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By A.J. Hartley

Six months in the past, museum curator Deborah Miller had by no means heard of Ek Balam, an imprecise Mayan archaeological web site recognized for its carved figures. Now right here she is, having traded Atlanta’s city jungle for a distant village in Mexico’s Yucatan, tasked with overseeing Ek Balam’s excavation. but if a surprising rainstorm explanations a partial cave in on the website, an unforeseen treasure is unearthed: a set of rough-cut rubies hidden from the area for enormous quantities of years—and very out-of-place within the Yucatan. it's a locate of immeasurable worth, person who Deborah vows to protect—and but is powerless to avoid from being stolen quickly after its discovery. decided to retrieve the stones, she units out to track their complicated background throughout 4 centuries and continents, from Mexico to northern England the place the jewels as soon as performed a harrowing function within the Lancashire witch trials of 1612. yet Deborah isn't the just one trying to find the stones; shut on her heels are archaeologists, occultists, and one very decided fingers broker, all of whom will cease at not anything, now not even homicide, to say the prize for themselves.

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Deborah didn’t wait. She moved a couple of yards down the tunnel to the place a stone slab have been set as a door, completely closed, other than that the transferring of the floor had break up it into 3 items. Deborah studied it, conserving the flashlight beam at the fragments, carved with what resembled a stela, a royal determine seated in profile, besides decorative birds, jaguars, and snakes. It used to be a tomb. The carving represented the fellow who have been buried inside of. Deborah’s center beat speedy and he or she may possibly listen the frenzy of blood in her ears. A tomb! she inspiration, deliriously. Powel may be at the subsequent aircraft. Deborah squeezed throughout the shattered doorway and down steps, the flashlight beam grew to become to the paving stones. The ceiling used to be reduce right here and the tunnel felt cramped. She raised one hand to the roof in order that she may perhaps believe how a ways it was once from her head as she walked. It was once her hand instead of her eyes that registered the unexpected upward thrust within the ceiling, notwithstanding she sensed the gap round her and shone the flashlight up. The passage had opened right into a huge chamber hollowed out of the rock, however it wasn’t empty. A stone constitution formed approximately like a step pyramid have been outfitted inside of. It stood approximately twenty toes excessive, emerging correct as much as the cavern ceiling. It was once lined with stucco that, although pale, used to be crimson as blood. whilst she expert the intense beam of her flashlight at the pyramid, she can make out forbidding mask flanked with chicken wings in eco-friendly and yellow, and dour, hawk-nosed faces. It reminded her of the Rosalia within the Mayan urban of Copan, Honduras, yet this used to be diverse. For something there has been a doorway framed as an open maw coated with the teeth, and negative eyes: a hell mouth just like the Zac Na set within the pyramid above it. “Oh my God,” she whispered. “What? ” The voice got here from at the back of her. Bowerdale. “What is it? What are you able to see? ” after which he used to be within and he stopped speaking. “The plaster is intact,” acknowledged Deborah. “Yes,” Bowerdale controlled. “Are you getting all this? ” She took her eyes off the enormous constitution to examine him and observed that he had the video digital camera at shoulder top, its video reveal opened up so he didn’t need to glance through the eyepiece. “Shall we? ” she acknowledged, nodding towards the good jaws of the construction. She moved into the hole, stepping rigorously over the fang-like the teeth that coated its decrease lip after which stood to the facet in order that Bowerdale and his digital camera may perhaps see in. contained in the gateway was once a recess ten toes deep. on the again, lolling in a stone building that used to be part field and part throne, used to be a skeleton, now fragmented, yet nonetheless donning a eco-friendly stone masks with white eyes made from shell. The continues to be of the rib cage have been dotted with fragments of bone and jade that had as soon as been necklaces and different adornments. round it, prepared at the floor and on shelflike alcoves outfitted into the bigger hole, have been grave items: Ceramics. Amphora-style jugs. An inverted pink bowl with a parrot effigy. Flaring aspect bowls paired lip to lip. A trichrome open bowl and different polychromatic vessels.

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