“You have got to be kidding me.” Angel’s tone was as flat as her stare as she stepped back and regarded at the closed door. “I thought you guys were winding me up when you told me about your crazy adventures.”
“I wish.” Dane shone his light on the door and ran his fingers along its surface, but felt no switch or lever. “The good news is, there’s always a way out.”
“How can you be sure?” Angel didn’t sound doubtful– only curious.
“You see any remains in here? Obviously, everyone who came in here left again. We just need to figure out how.” He continued to search. “Let’s start by looking for either the sign of the three hares or the wise virgins. This is a pagan temple, so I think the hares are more likely.”
They spread out and continued the search. It wasn’t long before Jade called everyone over to the Bacchus frieze.
“I found the hares!” She shone her light over a bunch of grapes.
Dane and the others circled around behind her and looked where she indicated. He frowned.
“I don’t see anything but grapes.”
“You won’t at first. Step back and squint.” Jade turned and flashed a bright smile. “Tilt your head if you have to.”
They must have made an odd-looking trio, the three of them leaning to and fro, looking from different angles, trying to see what Jade saw. She moved the side and shone her light across the carving, casting it in long shadows.
“There it is!” Bones’ voice was triumphant. “It’s like one of those weird posters where you have to let your vision go all fuzzy before you can see it.”
Almost as soon as Bones had spoken, Dane saw it too. It wasn’t quite a stereogram, but some of the grapes were raised far above the others, and when seen in the proper light, the image swam into focus, forming a shape that resembled the three hares.
“Give it a push.” Dane held his breath as Jade pressed her palm to the carving. He saw no seam that would indicate that the hare sign was anything other than a clever artistic detail, but after a moment, Jade’s hand slowly moved forward as the hares slid into the wall. Something snapped into place and the wall sank slowly into the floor, revealing an upward-sloping passageway, the twin of the one that had brought them here.
The way was long and steep, but uneventful. They finally came to a blank wall. The ceiling here was low, and even Jade had to duck to avoid banging her head. Dane shone his light on the ceiling. There were no hares or wise virgins here, only two handholds set in a square stone as wide as his shoulders. He reached for it and hesitated. What, or who, would they find on the other side?
“Do you think we’re back at the cathedral?” Angel asked.
“No. This tunnel was almost a straight shot moving away from the cathedral. I think we’re closer to the river.” The air was cooler hear and, he thought, just a touch more humid.
“Does it really matter?” Bones stared up at the trapdoor as he spoke. “It’s not like there’s anywhere else to go.”
“True.” Dane nodded. “Tell you what. If we wind up in the middle of someone’s living room, you and Angel start talking in Cherokee and Jade can chime in with Japanese. Act confused and get the hell out of there.”
“What about you?” Bones eyed him, an amused smile on his lips. “What other language do you speak, Maddock?”
Dane grinned. He knew a smattering of German and French, and enough Spanish to order drinks and a meal and to ask for directions to the bathroom, but none of those would help. “Pig Latin.”
Bones chuckled as the two of them pushed up on the trapdoor. They lifted it up and set it over to the side. Up above, faint yellow light flickered on an arched stone roof.
“Another cathedral,” Dane muttered. He helped the others up and then climbed out with an assist from Bones. Looking around, he knew immediately he had been correct. This was not the Kölner Dom. The interior, though impressive in its architecture, was austere. It lacked Kölner Dom ‘s splendor, the stained glass one of the few sources of color.
“This is St. Martin’s,” Jade whispered. “It was almost destroyed in World War II and rebuilt afterward.”
“You can tell us all about it later.” Dane slid the stone back into place, took Jade’s hand, and led the way out.
Just before they reached the doors leading out, a white-robed man appeared. He spotted Dane, frowned, and opened his mouth to speak. And then he spotted Bones. As was often the case, the sight of the massive Cherokee rendered him speechless. He gaped as Bones took out his wallet, withdrew a twenty, and pressed it into the monk’s hand.
“A da ne di.” Bones smiled, patted the monk on the shoulder, and led the way out.
“What did you say to him?” Jade asked.
“I told him, in Cherokee, to get himself a happy ending massage.”
“He’s lying.” Angel seemed to have given up punching her brother, and gave him a dirty look instead. “He told him it was a gift.”
“It was either that or punch the dude. I figured he has enough problems. You know, no cash, boring clothes, no babes.”
Dane had to laugh. “Remind me about this next time I complain about your ugly mug.”
“Right.” Bones feigned disbelief. “Everybody knows I’m the good-looking one.”