my feet. See how bloody they are? I danced until I bled, and I bled until I danced. That was the price for fresh blueberries."

"Lies," they hissed.

"It was no lie," Maeve lied. "In fact…Lord Arawn himself collected this debt," Maeve said, closing her eyes and placing her hands in the pool.

"Lord Arawn," they faeries all hissed together. Their lights dimmed, not wanting him to hear them. Lord Arawn did not take kindly to faeries; he ate them like mortals ate blueberries, and he held dominion over all of their land, killing and eating anyone he pleased. They didn't believe this woman for one second, saying that she had spoken to Lord Arawn and lived, but she didn't fear his name either.

"Yes," Maeve said, and took a handful of blueberries from a bush. "Lord Arawn himself."

The faerie lights all disappeared, leaving Maeve in the darkness. She turned back to the spring pool, watching the moon and stars as it reflected on the clear surface. But the water started to darken, turning a deep purplish-black, and the water began to ripple. From out of the dark water leapt a demon, his eyes glowing red and his teeth like daggers. At the ends of his hands were talons as sharp as eagles' claws, and from his head sprouted horns.

"What mortal dares to speak my name?" he asked.

Maeve sat there, stunned, her hands still underneath the water.

The demon loomed over her, his mouth twisting into a smile. "Don't tell me it was you, mortal. You are either very brave or very stupid," he snarled.

Maeve didn't say anything, but just stood there looking at him. His eyes were red, so horribly, awfully red, and she could still smell carnage on his hair. The way he smiled, Maeve knew that if she sat there for too long, he was going to eat her…if she was lucky. Maeve took her hands out of the water and bowed her head.

"It was me," she said to him. "Did you not hear? I am to be your bride."

Lord Arawn blinked and chuckled. "My bride?" he asked, and laughed again. "What stupid-ness have you that makes you think that you would be my bride?"

"Did you not hear? It was all in ceremony, in ritual. Everyone in the land had come together to praise you, though none dared to say your name, and we all thanked you for your rule over our land. We all thought of a way to appreciate you, a gift that we could, and it was decided to give you a mortal bride," Maeve said. Though her head was still bowed, she could hear him considering it. The way he hummed, blinking his eyes and turning his head.

Lord Arawn leaned forward and sniffed her, and shivers ran up and down her back.

Then he laughed, his booming voice filling the woods and making birds take wing. Maeve still sat there, not daring to move a single muscle. Lord Arawn said, "You mortals perhaps may not be so stupid after all. It is about time I was appreciated for my lordship." With that, he picked Maeve off of the ground, swung her around his back, and disappeared into the dark water with her.

Together, they descended into the underworld together.

Within a matter of hours, the two were married.

Maeve was given three gifts upon her marriage to Lord Arawn, all of which were from him and his own supernatural gifts. Maeve was given a cloak that made her glow brighter than the full moon, a mask that could disguise her mortal face, and shoes that made hemlock grow with every step she took. Lord Arawn possessed a cloak which rendered him invisible, a mask that could see through any disguise, and shoes that let him walk on air.

Maeve took her gifts and stored them away for safe keeping.

"What is your name, wife?" Lord Arawn asked her.

Maeve didn't hesitate. "Mera," she answered. "My name is Mera."

The underworld was so like the world Maeve had come from. All that was different was that the reflections were darker, and the demons constantly sought either blood or shame. They wanted to strip you of everything you had, and then eat it in front of you before vomiting it back up. Everything tasted bitter in Maeve's mouth, and she almost never slept. Down there, the moon was always dark and the sun was always dim and watery.

Maeve donned her cloak one night, and set out along the river, red with blood and bubbling with life. Demons and animals alike sat at the banks, drinking from the blood river, slurping down the vitality. Maeve's cloak made her glow, brighter than the full moon, and people took notice. When they started to crawl on Maeve's heels, Maeve snapped at them, "Back! I am the wife of Lord Arawn!"

"So what?" a shadowy figure hissed. "You are not special. Lord Arawn has had hundreds of wives. And what does he do with them?" The shadow turned to its friend.

"He eats them," it answered. "Every single one of them. Devours them like a fish eats bugs!"

Maeve left the two shadows on that trail, rushing to the market to get her bread, and then went back to the house of Lord Arawn. He said nothing, barely noticed her presence, but when Maeve put the bread on the table, he ate it.

The next night, Maeve donned her cloak again, her mask and shoes on her face and feet. As she walked, small four-legged creatures followed behind her, eating the poisonous hemlock that grew out of the ground with every step she took. She looked back at them, at their wolf-like bodies and human-like heads, and said, "Back! I am the wife of Lord Arawn!"

"Lord Arawn, huh?" the creature snarled. "Do you know what Lord Arawn does to his wives? He skins them, and then wears their skin as his own!"

Maeve left him alone.

The third night, as Maeve walked to the marketplace to buy her bread and her meat, a murder of a thousand crows flapped after her, mistaking her mask for that of a real crow instead of a pretend one. Maeve ignored them as she walked along the banks of the blood river, but a thousand birds could only be ignored for so long.

"Back! I am the wife of Lord Arawn!" she shouted.

"Lord Arawn's wife?" The crows screeched in laughter, a thousand shrill voices that made Maeve cringe and put her hands to her ears. "Lord Arawn's wife!" the crows repeated. "Poor little wife. Don't you know what Lord Arawn does to his wives? He buries them alive, and listens to their screams like lullabies so that he can sleep!"

"Trustless!" Maeve replied. "Why should I trust you? Everyone here has a different story! You are no more than liars with a bad story!"

"Not true! Not true!" the crows screeched back. "Our story is the best!"

"No it is not! I've heard better stories out of the mouths of dead fish!" Maeve taunted.

The crows all screeched back at her, but Maeve did not cover her ears. Their screeches weren't so boisterous anymore, and Maeve smiled behind her mask.

"Your stories are the worst of all, because they are not true! Your stories are the worst because not even a fool would believe them! For shame, you stupid storytellers, for shame!" Maeve told them. She turned and was about to walk away when an enormous crow landed right in front of her.

Its beady eyes glowed red and orange and yellow, and its feet sliced apart the hard earth like it was warm butter. "Stupid!? Shame!? We may be cruel, but we are honest! With each eye we peck out and eat, we see a thousand stories that those eyes have seen. With each we tear off and eat, we hear a thousand stories those ears have heard! We take great pride in our stories, woman, and for you to insult us means death!" the crow cackled.

"Even if you were to eat me, I'd die still knowing that you are liars! Why else would you kill me? Silence the one who knows the truth! That is what you're doing," Maeve shot back.

The crow screeched at her and spread its wings wide. But Maeve showed no fear; her mask prevented that. The made the mask look calm, and said, "Will you kill me or not, liar?"

"I am no liar!" the crow screeched. "I am Lord Éan, King of the Crows!"

"Lord Éan," Maeve mocked. "I've heard about you! They say that you are so forgetful that you cannot even remember the story of your own life!"

"Lies!" Éan said.

"A forgetful liar, telling me my husband will bury me alive… I almost feel sorry for you," Maeve told the crow.

The crow ruffled its feathers and said, "I can prove that I am right."

"Oh? And how is that?" Maeve asked.

"I'll show you proof!" Lord Éan said. "Follow!" he ordered, and took off into the sky. Maeve, fearful that what he said was true, followed him. When she found the bones near his seldom-used bed, she knew that what the bird said was right.

"Too bad we didn't gamble," Lord Éan said. "I'd love to have you owe me."

"What would you have me owe you?" Maeve asked it. "Someone to preen those dirty feathers?"

"I should pluck out your eyes!" the crow snapped at her, its beak mere inches away from her face. "But I am as kind as I am clever! I would never torture an expecting woman!" With that, the crow flew away, and Maeve was left in her husband's abandoned bedroom with the abandoned bones.

Hours later, when Maeve's demon husband came to her bedroom, she smiled at him and turned down the covers. "Your eyes are darker than normal, and your horns do not shine," she said. "Let me give you good news: I am pregnant."

Lord Arawn smiled at her with his dangerous mouth, his teeth sharper than knives and his lips red with blood from the river.

"That is happy news," he replied. "We should celebrate! A feast of blood and bread!" He leaned back in the bed and stared up at the stars, a trickle of blood running down his cheek. Maeve thought about the bones in his bedroom, and wondered if he ate her instead of buried her. Then, she thought about how he broke bones and sucked the marrow out of what he ate.

"I already have cravings!" Maeve announced. "Foods that are odd."

"What do you crave, Mera?" Lord Arawn asked. "Everything in my domain is yours to eat and drink, aside from me."

"I want soup cooked in a bone broth," Maeve said. "And a softer pillow. One stuffed with cotton or down instead of tangled hair!"

"It shall be done," Lord Arawn said.

"One more thing," Maeve said as she pulled the covers up over her. "I want fresh blueberries."

"It shall be done," he repeated.

Days later, after Maeve had eaten all the bone broth soup she could, she snuck back into Lord Arawn's bedroom and looked for the bones. Many of them were missing. Maeve licked her lips, and she just knew that she had eaten her bones. Her stomach turned, the blueberries threatening their way up her throat, but she kept them down. She always knew she would have to sneak out of the underworld at one point in time, but now she knew she had to do it before Lord Arawn made a coat out of her skin.

Maeve didn't go out to the marketplace that night.

"Something wrong?" Arawn asked his wife.

"Yes. My feet are starting to swell and my toes ache something fierce. I don't want to go barefoot to the marketplace, but none of my shoes are so easy on my feet." Maeve groaned and rubbed her sole. "Husband, might I have your shoes? The ones that can walk on air?"

"My shoes?" Lord Arawn asked. "My shoes are my own."

"I only ask to borrow them. I am only a few weeks pregnant with your child, and already my feet pain me. Would you really not grant your wife such a simple request?" Maeve asked, feigning offence.

"I suppose I could grant it," Lord Arawn said, and he gave his wife his shoes that could walk on air.

When Maeve went to the marketplace, no one chased after her heels eating hemlock or counting her footsteps. If it hadn't been for her cloak as bright as moonlight, she could have snuck anywhere in the underworld without being seen or heard. She fingered glowing cloak, feeling the fabric, wondering how easy it would be to tear it on a branch or blade. The fabric was strong; it would take work.

Maeve went to the crows.

"Lord Éan!" she shouted into the air. "Lord Éan! Lord Éan!"

As she shouted, the king of crows landed on a thick branch in front of her, demanding to know what she was shrieking about.

"You were wrong, Lord Éan," Maeve told him. "He did not bury his wife alive! He sliced her throat and wore her skin! What a stupid bird you are!"

"STUPID!?" Lord Éan screeched. "I am far more clever than you! I am more clever than any being in this underworld! Dead, alive, or cursed. How dare you?"

"But I simply must tell you how stupid you are!" Maeve told him. "You dumb, ugly creature! I've seen roadkill more handsome than you!"

The crow screeched at her and began spreading its wings. "Keep talking and I'll bite off your tongue and eat it, pregnant or not!" he said.

"Do you even know what a tongue is?" Maeve asked.

"One more word…" Lord Éan warned, his beak snapping and his red eyes glowing with rage.

"One more word. Because one word is all you can understand," Maeve said.

With that, the giant crow lunged at her, talons flashing and beak snapping and wings beating. Maeve turned and ran, her shoes carrying her far and fast. But the crow could tread air better than those shoes could. He dove down towards her glowing figure, snapping at her cloak and trying to pull her into his mouth. Maeve grabbed her cloak and let the fabric rip, the sharp beak tearing it apart easily. The glow faded, and Maeve disappeared into the dark woods, following the blood river home.

"Husband," Maeve said when she got home, showing Lord Arawn her ripped cloak, "look what has happened!"

"How?" Lord Arawn asked. "How did this happen? That cloak was made of pure light! Who could have done this? And why?"

"It was a giant crow," Maeve told him. "He called himself the king of the crows. He chased me and he tried to kill me. He got ahold of my cloak, and this happened!"

"Lord Éan," Lord Arawn said with a sigh. He turned to his wife and asked, "Did you insult him, mortal?"

Maeve was about to lie, but remembered his mask. He could see through all disguises, and all deceptions. Maeve still acted as innocent as she could. "Should I not have?" she asked. "He was such a loud, noisy bird. I thought he knew that."

Lord Arawn chuckled.

Maeve sighed. "I am going to go to bed. I am sore and tired. Will my cloak be mended by tomorrow?"

"This cloak was pure light," Lord Arawn said, "it will take some time."

"Hopefully it will still be warm, at least," said Maeve, and she turned and went to bed.

The next night, as Maeve draped the cloak around her shoulders, she shivered. "It's not warm in the least," Maeve told her husband. "Even dressed in wool, I'm cold. Must be pregnancy chills." Maeve wrapped her arms around herself and rubbed her forearms.

"Then don't go out," said Arawn. "We have bread and meat here."

"But I want something else to eat. And I cannot send you, because I don't know what I want. Pregnancy cravings are so strange," Maeve said, and sat down on a cushioned chair. "Why must I suffer like this?"

She watched her husband pick at his claws and tap his hooved foot.

"Can I have your cloak?" Maeve asked him.

"My cloak?" Lord Arawn asked. "First my shoes, then my cloak. Where does it end with you?" He sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Pregnant women," he muttered and shook his head.

Maeve waited patiently.

"Fine," said Lord Arawn. "You may have my cloak for this one day. Go to the market and buy your weird foods, then come right back!" he told her.

"Of course, husband," Maeve said, and she took his cloak and draped it around her shoulders.

As she followed her normal path to the marketplace, following the blood river in her floating shoes, she drew the hood up over her head, pulled the edges tight over her body, and she was invisible. As quickly and as quietly as she could, she ran to the banks of the river of blood and began to cross it. Her feet kicked at the open air, and the blood beneath her shoes stirred.

The river seemed to go on for miles, and Maeve's legs ached and her muscles burned.

The end was ahead. The blood turned watery and pale, and nothing besides bugs swam in it. The dim, watery sun was beginning to rise, turning the watery blood river into a cold orange. When Maeve reached the bank of the blood river and the edge of the horizon, she kicked off her flying shoes and dove down into the bloody water, still bundled up and invisible. She swam down, deeper and deeper, until she could see the sky of her world below her.

When she returned to her own world, she was at the same pond that Lord Arawn had dragged her down into. It was sunset here in the mortal world, and already the faeries near the pond were out, flickering like fireflies around the trees and bushes.

They did not bother her this time.

The same mortal who had dared to speak the name of Lord Arawn was now emerging from a pond of dark water, covered in blood from head to toe, with his cloak still wrapped around her shoulders. They did not say anything when she began eating all their fresh blueberries.

Maeve got as far away from that pond as she could get. She followed the same gravely trail that she had followed weeks ago, hoping that her feet would lead her back to her house. If she saw her husband, she would break down his door and drag him by his ear for the rest of the night.

The forest didn't scare her anymore. Not after what she had been through. Faeries, wolves, demons, angry spirits and ghosts, hungry cats and blood-thirsty familiars couldn't make her run for her life. But she was wet and cold and hungry and tired. She needed somewhere to stop for the night.

When she saw the small house glowing like a bonfire in the thick of the woods, she nearly ran to it. Maeve stopped just short of the garden. Looking around, she recognized the herbs that grew there, the symbols made from pebbles stuck into the soil, the crystals and the jars of moon water. A witch.

Maeve smiled. Perfect, in a sense.

Maeve knocked on the door.

Beside her, a little black cat meowed, upset that Maeve had awoken it. It blinked at her with sleepy eyes before turning around and bundling back up in the catnip grove.

The door opened.

The witch looked sleepy and annoyed. She rubbed her eyes and looked Maeve over, noting her wet cloak and tired eyes. "What do you want?" the witch asked her.

"I'd like to make a deal," Maeve said. "May I come in?"

The witch stepped aside and Maeve walked into the little hut. It was nice and warm inside, with a fire still smoldering in the hearth. Maeve took off her cloak, but still kept it clutched tight to her body. A magic cloak from the underworld wasn't something to casually toss on a coat hook.

"Pull up a chair," said the witch, and she took a seat close to the low fire. "Now, what deal can I make you? What is so important that you come to my door at this hour?"

"I need a favor, and I know that you are the only one who can possibly do this. You see, mere days ago, my house was consumed by fire. My first husband has died and my second husband is so very ill. I cannot rebuild what she been destroyed. We lost everything! Our money had melted, our bed and furniture and food stores all gone! Our livestock has escaped, and so much of our crops were burned. Please, I need your help," Maeve said, pressing her hands together as if in prayer.

"Then what do you ask for? Money, wealth, riches? A better home? A healthy husband? Obedient livestock? A curse or a hex to be lifted? A curse or a hex to be cast? A blessing?" The witch kept naming things and Maeve listened carefully, not knowing fully well what she wanted.

She knew she was going to make a deal with the witch, but she had never thought about what she would get in return. When she had walked up to the front door, she only had two things on her mind: a nice, warm place to sleep, and for the witch to demand her first-born child.

The witch grew silent, waiting for Maeve to respond.

Maeve merely sat there, staring at the glowing embers in the hearth, mesmerized by the glow. It reminded her of the cloak she had torn. And that reminded her of the cloak that was now in her arms. "It's so warm in here," Maeve whispered. "I haven't been near fire since that night. I've nearly been chilled to the bone because of it."

Making up her mind, Maeve turned back to the witch. "I need a way to buy back what I have lost. I cannot live without having the money to pay for wood for a new house. And my husband, he is too sick to build."

"So…you want wealth?" the witch asked, arching her eyebrow and leaning forward. "A gift of wealth comes at a steep price. One that no one ever wants to pay." A sinister smile crossed her face. "I can give you your wealth."

"How so?" Maeve asked.

"Here is my offer: every day after you wake up, you will find a piece of gold in your shoes. In time, you will have enough money to buy a castle built for a queen," the witch told her.

"That sounds wonderful," Maeve said with a fake smile. "But…what is the price?"

"For this generous gift of the bless of wealth, I ask only one small thing: your first-born child," the witch said.

Maeve feigned shock. "My first-born?" she asked, putting a hand to her heart. "Is…is there nothing else you can want for this? Anything other than my first-born child?"

"What else can you give me that I don't already have?" the witch asked her. "I have money, food, a good house, sweet cats, even a winery. And I have the ability to make more. What else can you possibly offer me?"

"My friendship?" Maeve asked, faking her small yet hopeful smile.

"I already have friends," the witch replied. "This is my price. If you want money, then you will give me your first-born child as payment for my blessing. Do we have a deal or not?"

Maeve looked down at her shoes and clasped her hands together. She counted fifteen seconds before looking up. "Alright," Maeve said, "my first-born is yours."

"Excellent," said the witch with a smile.

Excellent, thought Maeve, hiding her smile.