In the late 900s, Tibet and China were experiencing great changes as warring factions fought for political and religious ascendency. Despite being a backwater way station, the little Silk Route trading town of Dunhuang on the edge of the Taklamakan desert served as a repository for a multitude of Buddhist scriptures and commercial papers.
In 1908, a treasure trove of these documents came to the attention of Sir Aurel Stein, the British archeologist, including a copy of the IRK BITIG, a divination book reportedly from the nomadic reaches south of Siberia. It had been forgotten for over 1,000 years and only came to public notice in 2017 through an exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
One of the docents was the great grandson of a Japanese priest who had obtained a copy from Stein’s assistant, which included a secret letter describing a companion divination volume THE BOOK OF AFFLICITIONS, that, when used with the IRK BITIG, provided the locations of the hidden mythical kingdom of Shambhala as well as the location of the writings of the original Sufis.
A group of Black Clad assassins who had chased the divination manuscript across centuries approached the docent, unaware of the companion piece, and the chase was on. The trail leads from Lone Pine, California to Los Angeles to distant monasteries in Ladakh, India and involves an elderly Zen priest and a Buddhist graduate student.