Men! Their expectations always exceed my abilities.
First, Father grooms me to be Watcher of Lipfar after him. But The Masters withheld Watcher sight. Poor Father—so disappointed.
Then Listor, my betrothed, decides two days before our marriage that he prefers short, curvy blondes to tall, skinny girls with messy brown curls.
I learned to be content with ringing the Landend bells and painting landscapes. But now Father has called me home because he’s dying.
Dying. How can that be? Watchers live long lives for the sake of their cities.
But not only did he and Mother ask me to return home, they “find” another potential husband to escort me. A huge man from the far off land of Elpan. There is no way I can meet his expectations: endurance, laughter in the face of danger, absolute confidence in The Masters’ goodness. The only question is how long before he realizes I’m not what he wants in a wife.
(alternate mono:) Her? Singled out by The Masters to stop her country’s destruction? With all the failures in her past? What a cruel joke. Skills in bell ringing and painting do nothing to stop the enemy’s relentless advance. Regardless of what the behemoth, Kyam, says about my paintings being The Masters messages. Kyam—strong, experienced warrior, always right, laughing when most men cursed or wept, steadfast. How could so perfect a man be happy married to a failure-ridden her?
Still there are advantages to having his protection on the trip home. When had her country become so very dangerous? Every time she turned around there was animosity blocking her path. There could be none better than Kyam and his dog Castoff to see her safely to her parents.
Mountains! We Elpians don’t want to live without them. They test our strength and courage. They give us purpose and keep us from complacency. Convenience and comfort deadens a man’s soul. Makes him vulnerable to all kinds of deceptions. Not that I don’t value beauty and rest. Nor does it mean a life without merrymaking. They are merely the reward for a life well lived.
I need not worry about complacency overtaking my life—not when The Masters have given me Cierra as my beloved. Winning her love and trust is the largest mountain I have ever faced. Her heart is scarred and will not be easily gained.
And then there is the evil brooding over her country. Why the citizens can’t see it is baffling. It will take all my skill and experience to bring her safely home.
Humans! They’re enough to make a dog howl. If only I were allowed to speak, I’d set them straight. Say what is true. Face your fears head on. Never abandon your dog pack. Always obey The Masters.
Not that my humans aren’t better than most. But they are making a huge mess of their courtship. And they get so caught up in their arguments, they miss some important signals. Like evil lurking in their path. And The Masters’ hand rescuing them time after time as they stumble and bumble they way home.
Regardless of their mistakes, they’re my humans and I love them. Between The Masters and me, they’ll complete the task set before them.