I really find this beautiful. I love her staff. I can imagine someone being quite disturbed by the fact that she had dead birds hanging from her walking stick, but I can see her just calmly replying that they were alive when she put them there. As if that fact made it less creepy! lol Anyway, really nice image.
Rowena could knew she was in trouble when she stopped seeing the red 'x' the Sheriff's men used to mark the merchant paths through the forest. She knew her fate had turned sour when she saw that the ground beneath her feet had grown uneven and unfamiliar. And she knew that her outlook was truly bleak when she heard the distant roar of some wild beast hunting it's prey.
But Rowena did not feel fear until the first moment she heard that awful voice. "Lost are yah deary?"
Her brother had warned her about the people who lived in the cursed lands of the White Woods. The horrors of living inside a magic forest could drive men mad and she was always warned to never speak to those who dwelled in the lands past the trees. But the woman in front of her hardly fit the description of a drooling barbarian. She was so old and so frail, how could she be dangerous to anyone save the two dead sparrows she was carrying home for supper. "Why yes, I'm afraid I am." Rowena said, who kept her distance despite the old woman's appearance.
She saw a crooked smile cross the old woman's face and again a shiver crawled up Rowena's spine. "Such a lovely voice!" The old woman whispered as she stepped closer, "You're a Southlander, I'd wager."
"No," Rowena lied, wondering how the woman could've guessed so accurately, "I'm from the West...from Grandenburg."
"Now deary, it isn't nice to lie to an old blind woman." The old thing cackled, "You're a Southie if I've ever heard one."
For the first time, Rowena noticed the cold dead look in the woman's eyes. The white, unseeing pupils stared back at Rowena like two pools of murky liquid. Ancient and blind, clearly not a physical threat, and yet Rowena still felt this foreboding sense of unease in this woman's presence. It was an ugly, dangerous feeling that increased with each passing moment.
"No, my lady, I am from Grandenburg." Rowen lied again. She didn't know why it was so important to lie to this woman but the distant dingle in the back of her mind kept urging her to stay quiet about her heritage.
"Oh come now sweetie, surely you don't expect me to believe that one who smells so sweet would hail from a dirty village like Grandenberg? You're a Southie, yes?"
The denial was barely out of Rowena's mouth before the Old Woman snapped back in reply. "Do not lie to me, Southie bitch! I smell the stick of the High City all over you!" The woman's face was sharp and cruel now and Rowena could feel goose pimples traveling across her spine, "You're one of Jerrod's spies! One of his Southie vassels!"
She didn't know any Jerrod or could fathom why anyone would want to spy on a blind old woman, all Rowena knew was that she needed to run away.