Maired was the last of the team to move in. She was a tiny boned and tiny bodied woman whose short, black hair sat flat against her head. She was quick and deft in her movements, reminding Amanda of a bird and thus bringing to mind, somehow, an impression of black feathers. She appeared younger than the others too, inhabiting a semi-youthful aspect of middle age.
She had more luggage than any of the other team members. Camphorwood chests, packing cases of books and milk crates of laboratory glassware were carried into the workroom that had been built for her.
“So, you’re a scientist,” observed Cheryl as she carried a blue milk crate of test tubes and beakers to its designated bench.
“No,” Maired corrected, “I’m a wizard.”
“Oh, you’re a Wiccan then, with a coven and-,”
“I’m not actually.” The older woman’s correction was almost absent minded as she considered the work space and what she wanted to fit in it. “Wicca is a valid belief system and religion, but it’s not mine.” She smiled at Cheryl. “At this stage of our relationship, all I think you need to know about that aspect of my life is that I’m vehemently opposed to human sacrifice.”
“Oh, okay.” Cheryl suddenly felt deeply uncomfortable. She didn’t think anyone had ever looked at her as keenly as Maired was looking at her now.
“If I were you, dear,” Maired went on, “I’d look at replacing that ring with a better quality metal as soon as I could.” It seemed for a moment as if she was about to say something else but she stopped.
“It is cheap and nasty, isn’t it,” Cheryl agreed. “It looked cool when I first got it, particularly ‘cause people looked at it and not at the rest of me.” She looked down her solid girth. “Trouble is, now it’s aged a bit it looks like a bit of tat and so do I.” Realising that she’d just said something unanswerable and perhaps shared too much, she added, “I’ll just go get the next crate, shall I?”
“Thank you.” Maired returned her attention to the room and Cheryl left to make good on her word.
After being alone for a few moments, Maired turned her head to look after Cheryl. “So, what does he have in mind, our employer? What does he expect the sum of our parts to be?” Her eyes brightened with interest.