Publisher & Category:
EXCERPT: “I’ll be damned,” Kyle Newcomb whispered in wide-eyed surprise when he emerged from his tent for his usual after-dinner pipe. He was so surprised that he almost dropped the ivory figurine that he intended to examine later in the laboratory tent. The figurine, badly weathered and made from woolly mammoth ivory, was a carved figure of a woman straddling a reclining man.
In the northern night sky, rippling green curtains of the aurora borealis danced silently—bright red aurora burst among the greenish waves that lit up the distant mountains and sharply contoured sand dunes. Even the twinkling stars were overwhelmed by the colorful display. The campfires, lanterns, and tents all had a greenish sheen about them.
It wasn’t just that Kyle had never seen the aurora borealis, for he hadn’t, but to see those mysterious lights in the Taklamakan Desert of Xinjiang Province in far western China, north of Tibet, was unheard of. He looked around the small camp to see who else shared the strange beauty, but he was alone. He decided he liked experiencing the aurora alone, so he did not call anyone out. He lit his pipe and trudged to the top of a nearby sand dune, where he could see the lights and the surrounding land better.
Kyle sat down on the crest of the dune. He watched the billowing green sheets with awe. The bright bursts of red that slowly dimmed was unlike anything he had ever seen before. It was so bright he could even see the partially excavated dolmen, or burial ground, at the side of the camp.
He gazed at the dolmen with pride and excitement. The archaeological team had uncovered it the previous season. More than one dolmen had been discovered in that portion of the desert north of the Silk Road in recent years. Three thousand-year-old European, or Celtic, bodies with reddish-blond hair were interred in most of them. But this dolmen was different. This was his dolmen.
The dolmen was formed by a circle of huge, roughly-hewn stones topped by equally huge capstones. An outer ring of standing stones similar to those in Britain and Ireland had been found fifty feet from his dolmen. The roof of the dolmen, built of timber, rock, and sand, had collapsed…