“I was a shapeshifter. I lived part of my life as a lizard and part of my life as a human. When I was a lizard I could shoot blood from my eyes, poison blood that would burn the skin of predators. When I became human I couldn’t cry. If I cried, I would cry the same poison blood and it would burn away my skin. I have only cried twice in my life. Once as a child, and again when my lover died, leaving me with these scars.
“My lover, Rone, was the grand Hierophant of Eride. This was her palace. Salun, the King of Niesso, heard rumours of her powers and tried to take them. He tortured and killed her. My poison tears burned the skin on my face and my hands. I thought of revenge but my grief overwhelmed me. I fell into ruin with the palace. The Hermit of Eride was the name the villagers gave me. Their children liked to play in the ruins but the villagers warned them to stay away, or the Hermit of Eride would capture them and burn away their skin. For years the only person I saw was Hirtef, who would bring me food and furnishings in exchange for my blood, which she would use in tinctures. She hoped to become a medicine woman, and my blood used in small doses, mixed with the right herbs, could be a cure for many ailments. She kept her source secret, to prevent the villagers from coming to me. I did not want to be disturbed by them so I encouraged the tales of the Hermit-monster who would burn their children.”