There are fates worse than death…
Welcome to the serialisation of Accidental Immortal. Chapters will be published four times a week so the serialisation will be completed at (roughly) the same time as on Wattpad, if not a little sooner!
If you would like to start from the beginning, please head over to chapter one. There is also a contents list at the bottom of each post.
Chapter 15 – Dancing with the King
The king strode through the dancers, not giving them a second glance as they parted into two groups before him. His jaw was set in a determined line. The bustle of skirts in the silence caught Lynsey’s attention and she had time to see him approaching before he reached them. Lynsey looked at the food longingly but realised that in this place and in this time a crown on someone’s head should be heeded.
He was dressed in blue brocade and although to Lynsey he looked like someone trying too hard. Wasn’t everyone here? He moved with an assurance that she seldom saw in her world. It made her pause in her appraisal.
The king was handsome in a different way to Arkan. The King’s hair was cropped close to his head and he had a neat goatee that suggested that he liked things a certain way. This was a man not to be trifled with.
His manner was charming and he moved with purpose.
“Lady Walker I presume?”
“Your Highness.” Lynsey curtseyed clumsily. His eye flickered briefly. Was that amusement?
“I trust your journey to our fair city was uneventful?”
Oh God what should she say to that? Should she admit to being kidnapped? She saw Arkan in the distance tense up. He probably couldn’t hear what they were talking about but everyone was looking at them. She had better get this right.
“I did encounter some problems but nothing I couldn’t deal with.” She smiled sweetly at the King.
“What happened?” His voice was syrupy, full of concern but his shoulders and arms went rigid betraying the importance of her answer. Something was riding on this but she didn’t know how this game was played.
“I took a walk with my companion in the park and we were accosted by some brigands.”
Those romance novels had really done her vocabulary a favour. Who knew they would come in handy?
“That is awful.” He leaned in closer. “I could offer some of my guards to make you feel safer? This city can be a dangerous place for someone as rare and beautiful as you.”
“Oh I’m sure that is not necessary. We managed to get away. I think the ruffians must have eaten a few too many pies.” A titter travelled around the room. “Luckily, Cousin Luna has doubled the guard around her house so I can sleep easy.” Name dropping might be the thing to do here.
“Then you can indeed relax, fair maiden. May I offer you a dance?”
Unsure, Lynsey searched the crowd for Luna. She nodded from behind the king.
“I would be honoured your highness but I must confess that I grew up in the islands and I have only been here a couple of weeks. I do not yet know how to dance. I fear that I will stand on your feet.”
Lynsey was really starting to love talking like a character from history.
“You are doing great. Pico told her. “I’m transmitting what they think you are saying from what I’ve heard since we arrived in Ghinari. I picked up the higher speech from the store clerks and customers but we can use the more colourful dialects from the maids and the streets if we need to.”
“You are loving this too aren’t you?”
“Well yes – yes I am.”
Unaware of the silent dialogue, the king took her hand and moved her through courtiers to the dance floor where a space had naturally cleared.
“My dear, I shall be happy to teach you.”
A rapid beat on string instruments filled the room but the king threw up his hand. The music drew to a halt as a combination of harps, lutes and drums were silenced.
“Something slower, I think.” The music changed to a lower tempo. He took hold of her other arm and moved his feet in a slow box step. Other dancers joined them on the floor.
“Pico I need your help. I can’t dance!”
Lynsey gave up control and watched as Pico copied the other dancers with more grace than she could have mustered in a hundred dancing lessons. She began to enjoy herself as her body moved to the steps without effort.
“Pico, you are a star.”
“See, you need me.”
“I realise that now.” she replied as the king whirled her around.
When the tune ended, an advisor pulled the king away, leaving Lynsey alone in the corner of the dance floor. She saw several men from the crowd take a step forward but Illyara was beside her in moments, stopping them in their tracks. They continued their way to the food table. She felt her companion’s approval and her mood lifted. If Illyara thought she had done well, then she had. No pregnant goat here, thank you very much.
The food table was full of every food that Lynsey could imagine and few that she hadn’t seen since her arrival. Illyara’s eyes seemed to pop out on stalks beside her.
“There was a famine this year.” Illyara breathed. “Look at this food. Where did it all come from?” The table stretched across the entire length of the room, its legs groaned under the weight of the colourful display.
“That’s a question you should never ask ladies.” Across the table a man was filling up his plate. With each morsel he put on his plate, another found its way into his mouth. “It is always better to fill up here. My name is Baserius. I’m the head of the Dragon Brotherhood.” He popped a piece of chicken into his mouth and chewed. “I hear you tried to call the other day? As I am here now, how may I be of assistance?”
Lynsey exchanged looks with her friend. “It was nothing.” She replied.
“Oh come hardly nothing, you gave my doorman an exquisite elephant for the pleasure to see me. If I’m not mistaken that elephant is quite priceless. My brother was very excited until we reminded him that all money and goods belong to the brotherhood.”
“I knew that was worth too much.” Lynsey muttered under her breath. She was seething inside. “It was nothing. I was new to the area and thought it would be interesting to see the Dragon Temple.”
“…and you thought the high priest was the best person to show you round? Capital idea. I’m free after lunch tomorrow?”
She kept her face expressionless. How could she refuse? She was backed into a corner. Even Pico couldn’t come up with an answer.
“That would be lovely.”
Baserius nodded at her answer and walked away.
“Lynsey! What were you thinking?”
“For someone who was never popular during school, I’ve got a king and a high priest wanted to spend time with me. Go me!”
Illyara gave her a warning look but Lynsey shrugged her shoulders. She was going to enjoy this for a change.
Later that evening Luna introduced them to the most important families in the room. Lynsey had trouble thinking of what to say but Illyara, growing up with the Nomads had even more trouble. At least Lynsey had seen historical dramas and read enough books that she could fake a sophistication she didn’t feel.
“I always wanted to take up acting.” She silently informed Pico. “But I always assumed there would be a script.”
“You would have done brilliantly judging by tonight.”
The alien-ness of the situation wore her down suddenly. “Will I ever get home?”
“I don’t know but you have friends who will try to make it happen. Including me. I want to see a real red double decker bus!”
Lynsey almost snorted out loud. “Why a red bus. You’ve seen pyramids, the world filled with Egyptians and you want to see a red bus?
“I bet you wanted to see the pyramids before you got here?”
“Well of course. Who wouldn’t?”
Illyara had moved into the corner and was having the time of her life. Tasting every morsel on the table, she eyed up each titbit delicately before placing it in her mouth. It was like watching a lesson in deportment. Lynsey joined her and tried to copy her but she was so hungry that she was glad her mother wasn’t there to see how she ate.
Whenever the gentlemen couldn’t get a dance with Lynsey they asked Illyara. Lynsey’s jaw dropped with amazement as her friend glided across the dancefloor without missing a step.
“How did you learn to dance like that?”
Illyara’s face was flushed and her eyes sparkled as she answered.
“Lord Serenu and his daughter bought passage across the desert about five years ago. Darani was bored so she taught me to dance over the weeks. It is so different dancing here than under the stars.” She hopped on one foot. “No sand in my shoes for one thing!”
The rest of the evening passed in in a blur. She danced with several men and ate until her dress protested. What made the night extra perfect she reflected was that the king stayed away for the rest of the night.
Everyone was exhausted by the time they entered the carriage to go home. Illyara was happier than Lynsey had ever seen her and Luna was glowing from all the attention she’d received.
They set off slowly while they waited for the other carriages to clear a path. The air was still cold but Lynsey didn’t mind. It had been a good night. She had spoken to dozens of people. If notoriety would make them safe, then they had made a good start.
Before they left the grounds, Arkan slipped into the carriage quietly. Across from Lynsey, Luna’s face lit up. Lynsey couldn’t help but feel a small kernel of happiness when she saw him although she was careful to keep her expression neutral.
“Well done.” He announced to the coach. You navigated that rather well. Any foibles were easily explained by your upbringing in the islands. How did you get the invitation to the Temple? I overheard Baserius telling the king he had a prior appointment showing you around.”
“I don’t know. He just asked. Maybe he wanted to know where I got the elephant.”
“You had an elephant?”
“About this big.” She held up her fingers, “and made of gold and jewels.”
“Where did you get it all?”
“The pyramids. They were just lying about in there. I don’t know why they didn’t take them when they left.”
Luna chimed in. “I think I might know why. There are legends of a dragon which drove them away. A band of a men went in search of the pyramids and were said to have found and slain the dragon. The men returned and called themselves the Dragon Brotherhood. They got lost on the way back and have been trying to get back there ever since.”
“How do you know this?”
“I read a lot of history, Arkan” Luna’s voice held an injured tone.
“No one knows where the pyramids are after all this time?” Asked Lynsey.
“Actually,” Everyone turned to look at Illyara,
“My people know but we would never go there because it is cursed.”
Arkan turned back to look thoughtfully at Lynsey. “I think the Dragon Brotherhood know you got the elephant from the pyramids and they are hoping to get the location from you.”
“I couldn’t find it again if I tried.”
“They don’t know that but it is probably why he wants to take you on a tour.” Arkan rubbed his face with his hands. “This could be really useful for me. I need to find what they are hiding in the lower floors. If we can get them distracted with you, then I can see if I can get downstairs.”
Chapter 1 - Duat Chapter 2 - London - Present Day Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat Chapter 4 - Nomads Chapter 5 - Scorpion Chapter 6 - The Dragon Temple Chapter 7 - Assassin Chapter 8 - The Luscious Luna Chapter 9 - Arkan Blade Chapter 10 - Kidnapped Chapter 11 - Rescue Chapter 12 - Modesty Chapter 13 - Banquet Chapter 14 - Arkan