Martha Stallion always knew she was different, and not just because she was half werewolf. She was born somewhere far away to a howling mother to whom she no longer speaks. She would rather not tell you more details about her early childhood except to say this: she determined early in life that sometimes the most practical method of conflict resolution involves inflicting severe physical pain upon one’s opponent. By age 16, she had set off for the big city with a pilfered jug of mead, a banjo, a crystal and a well-worn photograph of her (female) best friend. Without encouraging too much speculation about the circumstances that prompted Martha’s decision to leave home, let’s just say that she was angry (and with good reason), had some mild-to-moderate scratching injuries on her upper torso and face, and that she fully expected to never see anyone from her childhood ever again. The only big city Martha knew of was Tritium, so that’s where she was headed. She spent the first couple of weeks sleeping in a shallow cave, pilfering more mead and the occasional stale loaf of bread from a nearby pub with an absentminded bartender, and playing the banjo while singing songs about forbidden love in the town square and collecting donations in an empty hat. Then she met Dioxie. Martha, as you might imagine, was much larger and more ferocious than most ladies, and she stood out, even in Tritium. So it was hard not to notice when another large, fanged, bestial woman began showing up on the opposite side of the square from Martha and watching her play. Occasionally they would exchange lingering glances, but Marta was never able to find her after sunset, once her busking duties had finished. Despite external appearances, Martha really does have a soft side, and so she began penning new, mead-and-loneliness fueled late night lyrics to her songs with (in her opinion) some very obvious metaphors directed at this mystery woman. After another week of frustration and a growing craving for a good, old fashioned turkey leg, Martha decided in desperation to simply call out her fan and sing aloud the name and address of her intended meeting place—what she believed was the “most romantic” pub in all of Tritium, Thee Ringlet. Perhaps because her mysterious admirer was so much bigger, beastlier, and more beautiful than anyone else Martha had ever seen, she failed to notice that she had some other devoted banjo fans in the square. That evening Martha approached Thee Ringlet with all her busking earnings from that first month in Tritium tinkling in her pocket. She intended to seduce the mystery woman the only way she knew how: by plying her with alcohol and crushing any competitors who might stand in her way. Martha walked into the pub (she’d never actually been inside before) and looked around. Although she didn’t see her fan from the square, there were quite a few other beautiful women here. Including that little elven creature behind the bar. And there were very few men, except this one barbarian approaching Martha and asking her if she’d like to step outside and share a pipe with him. Martha, despite her innate distrust of men, felt it was a harmless invitation and a way to occupy her time so she didn’t appear to be just waiting around alone by the bar whenever her mystery fan showed up. She certainly didn’t expect that “sharing a pipe” was actually a very obvious metaphor for clubbing her over the head stealing all of her money. And so it turned out that Martha was quivering on the floor with an icepack (provided by that cute barmaid) pressed to her throbbing head the first time she was properly introduced to Dioxie. As it turns out, men weren’t usually allowed in Thee Ringlet, and the barkeeps had believed Martha’s mugger was actually her guest, as it was the first time either of them had ever entered the bar. It also turned out that Dioxie held a prestigious position in the high court of Tritium, which was located just next to the square where Martha performed her banjo love songs. Which meant that, in the end, it was Dioxie who (needlessly) plied Martha with mead, and took her home to her castle spire to be fed, cleaned and taken care of. They both became regulars at Thee Ringlet, where Martha soon earned a legitimate position as the regular Thursday night musical guest. The months turned to years, but Martha was still haunted by the mugging she had experienced. She had never been taken advantage of or injured that way by anyone—even back in childhood! She was so angry and set on vengeance that it began to create issues in her relationship with Dioxie. Plus, Martha had never felt comfortable being a kept woman. She was only 18! Her idea of big city life certainly hadn’t included staying inside the house, sweeping the floors and baking pies for her special lady friend while she was at work. And even though Dioxie clearly had another side to her personality, she did work in the feudal system! She put vagrants like Martha to trial, and even death! And any bestial side to her appearance was all show and genetics; Dioxie was fully a lady, and sometimes Martha found that… boring. These circumstances created a growing unease in Martha, culminating late one Thursday night when she was finishing up her performance. Dioxie had already returned home for the night, and Thee Ringlet was practically empty, except for that adorable little barkeep, Derya. Martha was just stepping out of the ladies room when she heard a scream. She looked up and saw him—the very same evil barbarian who had attacked her that first night at Thee Ringlet, wielding his swordtip at Derya, demanding all of the money from the bar, and flocked by two other growling barbarians. Martha charged at them, wrestled the sword away, and quickly stabbed all three in the heart without even thinking (it felt good!). Derya regarded her with a mixture of awe and horror, informing Martha that murder, under any grounds, was illegal in Tritium, due primarily to feudal laws enacted by Dioxie herself. They both began to panic. Martha grabbed the sword, sliced the victims into small pieces, and managed to stuff all three dismembered bodies into her banjo case. She and Derya wordlessly hurried from the bar, clutching the banjo case, the sword, and two bottles of mead. They decided to dump the banjo case in the lake on the far west side of town. After arriving at the lake, Martha and Derya spoke to one another for the first time since Thee Ringlet. They both decided the best course of action was to keep going into the desert. They gulped mead in the moonlight and talked about how, really, killing the barbarians and liberating themselves from Tritium might be the best thing for both of them. They planned to head north, through the canyon, toward the mountain in the distance, and swore to never speak of their last night in Tritium again.