This morning I was thinking about a friend of mine, Shara, and the incredible life she has had. I thought I would share a bit of her past in case you might follow her adventure in the Paladin Shadows chronicles.
Shara came about quite by accident, an unexpected bundle in the Smallwood household. She was born in the beautiful, pine covered Riggs Valley in the western United States and raised on her parent’s horse ranch outside of the small college town of Riggin. She was eight years behind her two, planned sisters, both of whom generally ignored her during her years growing up. They left home not under the best of circumstances after quarreling with their mother over things she could not remember. They moved to the lower valley and lived with their great aunt in the town of Hawthorne.
Her father, Henry, was a full blooded Apache, raised on the Antelope Mesa Indian Reservation, a day’s drive north of the Riggs Valley and upon reaching manhood, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the reservation. It was a very auspicious day, when he gave in to the urgings of a friend, and made an impromptu trip to look for other work opportunities farther to the south where the winters might be less harsh. They overnighted in Riggin and the next morning in a café over breakfast, a local resident, Andrew Hawkins and his wife struck up a casual conversation. When Henry responded to their questions that they were passing through on their way to find work. Andrew suggested they come out to their ranch and consider working for them.
Henry arrived at the Hawkins’ ranch and when he was greeted by Andrew’s daughter Clea, something clicked; in that moment, Henry stopped looking for other work.
When Henry and Clea married, Andrew passed the ranch to Clea and she and Henry began building a life of raising and training horses, teaching others to ride and many of the town’s children the art of competing in rodeos and other horse centered activities.
Shara occupied her childhood engrossed in horses and everything about them. She seldom made friends and by the time she reached high school, had had all she could take of post-pubescent boys. Near the end of her junior year, Shara discovered Jill Thomas, at one of Jill’s older cousin’s birthday parties. Jill was still in middle school, but her engaging, sometimes outrageous personality caught her attention and they soon became fast friends, despite their age difference.
To skip ahead a little, Shara decided against college immediately after high school, instead diving into her horse and rider training activities. She had become very skilled in rodeo competitions, taking her first blue ribbons when she was seven and garnering many more each summer in the years since. Everything was good, until, that is, her grandparents, Andrew and Katherine, died in a car wreck near Clay. Then six months later, her mother suddenly divorced her father.
Four years later, in the fall of her twenty-eighth year, Shara had returned to her supplementary job, working for the college in their financial records department. That was the fall when her world fell apart for the third time. Her unknown and unexpected talents began to appear and sacred her beyond words and then she discovered her great aunt’s nefarious pastime of enslaving people for the Galactic markets.
It was also the fall that Jill discovered that an elusive, never spoken of relative, Greg Malone, had quietly arrived in Riggin and was working for the same Woods Lumber and Mill that she was.