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When mysterious strangers arrive at the home of Andrew Correo, they provide him with life changing news. He learns of the Vedicatori, a secret organization established by his ancestors, an organization he now has the chance to inherit control over. In order to gain this control, he needs to compete with Robert Stavero in a global scavenger hunt. They must search for four illusive crystals that, when brought together, will tell them their final destination. Also in Edson, Monica Correo is planning a wedding to her love, John Weaver. With the wedding so close to Halloween, the pair decide to have a masquerade ball for the wedding reception. It will be an event no one in Edson will ever forget. With just a clue and limited guidance, both Andrew and Robert set out on their secretive journey. For both, the path leads to mystery, suspense, and self-discovery. As Andrew looks forward to his future, while putting parts of his past behind him, Robert grows greedy and develops a love for deception and hate. The hunt brings them through the ruins of Teotihuacan to the Eternal City and its history, but who will have the cunning to come out on top?

Book Rating: G

e   x   c   e   r  p   t

The two walked through the ruins and structures. They came upon one, a bit different from the rest. It was a tall temple in the midst of crumbling. It had serpent heads around its circumference. Some had fallen off in pieces on the ground while others had fallen and remained intact. Next to one of the heads on the eastern cryptic stone wall, another face stared out toward the rising sun. It represented a mighty god that protected the temples from spirits and disasters.

A wooden door hid in the shadow of the great god mask. The door protected the inner caverns from the elements of the modern world. Dominic went to the door and pulled it open with some effort. The increasing winds seemed to sense this invasion. They grew stronger as if summoned by the gods themselves. Dominic looked back to Andrew and went in.

Andrew was too curious not to follow. The only light within the cavern came from the open doorway. Sand rushed in as the wind continued to build stronger. The door made a light slapping noise as a gust pushed it against the stone wall outside.

“Is Esteban one of us?” Andrew inquired.

Dominic made his way to the back corner of the chamber. Dominic felt along the wall for an opening, “Not really. He’s a powerful man in Mexico but outside of its borders, not so much. He’ll do anything for us if the price is right. I personally don’t trust him, but he’s never failed us yet. Was anyone following us when we came in here?”

“No, just a bunch of tourists wandering around with neck strain from looking up at everything.”

“Good, but we still have to hurry. Huh. Here it is. Come give me a hand.”

When he reached Dominic’s side, he noticed the secret panel in the wall. The panel was small, but Andrew knew its big importance. Together, he and Dominic removed the stone block and placed it on the earthen floor. Andrew looked inside and saw a small box.


*     *     *


Robert covertly crept around the stone monuments. Sweat dripped from his scalp and down over his mask. Looking at the structure, he saw the serpents that guarded it. He also saw the open door in the corner.


*     *     *


Esteban walked the length of the path. He knew where his friends were going, and their separation was part of the plan. Now it was safe to return to his friends and collect his pay. He sauntered by the Pyramid of the Sun, in complete awe of its beauty. As he came to the temple where Dominic and Andrew were working, he saw the figure of an old man getting ready to enter the chamber. Esteban stared in uncertainty. The old man wasn’t his friend, Dominic.


*     *     *


“Here it is Andrew. The contents of this box should be what you are looking for.”

“The piece and the next clue?” Andrew gasped.

“No, only the piece is here. You and Robert will receive the next clue a few days after you return home.” Opening the box, Dominic continued, “Now, let’s just hope Robert didn’t beat us.”

“How many masks do you think he has? It’s going to be hard to beat him if I never know who he is.”

“When it comes to disguises, Robert is a pro. Many years ago, he worked on Broadway and learned a great deal of mask and makeup skills. The plane was only your first glimpse.”

“Well, it was either him in a disguise or one of his helpers.”

“I’m sure it was him.” Dominic struggled with pulling the piece from the box. Without warning, a voice came from behind the explorers.

“It looks like I get to take credit for my makeup skills, and getting the first piece of the puzzle,” Robert smiled reaching for his own face. He peeled the latex back and off. His other hand held a gun, “I have to thank you both for a job well done. I’m sorry our first formal introduction is like this, but sometimes people aren’t meant to be polite to one another. Now hand it over.”

Robert walked toward them to claim his prize. Andrew stalled trying to think of a quick way to salvage his own victory. He looked for a weak spot in Robert’s plan and came up with nothing. Defeated, he took the piece from Dominic and held it out for Robert. Dominic’s attention was drawn to the doorway as a figure, hidden in shadow, stood in the entrance. He stood in silence. The figure grabbed the inside handle of the door.

“Andrew!” Esteban shouted as he slammed the door shut. The entire room fell into darkness.

Using the diversion to his advantage, Andrew lunged at Robert with all his strength in an effort to get the piece and the gun. The two struggled with each other and fell to the ground. The sand kicked up in their faces and as they rolled. Each rock in the gravel floor sent a sting of pain into their scalps. Neither of them had any sense of direction in the dark. A shot from the gun interrupted the struggle. There was a howl of pain as the skirmish stopped. In the darkness, all fell silent.

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