Stories like this one, where love is luminous yet enduring, glow in the darkness like pearls in the moonlight. They have the magical quality of being able to take you out of time to a place where you can see the world as it really is and where the real battleground is the human heart.
Once upon a time there was a village called Little Addle, and Little Addle lay at the crossroads between three great realms.
The great wilderness to the north of Little Addle called itself Ysenlond and was a land of dark, deep woods and tumbling streams in narrow gorges and ice-covered mountains, and there was no king in that northern land, but every man had to look to himself for his welfare. If a man of the north had hearth and home and wife, however poor, he had only himself to thank for it, for he accepted no man as his lord and protector, and he paid no tithe to any.