I was inspired to tell this story, based on its original theme of seeking perfection. This concept evolved as I wrote the characters and the story unfolded. The boy—he has no other name—feels alone and isolated in the village. No one speaks with him and most people believe that there is something wrong with him.
Up until the late summer when the story happens, he’s found satisfaction in dedicating himself to being the perfect runner, especially in the woods. Perhaps he is following his mother’s last command as she tried to save him from the massacre, but whatever its origin his idea of perfection is to move through the forest as fast as he can, and without a sound. I expanded on this in the original prologue—which I chose to replace, but which I still think provides a good insight into his character. The original prologue and another unpublished chapter are both available on my web site at https://michaelselden.com.
The character Red Sky was another person in the village with the need to work toward perfection in his chosen skill. He was initially inspired by the character of Kyūzō, one of the seven samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film, although Red Sky’s character was tempered by recent events in his own life.
Ultimately, most good stories are about growth and change, and the initial makeup of people in a story a starting point. I think that the interesting stories in our own lives are those that bring change.