The night they took Saran’s little brother from the ranch was like many other nights on the High Plains: the thin, cold wind keened wildly over the meager yellow grass, herding dark storm clouds in a furious stampede westward across the sky to join the thick mist that shrouded the mountains of Chanor. Only a few fat drops of moisture spattered the stony soil of what Plainsmen called the Zuduls, the badlands, their promised country. In the thirty-five years since they had first settled on this vast altiplano, rain had never fallen. The clouds just streamed tantalizingly overhead, and the ceaseless wind moaned as if mocking the Plainsmen’s travails.
Saran had just been lulled to sleep by the banshee crying of that wind when a pounding at the door jerked her awake. Only tragedy could bring someone to our family’s parcel at this late hour, she reflected. And her heart ached with a sudden prescience. For there was a registered skinwalker in her family, one whose ability had just manifested as he reached his twelfth year.