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 23 – Invisibility
Illyara awoke to bright sunlight and the sound of constant heavy footsteps beside her. Men in simple coarse clothing, their shirts and trousers worn with use, were running up and down the steps carrying boxes and jars inches from her. What was happening? Where was she?
Before she could collect her thoughts, a box clattered past her, crashing down each step with a loud thwack. White cloth spilled on the dusty mud. The unexpected sound made her jump and she noticed the ripped remnants of her skirt above her knees. She couldn’t be more noticeable if she tried. If anyone saw her dressed like this… The thought trailed into nothing as she scurried to the shadows of the nearest pillar. One of the men standing on the street below was already looking her way. He opened his mouth as if in slow motion to shout as her mind froze. It only lasted for a moment and her training kicked in. She concentrated on the man. She took in his appearance, his black hair, dark eyes and full lips. She noticed a scar running down his arm leading to a tattoo that she recognised was of the Eied caste. How far down the social ranks had this man fallen, she thought with sudden pity. She clamped down on her emotions as she saw him raise his arm to point at her. Holding down the panic, she clenched her fists against the satin cloth of her dress as she imagined his mind as a living flame. It was one thing to use the gift in the desert when there was no danger but… She again lost track of her thought as she imagined the flame twisting into a spiral away from her. She held her breath for a moment. Had it worked? Was she invisible again? But his brow was furrowing and he was still looking directly at her. She closed her eyes and focussed on the flame with all her strength. She had to consolidate the connection. It was harder to bond to start with but if she could just get it going she could let her subconscious continue it. Below her, she heard his companion shouting at the man, and she opened her eyes to see him gesticulating at the remains of the box. The Eied man looked at her again and she twisted the flame once more. He did a double-take in Illyara’s direction but loud shouting from above them made him grab the contents and stuff them in the box. The other man nodded to the side impatiently and they moved off. Illyara sighed, letting her shoulders sag as she pressed her back to the wall enclosing the edge of the steps. This was the longest she had ever been invisible. How long could she keep it up?
As she watched more men take boxes down the stairs beside her, it all came flooding back. Lynsey had been taken. She looked back at the doors of the temple – she was in there somewhere.
Illyara waited for a stout workman to pass her and she fell into step behind him. She followed him in, one step behind to avoid anyone coming up behind them. There were men all over the place, some in priests’ robes, others were hired help, packing items in boxes and transporting them outside. Where were they going? She quickly moved to hug an alcove wall. This was clearly a major operation. Food, water, those priests were folding tents? Illyara realised they were carrying the essentials for a desert journey. Were they going to use Lynsey to find the pyramids?
Illyara slunk along the walls, heading to the back of the Temple. Her bare feet clung to the tiles as she trailed along the edges of the room. Her desert training ensured she made no sound. During the tour, she had noticed that Baserius had been careful to avoid a section of the temple. There must be a reason why he didn’t want them to go that way. Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw Baserius walk towards her and then passed to head down a corridor. She followed. She never would have found it without him. It wasn’t long before a large wooden door barred their way. Illyara hung back while she watched him rap a precise knock on the door. It opened and she craned her neck to look inside but the room was shrouded in darkness. Not a word was spoken. Baserius pulled the door further open and stepped inside. Illyara rushed forward to follow but the door slammed shut behind him. An unsavoury whiff filled her nostrils. They were keeping something more than Lynsey in there.
Her breath exploded out of her in frustration. What was behind that door? She moved to the corner and sat down to wait. He would come out eventually.
The minutes passed and nothing happened. It gave her time to think about the night before. Arkan had never come. She was sure he had fallen in love with Lynsey. How could he let someone he loved go into such danger? Maybe her father was wrong after all. About love anyway.
The door opened and Baserius strode out pushing Lynsey in front of him. Her friend’s hands were tied behind her back and thick rope encased her small wrists. Illyara studied her friend. She looked drained but apart from that she seemed unhurt. Illyara breathed out gently, thanking any gods that would listen. That girl had a charmed life. How was she going to get out of this one? Illyara decided to follow them to see where they were going. She reached out and touched Lynsey’s arm briefly and Lynsey smiled. She’d got the message; Lynsey knew she was around.
“Is all this just to find the Pyramids?” asked Lynsey.
“We will need provisions, many expeditions have tried and failed over hundreds of years. It pays to be prepared.” Was his answer. So Lynsey was taking them to the Pyramids.
Illyara felt a pang of guilt but she squeezed Lynsey’s hand to let her know that she received the message and left.
Illyara hurried to the main gates. She was incredibly tired, her hands were shaking and her head felt like it was splitting in two. She had never been invisible this long. She needed to find suitable clothes and something to eat before she became too ill to walk back.
Part of the caravan that the priests were putting together was waiting by the city gates. A cluster of red-robed men stood congregated to one side while hired guides were chatting and laughing on the other side of the yelks. None of the tribes would help the temple and these were the best of what was left. She smiled grimly, they would be able to get them safely to the next city along the coast but to find the pyramids they were really relying on Lynsey getting them there.
She noticed how the priests were standing apart, facing away from the other men. Their hoods were lowered so they couldn’t see the guides. Illyara chuckled at their discomfort. They wouldn’t dare forbid the guides from drinking or smoking. They would leave and find another employer. There was plenty of work available. The guides did not have to work for them. Everyone knew the order was running out of money or they wouldn’t ask for such large contributions during their ceremonies. Gone were the days where they could shower money everywhere to get whatever they wanted.
She saw one of the guides bring out a flask. The faint aroma of spirits wafted its way to her. She bet the priests couldn’t stand watching them drink. Still, from the expressions on a couple of their faces, Illyara would have bet money that some of them would have joined the men if they had been alone.
She hurried towards the yelks. More than half were laden high with food, water and clothing. A small pile of provisions that hadn’t been loaded yet were to one side. Illyara walked around to sit cross legged beside the pile out of sight of both priests and guides. No one would be able to see anything unusual. They may not see her but if she wasn’t careful they might be able to see anything she moved. She reached into a leather pack and rummaged around for a moment before pulling out a parcel wrapped in waxed paper. She teased the paper apart to reveal a rich mellow cheese. She took a quick sniff then broke it in two to cram the first and then the second portion into her mouth. A yelk skin containing water was next and she drank greedily, letting the liquid splash over her face and neck when she was finished. Illyara felt better but she was still ravenous and took out more to eat until she was satiated. She lay back against the pile, staring up at the blue sky. There was no bird sound she realised. The camp was making too much noise. Even the vultures, usually so vocal were silent. She propped herself up on one elbow. Come to think of it. She hadn’t heard many birds since she’d entered Ghinari. There were birds in the market she remembered. The city people must be eating them.
Feeling rested, she looked around for a yelk which carried clothing. She made for the nearest animal carrying cloth and carefully stepped up to it. The yelk’s feet shuffled in the loose sand. It could smell her but not see her and she could tell it was nervous. Its huge legs began to move back and forth and it was twisting to find the source of her smell. She crooned in a soft voice and it quieted as she reached up and stroked its coarse fur near its head. Her father would have been able to let the animal see him while staying invisible to everyone in the vicinity but that took many more years of practice and skill. Maybe she could do it but she was too scared to try with so many priests close by.
A boy set to look after the beasts while others could be brought and loaded noticed the animal’s discomfort and came aver. Illyara had to wait a few moments before he went away again and she grabbed a robe from a pack. There was a second of worry while she adjusted the invisibility to apply to the item she carried but the boy didn’t seem to notice. She had it, she thought with relief. She moved behind the yelks in front of the city walls and placed the robe over her head. They were loose but not so baggy they would call attention to her. She was lucky today. Moving from behind the yelk, she set off in the direction where she knew her people would be waiting.
Illyara took no notice of the hot sun, knowing she would be at camp long before mid-day. It was tedious journey but she had done it many times before. This spring was known only to a few nomads and she didn’t have to worry that she would meet any of the guides on the way. Still, she had kept a close eye out for the first hour and disguised her footprints in the sand but she couldn’t relax until she saw the familiar tents of her people. They were still there. She knew they would be but there was always the fear of discovery. That they would have been made to move on or worse. These were dangerous times.
Her father was in the large tent eating a snack while the mid-day meal was prepared. He was joking and laughing at something mother was saying. Illyara smiled as she pulled the flap down behind her. She really wanted what they had but that had to wait. She approached through the milling throng and stood before him until he noticed her.
“Illyara, you are back. How did the visit go? Has Lynsey Walker removed the band?”
“No father she is in even worse trouble.”
He smiled at her. “What has happened, sweet Orchid?”
“She is special father, she is like the Dragon.” Her father’s face dropped into a serious expression as he listened. “She is an immortal, she can talk to anyone. …and what is worse is that she is being forced to show them the location of the Pyramids.”
Her father’s face darkened. “That is not acceptable.”
“I also believe the dragon is being held in the temple, in a section I saw Lynsey taken from.”
“Why do you think that?”
“There was a distinctive odour I have never smelt before. They are keeping an animal below their temple and it definitely is no goat or chicken.”
“It is not beyond doubt, yet they did take the dragon. It cannot die. Our ancestors saw the head taken off and it regrew. It must be somewhere.”
Illyara waited as he voiced his thoughts.
“We cannot break into the heart of our enemy’s stronghold until we are certain. Our priority has to be to rescue Lynsey to stop them violating the pyramid and enriching themselves on our ancestors suffering.”
“They will be leaving within hours, father.”
“Then so shall we.”
Chapter 1 - Duat Chapter 2 - London - Present Day Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat Chapter 4 - Nomads Chapter 5 - Scorpion Chapter 6 - The Dragon Temple Chapter 7 - Assassin Chapter 8 - The Luscious Luna Chapter 9 - Arkan Blade Chapter 10 - Kidnapped Chapter 11 - Rescue Chapter 12 - Modesty Chapter 13 - Banquet Chapter 14 - Arkan Chapter 15 - Dancing with the King Chapter 16 - Dragon Brotherhood Chapter 17 - Pico Chapter 18 – The Dragon Chapter 19 – Settling Down Chapter 20 – Danger Revealed Chapter 21 – Betrayal Chapter 22 - A Meeting of Minds