Danallin is born to a house under siege - a quiet siege, one of her mother standing in the doorway while an older girl holds Danallin still and hiding, a hand clamped like iron over her mouth - a siege of men who stole the lands from them when Danallin's father went off to war and never came back - a siege that hangs like a sword over their heads. If Danallin is found, she'll be killed she's told - and then as she grows in strength and cleverness and beauty, that warning morphs. She'll be taken as a slave, a thrall, a wife of some chieftan or warrior or petty lordling as her cousin was, as her aunt was, as the mothers of many of the children who take brief shelter in Morwen's halls were.
The day she's judged old enough to wield a knife - a summer day, bright and colorful like the world has forgotten for a moment the veil of darkness over it - Sador, an ancient woodsman and carpenter, visits. He's watched her on her forrays outside of her mother's halls, whenever she slips her guard, and she's never slipped him for all that he's missing his right foot with the remnants of his leg too shriveled even for a wooden prosthetic. He comes rarely into the halls themselves, avoiding Morwen's scorn for his maiming, but many of their few beautiful items were carved by him, an attempt to fill a forcibly humbled hall with something glorious again.
He finds her when she's not near any of the other inhabitants of her mother's halls, and stops, leaning on his crutches, and says, simply, "I have a gift for you."