Keepers of the Lost Garden (The Lost Garden Trilogy Book 2)

BOOK: Keepers of the Lost Garden (The Lost Garden Trilogy Book 2)
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KEEPERS OF THE LOST GARDEN

 

An Evan Knight Adventure

#2

 

by

 

K.T. TOMB

 

 

Acclaim for K.T. Tomb:

 

“Epic and awesome!”


J.T. Cross
, bestselling author of
Beneath the Deep

 

“Now
this
is what I call adventure.
The Lost Garden
will leave you breathless!”


Summer Lee
, bestselling author of
Angel Heart

 

“The best adventure novel I’ve read in a long time. K.T. Tomb. I can’t wait to read the sequel. Count me a fan. A
big
fan.”


P.J. Day
,
bestselling author of
The Sunset Prophecy

 

“K.T. Tomb is a wonderful new voice in adventure fiction. I was enthralled by
The Lost Garden
...and you will be, too.”


Aiden James
,
bestselling author of
Plague of Coins

 

 

OTHER BOOKS BY K.T. TOMB

 

STANDALONE ADVENTURES

The Last Crusade

The Kraken

The Adventurers

The Swashbucklers

The Tempest

Ghosts of the Titanic

The Honeymooners

Curse of the Coins

Drums Along the Hudson

 

THE CHYNA STONE ADVENTURES

The Minoan Mask

The Mummy Codex

The Phoenician Falcon

The Babylonian Basilisk

The Aquitaine Armor

 

THE EVAN KNIGHT ADVENTURES

The Lost Garden

Keepers of the Lost Garden

Destroyers of the Lost Garden

 

THE PHOENIX QUEST ADVENTURES

The Hammer of Thor

The Spear of Destiny

The Lair of Beowulf

The Fountain of Youth

 

THE CASH CASSIDY ADVENTURES

The Holy Grail

The Lost Continent

The Lost City of Gold

 

THE ALPHA ADVENTURES

“A” is for Amethyst

“B” is for Bullion

“C” is for Crystal

 

SASQUATCH SERIES

Sasquatch

Sasquatch Found

 

THE ISLANDS THAT TIME FORGOT

Dinosaur Island

Ape Island

Snake Island

 

Keepers of the Lost Garden

Published by K.T. Tomb

Copyright © 2014 by K.T. Tomb

All rights reserved.

 

Ebook Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Dedication

The author wishes to dedicate this book to the late

Robert Siegel.

 

 

Previously in

The Lost Garden

 

Jessima IL Eve, a warrior from the Garden of Eden, sought out the Chosen One to help defend the Garden against its enemies. She attended a lecture by the maverick historian, Dr. Evan Knight, to discover if he was the one mentioned in prophecy.

After listening to Dr. Knight talk about the Garden of Eden, she believed he
was
the Chosen One, but she had to put him to one final test. Jess attacked him at his Malibu home and fought him to a standstill, which proved to her that he was the Chosen One she sought. Dr. Knight also realized that Jess was the woman he had dreamed about for many years. She was even depicted in his paintings that featured Eden.

Meanwhile, Alexey Konstantin of Konstantin Pharmaceuticals happened upon a dying Ramallah IL Eve, also from the Garden. His fascination with the healing oil from the Tree of Life that he found on her turned into an obsession. He commissioned a team—led by Eden expert Sulna Obvesky—to find the hidden location of the Tree of Life so he could obtain more oil.

To prevent the Chosen One from fulfilling his destiny, Morina and the Fallen—a powerful enemy with their own plans for Eden—attacked Jess and Evan in his home. After the battle, Morina took her wounded and fled. Jess then informed Evan that he would need a passport for what would come next…

 

 

Keepers of the Lost Garden

 

Chapter One

 

A surprisingly sophisticated Mediterranean restaurant sat atop Alexey’s hotel, overlooking the dusty town of Azri.

Alexey and the historian, Sulna Obvesky, sat at a window seat. They were served by a very good-looking young Persian man who looked as if he belonged in a Hollywood film. He smiled brightly and told them that his name was Jani and that he would be taking care of them that evening.

Alexey ordered their best champagne and was mildly surprised to hear they still had an older bottle of Krug in their inventory. He had thought he had consumed it all by now. Perhaps they had flown in more.

Below them, with the sun setting beyond the distant foothills, the old city seemed ever-present, as if it had always existed and humans had simply come to occupy it, even if temporarily. Humans might die out, but the gray brick mortared city of Azri would always exist.

Before him, Sulna was a complete mystery to him. She seemed far too young to be so highly regarded by her peers. She was beautiful, tall, and muscular, as if she had spent as much time in the gym as she had engrossed in her scholarly material. To his utter surprise, she spoke fluent Russian. Spoke it perfectly. In fact, she spoke it better than Alexey, which utterly disarmed him, at first. She was awash in perfume, so much so that Alexey found himself a little uncomfortable. Along with the perfume, another smell was noticeable. As if she had stepped in something on her way from the airport. Alexey couldn’t quite place it.

The smell made him uneasy. If there was even a smell there at all. Maybe he was imagining things. Either way, he discovered that he had suddenly lost his appetite.

“The city is old,” said Alexey. “Sometimes, I think it’s the oldest thing on Earth, when I’m up here gazing down on it.”

Sulna smiled. There were no wrinkles on that beautiful face. When she spoke, she did so in Russian, as if she had lived there her entire life. “Trust me, Alexey Konstantin. There are much older things on this Earth than this dirty little city.”

He didn’t say anything. He simply studied her. She was obviously not intimidated by money or power, both of which Alexey had in abundance. She was completely self-confident and at ease. Almost as if she had been here before. Alexey somehow had the impression that she could have been comfortable anywhere on Earth.

“You speak fluent Russian. Perhaps even better than me,” he said. “In the old days, I would have thought you a spy, but now...”

She raised an eyebrow and lifted her wine glass to her lips. She wore dark red lipstick that accentuated what Alexey concluded was a perfect set of lips. She smiled as her lips glistened in the muted light of the white oak-paneled restaurant. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” she asked.

Alexey faltered. For the first time in a long time, he was at a loss for a reply. He even felt slightly intimidated in another’s presence, an Israeli woman, no less. Although Alexey hardly thought of himself as racist or chauvinistic, the whole scenario was almost amusing. “Disconcerted at best. I do not know how to figure you out.” He paused.

“But you have your suspicions?” she pressed.

“Yes,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I do.”

The waiter returned and Alexey used the opportunity to collect his thoughts as he ordered them the house special, Steamed Raspberry Lamb. Sulna raised her finger to decline.

“None for me, thank you.”

“Fine,” said Alexey as he looked at the waiter. “I will skip dinner as well, then.”

“Please don’t do that on my account. I rarely eat. Always on the run.”

“You’re not running now.”

“Old habits die hard.”

“Just bring me the house bread,” Alexey told the waiter.

The waiter left and Sulna watched him go. “A beautiful boy. Almost good enough to eat,” she said. For someone who claimed to not be hungry, Alexey saw the hunger in her eyes. “But a little young for me,” she continued.

Sulna turned to him and smiled pleasantly, as if she had made a joke. As far as Alexey could tell, the waiter and Sulna appeared to be the same age, although she probably stood three or four inches taller than the Persian waiter.

“I suspect…” said Alexey, carefully lifting his own champagne glass and swirling the contents, “…that just about every man in the world would be too young for you.” He tilted back the glass and watched her carefully.

She didn’t immediately react as she turned toward him. Returning her full gaze to him, Alexey forced himself to return her stare, difficult as it was. The color in her eyes seemed to have been blue at one time, but over the years, they may have been bleached of their color. Now they were pale, almost a sickly pale. He wanted to turn away from her, but his pride alone kept him from it.

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked.

“You’re one of them,” said Alexey.

“I ask again, whatever do you mean, Mr. Konstantin?”

She seemed to have completely lost interest in the conversation and was now following the young waiter with her eyes, leering at him like a drunk would a barmaid.

“We will be spending much time together. Please, call me Alexey.”

“Of course,” she said.

He studied her and watched her as she stared at the young man. “You are immortal.”

Her head whipped around. The gaze was formidable. Alexey could not hold it. He looked away and actually did not feel ashamed, but he tried to be cool. He picked up his glass and sipped as he looked down at the darkening city.

He continued, “You have no past. No one knows where you are from. You just appeared as a Biblical scholar. An historian of limitless knowledge who looks like she should be cramming for exams in college.” He continued, focusing on a donkey-drawn cart on the street that had lost a wheel and was tying up traffic. The driver was working frantically. No one seemed to want to help him. “I had my security analysts look into you. I always like to know who I am working with. I suspect you have touched down in many such places around the globe. Sometimes quietly, other times more openly. And in this case, you were perhaps bolder than usual…writing, publishing, and teaching histories that you yourself have lived.”

He stopped his narrative and looked at her. Her pupils had shrunk to pinpricks, despite the darkening night. Those eyes needed little light to see and that, for some reason, was a disturbing thought to Alexey.

Alexey continued, “There’s just one thing I don’t understand. If you are one of them, then why have you been shunned? More importantly, why do you seek to return and why do you need me to do it?”

She spoke for the first time in minutes, having listened to everything he had to say with an unblinking gaze.

“Well, well. You have figured out much, Alexey Konstantin. And in so short a time.” She fell silent, as Alexey teetered on the edge of his seat. The woman was maddening in her aloofness. He wanted answers and he wanted them now. He was unaccustomed to waiting for anything.
Anything.
However, he suspected that Sulna didn’t give a damn about what he was accustomed to or not. He would play her game, for now.

“So, I am correct?” prodded Alexey.

“In a way.”

Silence.
Alexey gritted his teeth. He was tempted to wait her out, but his impatience was overwhelming. He adjusted his collar and nonchalantly looked away. “And in what way would that be, Sulna?”

More silence.
The sound of traffic reached them. Alexey saw that the donkey-drawn cart had been moved off to the side of the road, where the driver was using a mallet to hammer away at something. Alexey forced himself to breathe and to readjust his entire behavior. This was too important for him to lose his temper.

Dammit!
The woman was maddening.

“Are you okay, Alexey?” she asked. “You seem agitated.” There was amusement in her voice.

“Do I? Perhaps I am merely eager for some answers.”

“Patience achieves more than force and rage,” she said simply.

“Not in my experience,” he said, turning back to her. He reached out and grabbed her forearm tightly, then noticeably loosened his grip. “Some of us don’t have the benefit of being immortal. For most of us, our time actually runs out here on Earth. I’m hoping to change that, at least for me.”

She didn’t move her hand. He could feel the muscle just beneath her skin, skin which seemed paper-thin. She was looking at him with those dead eyes. “May I ask how you’ve arrived at your conclusions?”

So, Alexey told her everything, from the moment that Rama was discovered, to their tests in his lab, to Rama babbling incoherently in twenty different languages.
Everything.

When he was finished, she said simply, “Walk with me, Alexey.”

 

* * *

 

They walked together along the streets of Azri, passing shops that were already closed for the night. Broken concrete sidewalks were mixed with pebble-stoned walkways and dirt paths. Most streets had some form of lighting, but mostly, they were guided by a nearly full moon. Alexey had settled on some
hummus
,
fuul
, and some not-so-freshly baked bread that he had purchased from a local street merchant just before he closed for the evening. It was edible and it had taken the crankiness off his nerves, which had earlier been humming like a live wire. Now that Alexey had been with the woman for most of the evening, he was adapting to the rhythms of her personality and her slow-paced tempo. He likened it to a tennis match, his favorite sport. Sometimes, an opponent picked up the pace and wasted little time between serves and at other times, an opponent would take quite a long time to adjust for wind, sun, and glare.

Go with the flow, Alexey. You need her
. Badly.
She is the key.

They walked for perhaps a half mile. His hummus and bread were gone. He needed something to drink and he suggested a bar that was still open. She shook her head and waited outside. He shrugged and purchased a bottled beer and met her back outside. He opened the beer and kept pace with her.

Still, she said nothing.

She was tall. Perhaps even an inch or so taller than Alexey, which irked him to no end since he stood six foot two. She was dressed in tight slacks and a thick red sweater that covered most of her body, which was respectable for the Islamic region. The sweater was almost big enough to be a robe, but still allowed her some individuality.

And when she finally spoke, Alexey almost choked on his beer.

“There is much to know, but I do not know how much of it you need to know. Do you understand?”

“I do.”

“I have put much thought into what you need to know and I shall not discuss anything other than that. Again, do you understand?”

“I am to understand that you will tell me all that I need to know to conquer Eden.”

She turned to him and smiled. “We are going to get along brilliantly.”

Alexey finished the beer and tossed the bottle into a plastic garbage bag that was sitting outside what appeared to be a cigarette shop. The bag moved and a fat rat scurried out, its long claws clicking along the cobblestone walkway as it ran parallel with the shop and then disappeared in a fissure between the two buildings. Sulna watched the rat with interest until it was gone. Her eyes had brightened considerably.

To Alexey, it was an unusual look. She appeared more than fascinated by the rat. It was a look of hunger. From living in impoverished St. Petersburg, Alexey knew the look well.

Soon, they were standing over an old, arched bridge made with a patchwork of stone and mortar that probably dated back to the days of the Babylonians, as far as Alexey knew. Below them, a black stream chugged along over rocks, a stream that sometimes turned into a river during the rainy months. It was this river that the entire city was built around. Many a garment had been washed along its banks. There had also been many baths taken there.

There are also many mosquitoes.

Alexey extensively slapped the back of his hands and neck as they stood over the bridge looking down at the flowing water that gurgled over submerged stones. Alexey glanced over at Sulna. She was standing motionless, with her hair blowing gently back. Her hands laid flat on the stone railing, while staring down into the black depths of the water. He could still smell her perfume, which was heavy in the air. The nauseous feeling had mostly gone away. She looked beautiful and ancient in a way he could not fathom or quite comprehend. Perhaps it was in her stillness.

“It appears the mosquitoes have a taste only for my blood,” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “I don’t suppose they would much like mine.”

“Why is that?”

She didn’t answer, of course. She stood there as silent and as still as a statue.
Maddening, truly maddening.
Alexey clenched the stone rail with his knuckles turning white and clearly visible in the moonlight.
Deep breaths.

Finally, she spoke. She was a woman who certainly marched to the beat of her own drum, and normal social conventions be damned. “I suppose it’s a good lead-in to what I need to tell you.”

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