Finn," he said, "Don't go in."
What was his problem? After days of climbing and trudging through the snow, I wasn't going to turn around now. I pushed past Uncle Stoppard into the cave and then froze. The murky light from the mouth of the tunnel gleamed on something a few feet in front of me. Something white lay on the floor of the cave. Bones.
Finn and his mystery-writer uncle head to Iceland in search of the Haunted City of Tquuli, where Finn's archaeologist parents were last seen before their odd disappearance eight years ago. Finn doesn't believe the creepy legends about the Haunted City and the ancient Vikings who lived there -- until a member of the rock-climbing expedition vanishes from inside a sleeping bag...one that was dangling a hundred feet from the base of an icy cliff!
Then another climber disappears, leaving a trail of footprints that abruptly end in a Þeld of snow. Is it modern-day murder, or the revenge of phantom Viking warriors?
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June 25, 2001
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Excerpt from The Viking Claw by Michael Dahl
Chapter One: Thor's Mountain
Uncle Stoppard tightened his seat belt. He turned to me and said, "That's the five-thousand-foot signal."
Through the plane window I saw a vast field of greenish-blue water. We were descending over the Atlantic Ocean. I squashed my face against the clear plastic and stretched my eyeballs to get a glimpse of our destination. A brown shore of jagged jigsaw pieces was rushing toward us. Farther away the sun was rising over dark, sharp-edged mountains. Volcano country.
"You should put that away," said Uncle Stoppard. "If we have a bumpy landing, those papers will fly all over the cabin."
He was referring to my journal. Ever since we took off from the Minneapolis airport, six hours ago, I had held the journal on my lap. It was my dad's idea. Like father, like Finn, says Uncle Stop.
Last year I had discovered my dad's journal in Uncle Stoppard's storage room in the basement. It had been sitting down there for the past eight years, ever since Mom and Dad had dropped me off with Uncle Stop before they flew to Iceland, hunting for the Haunted City of Tquuli. You say it too-cool-ee. Maybe you read about my parents' expedition; it was written up in Peephole magazine. Legends say that Tquuli is the site of a lost Viking colony hidden somewhere in the mountains of Iceland. On the slope of one of those mountains, the Thorsfell, my parents' footprints ended abruptly in a field of new snow. Just ended! When I first started living with Uncle Stoppard, I would think about those footprints and my parents all the time. Now I only think about them every day.
My parents went searching for Tquuli because they were archeologists. I mean, are archeologists. I mean, both. Both are both. They're considered legally dead since they've been missing so long, but they're still alive. Don't ask me how I know, I just know.
Dad kept a detailed record in his journal of the archeological digs he and my mom worked on around the world. I thought it would be a good idea to keep my own record of everything that happens to me and Uncle Stoppard in Iceland. So far my journal has maps of Iceland, articles from newspapers about mountain climbing, copied sections of library books on footprints, fingerprints, and physical evidence. The Peephole magazine article about the Zwake-Tquuli expedition is taped to the front three pages. I practically have it memorized. The most important (and weirdest) paragraphs come near the end of the article:
Two weeks after radio contact had failed for the fifth time, a second expedition was launched. Its mission was to discover not Tquuli, but the missing Zwake party, and time was of the essence. Winter had arrived in the north Atlantic, dropping the temperatures well below zero. Expert trackers from Reykjavik and Myvatn retraced Anna and Leon Zwake's route up the sloping side of Thor's Mountain. Luckily, no rain or snow had fallen since the Americans had last radioed their friends from the famous volcano cone....
A black-and-white photo shows the extinct volcano Thorsfell, Thor's Mountain: a massive black triangle with snow covering the upper half. Thor was the ancient god of thunder and lightning. In the comics he has long blond hair and looks like a member of the World Wrestling Federation. The ancient Icelanders thought Thor lived inside the mountain since the volcano flashed and rumbled like a thunderstorm. A caption below the photo says: Thorsfell, the Fujiyama of the Vikings. Fujiyama is a famous mountain in Japan. I guess the two mountains look alike.