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Written by Michael Braun
Matty used to be a mischievous boy who called himself the fiercest of the fierce. His mother raised him and his brother alone after his father left the family. Often, he would get severely beaten. When he arrived at village, he could neither read nor write, so the schoolteacher Mentor gave him the necessary education. It took Matty a while to quit his habit of lying, and even now he still lies once in a while because he thinks it makes things easier. Seer, his guardian, tries to make him adopt the values of the village. Matty enjoys living with the blind man even though sometimes his impatience gets the best of him. Matty likes Jean, the teacher's daughter but does not openly admit his crush on her. Matty's job in the village is to deliver messages to other towns across the hostile forest because for some reason the forest does not attack him like the others. Matty completes his tasks dutifully and therefore wishes to receive the true name Messenger. Soon he discovers his special gift, which is his ability to heal. In the end, he sacrifices his life to defeat the forest. Leader then gives him the true name Healer.
Seer is Matty's guardian. Even though Seer is blind, Matty concludes that he sees more than most people because he is not deceived by a person's outer appearance. Instead, he listens carefully for clues to expose the underlying personality. Early in the story, Matty says that Seer can even hear a spider going from one side of its web to another.
Leader is the village chief. He came to the village on a sled from a town whose government kept information secret and killed people with impurities. He has introduced a set of rules, such as keeping no secrets. He is also the guardian of knowledge, as he owns a large number of books. He believes in democracy and accepts the decision of the majority to stop the influx of refugees. His unique gift is the ability to "see beyond," which he uses to find Matty and Kira in the forest.
Mentor is the schoolteacher of the village. He puts considerable effort into developing his children academically and personally, making sure they follow the path of righteousness. He has a prominent birthmark on his face and a bald spot on his head. After attending the Trade Mart, however, his personality changes, as he - a widower - has traded it for a better appearance to court a woman. Becoming now increasingly selfish, he leads a petition to close the village gates and build a wall to prevent new refugees from taking their resources.
Kira is the daughter of Seer. However, instead of coming with him to Village, she decided to stay at home and join him later. Because the young woman has a crooked leg and needs to walk with a cane, she would have been killed by her own community already if she did not have the talent to dye fabric so beautifully. Moreover, she has the gift of being able to look into the future by stitching scenes. When Matty offers to heal her leg, she declines, explaining that the disability is a part of her and she would become a different person if she lost it. On the journey through the forest, she turns out to be a tough young woman, fighting through the hostile environment despite her handicap. Kira's name means "leader," which hints at the possible future of her together with Leader after Matty has sacrificed his life for the village.
Jean is Ramon's sister and the daughter of Mentor. Matty has a crush on her, and she keeps teasing him with the promise of a kiss. Often, she can be found in her flower garden, as she sells flower bouquets and bread at the market. She gives Frolic to Matty after he saves the dog's life. As soon as greed and selfishness spread in the village, she and her brother Ramon become sick.
Ramon is one of Matty's friends at the village. The two frequently go fishing together. Ramon's family got a gaming machine from the trade mart, which makes Matty envious. As soon as greed and selfishness spread in the village, Ramon and his sister Jean become sick.
Frolic is Matty's dog. Using his healing power, Matty saved Frolic and his mother from a fatal sickness. The dog is mischievous in the beginning but faithful and cheerful when he becomes Matty's companion.
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When Seer reads the message about the meeting, which involves a vote about whether to close the community borders, Seer says that selfishness is creeping into Village. Matty is shocked because the proponents for the border closure are led by...