The Price of Longing

      Amber Marshall
The Price of Longing

A short story of 9700 words. A retelling of the Rapunzel story. When a witch claims a couple's newborn daughter in exchange for the father's trespass and theft, she finally has the daughter she's always wanted. As Rapunzel grows and matures, however, the witch finds that even with all her powers, she cannot keep her child from growing up.What happens when humanity’s hidden masters tire of their slaves? They start over.Financial markets are crashing, crops are failing, Cage’s disease is a pandemic, and sabers are being rattled around the globe. It’s not the world that Ben Mitchell, an expert on ancient and esoteric writings, envisioned when he left the battlefields of Afghanistan a decade ago.The world looks a little brighter when he is offered a small fortune by the attractive but mysterious Lilian Stratton to research some puzzling inscriptions found on set of stone tablets discovered in Tiwanaku, Bolivia. But to do that he must join a secret society known as the Delphic Order of the Nisirtu and travel to Steepleguard, the remote fortress-like home of an elderly eccentric named Ridley.The researcher soon finds that his client has lured him into a conspiracy of epic proportions. The rumored New World Order is, in fact, very ancient. The world is truly a stage and the scripts that have preserved mankind for millennia are being systematically destroyed by the invisible kingdoms that authored them. Within days the final script will run its course and the planet’s scattered survivors will be thrust into a new Dark Age.Lilian’s powerful opponents are now Ben’s, and even his client’s supposed allies seem to have hidden and sinister agendas. The man finds himself in a shadowy world of insane kings, power-hungry dukes, psychopathic assassins, rebel knights, and an exiled princess who will stop at nothing to regain her world throne.As civilization rapidly disintegrates and clandestine armies converge on Steepleguard, humanity’s future hinges on the researcher’s ability to navigate the labyrinths of the Nisirtu and unlock the secrets of the Tiwanaku tablets.

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