Chapter 18 (duplicate)
I carefully folded up the letter from del Herrero and continued to look through the papers we took from the storekeeper. I found a hand drawn map tracing Zheng He’s route on his final voyage. His ships sailed past India, around the Cape of Good Hope, up the West Coast of Africa, to a small, unnamed landmass in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There were notes written in Mandarin so I attempted to use the Captain’s mobile to translate them. However the calligraphy was too bizarre for the phone to read fully. Instead I was only able to translate a few words:
Eyes of the Sea
I remembered seeing the term Eyes of the Sea when I was researching the Koi of Hungwa at the British Museum. Emperor Zhu Di had a vision in his sleep where the Sea came to him and said:
“Take my eyes and build for me a fish that will control the tides of the ocean, the wind that blows the sails and the waves that break upon the shore. Do this and you alone shall be my master and I will do your bidding.”
The Eyes were described as being:
“each the size of a walnut, smooth as silk and dark as the bottom of the ocean.”
Further along in my notes I wrote:
“The Koi of Hungwa was presented to the court. The two dark stones were secured in place as the eyes. The Sea kept its promise. Any command the Emperor whispered to the Koi came to be. Enemy ships were destroyed by waves the size of mountains, while no ship from the Empire encountered another storm at sea. Zhu Di crushed his opponents effortlessly and for 5 years he was Emperor of the World.”
There were also notes at the bottom of the map that I attempted to translate. This is what I came up with:
Center of the World
The last thing I found in the storekeeper’s papers made my blood run cold. It was a hand-traced duplicate of the parchment my mother gave me the night she was murdered. She told me it was very important and that I should never show it to anyone. A man was coming for it but I mustn’t let him have it. I asked her who this man was and she said he went by the name of Edward Spines.
I took out the parchment and compared it to the duplicate. They both had the drawing of a fish on one side, but the back of the original was covered in notes in a dozen different languages. The back of the duplicate was blank. My heart was pounding.
Gram came out of the bathroom.
“You look like a deer in headlights,” he said.
“Here,” I said as I handed him Zheng He’s map and the letter
from del Herrero. I didn’t mention anything about the duplicate