Light no longer reflected around them, for they'd entered a large room, the ceiling at least twenty feet high. A musky smell filled the air, and a rhythmic drip, drip, drip dampened the ground. Tate Pittman slid off the coffin's cover, and the crack of wood echoed off unseen walls.
Hollow eye sockets stared at Tate and his employers from a corroded skull. Barker rubbed dirt off his face, while the Quiet One--Marcs--remained as still as the bones. Could this truly be what they'd searched weeks, months, years for?
Could this be ... Demus, the estranged priest?
Tate leaned closer, his light illuminating the decay. The Ephod covered the skeleton, magnificent, and just as Scripture described. Fine linen woven with gold, cerulean, violet and scarlet thread. At the front of the vest's shoulders: two pockets holding the bone tablets. Urim. Thummim.
For a moment he felt like the Tate Pittman in his first archaeology class all those years ago, listening to a lecture--no, an inspiration--of history rich with culture, tradition, legends.
Demus wore this vest, yes these very tablets, to communicate . . . with God.
Tate constructed a mental image of every detail, from the shades of walnut leather to the embedded Hoshen: four rows of three grooves stretching across the vest. But not one stone shined from the twelve grooves. Where are the Unblessed Stones?
As if in answer, the Quiet One pulled on a rounded container lodged in the ribcage.