Jason slunk down, wanting to see no more. He closed his eyes. Other shots rang out across the cathedral. Sporadic. Cries suddenly silenced. Death stalked the cathedral as the monks slaughtered the few remaining survivors.
Jason kept his eyes closed and prayed.
A moment before, he had spotted the coat-of-arms upon the leader's surcoat. The man's black cloak had parted as he'd lifted his arm, revealing a crimson sigil beneath: a coiled dragon, the tail wrapped around its own neck. The symbol was unknown to Jason, but it had an exotic feel to it, more Persian than European.
Beyond the confessional door, the cathedral had grown stone silent.
The tread of booted footsteps approached his hiding place.
Jason squeezed his eyes tighter, against the horror, against the impossibility, against the sacrilege.
All for a sack of bones.
And though the cathedral had been built around those bones, and countless kings had bowed before them, even this very mass was a Feast to those long-dead menthe Feast of the Three Kingsone question rose foremost in Jason's mind.
Images of the Three Kings were found throughout the cathedral, done in stone, glass, and gold. In one panel, the Wise Men led camels across a desert, guided by the Star of Bethlehem. In another, the adoration of the Christ child was depicted, showing kneeling figures offering of the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
But Jason closed his mind to all of this. All he could picture was Mandy's last smile. Her soft touch.
The boots stopped outside his door.
He silently cried for an answer to all this bloodshed.
Why steal the bones of the Magi?
Copyright © 2004 James Rollins - Excerpted from Map of Bones by James Rollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher, William Morrow.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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