Painter could guess. "He believed that the Aryan race would again rise from these mountains. He was building their first citadel."

Anna nodded, as if conceding a point in a match. "He also believed the hidden masters who once taught Madame Blavatsky were still alive. He was building them a stronghold, a central place to bring all such knowledge and experience together."

"Did these hidden masters ever show up?" Painter asked mockingly.

"No. But my grandfather did at the end of the war. And he brought with him something miraculous, something that could make Himmler's dream a reality."

"And what was that?" Painter asked.

Anna shook her head. "Before we talk further, I must ask you a question. And I would appreciate a truthful answer."

Painter frowned at the sudden change of tack. "You know I can't promise that."

Anna smiled for the first time. "I appreciate even that much honesty, Mr. Crowe."

"So what's your question?" he asked, curious. Here must be the heart of the matter.

Anna stared at him. "Are you ill? I'm having a hard time telling. You seem very clear-headed."

Painter's eyes widened. He had not expected that question.

Before he could respond, Lisa answered, "Yes."

"Lisa…" Painter warned.

"She'll know anyway. It doesn't take a medical degree to tell." Lisa turned to Anna. "He's showing vestibular signs, nystagmus, and disorientation."

"How about migraines with visual flashes?"

Lisa nodded.

"I thought as much." She leaned back. The information seemed to reassure the woman.

Painter frowned. Why?

Lisa pressed. "What is affecting him? I think we…he has a right to know."

"That will take some further discussion, but I can give you his prognosis."

"And that is?"

"He will die in another three days. Most horribly."

Painter forced himself not to react.

Lisa remained equally unfazed, her tone clinical. "Is there a cure?"

Anna glanced to Painter, then back to Lisa.

"No."

11:18 p.m. COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

He had to get the girl to safety, to a doctor. Gray felt the blood seeping from Fiona's gunshot wound, soaking through her shirt as he supported her, an arm under her.

Around them, the crowds pressed. Cameras flashed, keeping Gray edgy. Music and song echoed off the lake as the electrical parade floated past. Giant animated puppets loomed high, nodding and lolling over the heads of the crowd.

Fireworks continued to boom and burst over the lake.

Gray ignored it all. He kept low, still searching for the sniper who shot Fiona.

He had glanced briefly at her wound. Only a graze, skin burned, weeping blood, but she needed medical care. Pain blanched her face.

The shot had come from behind. That meant that the sniper had to be positioned among the trees and bushes. They had been lucky to reach the crowds. Still, with them spotted, the hunters were probably already converging. Surely there were some among the crowd already.

He checked his watch. Forty-five minutes until the park closed.

Gray needed a plan…a new plan. They could no longer wait until midnight to make their escape with the exiting crowd. They would be discovered before then. They needed to leave now.

But the stretch of park between the parade grounds and the exit was nearly deserted as all the visitors gathered around the lake. If they attempted a mad dash for the exit, they would be exposed again, caught out in the open. And surely the park gate was under watch, too.

Next to him, Fiona kept a hand clutched to her wounded side. Blood oozed between her fingers. Her eyes met his, panicked.

She whispered to him, "What are we going to do?"

Gray kept them moving through the crowd. He only had one idea. It was dangerous, but caution was not going to get them out of the park. He turned Fiona toward him.

"I need to bloody my hands."

"What?"

He motioned to her shirt.

Frowning, she lifted the edge of her blouse. "Be careful…"

He gently wiped the blood dribbling from the raw wound. She winced and let out a small gasp.

"Sorry," he said.

"Your fingers are freezing," she mumbled.

"Are you okay?"

"I'll live."

That was the goal.

"I'm going to have to carry you in a second," Gray said, standing up.

"What are you—?"

"Just be ready to scream when I tell you."

She wrinkled her nose in confusion, but nodded.

He waited for the right moment. Flutes and drums started in the distance. Gray edged Fiona in the direction of the main gates. Past the heads of a group of schoolchildren, Gray spotted a familiar figure in a trench coat, arm in a sling, Grette's murderer. He waded through the pocket of youngsters, eyes searching.

Gray retreated into a mob of Germans singing a ballad in tune with the flutes and drums. As the song ended, a burst of fireworks concluded in a tympani of crackling explosions.

"Here we go," Gray said, leaning down. He smeared his face with blood and picked Fiona up in his arms. Lifting her, he raised his voice and yelled in Danish. "Bomb!"

Crackling explosions punctuated his booming bellow.

"Scream," he whispered in Fiona's ear.

He lifted his face again, smeared in blood. On cue, Fiona wailed and shrieked in agony in his arms.

"Bomb!" Gray yelled again.

Faces turned in his direction. Fireworks boomed. The fresh blood glistened on his cheeks. At first no one moved. Then like a turning tide, one person backed away, bumping against another. Confused cries and calls rose. More people began to retreat.

Gray kept after those retreating, staying among the most panicked.

Fiona cried and thrashed. She waved an arm, fingers dripping with blood.

Confusion spread like wildfire. Gray's bellow caught on the dry tinder, whetted by attacks in London and Spain. More cries of Bomb! echoed through the crowd, carried from one breath to another.

Like a spooked herd of cattle, the crowd bristled and bumped against one another. Claustrophobia accentuated the anxiety. Fireworks died overhead, but by now, frightened cries erupted across the parade route. As one person fled, two more took flight, reflexive, growing exponentially. Feet pounded on pavement, retreating, aiming for the exit.

A trickle became a surge.

The stampede toward the exit began.

Gray allowed himself to be carried with it, Fiona in his arms. He prayed no one was trampled. But so far the retreat was not in full panic. With the boom of the fireworks ended, confusion reigned more than horror. Still, the flow of the crowd hastened toward the main gate.

Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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