The Hammer and Spring was a strange sort of establishment, but the oddness grew on one slowly. The restaurant was situated in a low building that had been sunken a yard into the earth so that a person entering had to descend three stairs when they entered. The ceiling of the place was quite low, no more than 7 feet, and illumination was provided by flickering yellow lights in sconces at waist height along the wall. The low angle of the lighting gave the patrons a rather odd look, with shadows moving sideways across their faces.
On this particular evening a woman stood up from the audience and stood in an open place near one wall, a cittern in her hand. The Hammer and Spring often had entertainers but there was no formal stage; the ceiling was too low for one. The woman with the cittern was more than usually tall, six feet or perhaps an inch or so more, and her body was lean and lanky. Her skin showed green in the odd lighting, and her hair was long, thick and black. She wore a skirt made of burlap dyed black that fell to just below her knees, and a blouse of the same material that left a band of green skin visible about her midriff.
The woman tuned her cittern quickly, then began to play, the metal strings sending out a wailing plangent cry. She sang in a melodic alto, her voice both low and distinctly feminine; a song about a lost soul wandering among the stars. For a time she seemed to be in a private world, but as the song ended she cast her eyes out over the audience as if searching for someone.