Accidental Immortal Chapter 15 – Dancing with the King (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

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.

Ceri Clark

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!”

“I understand.”

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?”

“Same thing.”

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.

“No.”

“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.”

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 14 – Arkan (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 14 – Arkan

Arkan lounged against a column near the dais edge. Watching their slow progress through the crowd, he was amused by the reaction from the courtiers to Lynsey and her friend. He knew they would create a stir and this was everything they could hope for. Everyone would be talking about them by the end of the night.

The raised platform he stood on was lined by six painted columns. Their green colour matched the throne’s upholstery, giving the palace its name.

Arkan’s vantage point gave ample opportunity to watch the crowd without being seen. Hidden by the column’s shadow, he could also hear all the conversations in the room. The architect had designed the space so that most if not all voices could be heard from this one spot. The Assassins Guild had paid good money to get this advantage during it’s build but it was Arkan’s training which allowed him to make sense of the wall of sound.

The whispered conversations were the ones to look out for, he reminded himself as he focussed on the quieter sounds. Plots against the king and secrets were seldom announced in a normal voice.

He instantly discarded the trysts and barbed comments. He was not interested in gossip. Leave that to Luna. He scanned the crowd. Where was Luna anyway? He found her by the door talking to a grand dame.

“She’s my cousin. Just in from the islands. Her father disappeared years ago.” She produced a fan from a small purse which matched her green gown and waved it with a conspiratorial wink. “I was more surprised than anyone when she turned up at my door. I thought Jemmy had been eaten by natives years ago!” The woman gave a raucous laugh beside her.

“He did have a reputation didn’t he? What happened to the blonde boy?”

“I hear he died young. Who can say after all this time? They were never spoken of after Jemmy left Ghinari. We still don’t know why Jemmy left. There must have been something unsavoury going on knowing that side of the family.”

“I heard that. They never really integrated into society…”

Arkan tuned out and listened in for Baserius’ voice. He couldn’t identify it but then realized he was at the food table and looked for each Guild Master in turn.

He stood up straighter and positioned himself closer to the edge, using the dark green railing as support as he leaned forward. From there he could see both Lynsey and the King’s reaction to her entrance.

It took a few moments for the lack of noise to penetrate the King’s awareness, which was understandable under the circumstances. The head of the Merchants Guild was talking animatedly to the king. You had to admire the bravery of the man – or the stupidity. It had to be the latter if he realized how much the king detested him. Arkan noted with interest the king was showing admirable restraint. He was surprised he even let him get that close. Ahh, he was talking about the possible tax raises due to a low tax gain the previous year. That explained it. The man did not look happy. Arkan wondered if Isabel was asking for more jewellery again. The lady had a penchant for diamond necklaces that the treasury could ill afford.

Turning his attention to the rest of the room, Arkan noted the pattern of people as they turned to look at Lynsey. It was like a rose opening at dawn. Clusters of people in a circular pattern turned towards her before another circle further away noticed something was happening and rotated towards her. More and more people stopped to look until the pattern reached the King.

Arkan watched Lynsey and the King closely. The king’s eyes widened and his jaw flexed, opening his mouth for a split-second before he gained control and closed it again. He stepped forward, ignoring the man he was talking too and moved towards the edge of the dais. Then his face dropped again, this time to Arkan’s consternation, it showed anger.

Arkan followed the king’s gaze and saw how her long skirt kissed the floor where she walked. He couldn’t help but compare her to the other women in the room. She was the most beautiful girl there. The cut of the dress accentuated every curve. Her long blond hair was piled on her head, the bright jewels sparkled, snaking through to draw attention to her shiny curls. She appeared like some mythical creature from the past, like a force of nature, a nymph.

Arkan’s breath caught in his throat as she turned and caught his eye.  Her smile made his heart shudder for a beat. He had no business feeling that way. It was dangerous to oppose the king in this. But if he did not help her … she was not equipped to survive in court.

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 13 – Banquet (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 13 – Banquet

The chill night air slipped through the open carriage windows and wrapped around them like an icy cloak. It also brought with it a delicate floral fragrance that Lynsey barely noticed as she shivered on the plush seat. Rubbing the goose bumps breeding on her upper arms didn’t help either. Hadn’t they heard of suspension on this world? She looked out into the darkness, it felt like she was grumpy all the time now. There was nothing to distract her from the cold and the sheer boredom of the journey. No one was talking. Never mind comfy seats, the art of good conversation had taken a holiday, died and buried itself somewhere. She really regretted not bringing a fur wrap but Luna was in such a hurry that it had been forgotten. It turns out Luna wasn’t as calm and collected as she made out to be.

“We need to depart now.” She’d said.

“Just a moment, we need to check we have everything.” The room had looked like a tornado had hit it and Lynsey was busy bundling some clothes together from the settee.

“Put those down. We have maids to do that sort of thing.” Luna’s voice rose to a squeak.

It was funny now, but at the time, she seemed really agitated.

“Are you okay, Luna?”

“The feast is at the Green Palace in half an hour, it is an hour’s drive at the minimum. We are already fashionably late, anymore and we could get into trouble.” There was a tremor of fear in her voice that made Lynsey take notice. She paused, still holding the dresses.

“Okay, okay. Keep your shirt on.”

“What are you talking about? I am not wearing a shirt. I have no intention of taking anything off even if I was.”

“I didn’t mean your actual shirt. Look,” Lynsey took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. We’ll go now.” She dropped the clothes and held her hands out.

Lynsey smiled at the memory. It was good to know that Luna wasn’t perfect.

On the opposite seat, Arkan was looking out of the other window. He could probably see the terrain as well as a cat she mused. His dark curls were tied back by a short black thong. His gaze was unwavering, its intensity unnerving. What was he looking for?

Luna, of course, was naturally sitting next to him. Her arm hooked around his. Why hadn’t he taken his own carriage, or ridden Night Shade? Was he involved with Luna? Lynsey touched the hard metal of the hidden bracelet on her wrist. All he wanted from her was this. It wasn’t even if it would work for him, or would it? Was there another Pico stored in there?

“May I answer that?” Pico’s thought was cautious, swirling in yellow.

“I was hoping you would. What happens if someone else wears the bracelet?”

“Nothing. I am the only interface possible. Once the piconites have entered the body there is no way to get them back into the band and therefore no way to ‘talk’ to the bracelet. It would still work of course but anyone without piconites wouldn’t be able to communicate with it.  It is technically possible for you to wear and use another band but not for someone who doesn’t have a companion to use a band.”

“You are calling yourself a companion now?”

“We were always called that Lynsey. You just weren’t ready to hear it.”

She ignored the gentle reproof. “So it would be pointless to kill someone for their bracelet?”

“Exactly.”

Lynsey pondered that for a moment. The priests would have been outnumbered by the slaves. They would have had to come up with a contingency for when someone had the bright idea to take one of the bands.

The coach stopped to shouting overhead and the gravel crunched beneath them.

“We should get out here.” Arkan said, bringing his head back through the window. “There is a queue of carriages all the way to the palace. Come on.”

He opened the door and jumped down offering his hand to Luna who joined him. Lynsey was the last to step out, careful to pull her skirt up from her silk slippers on the steep descent. There were only three steps but she didn’t want to fall flat on her face in front of any watchers.

The aroma of burning wood surrounded her as the wind changed direction, bringing childhood memories of nights in front of a cherry-wood fire. Thick posts lined the driveway, their tops alight with fire, beckoning them down the drive to the entrance. She noticed dozens of carriages ahead blocking the road and more were joining the queue behind them. The road was filling with men and women, all dressed in elegant attire. Several threw occasional curious glances their way but most were going towards the entrance. There was nothing for it but to walk the rest of the way.

“This is where I have to leave you for a while.”

Lynsey turned to find Arkan in the shadows. She could barely see him but she saw him take Luna’s head and kiss her knuckles. He winked at Lynsey over Luna’s shoulder. “Enjoy yourselves girls.”

He was going to leave them? Lynsey felt a cold shiver run through her. Sure, Luna would look after her but she expected Arkan to be there too.

He tilted his head at Lynsey’s expression and leaned forward to take her hand. He turned it over to stroke her palm. “I can’t be seen with you tonight. It is better to not draw attention to you more than we need to. It is enough with your blond hair and mystery without adding me to the mix. I also have some unfinished business to attend to before I am seen”.

Lynsey slouched her shoulders. She was almost sad to see him go. Then she checked herself. What did she want from him? Did she really want to find a man and settle down in this strange place? That’s just silly, she berated herself. It was impossible, she wanted to get home.

“Why do you want to go home so badly?” asked Pico.

“I think anyone would if they found themselves in such an alien place. You are not human so you wouldn’t understand.”

“I understand more than you think. Home is where you are happy. Couldn’t you be happy here? You like Arkan. I can tell from your hormone levels. You react differently to him than anyone else you have met. He obviously has skills or he wouldn’t have been able to rescue you. Do you know what he does here?”

“I thought he was just a noble. He hasn’t actually said anything…”

“I think you need to find out more about him. You saw him first at the Temple of the Dragon Brotherhood but he’s definitely not a priest and he is well connected in this society as well as being able to rescue you at a drop of a hat.”

“Drop of a hat?”

“Sorry, I liked that expression from your vocabulary.”
“Fair enough.” Lynsey felt the muscles on her face lift into a smile. A man passing stopped and smiled back before carrying on.

“I do have to be careful talking to you!” She said suppressing a giggle. “You are right though. I know next to nothing about him.” She cast about for the most ridiculous thing she could think of. “He could be an assassin for all I know.”

“He’s probably some sort of soldier, but you won’t know for sure until you ask him or Luna. I’m surprised she hasn’t told you.”

“Maybe she assumes I know?”

“You need to ask, Lynsey.”

Just then they reached the entrance of the palace. The archway was tall and the same type of torches that had lit the driveway, led the way further into the building. They could hear the distant strains of music and Lynsey’s mood began to lift. This was a party! She was hanging out with nobles and royalty. She never thought that would happen in a million years back home.

At the entrance to the hall, a man dressed in a royal blue cloak, tapped a rod to the ground, jolting her out of a reverie.

“Your names, ma’am?” he asked Illyara who was standing nearest.

“Illyara Ackaclun and Lynsey Walker.” She replied.

“Lady Lynsey Walker and her companion Illyara Ackaclun!” Came a loud call from the door.

“We’re on.” whispered Illyara from beside her. “Come on.”

“Where’s Luna?”

“She has to be announced on her own because she’s so important.” Illyara rolled her eyes which got Lynsey giggling.
She was still smiling when she entered the main hall. The room was massive. Lights shaped like flames illuminated the large space dominated by a square dance floor in the middle. Beyond this, Lynsey’s eyes were drawn to some tables laden with food on the far wall. She noticed in passing, the rainbow colours of the other dresses from people mingling below them.

“Shall we?” Lynsey asked Illyara and they descended the stairs.

“Pico, why isn’t everything more Egyptian?”

“What do you mean?”

“I am not sure but I expected the fashions to be like, you know, the paintings on an Egyptian temple on Earth.”

“Those were from centuries ago. You didn’t wear the clothes of a Celtic Druid or a Greek toga on Earth.”

“Well there was a few toga parties at university…” She was distracted for a moment while she skirted a dancing couple.

“Seriously though,” she continued “I get that, but surely the buildings would be more Egyptian?”

“Maybe you should ask Illyara? I wasn’t conscious until you woke me. Unless you start reading a lot of history books I am in the dark as much as you are.”

“Illyara, wait a second.” She was like a woman on a mission. Illyara was charging ahead, the food table firmly in her sight. Lynsey grabbed Illyara wrist to slow her down. She must be one hungry nomad.

“What’s wrong?”

“I was just wondering why everything wasn’t more Egyptian.”

“Well it wouldn’t be. After the rebellion, people tried to forget them. Most of the buildings that the priests built were torn down. The pyramids you arrived in should be the only ones left as a reminder of what they were. My people kept the memories alive. Can we eat now?”

“Are you mad at me Illyara?”

Illyara paused and turned to look at her. “Why would I be angry at you?”

“You’ve just been a little strange since this afternoon. I’m sorry I thought you abandoned me but I can’t help how I feel-felt.”

“It’s not that. It is just that I have been thinking about my family since the kidnap. This is the longest I have been away from them.”

Lynsey looked up at the frieze on the ceiling and blew out gently before taking Illyara’s hands in hers. “That’s a relief. You are my only friend and I really don’t want to lose you.”

“That will not happen.” She smiled back, linking their arms

“And now for some food!”

As they continued to walk through the crowd, conversations were stopping around them as people turned to stare. Still others tapped their companions arms and pointed at the strangers in their midst.

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 12 – Modesty (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 12 – Modesty

Lynsey felt ill at ease as they arrived back at the house. What Illyara had said about following them was right, but it didn’t make it any less hurtful because of it. It felt like one of the cornerstones of her new life had collapsed. She’d thought that she could rely on Illyara but it felt like she couldn’t. But then again, she did save her by getting Arkan to the house. Oh, she didn’t know what to think. She hardly noticed when Arkan knocked on the door but she saw with satisfaction how the butler’s eyes widened as he saw the trio. She was missed then. The man ushered them into the reception room.

Illyara perched on the edge of the settee and Lynsey moved to sit on the other end. She bit her lip. It didn’t feel right being upset with her friend. She glanced at Illyara and almost chuckled at their body language. Their knees and torsos faced away from each other. This was ridiculous.

The whisper of material made her look up to see Arkan stride past them and take his customary place at the window. The silence, only broken by the ticking of the clock and their quiet breathing, was broken moments later by a maid clattering into the room. Three short glasses filled with an amber liquid jostled together on a small silver tray she carried. The maid offered the first drink to Arkan, who picked up the glass without hesitation. He held the glass in his palm for a moment, swirling it with a slow, lazy movement. He bent his head and his dark curls fell forward as he sniffed the contents before draining it in one draught.

Next, the maid crossed the elaborate pattern in the beige carpet to offer Illyara, the second glass. She shook her head at the invitation.

“You really should. It’s a good quality brandy, it will settle your nerves after today.”

Illyara and Lynsey exchanged glances and Lynsey shrugged her shoulders at her. Illyara picked the nearest and Lynsey grasped the third glass from the tray at the same time. The brandy smelled rich and reminded her of Christmas. She almost laughed out loud.

“Lynsey, you are in shock.” came Pico’s concerned thought.

She sobered at the intrusion. It was hard to get used to him doing that. She tilted the glass at Arkan and gulped it, letting the liquid burn her throat as it went down. Seconds later, Illyara bent her dark head forward and took a sip.

“Is there anything else, Sir?” Arkan shook his head at the maid’s question and she withdrew from the room, taking the two empty glasses as she went.

Luna burst in through a second door.

“I am so sorry.” She pleaded, lurching straight to Arkan. She looked slightly drunk.

What was Luna playing at? The woman was all over him. And, more importantly, why did she even care what Luna did? Not taking her eyes off the pair, Lynsey grabbed the other glass from between Illyara’s hands and downed it. Warmth flooded her bones. This really was good stuff. She couldn’t help but notice how Luna’s dark beauty matched his. They would make the perfect couple, Lynsey thought, bitterly.

After hearing what must be the tenth sorry, Lynsey was getting irritated. Why was Luna apologising to Arkan so much? He didn’t own them. They were perfectly within their rights to have a walk if they wanted to. Granted he did rescue them but given time, with Pico’s help she was sure she would have escaped on her own.

He kept looking at her over Luna’s shoulder with those puppy dog eyes. God, he is so damned gorgeous! If they had been back in London she had to admit, he would have been her type. She loved the combination of long shoulder-length curls with matching brown eyes. He had a strong jaw and his muscles! If he was back home, he would have spent hours in the gym to get those pecs.

He’s crowing, she realized. He’s feeling like my knight in shining, bloody armour and I’m just supposed to simper at his feet now am I? I don’t think so!

Across the room, Luna had turned to observe her two house guests. She arched her neck to see Arkan was also looking with an expression she hadn’t seen before. So that’s the lie of the land is it? She sighed. Luna knew she could never keep him anyway but she thought her rival would have been some provincial girl with less brains than a Hreshat. This girl didn’t deserve him, she was reacting so strangely. It was like she didn’t want to be rescued. Maybe she didn’t understand what would have happened to her, Luna reasoned. She acted like everything was a game.

Over the last couple of days, Luna had watched them as they had shopped and moved around Ghinari. There was no point showing your true face until you knew what you were dealing with, but they had to be worth the risk. She had always liked an underdog. Lynsey was tough, there was no denying that. She reacted differently to anyone that Luna had met before, yet she had a soft quality. A combination hard to resist for most men. Would she be able to keep Arkan’s attention? Time would tell.

Luna twisted to get a better look at Illyara. Her friend was also interesting. There was the question of how she got away from the kidnappers. Luna’s brows furrowed. No one had seen her come back into the house earlier and she had posted guards on all the doors as soon as she realized they had gone.

“We should probably go to bed.” She heard Lynsey say.

“Oh no, darling.” Luna purred, moving away from Arkan to take her hands. “Don’t you see? We have to go to the banquet now. It will be safer if you do. The king has tried to kidnap you. If you want to be safe, you will need to be presented to court in the most ostentatious way possible. Everyone must be talking about you and your connection to my family. Everyone must know you exist!”

Arkan nodded his head in agreement. “You need to go now more than ever. Luna is right as always. Do you have everything you need?”

Lynsey stared at her rescuer and benefactress in dismay. “I don’t want to go out now. I’ve just been kidnapped! All I want is a bath and bed.”

“You shall have both, the first now and the second tonight AFTER the banquet. I will send my personal maids to you to make sure that you will make an entrance that this city has never seen before. The only safety for you now is notoriety and I am the perfect person to show you how to get it!”

Luna rang the bell dangling on a powder-blue leather rope beside her and Tar opened the door, his eyebrow gently raised. Luna gestured to Lynsey and her friend.

“Send Mari and Tegan to their rooms. I want them to look fabulous for tonight.”

“My lady.” He replied and withdrew making no sound.

Lynsey looked at the faces surrounding her and sighed. They were right. All she wanted to do was snuggle into bed at home with a pint of ice-cream – low fat of course. No, dammit, Cornish cream and as many bars of chocolate she could stuff in her face. Her stomach growled audibly. She hadn’t eaten a good meal for days and just maybe the food at this dinner would be worth it.

Lynsey rose to her feet and Illyara pulled her to the door, leaving Luna and Arkan talking. When the door was closed and Illyara was sure no-one was listening she grabbed Lynsey by the hand. Her other hand lay on the rail at the foot of the stairs.

“You know I had no choice, you have to understand that.” Illyara began.

“I know, but I can’t help feeling that you left me behind. How did you get away? One minute you were there the next you weren’t.”

“I did tell you.”

“Tell me what?”

“That I can disappear – like your bracelet.”

“No you didn’t!” I would have remembered that!”

Illyara sighed, I did but you weren’t listening. It is an ability that my people have. We would have been wiped out during the time of the pyramids if it weren’t for it and in fact we were instrumental in the uprising. We have to be very careful not to show it. If anyone outside of the family knew what we could do, our children would not be safe.” Illyara made a second check around her. Lynsey blinked and she was gone. Before she had time to register surprise Illyara was back again.

“Why are you telling me?”

“You are my friend and I think we are more alike than you think. We are a peaceful people and don’t like confrontations but we will protect our own and that includes our friends.”

Lynsey returned Illyara’s smile. “When you put it like that. I suppose if they had knocked you out as well, we might still be there.”

“I don’t know, I saw you fight. That was amazing. I wish I could do that but it is against the ways of my tribe. It was amazing to watch though.” Illyara’s eyes were practically shining at the memory.

The route to their room was marked by large cloth paintings hanging from strips of wood attached to pristine white walls. Lynsey knew they were near their room by the sultry depiction of a lady atop a horse. She seemed to smile at them with her hands raised as though to brush her jet black hair away from her eyes.

Through the open door, she saw two maids were busily arranging objects ready for their transformations.

“I hope they have proper baths here.” Lynsey said as she closed the door behind her.

They did have baths, in fact there were two in the same room. The air was humid, suffused with the smell of the most gorgeous bath salts she had ever experienced. A heady mix of, what was it? Oh, lavender! …and something else was seeping into her soul, making the events of the day start to feel a little further away than it had just moments before. Lynsey revelled in the feeling. It had to be citrusy, no, it was earthier than that. She shrugged her shoulders and laughed at herself. Did it matter? She gave up trying to identify the second smell and she couldn’t be bothered to ask Pico.

She brushed her hands over the water to find the water was warm enough to get into but not too hot. She groaned with relief as she lowered herself into the water an inch at a time. The salts softened her skin as soon as her body touched the water and the heat felt like it was melting her troubles away. She cupped a handful and splashed it over her front, the temperature was perfect.

This was the best thing to happen since she had got there. She dunked her head under the water and brought it up again to see Arkan at the end of the bath grinning at her through the dripping fan of her hair.

Lynsey’s heart jumped and she screamed, grabbing the towel that the maid had left on the stool beside the bath. She hastily arranged it around her exposed body.

“Do you mind!”

“Not in the least. Your body is quite delightful!”

“That’s not what I meant. You shouldn’t be in here!”

“I need a bath as well after that rescue.” He brushed some imaginary dust off his shoulder with his hand. “That place could have done with a clean and brushing up against dirty walls before a King’s feast is just not done. Did you not wonder at the other filled tub?”

Lynsey looked where he pointed. There were curls of steam rising from the bath. A spare green towel was folded neatly on the stool beside it. As she had climbed in to her bath she had assumed that it was for Illyara. He followed her gaze to the bath, to the door and back again, guessing what she was thinking and grinned again.

“Illyara is choosing what to wear.” You will need both Mari and Tegan to get you ready while you are being made beautified.” He looked at her up and down in admiration, “…which won’t need that much, Illyara will be having her bath while you are being attended to.”

“You can’t have a bath while I’m in here!”

“Why ever not?” Arkan asked. Taking off his shirt, he revealed broad shoulders and an athlete’s body. She saw with concern, small white scars criss-crossed his front. She crushed the impulse to trace them with her fingers.

“Because, I’m in here and I’m naked!”

“You are worried about being naked? You shouldn’t, you are actually quite beautiful.” He replied while hopping to get one trouser leg over his foot. “Are you worried about that kind of thing where you are from? Where was it again?”

Lynsey blustered. “Earth and we don’t have baths in front of strangers!”

“We’re not strangers. We have known each other for a couple of days now and haven’t I just rescued you from a dread fate?”

She caught a glimpse of his rear as he climbed into the bath before she closed her eyes. Yes, but this was a whole new dread fate. Pico chuckled in her mind.

“We are not prudes, we just don’t like showing our private areas to all and sundry.” She breathed in and out letting the heat and smell of the bath soothe her. She wasn’t going to be riled by him. In fact she was going to ignore him. That was the way to deal with this sort of person.

She lay back in the bath, keeping her eyes closed and crossing her arms. She began to count the good things that had happened since they arrived. Even Pico was keeping quiet. She felt his amusement as he stirred in the depths of her mind. Come to think of it. Pico was very like a phone. Constantly there, reliable, all the information you could want at your fingertips if you want it. He could even be used as a compass! The only thing he couldn’t do was get stolen. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. She would never get lonely with Pico. Maybe if she just thought of him as a flat mate but instead of a flat, he was in her head.

Arkan began whistling beside her. She ignored him. He was just trying to get her attention. She sneaked a peak at him and he was looking at her with that insufferable grin. She turned away.

This time he started singing with some whistling accompaniment

“There was a young lady from Earth,
Who wouldn’t show her smurth
A man crept up beside her…” There was a splash.

Lynsey’s eyes shot open but he was still in the tub with that same grin. That is enough! She wasn’t going to take anymore. She pulled the already soaking towel and wrapped it around herself while standing. She clambered out with as much grace as she could muster, almost dropping the towel in the process. She stood for a moment realigning the material, and her dignity and ran out of the room to him roaring with laughter behind her.

Illyara stared at her with incredulity as she rushed back into their shared common room. Water dripped over the floor. Lynsey swiped her hair from her face, over the head, drenching the bedspread through the open door with scattered bath water behind her.

“That man is incorrigible!”

“He’s what?”

”Insufferable, annoying, up himself, pain in the neck…”

Illyara face showed no emotion, “What happened?”

“He had a bath beside me.”

“He had a bath beside you and that made you leave the bathroom without drying properly. Your world must be a strange place.” Illyara stood up gracefully and threw a towel at Lynsey. I am going to have my bath now. Tegan and Mari are in the receiving room. They have got a gorgeous dress for you.”

From a person who came from a culture of different tents for different sexes, Illyara was acting really strange. She would have acted a lot worse if it had happened to her. Then again Arkan was still in there. Lynsey shook her head. Maybe she didn’t know Illyara quite as well as she thought she did.

Hung up on the clothing rail that lined the room, a dress made her stop and catch her breath. It was indeed beautiful. On Earth it could easily be a, if slightly unusual, wedding gown. She ran her fingers along the material, it felt like silk. The ivory outer layer was inlaid with small pearls sewn into the bodice material. An inner lining of fuchsia pink was offset against the outer layer to peek through. “It’s the same colour as that plant we saw in the desert.” She mentally sent to Pico.

“Of course. The barygsre was – or should I say is, also used as a dye.” His voice took on a curious tone. “I agree. The dress is visually pleasing.”

Mari, took the dress down and the long skirt pooled against the floor. Lynsey breathed out gently. It was what she would have chosen if she ever got married. It was her dream dress.

“Do you like it Ma’am? Illyara chose it from the dresses sent over this afternoon while you were out. Mr. Blade ordered them especially.”

“Arkan chose this?” She pointed at the dress.

“Yes ma’am and several others but we thought this would be the one for you to wear for your first presentation.”

How could she reconcile the Arkan from the bathroom with the soul who could choose something as stunning as this dress? Lynsey touched the soft silk again with reverence. Whatever she thought of him. The guy had taste.

The door from the corridor opened with a slight whoosh and Tegan breezed in offering another towel to Lynsey. She didn’t say a word but her eyes pointed to the droplets on the floor from Lynsey’s waterlogged hair. Lynsey felt heat radiate from her cheeks. She quickly dried and the maids handed her clothing one by one They layered the garments. Underwear first, then petticoats and a bustier was hauled tight until she squeaked. Finally the dress was pulled over her head and she was drawn over to a mirror.

“You look lovely Ma’am but we haven’t finished.” Tegan pulled Lynsey with her as she was backing away. “Mari is the best hairdresser in all of Duat! The king has tried to lure her for his mistress. It was probably more the mistress than the king though.” Tegan winked at her. “I can’t imagine that the king is that troubled with her hairstyle.”

Lynsey sat by the dresser as Mari began to work on her hair. What could loosely be described as a dead rat’s tail that had gone through an electric shock followed by a gale became an elaborate hive of defined curls with pearls and diamonds dripping through like the tributaries of a river. She noticed everything was done to accentuate her blond hair.

“Mari, why is everyone so obsessed with blond hair here?”

“Are we? I never thought about it like that.” replied Mari, taking a clip out of her hair and slipping it into her apron. ”It’s just rare. I heard there were blond people centuries ago but most people had brown or black hair and when they married and had kids, most of the babies had brown or black hair. Eventually there were no blond children. I think people just like what is different. The exotic if you like. It’s nice. You will be feted tonight. You might even be courted by the King! You will be the most exotic creature there.” Then she added a second later in a lower tone,  “Which will put a great big dent in Mistress Frassill’s nose.”

“Who is Mistress Frassill?”

“The King’s mistress of course. Thinks of herself a little above her station in my opinion.” The maid’s expression in the mirror was not flattering.

“You don’t like her then I take it?”

“She was the Queen’s handmaiden and took her chance. She wasn’t nice before the King took an interest in her. Now she could make even Set look like a neteru.”

“What’s a Neteru?” She asked Pico.

“Angels.” He supplied.

“She must be beautiful then.”

“There is no denying that, but she has a dark heart. There,” Mari twisted the final strands and secured it with a clip, “she doesn’t hold a candle to you tonight”

“Indeed.” Arkan strode in and balanced against the corner of a nearby table, crossing his legs. “We will have to come up with a story. It is inconceivable that a blond has emerged and no one has heard about it for twenty years.” He cocked his head as if in thought.

“I think she may have been the daughter of Baron Redcher. There was talk of a blonde boy going back a few generations. Surely it is a possibility that another could happen? Unlikely but possible.”

“What happened to him?” Lynsey leaned forward to hear better, exposing a little cleavage.

Arkan coughed and shuffled his position. “The Baron went missing about thirty years ago, travelling around the islands. He was an explorer, you know. He’s probably dead by now but maybe he had a child with a local woman.”

Lynsey followed Arkan’s gaze down to her chest and gave an inward smile.

“He is biologically interested in you.” Piped in Pico.

“I can see that.” She shifted slightly so he could get a better look.

“Why are you doing that? You didn’t like it when he could see your body in the bathroom.”

“This is different, Pico. This is called flirting. It’s fun!”

“I don’t understand.”

“That’s alright, you don’t have to but if I’m going to be stuck on this god forsaken planet with no internet, books or television then I’m going to have to find some other way to have some fun.”

“You are playing with fire!”

“Without fire, we’d still be living in caves.” She felt Pico slink off to a corner. Round 1 Lynsey 1, Pico 0, she thought with satisfaction.

“I like your idea Arkan. It would explain my lack of knowledge of how things work – of your manners and history.”

“Perfect, then that is settled, we shall do that.”

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 11 – Rescue (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 11 – Rescue

Arkan twiddled the point of a dagger against his finger, testing its sharpness. His feet lay on the window sill and the sun streamed through showing flecks of dust floating in the air. He shuffled in the padded seat to get comfortable. A tiny rivulet of blood ran down the blade and his mouth tightened as he watched it pool, hanging for a moment in the space between the blade and the hilt before dropping to the tiled ground.

It was still hours until the banquet and he wasn’t expected to be on time. No one ever expected him to be, Arkan thought grimly, or if they did, they’d rather he wasn’t. A flash of blonde hair and curious eyes invaded his thoughts. He was thinking about that damned girl again. This was getting ridiculous. It would be sensible to think about the Osiris band. That was power. But it wasn’t the band it was the girl his thoughts kept returning to. The way her hair fell across her shoulder. Those grey eyes – so expressive but not saying anything. She had spirit, he had to give her that. No one talked to him like she did. Almost as if they were equals. That was impossible. She was a nobody and he was the king’s assassin; she was a girl and he was a man. He couldn’t marry her anyway. Why did that even pop into his thoughts? He shook his head. He had to get a grip. Obviously nothing serious could happen but then again what was there to stop him having some fun?

He shot up from the chair. He needed to check up on Lynsey Walker and her friend.  The sooner he could solve the riddle of the Osiris band, he justified to himself, then he could have it. She said she didn’t want it anyway. He could leave this life and move away in luxury. The faster he could get that girl out of his thoughts, the better.

Arkan paused at the door, there was something else. He had a hunch that something wasn’t right. Even if no one knew about the Osiris band, Lynsey’s unusual hair and colouring would make her a prize worth having. He wouldn’t be the only person interested. He hadn’t been happy with the King’s demeanour when he talked about her. He couldn’t shake a sense of unease as he left his apartment.

He arrived at Luna’s house to find the household in an uproar. The butler let him in without the usual courtesies and he was ushered in to see Luna within seconds of his arrival.

“They’ve gone!”

“What happened?” He demanded.

“We went shopping this morning and I went to my room to get ready for tonight. Tar saw them leave around a half hour after we got back.” Arkan looked to the butler who inclined his head to verify her story as he left the room.

How could she have let them go? Sudden fear suppressed his patience for the woman in front of him. “I asked you to look after her!” Arkan raised his hands in the air gesticulating. “You have enough men here to guard the palace!”

“You didn’t exactly tell me she was to be treated as a prisoner, my lord.” Came the prim reply.

A quiet knock at the door kept him from saying anything more.

Illyara stepped through, ushered in by the butler. She was out of breath but otherwise collected.

“Lynsey needs our help. We went for a walk in the park. We did not think it would be dangerous in this neighbourhood.” She took a quick breath. ”We were set on by some Ne’er-do-wells. I managed to escape but they have Lynsey.”

Arkan took a step closer to Illyara. “Gods alive! Can you tell me anything about the attackers? Did they have any insignia? What colours were they wearing? What did they look like?”

Illyara tilted her body away, glancing back at the door.  Her face screwed up in impatience. “We do not have time for this. We need to get to her quickly. I followed the men to a house on the edge of the park. There were guards all round it. I can’t get in to help her!”

Arkan was impressed. This chit of a girl had followed her attackers to help her friend. She was brave, if not maybe a little stupid. She would not have survived if she had been directly attacked.

“Come with me!” He ordered.

He swept out of the door, Illyara. Luna and the butler trailing behind. He whistled once outside the door and a black horse trotted up to stand beside him. It whickered next to him. He jumped on to the horse with one easy movement and helped Illyara in front of him. He felt her body tighten underneath him. Whatever did she think he was going to do to her! He sighed. You can take the girl out of the desert…

“We will be back soon.” He called out to Luna. “Stay here, I will bring her back.”

He kicked the stirrups and they cantered down the road to Illyara’s directions. The path was meandering. She must be pointing the way that they had walked, but of course she did not know the area. He breathed out in frustration. This was slow! He breathed in and out and let the rhythm of the horse calm him. He couldn’t panic, Lynsey’s life was in danger. Illyara was not to know. She couldn’t have the knowledge to get around the city like he did. He ground his teeth in frustration but he was grateful for the help she gave. When he sensed the girl was becoming nervous, he slowed down.

“How far are we from the house?”

“It’s around the corner.”

“Right, I need you to look after Night Shade. Make sure she doesn’t run off and I will be back with Lynsey shortly.” There was no way the horse would leave without his permission but she was not to know that and he didn’t want to have to worry about her as well.

She seemed grateful, if a little doubtful but she slipped down from the horse and took the reins. Arkan jumped off the horse and faded into the shadows.

Arkan had been trained by the best knights and guards that the land held until he hit seven summers. He had the potential to become the King’s personal guard but after his father died, no, murdered, his jaw tightened as he moved through the trees. He joined the Assassin’s guild.

He had proved himself early and within a couple of years became the prodigy for the master assassin himself. If Arkan didn’t want to be seen, he wouldn’t be unless you were expecting him and even then, many had died trying to bargain for their lives.

Arkan crept around the back of the house, noting that there were two guards patrolling counter to each other in the grounds of the small house. This was unusual in itself. Why would someone who would live in such a mean house need so many guards? The annual cost alone would be more than the house.

He shimmied up a drainpipe, pressing close to the wall when one of the guards passed underneath. Using his fingertips he grabbed hold of a window ledge, clawing his hand forward so he could fit the entire width into his hands. He hung in space and listened hard. He could hear voices so he waited. His legs dangled freely but he was in no hurry. He could easily hold this position for an hour if need be. Directly above him he identified the voices as two men. Their grating voices and harsh accent told him they were from the Eastern Isles. Interesting. He inched to the right and began to sway from side to side until he had enough momentum to get to the next window with ease. He swung up so he was standing on the ledge. His thin soles enabled him to grip the ledge with his toes while he used a small blade he kept strapped to his ankle to open the window lock. He was in.

The room was large. It had a king sized four-poster bed with rich velvet hangings. This gave him pause for thought. He’d seen hangings like this only that morning. Surely the King would not risk the wrath of such a well-connected family as Luna’s? Unless he suspected that the girl was not a relation. It would not have taken long to find out that Luna had no blond relatives. The birth of a blond baby would have been gossip everywhere. No one had seen one in over a century. He must have made enquiries. Arkan froze near the door. This made him even more uneasy about their morning conversation.

Arkan debated whether he should rescue her. The king may not suspect him if he was careful but if he did then Arkan could find himself on the run. He paused again. He did complain and he did sometimes feel like he wanted to get away but if he was really honest with himself, he liked his life. He had to ask himself, was Lynsey or even the Osiris band worth it?

The moment of indecision was just that, Arkan entered the room and opened the door a crack. When he was sure that no one was in the passageway he crept downwards. He reasoned they would not want anyone to see her through a window so the basement was the only option.

There were no more guards until he reached the stairs leading to the basement. The man was wearing non-descript clothing but Arkan could tell by the man’s bearing that he usually wore a uniform. His lack of alertness showed that he was merely a guardsman, possibly one newly conscripted. Arkan hazarded a guess that the man volunteered for the job because he thought it would be an easy ride. How hard could it be to watch two girls? It would be even easier in his mind, now there was only one.

Arkan pushed some debris from the stairs so that it fell down a step making a small thud. The guard jumped and stepped forward. His brow furrowed and Arkan held his breath, worried that the man wouldn’t take the bait. The guard looked down the stairs behind him but seeing nothing amiss, he moved towards the stairs with his sword upraised. Arkan lithe as a cat, jumped silently over the banisters to come up behind the man and hit him on the side of the head with the back of his blade. He caught him before he fell. Gently he dragged the man to the wall and deposited him, deftly taking some keys from the guard’s belt with only the sound of a soft clink to betray what he was doing.

Arkan pressed his ear to the door and listened for any signs of life behind it. There was no sound so he put the key into the lock and twisted it quietly, there was a soft click and he gently pushed the door open. It was darker in the room and it took him a second for his eyes to adjust. He was almost blind as he stepped through but he spotted the fist coming at him with a second to spare as he ducked and rolled into the room. She came at him using moves he had never seen before. He was amazed. In all the years of his training, he was not going to be beaten by a small girl he could break with his thumb. If – he – could- just -get -hold -of- her. He whirled around, parrying her jabs and kicks easily. She was starting to tire and he was able to get her in a neck hold.

“Lynsey.” he panted. “It’s me, I’ve come to rescue you.” Lynsey struggled for a moment more before she collapsed in his arms. He gently picked her up and they crept back up the stairs to the room where he entered the house.

He set her down on the bed and turned her to face him. He gently wiped away a stray tear from her eyes and tilted her chin up to look into her eyes.

“Lynsey, we need to get out of here. Can you wrap your legs around my waist and hold on to my shoulders as I climb down? I can’t carry you any other way.” She nodded.

“There is the problem of your hair. It is going to stand out.”

Lynsey nodded and bent down to her skirt. She ripped a length off and tied the material around her head turning it into a head scarf.

“Is this better?”

“Perfect.” He replied. “We need to get out. The best way to do that is if you climb on to my back and I’ll get us both down.”

She looked sceptical but clambered on to the bed while he turned around. She jumped on to his back and he hefted her weight on to his shoulders to climb out of the window. Within seconds they were on the ground and within another minute they were with Illyara.

Lynsey halted a few steps behind him and he turned to see what the problem was. She was staring at her friend with a disbelieving look.

“You left me.” Arkan saw she was having difficulty getting the words out. Illyara shook her head.

“I had to follow you to see where they would take you. I brought Arkan!”

Lynsey’s face was pale. She didn’t look like she would be forgiving Illyara very quickly. Arkan stepped between the girls and picked up Lynsey with ease. He held her tight for a moment before depositing her on the horse with Illyara moments later. Mindful that Night Shade would not be able to go far with three weights, he knew the guards would be searching soon. They would assume that Lynsey had escaped but that she was on foot. He whistled and Night Shade trotted back to the Duchess’ house while he easily kept pace jogging beside them.

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 10 – Kidnapped (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the tenth chapter of my serialisation of Accidental Immortal, on my blog. It 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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 10 – Kidnapped

“That looks beautiful on you.”

Illyara looked down at her dress. She puffed out her cheeks then let out her breath slowly. “You are spending too much money on me.”

‘It’s not my money. Easy come, easy go.” Lynsey picked up a glove from a pair from an adjacent counter. She drew the length of silk through her fingers and looked up at Illyara again.

“I found it all at the pyramids. I don’t really have anything else which anyone would find useful in this world. I would be destitute here if it wasn’t for that stuff.

“Besides we wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for you and your family.  I probably would have died if I hadn’t found your tribe. I owe you.”

Across the room, she noticed Luna was trying on another hat. Lynsey grinned, that had to be the fifth creation that the shop girl had brought. She watched as the woman twirled in front of the mirror, delight splayed across her face in the reflection. Catching sight of Lynsey looking at her, she halted mid-pose. Lynsey nodded at her, giving her two thumbs up. Luna looked confused but smiled back, taking it as a compliment. She called for the next hat.

“Are you still going to try and get rid of the bracelet?” Illyara asked climbing back into the dress she had arrived in.

“I don’t know now. It is heavier than it looks which does make it uncomfortable but I am getting used to the feel of it.” She looked down at her wrist.  “But now that I can’t see it, I almost forget I have it on.”

“There must be a reason you can’t take it off.”

“Pico says we need it to understand each other.”

“Who is Pico?”

“Pico…” Lynsey realised that she hadn’t mentioned him at all to anyone since she’d arrived. Pico become more alert, shooting blues and greens in her awareness. To her surprise, she suddenly felt protective towards him.

“Careful Lynsey.”

She felt his fear, the bright colours turned to murky browns and blacks, swirling slower than usual reminding her of mud or thick dark chocolate in the recesses of her mind. Yet she could tell he was interested in how she would answer.

Should she tell her? Illyara was her friend.  The only person she could trust in this strange world.  She didn’t – couldn’t, know the people here, what their agendas were or how things worked. But, if she was going to tell someone then Illyara was a good bet. She didn’t even know Arkan. His face popped into her mind. Why was she thinking about him again!

“Pico,” She started again. “he’s a creature that was put in me by the bracelet. He’s a voice inside my head.”

“You hear voices?” Illyara’s voice lowered in concern.

“He’s not just a voice, he’s real. He doesn’t talk a lot but says he can help me.”

“At least he is not a malevolent voice.” replied Illyara after a moment. She knelt down beside her friend. “Is he how you made the bracelet disappear?”

“It hasn’t disappeared. Here, feel it.” Lynsey pulled Illyara’s hand and placed it on her arm where she could feel the band. “See, hard metal.”

Illyara snatched her hand back, rocking on the balls of her feet as she regained her composure. She reached out her hand and touched Lynsey’s wrist again.

“Oh I see. It’s like when we hide. We are there but you can’t see us.”

“Sort of.” It was a strange metaphor but she could see where Illyara was going with it.

Luna’s voice drifted towards them as she approached. “Have you found everything you need?” Her perfume reached them first. The heady floral scent made Lynsey’s nose wrinkle. They had enough time to exchange warning looks before Luna was hovering over them.

“…then we need to get going. There is a feast tonight we need to get ready for.”

The journey back to the house was uneventful but Lynsey would have given anything for a mini-fan, or even a paper fan for that matter. Maybe she could invent one? She looked at Luna sitting opposite her with disbelief. She looked as cool and collected as when she first stepped into the carriage. How did she do that? Sweat dripped between her shoulder blades making her back tickle. Lynsey wriggled slightly, wishing she could scratch but she didn’t want to lose face in front of the woman.

The drawn-up blinds should have kept the carriage cooler but only served to keep the insects out. Strike that, an evil looking fly with spikes along his body landed on the slight ledge between the door and the blind covering the window. It seemed to glare at her from its perch. The spikes moved to an upright position. Was it poisonous? She couldn’t see a stinger but maybe the spikes had poison on them? A hand reached out and filled her vision, snapping the blind open and flicking the fly out of the window in the same movement.

“We don’t want that little thing in here do we?” Luna observed as she closed the blind again. She wasn’t wrong.

Within minutes, they arrived back at the house there was still several hours before they needed to leave to get to the banquet on time but as soon as they entered the hall, Luna asked their forgiveness and left them to go to her rooms.

They trudged up the stairs, followed by two servants carrying some boxes. The rest would be delivered over the next few days. The boys left the packages on a side table and left them alone, closing the door behind them. Illyara sat down first picking up some sewing that she’d started earlier while Lynsey paced the room examining the flowery wallpaper. Illyara ignored her, delicately unpicking the hem to lengthen the dress until Lynsey threw up her hands and perched on the end of a plush green chair beside her friend. She sat back in the chair and tapped her foot on the floor. Lynsey began to feel claustrophobic again. There was literally nothing to do. No television, no books, no phone or computer. What did the people here do?

“I’m bored, I need something to do!” she burst out, jumping up to pace the small room.

Illyara looked up at her with the end of the cotton in her mouth. She cut the length with her teeth and tied a knot in the end. “What do you want to do?”

“I heard Luna talk to the shop attendant about a park about five minutes’ walk away?”

“That does sound nice.” She put the garment down on a cushioned stool beside her. “Do you know how to get there?”

“I think so, she said it was left at the end of the driveway and only a couple of right turns away, to the woman. She mentioned there were some sort of rare flowers there that the girl might like. Mind you all the flowers here are exotic to me!”

“Well, that does not sound like it might be too far away. It will do us good to get some sunshine and fresh air. We have been indoors far too much in the last couple of days.”

They hurried out, grabbing cloaks hung on thin metal spikes near the side door as they exited. The air outside was getting cooler and the fur enveloped Lynsey like a hug. They would be warm enough for a short walk.

The further they went from the mansion, the more relaxed Lynsey felt. Maybe city life wasn’t as good as the desert after all. She felt like she was trapped in some twisted nineteenth century society. It wasn’t anything that Luna said, that made her nervous but she acted all vacuous when people were looking, and then there were times where there was a look that sent a chill down Lynsey’s spine when the woman thought no one was looking. The girly Luna had to be an act. But if women weren’t supposed to own anything, maybe that was the way you had to be to survive here. Pretend you are dumb to get along. She couldn’t judge. She’d been here, what? … five minutes? She didn’t know what life had been like for her. Could she live that way?

Illyara was looking at her as if she was expecting an answer. What had she asked? Lynsey blinked. Oh yes, something about gardens where she came from.

They were chatting freely along a straight bit of road when Lynsey noticed, Illyara taking constant fleeting glances behind them. Then she heard it too. The soft pad of footsteps on the dry muddy road.

“There is someone behind us.” said Illyara under her breath.

“I agree.” Pico interjected.  “He has been following us for some time.  There may also be another one across the street.”

Lynsey grew cold but refrained from looking back. This may not have been such a great idea. She should probably have told Luna where they were going. Why did she even think it was safe to go for a walk on their own? Sure, it felt like they were in a rich area. But did they even have police here? She hadn’t thought to ask. Everywhere has police. Right? She increased her steps pulling Illyara along beside her. Their shadows did the same, matching them step for step. The second right turning was coming up and Lynsey swerved into it hoping there would be someone in the park.

A dusty street lamp illuminated the dusk and she saw two more men striding towards them coming from a different direction. Lynsey began to panic. This was starting to look like a trap.

The women broke into a run, turning on to a path that branched off the main one to avoid the men closing in. Their breaths came in gasps and Lynsey felt her lungs scream as she pumped her legs on the uneven ground. She turned to look back at Illyara but she was gone. Lynsey shouted with heightened fear. She was alone. There was another shout as the men realized one of their quarry had got away.  Lynsey started to run again but she was running out of breath – and time.

Pico voice saturated her ear making her grab her ear in pain. “Stop!” She came to a halt gasping. The men were coming from all directions.  Their dirty stained clothing filled her with horror. What were they going to do?

Suddenly she felt as though she was jerked backwards but she could feel that she was still standing. She saw a gap between the men and wanted to dive between them but her body wouldn’t respond. She could still feel her body, the ache in her legs, and the pain of breathing hard on her lungs but she was now an observer. She had no control. Her body twisted around with no warning and her arm deflected the arm of the first attacker to reach her. Her foot kicked out and hit his knee. He went down as if in slow motion. The second man to his right in her vision was looking at the first and the look of surprise would have given her satisfaction if she knew what was happening. She rushed forward at him. Her right hand grabbed his hair simultaneously kicking him in the back of the knee with her hooked leg.  He fell down hard like a sack of potatoes with a muffled grunt.

She inwardly cringed at the feel of soft tissue as her foot hit between the third man’s legs. The fourth and fifth man hesitated which gave her an opportunity to run. She swerved past another but yet another appeared from behind a tree to her right. She saw him swing a long branch towards her. Fascinated she tilted her head and watched as the wood swooped towards her in slow motion. Pico’s voice was saying sorry in the distance before she lost consciousness.

Lynsey woke to a headache that rivalled the pyramid PE.

“PE?”

“Post-Earth.”

“Of course, before you say anything, I can tell you are not happy. I would like to remind you that if I hadn’t done some extra healing while you were out, you would be feeling a lot worse off now.”

“Thanks” she thought back. “Now, can you get me out of here?”

“I’ve had a look around but they’ve got us in a cellar. There are no windows and the door is locked from the other side.”

Lynsey sat up using a large wooden barrel to prop up her back. The cellar was filthy but she was thankfully alone. The only light was from a light bulb high in the ceiling.  They write in hieroglyphics but they have electricity? Strange.

She thought back to the men who caught her and her head shot up.

“You took over my body!” She said aloud.

“I had to.”

“How did you even know how to do that? Those were martial arts moves! ”

“I told you when we first met that I had full access to your memories. You took a few lessons of Jiu Jitsu while you were at university before you gave up and you’ve seen dozens of films with it in since then.”

Lynsey’s mind was racing. “Why didn’t you help me hunt?  Why did you make me do all that practicing if you could just take over and do it for me?”

“It wouldn’t have been ethical. You wouldn’t have liked that. I had to take over. They might have killed us. I never want to take over. I don’t need to. I’m just a passenger who is happy to ride shotgun.”

“I’m not happy…”

“I can tell that.”

“You can’t just take over like that.”

“If you remember, I don’t.” Pico’s mental voice was imbued with purples. He was getting annoyed.

Lynsey’s fumed. “I just want some kind of warning OK?”

“Tell you what, next time our life is threatened, I’ll ask your permission as the sword is slicing our neck in two. You never know you might be able to grow another head.”

“Ha ha, Pico. Very funny, if you could, just let me know. It’s only polite. It is my body!”

Her vision saturated with colour, blinding her for a moment. She could feel Pico pulsating in her mind. It was her body, her mind. He had no right!

“I might have been able to get away before the fighting started.” She continued. “There was a gap, I could have got through. I might have got away.”

“There was less than 10% chance that you would have got away.” replied Pico.

“You can’t know that.”

“I can. You were tired, unfit and outnumbered. We didn’t even know how many men were involved. Need I go on?”

God, she wanted to hit him. He was so smug, so right. She laughed unexpectedly. If she hit him, she’d only be hurting herself, literally!

It was just hard. He wouldn’t, couldn’t go but she was just expected to accept someone sharing her body? It was impossible. And now, he could actually take over her body? Could she trust that he wouldn’t have a change of heart someday and just take over permanently?

“I would never do that you know.” Pico’s voice was quiet in her ear.

“How can I believe that?”

“You just have to trust me! Have I done anything to make you believe I would harm you?”

“No-o-o. “ Lynsey started to pick at a stray length of cotton that worked its way free from the seam of her skirt. “That doesn’t mean that you won’t though.”

“Granted but we are going to be together for a very long time, possibly centuries. Time will show you that I mean no harm, that I can’t do you any harm. I am part of you now. What you desire, I want. It is part of my core programming. It would have been different centuries ago. I would have had to support the aims of the Egyptians. They are dust now and my only loyalty is to you and will always be to you. Do you understand?

“I think so.”

“You will Lynsey, my life is yours now and always will be.

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 9 – Arkan Blade (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the ninth chapter of my serialisation of Accidental Immortal, on my blog. It 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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 9 – Arkan Blade

Arkan stood before the king in his private chambers. The sound of courtiers in the outer audience room was barely audible, muffled by the heavy door. Large tapestries and sumptuous woollen rugs were liberally draped over the walls and floors, creating a luxury feel that could only be dreamt of by his subjects but Arkan knew that the real reason for the excess was to dampen the sounds of the occupants so their voices would not travel beyond the room.

“Did you find anything?” The King’s voice was friendly, its low tones, mellow, like dripping honey.

“I was able to view all the rooms on the upper floors. I have given instructions to the royal map maker and a finished map should be available by the morning. He has been given gold as per your instructions My Lord. He will not talk, I threatened to pay him a visit if he did.” Arkan gave a grim smile before continuing.  “The temple has more levels below.  They are hiding something but I couldn’t get to the lower levels to find out what.”

“What could they be hiding?” The king rested his hands on the windowsill looking out at the courtyard.  Arkan made sure to stay in the shadows behind him.

“A dragon?” Arkan suggested. Both laughed at the absurd notion.

“I don’t know, my Lord. But there were around thirty guards placed strategically around the building to stop anyone from finding out.” Arkan was getting tired of talking to the back of the king’s head. Something was up.

“I heard you came from there with more than just information?” The king’s voice was still soft but there was an edge creeping in that he hadn’t heard before. There was more to the question than idle enquiry.

Arkan felt his body freeze in place. His hands instinctively felt for the tips of the daggers in his sleeve. He hid the movement with a slight cough. If the king had doubts about him, then he would not be the only trained fighter in the vicinity. Unconsciously, his eyes swarmed around the room for tell-tale signs of watchers. How had he found out? He frowned at the uncomfortable thought, the king must have spies in the priesthood as well. If he did, why did he send him to investigate? Why not just ask his informant? Was the king testing his loyalties? For the first time in years, Arkan felt nervousness creep up his spine. He should report the girl but he wanted to find out more about Lynsey Walker before he told him everything. His mind was in a quandary. If he lied to the king there would be repercussions but if he told him everything, Lynsey would not be free for long. His loyalty to the king warred with his curiosity for the girl. He could smooth it over, he decided. He’d been in worst situations than this.

“There were some distant relatives of Luna Kartridge trying to get an audience with the High Priest. I believe they thought there would be a real dragon there.” Arkan hated the lie, but the Osiris band was an unknown. Could the King be trusted with that much power?

“Ah, the luscious Luna. How is she?”
“Fine, my Lord. Bored as always while her husband is away.” The King chuckled as he turned to face Arkan. The king’s outfit was more subdued than normal. The burgundy velvet hugged the man’s frame while the crisp white ruffles streamed like water from his wrists. He was playing with his cuffs, a clear sign that there was something on his mind.

“I hear that the visitor is quite fetching. Will I see her in court?”

“If Luna has anything to do with it, I would put money on it.”

“You?” The King’s left eyebrow rose in surprise. “I’ve never seen you gamble on anything in your life. But then our Luna’s passion for projects is a sure bet. Is there anything else you need to tell me?”

Arkan shook his head and moved towards the door. He stopped mid-way.  “You will have to place the High Priest on your right during the banquet.” The king groaned but nodded. He waved his arm in dismissal.

Arkan left the suite by the secret door behind the King’s bed. Only three people knew of it. The king, Arkan and the King’s mistress. Even the queen didn’t know its location although she suspected its existence.

He came out near the kitchens.  The hustle and bustle of the cooks and assistants, the pots and the pans banging and clattering – all served to disguise any sounds he might make, while the heavy hanging, while hiding the exit, gave him the opportunity to choose the moment to appear unseen into the side corridor where he could bide his time to walk out into the main passage.

The king was right. Now would be the time to break the power of the priests. They must know what they were up against. Possibly the king’s informant had a lowly status and limited access to the rest of the temple. That was it! Arkan let out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding. The informant must be the doorkeeper or someone from the kitchens.

Thinking about the temple brought the girl back into his mind. Lynsey was impossible to forget for long.  He’d hardly spent a minute not thinking of her since he met her. It was obvious why. She was manly in the way she moved, there was no finesse there but she did possess a different sort of grace. Her beauty rivalled Luna’s and her blonde hair was unusual, the stuff of legends. That reason alone would have the King interested. Everyone thought that blondes had died out years ago. …and to have an Osiris band!

Arkan swerved to avoid a beggar as he entered the main courtyard. He needed to go to the library.

“Arkan, long time no see.” A warm voice greeted him. Arkan felt himself instantly relax at the sound of his old mentor’s voice.

“Birolan, always a pleasure. How is Sir Sira?”

“He is fine. Sitting by the fire begging for a treat as usual but he is on a diet. He is the size of a horse already! Try not to give him any treats this time.”

Arkan smiled. “Old friend, you know that won’t happen.”

Sir Birolan laughed, “Aye, I do. How can I help you?”

“I’m looking for references to the Osiris band.”

“Indeed? A strange topic for a King’s assassin but I won’t ask why. You don’t get to be this old by asking why.”

“Come Sir Birolan, you are not that old. You’ll be the Librarian long after I’ve retired.”

“That is true unless you have managed to curb your impulsiveness in the last ten years.”

“I was a boy!”

Sir Birolan roared with laughter. “A boy could not have seduced and bedded the Chief Advisor’s wife.”

“I think you have it the wrong way round, old man.”

“That’s not what she said!” Birolan’s eyes sparkled at the memory. Arkan, shuffled his feet in unease. Dark memories of temporary banishment to his uncle’s estates while the furore died down surfaced for a moment before he buried it. That had been humiliating. His family connections were the only thing that saved him then and he didn’t appreciate the reminder.

Birolan decided he’d had enough fun at Arkan’s expense this time around and nodded, letting his smile fade to a gentle grin. “There should be some books in the mythology section which cover the Osiris band. Do you need help with finding it?”

“No, that’s fine.” Birolan gratefully sank back into his leather chair which was probably as old as he was. Arkan could still hear his chuckling as he walked away.

The scrolls were easy to find. The library was split into several sections. The mythology books were in the back along with the romances and other fiction. It had always aggrieved him as a child that he had to visit the girly section just to read about the ancient gods but later it made for a good excuse to meet ladies.

Two out of the twenty scrolls he pulled from the shelves stood out as holding useful information.  One had a clear drawing of the band. The tiny insignia was drawn in minute detail confirming that the girl’s band was one and the same. It was a copy of an earlier work and the section following the drawing was missing. The other scroll contained details of what the band could do.

Interesting, the wearer of the band could speak any language like a native.  It gave miraculous healing powers to the wearer and the bearer was bestowed with all the knowledge of the Gods. What drew Arkan’s attention more than anything else was the next words in the text.

The band could also be used as a weapon.

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 8 – The Luscious Luna (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the eighth chapter of my serialisation of Accidental Immortal, on my blog. It 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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 8 – The Luscious Luna

The driveway was long. The carriage made its way with only the barest sound of a muted crunch, as the wheels almost glided over the gravel. All the effort had gone into making it quiet for as far as Lynsey could work out, the suspension was almost non-existent. Her bones jarred with every bounce. She was thinking she felt like she’d gone several rounds with the world heavyweight champion when the horse’s whicker announced their arrival.

Lynsey breathed a sigh of relief. Illyara, in front of her, stretched her back, grimacing as she did so. Through a gap between the black curtains covering the window they saw an imposing detached town house. Unlike the wooden houses near the city gates, this house was made with sandstone like the temple. It was as tall as any stately home.

Lynsey pushed the carriage door open and saw a woman running out of the entrance to greet them. She was wearing a sheer satin dress which although reaching the floor, the material was almost see-through, leaving little to the imagination. Lynsey averted her eyes to a particularly well-manicured hedge cut to look like a long necked bird.

“Arkan.” The woman breathed. Her front almost bursting out of tight laces. Lynsey rolled her eyes.

“My lady.” Arkan lifted the woman’s hand to his lips while staring into her eyes. Well really, Lynsey thought. Get a room! Pico chuckled in her mind. “Stop that! It’s very distracting!”

“Who are these people Arkan?” The woman’s eyes were big and round as she looked from Lynsey to Illyara.

“I’m terribly sorry to impose on you my dear Luna but I came across these strays on official business at the temple. They are strangers to this land but they have money. I couldn’t very well leave them to the mercy of the priests could I?” They both chortled at some private joke. Lynsey stood straighter and grabbed Illyara’s hand to reassure her.

“We can pay for lodging,” She dropped her friend’s hand and brought out a beautiful necklace from the store in her bag and offered it to Luna.

The woman stared in wonder for a few seconds at the jewels before replying. “That looks like something the pyramids would have held.”

“Exactly.” Arkan said meaningfully.

Luna’s eyes looked on covetously at the offering but shook her head with regret. “I can’t accept it. That must be worth hundreds of thousands. For a few nights board and lodging that is unreasonable and one cannot take from a traveller.”

Arkan visibly relaxed. His smile widened into a broad grin and he took Luna by the arm to stand a few feet away. Lynsey strained but couldn’t quite hear what they said and the woman’s soft giggling could only make her guess.

“Why are you annoyed?“ Pico asked. “Your hands are trembling and your heart is pounding. There is no reason for this.” Then he added, almost as an afterthought. “Would you like to hear what they are saying?”

Lynsey thought for a moment. It was nice Pico was asking for a change. Did she really want to know what they were saying? It was probably private. They didn’t look like they were talking about her. Still, she was curious.

“Pico…” But before he could reply, the two turned to re-join them. She shrugged and placed the necklace back in the rucksack, zipping it closed with force. Illyara looked at her in surprise, then her lips twitched imperceptibly. She hid it behind her hands.

Just then Arkan strode up, “Luna will look after you for a few days. She says she has been a little bored lately and has been looking for a project. I will come by tomorrow to talk some more of your problem. Don’t show the bracelet to anyone, not even Luna.”

While Arkan drove away, Lynsey watched as Luna waved incessantly with quick fluttery hand movements at the carriage as it departed. It was a good thing there was a slight chill, all that energy for a goodbye would be keeping her warm.

They entered the building together and a butler, who appeared as if from nowhere, closed the door behind them.

“Are you two, you know, going out?” asked Lynsey.

“Going out?” Luna turned to face her as they continued through the hallway.

“Yes, in a relationship?”

“Oh no, I am married.” Luna showed them two entwined bracelets. One gold, one silver. Look, this is my second marriage, I have two.” She pointed out a second set on her other arm.

“Oh, you don’t have rings?”

“Why would I have a ring?” Luna gave her a quizzical look. “Anyway,” She led them up a grand staircase. “Arkan has asked me to introduce you to society as a distant relative.” Luna paused and turned around with a graceful twirl. “I find the whole thing rather exciting. It has been rather boring with Trell being away for so long.”

The corridor branched off into two more but Luna continued on, her hands gesturing at rooms ahead.  “I’m giving you the blue suite. The two bedrooms are connected and you’ll have a room to receive visitors. “

She opened a door. “Well go in, it’s yours for as long as you need it. We’ll sell one of your heirlooms in the morning and go shopping.  I do so love shopping.” She patted her dark curls and stepped out closing the door behind her. There was silence for a few moments.

“Illyara?  Do you believe what just happened?”

Her friend stared at the room and then her friend for a moment.  “No, but we can only see where it goes. What do we have to lose?”

The next morning Lynsey woke to the sound of a maid pulling curtains violently across rails. She never said a word but busied herself laying clothes on the foot of the bed and pouring fresh water into a bowl on an ornate dark wooden cabinet. She left as quietly as she arrived.

“This is all very nineteenth century. They have toilets but they give you washbasins?” Lynsey mused.

“Can we talk now?” Pico’s voice interjected her thoughts.

“You know there is nothing you can say that will stop me trying to get rid of you?”

“Do you know there is actually no way you can get rid of me? Look all I want is for us to get on.”

“The bracelet is uncomfortable. I just want it off.”

“I understand.  I feel it too. The bracelet was designed to help a priest to communicate and as a symbol of power. They weren’t really thinking about comfort. How do you think you could talk to Illyara, Arkan or even Luna without me? It has sensors to help defend you from poison, remember the water? And the only way to get it off would be to chop your arm off!”

Lynsey rubbed her hands over her face, staring up at the ceiling. She hadn’t thought of it like that.

“Do I have to spend the rest of my life hiding the thing in long sleeves?”

Pico went quiet for a moment. “In the same way I can make you understand different languages and they you, I can make people not ‘see’ the bracelet.  Would this be better?”

“Yes!” She pushed herself upright, startling the maid as she walked out of the room. How does that work? She thought to Pico.

“It is done. To understand people the bracelet picks up the electrical signals from people’s brains and then I translate them. The bracelet can also transmit signals that I send.”

Just then the door creaked open and Illyara stepped in.

“Wow, you look gorgeous!” said Lynsey.

Illyara twirled in the doorway.  “I would never be allowed to wear such a dress like this at home.” The dress was asymmetrical. One side was lower at the knee than the other. It was made from satin and hugged her curves. The sleeves cut off just above her elbows.

Lynsey dove to the bottom of the bed to see what dresses Luna had given her. It was sheer black, crushed velvet with long sleeves which reached beyond her wrists. Even with the ruffles at the end of the sleeves it was not ostentatious.  The wow factor was in the cut. She stepped out of the bed, the nightdress, Luna had lent her trailed after her. Illyara let out a gasp of surprise.

“The bracelet it’s gone!”

“Huh?” Lynsey looked down but the hated yellow band was there. “No it’s still. Oh. You really can’t see it?”

Her friend shook her head.

Thank you Pico. Lynsey mentally called. She blinked and it was gone. Yet she could still feel it.

“How are you doing that?”

“It’s still there, I’m just making sure you can’t see it.”

Lynsey touched the rich velvet fabric of the dress on the bed with her fingertips. “This one is lovely as well.”

“Try it on!”

“You are different away from the tribe.” Lynsey said, pulling the material over her head.

“No, I can just be more myself.”

As the dress enveloped her, Luna sashayed in.

“Oh good you are dressed. I hope you like them.  They are a couple of seasons old but I suspect you won’t mind.” Luna giggled. “You’ll have to put the jewellery you don’t sell today in the bank. My husband should be back soon and I’m not sure he’ll be able to stand the temptation to take control of them.”

Cold shivered down Lynsey’s back. “How could he take control of my things?” she demanded.

“Oh it’s not malicious. Surely you realize that you are not allowed to own anything.  That belongs to the head of the household. As you are pretending to be relatives that would make that him. Better to squirrel it away for a rainy day. It’s what I do. The men can’t know all our secrets!”

Lynsey looked at Illyara who shrugged. It made sense.

“…but first we need to sell something small so we can go shopping.” Luna led the way out of the room.

“Do you get the impression she likes shopping.” Whispered Lynsey. Both Pico and Illyara agreed.

The carriage waiting downstairs was wildly different from the night before.  It was a brash red with a gold insignia on the door.

Luna saw them looking at the emblem and winked. “I’m a duchess so technically I outrank hubby so it’s on the coach.  He just hates it!”

The first stop was a shop in the centre of town. Windows filled the front of the building and the proprietor was waiting at the door as soon as the carriage pulled up.

“Lady Kartridge. A pleasure as always. I have had some exquisite earrings come in just the other morning that I think you will find enchanting.”

“Really?  I must have a look before we go. The young lady beside me with the simply horrid bag has something to show you.” They both turned to Lynsey with eyebrows slightly elevated.

“Of course.” Lynsey searched through the bag and found a small cat ornament. It was smaller than the elephant had been but she was curious about how much she had wasted at the temple.

She brought it out and sat it on the palm of her hand. The shopkeeper gasped.

“It is lovely. Look at the workmanship! May I?”
Lynsey nodded.

He took it with care. Gingerly turning it over in his hands.

“It is made of obsidian.” He took out a monocle and looked closer at the eyes and collar. His hands were shaking. “These are jade and diamonds!” He looked at Luna and she gave a warning glance.

“I can give you 60,000 for it.” Luna coughed and he revised his offer.  “The diamonds are particularly fine. I can offer you 125,000?”

Lynsey looked at Luna who nodded. “That would be lovely.”

The next stop was the bank.  An imposing building it stood straddling two streets. It was two stories high with windows that reminded Lynsey of eyes watching.  They followed Luna through revolving doors into a grand hallway lined with private booths.  Each one was busy with a clerk and a patron.  They must have been sound proofed because neither Lynsey nor Illyara could hear what was said as they passed.

Striding down the room they stopped next to a desk that was higher than most.  Luna informed them that they needed to see the head cashier. He looked disapprovingly at her companions but acquiesced.

Five minutes passed while they observed the coming and goings of the bank staff and their patrons. There was a constant stream of people arriving and leaving. Eventually a gentlemen arrived. He dismissed the other as he directed them to another room down a concealed hall.

“Lady Kartridge, it is a delight to see you so soon.” He steepled his fingers on the desk.

“We would like to open an account for my cousins.  They are slightly provincial you know but they have brought a substantial sum and jewellery with them to enjoy Society. I’m sure you understand, it is not sensible to leave such sums around the house.”

“Of course, Milady.”

He turned to Illyara, “What kind of items are we talking about?” he asked, looking over half-moon glasses at Illyara. She laughed and pointed at Lynsey.

“I have several pieces that I need to put away.” She emptied the rucksack on the table.

There was silence for a moment. He pushed his glasses firmly up the bridge of his nose.

“Well, I didn’t expect there to be that much. You must have millions there.”

The clerk was suddenly galvanized into action. “Put those back in your bag and follow me.”

They exited the room from a concealed door out the back and walked through another bare room devoid of colour and furniture. The empty space filled with the sound of their breathing and the echoes of their clicking heels on the marble floor. Lynsey couldn’t see anyone but she felt as though eyes were on her.

The next door was behind a metal gate which the man opened with a heavy iron key ready in his hand before they had gone half-way through the room. The key slipped into the lock with a click and they entered a hall with thousands of small vaults lining the walls. Up to the height of the clerk they were larger and the higher Lynsey’s gaze rose the smaller the vaults became.

There were ladders spanning the height of the room along regular intersections with men and women opening and closing boxes. The clerk ignored the vaults and continued to the end of the room to press a button hidden in an intricate painted design on the wall. None of the clerks even blinked in their direction as a trapdoor opened and a set of stone steps were revealed.  They followed the clerk down with the sound of the trapdoor closing behind them.

They descended several levels, spiralling down a narrow staircase. The stone wall and floor was illuminated by lights hung at regular intervals. Lynsey, Illyara and Luna followed the clerk in single file. On the fifth level down he produced another set of keys from a pocket. They jangled while he found the one he wanted and then they entered the vault.

“Can you give me a word that you will remember? You can write it on this piece of paper and I will set the second vault door.”

Lynsey nodded, taking the yellow paper, noting a heavy metal door to their left. She started to write when she realised they probably had a different alphabet.

She looked up embarrassed. “I can’t write.”

The man looked surprised but replied. “Have you a good memory?”

Lynsey nodded her cheeks reddening. What would the others think of her?

The man took the pencil back and quickly drew some symbols.

“Here, this is your password.”

Lynsey looked in despair at the symbols. How was she going to remember those? Pico suddenly spoke in her mind.

“It’s okay. I can remember them for you.”

“Thank you.” Pico was starting to be really useful.

The man took back the paper and fiddled with the vault door. Lynsey craned to have a look and saw a combination lock with symbols through his arms. Once the man had finished jiggling the pictures into the correct sequence, he scrambled them again and turned back to face the group. Slowly with deliberation he scrunched up the paper and put it in his mouth and chewed.

“Rice paper.” Came the muffled reply to their stares.

He handed her a small key.  The handle had a circle with three bars going through it. Then left them alone.

“That’s the Egyptian number for three.” advised Pico.

Lynsey touched the first cog and Pico threw up the first symbol in her mind. Twisting it into position, Pico gave her the next and another until all the pictures lined up as they were on the paper. The lock clicked and the metal gave way easily, swinging open on large metal hinges. She threw the bag in the small room by its strap but before she closed the door completely, she had a thought. She stepped inside and unzipped the bag and took out some paper money.

“Illyara, can you look after this for me?” Her friend nodded and placed the money in her purse. I see I’m going to have to buy a purse on this shopping trip! Lynsey thought longingly of her red leather purse but the money wouldn’t fit in it properly and it was far too bulky to be concealed in the figure hugging clothing everyone seemed to wear.

She pushed the door gently and it slammed closed, making her jump. She looked around in apology and then scrambled the symbols in front of the vault. There, safe. Who would have thought she’d be rich by the age of 19!

They walked out of the room to find the clerk waiting patiently in the stairwell. Lynsey closed the vault door and locked it with the key. What am I going to do with this? She twirled the key in her hand. She didn’t want to give it to Illyara. That wasn’t fair then she laughed. Lynsey stooped down and removed her shoe, she placed the key under the strip of cloth that served as a sole and put her shoe back on.

Luna was already heading back up the stairs. “Great, that’s our business concluded here. Let’s get shopping!”

Contents

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

Accidental Immortal Chapter 7 – Assassin (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the seventh chapter of my serialisation of Accidental Immortal, on my blog, while for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at 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.

Ceri Clark

Chapter 7 – Assassin

Arkan gazed out of the window. The High Priest was taking his time reading the scroll. Arkan relaxed his shoulders and lounged against the stone window sill, giving every impression to the man behind him that he was in no hurry. The street directly below was quiet but it was to be expected during market day. He watched with interest as two figures turned into the street wearing festival garb. He was careful not to show any outside sign of his attention. Had they made a wrong turn? There was something about their manner that showed them out of place.

The High Priest coughed slightly behind him, drawing Arkan’s attention away from the view and he wandered over to the wooden shelves, closer to the man’s desk on the far side of the room. He nonchalantly picked up a hand carved statue of a dragon, turning it over in his hand with gentle movements, all the time noting the man’s narrowed glances in his direction with an inward smile. Let the priest play these silly games. He had all the time in the world. While he stood there, he was perfectly balanced on the balls of his feet, ready to move in an instant. He was aware of everything in the room.  From the hidden daggers in the padded arms of the chair to the eyes looking through the walls unaware that he was watching them as they observed him.

The priest was the perfect example of his order. His red robes were impeccably turned out, his hair shorn off except for a long braid of black hair entwined with the same colour-red material. His skin was paler than normal, showing the order’s distaste of setting foot outside the temple unless they needed to. His whole attitude was of entitlement, Hundreds of years of deference to the order did not beget modesty or humility. The man was a leech. Arkan buried his feelings. He was here to observe and play diplomat not to start a diplomatic incident.

If Arkan wanted to, the High Priest would be dead before he even dropped the pen to get to his daggers.  As for the wall watcher, that had to be Fenish Gerd. A capable guard but no match for the King’s Assassin. Arkan again hid his smile. It would do no good to let the High Priest know what he really thought of him. His smile slipped. Was he getting complacent? It had been too easy to get in unseen and it was a trifle flamboyant to appear at the High Priest’s door. The king would find it funny and it did add mystique to his reputation. He laughed at himself, it was good to reflect on such things, it kept him alive!

The High Priest looked up, placing the pen exactly perpendicular to the paper. He began to tap the desk as if lost in thought. Arkan waited patiently, his thoughts turning to planning the evening’s entertainment in his mind. He could call on Luna. She’d been giving him signals for the past six months. Luscious Luna, the moniker fitted her perfectly. How her husband left her alone for so long was beyond him. He had noticed her long conversations with the king, but then again what woman would dare not reply to a king’s conversation. Jealousy briefly shot through his mind.

The tapping had stopped and Arkan moved soundlessly to stand directly in front of the desk. He smiled with disarming charm at the older man.

Summarising the scroll, Arkan’s soft tones filled the room. “The king has requested that you join him for the banquet tomorrow night.”

“I am not sure if I will be able to come.  I have some passing business to attend to with the merchant’s guild.”

Ah, that was it. The old crook had found out that Dearik Sequi was to be seated closer and therefore be honoured higher for the night.

“That is fortuitous, we also have Dearik attending. Unfortunately, you will be seated on the King’s right while Dearik is on the left. We can move you if you require?” A look of sheer delight lit up the man’s face. Arkan hid his distaste for the man’s machinations.

“No, no. That will be fine.  I am sure I will have time to speak to him during the evening’s entertainment.”

“I’m sure you will, Sir.”

The High Priest waved his arm and Arkan found himself summarily dismissed. He was bristling with annoyance when he entered the waiting room but he closed the door quietly behind him. By the time he twisted the handle on the second, he was in a better mood than when he had entered the temple.

Arkan opened the heavy wooden door quietly from habit. A young woman stood there with her hand raised as if she were about to knock. Behind her he saw the doorkeeper hunched over as he concealed a small gold item in his pocket. What would a lowly second rank brother be doing with a precious object? He looked fully at the woman in front of him.

“What do you want?”

“I’m sorry to bother you but I’m here to see the High Priest.”

Arkan looked at her closely.  Her dress was the expected festival garb but she held herself strangely. She stood straight as any woman of the nobility but her shoulders were squared, almost as if she were a man. His body tensed inwardly as if it knew something he didn’t. Her features were fair. Unusually so. Underneath her scarf, he watched as a tendril of hair freed itself from its confines. She pulled the scarf from her head in annoyance, draping it over her bag in one movement. Her hair flowed down her back like a waterfall. He blinked, she had blond hair! And her face, it was even more appealing than the luscious Luna. Who was she? What was she doing here?

He glanced behind him to see if anyone else had seen but the main door was still closed and the doorkeeper had gone back into his room. He was Intrigued. He needed to find out more.

“He has finished his audience for today. You will have to come back tomorrow.”

“Oh look, I know how this plays out. I keep coming, I bribe the doorman until I have nothing left and I still don’t get to see the Priest. Am I right?”

Arkan let a small smile play around his lips.  She was perceptive.

“Indeed it is highly unlikely that a woman will see the High Priest straight off the street. Why do you think he would deign to see such a person?”

“This!” Lynsey pulled back her sleeve and revealed a bracelet. Arkan leant forward slightly to get a better look. He contained his excitement.  An Osiris band! He’d only seem them in scrolls.

“That trinket? Why would he be interested in that?”

“I can’t get it off!” The girl’s voice went higher in her frustration.

He gently took her arm and pulled down the sleeve.

“There are better places to try and take that off. A priest from the Order of the Dragon is not one of them. Have you tried the Mages? A Healer or even a Jeweller!”

She looked at him ruefully. “Well no…” Her voice trailed off.

“Come, This is not the place. Have you anywhere to stay?”

“Not really, I came with the Bardoon and I have a friend waiting outside.”

“Great, if you have some baubles to bribe then I know of somewhere safe to stay. You will need to put your scarf back on or you will get burnt.” He waited a moment for her to put it on. He was wrong, her movements were graceful but they were just different.

They walked briskly to the entrance gaining a confused look from the doorman. No doubt returning from hiding his treasure, Arkan thought. He made no mention and they were let out without a word.

The street was hot compared to the temple and Arkan was happy to be in the sun again.  His black suit absorbed the heat but it was lightweight and covered most of his body. The slight breeze ruffled his hair. The girl easily kept pace with him, even with her cumbersome skirts. She was strange but she had good taste in clothes. The green matched her colouring perfectly. As they negotiated the stone steps down to street level. He couldn’t help but reflect on the morning. That silly man believed he was getting preferential treatment when all the time he was being played. He was getting a message delivered by the King’s Assassin and premier seating at a forthcoming banquet but the king was getting a map of the temple including the location of a basement entrance and number of guards. A success indeed.

Where was the girl’s friend? This wasn’t the best place for unaccompanied women. Arkan frowned, stopping at the foot of the steps. He looked around. This woman was obviously half of the duo he’d seen through the window but the street was deserted. His brows furrowed deeper. Had she been caught by slavers? A lone Bardoon woman would be thought ready pickings without her tribe to protect her.

A footstep behind him made him whirl around.  How had she done that?

“Who is this?” the woman asked.

Before the girl beside him could reply, Arkan shook off his surprise and stepped forward. “Arkan Blade ma’am. I’ve offered my services to help you find a place to stay and help with your problem.”

“Has Lynsey Walker shown you the bracelet?”

“Indeed she has.  Miss…”

“Illyara.”

“Miss Illyara, it is not advisable to show that piece of jewellery to a priest of the Dragon Brotherhood. Never mind the High Priest. Now I suggest we move from this place before we draw much more attention to ourselves?”

He gave a whistle and a coach pulled up before them silently. A lot of effort had gone in to making it quiet. The horses shoes were muffled, the wheels covered. A necessary perk of his office. Not anything that could be used for work off the record, it was far too ostentatious for that but when the king wanted his citizen to know he employed an assassin, then it was ideal. The black coach gleamed, its sumptuous interior was covered in blood red velvet, the horses, Ferestrian, their coats brushed and their manes braided. It was quite a sight. He was gratified at the girls’ faces.

“My Lord.” Illyara exclaimed. “I’m sorry if I appeared rude.”

“It’s nothing, we must get going.”

Arkan opened the doors for the girls and followed them in shooting instructions to the driver as he entered.  The coach set off immediately.

Through the black velvet curtains, Illyara and the other girl, Lynsey were staring at the city. Illyara as befitting a Bardoon sat ill at ease but was respectful in her manner. Lynsey seemed relaxed, almost casual.  She had a far off look in her eyes.

“May I take another look at your bracelet ma’am?”

Lynsey pushed back her sleeve and proffered her arm to give him a closer look. It had to be an Osiris band. He held out his hand above hers and she nodded her head in permission and Arkan pulled gently but it wouldn’t budge.

“That won’t do any good, I’ve already tried that.”

“One must try. How did you get it? Have you noticed anything different?”

She hesitated for a moment but then shook her head. Interesting … why the hesitation?

“Where are you from Lynsey Walker?”

Again she held a faraway look but she answered. “From Earth. I’m not from here.”

From the direction her eyes were pointing and her body language she was speaking truth. But Earth didn’t exist, it was a legend, a story told to children to help them get to sleep. But then again, so was the Osiris band. He stared at the gleaming band on her wrist. Who was she, how did she get here and what did it mean?

Contents

Chapter 1 - Duat
Chapter 2 - London - Present Day
Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat
Chapter 4 - Nomads
Chapter 5 - Scorpion
Chapter 6 - The Dragon Temple

Accidental Immortal Chapter 6 – The Dragon Temple (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the sixth chapter of my serialisation of Accidental Immortal, on my blog, while for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at 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.

-Ceri Clark

Chapter 6 – The Dragon Temple

It was mid-morning before Illyara and Lynsey approached the city gates. This was it! Butterflies swarmed in Lynsey’s stomach. What was she going to find? The rest of the tribe stayed behind. They would not go any closer than they needed to, but although Illyara hadn’t shown it, Lynsey knew she was itching to go in and see what city life was like.

“Father spent a year in Merg when he was younger. He said it was scary, but whenever Mother left the tent he said it was also exciting!” When Lynsey asked what he did in the city, Illyara smiled, the lights in her eyes seemed to dance. “We have to spend a year away to see how other people live so we know how good life is with the family. We always come back.”

From the camp, the road had been barely a mud path, but the closer they walked to the city gates the more defined it became. Their desert shoes were still silent on the ground but without the shifting sand, progress was easier and quicker. Whatever Illyara had said about her pregnant gait, Lynsey soon found that their shoes had a lot to do with how easily they walked. Illyara found that hilarious, Lynsey thought sourly. It had taken her a couple of hours before she relented and gave her a spare pair of desert sandals.

The enormous wooden doors cast a long shadow in the dirt road leading to it. It was deceptive quite how big they were from a distance. The nearer they got, more and more travellers joined them. Each wore a style which gave away their profession or status. There were merchants in coloured cloaks, farmers in cheaper home-made clothes and even a traveller troupe who breathed fire from a cart while a man shouted out what to expect later that night. The pungent flower smell that had accompanied them for hours in the desert was now being swamped by a sweeter smell from the troupe’s carts.

“They are advertising the food they will be selling with their performance.” Illyara said answering Lynsey’s unspoken question. “We sometimes meet up in the desert and they give us a free show in exchange for our hospitality and aid in getting to less travelled routes. Their popping corn is to die for!”

They fell in step behind the troupe and soon they were sandwiched between dozens of people all showing signs of tiredness but happy to be reaching the ends of their journey. As they walked, Lynsey could tell Illyara was getting nervous. Normally serene, and prone to giggle, she jumped at the slightest sound and her eyes darted everywhere but in comparison a burst of happiness effused Lynsey’s body. She was happier than she had been in all the time she had been in Duat. This was a city! She was used to city life. The quiet of the desert unnerved her. It couldn’t be more different to her life in London. Surely Ghinari wouldn’t, couldn’t be like home but probably more like Marrakesh or some Eastern city. She had never been but she imagined it would be very like this.

The cool shadow of the city walls against the hot desert sand marked the change to a narrow paved road which widened once they passed underneath the brick structure to go through a grove of trees. Were those olives? Lynsey wondered. She couldn’t quite make out the fruit and the only time she’d seen olives before was prepacked in plastic wrapping with a barcode on the front. Before she could ask Illyara, the fruits changed to the familiar lemons and then a few minutes later, orange trees surrounded them. The smell mixed with sweet spices from the cart which was still in front was heady. As they moved through the end of the tree line, another wall, this time made of sound assaulted their ears. It was filled with cries, shouts, crying, laughter, the full gamut of human emotion and then some. This was more like it!

Instead of pulling the cart into the city, before they left, Lynsey opted to put as many jewels as she could fit inside the bag she brought with her as well as in some concealed pockets that Illyara had sewn in to her clothes for her while she was ill. She couldn’t help but think that pickpockets were probably just as rife in this world as her own so she carried her bag in front of her. It was the only thing that would mark her as alien.

Lynsey wore the dress gifted to her the day before by Illyara’s parents. Similar to the outfit Illyara was wearing, rather than the drab brown outfits of the desert walk, she now wore a beautiful muted green dress, while Illyara’s was a delicate blue. They were long, just scraping the ground with narrow sleeves, which tapered to their forearms then grew into huge cuffs which dropped to their waist. The light cloth was cinched to their waists with a silver coloured braid. They didn’t have mirrors at the camp but the admiring looks from the men told Lynsey that the dress suited her. When asked, Illyara had said the tribe made them to sell during festival season along with spices and other items they collected along the caravan route.

At the entrance a gaggle of children rushed up to them offering them fruit. Their small hands tugged at their clothes. Illyara smiled but shook her head while taking Lynsey’s arm and increasing her pace. The children gave up and turned to the merchants behind them.

At a cross-roads Illyara led Lynsey away from the route everyone else was going and they walked down street after street. They all looked similar. Low one-storied houses stood crowded together constructed of mud punctuated by larger wooden structures spaced out amongst them. She assumed it was to lower the risk of fire spreading. After a half hour Illyara paused in the wide road. No one had passed them for some time and it was eerily quiet after the crowds at the gates. Their only company was a stray dog snuffling in some bushes.

“I do not know where to go from here, we must have taken a wrong turn.”

“I thought you knew where to go?”

“No one in my tribe has been to this city before. We know the Dragon Temple is near the entrance from travellers who share knowledge but, all these streets look the same!”

“We could ask someone?” It was such an obvious thing to do Lynsey expected Illyara to agree.

Illyara looked horrified. “That would mark us as lost and who knows where someone might send us. This city is full of criminals and evil doers. It would be too dangerous to ask for help in this place.” Illyara’s jaw set and Lynsey knew that she would not be able to change her mind. This was so stupid but she didn’t want to offend her friend. Let them walk for half an hour more, if they didn’t find anything then she would insist on asking someone!

They walked on for a few minutes not talking. Lynsey was getting more annoyed with every step. Soon, the streets began to narrow and fill with people selling their wares in stalls lining the street. It was soon evident that they had found a market and the further they went in, the denser the market stalls were set up. It stank. Lynsey smiled as she felt Pico recoil in her mind at the offensive smells that seemed to ooze from everywhere. It was not difficult to see why. Pig’s heads hung from hooks on market stalls, flies buzzed around the nearly rotting meat next to stalls selling cooked pies. Birds squawked beside howling wolves baring their teeth in too-small cages creating narrowing corridors by the haphazard placement of stalls. The stall owners called out their wares barely audible over the sound of their merchandise and crowds.

Lynsey feet were getting sore and it was getting hot, she wiped the sweat from her forehead with her sleeve. It may not be lady-like but stuff it, it wasn’t like mum was here to tell her off. She was tired of avoiding dung on the ground and she was hungry. They hadn’t brought any food or drink with them which seemed strange considering how much water Illyara had made her drink during their journey. Then again, Illyara had said it would take less than half a morning and they would be back before they needed to buy anything from the city. Her friend was great, Lynsey thought, but not hot on planning. What she would give for a cold pint right now!

Illyara had that vacant expression again, she looked just as lost as she had when they had stopped in the empty street earlier. Lynsey grabbed her hand. “Have you got any money?”

“A little, why?”

“We need to stop for a moment and get a drink.”

Her friend, fumbled with the edge of her shawl which had tangled with the cord belonging to a small drawstring purse which hung from her silver belt. “Here, this should be enough Remember to get back change.”

Lynsey took the coin. It was small, possible bronze, but then what did she know about metals?

“It is.”

“Butt out Pico!” She thought sharply in her mind knowing he would pick it up. Pico went silent again and Lynsey hid the coin in her palm before moving towards a vendor she’d seen with vats of amber liquid. A picture of an apple hung from a hook above the counter. The woman was short and rotund. Her long black hair was slicked back in a rainbow scarf which looked out of place against the dark brown dress and creased leather apron.

“Two of those full please.” Lynsey asked pointing to a tankard.

The woman nodded and filled the vessels to the top, placing them carefully on the edge of the stall without spilling a drop in front of Lynsey and held out her hand beside the drinks. Lynsey dropped the coin that Illyara had given her into her palm and the woman brought the coin up to her mouth and bit the coin before slipping it into an apron in one quick movement.

Illyara opened her mouth to ask for change but Lynsey kicked her in the shins. The front of the stall hid the action from the owner.

“We have been told to report to the Dragon Temple when we arrived here but we appear to have taken a wrong turn.”

The grizzled features of the woman emitted slight interest but she replied. “At the end of the market, turn left on to Butchers walk, then go straight on and turn right on to Temple road.”

“Thank you.” Lynsey took the cider and drained the cup quickly, urging Illyara to do the same. Illyara looked at the tankard with distaste. The rim looked grimy but she followed her friend’s lead. They put the flagons back down at the same time and walked on in the direction the woman had pointed.

“You were lucky.” Illyara said quietly.

“Only if we weren’t poisoned by those disgusting cups.” Lynsey whispered back.

Illyara grinned, slightly tipsy from the drink. “I do not think evil humours would have survived that much alcohol.”

It took another ten minutes to reach the end of the market but the stall owner’s directions were true. They found Temple road where she said it was. The houses changed to two and three storied buildings the closer they got and they knew when they reached a grand stone building that it was the place they were looking for. It was old, possibly hundreds of years old. Built like a fairy tale castle, it was constructed of sandstone with long thin unglazed windows on the top floor and wide windows glazed with a glass which gave off a blue sheen on the lower floors.

Lynsey looked at Illyara.

“This is it.” Illyara confirmed.

“We just walk in?”

“No, bring out one of the necklaces you found at the cursed place. One of the smaller ones. It will make a good bribe for the doorkeeper that will get you inside.”

Lynsey opened the front pocket of her bag and looked inside. If she gave away a whole necklace just at the door she wouldn’t have much left by the end of the day. The Bardoon people may not think the jewels carried much worth but Lynsey suspected that the people of Ghinari would be more appreciative of the craftsmanship of Ancient Egypt. She reached down and picked up a small elephant figurine encrusted with sapphires. She almost hesitated to take it out but if she ever wanted her body to be completely hers once again she would have to part with it.

She strode up to the gate and knocked on the door. There was no answer immediately but after a second a little panel she hadn’t noticed suddenly opened with a sharp bang.

“What do you want?”

“Hello, I would like an audience with the High Priest.” Remembering what Illyara had told her to say. She heard muffled laughter and then silence. She knocked again.

“He is busy.” The panel opened and shut so quickly she missed it. She rapped again. This time, she put her hand in where the panel shut. The door snapped against her hand. The pain was sharp but she didn’t let go. She could make out an old face with a sour expression looking out.

“Look, I have this elephant you might like?” There was a pause as the man considered. Suddenly she heard bolts open one by one from the bottom to the top and it opened slightly. Lynsey beckoned Illyara to join her but her friend shook her head. Fair enough, there was some places Illyara would not go.

Lynsey plucked up her courage remembering that she wasn’t actually alone and stepped through.

“The elephant?” Lynsey heard from behind her. She reached over and handed over the animal figurine over her shoulder without looking. This place could give any church or cathedral a run for its money. The inside was incredible. The outside facade was almost drab in comparison to this. Whoever had designed the interior was a master of light and dark. What had appeared to be a stingy use of windows on the outside created a pattern inside that made the building look spacious and grand but also strangely cosy with the use of alcoves. The man behind stayed silent for a moment enjoying her reaction.

The hall was huge. Columns reached to the ceiling, punctuating the otherwise empty square space in the centre. Great golden paintings were revealed by the light from the windows. From the floor to the ceilings the pictures dominated the room vying for attention with each other. As she looked closer she realised they were telling a story. The one in front of her was of a dragon breathing fire in a desert landscape. The painting to the right showed men in burnished red armour like she’d never seen before, leaving a city.

As she turned her head she admired the optical illusion. The edge of the alcoves were painted as was the spaces in them so whichever direction you looked you could see the complete picture. Lynsey craned her neck behind her, the painting above the door showed men travelling the desert and the last painting on her left showed the dragon doubled over with a spear poking out from his middle. Turning to the floor, she saw it was tiled with large terracotta slabs with a walkway indicated by lighter, gold tiles which pointed towards the direction of the far wall.

“Follow the gold walkway to the Solar. He is working in there this morning.” The old man went back to his post. So a jewelled elephant only bought directions here. Maybe she did have an over inflated idea of its worth after all.

“Be careful Lynsey. We don’t know what to expect but Illyara must be afraid for a reason.”

“Oh shut up. You just don’t want me to get rid of you.”

“You do realise that even if you get rid of the bracelet, I will still be here? It will just mean that you will have to learn to speak the languages by learning them. Although I can’t see how these people would have the technology to get rid of me anyway looking at what we’ve seen since we arrived in this city.”

“You would say that though, wouldn’t you!”

Pico’s thoughts turned dark in her mind, deep purples swirled with black. Good! He was feeling as frustrated as she felt. Stick to the plan. Get rid of the bracelet, get rid of Pico and then get home! She could feel her face screwing up in annoyance.

She followed the coloured tiles until she came to a door with a gold sun emblazoned on an indented panel. It had been concealed before from the main doorway by the columns. She was about to knock but held her hand back before it hid the wood. Thinking that this would require another bribe she was about to open her bag when the door opened in front of her. A young man stood there. Covered head to toe in close-fitted black velvet, his athletic form filled the doorway.  Dark brown curls shied just before hitting his eyes. His eyes, brown pools of melted chocolate, pierced through her as if her soul was bare.

“What do you want?”

Unnerved, she grabbed the end of her hair and twisted it between her fingers. She took refuge in extreme politeness. “I’m sorry to bother you but I’m here to see the High Priest.” She could have kicked herself. She wasn’t going to get anywhere if she carried on like this!

The man looked her up and down, noting her quality festival dress and unusual bag. There was something about this girl. His nose wrinkled slightly. He glanced behind him and seemed to make a decision.

“He has finished his audience for today. You will have to come back tomorrow.”

“Oh look, I know how this plays. I keep coming, I bribe the doorman until I have nothing left and I still don’t get to see the priest. Am I right?”

The man’s lips twitched for a second, making him look even younger as he assessed her again.

“Indeed, it is highly unlikely that a woman will see the High Priest straight off the street. Why do you think he would deign to see such a person?”

“This!” Lynsey pulled back her jumper and revealed the bracelet. He seemed unimpressed.

“That trinket? Why would he be interested in that?”

“I can’t get it off!” Lynsey’s voice went higher in her frustration.

He gently took her arm and pulled down the sleeve, “There are better places to try and take that off. A priest from the Order of the Dragon is not one of them. Have you tried the Mages? A Healer or even a Jeweller!”

Lynsey looked at him ruefully. “Well no…”

“Come, This is not the place. Have you anywhere to stay?”

“Not really, I came with the Bardoon and I have a friend waiting outside.”

“Great, if you have such baubles to bribe with then I know of somewhere safe for you to stay.”

Contents

Chapter 1 - Duat
Chapter 2 - London - Present Day
Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat
Chapter 4 - Nomads
Chapter 5 - Scorpion

Accidental Immortal Chapter 5 – Scorpion (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the fifth chapter of my serialisation of Accidental Immortal, on my blog, while for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at 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.

-Ceri Clark

Chapter 5 – Scorpion

Lynsey woke to the sound of the bustle of tents being dismantled and the acrid smell of fire. Her nose wrinkled, what on Earth were they burning? Then she grinned at the ridiculous thought. They weren’t on Earth!

The cushions on the far side of the tent were empty. The cloth was still rumpled so Illyara can’t have been up long. Lynsey scrabbled up pulling her clothes on with haste, discarding the crimson nightgown she’d borrowed onto the pillows she’d slept on. She lifted the tent flap over her head cautiously. She didn’t know what she expected to find but it looked like any campsite she had visited during school. Instead of a small campfire to the side though there was a blazing pyre in the centre with what looked like dung being shovelled on by a young boy. So that was the smell! There were large vats filled with a bubbling beige mixture stood on a structure over the fire. Beside them, an older woman was ladling out the food into bowls offered by each person in a straggling queue. Children and women with babies were first and there were clumps of men hanging back talking in low voices.

The smell of the mixture was earthy with a hint of unidentifiable spices which drew Lynsey from the threshold of the tent to the back of the queue. As if from nowhere she felt someone tap her shoulder from behind.

“Here, these are yours. You must carry it with you on our journey.”

“Thank you.” Lynsey took the round bowl. It already held the steaming mixture from the pots and the small cup was rim high with a light coloured tea. Both were without handles and the clay was decorated with crude pictures of flowers. They were basic but beautiful in their own way. Lynsey tentatively placed her hand into the mixture in the bowl and brought it up to her mouth as she saw others around her do. The temperature was perfect but best of all it tasted great. “Much better than the porridge packets back home,” she joked.

Illyara looked blank. Lynsey just smiled back. “It’s delicious.” Illyara nodded and turned to walk away. The tea was very sweet but as Lynsey always drank her coffee with three sweeteners, it was drinkable. A splash of milk would have elevated it to another level but she shouldn’t be picky she chided herself.

Suddenly she remembered the cart that she had left behind at the Oasis. She looked for Illyara but she was already at the far end of the camp. Lynsey rushed over.

“My things! I left them over by the water.”

Illyara smiled sadly. “Jov brought them back here last night. They are behind the tents. You should leave them behind they are cursed.”

“I can’t do that. I might need to trade some of that stuff.”

“It is true that some people will buy those in the big cities and it is not my place to say anything but I would strongly advise you to leave them behind.”

“If I carry them?”

“You would have to, No Bardoon would go near artefacts from that terrible place.”

“I was going to offer you some jewellery for helping me out.”

Illyara smiled at that. Stray curls in her hair fell forward, covering her hazel eyes as she bent her head imperceptibly. “No, Lynsey Walker. We would not take anything from that place or anything else for an act of kindness. You will learn our ways soon enough.” She brushed her hair back into place as she went to re-join the woman she was helping to bring down a tent. As more and more people finished their breakfasts, they helped the others to pack. They were like a well-oiled machine each member of the tribe knew what they had to do and Lynsey could only admire how efficiently the camp was dismantled.

It was nearly another hour before the oasis was returned to its natural state. Lynsey tried to help but found she was more of a hindrance. Their small smiles hid their frustration at the delay of explaining what needed to be done but they must have been itching to go. Lynsey gave up and packed up her own cart, hiding its contents with a white cloth. Illyara smiled with approval as she passed on her way with a pile of cushions in her arms.

“Why do they hate these things so much?” Whispered Lynsey as the girl turned away.

The priests used to put curses on the pyramids to stop looters. Who knows? They may have been heeded in this world.”

With the caravan packed away, Lynsey could see that the tribe had about fifty people with a herd of what looked like camels with antlers. The camels stood side by side, making no sound except for the shuffling of feet on the hard packed ground. Their heads were constantly moving, looking this way and that, bearing their teeth seemingly at random. The animals were piled high with possessions and those that weren’t carried heavily pregnant women and babies in embroidered seats swinging like hammocks off the camel’s humps. As they started to move out. Lynsey joined them in the back, trailing behind the children.

“I wonder how long it will take to get to the city.”

“A week.” Came a voice behind her. Illyara fell in step with Lynsey.

“How do you keep doing that?”

“You must learn to not walk like a pregnant camel with a limp. If you walk like this…” Illyara walked ahead a pace and exaggerated her movements, her skirt swishing like a whisper against her legs. “You will not only be quieter but you won’t get tired so quickly. Move with the sand, not against it.”

Lynsey copied her but it was harder than it looked. Move your hips this way, your leg that. She felt like she was walking like a pregnant goat never mind the camel which had more finesse and dignity in this place.

“It will take a week.” Illyara reiterated. “We must rest at midday during the hottest part of the day, otherwise we would lose some of the animals and our people would suffer unnecessarily.”

“Are there more places for water on the way?” Asked Lynsey grunting under the weight of the cart while copying Illyara’s gait. The trees were getting scarcer here and the sand was getting harder to walk on.

“Wait!” Called Illyara to the front of the caravan and everyone halted. Illyara scurried to a tree which had fallen. She called for a knife. A boy probably no more than a couple of years younger than the girl brought her a vicious looking curved blade which she took carefully before hacking at a couple of large branches. There were murmurs of approval from the people watching.

Illyara with the help of the boy, brought over two pieces of wood about the length of the cart. She placed one on each side of the small wagon and another boy held it up while she fixed it to the underside of the wheel. They did it to the other side.

“You’ve made a sledge!”

Illyara gave that now familiar smile. “Would you like to try it now?”

Lynsey pulled the straps over her head so they lay over her shoulders and pulled. The cart glided over the sand easily. The relief! She grinned at the three who had helped her and they bowed. The caravan set off again, this time Lynsey found it easy to keep up.

As the hours rolled by, Illyara opened up more and more to Lynsey’s questions.

“Who were those people that you spoke with when we met?”

“Mother and father, they look after our tribe. I will replace them one day,” Illyara turned away to look into the distance. “If I can find the right husband.”

“Oh, will your husband be the leader then?”

Illyara burst into a peal of laughter. “Oh no, but you cannot be a leader unless you are married. There needs to be balance in all things. I must find a suitable mate to have someone with another viewpoint who would always be loyal to me.” The swish of the girl’s skirts was soothing in the momentary silence.

“What’s a suitable mate?” asked Lynsey.

“One that will complement me. Someone that will give me another point of view but won’t be confrontational. He will have the same status as me AND I want someone who won’t annoy me.”

Lynsey snorted. “I wasn’t expecting you to say that!”

“I have years yet. There is no hurry. It took father thirty six moons to find mother when he decided to look. He says love can come in surprising places.”

“Is there anyone here you like?” Lynsey asked looking at the men surrounding them. They were tall, lanky, with grizzled features from the sun. Every now and again one of the men would lift his scarf from his head and mop the back of his neck with a cloth revealing close-cut hair. Everyone wore the same loose robes and had the same gentle eyes.

“Oh no, I couldn’t marry anyone here. We’re all family. We’re going to the city to meet up with other families. Maybe there will be someone for me there.”

“I hope so.” Lynsey had only known the girl less than a day but she hoped that she would get what she wanted.

Just before midday they broke camp to have their meal. After watching how the tents were taken down in the morning, Lynsey was able to help to erect the huge tent where everyone gathered. Brightly coloured embroidered cushions were brought in and scattered on the floor for people to relax and chat in low voices.

As with breakfast, bowls were brought out but this time they were placed down beside their feet. Young women with babies queued up at the far side and were served quickly by the older women. As they were eating, children moved around the tent filling bowls after gulping down their own. Illyara pulled Lynsey to sit beside her.

“I thought the men would eat first.”

“Why? If those that take smaller amounts eat first then the rest can be divided between the men with nought worrying that anyone will go hungry.”

“What if you take more than you need?”

“Why would you do that?” Illyara turned to face her. “You only need enough to feel full. Is that what they do where you are from?”

“Some do, I suppose.”

Illyara shook her head in despair at ‘some’ people.

“I heard that in the cities that people grow large doing that but I have never seen them. There has never been a need to go inside the walls but I may have the excuse to visit now.” Her eyes sparkled at the thought.

“You want an adventure don’t you?” Lynsey made her voice low.

“I-I-I think so.”

Lynsey turned to look at the pot. “That looks a lot like breakfast.”

“Oh no. That was cornmeal porridge. This is cornmeal polenta.”

There was a pause. “I can see why you might need to have an adventure.”

Illyara gave off another peal of laughter.

A couple of hours later when everyone was rested they set off again. Lynsey pulled her wagon and Illyara helped with the straggling children.

The sand dunes were enormous. They were miniature hills which had to be climbed one by one. At the apex of each one Lynsey saw rolling curves of sand into the distance. She had no idea how they knew what direction they were going in but Pico informed her they were going east.

“How do you know?”

“Magnetic poles,” came the quieter than usual reply. Pico seemed distracted. Or maybe he was giving her space. Who knew? Still, she appreciated the time alone with her thoughts. She enjoyed the company of Illyara and was fascinated with the nomadic life around her.

Every night was like the previous, she shared a tent with Illyara. The only difference was there was yoghurt with dinner. She loved sweet things but these guys almost worshipped it. She was surprised they still had teeth.

The next few days followed the same pattern. They walked until lunchtime, slept for a couple of hours then walked again until the darkness made it impossible.

“Lynsey!”

“What?” She rolled over and buried her head under the pillow. Surely it couldn’t be time to get up already!”

“Lynsey, we have to pack up the camp, there is a storm coming.”

That caught her attention. Not another one, she supposed that storms would dog her for the rest of her life. She jumped up and shoved her feet into her boots while throwing bedding into chests in the corner of the tent. Illyara worked beside her. “We are lucky that we camped in the open. Wear this.” She offered her a dress from her casket. Lynsey nodded and quickly donned the garment over her nightdress noticing that Illyara put hers on with practiced speed. With the dress on, all she could see of her friend were her eyes peeking through the voluminous brown material. They continued to pack away as the sound of the storm outside grew, blowing the tent flap open with a burst of sand. Lynsey turned and tripped over the hem of her outfit and fell heavily against the sturdy chest she was packing. She pushed her arm out to save herself but knocked against the chest, scratching her arm as she fell. Winded, she rolled over and began to pull herself up and paused. At eye level, behind the box was a creature with a curved tail.

Lynsey froze, half kneeling on the floor. “Illyara?” She barely whispered her name.

“Are you alright?”

Illyara wouldn’t be able to see the creature from where she was. “There is something here, Illyara.”

She felt Illyara move to stand next to her and she heard a gasp. “It is not moving, did it touch you?”

“No, I don’t think so, is it poisonous?”

“Come back slowly, it is either dead or playing dead. You must hope that it is playing dead.”

Lynsey slowly backed away into a crouch but the scorpion wasn’t moving. Illyara pulled Lynsey beside her and threw a cushion at the insect. It didn’t move but toppled over.

“It is dead. Are you sure that it did not touch you with its tail?”

“No I would have noticed that, its tail is huge!”

Illyara let a deep breath out. “There should be no problems then. There could be any number of reasons why the scorpion is dead, the one we would have had to worry about is if it stung you. The tip would have been ripped from its body and it would have died. You would already be feeling its effects by now if you had been stung.” She looked Lynsey up and down. “You seem alright we have a more pressing matter.” Illyara turned her attention back to the clothing as the entrance of the tent flapped open with another blast of sand. “The clothes will help protect you from the sand storm. We must go into the storm tent until it passes.” Lynsey nodded and followed her, carrying the last of the tent’s contents out to waiting hands.

The sand was whirling in the air as they moved outside. Men rushed up wearing the same robes, protecting their skin from the bite of the sand. They emptied the tent and pulled the tent poles down while Lynsey and Illyara helped to fold the tent material into a roll.

The visibility was getting worse and Lynsey was losing her sense of direction. The wind whipped past her, needles of sand driving into every part of her body. Through the pain she worked, following Illyara’s example until she tucked the end of the roll neatly into itself. The nearest man nodded his head with approval. He pointed to where she had to go and she pulled Illyara in the direction he pointed. They saw nothing for a moment but then dim shapes could be made out. All the camels were sitting in a wide circle, their weight holding down the cloth of a tent. As she watched, people were going under the cloth through a gap in the camels. The wind increased, it was becoming increasingly difficult to see the light brown material against the terrain. Illyara and Lynsey struggled through the wind and sand. The white grains lashed Lynsey’s hands with force as the storm’s power increased. She gritted her teeth while she grasped the tent to lift it to go inside. She pushed Illyara in ahead of her and let the material drop behind her.

The sounds of the storm muted, replaced by the sounds of low conversation. It was warm in the tent and Lynsey’s nose wrinkled at the acerbic scent of so many people in close proximity. A few lamps were lit dotted around them. Men, women and children sat cross-legged with bowls between them and a space in the middle. Inside, a young girl with an all-encompassing sapphire dress, similar in style to the one all the men and women wore, was sitting quietly. The circle of bowls had become an impromptu barrier and a focus for all eyes.

There was an air of anticipation. Lynsey turned to Illyara but before she could ask, her new friend put her finger to the front of her face to tell her to be quiet.

Lynsey dropped easily into a crouch, crossing her legs underneath her as the others did. Behind her, the last member of the tribe entered and the doorway was sealed. The atmosphere changed as the tribe relaxed. Voices fell away and everyone turned to watch the woman in blue. The sound of the sand battering the tent around them filled the silence for a moment, then the girl in sapphire began to sing.

Nobody made a sound, even the babies were suckling quietly as their mothers rocked them in the semi-darkness. With so many people in an enclosed space, the heat was making Lynsey drowsy. The beautiful voice of the girl lowered, then swooped into new highs that tingled her nerves. Her voice was sweet, yet had mature depths. It conjured images of the desert in her mind until it stopped leaving her wanting more. Then another tune started as glorious as the first.

A woman in front of her offered her one of the bowls she had spotted earlier. It was filled with cubes dusted with sugar. Lynsey pulled off her veil and reached for one of the sweets hesitantly. The tent was really warm now and a few had already taken their outer dress off. The woman with the bowl smiled and tilted the bowl slightly towards Lynsey. Illyara already had one from a different dish. Lynsey picked it up and brought it to her lips and popped the cube into her mouth. There was nothing for a moment, just sugary goodness then Lynsey’s eyes began to water. She coughed as the sweet sugar dissolved leaving a sour taste in her mouth. She choked back the noise at Illyara’s glare and grabbed a flagon of water as it passed by. Gulping down the liquid, she refused the next sweet.

The singer began another song and people began to doze around her until Lynsey fell asleep as well.

Lynsey woke, clawing at the fabric covering her, why did she have to wear it in this tent? It was too damned hot! She felt cool hands lift the dress of her but it didn’t help. She heard voices but she couldn’t understand what they were saying. A louder voice kept talking to her but it was no use. Why didn’t they speak English! Her body ached, then she was cold then hot again. She had the thought that it was the worst case of the flu she’d ever had then she fell unconscious again.

When Lynsey woke up she felt as weak as a kitten. A delicious breeze played across her features which felt good. She was rocking gently cocooned in a hammock. Through a gap in the material she saw the tan fur of the camel. She pulled back the cloth and looked out. Illyara was walking beside her with a concerned look.

“You are awake. We were worried.”

“As was I.” Came a familiar voice that only Lynsey could hear. This time Lynsey didn’t feel annoyed.

“What happened?” She croaked. Illyara handed her a leather flask of water.

“The scorpion did indeed sting you. We were not expecting you to survive but I am glad you did. You must rest now.”

“If you had been anyone else you wouldn’t have. Every time a cell died, another was replicated to take its place. The manner of you arriving in this world has changed you. The Egyptians sent perfect copies to this world that could get ill, aged and died. This has shown that the manner of your arrival has created a copy that cannot change. I do believe you may never age. You could be immortal Lynsey.”

Lynsey blinked in surprise. “That’s impossible.” She thought back to Pico.

The last few days have proved otherwise.

Another two days and Lynsey was allowed to join the others in walking. While she had been unconscious, Illyara had tied the cart to the back of the camel that carried her by the straps that she’d used to pull the cart. Knowing how much the Bardoon hated the cart, Lynsey went to untie it but Illyara touched her arm to stop her.

“It is alright Lynsey Walker. We performed a ceremony to purify the cart and contents. While we will do everything to minimise contact with it, it is fitting for the camel to take its weight while you fully recover.”

The monotony of the next few days gave her time to think about what Pico had said. Immortality was impossible but if you didn’t age then maybe you could be?

She didn’t notice the terrain change until the ground below her stopped shifting and became packed dirt rather than sand. In surprise, she looked up and saw a brick wall in the distance. It seemed the same height as the pyramids had been.

“Ghinari.” Said Illyara quietly. “The place of dreams they say. You can buy anything or anyone. It is ruled by the brotherhood of the dragon as well as a King and they are powerful. You must be cautious with these people. It is why we never enter within those walls.”

“You said there was someone I should see?”

“There is. The High Priest may know how to remove the bracelet. I will take you to him, but I cannot set foot in his temple. He is the sworn enemy of our people”

“Do you still want to get rid of me?” Pico’s voice interjected. “Without me you would not be able to speak to or understand these people.”

Don’t get me wrong.” Lynsey thought back, “but this is my body. You are just a parasite.”

“I may be a symbiont but I’m not a parasite. What I can do for you benefits you. I don’t benefit without giving. I can help you survive here. That is why I was created. It is my sole purpose. I don’t know what else I can say to convince you. You need me in this world!”

You were not created for me. Your creators didn’t send me here. I’m here by accident. I don’t owe you anything.”

Contents

Chapter 1 - Duat
Chapter 2 - London - Present Day
Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat
Chapter 4 - Nomads

Accidental Immortal Chapter 4 – Nomads (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the fourth chapter in my serialisation of my latest novel, Accidental Immortal, on my blog. While for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at 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.

-Ceri Clark

Chapter 4 – Nomads

Lynsey cracked open her eyes in the gloom and snapped them shut again. Confusion clouded her mind. Where was she? Her bed was hard and the blinking green light of her retro alarm clock was missing. She yawned and stretched as the memories from yesterday flooded back. Oh God. It had actually happened. Her eyes once again flew open to meet darkness. Considering the bed was made of mud, it was surprisingly comfortable. She reached out with her hand and grabbed her jumper under her head as she rose to sit up, wobbling slightly as she remembered that her makeshift bed was on a slant. As she sat up, lights began to glow dimly around her.

Everything that happened yesterday became clearer as she focussed on it. London, the pyramid… Pico. The low ceilings in the low light began to feel as though they were closing in.

Careful Lynsey, your heart rate has started to increase.

He was real. Bloody hell. She started to breath in and out quickly. She couldn’t catch her breath! The room began to move around her.

Hold your breath Lynsey you are starting to hyperventilate. You will make yourself ill. That’s it, hold it for 15 second. 1 – 2 – 3…

Anger flashed in her mind but she did as he said feeling herself calm down. She put her hands down on the edge of the bed beside her. She felt calmer but weak. What was she going to do She’d never felt claustrophobic before but she needed to get out. The air was dry but felt cloying and at the same time filled with centuries of dust and sand. The air swirled around her with particles as she pulled her jumper off the bed making her lungs feel tight.

The way out was simple, she was able to navigate the passageways with ease until she felt a breeze and then she was outside. Red and gold rays of the sunrise reflected on pristine sand dunes.

“That’s gorgeous!”

She immediately felt better and stretched a little more to remove the kinks from sleeping on the strange bed. She automatically moved into some deep lunges until she felt more limber. Wow, she’d never felt so good. Scratch that, she hadn’t felt so good since she had been taken ill.

“Are you feeling improved Lynsey?”

“Much.”

“Are you ready to explore?”

“Absolutely.” She felt her smile grow as the exercise lightened her mood. “I am starving, but I really could do with a drink first.”

She headed to the fourth pyramid, tying her jumper around her waist as she walked. This was the one which Pico had suggested might contain water. Lynsey began to hum as she went. The sun was warm on her back and she had a plan. When she saw the front of the pyramid, her mouth dropped in horror. While the other pyramids had escaped build-ups of sand, probably because of where the entrances were, in this pyramid … Oh God. She could barely see the doorway. It was covered in mounds of sand. How was she going to get in? She held back tears and fell to the ground at the sight. Her stomach ached with hunger and her mouth felt like she’d been sucking paper. What else was this place going to throw at her? Get a grip Lynsey she thought to herself. You can do this. No one else will. There was no other way for it but to dig through the sand.

Lynsey rushed back to the toy room. There had to be a shovel or something to move all that sand but there was nothing in the room she could use. She felt her eyes burn as tears come to her eyes at the futility of the search, she was going to die here! Then she saw it. Discarded, half-hidden by a statue she saw a tiny shovel no bigger than her hand. She bent down to grab it and strode back to the water pyramid.

It was hours before she managed to remove enough sand to get through to the door. The sun was high in the sky and every time she moved some sand, more fell to fill the gap. It didn’t help that the shovel was minuscule. It was more like a garden trowel than a spade but she did it. Lynsey wiped the sweat from her forehead as he surveyed the mounds of sand around her. There had better be water in there!

Beyond the small wooden door was a set of stone steps. She descended slowly to get used to the reduced light, feeling the walls as she stepped down. It was getting cooler the further she went and her body began to shiver. She untied her jumper from around her waist and shrugged into it again. The curved stairway seemed endless and it was the sound of lapping water that told her she was near. How was that possible? Surely, it should be stagnant?

“They were planning to dig down to see if they were any aquifers here, they must have found one.” Came Pico’s voice from all around her.

“Can you stop that?”

“Stop what?”

“That! It is very confusing, can you sound like you are coming from one direction or something. And not behind either. That would creep me out.”

There was silence for a moment and then Pico’s voice came through again from her right hand side.

“Is that better? I have detached from your auditory nerves on your left side.”

“Better.” She grumbled

As she moved even further down, lights began to turn on and she could hear something slithering in the dark further on, then a splash. Was that a snake? She shivered and this time not from the cold. There was no going back now, she needed some water and there was no one here to help her.

The cavern was vast. The same torches that had peppered the pyramids were here but in smaller number. The real light was coming from lichen on the wall which was reflecting the glow and increasing it exponentially. Taking one of the jugs from her bag, she moved cautiously to the water’s edge. It was rippling gently as it touched the stone. If there had been something there it was gone now. She filled the jug to the brim and gently put it down next to the steps and took out the second jug. She touched the lip of the jug to the water and the water erupted around her. A huge two-headed serpent rose from the water’s depth, its long neck towered above her and it glared at her, water flowing from its body. Its fangs glistened in the light.

She fell back on to the floor, still clutching the jug with her right hand. She let it go as the impact reverberated through her fingers. The stone sent shock waves through her body and her left hand grazed against the floor. Her fingers searched and felt a stone beneath her and she grabbed it to hurl it at the creature. It struck the head and the other head hissed in retaliation. It bore down to bite her but she twisted and rolled out of the way at the last second. She heard something crack as one of its heads hit the floor. She looked back and it was lop-sided as one of the heads dangled beside the other one dragging it down by its dead weight. She felt around her and found more stones, never taking her eyes from it. She hurled the stones one after the other with all her strength. Thunk, thunk, she heard something crunch and a strange sound came from the snake before it turned away slithering back to where it had come from.

Lynsey breathed hard, adrenaline coursing through her. This was better than ju jitsu! The first jug of water was still upright and full with water so she lowered the second jug quickly to fill it as she took out the bottle from her bag with her free hand. Maybe the snake had friends. That was pure luck how she dealt with that one. When everything was full, she put the bottle back in the bag, grabbed the jugs and ran out of there as fast as she could.

The moment she got outside she drank thirstily from one of the jugs. The water was cool but had a strange taste to it. Before she could spit it out, Pico’s voices reassured her.

“It’s okay Lynsey. It is safe to drink.”

“How do you know?”

“I scanned the water using your bracelet while we were down by the aquifer. It is fine.”

She wasn’t sure if she believed him but she drank what she needed quickly to avoid tasting too much. When she was done, she poured some of the water into a bowl she’d brought out at the same time as the jugs and dunked her hands into it to splash her face. That felt so good!

Lynsey was shaking when she put the jug back down. If she hadn’t rolled when she did, if that rock hadn’t been there.

“Pico! Why didn’t you tell me about the snake!”

“I didn’t know about it Lynsey. A lot has changed in the centuries. That creature may not have been discovered or it may have evolved from another creature that my creators didn’t think was worth me knowing about. It is impossible to say.”

Lynsey’s pulse was slowing and with it her anger seeped away. “Wait, the Egyptians didn’t tell you everything they knew?”

“I cannot say what they didn’t tell me, I can only tell you what I know.”

That settled it, they had to find that oasis tonight. She wasn’t going to stick around to be food for that snake when it recovered! Besides her stomach was beginning to growl in earnest.

It was still hours before it would get dark. She went back to the sleeping pyramid and went for a nap. The digging had taken it out of her and it was going to be a long trek tonight.

Hours later, she woke up refreshed. Nothing like a detox and a life or death even to make you feel better she thought as she readied herself to leave the pyramid for the final time.

Taking a last look at the pyramids behind her, Lynsey paused and as an afterthought she headed back to the toy pyramid. She took a moment to get oriented but she found what she wanted quickly. A lightweight wagon which would be far too small for a horse or ox but it was a perfect size to carry water enough for a couple of days. She loaded the cart, putting in several jugs and some linen shot with gold thread. She also picked up a bow and arrow, it was half the size as a man would need but perhaps she could learn to use it and a dagger. She bound the handles of the cart with some cloth and pulled the material over her shoulders to pull it outside. She rushed to get an urn and headed back down to the water pyramid. If she was quick and quiet she might be able to get away with it. The snake would need longer than a few hours to recover from this morning. She filled the jugs quickly, struggling with the heavy weight on the way back and filled the smaller jugs in the wagon from it.

This was it. She didn’t know what she would find but looking back at the pyramids behind her, she was glad to be moving on.

The trees she had spied on arrival were deceptively far away. As she trudged along in the ever shifting sand, the sun beat down on her. Sweat poured off her face until she took one of the cloths taken from the pyramids and wrapped it around her head and shoulders. It was still too hot but the cloth protected her skin.

Within an hour, the sun had dropped to the horizon. The sunset was just as beautiful as the day before although muted compared to the sunrise. She would have loved to share it with someone. She had never felt so alone. Even those days she had lain in a hospital bed and no one had found the time to visit, she knew it was because they were busy or they just couldn’t. There was no one here to care if she lived or died, except maybe Pico and he wasn’t really alive no matter what he said.

The shadows lengthened against the sand drawing her eyes up to the sky. She was surprised at how much light the stars gave off. The sky was filled with pin-points of light, creating unfamiliar shapes. You could get lost in their beauty. She breathed out slowly, tearing her eyes away. There would be plenty of time to star gaze, now she needed to get to food, water and safety.

Every now and again, Pico would break in to her thoughts to tell her to go one way or the other but he was mercifully quiet for the most part. Maybe he knew how much she resented his presence.

After a few hours the ground under her feet felt different, the sand was packed together tighter making the ground harder. She had to watch her footing over the occasional plant and the cart jarred and bumped making her shoulders ache as the strap pulled on them. How the vegetation survived in these conditions, she didn’t know.

She was so tired! She needed to rest and get some protection from the constant breeze that was sweeping over the desert. Lynsey rummaged in the cart and pulled out the linen. She weighted the end in the cart with the jugs and folded the linen under her to make a small tent. It wasn’t the best shelter she’d seen but she was proud of it. She took some water and settled down for s small nap. She wasn’t used to this much walking.

Lynsey fell asleep as soon as her head touched her jumper but her dreams were fractured. She felt trapped in a small featureless white room, then she was running away from creatures but she couldn’t see them clearly. People turned towards her but they had animal heads and human bodies. Now, she was running down the street that led to her parent’s house and they were gaining. Dark shadows slid silently and relentlessly behind her. She sobbed as she searched for some keys in her pockets but she dropped them as soon as found them. She picked up the keys and her hands were shaking as she put the key in the lock. The door opened and she burst into the house pulling the door closed behind her. She panted with her eyes closed and opened them to greet her parents. They had jackal heads, their jaws opened wide and they leapt towards her. She screamed and found herself back in the water pyramid but the water had all gone.

Lynsey woke up, sitting bolt upright. She reached for the jug she’d rested against the cart earlier. The water slid down her throat, cool as if from a fridge. She was never so grateful to take a drink as she was then. I should probably have started earlier in the day she mused.

“It wasn’t safe, it was too hot. It is better to travel at night when it is cooler.” Pico replied.

“Are you always going to do that?”

“Do what?”

“Answer a question I haven’t asked.”

“Your supposition was incorrect, I was merely correcting it.”

“Where have you been?”

“There was something different about your physiology. I thought it had something to do with the hundreds of years between your time and the time I was created but there is more to it than that. This journey had given me time to collect data about how your body deals with stress.”

“…and…”

“You are healing too quickly without my help. You should have been severely burned but you are not. You haven’t been drinking enough and your sleep has restored your energy levels. These are not normal responses.”

She was intrigued despite herself, “What are you saying?”

“It is still too early to say too much but let’s just say that the manner of your transfer here has given you miraculous healing abilities beyond what I’ve seen before.”

Lynsey yawned and stretched in the confined space.

“How long was I asleep?”

“About two hours. It is time to get moving.”

The next few hours went quicker than the last. Sparse vegetation grew more numerous. More colourful plants began to appear the further she went. Lynsey stopped abruptly. Right in front of her was a beautiful fuchsia-pink plant. Its wide flat green leaves and long pink petals were arranged in a seductive clump. As she got closer, the petals gently opened to reveal large white seeds in a circle in the centre. She was about to get even closer when Pico shouted in Lynsey’s mind. She jerked back.

“What was that about?” grumbled Lynsey. “I was only looking.”

“Pick up a stick and prod the flower.”

“Okay.” Fortunately there was one within reach, she picked it up. It was a branch about a finger thickness wide and the length of her forearm. She gently poked the centre of the plant. She had just the amount of time to see a hole with teeth and the plant’s petals clamped shut over the tip of the stick. The petals had looked fragile before but now they had the strength of steel. She pulled at the branch to get it back but the plant would not let go.

There was a grinding sound and the plant spat out the branch. Lynsey hefted the branch up and examined it closer. The end was all mangled.

“I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore.”

“Ah, cultural reference from your 20th century. Very apt. You may be able to heal fast but you still need to be careful. There are still a lot of dangerous creatures and plants out here.”

Looking at the chewed branch, Lynsey could only agree at his understatement. Moving on, the sparse plants were soon covered by a canopy of trees. She was struck by the view. This is amazing, she thought. This desert must be quite small.

Pico laughed sending shards of colours shooting through Lynsey’s mind. “We’ve reached an oasis.”

“Oh yes, I’ve heard of those.” She felt embarrassed but then she knew the creature inside her knew everything stupid she’d ever done anyway. It was going to take a long time to get over that. She cringed at what Pico had seen.

“I’m starving.”

“I know. Your blood sugars are dangerously low.” There are some plants I recognise a few feet away. It’s the first I have seen which can be eaten raw. You don’t want to build a fire here. We were drawn to the oasis for a reason but so has every animal that needs water to survive.”

“What is it?”

“A barygsre. It was a delicacy during my time. It contains all the essential nutrients you need to keep going.”

“What does it taste like?”

“There was quite a complicated cooking process but it can be eaten raw. There are no records as to its actual taste. Maybe it tastes like chicken?”

“Is that a small joke?”

“Yes, and one which you found mildly amazing from your brain chemicals.”

“Mildly amusing, Pico, mildly.”

Lynsey leaned close to the plant and touched it gingerly. It didn’t move. She grabbed the stem and pulled. A long cord of root came out of the ground with the plant.

“Cut it close to the stem. These plants are rare. You want to give it a chance to grow again.”

“Right!” Lynsey grabbed a small, jewelled knife with a bronze blade from the cart, which was probably meant to be a sword and severed the stem neatly. “Do I just eat the leaves, or the flower? Should I shove the lot in my mouth?”

“It is up to you. It is all edible.”

Lynsey delicately pulled one of its blue petals and gingerly placed it on her tongue and then spat it out.”

“What are you doing!”

“It’s disgusting!”

“That probably explains the drawn out cooking methods but you still need to eat it.”

“Oh God, I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Because the alternative of killing us from hunger is so much better?”

“Just shut up will you! I’ll do it, I just need a moment!”

Lynsey grabbed a handful of the petals and crushed them in her hands and stuffed them in her mouth. She chewed voraciously, her whole body scrunched up as she made herself eat the disgusting leaves. Eventually she chewed them enough that she could swallow. Tears were streaming down her cheeks when she finished and she was exhausted. She felt strangely alive though.

“That wasn’t so bad was it?”

“Not for you maybe. Didn’t you taste that?”

“Well I did disconnect myself from your taste centres for a moment.”

“Great, just great.”

She sat on the grass for a moment letting the hunger cramps subside. She leant back, letting her mind wander, feeling at peace as she watched leaves from giant red-barked trees tickling nearby branches under the gentle breeze. They were as tall as any skyscraper in London.

After half an hour Lynsey fully rested. Reluctantly, she rolled to her feet and packed the cart again. She looked at the straps doubtfully. They had really dug into her shoulders on the way in. She pulled her shirt down her shoulder to have s look but the skin was clear and unbroken. In fact, she twisted her neck to get a closer look, there had been a mole there for as long as could remember. It wasn’t there anymore.

“Sorry, I removed that, there was a small chance it could have become cancerous.”

“Oh okay.” What could she say to that? Bring back my cancerous lump? Lynsey picked up the straps and positioned them over her shoulders again. It was better to ignore him, and pulled the cart. It was a lot easier going with the firmer ground.

“Didn’t they bring seeds from Earth?”

“They did but most of them did not survive. There was quite a bit of time between the first and second pyramids and they would have starved if they hadn’t learnt about the local plant life.”

“Interesting.” she puffed. There appeared to be a break in the trees just ahead. She increased her speed but then had to break sharply. The cart hit the back of her legs.

The view was breath-taking. Pico had described it as an oasis but it was nearer a lake. Lynsey scanned the expanse. She could barely see to the other side. It had to be fed by underground springs because she couldn’t see any rivers.

The water was blue and clear and there were some shapes almost obscured by plant life at the far side which were probably animals.

“Why did you bring me here?”

“It is a few days walking to get to the nearest known settlement from here. You should stock up on food and water.”

“I can’t survive just on plants.”

“You can, but as I said before, there are animals here. There is no rush. Learn how to hunt. We don’t know what kind of civilisation this land has any more. You need to be prepared. Your life studying won’t help here. Remember I have a vested interest that we both survive.”

“I do have that bow and those arrows. But I can’t hurt anything.”

Reds and oranges began to swirl in Lynsey’s mind. Was Pico getting annoyed? “How did you think your burgers and roast chicken got in the shops? Did you think they grew on trees?”

“Of course not, but killing is different.”

“No it isn’t. A creature is dying so you can live. Respect the animal, respect its death but don’t kid yourself it is any different. Look around, there are no shops here.”

Lynsey balked at the idea. She’d been on farms. She knew that a cow led to beef in the refrigeration section in a shop but to kill?”

“Well, we can at least practice. Do you have any objection to hitting trees for practice?”

“Of course not.”

Lynsey reached behind her and picked up the bow and arrow from the cart. How hard could it be? She picked a tree about few feet away and pulled the string on the bow. She pulled back so her hand was next to her chin and let the arrow fly. On the plus side, she hit a tree on the minus it was nowhere near the one where it was supposed to go. Her heart sank. This wasn’t going to be as easy as she thought.

“Don’t worry, it will come.”

Suddenly a peal of laughter sounded from behind her. Lynsey whirled to find a figure dressed in a long brown robe with her hands around her mouth. She could see the woman was shaking with laughter.

Around her more people were appearing from the trees. A small boy picked up the arrow and brought it to the woman who examined it with interest.

“Who are you?” Asked Lynsey.

The woman who had laughed approached her and bowed.

“Greetings. My name is Illyara. We are the Bardoon.” She bowed, twisting her arms in front of her and to the sides.

“Greetings.” She echoed. “I am Lynsey Walker.”

“Lynsey Walker, we would like to invite you to have supper with us.”

Lynsey cocked her head to one side. Pico? Pico” Can you hear my thoughts? Should I trust them?”

“Of course, what have you got to lose? Your archery skills are not going to net you any food tonight and your energy levels are starting to fall again.”

“I would be delighted Illyara.” Lynsey smiled back.

The woman nodded and indicated for Lynsey to follow. Lynsey took one more look at the sun setting over the oasis and followed the troop. They didn’t walk far. Lynsey trailed after them in the direction of the lake until she spotted some brown tents surrounding a camp fire. They passed the tents to stand before an old lady and man, their faces creased like old leather from years of desert life.

Deleem, we welcome you to our camp.” They performed the same genuflection that Illyara had done, so Lynsey attempted the same. The man gasped as he saw her bracelet poking out from her jumper sleeve. Osiris, he breathed. The camp went silent.

“This?” Lynsey pointed to her arm. “I can’t get it off. I found it at the pyramids. I’m sorry if I offended you.” She hurriedly pulled the sleeve to conceal the bracelet. The man and woman seemed to relax a bit but they still looked concerned.

“That is the mark of Osiris. The God of Death of the people before. You should not be wearing that.”

“Believe me, I would get rid of it if I could. I tried to take it off but it just won’t.”

“Please forgive us, we need to confer.” The two beckoned Illyara who smiled hesitantly at Lynsey before moving past her. They walked into the nearest tent and Lynsey was left to stand alone.

“I’m sorry?” She said to the camp but people began to wander away. Life began again and she saw a woman begin to stir pots and children were running around ignoring her.

“Do you know what is happening?” She asked Pico silently.

“I do not, but I believe these people may have been afraid of who you called the Egyptians. While the priests were held back by the Pharaoh’s power in your world, in this there was no such balance. They would not have been gentle with enemies. They held all the knowledge, the technology and they wielded religion like a sword.

I suspect that these people would have been descended from slaves. They may have kept their memories alive with what happened.”

“What did happen?”

Pico’s voice grew quiet. “They were building a new world, a new civilization. They had to be strict. It wasn’t all about building power. Many people died who didn’t follow the rules. People had to change to survive.”

“I’m glad I didn’t end up back there then!”

Just then Illyara returned. “Lynsey Walker, you may stay with us. We may know someone who can help you in Ghinari. We will take you there but you must hide your bracelet at all times. It is a sign of power that frightens us.

“Why are you helping me?”

“You are a stranger in need. We would help anyone in trouble.” She reproved. “Your hunting skills would mean you would be dead without us in weeks. It would damage our Chi if we were to let that happen and it was in our power to help you.” She said simply.

Lynsey bowed. “Illyara, I hope we can be friends.”

Illyara’s eyes widened. “I hope so traveller but I fear that bracelet does not bode well.”

Contents

Chapter 1 - Duat
Chapter 2 - London - Present Day
Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat

Accidental Immortal Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the third chapter in my serialisation of my latest novel, Accidental Immortal, on my blog. While for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at 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.

-Ceri Clark

Chapter 3 – LYNSEY ON DUAT

Lynsey woke groaning with a splitting headache. It felt like her brain was trying to escape the confines of her skull. Smiling at the mental image she placed her hand on the cool, was that marble? …floor and rose slowly on to one elbow, wincing at every movement. Suddenly she started sneezing uncontrollably. She reached into her jeans and pulled out an old tissue, cursing the fact she’s forgotten to put a new pack in her bag before she left again. Each sneeze made her head feel like it would fall off until she squeezed her nose tightly and the attack subsided. Tentatively she pressed her temples with her hand and massaged where it hurt the most. What had happened? Her vision, never the best was very blurry and she had to blink several times to try and make it clearer. This was not home and definitely not a hospital. The image of the shops obliterated by a blue-white light flashed in her memory as she looked around.

“What the…?” She breathed, craning her head around. She was in a large hall with walls shaped like a pyramid. Where was she?

She rose stumbling on to her feet, nearly tripping on her bag strap. She righted herself and grabbed the offending strap with relief, At least she had her mobile. Every part of her ached and her head pounded with renewed vigour. Feeling woozy, she stumbled forward a few steps until she came up to a cabinet where she could steady herself. She closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them again her vision cleared a little in the gloom. Where was the light coming from? Every detail was murky and she could just make out windows high up near the top of the apex. Am I dead? She thought. The pain belied that course of thinking.

Lynsey pulled out her phone from one of the front pockets and swore as it showed no phone or Wi-Fi signal. She sighed and let her hand drop. Well that was no use, she could be anywhere then! She sagged against the cabinet, wallowing in confusion. She couldn’t stay here all day. Still unsteady, she straightened her back and moved towards a set of huge ornate bronze doors at the far side of the hall. Her eyes were getting used to the dark and she could make out that the floor beneath her changed from bronze to black granite shot with dark green. She glanced back and saw the bronze where she had woken up had a circle with a motif similar to the door.

A hundred thoughts jostled in her mind. Where was she? What was this place? What if whoever had brought her here was behind that door? She twirled her hair between her fingers with unconscious unease as she crept forward. Her sneakers squeaked on the floor, making her jump with the sound. Suddenly, it was almost too funny and she began to chuckle to herself until she burst out laughing at how absurd the situation was. This was so surreal. “A minute ago I was standing at a bus stop in Enfield, now I’m in some sort of pyramid? How does that even happen!” Come to think of it, her feet weren’t hurting anymore. She experimentally twisted her foot in a small circle. No pain! Well at least that was something.

As she reached the doors she was able to better make out the relief etched in the bronze in the gloom. There was an Egyptian king standing with bandages around his leg, carrying some sort of whip. Lynsey racked her brain for the documentary she’d seen last week. That was it! Osiris. But he was a God, not a Pharaoh. She traced the outline of the whip and dust caked her fingers. Either they weren’t into cleaning or this door hadn’t been opened in a while. She pressed the door and it creaked open to reveal a long corridor. As she pondered the even gloomier corridor, every horror film she had ever seen flitted through her mind but as she imagined flesh eating mummies shuffling towards her, the passage began to light up with a soft glow emanating from lights fashioned to look like torches hung high on the walls. Numerous doors were revealed on each side of the hallway.

Before she stepped through she spotted some shelving just to the left of the doors. On the dark wooden shelves, she noticed a dull gleam near the bottom. She stooped closer and bent down to have a better look. There was a small yellow bracelet in the far corner at the bottom as if it had been forgotten. She paused and reached forward to pick it up. It was beautiful. Lynsey held the delicate bracelet in her palm, testing its weight. It had to be gold. Its faint lustre called to her. Lynsey ran her finger along the two tiny symbols of a crook and flail on the outside face. That was the same symbol that had been on the floor and door. On impulse she slid the jewellery over her wrist and twisted her arm to admire it.

Ow! She jerked her arm and scrambled to pull the bracelet off. It moved an inch but it was stuck. She pushed gently but it didn’t hurt anymore, then harder until she pushed with all her strength but it still wouldn’t come off. She didn’t want it there! She began to sob and was about to smash the metal against the floor when she stopped to look closer at where the bracelet had hurt her. Where she had first put the bracelet on her wrist, there were five bloody pinpricks in a circle. Did it inject her with something?

Rising to her feet, a loud squeal suddenly filled Lynsey’s hearing, bringing her to her knees again. She clasped her hands around her ears in pain but the sound lowered in frequency until she was able to bring them down again, wiping tears from her eyes with her sleeve in the same movement. A smooth voice emanated from all around her.

“Hello Lynsey.”

Lynsey whirled but the room was empty. She let her hands drop to her sides.

“Who’s there?”

“I am your personal guide to Duat. How may I be of assistance?”

“Where are you?”

“I am the sum of billions of piconites which are coursing through your physiology as we speak. My mistake, we are now in control. I am in your body Lynsey.”

“Control?” Lynsey squeaked. Panic began to thunder inside Lynsey’s thoughts as she picked up on the one word that stood out. “You have control over my body?”

“Indeed, how are we to repair your body or advise if we cannot control?” The voice said calmly. “I believe we should move out of the reception hall now. There appears to be no welcoming party to greet you. They must have forgotten your arrival.”

“Who must have forgotten? Do you know where we are?”

“Of course. We are in Duat. I was created to be the guide for priests who enter this realm. Clearly this did not happen but I was programmed to serve the person who wears the bracelet. That would be you.”

Relieved to finally get an answer, Lynsey homed in on the place name. “Where is Duat? Is it in Scotland? I haven’t heard of it but then my geography was never that good.”

“Duat is the world ruled by Osiris. The senior high priest has named himself Osiris and ruler of this land.”

“Osiris? As in Ancient Egypt?”

There was a brief pause and then the voice replied. “Indeed.

“You are telling me we are in Ancient Egypt?” Her voice was rising in pitch again.

“No, I said we are in Duat which is ruled by Osiris.”

This conversation was going nowhere, Lynsey tried a different tack. “How do I get out of here?”

I thought you would never ask.” The voice was accompanied by overtones of warm orange and pinks swirling in her mind. The cadence soothed Lynsey’s nerves.

“Are you doing something to calm me down?”

“Of course, stress is not a good thing for your health.”

Strangely enough Lynsey found she didn’t mind. She followed its directions passing through passage after passage with low ceilings. Featureless brick walls followed others until she reached an open archway filled with light. Lynsey shaded her eyes and blinked rapidly but even so it took her about half a minute before her eyes adjusted to the harsh desert light.

It was the heat that hit her first. A suffocating wall of dry air enveloped her. She hastily retreated, taking her jumper off to tie it around her waist. Her long cotton shirt should protect her from the sun she reasoned. She went outside again and slowly shapes began to form. There were mountains in the far distance topped with a few trees and behind her, she gasped as she turned. Five pyramids filled her vision.

“It took four attempts to complete the procedure before they managed to send only the contents of the pyramids not the pyramids as well.” Came the voice from inside her head. “In the fourth attempt they were able to calibrate the measurements so that all incoming goods and visitors would be sent to the one pyramid. The fifth pyramid was built here.”

“Where is everyone?” Asked Lynsey. “If the Ancient Egyptians were able to send people and goods to here wherever here is, what happened to them?”

The voice went quiet for a moment. “There is nothing in my programming to suggest what might have happened. The culture was thriving when I was created. I would have been assigned to a high priest and they would have been expecting a new pyramid of goods and slaves or I would not exist.”

“They had slaves?”

“Of course, when the priests designed this new world they needed engineers for building, farmers for crops and of course slave labourers to build. No priest could be expected to do this work themselves. There were slaves from across what you call Europe, Asia and Africa.”

“Helllooooo.” Shouted Lynsey, losing interest in what he was saying. There had to be someone around!

There was no reply.

“There is no one here.”

It would appear so.” replied the voice.

“No shit Sherlock.” That voice was starting to get annoying. “Do you have a name?” asked Lynsey suddenly realising that she didn’t know what to call the thing.

“I can be anything you want me to be.” came the reply.

Lynsey thought for a moment, looking at the desolate ground around her. The voice was soothing but she couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a man or woman. “Are you a man or women?” Then she laughed at the ridiculous question. Knowing what he would say before he even said it. Why would it matter? It’s not as if she was going to date the voice in her head!

“I am whatever you want me to be.”

“How about Pico?”

“That is acceptable to me.”

She nodded and then felt silly. There was no one to see her here. Lynsey swallowed and realized her throat was starting to get dry. “I’m getting thirsty. Do you know where they might keep some food or drink?”

“Indeed, I have a full knowledge of working practices but given the lack of people, we do not know how long this place has been uninhabited. Any food will have gone long ago, but the end pyramid was converted to catch water. If there has been a recent rainy season then there should be water underneath it.”

Lynsey balked, “What if there hasn’t been. I will need to drink soon.”

“There is an oasis nearby, about a few hours walk away. We can pick up some travel provisions and we should go there. From your memories, there have been no Pharaohs for hundreds of years. This place has obviously been abandoned.”

“Yes, I think so too. Wait, what. Did you just say you could read my memories?”

“Of course, I have now added everything from your memories into my data banks for analysis. It is part of my programming so that I won’t break protocol. There wasn’t much communication with Earth and these things change over time. It wouldn’t do to offend new arrivals until their status and purpose were fully known.”

“I don’t want you reading my memories.” Lynsey said bluntly,

“Unfortunately that cannot be undone now. I can discontinue access to your current thoughts and only listen to your voice and thoughts directed at me? This can be reversed at any point.”

“Look, I appreciate your help but I don’t want you in my mind. Can you get this bracelet off?”

‘Sorry Lynsey, I am working independently from the bracelet now. Even if you removed it, I would still be here. I am, in conjunction with that bracelet your universal translator.”

“I can’t get rid of you?”

“No, the only way that you would be free of me is if I choose to go. That would mean my death. As we are in my previous master’s otherworld and it is very doubtful from your memories and what we’ve seen that even if we could get back to your world, I could be removed without killing me. I must conclude to stay alive with you is the best thing for me.”

“I thought you were my guide for my well-being.”

“Your good health leads to my survival. You can be sure that I will do my very best to make sure that you stay alive and healthy. Your memories and attitudes are very interesting to me. Since I was programmed to emulate who I assimilate with I now have the same set of attitudes. You have a particularly strong will to live. Did you know that?”

The next few hours Lynsey roamed around the pyramids looking for anything that could be used to keep her alive. Pico was strangely silent during this time but he was probably analysing her memories, Lynsey thought bitterly. The rooms that had branched off the corridor in the first pyramid were large empty rooms. She had tried to ask Pico what it was for but she got no response so she shrugged and carried on looking for anything that she could take with her.

The second pyramid was smaller than the first. This one was built of limestone like the Ancient Pyramids. This must have been one of the original pyramids. She shuddered at what she might find. The bones of ancient slaves? Mummies wrapped in shrouds? She took a step forward and forced herself to walk in.

It was cooler inside the corridor. She sighed. Why couldn’t they have relocated the pyramids in lush fields with a nice lake for water? Oh no, that might actually have been sensible. She imagined that this was like where the real pyramids were, stifling heat and sand everywhere. Was that a coincidence or did they mean to relocate here?

A blessed relief after the unbearable heat of outside, she moved further down the corridor and the same lights that glowed in the previous pyramid began to light the way ahead here. They must have upgraded it from the real pyramids, she joked to herself. I think I would have heard if the Ancient Egyptians had electricity.

She passed a large empty room and noticed a small door that looked like it had been concealed in the past. Broken masonry lay strewn at its base. She pushed in and saw a room full of well-preserved tiny artefacts. Inside she had a better view. Was that a cart? A small conveyance about the size of a wheel barrow was nestled among similar sized objects. Lynsey laughed at that. Everything was tiny! The Egyptians probably thought that they would be symbols and they would be grown to their needs in the afterlife. This world was a little more literal than that! You send toy tools and they remain a toy tool. It was probably why they were still here. No one could make use of these.

The third pyramid held a few jugs and jars in rooms filled with otherwise empty shelves. Lynsey roamed the rooms, feeling like a spirit in a deserted city, looking for any food that may have been left behind but only found some hard amber sludge at the bottom of a few jars. Forgoing a taste test, Lynsey picked up a couple of the smaller empty jugs and stowed them in her bag. She worked quickly but even so it was getting dark before she had everything to her satisfaction.

Another room in a different pyramid was an Aladdin’s cave of precious items, filled with gold and jewels. She sorted through, looking for small objects. She packed a couple of exquisite brooches, necklaces and bracelets in her pockets and then filled her bag with any other jewellery that caught her attention. If she ever made her way back, she was going to be rich! Forget the lottery, she would have as much money as a small country! She stood still, jewels dripping from her hands like rain, allowing herself just a few moments to dream of the houses and cars she would buy. She began to hum as she worked. Even if she couldn’t get back, people everywhere always prized beautiful things.

Hours later, Lynsey stepped out of the third pyramid and halted mid-step. The sun hung low in the horizon but it was the twin moons that made her gasp. It was so beautiful and so … alien. She could kid herself that she was on Earth before, but this broke down all her barriers. She stared in disbelief, pushing a stray lock of hair behind her ears. She felt a breeze against her cheek and watched as clouds began to form overhead.

Lynsey kept inside the entranceway and watched the approaching storm. She swallowed convulsively and realised again she was thirsty. Pico had said the final pyramid could hold water but then she remembered the bottle she’d bought in London. There was still some water! She drained the bottle and carefully put it back in her bag jostling the hardback which was still in it. She picked it up and reluctantly set it aside in the entrance to the pyramid behind her. If she was going to survive she needed to have space for things that would keep her alive and War and Peace, although long enough to keep her attention wouldn’t cut it in a life and death situation. She would need more water if she was going to go into the desert but that could wait until the morning.

In the second pyramid she remembered there was some strange platforms that could be beds which were higher at one end than the other. They didn’t look very comfortable but they would do. Pico was still quiet so she decided to stop the night there. It would be better to find the oasis in the dark. Pico mentioned he could direct her and he probably would do that by navigating by the stars. It would be too hot to go searching by day and that storm looked ominous.

It was black by the time she stumbled back into the bed pyramid, as she thought of it. The stars were out in force but the dark clouds had quickly covered them. Lynsey stood in the shadow of the second pyramid contemplating the storm. She hadn’t recognized any of the star formations but then she’d only seen the stars as bright as this in the Planetarium. No light pollution here, she mused.

Stifling a yawn she moved into the building and chose a bed. She lay staring at the low ceiling wondering what she was going to do next. Sleepily she tried to contact Pico again.

“Pico?”

“Yes.”

“Is there a way back to my world?”

“I don’t know Lynsey. Does it matter? You are alive, there should be people here somewhere. Osiris ordered that settlements be created throughout the land. Some of them must have survived. You could make a life here. I know you hated your life on Earth. Here you can make a fresh new life. No one knows you. You can reinvent yourself. Wherever you go, I can translate for you. With a bit of effort you should be able to fit in anywhere here.”

“We don’t know what to expect.” Lynsey said sleepily, punching her jumper under her head to make it more comfy.”

You didn’t on Earth.” Pico reminded her, his thoughts were mellowing to soft purples in her mind. “It’s time to sleep now. Tomorrow is another day.”

Contents

Chapter 1 - Duat

Chapter 2 - London - Present Day

Accidental Immortal Chapter 2 – London (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, this is the second chapter in my serialisation of my latest novel, Accidental Immortal, on my blog. While for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at the same time as on Wattpad, if not a little sooner! I have gone with British spelling on this one…

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.

-Ceri Clark

Chapter 2 – LONDON, ENGLAND | Present day

Lynsey strode as if devils were after her. She held herself tall, her head held high, she was tiring but if she didn’t think about how exhausted she actually was, then she would get home. The hardback in her bag was heavy and she was thankful that she’d almost emptied the large bottle of water that lay beside it. Still her neck ached where the strap pulled on her shoulder. Around her the crowds were growing larger, the farther she walked down the street. She hitched the bag up and twisted it so it fell across her stomach. No pickpockets were going to get into her stuff!

Oxford Street was teeming with shoppers. Five people deep on her side of the road and it was no better on the other. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw some pedestrians stepping on to the road to bypass the crowds as more and more were emptying from the shops or joining the crush from the underground. Horns honked in protest but no one paid any attention. All around men, women and children were weaving in and out, not looking at each other, all desperate to get to the latest bargain or to get home. Why hadn’t she left earlier? Lynsey smiled to herself, as if Mary would have let her. “One for the road?” she’d said as Lynsey had tried to take her leave. Of course to refuse would have been churlish, and then of course they had to have something to eat and then another drink to was it down… Lynsey’s smile broadened, she knew exactly what would happen when she agreed to meet up for the day and she had needed it. A good laugh, great food and some booze to chase away the past twelve months.

At an intersection, the traffic lights turned red and Lynsey stopped at the curb. She stepped from foot to foot, savouring the brief relief from pain for the second her feet were off the pavement. As the light turned green, she moved off, striding purposefully once again in a straight line. People would move if you didn’t, it was all about the posture. Look them straight in the eye and don’t slow down and you can move down the street at twice the speed instead of swerving in and out as the tourists were doing around her. Except the woman who appeared in front wasn’t swerving, in fact she looked like she had no attention of giving way at all. Where had she come from? A brief flicker of annoyance sped across Lynsey’s thoughts but she didn’t have time to get out of the way, even if she wanted to. Their eyes met briefly then the woman let out an abrupt oomph as she walked straight into the corner of the hardback book in Lynsey’s bag. Lynsey let a small smile escape as she watched the woman double over for a moment before righting herself as she carried on behind her. She really should have got out of the way. Lynsey turned back around and did likewise.

Half an hour later she arrived at Enfield Town. The short journey was blessedly uneventful and she spent the time thinking about what to pack to take back to university. There was only one term left so she wouldn’t need much. Maybe Gareth would give her a lift with her stuff. It was worth a try. She’d almost forgotten about her feet as she stepped off the train on to the platform. The step was a little steeper than she was expecting and she landed hard on her ankle. She almost toppled but another passenger grabbed her arm before the fell. He looked closely at her for a moment and then nodded before he moved past her to get on the train. This really wasn’t her day.

Lynsey winced at every step. Every time her feet touched the ground it was like walking on broken glass. They were killing her. There was no way she was going to be able to walk the rest of the way home. Lynsey dug into her pockets and pulled out her phone. She swiped on the screen quickly until she found what she was looking for. There would be a bus in ten minutes if she put a spurt on.

Lynsey gritted her teeth and hurried out of the station. The nearest stop was close and there was still eight minutes to go but she had missed the bus too many times before because the buses were early. She didn’t want to wait another forty-five minutes for another one. They never came every 5-10 minutes as advertised.

Lynsey shivered as she calmed down. She put her bag between her feet and leant against the clear plastic wall, wrapping her arms around herself while rubbing her hands up and down against them. She pulled her jumper from around her waist and shrugged herself into it, letting the baggy folds envelop her. She loved it but the white loose knit was an idiotic choice for this weather. Would it really have taken so long to pick up her coat she berated herself? It was stupid to go out without it. But then the weather forecast had been for a hot day, and why shouldn’t she take a risk now and again? She was fed up of being the sensible one. A fresh gust of wind passed through her jumper like shards of shooting ice. Bloody weathermen, did they ever get it right?

‘Are you alright, love?’ The voice came from her right and Lynsey smiled ruefully as she turned to look at her. The woman was slight and smartly dressed in the standard black skirt and jacket uniform of the city. The reek of cigarette smoke emanated from her making Lynsey’s nose twitch.

‘I’m fine, I just wish the bus would get here already!’ She said, reaching down for a tissue from the front pocket of her pack that lay on the floor.

‘I know, you don’t get any buses for half an hour then …’

‘…three come along at once.” Lynsey finished for her with a tired smile as she came back up. “It is getting a bit nippy at the moment.”

A fresh gust of wind assaulted them from the east. The three walls of the bus shelter rattled in the wind. They were no protection against it.

‘Wow,’ the woman cried as she grabbed a shopping bag, her e-cigarette falling unnoticed to the floor. The plastic ballooned to nearly blow her away. ‘It really is starting to pick up now.’

Lynsey didn’t reply as she eyed up the grey storm clouds blowing towards them. That was unusual. There had been blue skies for as far as she could see a moment ago. This was freaky weather. A clap of thunder made her jump and as she watched, sparks of lightning jumped from one end of the cloud to the other as it drew closer.

‘I think I’ll just pop into the shops until the storm passes.’ Shouted the woman into the wind. She was already half-way down the street before Lynsey could voice her agreement.

Lynsey stood undecided for a moment, there was no way she was going to be hit by lightning. She picked up her bag from between her feet and hitched it over her shoulder. That was a once in a million chance, surely? If she just waited it would pass. Hadn’t she read that lightning went to taller objects first? Wasn’t that why church steeples were made? Maybe it would be better to get out of the firing line until it passed! She craned her neck, there wasn’t any protection in the park behind her. The bus stop wasn’t safe, so the only option was the shops in front where the woman had gone. Through the trees lining the road she spied a café. Perfect! Taking the decision she rushed forward to the pedestrian crossing. She fought the wind which picked up power as she crossed the road, threatening to push her back. Rain gushed down from the clouds, soaking her within seconds. Lynsey looked up to see the clouds were now hovering over her as though someone had turned a celestial tap on. She heard an almighty thunder clap above her and she broke into a run. Bending her head down, she pushed through the rain. She was nearly there. Another two feet until the tree, another two until the shop. She saw a blue flash and a sudden pain shot through her as a thousand bolts of electricity coursed along her body. Today was not a good day to go to town.

Contents

Chapter 1 - Duat

Accidental Immortal Chapter 1 – Duat (Serialisation)

Accidental Immortal serialisation

There are fates worse than death…

Hello, I have decided to serialise my latest novel, Accidental Immortal, on my blog. While for the first week it will be published every day, after the first seven posts they will be published four times a week so that the serialisation will be completed at the same time as on Wattpad, if not a little sooner! I have gone with British spelling on this one…

-Ceri Clark

Chapter One

The Pharaoh was coming. Hesire pulled the first Osiris band from the deep pocket of his green neophyte robe and the rest clinked together as they jostled back into place in the confined space. He held the bracelet in his palm reverently for a second before putting it in its place on the alcove. He repeated the action one by one until all the holes were filled. The gold on each gleamed dully in the subdued light from the lamps high on the walls. When the last bracelet was placed in its allotted slot, he stood back to regard the rest of the hall with a critical eye.

Apart from new entrants to this world, only those that served Osiris could enter here. Travellers were hastily pushed through as soon as they arrived and they were never allowed to look around or touch anything. Hesire had been told that if any of the delicate equipment surrounding the centre of the room was damaged then they could receive no new supplies. No one knew how to repair them anymore. The designers were long dead in the other world. Egypt was changing on the other side as well, who knew how long they could rely on getting seeds and animals to remake the new one.

Raised above the floor by a couple of inches was a great circle of bronze, as wide as a workman’s hut, standing proudly in the enormous space. It was directly situated equidistant to the outer walls and the twin emblems of Osiris were etched in the centre. The priests wanted to leave no misapprehension of who was in charge. Large bronze boxes, the size of horses, inlaid with gold and jade surrounded the bronze circle forming a triangle. He looked up as he had done a dozen times before in awe at the scale of the building to see the great walls rise above him towering into an apex. The walls were made of brick rather than stone, the only concession to new world materials, He knew the engineers would rather have made the pyramids a better replica of the originals but this pyramid was built to receive rather than send so the measurements and materials did not need to be so exacting. Only the basic design of the inner pyramid as laid down by the mathematicians, astronomers and engineers had to be followed. There was no need to stroke the Pharaoh’s ego on this world.

Hesire stifled a yawn. He had been up since before sunrise but the intake was due to arrive in a few days and everything had to be perfect for the glory of Osiris. He couldn’t help but think it was ironic. The wealth of the Pharaohs created the pyramids, this place, so that Egyptians could travel to Duat but no Pharaoh had ever made it through. In the past they believed that you had to die inside the pyramid to be transported and no priest had ever been brave enough to suggest a Pharaoh should kill himself to get here. In fact, Hesire’s smile grew wider, as soon as the priests realised you had to be alive in the pyramids before transmission they introduced the mummification process just to make sure that the Pharaohs would be completely dead before it happened.

A low hum began to invade Hesire’s senses. It built slowly. His bones tingled first, then his whole body began to hum and then he heard it clearly. He whirled around to stare at the jewels lighting up by the battery he knew was in an ancillary room.

Someone was coming! His heart lurched, the Pharaoh’s retinue shouldn’t be arriving for another couple of days. The papyrus was very clear on the matter, Ahmose I had already died but all the preparations would not be ready for days. He hadn’t seen it but the brotherhood was abuzz with what food or tools would be sent with this one. There were rumours circulating in the order that there might not be another pyramid built and he had heard that the small pyramid replica in the High Priest’s office had been sending regular scrolls back and forth negotiating what would be included. He hoped that they would have the foresight to send seeds rather than yet more jewels but of course the High Priest would have all this in hand. A blight had killed a lot of the crops off in the spring and they needed to start again. He rubbed his hands from his temple to his chin, an affectation that had led to far too many nights alone in the Temple contemplating his shortcomings.

The room grew dark and cold as all energy was drained from the air. Hesire’s bones vibrated with the forces that surrounded him and the electric lights that had been installed two years ago by brother Akhten burst into glass shards in the corners. Sparks began to fly in the outer ring lighting up the room briefly with another taking its place in increasing frequency. Hesire dove for the bronze circle on the floor, for the protection of Osiris but more importantly away from the tremendous forces about to flood the chamber. He flung his hood over his head and cowered at the edge of the circle. His back was to the boxes and he watched the centre. He composed himself with effort. This was the first time he had greeted anyone from Earth and disrespect would not be tolerated. He hadn’t expected to be given the privilege for years. This was an opportunity to stand out, maybe rise in the ranks if he played this correctly. He placed his arms forward in the bow expected of his order. A stray bolt whizzed past his ear to hit the sleeve of his arm, the material smouldered and a flame ate eagerly at the linen. Holding back an oath he smothered the flame quickly with his other sleeve and sat back breathing deeply to calm himself.

Black smoke pervaded the air, radiating from the centre. This was different. He coughed repeatedly as his lungs stung. It was difficult to breath. The acrid smell of burning flesh assaulted his nose making him grimace and brush his nose before resuming the posture. His eyes streamed but he stayed in position. A form began to coalesce in front of him, Hesire gasped, that was no funeral procession! It began to take shape. He sat up to get a better look, forgetting propriety in his confusion. The space in the middle of the room filled with a monstrous form, so large it filled the space. There was no time to run. He had an impression of incredible speed, claws, fangs and a terrible growl that instilled a fear like nothing he’d felt before, then all thoughts ceased as terror gripped his mind.

-End of Part one

Entering the world of picture puzzle books

register to join launch group

I’ve reached, gulp, that age where most of my friends have children, This is actually great as three years ago my own little boy was born and my friends all seemed to have babies at the same time.

He’s now three and a little too energetic for me but we get along. He runs around me and when I catch him, he gets cuddles.

He has now started to like puzzles and I want to give him some practice with counting, reading as well as tracing letters and numbers. I have been buying him puzzle magazines and realised I could do the same thing but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a story running through it?
Minkie 1 reduced size front coverWhile playing with a drawing app on my tablet, I came up with a little blue monster called Minkie. My son loved him so much, I did some more designs and came up with some stories. I’m not sure if this is TMI, but he got so fond of dear Minkie that he refused to put his ‘night-time pants’ on unless we drew a Minkie Monster on them. He then danced around the bathroom singing, Minkie on my winkie, Minkie on my winkie!

Anyway enough of my son’s strange habits. He will get me back for this I’m sure several times before he grows up (I’m easily embarrassed). I have finished one of the stories, tested them and I’m starting the launch phase of the picture book. To this end, I am looking for some friends who will help me launch this book in style.

In exchange for a review on Amazon during launch week, I am giving away free PDF copies of the book. These can be instantly downloaded when you register and select Launch Friends from the register page. I am also giving away an Amazon gift card to one reviewer chosen at random and a few other goodies.goodreads cover minkie space coloring book

As an added bonus, anyone that registers at my site, (you don’t even need to be a Launch Friend) can download a free MInkie Monster coloring book based on Space Puzzles: Minkie Monster and the Birthday Surprise.

Go on what are you waiting for? If you have kids of up to 6, visit https://minkiemonster.com/ to get the freebies!

Home library: Storing books with no shelf space

book shelves in a home library

Question about a home library.

Answer based on the Quora question:

What is the best way to organize books if I don’t have a bookshelf?

If there is no shelf space available in your home librasry then sometimes the only way books can be stored is in a box hidden in a cupboard, the garage or even the attic. The question then is how do you find a book once is it is stowed away? Fear not Ceri Clark, former Librarian has the answer.

I used to be the library manager of the Audit Commission which had offices throughout England. There were some books in the office where I worked but there had to be about twenty at the most, the rest were held elsewhere. There was no storage space available at the offices so a former librarian had negotiated a contract to store the books in temperature controlled storage in some mines in Bath. We used the library catalogue in conjunction with some spreadsheets to keep track of the books. Whenever someone wanted a book we were emailed a request by the library catalogue and then we told the people at Restore which box the books were in.

How does this help me store my books in my home library?

I’m glad you asked. The same principles that ran the Audit Commission library can be used for your home library but on a much smaller scale. Say you have 3 boxes filled with fiction and non-fiction books, you can use Calibre (free software downloadable from the internet)  to catalogue your books.

Cataloguing your books is as simple as typing in the barcode into the software and it finding the book information on Amazon or some other database. All you would then need to do is label the boxes something as simple as Box 1, box 2 etc or something more detailed like Non-fiction books. Remember to write the Box number in the notes section in Calibre and voilà, when you search for the book on Calibre, it will tell you which box the book is currently stored in. If you have more than one storage space you can add this information too. For example Box 2, Attic or Box 3, Garage.

Another advantage of using Calibre over say a spreadsheet is that there is a cover flow so you can see at a glance whether the book is the right one. You can also search by tags which will put all the similar books together on one ‘shelf’ so if you are researching a subject and you have a number of books in it you can easily see what you need quickly as if you were browsing a real shelf in your hallway.

I have a chapter in A Simpler Guide to Calibre which goes into detail on how this can be done.

 

see question on quora

ceri's q and a

Q&A: Organising hard and paperbacks in the home.

qandasmallQuestion:  Home Design: What is the best way to organize books if I don’t have a bookshelf?

I don’t have money to invest in a bookshelf, but would like to better organize my books! I have perhaps 3 bookshelf worth of books, and would like to be able to browse them.

You could always box them up out of sight and use software called Calibre to catalogue your books. You could then browse them like a library catalogue but on your home computer. 

Calibre is very versatile and you can not only catalogue your ebooks but also your paperbacks, hardbacks, CDs, DVDs etc. Pretty much you can catalogue anything using the software.

I did something similar to this when I ran the English Audit Commission library. All our books were boxed up in temperature controlled underground caves near Bath. If anyone requested a book, I would look up the book’s location in the library catalogue. If it was in the boxes, stacked up in Bath, I would request that it be sent direct to the client. I had a very tidy library!

Calibre is very like a library catalogue. I love the ability to flick through the covers of my books or browse through genres, authors etc.

You can even use the isbns on the back of the books to get Calibre to automatically catalogue the books for you. All you need is a barcode reader, which an Android phone and probably an iPhone could do for you. You wouldn’t even need to buy a dedicated barcode reader.

A Simpler Guide to Calibre 0 catalogue ebooks and paperbacks
A Simpler Guide to Calibre has a chapter on cataloguing paperbacks and other physical media

While cataloguing, just type in the notes (or tags ) fields the box number and/or location where you put your paperbacks and you will easily find the book again in the future, just by browsing or searching your collection.
I have a chapter in A Simpler Guide to Calibre which goes into detail on how this can be done.

see question on quora
ceri's q and a

Q&A Is it allowed to use articles one finds on the internet and use them for ebooks that one later sell online?

ceri's q and aQuestion: Is it allowed to use articles one finds on the internet and use them for ebooks that one later sell online?

Q&A Why would anyone want to work as a librarian?

ceri's q and aQuestion: Why would anyone want to work as a librarian?