Accidental Immortal Chapter 20 – Danger Revealed (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.
Chapter 20 – Danger Revealed
Arkan’s feet padded on the ground as he approached the Palace on foot. Overhead, clouds covered the sky, periodically blocking the light from the silver crescent moons. The perfect conditions for a clandestine visit. The woods around him were quiet except for the occasional call from a night owl to disturb the stillness. The only similarity to the bird of myth was its propensity to hunt at night. Its size, claws and intelligence made it a formidable opponent to humans. Something Arkan kept at the back of his mind while walking. He could fight it off with no problem but the sound the creature would make would alert everyone for an iteru. He could probably explain why he was creeping around the palace grounds at night when the king was away but it would be better not to.
There was something about how the king was acting that confused him. Herad had been watching the Temple for days. The grizzled veteran was old but very reliable in all the time he’d known him. He’d sat heavily on the tavern bench that afternoon. He didn’t say it but Arkan knew the old man was in pain. He took a deep draught of the beer that Arkan had ordered before he’d arrived and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. His eyes twinkled.
“I have news, young assassin.”
“Herad, not here.”
“No one can hear. That screeching sound, I hesitate to call music is too loud and that rabble wouldn’t be interested anyway.”
“There are ears everywhere Herad.” Arkan admonished, flicking a coin between his fingers. “What have you seen?”
“The king visited Baserius this afternoon.” Herad coughed and spluttered for a moment before swallowing it back down with a swig of beer.
Arkan looked up at Herad but he was deadly serious. Why would he do that without telling him? He flipped the coin he was holding in the air and the old man grabbed it without blinking. Anyone watching would have been hard pressed to see the action but within moments the barmaid came over to refill Herad’s drink. Arkan made sure to go while the other man was busy.
There were few guards in the gardens. Their heavy boots, made them noisy and cumbersome on the undergrowth, allowing Arkan to evade them with no trouble. He moved like a ghost from trees to statues until he came up to the folly he was looking for.
It was built over a century ago, added to the designs by the Assassins Guild with coins greasing the right palms. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, the building was just a tall tower. Its ground floor was open to the elements but it provided a brief shelter from the rain or sun for people enjoying the gardens that needed protection.
Arkan entered the structure and moved to the south-west corner where he pushed some dirt away to reveal a ring. It resisted for a moment but he strained his muscles to pull harder. Dirt cascaded down from the hatch that opened, revealing a dark opening. He dropped down, pulling the hatch closed behind him. The action jarred a chain that moved a small piece of wood that contained some dirt above the hatch. The dirt fell to the ground, concealing the hatch once again from prying eyes.
The tunnel was narrow and low. He had to hunch down with difficulty to get the flint from his pocket. He felt along the wall until he found an alcove where a lamp had been hidden by a predecessor. He would have to remember to replace it later. He struck twice and the tunnel illuminated.
It smelled musty and swathes of spider webs filled the space ahead. Arkan reached for a light wooden shield on a stick which had been left on its side beside him. It was designed to protect his clothes from the worst of the tunnel detritus by bringing down the webs as he walked. It wouldn’t be done to be seen wearing filthy clothes when he entered the palace. It would arouse suspicion. He moved forward holding the device before him. It was light but the awkward angle made it seem heavier than it was.
Arkan breathed a sigh of relief when he reached the palace itself. The tunnel widened into a corridor allowing him to stand at his true height.
He moved through corridor after corridor. As he entered the inhabited part of the palace, he noticed it was practically deserted. It was easy to pass unseen into the King’s private study. Not many people knew about this room. It was concealed by a tapestry off his official rooms.
Arkan pulled back the heavy fabric and slotted a key into the disguised lock near the top of the door. The door itself was shaped and decorated as a panel for when the tapestries were cleaned once a year. The key turned with a small click and the door swung inward without a sound.
Unlike the other study this one had few luxury trappings. The king liked to play the playboy in front of his subjects, the absent minded lord but Arkan knew the king had a mind like a steel trap. If there was anything the king was hiding from him then this would be the place he would find it.
Arkan searched the desk but found only business documents. Now, where would they be? He stood with his back to the door and scanned the room for anomalies. There, that had to be it. On the shelves against the longest wall, were hundreds of small thin boxes made to hold scrolls. Each one was precisely in alignment. Except – one of them jutted out against the others on the end of the shelves next to the desk. There was a thin layer of dust covering all but that one. Arkan smiled, it must have been recently used. Arkan reached up and felt the box. It rattled as the contents shifted to the side and downwards as he drew it from the shelf. He brought the box closer to his face and sniffed. A sharp whiff of incense shot up his nose. It could only have come from one place.
“The temple” he breathed, “this is why he went there.
Arkan put the box on the desk and pulled the chair under him. The king had already left for the ball so there was no need to worry about time.
He pulled the scroll out and skimmed through the glyphs. It was about myths? Why would Baserius give the king this? Further down the scroll was an illustration of the Osiris band and Arkan’s breath caught. Baserius knew about that? Arkan delved further in and a history he knew nothing of before unfolded.
During the reign of Suramus II, he read, an expedition was called to find the ancient pyramids of myth. The scroll detailed the provisions taken like a shopping list. Arkan’s eyes glazed and he skipped the contents. It took weeks to prepare it went on, the provisions had to be found, guides and men hired.
Arkan skipped further down again. After weeks travelling the desert and with their water supplies dwindling, they reached the temple. Dawn was breaking and a dragon attacked them. A dragon? Arkan’s head raised slightly but he lowered it again, eager to read on. He was fascinated. Now that he knew the band existed he tried to suspend his disbelief at what he was reading.
A great battle was fought over the next few hours. The explorers on the expedition were not soldiers, they were not expecting to fight anyone or anything but they bravely fought on for the riches they were promised.
Whatever they did to the dragon, they found to their fear that it would not die. They removed its head with a heroic slash of a blade and for a while they thought it was over until it grew back within hours. This time, the dragon grew even more ferocious in its defence.
Arkan stopped reading. Lynsey had healed remarkably quickly. He remembered how her bruises had disappeared before his eyes after the accident. Was she like the dragon?
He bent down to read again, turning the lamp up a notch.
Finally the men were able to put chains and trap the dragon on to their cart. The roars were deafening but they slashed it with swords until it subsided. As the blade sunk into the dragon’s arm, its blood spurted on to the wounds of an injured explorer. To the amazement of the rest of the expedition, the wound healed before their eyes.
There were jewels and objects beyond price found in one of the pyramids but the transport was filled with an even greater treasure, the dragon. They filled their pockets and took what would fit in their pockets leaving treasure beyond their imagining behind them. They would come back.
Arkan realised that time was passing. He hurriedly scanned though a few more passages. They were set upon by some thieves and one of the company was fatally wounded defending another. The thieves were quickly dispatched. As they were fighting a fire began, destroyed much of the camp including maps that had been drawn to allow them to get back.
Further down the scroll again, there was an illustration of the temple being built over the dragon.
Arkan rolled up the scroll and put it back into the box. He was careful to place it exactly as he’d found it. He’d read enough. Here was the proof that Lynsey was in danger. If Baserius and the king were prepared to ally to get hold of Lynsey, nowhere was safe in Ghinari. He and Luna were wrong. For the power of the Osiris band, the location of unlimited treasure and blood that could heal any wound there would be nothing Baserius or the king would not do to get her.