There was an old woman (and the term is used loosely) who lived in a house made of bones of young lovers who had passed by along the dirt path leading to the village in the valley below. She had the appearance of both a sweet timid old lady and a fearsome ogress (with the latter only appearing when you have no room left to run). Her house, which had grown from a charming squat cottage to an equally charming two-storied dwelling, embodied the very essence of comfort from the outside (and from the inside too, until the door was shut) thanks to an enchantment passed down from her mother (it is supposed, as it could just as easily be her father (and I should say again that both these terms are used loosely)). The village, which her house overlooked, would have been called a resort town had the term been in use at the time. It lay in an idyllic green valley, next to (and over) a river, surrounded by high mountains on all sides. It was renowned as a center of fertility and juvenation (and occasionally rejuvenation for not all visitors were young and some spend their youth faster than others) and attracted its fair share of newlyweds and those who just said they were to avoid a scandal. The people of the village had mixed thoughts about their gatekeeper. In many ways (and in truth all ways that mattered to some) she was of no concern to them. During the busy season for the town (which began not in spring but at the end of winter with each couple believing themselves to be getting a jump on the others) dozens of carts would roll in to town each day and at the very most she could ensnare one pair before the setting of the sun. Truth be told the town had more business than it needed, and often in recent times disappointed couples had been turned away due to insufficient lodging. This was why, despite her being situated along the only path into the town, she (repugnant and foul though she was) was considered no danger. This was the line of reasoning that long prevailed. But, as the years passed, eventually the villagers came to realize they could not idly tolerate what they knew to be an evil and a meeting was called.