Scientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess. This mummy has the same genetic material as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers Sergei has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother vanished. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.
A rumble came from the cave. Or the ground shook. Something cried out: a baby’s wail? The men raised their spears all at once, as if they were one being with many arms. Asya’s brother and the other man rushed out of the cave. A dark blond darkness followed. The darkness roared, a sound that shook the snow mirrors and cleared Asya’s vision. The men fell upon the bear, plunging their spears into his flesh easily, as if he were a Christmas duck and their spears were forks and they were all fighting for the best piece.
Asya screamed. “Why are you killing this man?” She dropped to the ground and cradled the bear’s head in her lap. She leaned closer and tasted his breath; as he died, he whispered secrets to her.
Her father pulled her up; the bearman’s head thudded against the frozen ground.
Blood soaked Asya’s clothes.
“She’s the bear’s wife,” one man said.