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The Mountain Mother Cipher: Arkana Mysteries #2
College freshman Cassie Forsythe never set out to be a relic hunter. Her life unravels when her sister is murdered over a stone artifact called the Granite Key. The girl allies herself with a secret society called the Arkana who want to recover the key and find the killer. Teamed with librarian Griffin and bodyguard Erik, Cassie travels to the Minoan ruins of Crete to crack the key's code. There they discover that five artifacts need to be recovered in sequence to reveal the location of a powerful relic called the sage stone. Learning this vital piece of information almost costs Cassie and company their lives when they are attacked on Crete by operatives of a religious cult called the Blessed Nephilim. Barely eluding their enemies, the trio returns to Arkana headquarters to decide what to do next. Faye, the organization's elderly leader, explains that continuing their quest endangers the Arkana. For centuries, the Arkana has unearthed the artifacts of ancient civilizations which predate patriarchy--advanced pagan cultures that worshipped a divine mother goddess. They have amassed troves of alternative archaeological evidence which defy mainstream history. If the Nephilim ever discovered the cache's existence, the religious cult would eradicate all the treasures which the Arkana has worked so hard to preserve. The pursuit of the sage stone puts the two organizations on a collision course. The Nephilim's leader, Abraham, will stop at nothing to acquire the artifact because he wants to use it to ignite a global religious war. Sooner or later, his disciples are bound to cross paths with the Arkana retrieval team. Since Cassie and her allies concealed their identities from the Nephilim while on Crete, Faye proposes that they exploit this advantage. She orders them to find the rest of the artifacts and to plant substitutes in their place. The Nephilim will collect false relics while the real ones will be protected in the Arkana's vault. Cassie objects to the riskiness of the plan. Not only must they find each artifact first, they must duplicate it, deposit the copy and slip away unseen before the Nephilim arrive. To add to their worries, Faye announces that the Nephilim are already on their way back to Crete to continue the search. Because Griffin believes the next artifact is actually hidden in Turkey, the trio flies to Istanbul hoping that an Arkana contact who knows the country will be able to help them. Their struggle to function as a team continues. Griffin still frets about doing fieldwork, Cassie still doubts her psychic abilities and Erik barely tolerates the other two. Their contact at the Catal Huyuk dig site steers them toward ancient megaliths on Mount Ida. They rush off to search the mountaintop, aware that the Nephilim are only days behind. Even though the trio combs the ruins, they still can't find the object. Cassie's telepathic hunch tells her that the relic is hiding in plain sight. A chance encounter with another Arkana operative sparks an idea. Griffin realizes that the artifact must be hidden both in space and time. He tests his theory and they unearth the treasure. The Nephilim are closing in even as they scramble to build a replica. At the worst possible moment, the Arkana team discovers that the Nephilim aren't their only competitors for the lost relic. Unforeseen obstacles and unknown enemies thwart their efforts to bury the false artifact and escape undetected. This new crisis teaches Cassie where her real loyalties lie. Will the Arkana team succeed or will they fall into the hands of the Nephilim? The answer isn't as simple as you might expect.
Set in Crete, Turkey
2nd in Arkana Archaeology Mysteries series