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First pages

Phase 1

The Full Moon

19 December 2021

The package sat between them like an omen. Will gripped the steering wheel with both hands, focusing his attention on the road. He was trying to appear calm, but the twitching muscle in his jaw gave him away. Sara hugged her knees to her chest as she gazed out the window; the passing landscape a blur. An image of the old man’s face filled her mind, and her heart began to race once more.

“What just happened then, Will?" she asked, turning to face him. “Who was that man? Did you know him? Her voice rose in pitch with every question.

“I’m not sure,” he replied vaguely, his eyes still fixed ahead.

“But he knew your name,” she persisted, sitting upright.

“And I feel like I know him too.” He shook his head like he was trying to dislodge the memory. “There was something so familiar about him.”

“Well, I don’t like it one bit,” Sara snapped. Her eyes narrowed on the package. “What if there are drugs in there? It must be something illegal, otherwise why would he have been so secretive about it?”

“I don’t know, Sez,” he replied, glancing over at her. “For some reason I trust him though, and I want to help.”

“But why us?”

He shrugged and shook his head.

“He seemed suspicious to me,” she said, frowning at him. “I really think we should check what’s in it.” She reached over and attempted to loosen the leather tie, but Will stopped her, placing his hand over hers.

“The old man told us not to open it under any circumstance until he contacts us again, and I want to respect his wishes.” His voice was firm.

Heat rose to Sara’s cheeks, and she had to look away. Arguing with him was pointless. The old man had given the package to him, so it was his decision to make, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were heading into trouble.

“Let’s get back to the hotel, okay?” he said, squeezing her hand. “We’re checking out as planned.”

“But shouldn't we stay here in Budapest? He said that he would meet us.”

“He said that he would find us. We’re not changing our travel plans for anyone.”

Both Will and Sara had finished Year 12 and had decided to take a gap year traveling through Europe before commencing fulltime study. Will’s ancestors, on his father’s side, originated from Hungary, and he was eager to learn more about them and his origins. Most of their time in Budapest had been spent in the National Szechenvi Library researching his grandfather, and his father before him, going back six generations.

Will had done well in his final exams and had his choice of Universities. He’d known for some time that he’d wanted to study metallurgy; a science involved in investigating the chemical and physical properties of metallic elements. Sara, on the other hand, still didn’t know what she wanted to do with her future. She’d agreed to join Will in his travels, hoping the year off would help to clarify some direction in her life.

They’d been traveling for several months now. Will was born to travel, but Sara had begun to feel a twinge of homesickness for her parents. She’d never been away from them for such a long period of time. She also longed to get back amongst her herb garden and rose collection. Each time she called home, she questioned her mum over just how much she was watering and feeding her precious plants. She’d laugh, telling Sara not to worry so much; she had it under control, but Sara knew she was not much of a green thumb so it didn’t leave her full of confidence.

It was going on dark by the time they reached the Hotel. As they got out of the car, Sara gazed up at the full moon that lit the sky, illuminating a path of light towards them on the surface of the river, and although the night was mild, her skin prickled, and she shivered involuntarily. Will placed his arm around her shoulders and steered her towards the lobby. When he held the package out towards her, she couldn’t help but feel nervous as she looked about at the staff and the other guests.

“Go straight to the room and start packing,” he said in a low voice. “And make sure you lock the door. I’ll check out and be up soon.” She hesitated before taking it from him, contemplating on whether to hide it under her shirt. He kissed the top of her hair, and she shook her head at him before shuffling off towards the elevator. He was still watching her as she stepped inside, winking at her before the doors closed. She smiled back begrudgingly. With Will there was never a dull moment.

The room they were staying in was small, but it had a great view of the Danube. The Gellért hotel lay on the right bank of the Danube on Gellért Hill, and was once a luxurious resort for the rich and famous. It had retained its reputation for its indoor thermal spas, utilising Gellert Hill’s mineral hot springs, which was the main reason they’d wanted to stay there.

Sara’s heart pounded as she stepped out of the lift into the lofty corridor, and she found herself turning several times to check that no one was following her on the way to the room. The business with the old man that morning had shaken her more than she realised. They’d set off at dawn to visit the Racz Hot Springs, near the Buda end of Erzsébet Bridge, after hearing many stories of people who had been cured of their ailments upon taking a series of baths there. Sara was interested in natural healing remedies and was keen to find out if these stories held any truth.

They were standing by the water’s edge when Will was approached by an old man wearing a long, dark, hooded overcoat pulled low over his face. He drew the hood back, and Sara jolted, startled by the piercing eyes that shone like blue topaz from his mottled face.

His expression was grave as he thrust a package out towards Will. “Take this and leave here at once,” he’d said in such a low voice that Sara had to strain to hear him. “Guard it with your life, and do not open it under any circumstance. I have no time to explain further, but you must trust me.”

Will and the old man locked eyes; the package still between them, and Sara’s stomach clenched with trepidation as she watched them. “Trust me, Will. You know this is what you must do,” he urged, never taking his eyes from him.

Sara couldn’t believe it when Will nodded and took the package from the old man without even questioning him further, placing it inside his jacket,. “Will?” she said, her heart pounding, but he didn’t seem to hear her.

“Go now and I will find you,” the old man said.

She watched in amazement as Will nodded again. The old man acknowledged her for the first time with a curt nod of his head before leaving. She noticed he had the stride of a young person, yet up close his weathered face and hands were that of a very old man.

“Will,” she said again, shaking his arm. He looked at her as if she were a stranger before clarity came back into his eyes. She turned back to look for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. It was impossible that he could have gone out of sight so soon.

Sara entered their hotel room, and locked the door, securing the chain. The package felt warm in her hands, as if radiating a heat of its own. The brown leather pouch was soft under her fingers, tied with dark leather cord. She shook it gently, but it didn’t make a noise or give away any clue as to what might be inside. Letting out a deep sigh, she tossed it onto the bed and pulled out her suitcase to start packing. Will’s clothes were all folded neatly in the wardrobe. She knew it wouldn’t take him long to pack when he came up. Hers, however, were strewn all about the room, and the bathroom was covered in her hair and makeup products. Grabbing at t-shirts, bras, and socks, she stuffed them into her backpack. As she jerked her jeans from underneath the quilt, there was a thud on the other side of the bed. Startled, she stepped backwards, falling over her bag, knocking her elbow on the side table. She gritted her teeth, rubbing it vigorously until the pain subsided before crawling over to the other side of the bed to investigate the disturbance. The package lay on the floor. The leather tie had come unwound.

She heard the old man’s warning in her head and hesitated, but only briefly. She had to know what was in it. She had to be sure they weren’t harbouring drugs or something else that was illegal. She had to know. Holding her breath, she opened the package.

Inside was an old, leather-bound book. When she saw the gold symbol that was indented on the cover, she nearly dropped it. It was the exact same symbol as Will’s amulet. She traced over it with her finger. It was unusual, comprising a circle inside a hexagon. Inside the circle was an X cross, divided by three vertical lines. Will’s father had given him an amulet with this identical symbol for his thirteenth birthday right before he’d disappeared. He had never seen him again; no word, nothing at all, for over five years now. Neither Will, nor his mother, had known what to think, and although the police had been involved in the investigation, they had come to no firm conclusion as to what may have happened or to his whereabouts. It was no ordinary amulet either. Will had had it examined by a metallurgist, and although it was metal, it was not from this earth. This was the main reason he’d felt compelled into the study of metallurgy; to try to unlock the secrets of the charm. It was his most prized possession, and he took it with him everywhere.

The Book was thick and compact, the fore-edge carved out to mark the sections, of which Sara counted thirteen in total. A dark ribbon extended from the seventh section, but Sara was unable to open it. It was locked. She needed the amulet! The last time she’d seen it, it was tucked away in the inside pocket of Will’s luggage. She grabbed at his bag, searching frantically for it. The cold metal of the pendant touched her fingers, and she exhaled in relief as she pulled it out.

She looked towards the door and back at The Book. Will would be up any moment, but she had come this far. Her hand shook as she placed the amulet into the cover. It was an exact fit, just as she’d known it would be. She twisted it to the right, and it clicked, locking into place. It pulsated in her hands like it was alive, and a feeling of excitement overwhelmed her. Throwing all caution to the wind, she slowly opened The Book.

***

19 December 2021 / 6 December 1224

 

After settling the bill, Will got into the lift and pressed the second floor to get back to the room, his thoughts filled with the old man and the package. He felt positive he knew him, but he’d raked through his memories and could not place him. He knew that Sara was troubled by the whole ordeal, but even though he didn’t feel like they were in any danger, he still wanted to get on their way tonight.

 As the lift made its ascent, the temperature inside dropped dramatically. It was so cold, Will’s teeth began to chatter and his breath turned to vapour. Dizziness overcame him, and he had to reach out to the railing for support. He felt like the whole lift was spinning. He’d had dizzy spells before, but nothing like this. He felt like he was dissolving into tiny fragments, swirling out of control inside a blender; weightless and insubstantial. He shut his eyes against the nausea that welled inside. Finally, the spinning sensation subsided. He felt reformed, but when he opened his eyes, he knew straight away that something was wrong. The lift had vanished!

He found himself standing in an impressive hallway. Magnificent oil paintings decorated the walls, their thick, ornate frames covered in what looked like genuine gold leaf. Numerous bust sculptures in marble and bronze lined the corridor, appearing to be of the same man in different posesWill’s throat felt dry. It hurt to swallow, and his heart was beating triple time inside his chest.

“What the hell is happening here?” he muttered, looking around for the candid cameras. He thought any minute someone would jump out and yell “Surprise!” but no one came forward.

The colour drained from his face when he looked down and saw the clothes he was wearing were not those he had put on that morning. Dark boots adorned his feet, laced with leather straps. Instead of his favourite jeans, he was wearing something that resembled Sara’s leggings; a little too tight around his crotch area. Thankfully, the brown coloured tunic covered him to mid-thigh. He was also wearing a hat. He caught his reflection in the window across the corridor and laughed aloud. He looked like he’d raided the local theatre’s costume department.

None of this made any sense at all. To top it all off, he had a sword attached to his side. He pulled it from the sheath to examine it. It was exquisite, like nothing he’d seen before. The metal of the blade was a blue-black, etched with inscriptions, and a blood-letting groove ran down the centre on both sides. The grip was wrapped in black leather cord, and the cross-guard depicted the claws of a giant eagle reaching out to grasp its next victim. The initials AZ were engraved in the blade at the base of the sword. He held it out from him. Considering the size and the solidness of the weapon, it felt remarkably light and well balanced in his hand. Will had a collection of swords back at home, but nothing as well-crafted as this. He winced in expectation before nicking his finger on the blade. Drops of blood seeped from the cut, and it stung like a real wound. This was no dream!

There were a number of windows to his right, and he peered outside in an effort to get his bearings. The Gellert hotel’s wave pool and the buildings that lined the Danube were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the Danube was flanked by farmland that backed onto a dense forest. Will’s stomach churned. He wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his sleeve. He needed to get back to Sara, but he didn’t know where on earth he was, or how he was going to find her. There should have been a hallway to go back to their hotel room, but that whole part of the building was missing. Behind him he noticed a set of stairs, and there was another window further down the hallway. He hurried towards it and looked out once more. The Szabadsag Bridge wasn’t there either. He had been hoping that it was just the viewpoint from the other window.

The set of stairs seemed like his best option of escape, but halfway down he halted his pace. Somewhere in the rooms below, he could hear voices; people arguing. As if all this wasn’t strange enough, he could understand every word they were saying, and yet he knew they were not speaking English. Both Sara and he had practiced some basic Hungarian before they’d left, but he couldn’t confirm if that was the language they were speaking.

It dawned on him then, that he was an intruder in this house, wherever he was and that the people downstairs may not be too happy to see him. He decided to look for an alternate escape route and headed back up the stairs to the hallway, skirting close to the wall opposite the windows. Instinctively, he reached for the sword. Strangely, it seemed like the most natural thing to do.

He moved along the wall, towards the large, solid timber doors at the end of the hallway, reaching almost to the ceiling. Hesitating outside, he willed himself to go in, not knowing what to expect on the other side. To lift the heavy iron bar, he needed both hands, but as he attempted to place the sword back in the scabbard, he fumbled, missing it entirely and sent the sword crashing loudly to the ground, echoing throughout the hallway. Swearing under his breath, he picked it up and sheathed it firmly, just waiting for someone to come running, but no one did. Fear gripped him as he lifted the latch, and the large, oak doors creaked open. Drawing his sword once more, he took a deep breath before entering the room and closing the doors behind him.

It was pitch-black inside. He couldn’t see a thing. There could be someone right there in the room, and he wouldn’t know it. He felt around frantically for a light switch with no luck, and panic set in. With his back against the door, Will remained still, not breathing, his ears pricked for the slightest sound. Slowly, his eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and he released his breath in a long sigh as he began to make out rough shapes in the room. He realised he was in a library. For some reason it felt like he’d won the lottery, and a small laugh escaped his lips.

Scanning the area, he noticed the long curtains at the far end of and moved towards them. He pushed the heavy curtain open an inch, and a bright beam of light split the room, enabling him to see the shelves of books lining the walls. To his right, a set of stairs led up to an L shaped platform, the shelves above filled with books, parchments and scrolls. A book lay on the table in the middle of the room, and Will’s breath caught in his throat when he saw it. The symbol on the cover; it was the same as the amulet his father had givenhim on his thirteenth birthday. His pulse raced. Why was the book just lying here ready for him to take?Alarm bells rang in his head, and anxiety fluttered inside his chest as he tried to comprehend the situation.

A flash of light from one of the windows startled him. Will drew his sword as a man the size of a mountain appeared from behind the thick, red curtain. He’d been hiding there all along, Will realised in horror, obviously forewarned by the commotion he’d made when he’d dropped his sword. The man’s bald head towered above Will, his arms the size of Will’s legs, his legs the size of tree trunks. A ragged scar sliced across his left cheek, and menace filled his deep set eyes. The purple veins on his neck pulsated as he growled through clenched teeth, and the muscles in his arms bulged as he brandished his sword, twice the size of Will’s andat least twice the weight. 

Swinging his enormous sword with ease, he lunged at Will, and he only narrowly escaped as it crashed down onto the table, shattering it into pieces. He roared an unearthly sound, and Will gaped at the gold tooth that shone from inside his gnarled lips. Heaving his blade from the table, he lunged at him again. Leaping sideways, Will dodged him once more. His sword crashed down into the shelves of books, leaving carnage in its wake.

Will’s heart was racing, but he forced himself to focus his mind on his opponent, taking in his surroundings. He was not a novice with a sword. Sara and he were fencing partners. In fact, that was how they’d met, and both had competed in the state finals, but this was astonishing. Something was awakening within him. The sword in his hand felt like an extension of his arm. He jumped high into the air to avoid the giant’s low swinging blade, before diving into forward rolls to escape being cornered, all whilst keeping hold of his sword. A part of him, the part of Will he was most familiar with, was fully aware that he might die at the hands of this monster, but the other part that did not feel like him at all, was confident and exceptionally skilled at defending himself.

To inflict any harm on this giant of a man, Will knew he would have to get closer, but he also knew he could not fight against his mighty strength. His only alternative was escape. He climbed the stairs to the upper level of the library, but the man was fast behind him, fuming as he heaved his sword and hacked at the stairs. With only a few strikes, the stair ladder was chopped to pieces. He slashed at the thick timber posts supporting the platform, and with each blow it shook violently. Will knew it would not take many more before the entire podium collapsed, with him on it.

He quickly contemplated his dwindling options. The chandelier in the centre of the room had a service hold directly above it in the roof, probably used by staff to clean the massive light fixture. Without further hesitation, he ran and dived onto the chandelier as the podium collapsed below him. The huge man growled, swinging his sword up towards him, but Will was well out of reach. Holding on tight, he scaled the chandelier, praying silently that it would hold his weight. When he got to the top, he swung over and punched the service hold, whooping with relief when it swung open. As he hauled himself out onto the roof, he looked down at the giant. His face was purple with rage.

The roof was vast. Will ran along it, following the path of the hallway to the edge over on the far side. He desperately wanted to escape this nightmare and get the hell out of here, but he had to get that damn book. It was the key to getting back to Sara, he was sure of it. Peering over the edge of the roof, it was a long way down to the ground below.Hismind raced; his breathing came fast. He could scarcely believe what he was doing as he jumped out from the roof, spun around in mid-air and grabbed the top of the window ledge underneath, bracing himself as his feet smashed through the window below.

It all happened so fast. The huge man from the library was running down the hall, almost upon him. As Will landed on the level below, he curled into a forward roll to cushion the fall, before leaping into the air and planting both his feet onto the large man’s chest, and in one swift move, he drove his sword straight through his thick neck. His face registered his shock, before he crashed to the ground. The tip of Will’s sword embedded into the floor, and he stared wide eyed as he slowly slid down the blade.

***

Sara had been half expecting to see demons fly out from the open pages, but nothing happened at all. The room was as it should be. It was just an ordinary book, albeit unlike any she had seen before. The pages were covered in hexagonal shapes linked together by letters and numbers, and her pulse raced with excitement. She imagined it might be a formula or secret code that could unlock the mysteries of the universe. As she pored over the pages, it struck her that Will would be back at any moment, and the last thing she wanted was to be caught out red handed. Reluctantly, she closed The Book, wrapping it back in the leather pouch and securing it with the cord before placing Will’s amulet back in his bag. She rushed into the bathroom to continue packing, hoping to finish before Will came up and questioned her about what she’d been doing all this time. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as the old man’s warning resounded in her head. She should not have opened the package, but it was too late for that now. She would have to confess everything to Will when he came back, unless she could somehow convince him to open the package himself.

Sara zipped up her case after packing the last of her things and was surprised to see that almost an hour had passed since they’d arrived at the hotel, yet Will was still not back. Knowing Will though, he’d probably gotten side-tracked and was chatting away to someone interesting about something interesting and lost track of the time. She called his mobile, but it diverted straight to voicemail, so she decided to hunt him down in the foyer. She hid the package at the bottom of her bag, locked the room and headed to the lift. Her foot tapped impatiently on the carpet as she waited in the hallway for it to come, but as the doors opened, she was not prepared for what she saw. Will’s clothes were strewn all about the lift; the same t-shirt and jeans he’d put on this morning. She stared at the clothes in bewilderment, and as the lift doors began to close, she had to stick her hand out to stop them.

On the way down, she collected his things, unable to think of any good reason why they might be there. When the doors opened to the foyer, she walked towards the reception, not sure what she was going to say.

The concierge looked up from his paperwork. “May I help you, madam?”

“I’m not sure,” Sara replied, looking bewildered. “I’m looking for my partner, Will.”

“Yes, madam, he has already fixed up the bill. He advised that he would be down shortly with your luggage.” He resumed typing on his computer.

“I found these in the lift.” She held Will’s clothing out. The concierge’s face registered surprise before resuming his look of polite interest. “This is Will’s clothing,” she stammered, still reeling from the shock of finding them with Will not in them.

“I don’t understand,” he replied.

“I don’t either,” she said.

“Perhaps he has gone for a swim,” he prompted, looking clearly uncomfortable. “I suggest you check the spa and the pool.

“Yes, of course, thank you. I’ll do that.” As she walked off in the direction of the pool, she could feel his eyes boring holes into her back.

Someone screamed as she approached the pool outside and her stomach lurched. She quickened her pace. The wave pool had been turned on, and the guests were getting thrown around by the large waves. Laughter filled the air, but there was no sign of Will.

She couldn’t think properly. Her mind was hazy, her throat dry. She headed down to the indoor spa to look for him there knowing that it was futile, but she needed to keep moving. Steam from the mineral baths filled the large room, rising up towards the stained glass ceiling. There were at least ten people soaking in the baths, but Will was not amongst them. Sara’s legs felt unsteady. She thought she might collapse and moved over to the wall to sit down. She brought Will’s clothes up to her face, breathing deeply. His smell was all over them. “Where are you Will?” she whispered. It didn’t make sense. Something hard pressed against her face, and she discovered with a sinking heart that it was Will’s mobile in the pocket of his jeans, and his wallet was there too. She slumped against the wall, overwhelmed by a feeling of foreboding.

As time ticked on, her head pounded. The sun was beginning to go down, and Will was nowhere to be found. “Where are you, Will?” she groaned. Leaving the spa, she ran around the outside of the hotel to the carpark to check on the car. It was still parked where they’d left it.She didn’t know where else to look.

The same man she’d spoken to before was at reception. As she approached him, she couldn’t keep back the tears that welled up inside her eyes. His smile faded to concern when he saw that she was crying. He stopped what he was doing and walked around the desk to her. “What is it, madam? Have you found your husband?”

“No I haven’t,” she sobbed. “And he’s not my husband. We were meant to be checking out, but I can’t find him anywhere. I think something bad may have happened to him.”

“Please calm down, madam, it will be all right.” People were staring at them, but Sara didn’t care. “Please come with me,” he requested, guiding her towards the office behind the reception. He sat her down, pouring her a glass of water from the jug on the table. “Now, madam, I’m sure everything will be all right.”

“No, it’s not all right,” she responded. “Will is missing, and he doesn’t have his clothes, his wallet or his mobile.” She held out the artefacts.

“Oh,” was all he said, raising his eyebrows.

“What do you mean by that?” she asked, eyeing him off squarely.

“Nothing, madam. Did you check around the hotel? Did you check the spa?” he inquired.

“Yes of course, I’ve checked everywhere. There is no sign of him,” she snapped, wiping the tears roughly from her face with the back of her hand.

“I’m sure he will come back. Perhaps you should go back to your room and lie down for a bit.”

“No I cannot lie down,” she said, glaring at him. “Something has happened to him, I’m sure of it. I think we should call the police.”

His eyes darted back and forth at the people milling about in the foyer as he deliberated about what he should do to calm the situation. “I’m sure he is fine, but I can get Nicolo to drive you to the Police station if you like.”

“Yes, thank you, let’s go now.” Sara stood up ready to go. The concierge picked up the phone. He spoke a few words in Hungarian, and after replacing the receiver he asked Sara to follow him outside to the foyer. A young man approached them, introducing himself as Nicolo. The concierge conferred with him for a minute, beforeNicolo ushered Sara towards the hotel van parked outsideHe spoke very little English so most of the journey was spent in silence whilst Sara berated herself over and over for opening that damned package. And then it struck her; Will’s disappearance must have something to do with the old man and The Book.

The station was brightly lit with two policemen on duty. One of the officers acknowledged Sara, addressing her in Hungarian. She looked at him blankly and Nicolo responded. The language barrier made her feel helpless. She wished she’d paid more attention during the practice language sessions she’d had with Will. Noticing her discomfort, the officer smiled warmly and said in excellent English, “I am Officer Miklos. How can I be of assistance to you?”

“I’ve lost my partner, Will,” she exclaimed. “He was meant to come back to the room, but he never came, and I found all his things strewn about the lift, and …”

“Slow down a little please, madam?” he said, prompting Sara for her name.

“My name is Sara Maddock, and my partner is Will Zoran.”

He jotted the names down in his notebook. “All right, please tell me what has happened?”

Sara started from the beginning. She told the Officer about the trip to the hot springs and about the old man and the package. She told them how the old man had warned them not to open it and felt the colour rise to her cheeks when she told them that she had secretly opened it to check if it was something illegal. They nodded in agreement,which gave her some small comfort. She described The Book and the weird symbols that were depicted throughout it. They were surprised when she told them about Will’s belongings in the lift. It all streamed out of her, and once she had finished she felt a little calmer.

The second Officer stopped what he was doing and introduced himself as Officer Janos. Sara didn’t like the smug look on his face as he questioned her about Will. “Did he know anyone in Budapest?” he asked, to which she answered no.

“Did he know the old man?”

“No,” she said. “I don’t think so.”

He asked about their relationship and how long they had been together. He also asked about Will’s temperament and the likelihood that he had left her.

“No, he would never do that,” Sara yelled, failing to keep the anger from her voice.

Officer Miklos said he would write a full report and would advise his supervisors as well as the Australian embassy if Will didn’t show up within the next twenty-four hours. He told Sara to go back to the hotel and they would be in contact with her. He also advised her to notify them straight away if Will did show up. Before she left, he assured her that they would do everything in their power to locate him. That was their job, to locate missing people. Will was missing. 

Nicolo drove Sara back from the Police Station to the Hotel, and she rushed up to the room hoping that Will might be there waiting for her, but when she opened the door, her last glimmer of hope was extinguished. Exhausted, she fell to the floor and sobbed. She had never felt so alone and the fear was overwhelming.

***

“Hello? Yes, this is Sasscia Cartwright speaking. Who is this?” she asked crossly. She was reviewing an important contract regarding the twenty year life extension of the PKAS nuclear power plant and did not welcome the interruption. As the chairman of PKAS, Sasscia had been instrumental in securing a fifty year service licence for the reactors that had been due to be shut down in less than five.

“This is Inspector Morosi. I have some news for you that I think you will be most interested in.”

 “Yes, go on,” she said, irritably. The Inspector could be such a bore.

“I think we may have located a certain book that you have been searching for,” he said, his voice smug with satisfaction.

The Book? Go on, Inspector.” He had her full attention now.

“I’d prefer not to discuss this over the phone. Meet me in half an hour at the station,” he said, before hanging up. He hadn’t waited for her reply, but she couldn’t keep the smile from forming upon her lips. The Inspector had been helping her in various ways, none more important than his unofficial investigation into the whereabouts of The Book. In return, he had been able to live far above the means to which his meagre salary allowed.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Kate Warren lives in Bilgola, NSW Australia with her husband, daughter and bull terrier named Archie. Always up for an adventure, she takes inspiration from her extensive travels throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. Besides writing, Kate also loves to read, spend time in the garden, and just hang out with her family.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
During a meditation, my husband described the scene where Will steps out of the lift and into the 13th Century, the sword fight in the library, and the encounter with the mysterious woman in the carriage on the outskirts of the forest. I loved the story so much, I just had to keep it alive.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Trying to force the ending instead of being patient enough to just let the story unfold in its own good time.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
I love the creative process of writing and allowing a story to unfurl beneath your fingertips. I also enjoy the editing process, crafting the manuscript to create the perfect prose.

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