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The archaeologists Elise and Jim reveal a discovery at Lyse Abbey, which may cause the history books to be rewritten. This leads them to a hazardous discovery journey in the United States, where Elise begins to see visions. A voice from the past tries to guide her; the mysterious Kayaweta—a Native American woman. Or is it just her imagination that fools her. All of this becomes two stories woven together into one. From the Middle Ages and the present. With knights, monks and Native Americans. Love, power struggle and drama. The relationship between Elise and Jim is also put to the test. Career, friendship—everything is at stake.

PublisherTom Thowsen
Release dateJul 11, 2019
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Tom Thowsen

About Tom Thowsen If you enjoy books of Wilbur Smith and Ken Follett, you`d likely enjoy Tom Thowsen too. He is a Norwegian illustrator and fiction writer with a passion for history. This passion is also reflected in his books, where he often uses two different time frames, two different stories woven together. One from the present time and the other from the past. His novels have received very good receptions from both readers and newspapers. Halden Arbeiderblad said this about Kayaweta, his newest novel: "Thowsen manages to combine facts with fiction and writes excellent novels." Another newspaper, Demokraten, concluded: "The author sparkles with the joy of storytelling and knowledge."

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    Kayaweta - Tom Thowsen

    Part 1



    Lyse Abbey 2015

    The fog hovered over the valley, shielding it from the rising sun. The morning was unusually quiet. No cars rushed past in the distance, no birds chirped in the trees above. All one could hear was the babbling of the brook and the murmurs of a man and woman who were pacing beside the ruins of the monastery. He looked like a monk - bald on top of his head and greying hair on the sides. He was heavyset, bordering on overweight and outfitted in a tight shirt with his stomach hanging over the edge of his jeans. The woman looked more like a nymph than anything else. Her hair cascaded down the back of her training jacket. She had a small and slender appearance.

    The pair were admiring the breath-taking details of the ruins, from the neat ornaments and narrow double-sided pillars to the Roman arches. The sight truly was an artistic piece of work by the monks of the Cistercian order. In its prime, Lyse Abbey was one of the most affluent monasteries in Norway. They owned more than two hundred farms in Western Norway and served as the birthplace of Hardanger’s famous fruit cultivation. The monks there fertilised and improved the barren earth, carefully picking and choosing the fruits best suited for the humid climate. They constructed terraces and irrigation systems, all while leading lives of poverty and abstinence. Ora et labora: pray and work.

    All that remained now was a few low walls and parts of the cloister.

    One man’s pain is another man’s gain, Jim thought. Life was unfair. You could sacrifice everything to make things happen. You could even work yourself to death and it still could all end up ruined. He had felt that same loss himself. Everything he had spent years fighting to maintain - the career, the marriage, all of it – and yet he ended up alone in a studio with no money to his name.

    A human ruin!

    Elise was the one who saved him five years ago on the darkest day of his life. That was the turning point. Everything seemed hopeless until he happened to meet her in the stairwell. She was humming to herself, the epitome of gentle. She asked him if his neighbour, Maja, was home. He had heard her lock the door to her flat five minutes ago, he said. His answer that seemed to confuse Elise, as they were supposed to meet at three, she explained. Elise was early, seeing that it was only just past two, so he invited her inside for a cup of coffee.

    They were two completely different people. One was stuck in a downwards spiral. The other was always going up. To her, every day was filled with light. She had faith in the future. She said she was about to start studying archaeology, and wondered what he spent his time doing.

    Oh, the horror. The worst question under the sun. That question was the reason he usually shut himself away, sleeping all through the day and living in the cover of night instead. Struggling to cope with the shame of being unemployed, unnecessary, and useless. His CV was far from impressive. He had applied for countless jobs, all to no avail. If he heard back at all, it was only to be rejected. So he offered her the same answer he offered everyone else.

    I’m a jobseeker.

    If nothing else, he thought that sounded better than unemployed.

    Oh how far that was from the whole story, though. In his jacket pocket was a thin nylon cord, strong enough to hold his weight. It was just thin enough to end things quickly, he just needed to find a tree.

    He was headed off to the park to find one just at the moment when he and Elise met.

    Jobseeker? she asked. Why not study? Become something you want to be. Archaeology is interesting, I’m sure you could get in to study it... And so it was decided—and in retrospect, he was glad.

    Death could wait.

    Elise looked at Jim as he stood by the ruins of the monastery and looked out over the valley.

    What’s on your mind? You look awfully pensive today.

    I don’t know ...

    Come on, tell me.

    It sounds so odd, but it’s almost like I’m having a flashback, standing here ...

    Déjà vu?

    Something like that. I can see the monastery in all its splendour. The monks are working in the fields. The forest is gone. The valley is filled with terraces of fruitful trees. Isn’t that strange?

    Not at all. You have an active imagination. You’re capable of imagining what things used to be like. I’m like that, too.

    Jim smiled and, looking up at her, said, I don’t doubt that for a second, Elise. That much I know about you. Can you see the monk on the ladder by the apple tree?

    Jim pointed towards an imaginary apple tree.

    Ah yes. He looks just like you, Jim, Elise chuckled and stroked his scalp. Jim took the hint. She was hinting that he should get a haircut. He usually kept his head shaved; he knew it suited him. At an after party half a year ago, a cute girl had told him that he looked like Bruce Willis. She might have been fairly drunk, but he accepted the compliment all the same. It made him feel all tough.

    Appreciate the compliment, Jim shot her a reproachful look.

    Oh no, have I been bad? Elise covered her mouth with her hand and pretended to be sorry.

    I guess I’ll start wearing a toupee, Jim joked, fishing for what he wanted to hear.

    And his wish was granted. Toupee? Stop. The shaved head looks good on you.

    Really? You like it?

    Honestly, yes, it works for you. The look suits you.

    Bruce Willis, Jim thought. She saw it, too. Yes, yes, yes!

    They moved towards the northern side of the old monastery to find the ruins of the abbey. It was erected according to old construction traditions. The entrance faced west and the altar faced east. You approach God from the darkness of the west, facing east to meet the resurrected Christ – the rising sun.

    Elise believed in God. She believed that there was a life after this one. Reincarnation: that the soul lived on after death and that it was reborn in a new person. Jim, on the other hand, was an atheist. The sun was starting to burn holes in the fog and bit by bit, the valley began to glow. The sun was reflected in the uncountable number of tiny droplets of dew.

    They left the abbey and continued onto a path. It led through a field where the wildflowers smelled like nectar. The bumble bees were buzzing. The brook continued its babbling. Over the clear and clean water, there was a bridge.

    Large deciduous trees with impressive crowns of naked branches grew on the right side of the path. They followed it to the left, until they took a right turn towards the other side of the valley. This gravel passageway took them up through a forest belt under the rock wall. The path was steep, forcing Jim to take a break once they reached its end. Meanwhile, Elise inspected the shaft they had dug at the top, right under the steepest overhang near an old rockslide.

    Elise was content with the excavation so far. There was a floor under the peat, a stone-built terrace. It was possible that the floor continued under the pile of stones.

    Once Jim regained his breath, he picked up a spade. He pushed it under a block of stone and started pushing, managing to shuffle it a few centimetres at a time. Elise helped by placing pebbles under the block to make it easier to move.

    Wonderful! Jim shouted excitedly. Keep it up, babe.

    Have it your way, old man. He had that coming. She was not a fan of babe.

    Damn that girl, Jim thought. She made him feel so old. Forty is not that old. Although, he supposed, in the eyes of a twenty-eight year old, even people in their thirties seem old. A monk and an old man, she called him ... No—Bruce Willis!

    Then something happened: the block of stone loosened. It lodged itself diagonally in a hole.

    Are you seeing that, too? Elise, asked.


    The Excavation Site

    They stood there, staring in shock. The stone fell halfway into a hole the moment they tried to move it. Now it seemed it was resting against something flat—a small slab filled with holes from the chisel. The rest was still hidden under the pile of stones by the rock wall.

    This looks familiar, Jim said.

    Elise nodded.

    A staircase.

    Mhm, that was my first thought, too. Perhaps there’s a cave in the mountain?

    Let’s go find out.

    Smart idea, Elise. Just what I was about to say.

    Come on then, Einstein! she teased, breaking into a run. First man there! She rushed through a thicket of hazelnut bushes, her nimble movements helping her manoeuvre quickly.

    Ha! You’re not a man, Jim chuckled, standing up. Back stiff, he rested his hands on his sides.

    Jesus! A sign of ageing? No, he had always had a bit of a weak back.

    Regardless, running was out of the question. It was best if he just moved at a leisurely pace. After all, he was an academic, a researcher, at that! Researchers take their time because the end result is all that matters, not the amount of time it took to get there.

    He reached the overhang a couple of minutes later where Elise was waiting for him. She shook her head and said, Well you took your sweet time. Start exercising, Jim. Jogging is good for you.

    Hm. Maybe I should start cycling. Are you imagining me in some tightfitting cycling trousers? He could give as good as he could get.

    Oh, yes. You would suit that.

    She looked him up and down. Things could be a lot worse. The roads were crawling with middle-aged men of all shapes and sizes, equipped with all the best cycling equipment.

    The overhang hovered above them, a gnarled roof sheltering them from the wind. There was neither water nor vegetation there. The stones were easy to reach and large cracks ran between them—should be easy enough to move. Jim took to his knee and stuck his nose into a crack.

    Cold air rushed out.

    There must be something here, he said, looking at Elise. I’m going to move one of them a little. That can’t hurt, right?

    No, wait. We have to proceed with caution.

    I know, Elise. Procedure. Goddamn procedure! But a little can’t hurt. We’ll have to move them later regardless. He continued to mess with the stones.

    Jim! Do you hear me? Stop! Elise shot him a worried look. How unprofessional! If the professor had seen that, they would have been kicked out.

    Relax. Everything will be alright.

    She tapped his shoulder. Are you hearing me? You’re moving too quickly. We have to follow procedure!

    Fine! Jim stood up, holding a relatively large stone in his arms. He put it down with a smile. Of course. I just wanted to ...

    Suddenly they heard a deep thud, followed by a series of taps. A hole had opened where he had picked up the stone and now pebbles were falling down the sides.

    You idiot! she shrieked. Look what you’ve done!

    No, I ... Jim said hesitantly, his hands shooting up to his head. He stroked his scalp and felt his hair slide through his fingers. It had been alright to move the first block of stone aside when they discovered the staircase, that much they had agreed. But even he could see that he had been a little too confident this time.

    "What do you mean, no? Elise said reproachfully. Use your head, man. What do you think Kjell is going to say about this?"

    Kjell was the professor spearheading the project. Thankfully, he was all the way back at the university in Bergen. That was something.

    Calm down. It’s nothing dangerous ...

    Of course it is! It’s vandalism.

    Relax, Elise. We’ll fix it. It was just an accident. The pile of stones was unstable. It fell off by itself!

    Do you think Kjell will fall for that?

    Of course he will, Elise. He’ll fall for anything, so long as it comes out of your mouth. You know that. Elise had the professor wrapped around her finger. He believed every word out of her mouth. Had it not been for her, the excavation never would have taken place. Jim had asked about it time and time again during his studies, only to be rejected each and every time. Back to push again, are we, Jim? he used to say with a shake of his head. You know we don’t have the resources for that kind of project. Jim had refused to give up - quitters never win. One day, he had brought up the idea to some of the other students, but nobody was interested. Nobody except Elise, who had said she would love to participate. She had seemed ready to jump headfirst into the excavation, so all Jim had to do was explain that they were struggling to find the resources and that the professor had turned him away. We’ll see about that, she had answered, heading straight to the professor’s office. Later that same day, the excavation was approved. The department requested the resources three days later. She was gorgeous - slim and fit, energetic and optimistic, with long chestnut hair. Her almond-shaped green eyes sparkled irresistibly, especially when she smiled.

    Jim looked into the hole to investigate it. Come on, we’re going in, he said, pushing his body through the narrow opening.

    But listen ... Elise started, her feet rooted firmly in place.

    Jim was gone.

    What was she to do, follow him?

    No, that could be dangerous. There could be another rockslide. Best to wait. It was not long before Jim’s face reappeared from the opening. Come on, it’s safe in here, he said ingeniously.

    Are you sure?

    Safer than a Swiss bank.

    I don’t know that I believe you, she said thoughtfully before she continued. But alright. You’ve ruined my life anyway, you moron!

    Let’s go. I’ll support you.

    She hesitated, shooting an uncertain look around. Heavy fog enshrouded the overhang, creating an eerie atmosphere. Everything was hidden by a grey veil as if the forest was on fire, leaving nothing but a layer of smoke to shroud their vision. She suddenly felt a shiver run down the length of her spine—she thought she saw something move in the distance. Could that be the silhouette of a monk? Oh, for crying out loud! Of course it was a monk. They had a tendency to appear when it was foggy. Everyone knew that the monks revisited Lyse Abbey, sighing and groaning under the weight of the stones. They were sentenced to an eternity of building a monastery that would never be completed. Once in a while, their screams could be heard echoing across the valley. Right now, though, they were just whispering from the shadows. Young woman, hear our prayer. Save us from oblivion. It felt as though they were getting closer and closer. She should go after Jim, at least then she could hide in the cave.

    She slipped in feet first, clinging on for dear life. When her feet were not immediately met with solid ground, she began kicking desperately in search of some stability. Just like that, she felt a hand grab her groin, moving down to support her thigh. Jim kept a firm hold of her, his face pressed against the small of her back. Her jacket had slid up while she was hanging by her arms. Skin on skin. The touch sent a wave of lust through her body. She let go and he placed her safely on the ground. She took in her surroundings. Everything was dark at first, except for where the light of day had snuck in to create a yellowish spot on the wall. Jim was unusually quiet. Was the lustful feeling she had felt be a mutual one? She looked at him and smiled. He looked tough. Big and strong with masculine features, in spite of the tonsure that did him no favours. And the beer belly? All men his age had that. Dad Bod was in now anyway, if the media had anything to say.

    Jim fished his phone out of his pocket and turned on the flashlight. The light revealed a small cave, with walls made from simply stacked stones, no mortar holding them together. The staircase continued further down, ending in a dark abyss in the distance. The light from Jim’s phone was too weak to properly illuminate the entirety of the space. Elise turned on the light on her own phone in an attempt to help, but it was of little use.

    Come on, Jim said and grabbed her hand. As they moved down the staircase, they made sure to shine light on every step. They pointed their lights at the ceiling to make sure the stones stayed in place. You could never be too safe, but the mountain seemed stable here. No loose stones.

    Elise was full of mixed feelings. Here she was, walking hand in hand with her colleague, headed into an unknown cave. Her pulse was racing and her heart threatening to beat through her chest. She was both terrified and happy all at the same time. The whole scenario was so exhilarating, it almost felt as if she was in a film.  Jim was Indiana Jones - the fearless middle-aged archaeologist, a macho man with the five o’clock shadow to match. She had lived through each and every story, even about being seduced by Harrison Ford. There was something familiar about Jim. He reminded her of some Hollywood actor, although she could not pinpoint who. He was Indiana Jones for now, at least in her imagination.

    Elise let her mind come back to the exploration before them. The deeper they journeyed through the cave, the more it expanded. It turned into a hall with a high ceiling that allowed for both of them to stand fully erect.

    I’ve never seen anything like this! Elise could barely believe her eyes. The walls were filled with niches. A storage room?


    There was a pile of wood, beams, and planks in the middle of the floor. Elise and Jim walked over and the light from their phones revealed that everything was blackened by mold.

    Dismantled Ikea shelves?

    Yeah, good one. Let’s look around for the assembly instruction.

    Ha-ha, I think you’re onto something there.

    Let’s go check out the niches.

    Sure, babe. Two souls, one thought.

    They shone their lights into one of the niches and spotted something inside of it.

    Looks like a wicker basket, Elise said. She looked into the basket and found that it was full of small, shrunken lumps. Ew! I think these are old apples, she guessed, wrinkling her nose.

    Give them a taste.

    Uh no, I’m going to pass.

    They shone their light into the next one only to discover the same thing.

    This must be where they stored winter apples and vegetables, Elise said, happy that they had not been taken away. Should we keep looking?

    Yes, of course.

    They looked through the niches systematically, one by one but only found more of the same. Wicker baskets filled with brown lumps. After a while, they came across something different—a thick square object coated in rusty iron.

    Could it be... Jim whispered.

    Elise squealed excitedly and kissed him on the cheek.

    A chest! That’s so damn cool!

    Not a coffin, I hope, Jim joked. Should we have a look at the lid?

    Hands off, man, Elise protested. We need permission from Kjell.

    Whatever you say, sweetheart. Would you be so kind as to kiss my other cheek? Jim closed his eyes and waited. Instead, he felt her lips touch his. Something soft snaked its way past his lips and played inside his mouth. What was this supposed to mean? The first kiss had been justified. A friendly kiss that occurred in an innocent moment of happiness. But a proper French kiss? Was she trying to seduce him? It seemed that way. He kissed her back, but she pulled away. She breathed heavily in his face.

    You can touch me, gorgeous, she moaned, pulling down the zipper on her jacket to reveal her breasts. Firm and wonderful.

    Jim found himself spellbound, unable to find the words. But...

    He felt a hand on his groin, gently massaging him.

    She whispered in his ear, I want you. Now.


    University of Bergen

    It looked like an autopsy room, naked and sterile. White surfaces and fluorescent light fixtures. White walls. Windows with no curtains. A stainless steel bench with a brown object on top, surrounded by quiet, expectant professors and students. The square chest had a flat lid and its strong iron plating was bolted in place with a framework of wrought iron. It appeared to be a safe from the Middle Ages. The locksmith was working away at the lid as if his life depended on it, sweat dripping from his forehead. The chest was difficult to open, given that the locking mechanism was rusty and the parts moved slowly.

    Professor Kjell Thorsteinsen was standing closest to the locksmith. He looked particularly presentable in his navy blue suit and red tie. His posture would have put a general in the army to shame. He looked over the glasses, perched on the tip of his nose, around at the group of students gathered around, nodding and smiling as if to say "this will all be sorted

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