Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Acknowledgements
Chapter 1 - PRESENT DAY Chapter 2 - SUNDAY, MAY 18 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 - Küsendorf, Switzerland (82 miles southeast of Bern) Chapter 12 - Winter Palace Saint Petersburg, Russia Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15
Chapter 16 - MacDill AFB Tampa, Florida Chapter 17 - MONDAY, MAY 19 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 - St. Martin’s Square Kaiserslautern, Germany Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 - Kauppatori Market Helsinki, Finland Chapter 28 Chapter 29 - TUESDAY, MAY 20 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 - Taygetos Mountain Range (22 miles west of Spárti, Greece) Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40 Chapter 41 - Spárti, Greece (location of Ancient Sparta) Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44 Chapter 45 Chapter 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48 Chapter 49 Chapter 50 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 Chapter 54 Chapter 55 Chapter 56 - WEDNESDAY, MAY 21 Chapter 57 - Ouranoúpoli, Greece (4 miles west of Mount Athos)
Chapter 58 Chapter 59 Chapter 60 Chapter 61 Chapter 62 Chapter 63 Chapter 64 Chapter 65 Chapter 66 Chapter 67 Chapter 68 Chapter 69 Chapter 70 Chapter 71 Chapter 72 Chapter 73 Chapter 74 Chapter 75 Chapter 76
EPILOGUE AUTHOR’S NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR ALSO BY CHRIS KUZNESKI The Plantation
? Sign of the Cross
? Sword of God
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS Publishers Since 1838
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York
10014, USA • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand,London
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Copyright ? 2008 by Chris Kuzneski, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The lost throne / Chris Kuzneski.—1st U.S. ed. p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-13234-0
1. Treasure troves—Fiction. I. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product ofthe author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internetaddresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes anyresponsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisherdoes not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-partywebsites or their content.
Publishing a book requires a collective effort, so I would like to thank a few of the people
The Lost Throne see the light of day.who helped
As always, I’d like to start off by thanking my family. Without their love and support, Iwouldn’t be the writer (or the person) that I am today.
Professionally, I want to thank Scott Miller, my remarkable agent. Before we teamed up, Icouldn’t find a publisher. Now my books are available in several languages around the world.How you pulled off that miracle, I’ll never know. But keep up the great work! While I’m atit, I want to thank Claire Roberts, my main foreign agent, and everyone else at Trident Mediawho has helped my career during the past few years. Wow, what a great organization.
Actually, I can say the same thing about the Penguin Group. In particular, I’d like to singleout my editor, Natalee Rosenstein, and her amazing assistant, Michelle Vega. Working with themhas been wonderful. I’d also like to thank Ivan Held and the publishing and marketing wizardsat Putnam. I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship.
Next up is my extraordinary friend Ian Harper. Through the magic of e-mail, he gets to read mywork before anyone else, and his suggestions and advice are always invaluable. So if anyone’slooking for a freelance editor, let me know. I’d be happy to put you in touch with him.
Last but not least, a big thanks to all the readers, booksellers, critics, and librarians whohave read my books and recommended them to others. At this stage of my career, I need all thehelp I can get, so I would appreciate your continued support.
Okay. Now that I’m done expressing my gratitude, it’s time for the good stuff.
Just sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story. . . .
CHRISTMAS DAY, 1890
Piazza della Santa CaritàNaples, Italy
The greatest secret of Ancient Greece was silenced by a death in Italy.
Not a shooting or a stabbing or a murder of any kind—although dozens of those would occurlater—but a good old-fashioned death. One minute the man was strolling across the Piazza dellaSanta Carità, pondering the significance of his discovery; the next he was sprawled on hisstomach in the middle of the cold square. People rushed to his side, hoping to help him to hisfeet, but one look at his gaunt face told them that he needed medical attention.
Two policemen on horseback were flagged down, and they rushed him to the closest hospital,where he slipped in and out of consciousness for the next hour. They asked him his name, but hecouldn’t answer. His condition had stolen his ability to speak.
The man wore a fancy suit and overcoat, both of which revealed his status. His hair was thinand gray, suggesting a man in his sixties. A bushy mustache covered his upper lip.
Doctors probed his clothes, searching for identification, but found nothing of value. Nopapers. No wallet. No money. If they had only looked more closely, they might have noticed thesecret pocket sewn into the lining of his coat, and the mystery would have ended there. But ashospital policy dictated, no identification meant no treatment. Not even on Christmas morning.
With few options, the police took him to the local station house, an ancient building made ofbrick and stone that would shelter him from the bitter winds of the Tyrrhenian Sea. They fedhim broth and let him rest on a cot in an open cell, hoping he would regain his voice.
In time, he regained several.
Starting with a whisper that barely rose above the level of his breath, the sound slowlyincreased, building to a crescendo until it could be heard by the two officers in the nextroom. They hurried down the corridor, expecting to find the stranger fully awake and willing toanswer their questions. Instead they saw a man in a semicata tonic state who was babbling inhis sleep.
His eyes were closed and his body was rigid, yet his lips were forming words.
One of the officers made the sign of the cross and said a short prayer while the other ran fora pencil and paper. When he returned, he pulled a chair up to the cot and tried to take notesin a small journal. Maybe they’d get an address. Or if they were really lucky, maybe even aname. But they got none of those things. In fact, all they got was more confused.
The first words spoken were German. Then French. Then Portuguese. Before long he was mixingseveral languages in the same sentence. Dutch followed by Spanish and Latin. English layeredwith Greek and Russian. Every once in a while he said something in Italian, but the words wereso random and his accent so thick that they made little sense. Still, the officer transcribedeverything he could, and before long he noticed some repetition. One word seemed to be repeatedover and over. Not only in Italian but in other languages as well.
Il trono. Le trône. El trono.
This went on almost for several minutes. Language after language from one man’s mouth. Likethe devil speaking in tongues. Then, just as quickly as it started, it stopped.
No more words. No more clues.
The man would never speak again.
Two days later, after he had been identified, newspapers around the globe reported his death.Yet there was no mention of his strange behavior. Nothing about his ramblings or the throne hekept describing. Instead, reporters focused on the colorful details of his life—his wealth,his accomplishments, his discoveries. All the things that made him famous.
Of course, if they had known the truth about his final days, what he had finally found afteryears of searching, they would have written a much different story.
One of fire, deception, and ancient gold.
One that wouldn’t have an ending for almost two more centuries.
Saturday, May 17Metéora, Greece
The monk felt the wind on his face as he plummeted to his death, a journey that started with ascream and ended with a thud.
Moments before, he had been standing near the railing of the Moni Agia Triada, the Monastery ofthe Holy Trinity. It was one of six monasteries perched on natural rock pillars near the PindusMountains in central Greece. Known for their breathtaking architecture, the monasteries hadbeen built 2,000 feet in the air with one purpose in mind: protection.
But on this night, their sanctuary was breached.
The intruders had crossed the valley and climbed the hillside with silent precision. Theycarried no guns or artillery, preferring the weapons of their ancestors. Swords stored inscabbards were strapped to their backs. Daggers in leather sheaths hung from their hips. Bronzehelmets covered their entire heads except for their eyes and mouths.
Centuries ago the final leg of their mission would have been far more treacherous, requiringchisels and ropes to scale the rock face. But that was no longer the case—not since 140 stepshad been carved into the sandstone, leading to the entrance of Holy Trinity. Its front gate wasten feet high and made of thick wood, yet they breached it easily and slipped inside, spreadingthrough the compound like a deadly plague.
The first to die was the lookout, who, instead of doing his job, had been staring at thetwinkling lights of Kalampáka, the small city that rested at the base of the plateau. Sadly, itwas the last mistake he ever made. No questions were asked, no quarter was given. One minute hewas pondering the meaning of life, the next his life was over.
No bullets. No blades. Just gravity and the rocks below.
One of the monks inside the church heard his scream and tried to warn the others, but before hecould, the intruders burst through both doors. Brandishing their swords, they forced all themonks into the center of the room, where the holy men were frisked and their hands were tied.
Seven monks in total. A mixture of young and old.
Just as the intruders had expected.
For the next few minutes, the monks sat in silence on the hard wooden pews. Some of them closedtheir eyes and prayed to God for divine intervention. Others seemed reconciled to their fate.They had known the risks when they accepted this duty, what their brotherhood had endured andprotected for centuries.
They were the keepers of the book. The chosen ones.
And soon they would be forced to die.
With the coldness of an executioner, the leader of the soldiers strode into the church. Atfirst glance he looked like a moving work of art. Muscle stacked upon muscle in statuesqueperfection. A gleaming blade in his grasp. Unlike the others who had entered before him, hewore a helmet topped with a plume of red horsehair, a crest that signified his rank.
To the monks, he was the face of death.
Without saying a word, he nodded to his men. They sprang into action, grabbing one of the monksand dragging him toward the stone altar. Orthodox tradition prevented the brethren fromtrimming their facial hair after receiving tonsure—a symbolic shaving of their heads—so hisbeard was long and gray, draping the front of his black cassock like a hairy bib.