. . . Once, in the tower, Sif told me more of her mother, red-haired Zara, who had worn her hair cropped short and trousers like a man.
"Was she really a witch?" I asked.
Sif chafed her arms and shrugged. It was full night, the window in the wall above where she sat full of darkness. I crouched on the stairs. The candles guttered in the cool evening wind. Sif tore at the heel of bread I'd brought her. It was summer. She would not freeze in the tower that night. Old Sul had been in his cups again and had left a red weal across her shoulder that would last for days. She had shown it to me. She would spend a night or two in the tower, then go back to Sul, and things would go quietly for a while.
"I don't know," she said at last, and it took me a moment to realize she was replying to my question. She was silent a few moments. She was always silent after Sul had raised his hand to her. Then she said, quietly, "But I know the place my mother came from. It's north of here--I know that much. If I had a boat, I could find it. . . ."