Storm Shadows, the second book in my Eternal Shadows series, begins with Marcus hiding from hunters on Eternity Mountain. He's wounded, in cougar-mode, and trying desperately to get in touch telepathically with one or all of his brothers. Crawling under a large Balsam fir to hide, he settles down to wait and is thrown unexpectedly into a vision in which an unknown woman appears to help him. Though Marc doesn't know it yet, the woman will eventually play a part in breaking the curse for him.
The primary legend in this book deals with Cherokee beliefs of how long a person lives and reincarnation. The reason I chose to include it in Storm is that Marc shifts into a cougar. A cougar is a cat and everybody knows cats have nine lives, right?
This is one variation (First People http://www.firstpeople.us/):
“…through a peculiar doctrine of reincarnation, according to which, as explained by the shamans, there is assigned to every animal a definite life term which cannot be curtailed by violent means. If it is killed before the expiration of the allotted time the death is only temporary and the body is immediately resurrected in its proper shape from the blood drops, and the animal continues its existence until the end of the predestined period, when the body is finally dissolved and the liberated spirit goes to join its kindred shades in the Darkening land.
This idea appears in the story of the bear man and in the belief concerning the Little Deer. Death is thus but a temporary accident and the killing a mere minor crime. By some priests it is held that there are seven successive reanimations before the final end.”
That last sentence added to the old "a cat has nine lives" saying is what got me thinking, what if the curse doesn't give them eternal life but instead an extended period of life? In the opening scene of Storm where Marc first sees Betty Sue, the heroine, he has already “died” five times and if he dies this time it will be his sixth which means he only has one more life. If he is “killed” again after that sixth death, his brothers won’t be able to bring him back, no matter what they do.
I have another paranormal romance, Winds of Fate, coming out later this year. It’s based primarily on the legend of the Blowing Rock in North Carolina, which I’ll talk about in a later post, but the reincarnation legend fit so perfectly with the story that I couldn’t resist using it again.