You don't have to wait for very long. After a few moments the door opens and the lady stands before you. She looks mildly surprised.
"Oh!" she exclaims "We've got company, Oliver."
A white cat peeks its head out from behind her and begins to wind around and between her legs, purring and rubbing its chin on her.
"I was wondering if I could spend the night here," you say. "It is awfully damp out here, and getting cold."
She looks you up and down, then looks at the cat. "Well, what do you think, Ollie?"
Apparently you pass his inspection, because he decides to rub up against your leg, too. With that, the witch nods her head and opens the door all the way. "Well, then, dearie, come on inside. I was just cooking up a pot of porridge. I'm afraid that's all I have to offer you."
She helps you off with your pack, and you sit at the table where she indicates.
The porridge turns out to be delicious; mixed throughout it are chunks of apple and wild berries. She places a pitcher of cream on the table to go with it. Ollie meowls loudly until she pours a bit of it into a bowl on the floor for him.
"Now then," she says to you. "My name is Cora, and in return for my hospitality I expect some sort of explanation of why you're traipsing through the swampy part of the forest."
You tell Cora about your master's death and finding the map.
She sits in silence for a few minutes, then nods her head sadly.
"I knew your master, you know. Better mage not to be found anywhere. I'm so sorry."
You nod back, fighting away tears.
"Well, if there's any way I can help you out, you just let me know. And if you're wanting someone to take over teaching you the ropes, why, I'd be more than happy to. At the moment I'm living here to study some of the plants and creatures which seem to grow nowhere in Lindau but this particular swamp."
"Thank you very much," you say. "I will think about it tonight and give you some sort of answer in the morning."
You spend a pleasant evening with her, and sleep in comfort on a cot with soft wool blankets.
In the morning you awaken to the sound and smell of frying eggs.
You spend a little time helping Cora with her chores. She has a tiny barn behind her shack, where a few chickens and ducks provided the eggs you ate for breakfast, and she keeps a goat, a small dairy cow, and a donkey.
You decide to stay with Cora and finish your magic studies
You decide to continue on your way toward the ruins of the castle.