A spell has been cast on Sorcha's brothers so turning them into swans. To break the spell she must spin each of them a shirt from the fibres of the poisonous starwort plant. A traditional fantasy tale which I thought was a little trite to begin with, but was soon unable to put down.
Perhaps I was stupid to believe I could lift the spell. Too many stories, you may say, a head too full of old tales, where it's just a matter of completing the tasks, and then the hero wins his heart's desire. But I was not so foolish, even then. I had once told Simon he could make his tale end any way he liked. But this was not strictly true. I set my path straight ahead; but there were others that influenced its course, that diverted and changed and confused it. And as the Forest Lady had warned me, even at the start it would be very hard. Far harder than I had believed it could be when I had first listened white-faced to her description of my task.