“This is one of Chuck Buda’s strongest series. It’s Supernatural meets West World and so much more. Love every book in this series and always hope for more.” — Jay Wilburn #CaptainThreeKidneys
Teaser from Curse of the Ancients Son of Earp book 1 by Chuck Buda
The sun blazed across the grassy plains like a bonfire. His dark skin glistened as he sprinted for the woods ahead. He leapt over a fallen tree in the knee-high golden grass. Afraid to glance behind, Crouching Bear lurched forward as he searched for places to hide and relief from the heat.
He knew that his time was short. The tribe would be coming for him to avenge his mistake. The spirits might forgive him someday, but his people would not. They must make an example of him. It was how the tribe governed itself. Warriors were celebrated and a man who failed to achieve this lofty status was demonized as less than a man, or worse, a coward. Crouching Bear was no coward. And he wasn’t a warrior either. At least, he wasn’t any longer.
Crouching Bear studied the ways of the warrior soul. He spent countless months practicing among the elders, harnessing the great warrior spirit. He had proved himself a valuable hunter and fierce fighter. Until the moment where everything changed.
The tribe had tried to live side by side with the light-skinned. They accepted the terms of peace in order to coexist in the unforgiving expanses of the plains. Then the white man ran out of resources to feed and shelter their kin, and turned upon the peaceful tribe. They lost women and children. Their livestock was taken. The village burned. So the tribe defended their territory. They summoned the warrior spirit and attacked the settlement in a blood fury. Crouching Bear had fought the raiding white man with his brothers. He terrorized the men with collected scalps. He stabbed a woman, round with unborn child inside her. He slaughtered the white man’s loyal dogs. And he killed Laughing Crow, by accident.
Laughing Crow was the Chief’s middle son. He was a fierce warrior and very strong. He was named for being an intelligent leader with a jovial sense of humor. Unlike most braves, he enjoyed the lighter side of life and shunned the seriousness of others. Laughing Crow was known to play tricks and he always had a funny story about emptying the anus. While many feared him, just as many followed him. But on that day his jokes had cost him his life.
Crouching Bear had finished adding another scalp to his pouch when he noticed a man sneaking into one of the shelters. He followed the man inside and landed upon his back with knife blade. The dead man hit the floor and Crouching Bear rolled him over to collect his token. That is when he learned that Laughing Crow had dressed himself in white-man’s garments. Laughing Crow wore a heavy wool coat with a tan, felt hat. His hair was tucked inside the coat and all Crouching Bear saw was a man trying to escape. The last prank was the most costly.
In a panic, Crouching Bear tried to bring back Laughing Crow’s warrior soul but it had already flown. Then several tribesmen found him over the body and took him to the Chief. A hearing was held and Crouching Bear was banished from the tribe. Before they released him to the wilderness, he was cursed so that he and his future sons would always walk alone. A blood bounty was issued, and Crouching Bear knew that more than a few warriors would seek him out, not only to avenge Laughing Crow’s death, but also to elevate their status within the tribe.
He finally reached the tree line and discovered a game trail. It snaked to the left and then rose gradually through the forest. He would have to leave the game trail if he wanted to hide, but he knew the tracking skills of the men would lead them to the same conclusion. Crouching Bear found a thicket beneath a grove of spruce trees and settled down for a rest. The dappled sunlight cast shadows around the grove, providing more cover. He picked a few berries from his pouch and popped them into his mouth. The berries had soured and oozed juices on his fingers.
For the first time since the tribe banished him, Crouching Bear was scared. He hadn’t any time to think or worry as he ran through endless fields. But now he replayed the tragedy in his mind. He felt the ground rumble with many feet searching for him. And he envisioned the slaughter that would arrive once they discovered him.
As he rested his legs he thought about his parents and sister. He would never see them again and he left them in shame. They would now be labeled as the family of the one who killed Laughing Crow. While the tribe had no reason to blame them for his misdeeds, they would become outcasts just the same. Their future would be lonely and without pride.
A tear trickled down his darkened cheek like a mountain spring. It was so unfair that he could not speak for his mistake. The punishment was more than the crime. Laughing Crow’s death was accidental. Banishment would have been a fitting price to pay. But cursing his soul and his future offspring’s souls was a heavy price. Plus he must forever walk with silent steps so that the blood bounty would not follow him. There must be a place that he could escape to, where the tribe would eventually give up its search. If such a place existed, he must find it to survive.
Check out the Son of Earp series by Chuck Buda now.