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 31 – SEKHMET
The party lasted two more days while the families reacquainted with each other. Now the important business was dealt with, the nomads showed a side Lynsey was not expecting. She walked through the camp with a permanent grin plastered over her face. The drink was flowing and they even accepted Arkan. He seemed to be able to blend in with wherever he found himself. She watched him across the campfire as he threw back his head in laughter. He seemed more relaxed than she had ever seen him. She settled back, bringing the coral blanket tighter around her shoulders. A small voice invaded her thoughts.
“You know he looks so easy in their company because of his job.”
“What do you mean by that?” Lynsey responded stifling a yawn.
“He’s an assassin. It would not serve him well to stand out.”
Lynsey regarded Arkan again. Pico was right. It could all be an act. She bit her lip. Should she, could she trust him? What if he was in league with the king? Maybe he followed her to take her back. He did work for the man.
“I’m not saying he cannot be trusted but Lynsey, you need to be careful. we don’t want to spend an eternity bleeding in a basement with a dragon for company.”
Pico had a point.
The tribes said their farewells to each other in good spirits. On the second night travelling, Lynsey grabbed a shawl from beside her cushions and stole out of the tent. She paused holding the tent flap open for a moment to see Illyara mumble for a moment before turning over to fall back asleep in a shaft of moonlight.
She wasn’t wearing her sandals and the sand felt cool under her feet. The camp was dark and the glory of the stars were undeterred by clouds. She would never get fed up of that view.
A few more feet away she found Arkan lying on a blanket. He was staring up at the night sky. He showed no sign he knew she was there. She lay down beside him without saying a word, looking at his profile. She placed her hands under her head and waited. She hadn’t had a chance to talk to him since the night they found each other again. She twisted her neck to look up at the sky. She was close enough to feel heat radiating off him through his shirt in the cool air.
“They make you feel insignificant.” He said.
Lynsey stayed quiet.
“Have you been avoiding me Lynsey?” She heard him turn to look at her. She swallowed.
“I don’t know you.” She said simply.
He sighed. “I would do anything for you. I rescued you once remember. I could have a death sentence over my head. I have no idea if I do. I have risked everything for you.”
“You followed me from Ghinari.” It wasn’t a question but she had to be sure. This time it was Arkan’s turn to be silent as he looked away. After a minute he spoke.
“I thought you were gone. My career was over.” He let out a long sigh. “I didn’t know where you had gone but I needed to leave Ghinari – to disappear.”
“What we are going to do is very dangerous.” She replied. “If you are not sure…”
Arkan moved to lean on his elbow. He was facing her fully now. His long curly black hair fell forward over his chiselled features.
“Lynsey I will follow you wherever you want to go. I cannot go back working for the King. I love you.”
Lynsey’s breath caught in her throat. He’d said it. He clasped her nearest hand.
“Whatever you want, I will do it to prove to you that you mean everything to me.”
He seemed so sincere. She felt Pico shift in her mind as a warning. She wanted to believe him but the basement room with the dragon was her fate if she got it wrong. She struggled with the idea. Time would tell if he was telling the truth.
The trip back to Ghinari took another day. They spent the day talking about their childhoods at the back of the caravan, avoiding thinking about the future. There was no point confronting him about her fears. If Pico was right then he would hardly admit to it. She kept thinking of the saying, keep your enemies closer. Her heart told her he was not her enemy but this was not her world, she had no one to rely on beside herself. She had to choose her friends carefully.
Illyara weaved through her tribe to join them at the back. Lynsey hid a sigh of relief. It was hard trying to hide her confusion and Pico was not helping. He was literally the voice of reason in her mind and she did not want to hear it.
As they neared the city, they joined sparse groups of people. There was a mixture of people from merchants to the well-to-do but the closer they got to the gates, all around people were pushed in wooden wheelchairs or hobbling on crutches. The closer they walked, the denser the crowds became.
The nomads drew together to avoid losing each other. She felt Illyara’s hand take hers and she grabbed Arkan’s hand to her left. It was a good thing that the rest of the tribes had split up, even with the crowds entering the city, so many nomads in their distinctive cowls in the same place would have been suspicious.
Lynsey turned to look at where Illyara was standing to stare at a distant cousin of her friend. She squeezed Illyara’s hand. All tribesman who had the ability were invisible to thin down their visible numbers. The yelks were also spaced out in the caravan so they could walk between them without being knocked into and discovered by another traveller.
As they entered the city itself, there was a festive mood among the crowd and people were singing and dancing on the streets. Men and women were openly drinking wearing their best clothes. Arkan grabbed a passing reveller.
“What is going on?”
The Temple have announced a new festival. Everyone has the day off.”
“What is the festival in aid of?”
“Two hundred years since the day that they were supposed to have captured the dragon.”
“Has everyone gone mad?” Asked Lynsey.
“No,” replied the man. “For the first time in one hundred and fifty years Sekhmet is coming out of the temple. She is really old but they have promised that she will heal the sick.”
“How does she do that?”
The man looked at her oddly. “With her blood of course. It is said that in ancient times she drank the blood of the dragon and became Sekhmet. She will be at the Temple at mid-day, every day for a week to heal anyone who needs it. I must go and get my mother.” He shook of Arkan’s hand and ran off.
“They must be draining the dragon. They must have heard that we are coming”
Arkan let him go. “We must go and see this Sekhmet and report to the others tonight at the park.”
They pulled the hoods of their cloaks up and made their way through the streets avoiding eye contact with the revellers. Lynsey felt better knowing Illyara was beside her. If Arkan was going to betray her, now would be the time. Her heart began to race. She grinned, she had never felt so alive.
“You are beginning to enjoy danger, Lynsey.” Pico observed.
“I know. I’ve changed a lot since coming here.” She whispered the next words. “Immortality will do that to a girl.”
“Immortal yes, invulnerable no. You know what they have planned for you.”
It was a sobering thought. “Yes I do Pico. I remember.”
As they neared the Temple the crowds grew so thick it was almost impossible to go through. People were pushing and shoving to get to the front, trying to get a good look at the temple steps.
Arkan jabbed through a few people until they stood ten people back from the front near the edge of the steps. They had a good view but not to close they might come under the Temple guard’s scrutiny.
There was a long low note from a horn.
“It is beginning.” he shouted over the noise of the crowd. The double doors of the Temple were thrown open to the sound of the horn. A figure that Lynsey recognised stumbled through on to the steps supported by Baserius and another priest. Lynsey froze, cold running down her spine. She recognized that figure and voice. That was the priest from the dungeon.
“ … Sekhmet. I have drunk from the dragon and became an aspect of Sekhmet herself on this world.” The woman threw back her head and her hair shone silver in the harsh sunlight. “I was once blond like the lions. This is no more but I can still heal. Bring forth your sick and they will be healed by the will of Osiris and Sekhmet.”
Lynsey rolled her eyes. “She’s really lathering it on.”
“Lathering it?” Arkan’s voice was light and he leaned in to her hood. “What do you mean?”
“You know laying it on thick, making it more important than it is.”
“Healing is not a trivial matter. You can die from a cut.” Arkan looked back at the stage and back at her strangely. “You know if she can do it because of Dragon blood, you could probably do the same thing but you wouldn’t have to hurt anybody or anything to do it.”
Lynsey looked thoughtful. “I suppose so but I don’t know how she does it.”
As they talked people were lining up on the far side of the steps. Families were gathering with their ill members looking nervous as they waited in line. Sekhmet indicated for the first to come close and a man carried his daughter over to her and placed her before the woman on a chair. He spoke quietly and Sekhmet nodded.
“You see this child?” Her voice thick and raspy with age. “She has been in a coma for weeks after a carriage accident. The healers have not been able to do anything but I will heal her. I will first need an offering for my father Ra and brother Osiris.”
The man nodded and fumbled in his pockets. He offered a coin and a priest rushed forward to take it.
Yet another priest came forward with a gold knife and bowl. She took the knife and he held the bowl under her wrist. She looked up at the sky and started chanting.
“What’s she saying. “ Asked Lynsey.
“It will be old Egyptian.” Replied Arkan. “No one but the priest’s will be able to speak that.”
“Why can’t I understand it Pico?”
“It’s not actually old Egyptian. I think she’s making it up.”
The woman lowered then raised her arms to salute the sun and brought her right arm to just above the plate. With her left she took the blade and cut her arm. Blood bubbled to the surface of her skin and began to drip on to the bowl. As they watched the arm healed up until there was no sign that there had been any damage. She held her arm up the crowd to the sound of gasps.
The priest took the bowl to the girl and he nodded to the father who opened his daughter’s mouth. Sekhmet’s blood was poured in to her mouth and he closed it again.
A few seconds passed and then the girl began to twitch. She coughed and opened her eyes to smile at her dad.
A cheer went up in the crowd. Lynsey felt Illyara’s hand leave hers.
Sekhmet cured thirty people that day. Each one went through the ritual. Lynsey watched the rapt faces of the people around her. They believed. They would do anything for that woman right now. If anyone tried anything here then they would be set upon before they got within a few yards. Not that they could get any closer with all of the crowds.
Arkan took her hand and they walked away. It was time to join the others. By the time they got to the park it was already getting dark but they found the others easily. The park was full of strangers from outlying cities and villages but the nomads were gathered on the eastern edge of the park near the lake. They were greeted like long lost friends.
They found Illyara waiting with her parents. Within the tents there was no need to be invisible. The people seemed subdued.
“Did you go to see the Temple?”
“We did, there is a woman there who calls herself Sekhmet like you call me. She healed a few people and made a few more converts. I can’t see the city revolting any time soon.”
“We heard. She was there all those years ago when they captured the dragon. A woman fighter-priest was hurt in the capture and they slashed the dragon at the same time. His blood cured her. That is why they captured him. They must have found a way to prolong her life. They said she looked old though.”
“She did. If I didn’t know better I would say she was about eighty. She looked frail but I think that was an act because she definitely didn’t look frail when I met her in the Temple. Anything but!”
“Then the dragon’s blood cannot make her immortal only slow the aging process down. It will mean that she won’t be able to fight you very well. If nothing else if we fail she cannot last that much longer.”
“Two hundred years at eighty? If she would have lived to a hundred that would be twenty years at the old rate and a lot more at the prolonged rate.”
“66.666 years by my calculations.” Pico helpfully supplied.
“She could live another 66 years at least!”
“We can’t get into the Temple. There are too many people and even when the festival has gone, they’ve made sure the city is loyal to them.”
“There is another problem,” Lynsey said. ”Even if we were to break into the Temple in some way the dragon wouldn’t fit through the door. The Temple must have been built around the Dragon.”
“If that is the case then it will be more difficult than anticipated.
“If only he could breathe fire like in the myths.” Lynsey joked. ”We need a demolition squad to get him out. Wait” An idea formed in her head. “Do you have explosives here?”
“I can see what you are thinking, Lynsey.” Pico was whirling around her brain like an excited toddler. Sometimes she forgot he was less than a month old.
“No, there is nothing that will blast the door open if that is what you mean. We have nothing that will heat stone enough to catch fire.” Arkan was laughing at her.
“In my world when they want to bring down a building they use explosives. It’s a powder that when you light it up, it explodes.”
“Do you know how to make this?”
“No, but I can work it out. I read a lot when I was younger there must be something there that will help me. Those years in chemistry class must have taught me something.”
We need somewhere with very thick walls to mask the sounds when I am experimenting and we’ll need somewhere close to the temple so we can dig under it. We can blast in to it and then use the explosive to get him out. We’ll have to be ready to leave when it happens. I don’t think ‘Sekhmet’ will be very happy for her source of power to fly away.“
“I know of just such a place that will be perfect for both conditions.’
Later that day, Arkan led them to a house opposite the temple. It was made from the same stone and once contained a shop on the ground floor and living space on the second. They entered through the back and moved straight into the basement.
“Is this good enough?”
“Perfect.” A quick look around the room and she said. “I need a working space; table, charcoal, saltpeter and sulfur and a pestle and mortar. We’ll also need picks, shovels and a lot of luck!”
“I can do most of that, I’m not sure where to get the Saltpetre from.”
“I read that you can get it from bat poo?”
“I sometimes forget we’re not on Earth anymore.” She went silent to talk to Pico. “Pico, where can I get Saltpetre from?
“It’s potassium nitrate. We don’t have any bats on this world that I know of. …which also explains why he hasn’t heard of bats. Aha, a website you browsed when looking up Guy Fawkes mentioned that it appeared in caves naturally and they used it in the American Civil War.” Pico showed her the computer screen in her mind’s eyes.
“I don’t remember looking at that!”
“It doesn’t matter you did look at it and everything you did look at, I can show you again.
“Arkan, you can get the saltpeter from caves. It’s a white crust. When you get me sulphur, saltpetre and charcoal it is important they don’t mix. Do you know where to get the sulphur from?”
“Yes, they use it to dye clothes. I’ll be back in a few hours.”
While Lynsey was rearranging furniture, Mewlli arrived with a pestle and mortar and containers with lids. Behind him were several others each with a spade and pick. Lynsey pointed to the wall nearest the temple.
“We’re going to dig a tunnel into the temple to get to the dragon. We will then break down the walls so the dragon can escape.”
They broke through the foundations within hours. Lynsey wiped the sweat from her forehead. Working in this heat wasn’t pleasant but he had to show that she was prepared to do the hard stuff as well.
Arkan came back as promised with a sack each of what she asked for.
“How did you find the saltpetre?”
“I realised that the farmers might have used it for fertilizer so I took a bag from the warehouse. It shouldn’t be missed.”
Lynsey picked up a scoop and took a scoopful of the saltpetre and ground in the mortar with the pestle and put the ground powder into a container. She did the same for the other two powders.
“I need a spark to show how this will catch fire.”
Arkan brought out a fire drill and produced hot embers. He dropped them into the container and there was a whoosh.
The boys in the corner exclaimed and carried on digging faster.
They dug all night and all morning until they heard people gathering outside for the Sekhmet ritual. Several of the men went out to watch while the others carried on. A few hours later and some of the men did not come back. Lynsey worked combining different portions of the mixture until she got the best result. There was a shout and Mewlli came up from the tunnel.
“We’ve done it. We are underneath the tunnel. What now?”
“I need Illyara to do her bit.”
Chapter 1 - Duat Chapter 2 - London - Present Day Chapter 3 – Lynsey on Duat Chapter 4 - Nomads Chapter 5 - Scorpion Chapter 6 - The Dragon Temple Chapter 7 - Assassin Chapter 8 - The Luscious Luna Chapter 9 - Arkan Blade Chapter 10 - Kidnapped Chapter 11 - Rescue Chapter 12 - Modesty Chapter 13 - Banquet Chapter 14 - Arkan Chapter 15 - Dancing with the King Chapter 16 - Dragon Brotherhood Chapter 17 - Pico Chapter 18 – The Dragon Chapter 19 – Settling Down Chapter 20 – Danger Revealed Chapter 21 – Betrayal Chapter 22 - A Meeting of Minds Chapter 23 = Invisibility Chapter 24 - Desert Chapter 25 - Escape Chapter 26 - Gathering Chapter 27 - Search Chapter 28 - Temple Camp Chapter 29 - Decision Chapter 30 - Baserius