Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Alternative #History Fiction "Riddle Of The Diamond Dove" (Arkana Mysteries #4) by N. S. Wikarski

Chapter 3—Cold Case
Leroy Hunt stood in the middle of Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago holding a cup of steaming black coffee. He grimaced at the very thought of swallowing that witches’ brew. Its sole purpose was to keep his hands warm. He stamped his booted feet in a vain attempt to get the blood circulating to his toes. The March wind off the lake was cutting right through his denim jacket. March! Back where he came from it would be spring already. He gazed up humorlessly at the Picasso statue staring down its long nose at him. It looked like a fifty foot cross-eyed horse. At the moment, Leroy wished he had a real horse that he could mount and tell to “giddyup.” Why in the name of creation did old Abe want to meet here? Leroy’s first choice would have been a bar, closely followed by a strip club but he knew that a Bible thumper like Metcalf wouldn’t cotton to those suggestions. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught some movement on the opposite side of the plaza.
A late model limo had parked just long enough to let out its passenger. Leroy waved to the geezer climbing out of the back seat and motioned him toward a bench under a tree. Of course there was no shade since the branches were bare but sitting near the trunk did cut the wind some. Hunt got to the bench first and sat down.
Abraham Metcalf, prophet and Diviner of the Blessed Nephilim, took his sweet time hobbling over. “Good afternoon, Mr. Hunt,” the old man said stiffly.
“Boss.” Leroy tipped his Stetson hat. “Set yourself down and take a load off.” The cowboy marveled at the change that had come over his employer in the three months since they’d met last. Although the old man was in his seventies, he’d always carried his age well. Now it looked as if the years had piled onto him like a pack of coon hounds on a cottontail. His eyes were sunken and the bags underneath them had sprouted little bags of their own. Both his beard and mane of white hair were shaggy. The black overcoat that covered his funeral suit hung on him like a sack.
Leroy tried not to show his reaction to this transformation. “How you doin’, Mr. Metcalf?” he asked jauntily, setting the coffee cup down on the bench between them.
Metcalf shrugged off the question. “I’ve had better years.”
“No doubt, no doubt,” Hunt agreed sententiously. “Must be hard for you with your Missus still missin’ and all.”
Metcalf winced at the reference. “Yes, that’s the reason I wished to speak to you. Have you had any luck finding her yet?”
Leroy thought back to his fruitless search for Metcalf’s fourteen year old runaway bride. The trail had gone cold at an antique shop in the city. Of course, he knew she’d made her getaway with the help of Metcalf’s son Daniel but he couldn’t afford to tell the old man that. Daniel was Leroy’s meal ticket—the one person in the world who could find those blasted gewgaws that Metcalf had such a powerful urge to collect and that Leroy had an equally powerful urge to steal afterward. The last thing Hunt wanted was for the old coot to catch wind of the fact that his own son helped his wife to give him the heave ho. Metcalf would kill the relic hunt and his son, not necessarily in that order.
Shielding Daniel wasn’t Hunt’s only concern. He had to make sure he got to Hannah before any of the Nephilim did. That way she couldn’t get chatty with anybody at the compound about who helped her get away. The mercenary’s face betrayed none of these worries. Instead he replied blandly,” I’m sorry to say, I ain’t had no luck findin’ the little gal yet.  I’m guessin’ your own crew ain’t done much better?”
Metcalf sighed deeply. “The devil has taken her. Mark my words, this was no ordinary disappearance.”
“You don’t say,” Leroy drawled, sporting an expression of innocent surprise. He knew the devil had nothing to do with it—unless the devil had taken to disguising himself as a pasty-faced runt named Daniel.
“She was only a child. The devil led her astray and spirited her beyond our reach. None of the brotherhood can find her. I had hoped that one of the Fallen, such as yourself, might have had a better chance.”
It always rubbed Leroy the wrong way whenever one of the Bible thumpers referred to outsiders as “Fallen” but he couldn’t very well let the old man see his annoyance. Instead he asked, “How much time I got left before your son and me need to hit the road to find that next doodad?”
Metcalf sighed even more deeply than before. “Daniel spends all his days at the library in this city.” He looked around the plaza with distaste. “I don’t like the amount of time he is forced to toil in the land of the Fallen.”
Leroy ignored the “F” word again. “Now you don’t need to worry about Daniel none. He’s true blue.”
Metcalf shot him a grateful look. “Thank you, Mr. Hunt, for that reassurance. I believe he is. He says he’s approaching a breakthrough—that within the month he should know where to search for the next relic.”
“That suits me just fine,” Hunt agreed, picking up the coffee cup to thaw his fingers. “Can’t stand much more of this northern air. Them folks that hid the doodads a couple thousand years back seem to favor your warm and sandy lands. I’ll take a hot desert over this iceberg any day of the week.” He glared at the Picasso as if it was somehow responsible for the misty drizzle that was freezing his face off.
“Since you came back from your last mission, surely you’ve discovered some small scrap of evidence that might lead to my Hannah,” Metcalf persisted bleakly.
Leroy wasn’t about to tell him that he’d spent every day since their return three months ago tailing Daniel. He figured that Miss Hannah might try to make contact with her rescuer again once she was somewhere safe but that idea hadn’t panned out. Hunt was going to have to cast a wider net. “No, sir, nothing so far but there’s a couple of other things I could maybe try.”
“Good, I’m glad to hear it.” Metcalf’s voice held a glimmer of hope. “She must be approaching her time to deliver my son.”
Hunt recollected that she’d be pretty far along in her pregnancy by now. Inwardly, he was baffled by the old man’s yen for a little gal that was barely old enough to ride a bicycle without training wheels. He wondered if the Nephilim allowed their kids to have bikes at all. Probably not. It might smack of too much fun. He couldn’t see what the old coot was carrying on about anyway. He had three dozen other wives stashed in the cupboards and closets of his creepy compound. So what if one went missing? He returned to the conversation. “You’re sure the baby’s gonna be a boy? Did you have her checked before she ran off?”
The Diviner seemed puzzled by the question. “Of course it’s a boy. What else could it be?”
Deciding not to pursue the question any further, Leroy changed the subject. “I gotta wonder why you picked this spot to meet, sir. I don’t mind drivin’ way out to your place in the sticks.”
“Your presence at the compound has attracted an inordinate amount of attention lately. Every time one of my flock sees you in my office, the gossip and speculation begin all over again.”
“Gotcha, boss. Best I do my work for you out of sight.”
The old man stared at him hard. “Bring her back to me, Mr. Hunt. You’re my last hope.”
Leroy smiled reassuringly. “I mean to do exactly that, sir. Don’t you worry none.” He failed to mention the shape she’d be in when he did bring her back. Dead.
RiddleofTheDiamondDove
THE ARKANA SERIES: Where Alternative History Meets Archaeology Adventure
Volume Four - Riddle Of The Diamond Dove
"From Kindle Nation fave N. S. Wikarski comes the long-awaited fourth book in her fascinating seven-part Arkana archaeology thriller series -- with more of the wonderful characters, sly humor, intrigue and mayhem that come together to create the absorbing world of her intricate, fast-paced mysteries." (Kindle Nation Daily)
Global Treasure Hunt
Where do you hide an ancient relic that has the power to change the course of history? As Cassie Forsythe and her Arkana team discover, you scatter clues to its whereabouts across the entire planet. Five artifacts buried among the rubble of lost civilizations point to the hiding place of a mythical object known as the Sage Stone. Thus far psychic Cassie, bodyguard Erik, and librarian Griffin have succeeded in recovering two of those artifacts.
Opposing Forces
Cassie and Company find their lives threatened at every turn by agents of a religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. The cult's leader, Abraham Metcalf, wants to exploit the power of the Sage Stone to unleash a catastrophic plague on the world. The quest for the next piece of the puzzle has led both sides to Africa. They must comb an entire continent--their only lead a riddle carved onto a mysterious dove sculpture. Even as the Arkana team struggles to decipher the clue, new dangers hover over their colleagues at home.
Other Dangers
Metcalf's child-bride Hannah has taken refuge at the home of the Arkana's leader Faye while mercenary Leroy Hunt creeps ever nearer to her hiding place. His search for the girl brings him dangerously close to the secret location of the Arkana's troves--a collection of pre-patriarchal artifacts which confirm an alternative history of the origins of civilization itself. While Hunt closes in on Hannah, Metcalf's son Daniel dogs the footsteps of the Arkana field team in order to claim the next artifact before they do. Daniel recruits a clever ally along the way who might be more than a match for the opposing side.
Collision Course
When the forces of the Arkana and the Nephilim converge on a ruined city in a forgotten corner of the dark continent, the shocking outcome is beyond even Cassie's powers to foresee. The quest for the Sage Stone will veer in an unexpected direction once both sides solve the Riddle Of The Diamond Dove.
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Genre - Alternative History Fiction
Rating – PG
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