Years later my mother returned looking tired and gray. Her soft beauty was only a memory that was never mine to know. She brought with her tales of the sickness and disease in the west. Of the red bearded and yellow bearded wild men who raced across the grasslands on horseback conquering villages and spreading disease in their wake.

Those men had attacked the village Sonia and mother was visiting. With the villagers weakened by disease there was no hope of defense. All were lost, and Sonia . Beautiful Red Sonia was captured and taken away by the men who looked so much like her.

This news struck me harder than I would ever understand. My sister and I had never been close, but knowing that she was gone caused a strange effect in me. I began to apply myself even harder to please my mother. I was seventeen at the time of my mothers return. Within three years I had finally mastered the healing arts. But even with this skill I could do nothing to save her. Sonia was her world; sorrow filled her swelling her feet and joints of her hand. Her once proud features seemed to collapse in on its self, her spine curved, shrinking her more and more each day. Now the healer lay immobilized by her broken heart. The pain she felt was more than any one could bear.

She took to wandering listlessly around the village, young children and dogs tagging after. Memory and morals left as the season dragged on, depression filled in their wake.

During the first days of fall, when wicked autumnal winds blew down from the mountains , she wandered into the forest with no intent of return.

Several days later children found her sitting propped against a tree. A jagged smile stretched across her face, the shaft of a spear protruding from her breast.