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The Sceptre: Synopsis

Katya's Designs

A young Austrian immigrant to America, Katya Becker, becomes a designer in Cleveland in the 1930s. Her favorite designs are two symbols she saw as a child on the walls of a prehistoric salt mine in her home village near Salzburg, where she also fell in love with the scion of the squire's family. Encountering him again in America— both of them married— she forms a business relationship with him.

A New York collector of Keltic artifacts who cannot bear to have any copies of his originals in existence buys The Sceptre, an ancient Keltic rod with two discs bearing the same symbols, the vagina and the maze, that Katya uses in her designs. He hires a man to kill the persons who are disseminating copies of those symbols. Katya blocks his attempt to kill her and causes his death.

When Katya's love divests himself of a wife he discovers has borne his father's child, he suggests marriage to Katya, who is now free, but because he assumes the unimportance of her work she rejects him and moves to a new position in New York.

European Adventures

On a European trip to meet Schiaparelli and to search for connections with her roots, Katya returns to the Keltic salt mine in her home village. She discovers archaeologists investigating an ancient hut above it, with paintings illustrating the life of a prehistoric woman leader who holds discs bearing Katya's symbols. The paintings represent the goddess Danu.

At the same time Katya learns that Austrian Nazis plan to disrupt the 1935 Salzburg Festival by dynamiting a concert crowd and kidnapping Toscanini. She obtains information that helps the vice chancellor of Austria, who has bought her love's former home as a hunting lodge, foil the plotters.

In a tense ten-hour drive across Western Austria Katya, narrowly escaping an encounter with the two Austrian Nazis who are behind the plot, rescues her grandmother's friend and secures the dynamite by delivering it to the vice chancellor.

The Ancient Kelts

Two flashbacks in time to the ancient Kelts in 600 B.C. and in 500 B.C. reveal to the reader how The Sceptre bearing Katya's symbols came into being and why a copy was discovered on the North American continent. The famous so-called goddess Danu of Keltic myth is shown to be the leader of a tribe that conquered a group of Scythians and took over their salt mine in what is the present-day Salzkammergut.

A Keltic slave kills Danu for her torc and is tortured to death. Later, Danu's granddaughter escapes burning alive for killing the man who attacked her in the belief that women have too much control over the tribe. Danu's granddaughter leaves on a Persian ship with her lover, a hunchback (like some of Hitler's relatives), who has copied her symbols on another rod and who eventually hides it in their place of escape.

These flashbacks with tribal action are, like the rest of the story, based solidly on historical research, including new evidence of early Keltic travel to the North American continent.

Escape from Vengeance

The nephew of the killer has found a copy of the Sceptre in an ancient hut in New England. He plots vengeance against Katya as the woman who sent his uncle to prison, but she escapes from his New York apartment by recalling the story of Theseus, explained to her by a New York professor on board the ship in which she crossed from France. She forms a brief liason with the professor, but they separate, realizing their lives go in different directons.

Katya ends up possessing both copies of the Sceptre, the one found by the killer's nephew and the other given her by her lover, but her search for their origin has revealed more than she wants to know. She discovers that, like Hitler's mother (who is related to Katya's grandmother), and like Hitler's niece, if she married her love she would be establishing a liason with her own uncle.

Descent from Danu

Then Katya's black housekeeper reveals a family history connecting her to stories about the Keltic goddess, Danu. Katya realizes that both of them are probably descended from Danu. She begins to understand the inevitability of bloodlines crossing many times throughout history. So when the love of her life prevents her niece's kidnapping and begs for another chance, she accepts him.

 
© 2000 - 2017 Dorothy Jane Mills