Their house came first. Modest in design but bigger than any other in the town. And then the furniture in crate after crate. Until finally a most peculiar couple. They keep to themselves mostly. Mysterious but kind. Quick to hire anyone in town for any manner of small projects. Helpful when needed but otherwise self-sufficient.

The town children swear the limping man has a giant tattoo on his arm. And that his tiny wife can peel an apple thinner than a string of hair. They ensured they had no neighbors for miles so everyone knew they came from money. Their accent pointed to Kersh, the richest people always came from Kersh, but they danced around the answer when asked. They barely left their house on the cliff looking out at the sea, with a sturdy barn and the biggest garden in town full of vibrant flowers.

Until one day there was a baby. No one had actually seen the baby yet, but the wife would clip flowers from her garden with her swollen belly. And the most eclectic group of strangers came to stay for a while. Some people said one of them was Fieordian royalty. But people like to gossip.

They'd buy the whole bar drinks and bring all the best food and the softest blankets back to their house. But they also danced around where they'd come from, who they were, who their town's mystery patrons were - no matter how much they drank.

It wasn't until the friends had left and things settled back down did the man come into town for supplies.

"Congratulations," she said.

His dark eyes narrowed immediately, "for what?"

For a moment she was choked with fear, his voice alone a warning.


She hadn't meant to make it sound like a question. His face relaxed revealing a faint scar on his lip and his eyebrow.

"Thank you," he nodded, a small smile pulled at the corner of his mouth.

"Finally sleeping through the night again?"

"Never did before."

"Lucky wife then," she tentatively joked. He ran a quick hand through his hair, his gold ring catching in the light. Then his sleeve slid down his forearm enough for her to see the large, black tattoo of some kind of bird. "Where did you say you were from again?"

She tore her eyes away from his arm to see he was watching her carefully.

"When you come to deliver later today please ask Josiah to be a bit quieter."

"You know my brother's name?"

"I know everyone's name in this town."

She couldn't be sure if it was friendly or a threat. The words seemed friendly but his voice did not.

"Of course, Mr. Rietveld."

With a curt nod he left and she wondered if they'd ever find out more about their mysterious neighbors. But after two years of speculation, she concluded that's exactly how they wanted it.