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Lost treasure is the last thing fourteen-year-old River Ereckson expects to hear about when she visits a powwow to explore the traditions of her American Indian ancestors.Yet when a fur-clad stranger says she must recover what's lost, the task soon becomes an unavoidable mission.
Her precarious journey takes her into the Spirit world where she confronts the absolute evil of Vega who wants to drop the treasure into the bottomless Well of Sorrow. It's up to River to retrieve what's been lost so everything female in Creation—human, animal, and plant—can become fully empowered. Along the way she finds help from a Mystery man, unusual creatures from the other world, and her own great-grandmothers who have transcended time.
Relying on intuition and improvisation, River accomplishes things she never imagined. But will it be enough to defeat her enemies?
Page Count: 198
Word Count: 49805
Auntie Bee seemed more than ever like a little ball of love. Her smile smoothed River’s spirit. First, the woman made River change her clothes.
“Got to be plain and simple to go into Spirit. I made you this for your travel.”
Aunt Bee presented River with a white deerskin dress with short fringe on the hem and sleeves. The gift made River happy. When River came out of the bathroom in the dress, Aunt Bee told River to take off all her jewelry, shoes, hair ties—everything of her own.
Bee put plain leather moccasins with thick leather soles on her feet and gave her a pouch on a long leather thong that she could carry across her body. The dress felt heavy, but she found she liked its weight.
“Now that’s more like it.” Cedar Hawk nodded approvingly to his wife when River came back to the porch. “Here, put this tobacco you brought in your pouch.”
Cedar Hawk rubbed his thumb quickly from River’s right eye to her right ear and did the same on the left. She saw a red mark from each eye to each ear on his own face.
“You are painted. This is not decoration. When we walk into that Spirit world, Power will be pulling me,” the Mystery man explained. Even though I have been there before, I don’t know exactly where we are going. It’s not the same place twice. Whatever happens, keep me in sight, walk where I walk and don’t stop.
“When we step off this porch, we cross into another place. It will look the same, but you can feel, if you try, that it is different. We will be shifted into the next world over.”
“What’s the next world over?” River asked.
“It’s the one right next to us all the time. Sometimes if you don’t understand something that’s happened here, you can find the answers there. When we go there, there’s no talking. Any energy we put out there can leave a trail. Talking lights us up like a neon sign to some things over there…things you don’t want to know about. You have to agree to go there. You have to tell me you want to go. We won’t take a step unless you do.”
“Oh…” she couldn’t think what to say next.
“Sometimes you just have to go.”
“Okay. Let’s go.”
Cedar Hawk lit cedar in the shell, offered it to the four directions, and fanned it all around her. Then he brought the fragrant smoke toward himself four times. He looked at her for a long moment.
“Good enough,” he said. “Now, we walk.”
River and the mystery man stepped off the porch into the next world over.
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