The main character is Kira, a disabled and orphaned girl who shares a mystical power that other children share, a power of craft. They are used by the community to create artistically rendered historical documents. Ultimately the artists realize that they were purposely made orphans by the Council of Guardians. Kira's mother, Katrina, dies of a mysterious illness that is not spread to any other person in the community, and her father, Christopher, is said to have been taken by ambiguously described 'beasts'. However, he is actually residing in another village, a village that provides more freedom, and a place he escaped to in order avoid the jealous wrath of one of the Guardians. He is significant because he offers Kira a place in the village, but she refuses, feeling that she can offer her people help if she remains.