An impenetrable safe is breached and a secret artifact is stolen. Containing information that could change the course of the world, its desperate owner sends Gideon Quinn, his head of security, and Gideon’s wife Rei, an art preservationist, to find it at any cost. What they discover is a clue to the lost throne of King Solomon, the real object of the theft. They are thrust out on an adventure that leads them halfway around the world. Following letters left by a Jesuit in 1681, they must weave through ancient sites along the Portuguese Spice Route, keeping ahead of a secret militant order that is determined to beat them to Solomon’s Throne. Filled with fast paced action and having broad appeal, Solomon’s Throne is an ingenious treasure hunt adventure that sweeps the reader around the globe in a race against time.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”
The Jesuit had heard it a thousand times before, so many times, in fact, that he had a hard time focusing on the penitant in the booth. It hadn’t been the normal day or time for confession, but he had seen the old man stagger into the chapel, and had assumed he was drunk. The city had built up around the old stone church, and the ale house across the way often spilled out it’s patrons onto the sacred grounds. The Jesuit didn’t mind. What better place to sleep it off than the safety of St. Anthony’s. The streets of Lisbon, especially so near the wharf, could be rough even when one had his faculties fully intact.
Watching the man as he went about his daily tasks of sweeping and checking the many candles, he saw with relief that he had collapsed with his back against the chancel wall, long legs sprawled out in front of him, chin to chest. His knobbled hand clutched the hilt of a long dagger, and his face – what could be seen around the wild spray of whiskers and wiry gray hair – was scarred.
Soldier, thought the Jesuit. He had seen many in his day, and heard many of their confessions. Many terrible things had been done in the name of God, and the men suffered long after their missions were complete.
Returning from the ash heap outside the rear door, the Jesuit saw that the man was gone. Surprised that he was able to get himself up, he put it out of his mind and continued trimming the tapers. In the silence a thud suddenly rang out. Looking around, he realized that he could see the man’s boots under the curtain of the confessional. He hurried over, and took his place behind the screen.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” came the gravely voice. “It has been thirty years since my last confession. I have killed many men. I have lied…” He broke off, coughing. “I’m sorry Father. I have lied to protect a secret, and I am now the last one to know it. But I made an oath that the knowledge would not be lost, and now time has run away with me.”
The Jesuit heard the man shift positions in the small booth, and then saw a leather pouch pushed under the dividing wall to his side of the confessional.
“Father, I am entrusting this to you. There are men who would kill you for it. They have chased me and… and caused me great hurt. But they have never beaten me! I have never told my secret, until now. Now, you must carry it. You must protect it. This letter… This letter would change the world. We can’t let that happen…We can’t…”
The man fell into a fit of coughing, and, peering through the screen between them, the Jesuit realized that blood was spewing from his mouth and cascading down his chin.
“My son! Let me help you!” The Jesuit made to open his curtain to go to the man’s aid, when the soldier inside him rose up.
“No! Father listen to me! I am dying. I make my final confession to you, and ask my God to forgive me. But you must listen! You must keep this letter from them, at all costs. And you must find the Throne of Solomon. I have led them away – oh Father, I have led them a merry chase!” The man laughed weakly. “But you must find it, and protect it. No one else knows… I am the last.” The man slumped back, and the urgency drained away as he began to fight for breath.
“I am the last. It is in Goa. They will find it if you don’t go… Father, you must go.”
Frantically the Jesuit tore back the curtains and knelt down next to the man. His skin was gray, and his lips were turning blue. Blood ran freely down his chin and onto his tattered green cloak, turning it black in a widening stain. The man gripped the Jesuit’s hand fiercely, and spat out one final word, “Run!”
The Jesuit performed last rites on the man, and then asked a novitiate to help him carry the body to their living quarters. The man had definitely been a soldier. His body had more scars than healthy skin, but he had been tall and strong. The cause of the blood became apparent as the novitiate stripped the body: he had a ragged stab wound in his chest. There was no smell of ale or wine about the man, and although his clothing was old and worn, it was of good quality. He had a leather purse full of silver cruzados. His dagger was of fine make and design, and he had an ornate silver eating knife in an inner pocket. In another pocket was a small leather-bound book, full of scribbled drawings and strange phrases.
“Father Eduardo…” The novitiate nervously interrupted the Jesuit’s perusal of the body.
“Yes, Paulo, I’m sorry. It’s not every day we have a man die in confession, now is it?”
“No Father. What would you like me to do now? Do we know who he was, or if he has any family in Lisbon?”
The Jesuit thought for a moment. “He said he was alone. That he was ‘the last.’ I think we shall bury him in the cemetery at Jeronimos Monastery, and add his remaining effects to our fund for the poor. He was a soldier… We shall give him a soldier’s burial.”
Astonished, Paulo nevertheless nodded his head in obedience. There were kings buried at the monastery. Vasco da Gama was buried there. Who was an unknown soldier compared to these men?
“Please wash the body carefully, and have Liza clean the poor man’s clothes. We will redress him in those, and bury him with his weapons. I will go to the monastery now to arrange the burial, but I will conduct the mass here.” Once again the novitiate nodded, and turned to his task.
Father Eduardo Borges Santos, the Jesuit, rushed back to the empty chapel and picked up the leather pouch the man had left on the floor of the confessional. Hiding it within his robes, he left the building.
Copyright© Jennings Wright. All rights reserved.