In the year 283, while Robert's Rebellion was still in full gallop, two of the first war widows came home to Hag's Mire.
The elder of the pair was Mistress Amabel Parr, who had for love accompanied her blacksmith husband in the train of Rhaegar Targaryen's forces. Before that they had been a well-respected local couple, practicing their crafts (his smithing, her weaving), raising to maturity five handsome children, and never failing to honour their obligations to their overlords and their neighbours both.
She brought with her another woman, a handful of years younger than she and of similar stock, who had lately known a loss of her own. Their husbands, it was quietly explained to the Mire, had been friends, and had died together; and, Maud Astley having nowhere else to go, it had seemed only natural that they should join together their lots. Two can live better than one, and more safely.
Coming to live in a village as a stranger is a difficult business, and makes one prey to all sorts of suspicions. But if one comes as the trusted friend of someone with a reputation as solid as Amabel Parr's, one's reception is much more civilised. One will always be seen as a foreigner, of course, but one is a tame foreigner instead of a wild one — a tolerated eccentric instead of a madwoman of the mire. The children of one's neighbours are taught to call one 'Mistress Astley' and take their caps off to one, rather than run away and hide as one passes by. After a while, one may even be considered a valuable member of the community, and someone to be relied upon in a crisis.
By trade Maud is a superlative dyer of wool and cloth, known for creating colours both rich and subtle; and between her odiferous dye pots and Amabel's loom, much of the garb worn by the moneyed classes of Hag's Mire, Stonebridge, and the Roost passes through their hands. (They produce beautifully-coloured yarns for the local ladies' handknitting, too.) This work provides for their essential needs, but, atop that, four times a year a merchant's messenger calls upon Maud, to drop off bundles of undyed cloth and wool, and collect the previous lot. No one, save perhaps Amabel Parr, sees what's inside, or knows where it will end up; but it is worth noting that the visitor's cart tends to depart more lightly-laden than it arrives, and that for a two-room stone structure tucked away off the beaten track in one of the poorest parts of the Riverlands, their homestead is unusually well-appointed on the inside. Nothing too new, nothing too opulent, but they live comfortably through summer and winter alike, and offer discreet charity according to the dictates of Amabel's soft woolly heart.
It is in Maud's nature to be solitary. That said, she remains informed about the goings-on in the Mire and Stonebridge via Amabel's extensive network of gossiping female friends and relations; and she does pop in to her local tavern once or twice a week. It is understood that she is willing to take care of any reading and writing her less literate neighbours might need done, in exchange for a mug of ale.
It all seems to work out, one way or another.
She has no blood relations living nearby, and speaks only in the vaguest terms of her late husband and their kin. If pressed, she will do her celebrated imitation of a stone.