People called Old White the "Seeker," a man never long with any people or place. For years he had wandered, leaving a trail of war, wonder, and broken love in his wake. Now he is headed home, called back by visions of chaos, blood, and fire. But there is more to the Seeker than most know. He is a man driven by a secret so terrible it may topple the greatest city in North America.
When the far-off Katsinas told Old White it was time to go home, he had no idea that his journey would take him to the head of the Mississippi, where he would encounter the mystical Two Petals--a youngsoul woman obsessed with Spirit Power, who lives life backwards. But before Two Petals can find her way out of the future, Old White must heal the rift in her tortured soul. To do so, he will need the help of Trader, a loner consumed by his own dark past.
People of the Weeping Eye is an epic set against the might and majesty of the great Mississippian Chiefdoms. New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear have breathed new life into North America's Forgotten Past with a sweeping saga that will forever change your appreciation of our country.
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Kathleen O'Neal Gear is a former state historian and archaeologist for Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She has twice received the federal government's Special Achievement Award for ""outstanding management"" of our nation's cultural heritage.
W. Michael Gear holds a master's degree in archaeology and has worked as a professional archaeologist since 1978. He is principal investigator for Wind River Archaeological Consultants.
Together they have written the North America's Forgotten Past series (People of the Morning Star, People of the Songtrail, People of the Mist, People of the Wolf, among others); and the Anasazi Mysteries series. The Gears live in Thermopolis, WY.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
People of the Weeping Eye
OneTime and the seasons had left the old woman's face a ruin.Much like my own. The man called Old White reached up, running the tip of his finger along the wrinkles that ate into his brown skin. He traced them where they deepened around his mouth, followed their patterns as they mimicked the uncounted ghosts of smiles and frowns long past. His forehead was a mass of ripples, his cheeks loose like flaps. A lifetime of blazing suns and scorching heat alternating with periods of frost-dimmed and aching cold had left its mark on his skin."What are you doing?" The old woman was watching him as he fingered his wattled chin. They sat in her thatch-roofed dwelling, high atop a long-abandoned earthen mound. Beyond the cane walls, he could hear the south wind in the trees as it blew up from the gulf. A fox squirrel chattered in one of the oaks.He shot the old woman a sidelong glance. "Comparing my face to yours.""You always were a silly goose." She sat across the fire from him, her bony butt on a tightly woven cattail mat. A worn fabric dress hung from her sunken shoulders. From a leather thong a pale shell gorget dangled below her withered neck. Long white hair was drawn into a bun behind her skull. Expressionless, she watched him with pensive eyes like polished pebbles; they seemed to read his souls. "There are no answers there, you know. A face is nothing more than a flawed mask. Ungovernable, it often hideswhat you wish given away, and betrays that which you most wish to conceal.""I was thinking of how beautiful you were the first time I ever saw you." As clearly as if it were yesterday, he remembered the moment he'd laid eyes on her. She had been naked, bathing in a small pool in the creek that lay a short distance north of her house. He'd been fleeing down a forest trail, his pack on his back. At first glimpse of her, he had stopped in surprise, his form masked by a tangle of honeysuckle. He could still smell the flowers, hear the whizzing chirr of the insects, and sense the faint rustle of wind in the gum and hickory leaves.She had looked up, meeting his stare. To his surprise there had been no fear, no startled widening of the eyes. Instead she'd raised an eyebrow, demanding, "Are you going to stand there and gape, or will you come down and scrub my back?"Awkwardly he had stumbled down the leaf-matted slope, thick black soil clinging to his moccasins. Somehow he'd managed to help her bathe, wondering at the perfect form of her lithe body, painfully aware of the full swell of her pointed breasts and moonlike buttocks. It was later he'd finally remarked, "It was as if you knew I was coming."She'd narrowed her eyes, voice softening. "Oh, yes. I'd heard your souls whimpering from quite some distance."He had stayed, and she had partially healed him. Hand in hand they had explored the old earthworks, line after line of curving ridges. Forest had reclaimed what had once been a great city, but in the backdirt of squirrel caches, and in places where the leaf mat was disturbed, old cooking clays, bits of pottery, and chipped stone tools caught the light."What was this place?" he had asked in awe."The ghosts," she said softly, "they tell me this place was called Sun Town. They say it was the center of the world. All manner of men and Spirits came here to marvel. That is, if you can believe the ghosts.""Can you?"She had shrugged. "Even ghosts lie."He had studied the layout of the place, so different from that of the peoples he knew. He had sketched it out in the black loam, and thought it in the shape of a bird. It was while digging for greenbriar root that he noticed the little red jasper owl lying among the old cooking clays.Her eyes had shone, pensive and intrigued when he'd given it to her."Masked Owl," she'd told him. "He comes to my Dreams sometimes and tells me stories about the past. Tales of murder, intrigue, and poison.""Then your Dreams are as haunted as my own." And he had looked sidelong at his heavy pack where it lay beside her door.Several hands' journey to the south, the Serpent Bird band of the Natchez had built a town around several temples atop tall mounds. Despite being so close, they shunned the quiet ruins of Sun Town, left it to the ghosts and the solitary woman who lived atop the tree-studded mound. But on occasion some individual, driven to desperation, would brave his or her fear and follow the trails north, seeking the Forest Witch for some cure or other.That long-ago summer had been blissful for him. He'd been alone, with only her knowing eyes and her soft touch for company. She had heard his story, and salved his souls in the house she'd built atop the ancient tree-studded mound."You are lost in the past," the old woman said, breaking into his thoughts. "What brought you back to me after all of these years?"He took a deep breath and looked around the walls of her little house. Cane posts had been planted upright in a square trench, soil piled around the bases, and the uprights tied together like an oversize mat to make the walls. Overhead, batches of moldy thatch had turned gray, most covered with soot. Her few possessions consisted of cooking pots and net bags that held her herbs,dried corn, and Spirit Plants. Two plucked ducks he'd brought with him slowly roasted in the ash of the firepit. Tantalizing odors rose to his nostrils as fat sizzled and spit. The skin had begun to brown just right."The Katsinas, out west at Oraibi Town, told me to go home," he told her. "Then, when I reached the western Caddo, I had a Dream. It has plagued me. Over and over, I see her.""Her?"He nodded. "A young woman. Maybe a girl. I don't know. She watches me. Sees through me. When I really look at her, I see fire reflected in her eyes. Not just a cooking fire, but a conflagration. A huge roaring fire. It spins out from her fingers, and where it touches me, my skin freezes. Then she laughs and turns off to the south, pointing. But when I turn to look, I can't see any way but north. Upriver."The old woman watched him thoughtfully. "Still the Seeker, aren't you?" A bitter pout lined her mouth. "What I would have given to have kept you all those summers long ago.""I had to go. The Dreams ...""I know." A wistfulness lay behind her faded eyes. "Only a fool loves the Seeker.""Or a witch."She nodded. "You were the only fool in my life, Seeker."He cocked his head. "But I heard you had a son."She gave him a flat stare. "He was born six moons after you left."A cold understanding flowed through his gut. "Why didn't you say something?""It wasn't the time ... or place." The ghost of a smile on her lips conveyed no humor. "Power had other plans for you.""And my son?""What boy wants to live in a forest with a witch? My sister took him after several years. He likes living in thesociety of men. He comes through every couple of summers. Lives down on the coast. He's married. His wife has children. For all I know, the children have children.""I would like to know him.""He doesn't know about you."He stiffened in response to her serene expression."Stop it," she said softly. "Would you have given up your quest? Hmm? Ceased to punish yourself, or--pray the gods--actually have forgiven yourself?" A pause. "That's what it takes to be a father. And, perhaps, even a husband. No, old lover, don't look at me like that. You made your choices. All of them, knowing full well the consequences. It's too late now to change them.""I would know what he--""You didn't come here to find a son you didn't know existed. You came to find a girl."He opened his hand, staring down at the callused palm. Old scars had faded into the lines. Her words echoed between his souls. "I have lost so much, in so many places."In a gentle voice, she asked, "Did you find the ends of the world?"He shook his head. "It's not like the stories the Priests tell. The gods alone know how big the world really is. I can't tell you the things I've seen. You wouldn't believe the different peoples, the forests, the deserts, the lands of ice and snow, the endless seas. I've seen an eternity of grass that ripples like waves in the wind, buffalo herds ... like black cloud patterns as far as the eye can see. Mountains, thrusting spires of naked rock into the heavens so high that you would believe the very sky was pierced. Rivers of ice that flow down valleys like ..." But he could see that he'd lost her. He lowered his head. Even she, who knew everything, couldn't conceive the reality behind his pitiful words."That was the Trade you made," she told him. "The manner in which you insisted on punishing yourself.""Why did I come back here?"She laid a hand on his shoulder. "So that I could tell you it was time. The circles of Power are closing."As she spoke he could see the Dream girl's face. She was young, barely a woman. Her long black hair gleamed in the light, waving as if teased by wind or waves. Reflections filled her large dark eyes. The images seemed to shift and beckon, mocking in their mannerisms. Smooth brown skin, unmarred by wrinkles or scars, molded to her bones; and her smile was a darting and tempting thing."Go to her," the old woman said. "I can see her in your eyes. Powerful, this one. So very Powerful.""She has called me from across half a world. Will she kill me?" he wondered. "Is that why I Dream the fire in her eyes? Will she burn me to restore the balance?"The old woman lifted her shoulder in a careless shrug.How characteristic of her. The Forest Witch had never hidden the truth or played games with him, never smoothed the rough edges of life. Not even back then, when he'd been frightened, lonely, and horrified. Now, as he looked at her age-ravaged face, sadness filled his breast."What are you thinking?" she asked."That I would make you beautiful again. That I would go back to that morning I found you by the stream, and we would live it all over again.""And that you would never leave?"He nodded."I thought you had ceased to delude yourself with foolishness. Wasn't it doing 'what had to be done' that got you into this in the first place?"He stared at her over the roasting ducks."Of course it was," she answered for him. "We're both beings of Power, you and I, so let's stop wishing for what never could have been and eat these ducks. Then, tomorrow, fool-who-loved-me, you can be on your way north.""North? Upriver? But she points south in the Dream.""You say that she touches you with fire, but it freezes your flesh?"He nodded."She points south, but you can only see north? Upriver?""Confusing, isn't it?""Contraries generally are."He shot a quizzical glance her way, then felt the certainty of it. "I should have known.""Oh, I think you did. Coming here was a way of admitting what you already knew. You're bringing the circle full. What was begun must be ended." She paused. "Wait, I have something for you." She pulled at the grease-black leather thong around her neck. From inside her dress came a small hide bag closed with a drawstring. This she opened, fishing out a little red stone object.He looked down after she placed it in his hand. The small potbellied owl with its cocked head and masked eyes rested warmly against his skin. The circle come fully closed. Beginning and ending."Perhaps, when this is done ..." He couldn't finish.She extended her withered arm across the hearth to place a finger on his lips. "A lie is as venomous when told to yourself as it is when told to others. Tomorrow, go. And never come back here, my vanished love.""Is that all that is left to us?""The only reason you ever came to me was to leave." She smiled wearily as she used a stick to turn the ducks where they roasted among the embers. "Go, find this woman of fire who freezes in your Dreams. I have given you all that I can. With the return of that little owl, we owe nothing more to each other."
The Copper Lands lay along the rocky western shores of the great lakes. Some called them the FreshwaterSeas. For generations local peoples had mined sacred copper from the green-crusted rocks. Copper was Traded the length and breadth of the great rivers. Beaten flat, sculpted into images of gods, heroes, and sacred shapes, it was prized by the great lords of the south for its polished beauty. Shaped into ax heads, maces, and jewelry, the mere possession of it demonstrated a man's authority, wealth, and status. Ownership of copper was the province of chiefs and chieftesses, of Priests, Dreamers, and great warriors. The mighty and influential adorned their bodies and buildings with it, and the lucky few carried it with them to their graves.A small nugget of copper was worth a man's life. Empires had risen and fallen over its control. While occasional small nuggets had been found in the southeastern mountains, the finest copper came from around the great freshwater lakes. Mostly the locals mined it, hammered it into shape, and Traded it downriver. But on occasion, a willing individual with more than his fair share of ambition dickered with the local tribes for the right to mine his own.The man known as Trader wiped a gritty sleeve across his sweat-streaked face and looked up at the gray scudding clouds. They came in low over the choppy waters of the great lake, driven by a wet and pregnant north wind. Trader could smell the moisture, cool, promising rain and dreary skies.For three days he had worked in this hole. Spoil dirt from generations of previous excavators had trickled down the steep slope. From the lip of the hole, Trader had a good view of the river valley below, where Snow Otter's village--a cluster of bark-sided lodges--stood on a knoll above the sandy beach. Canoes, looking like dark sticks from this distance, were pulled up on the bank. Smoke puffed from the lodges in blue wreaths.The surrounding hills were covered with thick growths of pine, hemlock, silver fir, birch, maple, and cedars. To the north, he could see the endless horizon of the greatlake. He had never felt comfortable in these far northern lands. Born in the warm hickory woodlands of the south, he'd never adjusted to the chill that stalked the blue shadows beneath the conifers and birch. He could sense it, waiting, knowing that the days need but shorten before it would creep out and smother the trees, soil, and stone.Trader swiped at the cloud of mosquitoes humming around his head. He was handsome, with a finely formed face, strong jaw, and high forehead. Not particularly tall, he was wide shouldered and well muscled from years of plying a paddle against the current. His face bore only outlines of tattoos, as if they had been interrupted before being finished. His eyes were surrounded by forked-eye designs; and a bar ran from ear to ear high across his cheeks and over his broad nose. When he laughed, his teeth were white and straight, his lips mobile and full. Women smiled when they met his gaze, a quickening sparkle in their eyes.He turned his attention to the depths of the hole. An oversize wolf might have worried such a lair out of the earth's bones. The walls were...
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