Those who meet Mara for the first time might mistake her for a fashionable Goth chick who likes to display her attractive cleavage covered in strange tattoos. Yeah, well, she’s anything but!
A healer and the sorceress, Mara is living a secluded life on the outskirts of s city, right at the edge of emerald Arcadian forests. Local folk revere Mara for her healing abilities and yet never visit her without dire need, as much about this woman is shrouded in weirdness. Old people swear she looked the same – that is twenty-something – back when they were kids. Some go so far as to believe she is so old that she arrived here centuries ago, during the Migration. Old ladies claim they saw her appearing as an old hag on Midsummer’s Eve. With no lovers or any companions other than animals of all species that freely roam in and around her cottage, Mara is a never-ending object of wild speculations, weaved around the village hearths when the nights grow cold and long.
Who is Mara, really? Well, she is Arcadian by birth, that’s for sure. When Mara was a little girl, her granny subjected Mara to ancient folk magic. Mixing the girl’s mother’s breastmilk, blood, and consecrated ash, the granny tattooed Mara’s chest with protective tattoos of intricate, elegant, eye-catching design. The tattoos didn’t stop Janissaries from kidnaping the little black-haired girl with fiercely intelligent eyes and flawless pale complexion. Yet, it seems that granny’s magic worked out in the end. Beautiful chest tattoos drew the attention of the wife of the Sultan’s chief astronomer. The previously childless pair adopted little Mara and gave her the very best education. By the time she reached adulthood, Mara became adept at medicine, astronomy, and alchemy. Her studies took her from Gevher Nesibe Darusiffasi to Semmelweiss University in Vienna, before she finally settled back in her home province. With both of her families long gone, she found a little cottage and began her medical practice, soon earning admiration and respect for her superb knowledge and abilities. Mara rarely ventures to the city. One of those instances was incidentally witnessed by a renowned journalist and writer Francesco Szupilo, who recounted seeing Mara over an intimate dinner in Hotel with a famous young Austrian poet, Rainer Rilke. Szupilo claims that the next day, in a Hotel’s salon, the poet confessed a tremendous impression that mysterious Mara left on him. “From now on, I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”
As for Mara, she kept on living her life of service to the sick and the ancient forces of nature she only comprehended, reserving smiles only for children and animals. And then, one gloomy autumn day, the news of gruesome murders caught her attention. Hit by an intuition whispering to her these murders had something to do with her destiny, Mara decided to join the investigators.