Guest Art Courtesy of Mogodore J. Bivouac
“But I swear in the days still left,
We'll walk in the fields of gold”
“You can watch him okay when you get off in Belgrade?” Indiana asked, looking at Antonio straight in the eye.
“Nothing will happen to Professor Solari,” the young man promised.
Satisfied, Indiana returned to the group’s cabin. “Okay, Solari’s taken care of. That’s the good news. Now for the bad news….”
As Fred had feared, Yugoslavia’s courageous stand against the Nazis would not go unpunished. The brave Serbs had overestimated the ability of the British and their Slavic cousins in Russia to help them. Now their military was being slaughtered by invading Nazi armies. As expected, Italian troops swept along the coast, occupying nearly all of the Dalmatian region, leaving the rest to the Germans. There was fear among the train passengers that the train would not even reach Belgrade. No trains passed them heading the opposite direction.
Art By Thartman
In a few minutes, the group could see what Indiana was saying. The train rapidly braked to a halt, as a portion of the tracks before them was destroyed, just as they reached the outskirts of the Yugoslav capital. Smoke rose from many places in Belgrade, indicating death and destruction. It was the end of the line for the Orient Express for this trip. Thousands of Serbs were jamming the roads, fleeing the onslaught of several Panzer units.
While many passengers remained on the train, too afraid to move from their comfortable surroundings and into the biting cold of the mountainous region, the group rapidly departed the train and joined the mass of refugees flooding the streets. While they slipped away from any German Panzers, they wouldn’t get far on foot and Macedonia was some distance away. New transportation would be needed, and soon.
A German military truck appeared to present an opportunity too good to pass up. Fred casually checked a phrasebook, then confidently walked up to the driver and his partner and muttered “Ich möchte eine Ente kaufen.”
The Germans reacted by laughing hard. Velma smacked her forehead and winced.
“What?” asked Daphne.
“He tried to ask if he could buy their truck… Ich möchte einen Lastwagen kaufen,” Velma said in an exasperated tone. “But he instead asked if he could buy a duck from them.”
Fred looked around helplessly at the laughing soldiers, then swung his fist hard, catching the driver full in the jaw. His partner reached for a Luger pistol, but a hard blow from behind by Indiana Jones took care of him. The group rapidly jumped aboard the German truck, but the going was still over. After all, a sea of humanity lapped around their vehicle like a swollen river, with everyone headed south to avoid the fate suffered by the Yugoslav capital. Fred winced. As sorry as he felt for them, these delays were eating up time.
* * *
Their worst fears were confirmed at the gang made it south, passing through the Southern Yugoslav province of Macedonia. Though they made it through the regional capital of Skopje without incident, their real destination lay several hours south, according to Dr. Henry Jones. Winding through the mountainous roads wouldn’t be easy, even for the sturdy German truck.
But things rapidly deteriorated. A German Messerschmidt Me-109 roared overhead, passing first without incident, as if doing a little reconnaissance work, then zooming back for the kill. “Must have heard from the driver and his partner, then tracked us down with help from German intelligence,” Fred said to Indiana Jones in the cab of the truck. Indiana reached out the window and fired a few shots, but the Me-109 passed overhead uninjured, letting loose machine gun fire that missed raking the truck. On a second pass, a bomb dropped from the sky ahead of the group. The explosion left a crater in the middle of the road that Fred only missed falling into by pumping the brakes rapidly. The truck could now barely make it around the hole, but not in enough time to avoid being destroyed by the plane.
The pilot seemed to sense this. He had the plane go into a steep climb, to avoid the bullets fired by Fred and Indiana, then dived sharply toward the truck on the ground, machine guns blazing. But then a light bulb went off above Scooby’s head.
He leaped from the truck and started furiously barking at nearby birds. The frightened winged creatures took flight, right into the cockpit windows of the Me-109 plane. The pilot lost sight of the target, veered toward the right, and slammed into the plane into the cliffs below the truck. A loud explosion followed. Luckily for the occupants of the truck, a landslide was not triggered by the plane’s crash.
“Good thinking Scoob!” Fred exclaimed. Velma and Daphne rush to give Scooby a hug.
Dr. Henry Jones stepped outside the truck and popped open an umbrella. He scratched his chin and mused “As John Billings once said
‘A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself!’”
“The Scooby snacks still work!” Velma whispered to Daphne as the dog ran toward his pal Shaggy.
* * *
At the end of a long journey through the Macedonian mountains, a beautiful city by a large lake emerged before them. Though they were a long way from the coast, the architecture, winding cobblestone streets, and warm climate would make anyone without a map think that they had reached the Mediterranean Sea. The houses wound their way up a prominent hill to a stone fort which looked as though the Romans had placed it there themselves.
But the architecture and climate weren’t the only appealing features. “Ooohhh, look at the water” said Daphne, pointing to the giant lake. “That’s the clearest water I think I’ve ever seen!”
“That’s Lake Ohrid,” lectured Velma, pronouncing it “oak-rid”. “Scientists speculate that there are bacteria-eating microbes in it. That’s how the water stays so clean… plus, it has lots of pretty pearls.”
Fred maneuvered the truck through the narrow streets, gates and passageways. He glanced behind him into the truck and announced “Okay Henry, I’ve got us to Ohrid as you requested. Now what?”
Doctor Henry Jones merely replied “Good.” He added “take this truck to the large statues of St. Cyril and Mathodius. I’ll lead us from there.”
Sure enough, a statue emerged near the waterfront in a nice glade. One figure stood over another figure who was seated. While Velma told everyone about how the two saints helped create the Cyrillic alphabet, Henry took Fred and Indiana aside. “The man we are about to meet knows the next clue in the hunt for mysterium, but he has his reasons for being reluctant to share the information with us. Whatever you do, don’t pressure him too hard or we’ll never find the missing element.” The other two nodded in assent.
As the group made its way along the waterfront, thick, acrid smells of smoke emanated from the cafes. Evidently, Macedonians were doing a good job in the production of cigarettes. Beer and wine also flowed freely from the bars to the patrons. At the last table of the last bar on the waterfront sat a solitary figure, whose face was shaded by his hat. When the middle-aged man rose to meet them, Velma could see that he was Greek, not a Macedonian Slav. She noted this to Fred.
“Lysander, it’s good to see you again,” Henry smiled, opening his hands as if in anticipation of an embrace. The Greek did not smile nor meet Henry’s embrace, but made a curt nod of his head and sat back down again.
||“Everyone, this is Lysander Demos,” Henry continued, ignoring the man’s slight. “For those of you who know your archaeology, you are well aware of his exploits…”
“…So you’re the man who uncovered the link between Thera and Atlantis,” gasped Velma, her eyes in hero worship. Lysander grunted his approval, but evidently did not share Velma’s enthusiasm.
“Professor Demos, I know this is a difficult time…” Indiana began, but was cut off in mid-sentence.
“I know why you’re here,” growled Lysander. “The same reason anyone wants to talk to me these days. You want the mysterium. Well I don’t have it and I wouldn’t share that information if I did!”
“Please, Mr. Demos,” Daphne pleased. “We’re not trying to take it for ourselves!”
Lysander threw his hands up in disgust. “That’s what they all say!” He then doffed his hat and rose from the table. “Good day to all of you.”
Henry bounded up with surprising agility and grasped his arm. “You don’t know who you are dealing with here!”
“I think I can fend off you and these others here at the table,” the Greek responded confidently.
“Yeah, but can you fend off an entire army?” Indiana said, rising to the challenge.
“What do you mean?” Lysander responded, betraying some hesitation in his voice.
“I’m talking about the armies of Nazi Germans marching down here from the North, as well as Mussolini’s Fascists coming up from Albania,” Indiana continued. “They’re being lead by Biscia…”
“No!” shrieked Lysander, unwittingly catching the attention of several customers at other tables.
“Not Il Biscia!”
“You know what he’s capable of,” Henry added. “If he finds the mysterium, then the armies of darkness will destroy your country, as well as all who live in this world. He will be invincible…as
Alexander once was.”
This brought the conversation to a stunning halt. The other customers used the break to return to their own chatter. Lysander seemed resigned to what Dr. Jones and his son were saying. He slumped back into his chair, while Velma asked “Could someone please explain what’s going on?”
Lysander nervously toyed with a silver ring on his left index finger before continuing. “Miss Dinkley, I am one of the last ‘Sons of Aristotle.’” Shaggy blinked twice, then shrugged his shoulders. “We are part of a long line of Greeks sworn to protect the secret of mysterium. You see, after the destruction of Atlantis, much of the mysterium was lost in that accident. But enough of it remained. Early Greek scientists learned how to harness its power. You may have heard of the great battles between Greeks and their Persian rivals, where our tiny numbers could overcome huge numbers of soldiers and ships. The Persian fleet lost off Mount Athos, was an example, as well as the 200 ships mysteriously destroyed at Euboea. Legends claim that storms were the culprit, but no Persian lived to dispute those charges.
“My God” Fred gaped in horror.
Lysander continued. “The great philosopher Aristotle then passed on the secret to his prize pupil Alexander, who used the element to help dispatch his Persian enemies led by Darius III at Issus. But Aristotle always regretted his decision to reveal its powers to the Macedonians. He saw firsthand how the mysterium turned an enlightened boy into a power-hungry megalomaniac.”
“So what happened to the mysterium?” interrupted Indiana impatiently.
Lysander went on speaking rapidly, barely noticing the intrusion into his story. “Aristotle commissioned several of his followers to steal and hide the mysterium from the Macedonians. He then swore these disciples, who now called themselves ‘Sons of Aristotle,’ to hide the element from others who would harness its destructive power. The Romans later learned of this impressive weapon, and their leading general in the region Publius successfully captured the remaining stores of mysterium. But the Sons of Aristotle convinced him not to turn the element over to Rome, and they helped him disappear.”
“Where is it?” Henry fixed the Greek with an icy stare.
“If I tell it, I violate my oath sworn as a Son of Aristotle to protect the mysterium from falling into evil hands,” Lysander explained.
Velma considered a thought that popped into her head. “Won’t you be violating your oath by standing by and allowing Hitler and Mussolini… and Biscia to take it?”
Lysander considered her logic. “Besides,” Daphne added. “Our country isn’t evil like the Axis countries. We wouldn’t use it to build a destructive weapon or something like that.”
He shook his head. “I have a compromise,” he offered. “Since I only know part of the story, not the mysterium location itself, you will help me find it, so that I can move it to a safer place. I will not tell you where Publius’ body can be found until you offer me that assurance that you will not take the mysterium with you.”
Indiana scowled at the request, while Fred uttered a verbal grunt of protest. Yet Henry nodded his head and looked over at the others. “Our mission is to make sure the mysterium does not fall into enemy hands, not to bring it back. I think it is a fair offer.” The others nodded in assent.
“Then I will take you to where the Roman general’s final resting place can be found,” said Lysander. He rose from the table while Fred tossed several bills for the waiter. The Greek archaeologist made his way toward the docks, with the group closely behind.
* * *
Biscia began to curse loudly. He had been tricked! No matter how hard he and the other Italian soldiers looked, there was no sign of Publius or mysterium. He had …no his spy…had been fooled somehow. This enraged him; his future son-in-law should learn to know when he had been duped so easily. If he weren’t the beloved of my daughter, I would have slight his throat, Biscia thought.
An Italian officer dashed up to Biscia and handed him a telelgram. It was from the German High Command, announcing that one of its planes was downed in the Macedonian countryside outside the town of Ohrid. Given the pathetic response of the Yugoslav Air Force, Biscia didn’t suspect them. But who else could down such a fine plane out here? He then thought of his nemeses, and his blood ran cold in his veins. While I’m off on this “wild goose chase” he thought, the Americans are getting to the mysterium first. But then he considered the significance of the Messerschmitt plane destruction, especially reading local reports of how it was done. All three men answering to the name “Dr. Jones” had outsmarted him.
Well, they won’t get a second chance, he thought angrily to himself. As Graffanino approached him, he barked orders calling for all Italian units to head from the Dalmatian region to Macedonia. He would call for a few units to head east from Albania, while bringing a small force south from Belgrade. They would catch the Americans in a vise, and retrieve the mysterium for themselves. He then boarded a plane in order to join the initial advance on Macedonia from Albania.
* * *
“I dig this cool boat ride!” exclaimed Shaggy, his stomach stuffed with sweet Macedonian cherries. “What do they call it?”
Lysander leaned back into the bow of the boat. “It loosely translates in your language as ‘water taxi’” he said, smiling at the boat captain of what resembled a cross-between a long kayak and canoe. As the boat rocked precariously back and forth, Fred regretted boarding the St. Klimint Ohridski. Though small and less likely to be detected by land or air, its choppy motion was leaving him mildly seasick.
“How much further?” Indiana asked.
“It is at the opposite end of the lake,” Lysander replied. The boat left the beautiful town of Ohrid behind for what looked like a deserted stretch of lakeside land. Fred began to wonder if Lysander was not setting them up to be captured in a trap.
“What are we looking for?” the blond archaeologist asked.
“You’ll know it when you see it,” the Greek replied.
Sure enough, the captain of the St Klimint Ohridski piloted the boat around a jutting outcropping and into a cove. High above the cove stood a towering monastery.
“Wha-..what is this place?” Daphne asked.
Lysander smiled. “It is the Monastery Sveti Gaius, named for one of the Apostle Paul’s greatest disciples, a Thessalonian Bishop who was butchered for his beliefs.” He noted that he now had the group’s undivided attention. As Velma began to raise her hand, he continued “The monastery was built well-after the days of the Roman Empire, but it sits above the original holy place by that name, where you will find the crypt holding Publius.”
Fred could not contain himself any longer. “And the mysterium is buried with Publius?”
“No, not that the Sons of Aristotle can tell,” Lysander said sadly as he helped the captain tie the boat to a small dock. “Perhaps you can help us find its true resting place.”
Nearly 15 minutes later, the group stood before Publius’ tomb while Fred, Indiana and Lysander struggled to get it open. But their hard efforts would be for naught, for the grave itself was relatively barren.
Art by Gillian B
Velma pounced upon the etchings, consulting a book, looking for any such clue. Henry ran his hand over the dust inside. Indiana and Fred scoured the nearby walls, looking vainly for a sign. Shaggy and Scooby nosed around the floor, examining it for a secret compartment. Only Daphne remained motionless, lost in thought.
“Any idea why Publius chose to hide here?” she asked. Lysander, annoyed at her seemingly inane question, responded sharply. “Probably to hide from the Romans…you silly girl,” he whispered the latter part of the answer.
“I mean, didn’t Romans and Christians hate each other at first?” Daphne continued, as if unfazed by Lysander’s answer. He did not respond. “So it would have taken a lot for this powerful Roman General to come hide here, unless….”
“What are you getting at?” Lysander barked.
“Suppose he had a girlfriend or something,” Daphne reasoned.
“I still don’t see…”
“Wait a minute,” Indiana said, glancing over at the redhead. “You may be onto something. Look at this symbol.”
“It looks like a deer,” admitted Fred.
“Which translates as Dorcas, a name sometimes used by Greek women at that time,” Henry pointed out.
“Where were the women buried?” Indiana inquired.
“Down that hallway, but I really don’t….”
Indiana ignored the Greek’s reply and bolted down the hallway. Many small tombs were nearby, but he was only interested in one slightly raised above the others. Fred and Henry had come bounding after him, and helped him break open the large tomb. As the lid fell off to reveal the corpse, Henry gasped. Velma and the others came running up as well, followed by a reluctant Lysander. “Look at the symbol… Dorcas was married to someone great!” she proclaimed.
Art By Gillian B
“And there’s an inscription!” shouted Fred.
Indiana turned and hugged Daphne. “You did it!” he proclaimed, while Lysander could only shake his head. Daphne smiled and hugged Indy just a little longer. Maybe there was hope for them, she hoped.
“It seems that Publius secretly married a Christian woman who was a member of the church, and he left an inscription behind,” Henry noted.
“What does it say?” asked Fred.
Henry quickly translated the words mentally, gave a shout of excitement, pulled a small book from his jacket pocket, and began to flip through it. Then he stopped on a page, silently read it to himself, then turned to face the anticipation-laden group.
“It would be like a Christian to use a biblical parable as the final clue for something this great,” Henry stated. “And this Dorcas woman was very clever in her choice.” He then moved his index figure over a part of his diminutive bible, and began to read.
“The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13, Verse 44. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.’”
Fred frowned. “So what does this tell us?” he demanded.
“I think Dad is saying that the mysterium is buried in a nearby field,” Indiana reasoned. He looked at Lysander for confirmation.
“There is an unplowed field just a few minutes walk North of here,” Lysander offered. “Perhaps we should visit it.”
“But how do we know it’s that field, and not some other field,” Fred insisted.
“Because the inscription reveals a second clue…which is the next two verses,” Henry continued.
“‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.’”
“I fail to see…” Fred began, but was cut off by Velma, who nodded in knowledge. “Fred, Lake Ohrid is known for its fine pearls. Publius chose these bible verses for his Christian wife’s tomb, knowing that they reveal mysterium is located in
a field near Lake Ohrid!”
* * *
A few minutes later, after leaving the abandoned monastery, a field overgrown with grass appeared. The eight of them considered the vast field momentarily, then moved out to different positions. Each started digging furiously. While Scooby’s paws rapidly churned, clumps of dirt flew through the air. One hit the nearby Velma, who yelled “Hey!” in disgust, until she saw the particles of dirt moving rapidly down her clothes.
“Hey wait a minute!” she called out as she inspected the dirt fragments, then took out a set of instruments for a closer look.. “It’s here! The mysterium is buried in this chunk of dirt.”
“How about this bit?” said Daphne, unconcerned that her delicate hands were hidden by gobs of dirt. Velma rushed over and confirmed that she had also found mysterium.
“There’s some over here as well,” said Henry, as if making a great scientific discovery.
Within twenty minutes, everyone had discovered at least a few small particles across the vast field. “It’s all buried in this field here and there. It’ll take weeks for us to get it all.”
Art by Toki
|“Well we don’t have weeks!” Indiana roared in anger. “We’ve got days, maybe hours.”
As if on cue, the group heard the distant rumbling of trucks from the Albanian side of the lake, as if bearing down on a target. Everyone froze.
“The invaders are here!” Fred yelled in panic.
Everyone began to scurry around wildly. “But what about the mysterium?” Indiana demanded.
“Indiana, let it go,” Henry shouted. “We must flee here now, then make our decision about what to do!” All eight ran in the direction of the boat captain and his “water taxi,” just minutes before the troop trucks pulled into sight.
* * *
As the water taxi headed back for the Ohrid docks, Fred held his head in his hands. They had come so close to accomplishing their mission, and now it ended in failure. The Italians and Germans had beaten them to the mysterium location. Now, it would only be a matter of time before they retrieved the deadly element. It was hopeless for Europe. Soon, America’s two oceans wouldn’t provide any protection, once the Axis powers had figured out how to work mysterium into an aerial attack.
“What do you think you’re doing?” scolded Henry.
“What….don’t you get it? We lost! Biscia won!” Fred snapped back, more out of frustration that true anger.
“He’s only followed us. He has no clue how to find the exact location. It isn’t over yet.” Henry insisted, wagging his figure at Fred.
Velma sighed. “No, but with that ‘Miss-Know-It-All’ Verona helping him, he’ll find the field soon enough.”
Henry slammed his hat down on the boat. “What is this I’m hearing?” he bellowed. “I had no idea how
many….quitters were in this group. I thought America was about never giving up, never quitting. In this sort of race, there’s no ‘silver medal’ for finishing second.”
Small tears flowed from Daphne’s eyes. “But what can we do?”
Indiana rubbed his chin for a moment. “There’s not much we can do,” he admitted. “But maybe there is someone who could help us. Let me make a quick call in Ohrid before we head south to Greece.”
* * *