THE YOUNG MAN was dying in misery. He had been tricked and made a fool of by a scheming young woman who he loved and trusted, the age-old tale of betrayal. He was a follower of the Changjai Lama and their sect believed in the transmigration of souls. There was no Lama with him to help pass through to the life that awaited, only the man and woman who were about to kill him. He would have to carry the sins and mistakes of this life into the next, paying for them there. Rather than break faith with his family and his religion, he had refused to give the murderous pair the information they were willing to kill for. He had suffered their relentless beatings, but still guarded the location they desperately sought. He was bleeding from cut lips, a broken nose, two front teeth had been snapped off and an ear severed. The man and woman made certain his death was slow and painful.
JAKE STRIKER WAS tethered to the Changjai Lamasery by an invisible umbilical cord. He owned a successful law firm and a private investigation company in Century City, the financial heartbeat of Los Angeles. He represented the legal interests of the Lamasery in the United States and was also the attorney for the shadowy Tu Tung, the ancient order of Chinese assassins that protected the Lamasery worldwide. He was tall, six three and very handsome, with light brown hair, hazel eyes and a Cabo San Lucas tan. He was well built; the result of working out three days a week. His wife, Mei, was breathtakingly beautiful, an exotic blending of Mongolian and Chinese, her beauty crafted by the Gods on Mt. Bayaskhulangtu. She was five six, tall for a Mongolian woman, with haunting almond eyes and raven hair that hung to her waist. The Captain of the rugged Steppe Cavalry claimed she could ride and shoot as well as any of his soldiers. Unfortunately, her temper matched her beauty, with the Grand Regent describing her as a wildcat and Lama Namsray referring to her as a spitfire. Having been raised on the steppes, she was equally at home on the back of a raging mare, as she was behind the steering wheel of her new Jaguar coupe.
Jake sat at his desk, going over a case he was working on. He was a defence attorney and had an enviable record for successful acquittals. His receptionist called and told him that a gentleman needed to talk to him. He glanced at his calendar and frowned; he did not have an appointment at ten o’clock.
“Do I know him?”
“He claims he’s your best friend.”
“Is his name Namsray?”
“I didn’t know how to pronounce it.”
Jake smiled and told her, “Bring him back.” He stood up to greet his good friend, who was also the second most powerful Lama in the secretive Changjai Lamasery; second only to the Grand Regent. The Lamasery clung to the cliffs with eagles’ talons near the summit of Mt. Bayaskhulangtu, close to the Mongolian/Chinese border. Because of the snow-covered towering mountains, which serious climbers bypassed, no one had ever paid much attention to the actual border.
The receptionist ushered in Lama Namsray and Jake shook his hand warmly. “I always have a strange feeling when I see you someplace other than the Upper Kingdom and then to complicate matters, you’re not in your wine-colored robe.” The Lamas and Nuns of the Changjai Lamasery all wore robes and sandals.
“Wearing a suit makes it easier to travel, fewer people staring. A confession, it also makes me feel a bit less religious.”
“Sit down, sit down. I didn’t expect to see you this soon. How long has it been, nine months?” Namsray usually left the valley to check on the Lamasery’s overseas holdings every two years, particularly their banks, financial institutions and gold deposits.