Come back to England in the year 1277 and meet Hastings of Trent and Severin of Langthorne, two strangers joined in marriage. Hastings is an heiress and Severin is the warrior whom the dying Earl of Oxborough has selected to assume his title, properties, possessions, and his daughter. It is Severin's duty to sire children, to bring strong new blood to the line, and keep Oxborough powerful.
Hastings thinks he's cold-blooded, severe, merciless. Severin doesn't smile, he looks capable of cruelty, he inspires fear. Then a marten appears over the top of his tunic.