I have just completed the third draft of my work-in-progress (WIP) Wall of War and it is almost ready for a select group of Beta Readers. Then off to the editor. Cover reveal soon. Book launch sometime in 2016.
I started this novel in August 2012. The story begins in 1953 with an amateur rock climber making a startling discovery while free climbing in the Peruvian Andes. The first 14 pages are an epilogue.
The story continues in 2004 with a cast of daring and brave characters searching for the young priest that discovers the gold dagger and strange papers written in a strange language telling of lost Incan gold....
Drake Alexander will need every resource to outthink Spanish raiders who are bent on stealing Peru's riches once more.
The Scribbler has been host to the first three parts of the opening section. You can link to the three previous installments as follows. Beginning Part 2 Part 3
By the time Father Graft reaches his car, it is past midnight. The last span he climbed was in the shadows of dusk, hand holds and foot holds difficult to see. And yet he scrambled up the face with the dexterity of a wild goat. He had discovered a narrow valley on the opposite side of the mountain with an easier walking route to the top on a previous visit and the red ribbon blazes he left behind are easy to follow even in the dark. He is thankful he replaced the batteries only this morning not realizing how much of a workout his small light would get.
He unlocks the vehicle, changes clothes, jumps in and starts away. His actions are mechanical; his mind contributes nothing to the actions of his limbs, it being totally absorbed by the hugeness of the day. He keeps going over in his head of what he will write. He’ll get all the details down on paper. When he feels they are complete he will request a private visit with the archbishop to present both the dagger and the story behind it. When it is made public, it will shock and bewilder the populace.
He arrives in Ollantaytambo shortly after two pm, the small town asleep. He parks his car at the rear of the church thinking to enter in the side door beyond the bell tower. It is always unlocked. He wants to kneel before the altar, he needs to converse with his Saviour. He has great difficulty in comprehending his unique position, of containing the bizarre news that he understands will reshape his world. Each step he takes from here cannot be done on his own, he will need a guide.
He devotes the next fifteen minutes at the altar rail that separates the nave from the chancel, speaking with the lightest of whispers to the man on the cross above him, his head bowed. He finishes by saying reverently,
“I am but an empty vessel. I ask that you fill me with your desire, to use me to your divine purpose. I will follow whatever road you have prepared. Amen.”
One of his knees creaks as he rises, the snap echoing in the emptiness of the building. The only light is a bluish pall that enters through the side windows, the moon glow soft and reassuring. He straightens up to look around, gazing at the empty pews, the dark front doors he can barely see. Turning back to the worship area, his eyes rest on a door to the left of the sanctuary, hardly discernible in the low light. Behind it is a group of rooms, one of which have paper and pen, the Monsignor’s office. He is dog tired but he wants to get as much details down as he can, while they are still fresh in his mind. By tomorrow the particulars he will recall can be tarnished with twenty four hours past reality, the mind changes things with memory; it will become what he wants it to be.
He hurries through the door, flicking the light switch for the hallway. Two doors down on the right is the head priest’s work area, where the church’s administration is done. Inside against the wall next to the door is a small desk. On it sits an old Royal typewriter, an unwieldy little beast that he has to compose letters for the Monseigneur sometimes as one of his duties. He shakes his head at the thought of banging out his tale on that little monster, some keys don’t work properly and the carriage is always catching. Wishing his handwriting was more legible; he sighs and sits at the desk anyway. A short lamp rests to the right and he snaps it on.
Seven pages later he can hardly keep his eyes open. He has described the opening where he first entered, he told the reader of what he discovered, he wrote about the enormous size transcribing the dimensions from his note book and the last two pages are about the historical implications, the wealth of the find, how it could benefit the church, Peru and its people, all speculation of course. He pulls the page from the carriage, thinking to do one more giving directions to the monument. He lays the sheet on the desk with the others, removes a blank page from the top drawer and places it in the wheel. After five or six minutes the words blur, he isn’t making any sense, he’s forgetting things. He knows he has to break for a minute. Pushing his chair back several inches he rests his head on the desk thinking he will close them for just five minutes. It is 4:21am.
Close to 7am, Aduviri Conde, a fourteen year old acolyte of the church, is shaking him awake. As he tugs at the sleeping man’s shoulder he says in Spanish,
“Father Graft, Father Graft, wake up. Don’t you remember that you are saying the morning mass in Urubamba today, Father Rodriquez is still sick? Hurry, you are going to be late”
Suetonius sits up all groggy and disoriented rubbing his weary eyes and says,
“What are you talking about Aduviri; I thought I was to assist Father Cortez at the late mass today.”
“That has all changed, Father Cortez is too busy and you are the only one available, I told you this before you left to go climbing yesterday. I should’ve known you would forget, the rock is all you think about on your days off. I was starting to panic when I didn’t find you in your bedroom, then I saw the light in Monsignor’s office. What are you doing here?”
That question jolts Suetonius fully awake as he focuses on the sheets on the table. Aduviri scoops them up and says,
“What are you writing and why is it so strange?”
“Never mind Aduviri, it’s just something I’m preparing, you know how the mountain moves me.”
He deftly plucks the papers from the boy’s hand placing them back on the desk and adds,
“Go grab me a heel of bread from the kitchen and some cheese, and some water; I’ll eat on the way. I’ll get cleaned up and meet you in the dressing room to help me pack my robe.”
The boy is intrigued by Father Graft’s brusque manner; he is usually so calm and polite. He quickly forgets the sheets with the funny words and says,
“Right away, Father. May I go with you today; I could serve as your altar boy?”
“No, not today Aduviri, they have plenty of available altar boys.”
Unknowingly, he has just saved the young man’s life.
After the lad leaves, he gathers up the pages, grabs the rag with the dagger that is on the floor between his feet, and rushes to the dressing room where the priests don their robes. He has to hide his treasure until he can return to finish the last page. He looks up at the access to the attic. It is a small door in the middle of the ceiling; it is here he will hide the dagger and papers. He pulls a chair over so he can reach the ceiling. He struggles with the flat piece that covers the opening; it is unused and glued with many coats of paint. Using the palm of his callused hand he rams the wood with a heaving effort and it pops into the attic.
Getting down from the chair he quickly unfolds the rag to expose the knife. He rolls the paper in a circle wrapping the dagger up with words. He places the bluish rag around it all, gets up on the chair again and shoves the package under the insulation he can feel. Stretching on his toes, he gropes for the cover. He hears the boy returning, humming a hymn. He flips the wood back pulling it down with the handle. Where the paint has broken, it fits back together as neatly as Inca stone; no one will be the wiser. Stepping down from the chair he wipes off the bits of insulation that fell. He slides the chair back in place just as Aduviri opens the door.
The boy thrusts out a brown bag with Suetonius` breakfast and says, ``Here``!
``Thank you, young man. Don’t be so abrupt. I know you enjoy the drive and are disappointed but not today my friend. Next time okay?”
He gives the boy a phony punch to the chin, tapping a smile into place. Aduviri points to a well-used black leather case.
“I understand Father Graft. I have already packed your tunic and robes.”
Suetonius takes a quick glance at the ceiling as he follows the boy out of the room. Making a quick stop at the washroom to freshen up before he heads out to his car, he is thinking of the last page. He must remember to be clear on the instructions he tells himself. If he is not around to lead someone there, it will be very hard to find.
He is on the last straight stretch before the road winds through a pass to the small community of Urubamba. He is so tired he can hardly stay awake. He wants nothing more than to pull over and sleep for several hours but he is already behind schedule. The monotony of the roadway coupled with the soft rocking of his old car from poor shocks soon lulls him into a haze. He closes his eyes, only for a second he thinks, but they never open again. Father Suetonius Graft falls asleep at the wheel of his auto. When his body can no longer support itself, he slumps towards the steering wheel. Coming towards him is an older one ton truck piloted by a local farmer. Just as the two vehicles near each other, the weight of the priest’s inert body pulls the wheel to the left. His car collides with the heavy bumper of the old Ford.
The farmer escapes with a broken leg and a mild concussion but the priest is killed instantly, his body mangled within the twisted wreckage. His Deliverer has called him home, his mission complete. The secret of the golden wall will remain hidden for another fifty one years.
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