For millennia, the Librarians have secretly protected the world by keeping watch over dangerous magical relics. Cataloging and safeguarding everything from Excalibur to Pandora’s Box, they stand between humanity and those who would use the relics for evil.
Ten years ago, only Flynn Carsen, the last of the Librarians, stood against an ancient criminal organization known as The Forty. They stole the oldest known copy of The Arabian Nights by Scheherazade, and Flynn fears they intend to steal Aladdin’s fabled lamp. He races to find it first before they can unleash the trapped, malevolent djinn upon the world.
Today, Flynn is no longer alone. A new team of inexperienced Librarians, led by Eve Baird, their tough-as-nails Guardian, investigates an uncanny mystery in Las Vegas. A mystery tied closely to Flynn’s original quest to find the lost lamp. . . and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
About the Author
He has received three Scribe Awards from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. His official website is: www.gregcox-author.com.
He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
The Librarians and the Lost Lamp
By Greg Cox
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2016 Electric Entertainment
All rights reserved.
MacFarlane's Brewery was located in an out-of-the-way corner of Old Town, several blocks away from the more touristy stretches along the city's Royal Mile. The sooty brick building and its towering chimneys dated back to Victorian days. A rich, malty smell leaked from the cracks in the ancient masonry, and a chill autumn wind carried the intoxicating aroma down a dark, empty street to where Flynn Carsen stood watching. It was well after three in the morning and the brewery was closed, but that didn't matter to Flynn. He wasn't looking for a drink.
Not that I couldn't use one, he thought. Considering.
A lanky, boyish-looking fellow in his early thirties, he contemplated the brewery while a chilly breeze rustled his unruly brown hair. The night was cold enough that his breath misted before his lips. He tugged a rumpled trench coat tighter around his body and found himself pining for, say, the sultry warmth of an Amazon rain forest while he considered his next move. He had come straight from the Writers' Museum on Lawnmarket, only a brisk walk away, where an unauthorized, after-hours visit had revealed that somebody else had gotten to a certain rare manuscript before him. Flynn was pretty sure he knew who had beaten him to the punch — and where they had probably gone to roost.
Duncan MacFarlane was the eccentric owner of the brewery and something of an avid collector in his own right. He and Flynn had been competitors of a sort, both in the pursuit of the same lost manuscript, but Flynn represented the Library, which had a legitimate interest in acquiring said manuscript for the good of all humanity. MacFarlane had his own personal agenda, which was what really had Flynn worried.
If that manuscript contains what I think it does ...
Fearing that time was running out, Flynn snuck down a murky alley to find a side entrance to the brewery labeled "Employees Only." It was locked, of course, but he didn't let that stop him. Lock-picking was just one of the many useful new skills he'd acquired over the last couple of years. It was funny; there had been a time, only a few years ago, when he would have never dreamed of breaking and entering, but that was before he'd become the Librarian. Things were different now. He was different now. When you ventured into lost tombs and buried temples on a semiregular basis, breaking into a Scottish brewery barely warranted a shrug.
And, with any luck, there were fewer bottomless pits and booby-traps here.
Despite the cold nipping at his fingers, he picked the lock after only a couple of tries. Glancing up and down the alley to make certain that nobody was watching, he tugged open the door and quietly slipped inside the building, grateful to get out of the harsh weather. A large, ground-floor storeroom greeted him. Rows of tall wooden shelves were packed with aromatic bags of grains, malts, and hops, creating an even more pungent atmosphere than the one outdoors. More bags were piled high atop wooden pallets. A parked forklift waited to transport the heavy bags as needed. Humming ventilators kept the storeroom cool and dry.
Flynn gave the looming shelves only a passing glance. What he was looking for was unlikely to be stored there.
The clatter of heavy machinery, chugging away despite the lateness of the hour, led him into an automated bottling area. Glass bottles, tinted brown to protect the beer from the pernicious effects of sunlight, were carried along mechanized conveyor belts to be filled, capped, labeled, boxed, and unloaded at a rate of hundreds of bottles a minute. A separate assembly line did the same with large metal kegs intended for pubs all over the city and beyond. Stainless steel pipes ran along the ceiling, transporting the foamy beer from the vats, copper kettles, and tanks on the upper floors of the brewery. Insulated steam pipes connected with massive industrial boilers elsewhere in the building. The rattling bottles made quite a racket, making it almost too hard for Flynn to hear himself think.
And thinking was what Flynn did best.
Despite the urgency of his quest, he took a moment to admire the operation and the history behind it. Edinburgh had a long and illustrious heritage when it came to brewing beer; at one time, over a century ago, over forty such breweries had burnished the city's reputation for fine beer. Indeed, the city had once been nicknamed "Auld Reekie" thanks to the vast quantities of smoke produced by those breweries' many coal-burning furnaces and boilers. Moreover ...
Stop that, Flynn chided himself. His brain was a Library in its own right, packed to overflowing with obscure and esoteric information, but now was not the time to go leafing through his mental card catalog. He needed to stay focused on the task at hand. He glanced around, wondering which way to go. A sign reading "Testing Area" caught his eye and interest.
That sounds promising.
Retreating from the mechanized clamor of the bottling room, he entered a small chamber that resembled an old-fashioned high school chemistry lab — or maybe the set of an old mad scientist movie. Laboratory glassware, including a wide variety of flasks, beakers, graduated cylinders, petri dishes, retorts, and test tubes, was arrayed atop stained slate counters, alongside old-school Bunsen burners and heating plates. Shelves held bottles and jars of reagents.
"Okay, this is more like it," Flynn muttered, even as his heart sank. He feared the lab had not just been used to test new strains of yeast or the specific gravity of some new decoction. Oh, Duncan, what have you been up to?
Sure enough, closer investigation revealed a stack of yellowed papers strewn across one counter. Flynn's heart sped up as he raced to inspect the documents, which were handwritten in fading ink. He instantly recognized the cramped, hurried handwriting, which belonged to one of Edinburgh's most illustrious native sons: Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Along with its beer, Edinburgh was also justifiably proud of its literary history. There were monuments and memorials to Stevenson all over the city, while the Writers' Museum, which Flynn had just come from, boasted an outstanding collection of artifacts and memorabilia once belonging to the likes of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Stevenson. Flynn hastily flipped through the loose pages to confirm what he already suspected, deftly deciphering Stevenson's scrawled prose:
At last the time had come to prepare the potion. I measured out a few minims of the red tincture, according to the process described previously, and added, in proper succession, those specific powders which I had taken such care to obtain. The mixture, which was at first of a crimson hue, began to darken, while foaming and emitting a noxious vapor until the compound changed to a dark purple. Trembling, I lifted the glass to my lips....
"Whoa," Flynn murmured, experiencing a thrill of discovery despite the more ominous implications of the manuscript's presence in the lab. This is it, he realized: Stevenson's original draft of Jekyll and Hyde, long believed to have been destroyed by the author himself.
History claimed that Stevenson had burned his first draft back in 1885, because his wife, Fanny, had found it too horrific and not morally uplifting enough. But rumors had persisted over the years that Stevenson had not truly destroyed that early draft, only hidden it from the world, concealing clues to its location in the pages of his later books. For the last week or so, Flynn had been following a winding (and exhausting) trail that had led from Stevenson's mountaintop grave in Samoa to the author's former residences in Hawaii, New York, San Francisco, and London to, finally, the city of his birth — and a secret compartment hidden in Stevenson's first writing desk.
Too bad MacFarlane had gotten to it first.
If only I hadn't missed that connection at Heathrow, Flynn thought, and Charlene hadn't insisted I fly commercial.
The Librarian in him winced at the sight of the precious manuscript strewn all willy-nilly across the messy lab counter. Hastily gathering together the fragile pages, he tried to handle them as gently as he could manage, time allowing, and placed them in an airtight, acid-free plastic wrapper before tucking the package into a well-worn leather satchel slung over his shoulder by a strap. Then he took a closer look at the work area, hoping against hope that he wasn't too late to keep matters from escalating.
Please tell me he didn't mix the elixir yet.
But the evidence argued against that wishful thinking. An electric heating plate still felt warm to the touch. Broken glass crunched beneath his shoes. Dirty beakers and flasks gave off a distinctly chemical aroma that didn't smell remotely like beer. More like sulfur and brimstone, actually.
"Oh, crap," Flynn said. Having secured the manuscript, he was tempted to turn around and call it a day, but he knew in his heart that his job wasn't done yet. Librarians did more than collect and catalog lost documents and relics; they were also responsible for keeping certain ancient knowledge and artifacts out of the wrong hands — and dealing with the fallout when things went awry.
No matter how dangerous that could get.
"Duncan?" he called out. "Duncan MacFarlane? Are you still ... you?"
No one answered, but Flynn knew he couldn't leave the brewery until he found out how far MacFarlane had gone. Exiting the laboratory, he set out to search for the reckless brewer, who was possibly still lurking somewhere else on the premises. He sighed wearily at the prospect of exploring the huge, five-story building from top to bottom, while keeping a careful eye out for MacFarlane, who was quite possibly not himself at the moment.
Why couldn't this be a micro-brewery instead?
"Mr. MacFarlane?" he shouted. "This is Flynn Carsen. I think we need to talk!"
Abandoning the ground floor, he climbed a wrought-iron spiral staircase to the upper levels of the brewery, checking them out one at a time. Gravity, which was used to transfer the brews-in-progress from one stage to another, dictated the layout of the brewery, so that Flynn found himself traveling backward through a vertical labyrinth of bubbling vats of fermenting liquid, antique copper boilers, and stainless steel tanks, all connected by a bewildering array of pipes and valves. Some of the pipes were labeled "Hot Liquor" and "Cold Liquor," but Flynn knew that the "liquor" in question was just water used in the brewing operation. Gas flames heated the huge copper kettle on the second floor, keeping the unfermented wort at a slow boil, using the same process employed by Victorian brewers over a century ago.
It was an interesting place and, ever curious, Flynn wished he had time to take a proper tour, but first he needed to find MacFarlane, who was nowhere to seen. Flynn was starting to wonder if he was wasting his time when, wearily climbing the stairs at a steadily decreasing pace, he heard laughter coming from just up ahead.
No, he corrected himself. Not laughter.
"Okay, that can't be good." He knew cackling when he heard it, particularly of the diabolical variety. Is there such a thing as a non-diabolical cackling? he wondered briefly, while reaching the top floor of the brewery and bracing himself for the worst. "Why is this never easy?"
Huge stainless steel mash tuns, where the malted barley and water were first mixed together and heated with steam, dominated the floor of the chamber. An elevated metal catwalk, overlooking the operation, stretched dozens of feet above Flynn's head. Another burst of maniacal laughter drew his gaze upward and he glimpsed a misshapen figure scurrying atop the catwalk. Heavy footsteps echoed loudly overhead.
"MacFarlane?" a mocking voice answered him. "No, MacFarlane isn't here anymore. Only Hyde!"
A hunched, vaguely simian figure shambled out from behind a metal sluice feeding one tun, stepping into the moonlight from a nearby window. Coarse, wild red hair and muttonchops matched his bushy eyebrows. Bloodshot eyes, nearly as red as his shaggy mane, bulged from their sockets. A sloping brow and prognathous jaws made him look more like a missing link than the actual Missing Link, whom Flynn had run into in Tanzania last Thanksgiving. A pair of lower incisors protruded from his mouth like tusks. An ill-fitting white lab coat looked one size too large for the stunted figure, which clasped a bubbling flask in a hairy, gnarled fist.
Needless to say, this was not what MacFarlane usually looked like.
I was afraid of this, Flynn thought. "You just had to try the elixir, didn't you?"
As Flynn had suspected, the real reason Stevenson had hidden his first draft and rewritten his book to be more "allegorical" was because that early version had contained the actual secret formula for Doctor Jekyll's infamous potion, which Stevenson had stumbled onto in his peripatetic travels around the world.
"And why not?" the creature on the catwalk replied, still retaining his thick Scottish accent. "What better way to throw off the stifling restrictions of morality and let loose my true self. I've never felt more free, more liberated!" He capered like a deranged monkey atop the catwalk. "And now I will share me wicked bliss with the world!"
He held up the flask, which was bubbling over with a frothing purple potion. Flynn realized with horror that MacFarlane — or rather his bestial alter ego — intended to contaminate the brewing mash with Jekyll's elixir. Judging from the size of the immense steel tun, Flynn estimated that they were looking at approximately eight hundred barrels of beer, soon to be bottled, kegged, and shipped to pubs all across Scotland and the rest of the world, which meant thousands of Mr. and Mrs. Hydes running amok, with even more to come if MacFarlane kept at it and produced more of the elixir. History's most monstrous beer bash would cause chaos and carnage across the globe.
"Hold on!" Flynn said. "That doesn't strike me as good idea."
MacFarlane glared down at him from the catwalk. "Ye cannae tell me what to do. Who do ye think ye are anyway?"
"The Librarian," Flynn said.
The creature's beetled brow furrowed in confusion. "A librarian?"
"No," Flynn corrected him. "The Librarian."
For over two thousand years, ever since the days of the first great Library in Alexandria, a Librarian had protected the world from dangerous secrets and magical relics that needed to be stored away until humanity was ready for them, which was quite possibly never. Flynn was hardly the first Librarian, and wouldn't be the last, but he was the one and only Librarian at present, and stopping a deranged brewer from turning thousands of thirsty beer drinkers into monsters fell squarely within his job description.
Easier said than done, of course.
"No matter!" MacFarlane snarled. "No one can stop me now!"
He poured the contents of the flask into the sluice leading down into the tun, where it joined the heated water and grains being mashed together in the tank. A scruffy hand slammed down the lid of the tank and dialed up the heat.
"And that's just the first batch!" he said, cackling. "I will flood the world with my divine concoction ... and unleash the beast within us all!"
"Uh-uh," Flynn said. "The world doesn't need those kinds of spirits."
His keen eyes spotted a valve at the bottom of the tun. Rushing forward, he grabbed it with both hands and twisted it counterclockwise. Leftyloosy, righty-tighty, he reminded himself as he strained to open the valve. The stubborn metal resisted him at first, but a good kick loosened it up.
"No!" MacFarlane cried out in rage. "Ye cannae do this. Ye have no right!"
Excerpted from The Librarians and the Lost Lamp by Greg Cox. Copyright © 2016 Electric Entertainment. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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