War threatens to destroy the world of Anthelion unless the holy man, Goran, can solve his prophecy riddle. For every clue he finds, another obstacle surfaces. An orphan girl, Watcher, becomes his responsibility. As if parenthood itself isn’t daunting enough, she keeps a bear for a pet and transforms into her forest surroundings to avoid socialization. Hope momentarily emerges when Goran finds Benaiah, the Chosen Son of the prophecy. Only he soon discovers Benaiah is a social pariah on the verge of embracing darkness.
When Benaiah and Watcher unexpectedly meet, the two outsiders find in each other a sense of belonging they’ve never known. Now their emerging love promises to bring about the very war Goran is struggling to prevent.
Goran looked at her in disbelief. “You have fallen? From a tree?”
“Only because the Annoying One startled me half to death. I am fine. Nothing is broken,” she said, and began the painful journey to the farmhouse.
Goran had sometimes tried to enter her mind during her childhood. She found it exasperating and learned quickly to block him out. Benaiah proved more difficult to impede. She thought perhaps he might be part Alderin like Goran, although he did not have the look of one. In her mind she covered her thoughts in a blanket of snow. White, white, all is white.
Ben and Goran began to follow Watcher, but suddenly Ben stopped and grabbed Goran by the arm. “She blocks her thoughts,” he whispered, surprised.
“Yes. I’ve no idea what goes on in that fool head of hers.”
Ben became flushed with anger. It was rare to find someone he could not read. To have constant knowledge of others’ thoughts was maddening, tedious, and altogether lonely. He had been living in near seclusion on the farm for almost three years as he rested from the war and escaped the thoughts of men. He would have appreciated the company of someone he could not read.
“Why have you kept her from me?” he asked, angrily.
Goran laughed. “You assume I have some sort of influence on that creature. I tried to find a proper home for her in the village throughout her childhood. Every time I tried, she hid in the woods for days. I finally decided God put this kernel in my teeth for a reason. She comes and goes as she pleases, but she has never left Willowbrook Wood until now,” Goran explained.
Benaiah let go of Goran’s arm. Watcher was several paces ahead, determined to show them she was not crippled by her embarrassing fall.
“I did not give you permission to wear my cloak,” he taunted her, knowing from the flashes of pink he’d seen as she fell, she had nothing on under.
Watcher glared back at him and walked toward the edge of the woods again. She walked face first into the first tree she came to, dropping the cloak as she became bark, then trunk wood, then bark again on the other side. Watcher called softly to her pet, hoping he had not grown hungry and wandered off. He was not far off when she called.
“Thank you, Kitty. Off you go, I’ll be all right for a while.” she whispered, as she grabbed her pack, slipped on her own cloak, and returned to the clearing.
Ben once again stopped in his tracks. “How did she do that?” he asked.
Goran shrugged. “Her gift.”
“What sort of creature walks through trees?”
Goran shook his head. “I am afraid you are about to find out.”
He thought for a moment about warning Benaiah not to become distracted, not to lose focus of his duties soon to come, but he had grown weary of being the messenger of such foreboding. She would most likely be gone within the week, after all.