Heartwood! The center of a forest. The living center of a tree. The beast that lives within them both..  
 
The story begins in 1211 AD in what will become the American Southwest, where the ancestors of the Apache hunt and make war on their neighbors. This is a time when a legend, one to be feared, walks the land of the living. Even so, young Tosa-de-zee, a warrior of the fierce Abaáchi, defies his family and embarks upon the red path to take his first scalp. But the keeper of the forest, the Heartwood, has other ideas and young Tosa will lose a friend and perhaps his life.
Fast forward to the present where once again the keeper awakes. A creature of the forest that kills without passion and has no peer when it comes to stalking and the hunt. Its prey; human.
 
Máał Chishtsáh’ih - Beware when the Bad Sticks come.
 
An Apache legend comes alive in the high mountains of northern New Mexico. Hikers, hunters and campers, missing and presumed dead.
 
A deadly mystery that must be faced by tribal policeman, Oz Salazar, an Apache living in a white man’s world. A man who has lost touch with his traditions and his warrior roots.
 
The Keeper of the forest, a beast defending its home and its mate. Awakened after years of slumber it has emerged into a world vastly changed.
 
Two paths on a collision course. For the Keeper it is a fight for survival. For Oz it is a mystery he must solve... or die trying. 


 
As part of the development I created an Indian legend. One of the challenges was to create it so that it sounded origional without being too puerile, showing how tribal lauguages and history translate so poorly into english. The result is below;

Abaáchi (Apache) Legend

Do not walk the paths of the forest when the Bad Sticks come.

Coyote danced under the moon. Owl watched from the branch of a tree. Shrew stared out from the grass. “Why do you dance, Coyote?” Owl asked. “They come!” Coyote yipped. “Who? Who?” asked the owl. “Máał!” Coyote laid back his head and howled. “Máał Chishtsáhih!” Owl blinked then closed his eyes, unwilling to see the evil that is was to come. Shrew smiled because for once there would be much to eat. Coyote barked once more at the moon then fled from the trees for the safety of the desert. Coyote loved to play, and loved to play jokes on the people, but there would be no jokes for many moons and his voice would not echo from the forest. As long as the coyote was gone Abaáchi mothers would cry. It was the season of the Máał Chishtsáhih. Do not walk the paths of the forest when the Bad Sticks come.