“ ‘To whom it may concern. Upon your discovery of these documents, please contact my daughter, Jadranka Hzujak, and arrange to see them delivered to her.’ ” Jada glanced up at Drake. “He’s got my address here. Nothing more.”
Sully had unfolded one of the papers and now laid it on the bed. The three of them stared down at the map of Crocodilopolis on which Luka had drawn the location of the labyrinth of Sobek and what he suspected were its dimensions and basic design. There were scribblings on the map as well, most of them apparently references to the lengths of corridors but some evidently comparisons to the labyrinth at Knossos on the island of Crete.
“Here. You should be the one,” Sully said, handing Jada the journal.
She opened it and began to read, but immediately her expression turned to disappointment.
“What is it?” Drake asked.
Jada frowned, turning and scanning pages. “Notes, mostly. I was kind of hoping it was a real journal, y’ know? Something that would lay it all out for us. But it’s his notes to himself.”
She moved between them, turning so that Drake and Sully could peruse the pages with her. Drake saw what she meant. There were drawings of labyrinths, some larger and some with more intricate details.
“Is that a trap?” Sully asked, indicating one sketch. “Like something from the pyramids?”
“Looks like,” Drake agreed.
There were scribbles about Daedalus. “Knossos first,” Luka had written. “Then Croc City—and then, where’s number three?”
“So he’s confirming that Daedalus designed three labyrinths?” Drake asked.
“Yeah,” Jada said, flipping two pages back. “It’s right here. ‘Fundamental design of Cretan labyrinth used three times. Honey a constant.’ ”
“Honey?” Sully grumbled. “What the hell does he mean?”
None of them replied. Jada flipped a few more pages, pausing only momentarily to study the small maps Luka had drawn in the journal. They depicted the progress of the dig on the labyrinth of Sobek. One of the maps had another reference to honey: a design that seemed to indicate four separate routes that led into a single location in the labyrinth. Beside it, with an arrow, Luka had scrawled the words “Honey Chamber location differs from Knossos, but command is the same—Mistress of the Labyrinth must be given an amount equivalent to all other gods put together.”
Luka had drawn an arrow to indicate that his thoughts were continued on the next page, one of his habits, if this journal was any indication. With a dry rustle of paper the only sound in the room, Jada flipped the page.
“Amazing,” Luka had written. “In Temple of Sobek—labyrinth of Sobek—but Sobek’s worshippers give Mistress of the Laby. greater tribute than they give to their god? Why?”
“Damn good question,” Sully growled.
“Even better question if we knew what honey he’s referring to,” Drake replied.
“You don’t think he just means regular honey?” Jada asked.
Drake glanced at her. “Do you? I mean, all jokes about anything called a ‘honey chamber’ aside—okay, it sounds like a special room Elvis would take his babes in Graceland—but if the other gods are being offered this honey, too, it’s probably not the Winnie-the-Pooh variety.”
Sully gave him a sidelong glance but ignored the babble. “Jada, didn’t you say the worshippers of Sobek actually decorated living alligators with gold and gems?”
“So they’ve got gold and gems,” Sully said. “Enough gold that they can make new—what, armor?—for generations of alligators to represent their god. The gems they can maybe pry off, use again, but if they’re making gold plating for the gators, they might be making a new one each generation.”
“How did they get that much gold?” Drake said. “This place isn’t exactly El Dorado.”
Jada sighed. “We’re not getting any answers from this thing,” she said, flipping another page.
“Maybe not,” Drake said. “But at least we’re getting a better idea of what the questions should be.”
Jada turned another page and hesitated. A note had been scrawled hastily there, and when she quickly flipped ahead, she found that the rest were empty. She went back to the final scribble in the journal. It had been written weeks ago, but in a way it was her father’s last message to her.
“Talk to Welch,” Luka had written. “Golden touch? Maybe Daedalus. Where’d he go? That’s the question. Henriksen doesn’t care about the Three Labyrinths, he’s after the treasure of the Fourth.”
“Fourth?” Drake read aloud. “Didn’t he say, right at the beginning, that Daedalus designed three labyrinths?”
“Welch,” Jada said. “That’s got to be Ian Welch, Gretchen’s brother.”
“Call him, Sully,” Drake said. “We need to see this guy tonight. Henriksen’s trying to kill everyone who might know whatever it is Luka found out.”
“There’s no big secret in here,” Jada protested, waving the journal. “They trashed his room looking for it, but whatever he found, it’s not here.”
“Henriksen must think it is,” Sully said, going to sit at the edge of the bed and picking up the phone.
“Jada,” Drake said softly, “we might not have it figured out, but your father wouldn’t have hidden this stuff if he didn’t think there was something important in what he’s written.”
“You’re right,” she said, crouching down to smooth out the map Sully had opened on the bed. Jada shook her head. “But whatever it is, we’d better figure it out before Henriksen does.”
“If he hasn’t already,” Drake said. “It could be that he already has all the secrets and wants to make sure nobody else does.”
Sully dialed the phone, referring to a scrap of paper he’d pulled from his wallet.
Jada flipped open the journal, turning again to that last page. Drake didn’t like the furrow of her brow.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Just reading it again. ‘Talk to Welch.’ Is that a message to me? An instruction? Or is it a note to himself, like his one-task to-do list? If so, then whatever mystery he unraveled, he might’ve told Ian Welch. It would’ve been right before he left Egypt to head back to New York to continue his research.”
Sully had a quick conversation on the phone, and Jada kept her voice low.
Drake frowned. “You’re saying maybe we can’t trust Welch?”
“I’m saying my father seems to have trusted him, and now he’s dead. I’m saying we should be careful.”
Sully hung up the phone. They turned to look at him.
“Guess we’ll find out soon enough whose side Welch is on,” Sully rasped. “We’re meeting him for a drink in Fayoum City in two hours.”
The sun went down as Drake drove them into Fayoum City, the sky becoming a vast indigo field of stars. They passed the ancient waterwheels that kept the narrow canals moving in the city, then crossed a bridge into the city proper.
Drake tapped the brake when he spotted a police car parked beside a building that resembled an upside-down pyramid. In some parts of Egypt it was customary for Westerners to be accompanied by police in the larger cities. Chigaru had assured them that the insignias he had pasted on the bumper and the dashboard would keep most cops away. Either he had been as good as his word or this particular cop didn’t feel like rousting Westerners. The police car remained where it was, and Drake kept driving.
The desk clerk at Auberge du Lac had given them directions, which meant Drake wasn’t sure if they would end up in the right place until he actually had pulled into the parking lot. He had half expected the little man in the red jacket to send them the wrong way on purpose, but the directions turned out to be impeccable. The only distraction was the small black van that had picked them up as they passed the waterwheels and stuck with them as they drove through the city.
“You see it?” Drake asked.
Sully, in the passenger seat, glanced back. “Got it.”
“Keep an eye on it.”
Jada stole a quick glance as well. Though she said nothing, her body language spoke volumes, and when they turned onto Halma Street and the van kept going, she visibly exhaled. Drake felt the same relief but couldn’t shake the feeling that they had been observed almost from the moment of their arrival in Egypt. It was impossible, of course. They had driven across wide expanses of nothing where a pursuing vehicle would have been impossible to miss. Even so, he felt the pressure of malign eyes on them as he drove.
The restaurant was tucked into the corner of the lobby of the Queen’s Hotel, whose general shabbiness was a persuasive argument for why Luka had chosen to stay outside the city. Despite the dingy interior of the hotel, the restaurant seemed almost cheerful. The rich aroma of spices and cooking meat filled the place, and Drake found his stomach rumbling as he realized how long it had been since he had had a proper meal.
“I could eat a horse,” Sully murmured as they entered, scanning the place for Ian Welch.
“From the looks of the place, change that to camel and you might get your wish,” Jada muttered.
Drake spotted a thin, edgy-looking man—one of the few Westerners they’d seen thus far in the city—sitting by himself at a corner table, his clothing and overall mien giving him away as American. Welch had chosen a table set apart from most of the dining room, the better to discuss things they would all rather not have overheard.
“I don’t know,” Drake whispered to the others. “Add enough spices and camel might be pretty tasty.”
A uniformed waiter walked toward them, but Sully waved him off, making a beeline for Welch. Drake and Jada followed, and Drake noticed her glancing about the restaurant uneasily.
“Feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone,” she said into his ear, her hot breath on his neck. “Lilting Middle Eastern music and an entire restaurant of people staring at me.”
“This isn’t Cairo,” Drake said. “And it’s no tourist destination. They don’t see a lot of Westerners here and even fewer pretty young women with streaks of magenta in their hair.”
Even with the dim lighting of the restaurant, he could see Jada blush.
“It’s not very manly to even know the word ‘magenta,’ never mind being able to recognize the color,” she said.
“I’m a new breed,” Drake assured her.
They arrived at the table smiling, but Ian Welch’s grim expression sobered them both. He looked nothing like his younger sister with an unruly mop of dark hair, round spectacles, and a deep tan acquired from months in the desert. Wiry and intense, Welch shook hands with all three of them as introductions were made, but his focus was on Jada.
“I’m so sorry to hear about your father,” the archaeologist said. “When Gretchen told me about his murder—and then Dr. Cheney …”
Welch trailed off, then shook his head, at a loss for words. He gestured to the chairs. “Please, sit. I’ve ordered some tahini and pita to start. The waiter will bring water as well. But, tell me, please—what can I do for you?”
Sully slid his chair back to give himself the best view of the restaurant. Welch had taken the corner seat, but Drake knew Sully would be on guard and let them know if trouble might be coming. The shooting in Manhattan had left them on edge, and the constant feeling of being observed gnawed at Drake, but he would let Sully worry about that for the moment. His focus had to be on Welch.
“There are two things, Mr. Welch,” Jada said, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. “First, we have some questions and we’re hoping you can enlighten us. There’s so much we don’t know.”
“I’ll do my best,” Welch said, nodding.
“Second,” Jada began, “well, we’d like to get in and have a look at the dig, but with as few people knowing we’re there as possible.”
Welch started to reply, brow furrowed, ready to shake his head. Then he stopped himself, perhaps thinking of the murders of Luka Hzujak and Maynard Cheney. He glanced at Drake, then back at Jada.
“You really think this all has to do with something your father figured out after he came here?”
Jada nodded. “We do.”
Welch took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said, exhaling. “I’ll see if I can make it happen. In the meantime, what can I tell you about the work we’re doing?”
The waiter arrived with glasses of water for all of them, and then a second appeared and set the tahini and pita on the table. Drake would have rather had nachos, but as hungry as he was, the sesame paste and soft bread would do just fine.
“All right,” Drake said before taking a bite. “Tell us about Daedalus and the three labyrinths.”
Welch sipped his water. “That’s the biggest thing to come out of the dig so far. How much do you already know?”
Drake chewed, trying to swallow so he could reply. Jada jumped in.
“My father talked about his work a lot,” she said. “The way I understand it, he believed that Daedalus was an actual person, not a mythological character, and that he designed not only the labyrinth at Knossos—as most stories tell it—but also two others, including the one you’re excavating right now.”
Welch nodded all through her statement. “Oh, there’s no doubt about it now. Look, most scholars will agree that the most enduring myths eventually prove to have had some real-life antecedent. The ancient Greeks, for instance, believed that the Trojan War had taken place and that Troy was an actual place. In modern times, historians had basically decided the whole thing had been made up, that it was just a story, right up until a German archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann actually discovered the ruins of Troy in 1870. So much for the people who dismiss myth as just stories.