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 28 – temple camp
Arkan’s body swung from side to side in a rolling motion. He woke to find his thoughts buffeted by clouds of uncertainty. He lay there, thinking through cotton wool, enjoying the sensation of movement until he felt the first stirrings of a headache forming. Within seconds he went from comfortable to his head pounding. The sunshine heating through his black clothing was no longer a pleasure but torture. Thirst assaulted his mouth, forcing him to open his eyes, almost gagging with his need for water. He blinked in the harsh light, sitting up to cough while rubbing his eyes at the same time. The movement unbalanced him and he fell down again under the Yelks uneven gait. He tried again. Where was he? He was still thinking through a thick fog. Before he could piece together the previous night, he found himself pitching forward out of the hammock to land face down in a pile of sand.
A burst of laughter greeted him and he propped himself up on his elbows, spitting out dry sand. Who was that! A burst of pain throbbed in his head at the movement and he pushed a palm in to his forehead. He obviously wasn’t in mortal danger or he would be dead already. Gods, he hadn’t drunk that much in years. He groaned audibly. He didn’t care who heard him. Acid rose in the back of his throat. He felt as sick as a dog.
The laughing was attached to a long shadow. The shadow ended at expensive brown boots. He stretched his neck out following the sound up. Who in all the hells was that? He reached for his sleeve but fought the impulse to test his blades before he pulled one out. Didn’t the man know who he was? The hangover pounded in his head with renewed vigour and he squinted harder. A young man dressed slightly better for an expedition than he was, in light loose clothing which looked like it came from a fashionable tailor, stood watching him. Arkan’s curiosity got the better of him.
“How are you prepared for this trip? How did you know about it? The brothers were only recruiting last night. You didn’t have time to go to a tailor.”
The boy looked at him, still laughing and shook his head. “No, I was going to join a nomad group and go exploring with them. It was either that or join the army. I needed to get out of the city for a while and the brotherhood offered me a way.” He held out his hand, pointing with the other. “Come on, we’ll be left behind if we don’t watch it.” The yelks were already several feet ahead of them.
“My name is…“ Arkan thought for a second stumbling to his feet. He changed his mind. His name was a little too well known in Ghinari. “Finton, Finton Wylde.” Arkan took his hand and they clasped like old friends.
“My name is Ryen Bergarde. How do you do.”
“Southerner?” Enquired Arkan.
“How did you know?”
“You are just too polite to have been born and brought up in Ghinari.”
“I see your point.” the man began to laugh again.
Arkan stayed at the back with Ryen all day. It was nice not having to worry about doing anything. Just do what you’re told with no expectations. It was like being a lowly palace guard again. The man was good company. He seemed to have memorised hundreds of jokes and while the majority of them Arkan didn’t find funny, they did lighten the day.
Through the miles he had ample opportunity to look around as they walked. The sand dunes in the distance stretched to the horizon. Closer, the guards recruited the night before were easy to spot, even though they were heavily outnumbered by the Brethren. Spread throughout the party there were about twenty guards in all. Their dour expressions made him happy he had paired with his new friend.
“Why are you here?” Ryen asked, bringing Arken out of his reverie.
“I needed to get away too.”
Ryen nodded and went quiet and they walked on in companiable silence.
The company began setting up camp long before sunset. When Arkan saw them unloading the yelks he realised why. They had brought luxuries from home which had no place in a desert. Why would you bring real beds? He could only shake his head at their idiocy. Still there were no beds for the guards, just bed rolls which had seen better days. Did they steal them off the homeless? He picked up his with distaste.
“Where did they get these from, the time of the pharaohs?”
Ryen held his up with thumb and forefinger, inspecting it. “It does smell like it my friend. It is a good thing I brought my own.“
That was the second time Arken could have cheerfully taken his blades out.
Around them, the other guards were helping the Brothers erect smaller tents for men like them while larger, spacious abodes were put up for the priests.
A parade of cushions, bedding, beds and even tables were carried passed them. Arkan took a step back. Maybe it would be better if he found somewhere to lie low until everything was ready.
Arkan looked behind him but the brother was obviously talking to him.
“Yes, you. Pick up some firewood from Brother Dhras and start building a fire for dinner.”
Arkan bristled but he pushed his annoyance down. He didn’t want to give the brother an excuse to send him away. They were still close enough to Ghinari that it was a possibility.
He found Brother Dhras unloading some sticks from one of several yelks who carried them. The number of yelks had ballooned to about fifty while he had been asleep. The brother pointed to the wood on the floor and turned back to unloading the yelk. Charming, he thought, Then he realized, he must have taken the vow of silence. Grumbling under his breath Arkan lifted a handful and carried them to the centre of the camp where a nascent fire was burning.
Arkan dumped the wood from his third trip to the yelk on to the ground and wiped the sweat off his forehead. Even though the sun was low in the sky, it was still warm. The breeze coming from the west was welcome. If he was honest with himself he wasn’t used to this kind of labour. His hand froze in mid-air as he caught sight of blond hair reflected in fire-light. Lynsey was here? He dropped behind a man wrestling a cook pot into place over the fire and scrambled over the sand to hide behind some urns. He watched her from across the flames.
What in all the hells was she doing here? Maybe fate was telling him there was a chance for them after all. It was ridiculous but he couldn’t help but hope. Arkan grabbed the edge of his hood, pulling it up with a swift movement as he hunkered down. The cook gave him a curious look but the water was starting to boil and he turned back to throw a handful of oats in the pot. Arkan peaked around the man to get another look, then another double-take. It was definitely Lynsey. Should he tell her he was here? Before he could decide, Baserius moved into view and Arkan dropped down again. What was he doing here? This was all he needed. He glimpsed Baserius directing her to a tent as they walked past and Arkan scurried backwards to keep out of sight. He wasn’t ready for him to see him yet. Standing up he pulled his hood down as far as it would go and walked in the opposite direction. He was going to have to find a job to do at the other side of camp.
Brushing the yelk down, he danced back as the great head rounded to bite him. Not this time my friend, he thought. His upper arm from the previous two nips was still throbbing. His mind raced. How could he rescue her? If he escaped with her now, he wouldn’t be able to find his way back. He would have to bide his time and rescue her when they got to their destination or when they got back to Ghinari he concluded. He couldn’t let what happened to that dragon in the story happen to her.
That night he grabbed his bed roll from the tent floor. Ryen rolled over on his.
“What are you doing?”
“I want to sleep with the stars tonight.”
“I know what you want to sleep with and it isn’t the stars. I saw you looking at that blonde girl earlier. Leave it, she’ll be nothing but trouble, besides she’s too skinny and her skin is too light. It would be like making love to a ghost.”
“Ha, ha. It has nothing to do with her. I do not like to feel confined.”
“And, I do not believe you, my friend. I heard that this expedition is to find the riches of the pyramids. It should be easy to liberate a jewel or two and then you can have any girl you want in Ghinari. Although I would be surprised to hear you have any trouble judging by how the woman were looking at you as we left Ghinari. It was like sweet nectar taken from a baby!”
Arkan refused to dignify him with a response.
Moments later, Arkan sat in the shadow of a tent taking a sip from a flask with a full view of her tent. Maybe he should let her know she was here? He discarded the notion. No she could betray him without realising and that would put them both in danger.
He followed the same pattern for a week. He lay on the bed roll at an angle to see both the front and back of her tent. He lay there looking up at the stars when he heard a sound he couldn’t identify coming from her tent. He twisted to see sand mysteriously moving by itself. He watched fascinated. How was it doing that? Was there a burrowing animal there? Why had it picked Lynsey’s tent? He continued to watch and was surprised to see her come out a few minutes later with Illyara. He was even more surprised to see a little boy disappear in front of his eyes He rubbed his them, but he was no longer there. The boy had appeared and then disappeared.
They crept past Arkan, not noticing him sitting in the shadows in his black clothing. He watched impressed as Lynsey dispatched a guard with ease and silently got up to follow them when the fire started. Keep your eyes on the girl he told himself. Everything else is a distraction.
They were clever these nomads. He watched as they wiped away their footsteps as they walked and who knew they could disappear like that?
He kept in the distance, crawling on the sand so they wouldn’t see him. Copying them, he waggled his legs behind him to level the sand. Hours later, before he knew it, he saw them go into another encampment. He wasn’t sure about the reception he would get so he waited outside, sipping from a skin that hung around his waist. He didn’t know how long he would have to stay there or how long his water would last.
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 Chapter 15 - Dancing with the King Chapter 16 - Dragon Brotherhood Chapter 17 - Pico Chapter 18 – The Dragon Chapter 19 – Settling Down Chapter 20 – Danger Revealed Chapter 21 – Betrayal Chapter 22 - A Meeting of Minds Chapter 23 = Invisibility Chapter 24 - Desert Chapter 25 - Escape Chapter 26 - Gathering Chapter 27 - Search