After an asteroid decimates the earth and leaves the planet's axis slightly askew, the western hemisphere is locked in perpetual winter. A body of survivors who believed the age old Lakota star signs, camp in the well stocked Wind Cave in the southwest corner of South Dakota.
Physically able to live nearly a year in the 500 mile cave, still the people die. They walk away into the pitch dark tunnels, "throwing their lives away like bitter fruit."
Tate Iyumni, named after the 'little whirlwind' that dances along the high desert plateaus in the arid heat of summer, was a foundling deserted as a newborn by a desperate mother too terrified to bring her strangely marked baby into camp. Found and adopted by an ancient couple, Tate grew well schooled in traditional Lakota ways, the secrets of healing plants, and the mysteries existing in the living and the dead. But because the story of her birth, of the caul covering her face and the uncanny grey eyes that change color with the sky, Tate has had to live on the periphery of her community.
The facts that she has a healing touch for the range cattle, and the ability to work as hard as any man on the ranches surrounding the Rose Bud Reservation, set the young woman even further apart.
With only Old Charlie left of the couple she knew as family, Tate survives the end of the 'fourth world.' But with suicide claiming one person after another, the old women of the group accuse Tate of 'bringing this soul sickness into camp.'
So Tate sets out alone into the freezing wind and shifting dunes of snow, not as a castaway, but with a dangerous mandate. She must find a holy place, fast four days, and cry out to the spirit fathers for words, words of power to bring back to her people so they can live.
Tate does not know, when she takes her first steps toward the Black Hills, that this world has already been breached and now teeters on the edge of implosion.