BOOK TWO: The Liberation of London--Part
Three & Epilogue
Liberation: Shifting Saharan Sands
Liberation: Book Two, Part One (Chapters 8-12)
Liberation: Book Two, Part Two (Chapters 13-17)
Docklands area, early October, afternoon
Ardeth was digging through the remains of a house near the destroyed Docklands, the last house on the street. Nothing much remained of the dwellings nearest the heavily industrial Docklands, and even less remained of the homes' contents as a result of the conflagration.
"Hey, there, friend, you've been quiet all afternoon," Rick told Ardeth as he came up behind the Medjai. "Would it help if I told you there's a hot dinner waiting at home?"
"Dinner is always appreciated," Ardeth responded, dodging what he knew Rick was trying to ask.
Picking up on Ardeth's reluctance to relay the details of his trip, Rick commented, "This street is pretty well destroyed. Imhotep at his worst didn't match the destruction wrought here. We've recovered a set of partially melted silverware and one painting that had been protected by the sofa when the painting fell behind the sofa."
"The Dark One's forces were pretty thorough," Ardeth agreed. Then he cocked his head, listening. "Do you hear that?"
"Planes? Wouldn't Nuit warn us if the planes were coming?" Rick grew instantly wary.
"It is not the whine of a bomber plane. It is the whine of a dog," Ardeth replied. He answered the faint whine with a high pitched whine of his own.
Two barks, weak, sounded to the right of where Rick was standing. Rick and Ardeth both went towards the sound of the barks. Rick whined, then Ardeth whined. More barks came from underneath a pile of wood which used to comprise the roof of a house. Rick and Ardeth started moving the rubble, accompanied by happy, though weak, barks.
Ardeth kneeled down and peered in the hole he and Rick had made in the rubble. Two bright eyes peered back at him and a pink tongue came out a dark mouth and tried to lick his face. Ardeth moved away, a smile on his face despite his sadness, and started to clear more rubble.
A scraggly, hungry-thin retriever wriggled out of the hole. Getting up on shaky feet, the dog shook its tail and put a wet nose into Ardeth's hand. "Well, who do we have here?" he asked the dog, petting the dog's matted, dirty coat.
"There we go! Life appears from the rubble," Rick commented as Alex came up beside the two men and the dog.
"Dad! Where did he come from?" Alex asked his father as he knelt down to pet the dog. "Hey there, boy! You okay? You want some food? Some water?"
Rick took note of the address the dog was found in while Alex led the dog over to the lorry the O'Connell's were using. Reaching into the front seat of the lorry, Alex pulled out some leftover meat.
"Alex? Don't give him too much at first. Just a tad, or else he'll throw it up," Rick called out to his son. The dog sniffed the meat, then accepted the meat and wolfed it down.
"Slow down there, fella! Don't want you to get sick!" Alex said, petting the dog. "Want some water?" Alex asked as he rummaged around and pulled out a bowl. He poured some water into the bowl and set the bowl down on the ground. The dog drank thirstily.
Rick and Ardeth made their way over to the lorry. "We're finished up on this street, Alex. Let's move on to the next street."
The dog barked for more water and Rick bent down to pet the dog. "Not too much at first, boy. We'll give you more later on. Want to go for a ride?" he asked the dog, who barked and jumped into the lorry.
Ardeth smiled. "He's happy to see people again. I wonder how long he's been down in the rubble. Part of the roof collapsed quite recently."
"The Docklands were destroyed on the 7th, so it's nearly a month," Alex said, reaching in and petting the dog.
"How can you tell the roof collasped recently?" Rick asked of Ardeth.
"The wood splinters were fresh and yellow. Time in the elements would have discolored the wood," Ardeth replied. The dog barked happily at the attention from Alex and rolled over against the back of the seat, asking Alex to rub its stomach.
"Can we keep him? Please?" Alex inquired, looking at the dog. "Ooops. He's a she. "We're already stabling Thunder Sky until he can be returned to his owner."
"Of course, but only until we can locate her owners."
"Can we go to the Times and place an ad?" Alex asked his father.
"Speaking of the Times, Ardeth, how did you know to place an ad in the newspaper?"
"It was not I who placed the ad. It was Martha Dunlop, from Land's End. I asked her to try and contact you here in London."
"That's why you didn't send a telegram!" Rick exclaimed.
"I had asked her to send a telegram. She must have placed the ad as well or instead of the telegram. Anyways, I am here. And I need to find Martin," Ardeth's voice sounded melancholy.
The dog whined and tried to get Ardeth's attention. He responded without thinking and petted the dog. He remained silent as he petted the dog.
"Dad, let's go check for the mail that's come through. Maybe another letter came from Jonathan."
"Excellent idea. Ardeth?"
Ardeth nodded and the three men climbed into the lorry. The dog sat on Ardeth's lap, with its nose out the window, sniffing the air as Rick carefully drove the lorry around the debris. The men were silent, looking on in horror as the lorry wended its way around the destruction the Luftwaffe had wrought with their incendiary bombs over London.
Once at the temporary post office, Rick and Alex went to inquire about their mail while Ardeth waited outside next to the lorry. The dog was taking short runs away from Ardeth, then coming back and jumping up on Ardeth's chest. He couldn't help but smile at the dog's antics.
"Friendly girl, aren't you?" he asked her, petting her (much to her delight!) "What's your name? I'll call you, what shall I call you? Khuta? Would you like that name?"
The newly renamed Khuta merely barked as Rick and Alex came out carrying heavy boxes.
"Can I help?" Ardeth asked.
"There's more inside. Most of them are for you," Alex replied.
Ardeth looked surprised.
"Here, take a look," Rick told him, showing him a box addressed to King Arthur, c/o Rick O'Connell, London. "It's from your friends in Cornwall," Rick continued and smiled at Ardeth. "You certainly were popular during your stay in Cornwall."
"Apparently so," Ardeth replied and went inside to help load the boxes. Khuta followed him, barking happily at her new-found master. Ardeth soon emerged from the postall office laden with two heavy boxes.
"Ardeth! This letter's from the Dunlops,"
Alex said as he began to read a letter from David and Martha Dunlop. Ardeth
put the two boxes down then went to stand beside Alex as he read the letter.
Mummy says that I am to write and say thank you once again for telling me a bedtime story. I really enjoyed hearing Siosire and the Magician of Nubia! Mummy's been reading to me stories about Egypt.
I drew this picture of you on our stallion. Here it is! I hope you enjoy it.
(transcribed by his mum)
ps from Martha: The Town of Land's End is sending along the enclosed items for the Red Cross. A Canadian warship passed off the western coast. Thomas Wheaton had wired to the ship's crew and they gathered these things for those made homeless in London by the Nasty Man. Thomas and David went out on the boat to pick up the supplies.
Your obedient servants,
"Quite the artist, being just four," Rick commented, looking at the drawing.
"Exceptionally well drawn. Art school is in his future," Ardeth replied, quite impressed and touched by David's letter. He put the letter and drawing into a pocket in his black robes.
"Dad!" Alex exclaimed. "Take a look at the Dunlops sent!" He had opened one of the boxes from Martha Dunlop. Inside were dozens of pairs of knitted socks, blankets, sweaters, tinned food, sweets, magazines.
"We'll take these down to the school's bomb shelter," Rick softly said, "then we'll pass them out."
"Agreed," Ardeth and Alex said together as they tried to hoist the boxes into the lorry, but Khuta kept twining herself amongst the men, wanting to be a part of the action and barking happily.
"Come on, girl. Let's go for a ride to
the school bomb shelter. I bet the kids there will love to see you!" Alex
told the retriever when the men finally had loaded the lorry with the boxes.
Khuta obeyed, and jumped into the lorry when she settled down on Ardeth's
After dinner that same day...a pot of water is on the stove
"So, can we see the Bracelet?" Evie asked Ardeth, who was sitting in the chair closest to the fire in the kitchen's fireplace. Khuta was curled up at Ardeth's feet and except for greeting the children at the school's bomb shelter, she had scarcely left Ardeth's side since she had been rescued. The remaining villagers were asleep in the O'Connell's basement.
All of the village's young men and women had left to sign on with the Red Cross, the village children were evacuated to Ireland and the villagers remaining were staunchly determined to show Hitler London would not fall.
Although blackout restrictions were in heavy effect for London (and the rest of England), and the windows of the Carnahan O'Connell estate were covered with two layers of thick blackout curtains, the kitchen was in a central part of the ancient home, and the light from the fire was not visible from the outside.
The O'Connell's had decided to risk building a fire during blackout mainly as a result of the central kitchen fireplace having served in times past as the central heating unit for most of the house. Rick had reasoned that building a fire would cut down on the cost of heating the rather large house.
And with the smoke from the destroyed areas of London still rising day and night, Rick had thought the smoke from the kitchen fire shouldn't raise the sights of a Messerschmidt.
"Yeah, Ardeth, can we see the Bracelet? You were so haggard looking last night when you arrived that we didn't want to ask more of you than was necessary," Alex inquired of Ardeth, who nodded and pulled out from beneath his black robes a leather pouch.
"Your arrival was rather quiet," Rick observed, watching Ardeth intently.
"Nuit came to me last night and told me she sent her apologies for not giving me a welcome upon my arrival in London, but she and the rest of the Gods were trying to prevent her wayward son from learning of my arrival in London. Any more action on her part would have served to inform Seth of my arrival. It seems that Seth's Chosen One is bent on destroying more than just London," Ardeth said as he opened the pouch and pulled out the Bracelet.
"Wow! That is some workmanship!" Rick and Alex breathed as his wife asked, "What do you mean, destroying more than just London?"
Ardeth glanced at Evie as he held the Bracelet of Lostris up. The thick bands of electrum gleamed in the firelight and the emeralds glinted as if lit from within with a supernatural power.
"Ardeth! Tell me what you meant!" Evie demanded. Her eyes wide, her mouth open, she was reaching out for the Bracelet. Glimmers of golden light shot forth from the Bracelet and enveloped Ardeth. Evie waited for something else to happen, but the light seemed content to swirl around Ardeth. He seemed to relax when the golden threads swirled around him.
"You are a Daughter of Egypt and you, Rick," Ardeth indicated with a nod of his head, "have made a friend of my people. I will tell you that Hitler plans on destroying the Egyptian Gods and the Afterlife by destroying all tombs, stele, temples and artifacts. This much the Gods informed me."
Evie gasped, putting her hand to her mouth. Alex wanted to know, "Can Hitler do that? Destroy the Egyptian afterlife?" he asked of his parents, and of Ardeth.
Ardeth nodded. "If he's given enough power, he can destroy anything."
"Is that why you were so reluctant to tell us about your journey here?" Evie asked, hearing the teapot begin to whistle. She got up from her seat to attend to another pot of tea as Alex muttered, "We drink a lot of tea nowadays."
"I heard that, Alex!" his mother said as she took the whistling teapot, perhaps the only object in the O'Connell household that appeared unaffected by the destruction of London, off the stove. Dumping some loose tea into the pot, she carried the pot to the table next to the chairs by the fire.
"No. No, that is not the reason why I was reluctant to tell you about my journey," Ardeth replied as the firelight glinted off the large emeralds in the Bracelet--the Eyes of Lostris. He was wanting to sidestep Evie's question.
"You said that Taita fashioned the Bracelet. Did it prevent you from drowning?" Evie asked, taking a tea strainer and straining the tea out before starting to pour it. "I've been having nightmares about you drowning at Seth's hand."
"Yes. Taita, Lostris and Imhotep helped me and Martin to survive the two times Seth tried to drown us," Ardeth replied, opening the leather pouch again to put the Bracelet back in. "The first time was in a wadi in Libya and the next time, although I choose to believe it to be a freak wave, was when we were crossing the English Channel towards Portsmouth."
"Imhotep!" Alex exclaimed. "But he's in the Underworld! We saw him dive into the Underworld after Ancksunamum betrayed him!"
Ardeth held up his hand. "With so much going on, your history isn't up to par, Alex. I am referring to the Great Imhotep, Architect of the Step Pyramid."
Alex looked skeptical and he looked at his mother. "It's true, Alex. Imhotep built the Step Pyramid and is the first named physician. There's still an underground cult which worships Imhotep."
"Twice? Seth tried to drown you twice? He didn't try to drown you on your trip across the Med?" Rick asked Ardeth.
"Strangely, no, he did not try any tricks while Martin and I were crossing the Med on the Eye of Horus."
"Apty named," Evie noted. "Horus and Seth had battled for ages over the Throne of Osiris with Horus finally winning. Where did she hail from?"
"A supply ship with a home port of Alexandria, with a stop at Tripoli and then onto the port of Nice," Ardeth replied.
"Can I have a closer look at the Bracelet?" Evie asked and Ardeth nodded. Evie held out her hand and Ardeth slipped the Bracelet onto her slender wrist. The golden tendrils of light were momentarily confused and turned all sorts of colors as the tendrils tried to figure out to where Ardeth had disappeared.
"They are confused," Ardeth noted and not knowing why, he held out his hand towards the Bracelet. The multi-colored tendrils of light, sensing his pulse, quickly enveloped Ardeth again, and once again turned golden as they settled down, protecting Ardeth.
"They seem to like you," Rick observed drily.
"The Bracelet confers an invisibility spell when it becomes necessary," Ardeth commented, further explaining how the Bracelet worked.
"Invisibility?" Alex asked, surprised. "Think of what you could do if you were invisible! You could go inside the SS headquarters, and kidnap Hitler!" he finished emphatically.
"Alex, I don't think the Bracelet would allow one to do that," his mother told him as she finished pouring the tea for everyone.
"Now hold on, Evie. Ardeth?" Rick said, quite interested in hearing Ardeth's answer. If only Hitler could have be killed in action early on in the war!
"The Bracelet confers invisibility when the enemy is near and needs no incantation to activate the spell," he replied. "That is how Martin and I traveled across France without the SS knowing we were passing right by them. Many times we passed less than a dozen yards from an encampment and the guards neither heard us nor saw us."
"Then it would be possible to use the Bracelet to get to Hitler," Alex said a bit forcefully, picking up his tea mug and taking a sip, proud of himself.
"It probably would be possible to use it for that purpose," Ardeth agreed, taking up his cup and copied Alex by taking a sip. "But the forces of the Dark One are strong around Hitler and I do not know the strength of the spell that Taita used. One must be careful of Egyptian spells."
"Don't we know that!" Rick noted as he too copied the other men and sipped his tea, then made a bit of a face. "Honey? I do have to agree with Alex that we're up to our ears in tea. Is there any coffee? I am American you know."
"We will start rationing the tea next week in case the war goes on for years, although Tallulah stored enough tea to supply the army. But no coffee," Evie replied crisply, then said, "I agree with Ardeth. Egyptian spells can backfire. Look what happened when I read the protective spell on the sarcophagus sheltering Imhotep's remains. Plagues, khamsin winds and other nasties came out of that spell."
"It would be nice if we could use the Bracelet of Lostris to kidnap Hitler and bring him to justice early on," said Alex, who took a larger sip of his hot tea.
"I would have to agree with that statement, Alex. But there is one more spell that needs to be read, and read by Martin," Rick said, and Ardeth nodded.
"I do not know what that spell is. Perhaps it is one from the Book of Thoth," Ardeth replied, taking a sip of his tea.
"What's the Book of Thoth?" Alex asked, leaning forward in his chair. Egyptian magic highly interested him.
Ardeth glanced sharply at Alex. "It is a very powerful book of ancient magic. The Greeks re-wrote the Book and called it the Hermetica. The forty two papryus scrolls are said to contain a very powerful magical spell which confers power over every living thing, including the Gods themselves."
"And you suspect that particular spell is needed?" Evie asked Ardeth, the Bracelet still gleaming on her slender wrist.
In reply, Ardeth nodded.
"What else does the Book contain?" Alex inquired of Ardeth.
"The accumulated ancient knowledge of Egypt," he told the youngster. "But the original scrolls were lost in antiquity and no copy has ever been found, although the Hermetica survives, as do numerous references to the Book in other scrolls."
"Do we have a copy of the Hermetica?" Alex asked his mother, who shook her head.
"Can we get a copy?" Rick asked.
"Perhaps we could check the Antiquities Museum," Evie noted, sitting back in the leather chair and finally taking a sip of her own tea.
"The last time we were at the Museum we had lots of nasty demons chasing us before chasing us through London," Rick reminded his wife. "I'm not that keen on going there again."
"At least we need to check, dad. I can go tomorrow," Alex said.
"No!" the three adults said in unison. Alex looked suprised.
"I will go," Ardeth told the O'Connells.
"Why can't I go?" Alex wanted to know.
"The Book of Thoth is very powerful, even if the book has been re-written by the Greeks. Just reciting the spells could cause catastrophe and I know you can read ancient Greek," Ardeth told a miffed Alex, who responded by taking a sip of his tea.
Alex swallowed his tea, then muttered, "That's what I get for learning ancient languages."
"He's right, Alex. Remember what I did to loose the High Priest Imhotep on Egypt when I read the spell on Imhotep's sarcophagus," Evie said, well remembering the day when she unwittingly loosed Imhotep and his formidable powers.
At night, she sometimes woke up with a dry cough in conjunction with a nightmare about being blown halfway across the Egyptian Sahara in a windstorm Imhotep had created. Then she continued, "Well, that settles it. Ardeth will go to the antiquities museum tomorrow and see about the Hermetica. I'm not sure if there's anything we can do about locating Martin. Are you sure he's still alive?"
"Yes. The Bracelet thrums. You can not feel it?" Ardeth asked of Evie, who was still wearing the Bracelet.
"It only feels a little warm," she replied, and, without knowing why, she flung her arms out. The Bracelet slipped off Evie's slender wrist and flew through the air towards the opposite wall, the firelight gleaming on the emeralds.
"Noooooo!" Rick said as he dropped his tea cup and ran after the Bracelet, trying to catch it before the Bracelet fell to the kitchen's stone floor.
He missed, and the Bracelet bounced off the wall and fell to the floor and bounced three times before breaking into three parts. The Bracelet lay on the stone floor, gleaming in the firelight.
"Honey!" Rick said as he, Evie and Alex looked horrified, their faces pale in the firelight. The tendrils of golden light flared brighter momentarily and a faint male voice came from the golden light: "Hail! Do you need..." before fading out.
Ardeth, however, was undisturbed by the Bracelet's seemingly horrid fate. Still surrounded by threads of golden light, Ardeth rose from his chair to inspect the Bracelet. "It looks like Taita had fashioned the Bracelet to be broken into three parts," Ardeth explained, showing Evie how the parts of the electrum and emerald studded bracelet fit together.
"It looks like nothing's happened!" Evie gasped, relief showing on her face. Rick came over to inspect the Bracelet, taking it apart and fitting it together again.
"I think he is right. Taita fashioned the Bracelet to be broken into three parts. He's clever, that Taita, obviously a puzzle lover. But why?" Rick asked of the group.
"We shall have to ask Martin when he arrives if the Bracelet has lost some of its power," Alex said wanly.
"Do not underestimate the power of three," Ardeth told the young man. "The golden light still surrounds me."
The foursome sat down in their chairs, then grew quiet, the argument won in Ardeth's favor. Each was lost in their own thoughts until Ardeth began to speak in a soft voice.
"They were a family on their way home, to Oxford: a mother, son and daughter getting a heads up on their journey home as soon the day grew bright enough to see the roadway clearly.
"It was two days ago. The night had been cold, and ice had formed on the roadway and the bridges across the Thames by the early morning. Thunder Sky had needed rest, so I stopped to rest him and had dozed off for some hours.
I had woken with the dawn--the Gods had given me a soft dream and I had found I had slept a few hours. I was riding hard towards London when I heard the mother's scream and pushed Thunder Sky to his limits. When I came over the crest of the hill and looked down, I saw the mother treading the waters of the Thames, screaming frantically, "Help my children!"
I rode down the hill and took a flying leap off Thunder Sky, for the auto was submerged in the water and if they were still alive, the children didn't have much time. I dove down into the freezing water and tried to get the children out."
Ardeth grew quiet for a moment, his eyes distant, then he continued his narrative.
"I got a hold of the younger child first, Hildred, pulled her out and swam to the surface where I handed her to her mother. I went back for Ewan, did the same, then swam to the Thames' banks with the child.
But Hildred and Ewan were limp, very cold and their lips were blue."
His throat closing up, Ardeth reached for the cup of tea and took a sip. Swishing the hot liquid around his mouth, he tried to wash out the taste of fear from his memory. Nothing in his training, nothing in his upbringing, nothing that the mind of Imhotep could dredge up to scare him, nothing could compare with the memory he was reliving.
The O'Connells listened in silence. When Ardeth felt ready, he continued.
"We were trying to resuscitate the children for an hour. It was then I realized the meaning of their limp limbs and blue lips when they were trapped under the waters of the Thames: the children were already dead. The water was too cold for their hearts to withstand and their hearts had stopped before I had dived into the water.
I sat with Iolanthe for some time and she told me about Hildred and Ewan until a government lorry drove by carrying uniforms for new recruits. The soldiers wrapped the childrens' bodies in blankets and carried them and their mother to the hospital--their mother for medical treatment and the children went to the morgue."
Ardeth grew quiet and stared in the distance for a long time. Evie quietly got up and put her hand on his shoulder. Ardeth didn't acknowledge her but continued to stare into the distance. Evie nodded at Alex and silently asked him to refill Ardeth's tea mug.
Alex knelt in front of Ardeth and held the mug until Ardeth was ready to accept it.
The Underworld, Sometime in Eternity (scuttlebutt puts the earth bound date as October 28, 1940)
"That bastard! That backstabbing bastard! That dirty, double-crossing, double-damned bastard!" Seth stated quietly, then stamped his foot, and the Underworld reverberated.
Imhotep merely stood in front of Seth, his intense eyes looking at the flame-haired, cerulean eyed Seth--an angry Seth. He couldn't blame Seth for stamping his foot and shaking the Underworld so violently that every demon in the Underworld stopped what they were doing to look at the cause of the commotion.
Growling, Seth asked, "You know what this means, don't you High Priest of my brother?"
"Yes, I do."
"And you're damned right I'm going to call a truce with my mother and join the Gods in stopping that bastard!" Seth said, tossing his flaming hair. Seth's anger had ignited his long red hair and flames of fire shot out from the tendrils of hair as Seth tossed his head.
"So Hitler thinks he can double cross me,
eh? Hitler will soon find out the wrath of an Egyptian God spurned when
I rain on his parade," Seth stated and shook flaming hair and sparks flew,
then he went to the Throne Room, Imhotep trailing him by a few steps.
A few minutes later in the Throne Room in the Underworld, at a hastily assembled meeting of the Egyptian Gods (not all of them are present)
"And I," Seth's gravelly voice rang out in the Throne Room. "I, Seth, God of Wind and Storms, God of Foreign Lands, I as an Egyptian God, wish to call a truce with you, Mother," he said, and his mother caught her breath.
Seth continued his speech, "And I wish to call a truce with all the Gods so that we may wipe that double-crossing bastard from the living and put him into the Underworld, where I can have the pleasure of torturing him for eternity," Seth told those Gods who were able to make the hasty meeting.
"Dear son," Nuit said, tears of gold falling down her cheeks and onto Seth's still-flaming hair. "We were so engaged in protecting Ardeth and keeping his arrival in London a secret from you, that we overlooked the obvious fact which Imhotep relayed to us: the fact that Hitler is planning on destroying the Egyptian afterlife and destroying the Egyptian Gods."
"And that includes you, Seth. We apologize," Osiris told his brother.
"No one wants to be destroyed," Hathor said, flicking her lion's ears.
"Just the thought of being destroyed makes me want to shudder and crack the earth open," Seth's father, Geb, said.
"We just didn't think, we were that upset about Hitler's plans. When Imhotep told us what your protoge Hitler was planning for Egypt and her Gods and afterlife, well, all of us got scared and didn't think," Nepthys told her husband.
"We just acted, and forgot that if the Egyptians Gods were destroyed, that would include you as well," Osiris told his brother again, whose flaming hair was still shooting sparks.
Seth looked at his wife gently, then looked at his brother. "It is I who needs to apologize to everyone, including Ardeth," Seth said, and bowed deeply to his brother, then bowed to those Gods and Goddesses in attendance. "I trusted Hitler but he is more evil than evil itself."
"A wayward spell on a ushabti," Imhotep breathed. "Hitler is like a ushabti doll without a protective spell to keep the ushabti from turning devious on its master."
"I agree with you, Imhotep. I too was bent on finding someone to help me that I forgot to place a protective spell on my chosen one," Seth told Imhotep.
"What will you do, Seth?" Bastet purred, then shyly winked a green eye and flicked her ears at Imhotep, who, in his golden robes, was standing next to Seth. Imhotep, despite himself, showed a slight smile on his face.
"Why, Bastet! Has it been that long since we've rattled in the reeds? I am the God of Wind and Storms." Seth turned to his mother. "Mother? Will you assist me?"
"Of course. What do you need me to do?" she replied, and Geb, her husband and brother, hugged her. The family was finally coming together in this time of need.
Seth laughed heartily, his laughter ringing throughout the Throne Room, into the Underworld and out into the Afterlife. "I'm going to create a rainstorm for Hitler. And if Imhotep is correct, Ardeth will soon be unleashing the power of the Bracelet of Lostris to repel the bomber planes from London."
"Ardeth will need to incant the Spell of Osiris," Isis warned.
Thoth nodded. "And as a result of the unusual circumstances, I will agree to my most powerful spell being used to repel Hitler. It is for our continued existence."
"Seth?" Bes asked, rubbing his hands together. Fighting usually wasn't his domain, except the fight of a woman giving birth but Bes figured that fighting to protect his own immortality was worth delving into another God's area.
Seth turned, then looked down at the dwarf god. "Yes?"
"How about creating a windstorm to drive the planes back to where Hitler lives?"
At that question, even the normally stoic Imhotep grinned hugely, then laughed along with the assembled Egyptian Gods. "Now, that, Bes, would be a slap in Hitler's face! While you're at it, Seth, why not do like you did with Ardeth and turn the planes upside down and shake the pilots out in front of Hitler's headquarters?"
Now Seth's deep laughter rang out again. "That would teach the bastard to double-cross an Egyptian God!"
Early morning, October 28, 1940, Carnahan O'Connell estate
Khuta was howling quite loudly.
"Ooo, that dog can wake the dead!" Evie exclaimed as she pushed back the covers on the matrimonial bed. It was a chilly morning and goosebumps appeared on Evie's arms as she got out of the warm bed she shared with her husband.
"Too bad Nuit doesn't soften her howls like she does the squeals of the bombs," Rick noted as checked his watch to make sure the sun was up and blackout restrictions were lited for the day, then he flipped the switch on the lamp next to the bed and watched his wife slip off her dressing gown. Standing next to the lamp, Evie's slender shape was silhouetted in the soft lamplight.
"Methinks somebody's a bit hungry this morning," Rick growled to his wife.
She smiled at him. "Not now, darling. Ardeth's in the next room."
"He lives in a tent. He's used to hearing it," Rick noted drily.
"Later on this morning, when Ardeth's gone out to confer with the Gods," Evie whispered conspiratorially. "Really, you men. It's war and you want to go to bed."
"Have to save the species, you know," Rick noted with a tone of sadness as Evie got dressed in trousers and a thick plaid sweater.
"Later," she whispered. "I'm off to see what's she's howling at this time," Evie responded.
"It's probably Ducky she's cornered. She's a retriever and she wants to retrieve Ducky. It's what she does," Rick noted as his wife went off to find and quiet Khuta.
As she came down into the kitchen, she noticed Ardeth sitting at the table, drinking a cup of tea. The government rationed two ounces of tea per person per week, but thanks to foresighted Tallulah's stockpile, Evie had calculated the O'Connells had a five year stockpile if they limited their tea consumption to three pots daily.
Tallulah had not thought to stockpile coffee so when the men went out for Operation Take Out, Rick satiated his thirst for coffee in one of London's bustling coffee shops that now mainly supplied coffee to the Allied military men.
"You are up with the dawn," she noted to Ardeth as she took a mug and poured herself some tea.
"It is a habit of the desert. One awakens with the dawn," Ardeth replied, looking at Evie with his dark eyes, with ghosts of black shadows under his lower lids.
"Do you know why Khuta is howling?"
"She is chasing the duck that has taken up residence with you," he answered, sipping his tea. He took a piece of oven-warm bread from the plate, and took a bite.
"Why doesn't Ducky fly away?"
"He feels safe here and knows Khuta won't harm him," Ardeth replied. "She is a lost dog and wants to return to her former owners. She is merely playing with Ducky and he is playing along with her."
"Strange game they have."
"I have been meaning to ask you why you have a duck floating in your bathtub."
"He came on the 7th. And he's decided he likes it here," Evie replied, sipping her tea. "Ow! You like this tea hot!"
"I am a man of the desert. All things I like are hot," Ardeth replied before sipping his tea.
"I am half-English. Rain is in my blood and there are some things I like cool," she told him as she blew on her tea to cool it. "So, where are Khuta and Ducky?"
"In one of the guest bedrooms, trying to hide from each other," Ardeth replied, taking another bite of his bread.
"Would you like something else to eat? Cheese? The town of Cheddar has sent along hundreds of cheese wheels. They will certainly supplement the measly one ounce of cheese per person per week the British government is keen on handing out."
"Cheese, yes. Thank you."
Evie got up to get one of the cheese wheels. She brought it back to the table, and taking a knife, sliced a piece then handed it to Ardeth.
"You know, the supplies the Cornwall natives have been sending in to help London have certainly done that--help. There are many children who wouldn't have a winter coat but for Cornwall natives. I realize Cornwallians won't be able to send along food supplies forever but every bit helps."
Ardeth accepted the cheese and took a bite. "Cornwallian and Cheddar hospitality is certainly commendable, given the strict rations. I've written the Dunlops a letter. Thank you for assisting me with written English."
"Never a problem. Mail's a little slow these days."
"Hitler certainly has seen to that."
"Jonathan's latest letter said he's been approved as a foster father to Ian Mathewson."
"That is good news! I am sorry I missed the reading of his latest letter. May I hear it read later?"
"Yes. His letter contains very good news. The swiftness that Jonathan decided to become a foster father to Ian and Children's Services approval is rather surprising. Children's Services tended to be slow before the blitz, although they are sending thousands of children to Australia and South Africa. Ireland's far enough away."
"Children need a home during this war and war is not good for children. Amongst the Tuareg, orphan children are taken care of by the entire tribe."
"Jonathan writes that he is planning on staying on in Ireland a while longer, although he dated the letter in early October," Evie said but Ardeth shook his head. "Why are you shaking your head?"
"Jonathan will be coming to London, soon," Ardeth replied, sipping his tea.
"How do you....oh! The Gods have spoken to you."
"No. It is a feeling. Jonathan will be arriving in London sooner than you think."
"How soon? Is he hurt?" Evie's concern for her brother showed in the tone of her voice.
"He is safe and he will be here soon. Within days, if not today," Ardeth replied cryptically, taking a sip of his tea.
"Have you made any headway on finding the Spell of Osiris?" Evie asked. "I can't find any reference to the spell in my library."
"Not a reference. The antiquities museum contained nothing from the Hermetica. We must wait until Martin gets here to break Hitler's hold over London."
"The bombs have intensified and they're using more incendiary bombs," Evie noted as she too sipped her tea. "I suppose there isn't much left of the homes you are taking inventory of for Operation Take Out," she added sadly.
"No, not much is left of the houses or their belongings," Ardeth agreed. "The destruction, I think, is beginning to take a toll on Alex. Khuta is good for him, she reminds him of when we found her in the rubble near the Docklands," he noted to Evie, then continued. "There will be much to repair when Hitler's stranglehold on London is broken. And not all of the repairs will be material."
Evie nodded her head. "I agree. It's been nearly two months since the daily bombardment began."
"The citizens have had to incorporate daily air raid drills into their lives. There will be much emotional scarring, particularly in the young. They will not know what to do with themselves once the daily bombing has stopped."
"Do you think the Spell of Osiris can stop the bombings once and for all?" Evie wanted to know.
Ardeth looked at Evie with concern. "It is a very powerful spell which confers power even over the Gods themselves, not unlike the Bracelet of Osiris. But I do not think that the spell can stop Hitler, merely detract him long enough so that England may build up her forces again and keep Hitler from attaining his goal of subjugating England."
He took a sip of his tea, then another bite of the cheese which Cheddar had contributed to King Arthur's quest. Then he continued, "but you know, with the shorter hours of daylight as autumn progresses, Hitler would have to scale back his daily bombing."
"But not the night time bombing."
"True," Ardeth replied.
"There are some rumours going around that Hitler has started concentration camps, where he is killing people by the thousands on a daily basis," Evie said and Ardeth started, his face pale.
"Those rumours are likely true," he replied. "The Gods said Hitler wants to annihilate the afterlife of Egypt, and annihilating an entire living population is not beyond Hitler's capacity."
"We are doomed if Hitler succeeds with taking down London," Evie said, her voice shaking a bit. Her hand shook and the tea cup threatened to fall out of her slender hand. Ardeth reached over to steady Evie's hand.
"Hitler will not succeed. Martin will be here, with the proper spell to incant, and the Bracelet will use its power to expel Hitler's forces from London. At least, long enough for Britian to gather enough forces to confront him and eventually kill him."
"I hope so," Evie replied. "I am scared."
The two friends sat in silence, sipping their tea, until Rick and Alex arrived downstairs for breakfast of tea, cheese and bread.
As had been the habit since Ardeth arrived in London several weeks ago, the three men would be working another day of Operation Take Out and then they would deliver the latest shipment of boxes from the Cornwall natives to various bomb shelters around London. Rationing was extreme, and the extra food supplies were well appreciated.
Late the next morning, October 29, near lunch, the day had dawned overcast with drizzle
"Mum, dad! Here's another letter from Jonathan! One of the villagers brought it in. Do you want me to read it aloud?" Alex said as he came into the kitchen where Ardeth, Rick, Evie and Khuta were seated in the kitchen.
"Yes, please," his mother replied as she sat down on a large chair next to the fireplace and curled up next to her husband. Ardeth, with Khuta at his feet, was sitting at the kitchen table, inspecting the Bracelet.
Alex's deep tenor voice was quiet as he relayed Jonathan's latest letter. "Its dated 20 October."
"That was quick mail this time around,"
Rick noted quietly about the letter's date.
My last letter failed to relate an event which occurred in our northern neighbor and there simply was not enough time to relate the event to you during my brief stay back in London. I trust you are satisfied with my letters, which I enjoy writing.
After arranging for the vaults, I had a most unusual meeting in a pub--the poet Hugh MacDiarmid (the pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve) and he and I struck up a friendship over mash and bangers. All right, I admit I ordered the mash and bangers while Hugh--a true Scotsman indeed--dived into a bowl of haggis!
The bashed neeps were rather good, though, and I consumed two bowls in exchange for more of my tea.
Really, sister dear, the government rations two ounces of tea per person per week! No wonder I made fast friends by exchanging tea and other sundries for services! I know I have made previous mention of Tallulah's enormous stockpile of food, clothing and supplies, but until I traveled several times by train through our mother land, I didn't fully realize the full effects of the government's rather stringent per-person weekly rationing.
Dear, sweet Tallulah! How much better we can help those made homeless by the Luftwaffe with the supplies she stockpiled!
Moving on, I've enclosed a copy of a chapbook of Hugh's which he presented to me. The poems are written in Scots but with your ability in languages, I trust you'll be able to decipher Scots and translate the poems.
Despite the daily bombardment of London, the plane ride to Liverpool was rather uneventful, although I had the scariest vision that a line of Messerschmidts would appear on the horizon, flying towards us, our tiny plane in their sights and the Germans would be ready to shoot Jonathan and Jonathan down over the English heaths.
Irish air is quite beneficial to the children, who grow more hale and hearty with each passing day. The fresh air ruddies their cheeks and their eyes smile as we've always heard how Irish eyes smile.
I watch the children, who, for the present time, laugh at seeing ruminants grazing alongside the rural lanes, and shout out their amazement upon seeing a dolmen or the ruins of an ancient castle. Their laughter rings out as they play, and I grow sad.
Their childhoods (and parents) have been cruelly stolen from them and once again you and I (along with the rest of the world) have to bear witness to the ravages of another war. This is no "Phoney War" (oh! but how we could use another period of inactivity again!) but a manifestation of the horrors their uncles and elder brothers told around the fireside about the trenches and mustard gas.
We ourselves had barely recovered from the first war when the winds of war were once again loosed and another generation of children are torn from the safety of their childhood and thrust into a forced adulthood.
In that sense, I am glad the Irish air is doing the children well and once again they can believe they are children, if only for a short while, for when they return to London, no matter what their ages, they will be forced to grow up sooner rather than later. Such are the invisible casualties of war upon the human race.
The children express concern for those youngsters left behind in London, for they hear the radio reports about the continuing daily bombing by the Luftwaffe. Being separated from their parents and all that they knew and being thrust into a foreign country unwillingly will undoubtedly take an emotional toll.
They are also feeling a bit of awe, for many of the children from London proper lived in cold water flats and rarely made it down to the council baths once a week to bathe in hot water. And in Ireland, hot water gushes from the taps. How the children squeal when they have daily hot baths!
Irish farming folk have developed quite the communications system for relaying the news to those folks not lucky enough to own a radio. To encourage exercise (not to mention sightseeing, and Ireland has castles galore), and each of the children gets a turn going round to the farms every few days carrying a 'newspaper' containing news on London, the war ("history in the making" the children tell me and they finished by saying "they need to know what happens so it may never happen again").
And the children, especially Irene Dunne, in the absence of regular library time, have developed an affiinity for making up stories and plays, which they enact in their own 'theatre'--unsuitably located in a windswept barn (I must make better arrangements for them if they are going to continue putting on plays, for winter is fast approching).
Irene is turning into quite the young writer and back in England, I shall have to find some outlets for her writing else her creativity will wither and she will end up stamping her feet in frustration.
There is a dearth of writers in this, the second world war, and the reason, I suspect, is that our young men (and women!) of capable talent are being sent off to the front lines. I am keen to encourage Irene's nascent talent, for I shall have need of a good tale to read in my old age, when Ian's children are warm in their beds and, after a day of work, then caring for rambunctious children, Ian himself will have nodded off in front of the fireplace.
With that thought, I am reminded of the first stanza of Yeats' "When You are Old":
When you are old and grey and full of sleep
Gaelic is still spoken here and there in the rural countryside of Ireland and learning a new language seems to suit the children and takes their minds off the Luftwaffe. Basic greetings in Gaelic befuddle me, but the children's young minds have allowed them to hold a simple conversation after just a few weeks in Ireland. Sister, dear! Now is the time I wish I possessed your ability with languages!
Ian is doing wonderfully and he and I have grown quite attached to each other. He's settled down quite a bit and is not so stoic and angry. He has developed a bit of a mischievous streak and is constantly pulling practical jokes on me and any other unsuspecting person who may have the misfortune of being around when he gets a prank into his head.
I think that knowing he has a permanent home with someone who's interested in him as a person instead of as a boarder has calmed him substantially.
A fresh, young intelligent mind he possesses and he uses it at every opportunity, quizzing me about our parents, my travels in Egypt and his memory is astounding! He is especially interested in the fact you and I are half-Egyptian.
It appears that Ian, like a good many people, is fascinated in all things Ancient Egyptian. So sister dear, I must ask you to write down myths and poems and the what not that you remember from Neferteri's lifetime so my Ian can read and slake his thirst for things Ancient Egyptian.
I've yet to relay to Ian the news about your past life as Neferteri. I am not quite sure how he'll accept that news, nor have I relayed to him about the events with Imhotep and Ancksunamun out in the Egyptian Sahara all those years ago.
There are times when I myself can hardly believe that Alex used a spell from the Book of the Dead to resurrect you. Sitting there with Alex, after Ancksunamun stabbed you, I was at a loss for emotions. How does one accept the fact he has just witnessed his only sister being stabbed to death?
For Alex's sake, I kept the proverbial stiff upper lip but I am truly relieved that Alex kept his mind and used "the Book" as he likes to say, and resurrected you, sister dear.
And speaking of Egypt, I have had dreams that I can not remember upon awakening, but something tells me I need to return to England--to London--shortly. Ian is rather sad that I will be leaving him for a time, but he is mollified greatly (read: highly enthusiastic!) by the fact that his new foster aunt not only lived in Egypt but knows all things Ancient Egyptian.
And Ian has instructed me to bring back books on Ancient Egypt, and especially books about King Tut. Ah! Along with the rest of the English population, he shares the still-raging fascination for King Tut.
Does Tut's tomb ever end?
I remain, your loving brother,
ps-- while rummaging in a village antiques store a few days ago, I found three pamphlets, the first of which was written nearly 30 years ago, by an older acquaintance of mine: Issac Rosenberg. This particular poem was published in 1922, four years after he died on the battle lines (April 1, 1918).
Break of Day in the Trenches
The darkness crumbles away,
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they
Now you have touched this English hand
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
What do you see in our eyes
Alex's soft voice finished the last phrase of Issac Rosenberg's words when Khuta, ever a good watchdog, barked a greeting. The O'Connells and Ardeth looked up at the doorway to see to whom Khuta was barking.
"Jonathan!" Evie, Alex and Rick cried, as Evie jumped to her feet and ran to hug her brother.
"We just got your last letter just now!" she told her brother as she hugged him.
"Jonathan!" Rick said as he too hugged his brother in law and Alex copied his father.
"So I heard," he said, extracting himself from Alex's embrace before continuing, "And Ardeth, greetings. I believe I have somebody here that you're looking for," Jonathan told Ardeth, who smiled as he saw who was walking up behind Jonathan.
"Martin!" Ardeth said and stood up. Khuta barked happily, wanting to join in the general commotion of Jonathan's and Martin's arrival. She went up and sniffed at the two men, each of whom bent down to pet her.
Nasally, Martin replied when he finished petting Khuta, "Ardeth! You are well. I wish I could I say the same. I developed a case of pneumonia and was laid up in a hospital in Salisbury. Dreadful time there."
"You are here, and that is all we need," Ardeth replied. "I am glad to see you well."
"Alex! Some tea for Jonathan and Martin!" Evie said. "Hello, Martin. We've been awaiting your arrival. Sit down here, by the fire," she said, showing Martin to the chair she had just vacated.
"And hello to you, Mister and Mrs O'Connell. Alex. I am pleased to finally meet you after hearing many tales about your and Ardeth's experiences in the Sahara," he said as he accepted a cup of tea from Alex. "Is there honey? Honey is good for my throat."
"Call us Rick and Evie. Our late housemaid Tallulah laid up a lot of supplies and honey is one of them. Alex? The honey pot is in the lower left hand drawer next to the stove."
"So that's where you hid it!" Rick teased his wife, as he put his arm around her. Alex went to fetch the honey pot.
"Now for business, for I know what's all on your minds" Martin continued as Alex put the honey pot down and extracted a spoonful, which he dripped into Martin's tea cup. "The Bracelet needs the Spell of Osiris to be incanted. I am at a loss as to how to gain access to the spell, except by trying to contact Taita in the Crossroads of Time."
"I have failed to find a copy of the Hermetica," Ardeth said. "But I trust that our friend Taita will have the answers."
"I wish it were that easy. I have had trouble contacting Lostris and Taita as of late," Martin told Ardeth.
"You have been ill and your mind has been wandering," Ardeth replied and Martin nodded.
"He is a clever one, that Taita. Without knowing the Spell of Osiris, there will be no way to incant the spell," Martin said.
"Very powerful spell indeed," Jonathan murmured as he too took a cup of tea and sipped.
"It's the spell which will expel the Luftwaffe's bombers from London. Perhaps forever," Alex said hopefully as Ardeth's eyes narrowed a bit as he remembered something. Ardeth walked over to the kitchen table where he picked up the Bracelet. Breaking it into three pieces, he carried the pieces over to Martin.
Jonathan's eyes lighted up as he looked at Taita's exquisite workmanship. The emeralds were quite large--not tiny emeralds as one usually found in modern jewerly.
"Does this writing make sense?" he asked Martin, who held up one of the Bracelet's links towards the firelight. Martin squinted carefully at the pieces.
"Do you have a magnifying glass?" he asked Rick.
But it was Alex who answered. "Sure do!" Alex exclaimed, jumped up and ran out of the room. Khuta barked when Ardeth returned to the kitchen table to sit down. Ardeth reached down to pet her.
"What's this? Writing? Let me see," Evie asked as she examined another piece of the Bracelet. She addressed Martin, "We'd meant to ask, but does the power of the Bracelet diminish when it's in three parts like this?"
Martin shook his head. "No. I think it increases the power."
"This writing looks familiar," Evie said, "but I can't place the language. It's a Semitic language, judging from the sentence structure, and related to the languages of Arabic and Hebrew."
Rick stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Could it be the language the Hyksos spoke? Can you decipher it Evie? It could be the spell of Osiris written on the Bracelet, just in case there were no copies of the spell available."
Martin nodded in agreement. "The Hyksos invaded Egypt during Taita's lifetime and he was a student in languages. He might have used the written language of the Hyksos if he wrote something on the Bracelet."
"Why would he use the language of invaders when making the Bracelet? Why not use ancient Egyptian?" Alex wanted to know as he came into the room carrying a magnifying glass.
After a moment, Ardeth was the one to respond, "The Spell of Osiris is such a strong spell, anyone with literacy could read aloud the spell. And incanting the spell, even inadvertantly, would activate the power of the spell."
"And that would cause catastrophe," Rick observed, looking at his wife. "When your mother incanted a spell," he began to tell Alex, but Evie cut him off with a sharp glance.
"Ardeth's right. I'll tell you about the Egyptian myths later on, Alex, and Jonathan, I'll write them down for Ian."
"Ian is quite keen on learning ancient Egyptian as well," he told his sister.
"I'll teach him! Will he come home with you?"
Jonathan nodded as Alex asked, "What were the dominant languages of that time?" Alex wanted to know as he watched Martin inspect the three sections of the Bracelet.
His mother responded, "Egyptian and Hebrew for the inhabitants of Egypt. Babylonian to the immediate east and further east, other Semitic languages were spoken, and Berber languages to the west of Egypt. There were hundreds of other languages, mostly primitive like the Dinka language, and especially to the south and west of Egypt the languages were varied..."
"Mum!" Alex moaned as Rick said, "Evie," then kissed his wife to quiet her upcoming speech on ancient languages.
Martin was peering intently through the magnifying glass. "I do believe these are instructions for activating the Bracelet. We shall have to spend some time deciphering the language."
"That reminds me!" Evie exclaimed. "Last night, when the Bracelet was first taken apart, there was a man's voice coming from the golden light. He tried to address us but he faded out."
Martin stroked his now bearded chin in imitation of Rick. "Hmmm. Taita is very clever, and a puzzle lover."
"I was right!" Rick interjected, smiling.
Martin chuckled. "Yes, he loved puzzles, and the bao board, and constructing clever mazes to confound those who tried to solve his mazes. The voice you heard was probably his, and if it was his voice, he might have constructed a gateway to the Spell of Osiris."
"And he's the gatekeeper?" Jonathan inquired.
"That would make sense. Taita would want to ensure the spell wasn't inadvertantly incanted," Evie noted.
"I would have to agree with you, Evie," Martin said. "Taita fashioned the Bracelet to help repel invaders of Egypt and if he used the Spell of Osiris in its creation, the puzzle lover in him would have created a gateway."
Ardeth commented, "And the ancient myths tell about the misfortunes of those who tried to use the spell of Osiris for their own benefit. Placing a gateway to the spell would be appropriate for Taita to have done."
"Martin, could you try to contact Lostris and Taita while Evie tries to decipher the language?" Rick asked Martin, who nodded as Evie said, "Yes. I think that's an excellent idea. I'll make some lunch as until we know the spell of Osiris, there's nothing much we can do."
"Would there be any problem with me having a hot bath?" Martin asked. "I'm rather chilled."
"Ditto," Jonathan said. "A hot bath after traveling is always a treat," he said as he took another sip of his hot tea laced with honey instead of sugar this time around.
"Of course," Rick said. "Alex? Show Martin the guest bath." Martin followed Alex and the two left the room.
"And I shall be outside," Ardeth put in, standing up from the kitchen table. Khuta stood up to follow him. "Khuta, go find Ducky," Ardeth told the retriever, and she obediently left the kitchen. Ardeth, too, left the kitchen, his black robes swirling around him and threads of golden light enveloping him.
"He's been doing that a lot," Evie whispered. "The Gods are speaking to him. He seems to take comfort from their words."
Jonathan nodded in response. "Gods are like that, I hear." He rubbed his hands together, then continued. "Is that some of the Cheddar folks' rather surreptious contribution of cheese to London that I notice on the kitchen table?" Jonathan inquired of his sister, a mischievous grin on his face. "And might I add unbeknownst to the Crown's rationers?"
Evie smiled. "Yes, it is. And just as clandestinely, we're distributing the cheese. The recipients are more than happy to alleviate the rationing, even if it's just for a while. I know Cheddar can't send cheese to London forever."
"Cheddar stockpiled cheese wheels in the caves throughout Cheddar Gorge. Crown toilers don't know that, so don't let on!" Jonathan told his sister in a conspiratorial whisper as she went over to the kitchen table and sliced a piece of cheddar cheese. Placing the cheese on a plate, she took a small loaf of warm black rye bread and placed it next to the cheese, walked over and handed the plate to her brother.
"There you go," she said as she kissed Jonathan's cheek. He smiled at her and put the plate down on his lap, as Evie commented, "Why would I tell? I've been on the dreaded cheese ration as long as the rest of England--since January!"
"You said that Ian will be able to come home with you. I thought Children's Services were evacuating the children to the countryside until the end of the war, whenever that might be," Rick wanted to know as Jonathan took a bite of the warm black rye bread. Rick reached for his tea mug and took a sip of tea.
"CS is evacuating the children until the end of the war. Ian's legal status is in limbo, for when he was evacuated, he was an orphan and a ward of Children's Services. Now he's my foster son and I've agreed to allow him to stay in Ireland. He enjoys being a farmhand."
"What's this about becoming an adoptive parent?" Evie asked her brother as she sat down on her husband's lap. "We're keen to meet Ian and we're happy for the both of you."
Rick smiled then said,"Yes, tell us."
Jonathan returned the smile, then sipped tea to chase the bread down his throat. "That's where I threw a spanner into the works. Ian's legal status changed when I filed adoption papers. And, uniquely," he said, taking a sip of his tea and swallowing, "I will be able to send Ian to and from the farm in Ireland as I please."
"He'll be able to see his new father on a regular basis, unlike the other children who will have to wait until the end of the war to see their parents again," Evie noted.
"That he will," Jonathan replied, sipping his tea. "Most of the evacuated children won't be so lucky," he added.
Rick looked at Jonathan. "You found the needle in the haystack that we've been searching for these last weeks. How did you run into Martin?" he asked.
"Now that's a tale!" Jonathan replied, sitting back in the leather chair and sipping his tea. "In short, I thought from his face that he was Jonathan Wilkes standing on the train platform at Salisbury when I knew I'd left him in Liverpool after flying in from Edinburgh."
"They're brothers! I thought they merely shared a common surname," Rick exclaimed.
"Twins. Fraternal, but so close in appearance as to be identical. Martin had just been released from the hospital. It was pure chance the train was passing through Salisbury, else he would have had to thumb it to London."
"Chance? More like the Gods are arranging everything," Rick observed. The fire crackled as Alex's laughter rang out from upstairs. Shortly afterwards, a loudly quacking Ducky flew into the kitchen, followed by a barking Khuta.
"She's obedient, if anything," Jonathan drily observed, sipping more of his tea.
"Khuta! You found Ducky as Ardeth ordered, now stop chasing Ducky," Evie commanded the retriever, who ignored Evie and continued to bark at Ducky, who had flown on top of the sideboard. "She's trying to retrieve him. It's her job," Evie told her smiling brother. "She doesn't try to hurt him."
"Where did you find her?" Jonathan asked, taking a sip of his tea then picking up the cheese slice.
"Down by the Docklands," Rick replied as he too sipped his tea.
Jonathan nearly choked on his cheese. When he was able, he asked, "The Docklands? Do you remember the name or the house address?"
"Her name is Buttercup. Cuppy for short," Jonathan replied. "I accompanied David McClure to Ireland. He'll be glad to know he hasn't lost everyone. His parents are overseas and his sister died of a brain tumour in July."
"Cuppy will be good news for him, then," Rick observed, a tone of sadness in his voice.
"Cuppy! Stop that!" Evie ordered, and for the first time in weeks, the retriever came over and sat down in front of Evie. "Guess you didn't recognize your name had been temporarily changed, did you Cuppy?" Evie asked the dog. Cuppy barked in response.
"She did respond to Ardeth," Jonathan commented.
"We did need to call her something, instead of just 'here, doggy'," Rick said, reaching over to pet Cuppy.
"She's barely left his side since we found her in the rubble of the McClure's home," Evie stated.
"Here, Cuppy! Catch!" Jonathan said, flicking a small piece of the cheese into the air. Cuppy caught it in her mouth and wolfed the cheese down. She barked happily. "Good girl! Did you know I found David for you, Cuppy? Would you like me to take you to see David?" he asked the dog, who barked again, then came over and lay down at Jonathan's feet.
"Guess she would," Jonathan next commented, petting Cuppy then sitting back and sipped his tea.
Evie and Rick followed suit, and the three
waited uneasily by the fireplace for the inevitable air raid sirens.
And today, the 29th of October, was destined
to be the last day of intense bombings.
October 31, 1940, London, top of Shooters Hill (entryway to and on the outskirts of London) and the Brits note the day is overcast and wet
"Luftwaffe airplanes have been spotted over Kent!" Alex cried out as he used a pair of binoculars to scan the horizon. "One, two, five, eight, fifteen! Fifteen bombers in wing tip to wing tip formation," he confirmed, lowering the binoculars a moment in order to look at Ardeth before raising the binoculars again.
Alex gasped, and said, "No! There's more. Nine...uhm, fifteen, thirty, no, forty, forty five, sixty, seventy. There's seventy? Seventy...seventy biplanes? Dad! Seventy biplanes!"
"Biplanes?" a surprised Rick and Jonathan asked in unison.
"Biplanes," Alex confirmed. "Painted pale green and bright blue. Looks like they're from the first war," Alex said as Ardeth's voice called,
"Now." Ardeth commanded and Martin, though his eyes were closed and his brow furrowed from concentration, nodded and deepened his trance.
An eerie silence had fallen over London in the past twenty four hours as the wet weather cleared the smoke trails from the burnt-out skyline of London. Yesterday, the 30th, had dawned wet and darkly cloudy, and there had been virtually nil bombings by the Luftwaffe.
Today, Londoners had been hopeful another day would pass without bombings, for the bombings two days earlier had been intense and the stress was eating away at London's resolve.
But Hitler, it appeared had something else in mind.
"Pale green and bright blue biplanes?" Evie asked her son, coming up behind him and placing her hand on his shoulder.
"Uh-huh," he replied, still looking through the binoculars.
"Hitler must have teamed up with Mussolini. That's the Regia Aeronautica heading towards us. Guess they wanted a piece of the action," she commented sarcastically.
"Do you think Hitler's too much of a coward to send his planes and lose more men and so he sent Mussolini's men?" Alex questioned his mother.
"Possibly," she replied. "That might explain the Regia's belated appearance over London."
Despite their preoccupation with their task, the small group men on the hill--plus Evie and Cuppy, the lone females--could see the citizens of London looking towards the sky as planespotters located on London's remaining high points called out, "Luftwaffe--no! That's the Regia Aeronautica--spotted! Fifteen bombers and seventy biplanes headed to London from Kent!"
Relays had been set up to carry the message from the planespotters. Soon, the remaining streets of London were filled with echoes of "Fifteen bombers and seventy biplanes headed towards London!"
"The Spell of Osiris has been incanted by Taita," Thoth's voice now boomed out over the small group of people huddled together on top of Shooters Hill. Evie and Alex had frozen in time, another question showing on Alex's lips but unasked.
Jonathan couldn't figure out if the sheen on Martin's face was sweat or rain or a mixture of the two. Martin's brow was furrowed deeper and Jonathan thought Martin's skull would crack as Martin concentrated deeply to maintain the link with the Crossroads of Time--and Taita.
"Ardeth Bey, if you and your companions will stand as the shadow of the pyramid around the Keeper and raise the links of the Bracelet towards the sky, you will then watch when Seth's former Chosen One screams as he sees the beginning of the end for the Third Reich," Thoth continued.
Ardeth and Jonathan stood next to each other yet stood three yards apart. Rick formed the top of the pyramid around Martin. Each man raised his link of the Bracelet of Lostris towards the sky.
A blinding flash of golden light shot forth from the links of the Bracelet and headed towards the sky in a small whirlwind and hovered over the destroyed city, growing larger and rotating faster with each clockwise rotation as the power of every living thing on earth, and the power of the Gods themselves was amassed in the swirling golden light.
Spotters Hill and the small group of people were flooded with the warmth and they involuntarily gasped.
In the light, four figures stepped forward. As they came closer, the three men standing in a pyramid shape on Spotters Hill could see the first figure was a handsome, tall man with reddish gold hair and kohled, sky blue eyes dressed in a loincloth. Hanging around his neck was the thick Gold of Praise.
Walking next to this first figure was a slender, raven haired, green eyed woman who rivalled Nefertiti's beauty. In addition to full Egyptian makeup, she was wearing a feathery light linen shift dress dyed an unusual pale blue and she was holding the hand of another handsome man with flaming red hair and kohled blue eyes dressed in a white linen loincloth.
The fourth figure was taller than the other three by three inches and his stunning physical beauty was enhanced by the Double Crown of Egypt upon his brow. Kohled dark green eyes smiled at the four men and his eyes proclaimed him the woman's son.
Ardeth was the first to speak. "Taita. Queen Lostris. Tanus and the Pharaoh Tamose, former Prince of Thebes."
"Greetings, Commander! I see you know your history," Tamose spoke. "Taita was indeed clever when constructing the Bracelet and Martin was just as clever in figuring out his puzzle. Even Thoth and Isis were impressed when Taita told them he devised a spell which required the speaker to jump through several hurdles before gaining access to the words of the Spell of Osiris."
"A gateway," Queen Lostris put in, and taking Taita's hand, she looked up at him with her dark green eyes. "He constructed a gateway."
"The most powerful words in Egyptian magic needed a protective gateway. Taita, your puzzle was most elaborate. First in writing the opening spell using a dead language, and then requiring the power of the pyramids. But in order to gain access to the opening spell, the Bracelet had to be broken into three parts. Clever," Ardeth replied as his eyes grew accustomed to the golden light.
"Even Evie had trouble deciphering the language," Rick told Taita, looking at Evie and Alex. They appeared frozen in time, Evie's hand on Alex's shoulder and the binoculars still raised to Alex's eyes as mother and son stood on Shooters Hill overlooking London.
Taita inclined his head towards Ardeth and Rick and replied, "Circles within circles. Such was my life, and the lives of those in Egypt during Queen Lostris's time. So I constructed the puzzle in circles. Still, had the Bracelet not been thrown against the floor, you would not have been able to break open the Bracelet for the first time."
"Gemstones and metals are mined from stone, and only against stone shall their souls be freed," Jonathan intoned, then looked around in surprise. "Where did that come from?" he asked Taita, who laughed.
"My friend, it seems you have had a former life you don't know about! One of the royal jewelers went by the name of Re-Habeb and he used to say that phrase when I was a young man learning how to carve a lapis lazuli pendant. Before using any gemstone or precious metal, he tapped the specimen three times against a white limestone Aten disk. His words are what gave me the idea for the puzzle."
Ardeth's eyes were adjusting, and Ardeth saw the shadowy figures growing larger--and he realized these were the souls of those living in the Afterlife. Two of the smaller shadows broke off from a large group and started to run towards Ardeth.
"There are times when I regret writing down the Spell in the my Book. Many were the times a power hungry Egyptian tried to use the Spell to gain material wealth," Thoth now commented.
Taita completed Thoth's statement, "And many were the times they received sorrow instead of the hoped-for wealth."
"Much like a story we read today, called The Monkey's Paw. In that tale, a dried monkey's hand will grant the owner three wishes. But the wishes never turn out as the wishers quite imagined, and disastrous results entailed," Jonathan commented as he watched the swirling golden light cover the remains of the London skyline from horizon to horizon, then start growing past the edges of London, rotating faster as more shadows joined the growing crowd.
"That indeed sounds like our myth about the Book of Thoth! Always be careful of what you wish for, for you just might get your wish in a form you never expected," Taita and Thoth both replied. The two men, one the creator of magic and the other, a master magician, looked at each other and smiled.
"I do have a question," Rick said, looking worried. "If the spell uses the power of every living thing, will Hitler and his minions be included in that?"
Thoth shook his head, then smoothed his linen loincloth. "The spell weeds out those living beings with evil residing in their hearts. When I wrote the spell, I enlisted Ma'at to weigh the souls against the feather as the spell was being incanted."
"Mixing evil with good is never a good idea," Taita now said. "Another protective element," he grinned at Thoth, who smiled back.
"Whew!" Jonathan now said. "Now, where do the nasty souls go while the spell is activated?"
Thoth laughed. "They visit the Underworld and see their own deaths and transformation into demons."
"Ardeth Bey! Ardeth Bey!" a four year old girl with blonde hair and blue eyes shouted as she and a six year old boy, who was a carbon copy of his sister, ran up to him.
"Hildred! Ewan!" Ardeth greeted them. His tone was sad, and somewhat hollow. "I am sorry I did not arrive sooner."
"We were already dead by the time you heard our mummy scream. She'd been lying on the banks of the Thames, dazed from her head wound and she wasn't able to think for a few minutes." Ewan told Ardeth.
"But we were already dead," Hildred told Ardeth again. "We died a few minutes after the auto fell into the water. Mummy wouldn't have been able to save us even if her head hadn't been hurt."
"It was very quick," Ewan repeated, knowing that Ardeth was feeling responsible for not arriving in time to save him and his sister. "Our deaths, I mean. We didn't feel anything except cold."
"The water was too cold," Hildred piped up. "The auto slid on some ice. But we're warm now."
"We wanted to thank you for saving our mummy. Had you not arrived, she too would have died from being in the cold water too long, and our unborn brother would be here with us," Ewan said. "We watched you try to save us."
For a long moment, Ardeth didn't know how to reply. "Your mum wanted you to live, as did I. But you are welcome. I did what was necessary." Ardeth wasn't sure if those words were appropriate. But the children seemed happy with his response, for they hugged him.
When Ardeth hugged them back, he discovered that he had become a shadow of himself, and that he could watch his body holding up to the sky his link of the Bracelet of Lostris.
Looking around, he saw that Evie, Alex, Jonathan, Rick, Martin and even Cuppy were also shadows of themselves and each was looking around in surprise and asking questions of each other.
"It's only temporary. Your spirit is being amassed for the Bracelet. Just a moment longer, then the bombers will be thrown back to Berlin, even though they are Mussolini's," Tanus told Ardeth as a female voice called,
"Hildred! Ewan! Come! We need your spirits to use in the power of the Bracelet so that nasty man will stop bombing London!"
"Coming, grandmum! Thank you again, Ardeth!" both of the children said before disentangling themselves from Ardeth's embrace and ran to join the large group of people gathering in the Afterlife.
Two more shadows detached themselves from the huge crowd and stepped closer to Evie and Jonathan. Even without the pith helmets, trousers and boots, Ardeth would have recognized the couple in a heartbeat, for they looked enough like Jonathan and Evie for Ardeth to realize the older couple were their parents.
"Mum! Dad!" both Jonathan and Evie cried as they ran forward like young children to first hug and then join their parents in the large crowd, Alex and Rick trailing along. Cuppy was at a loss as to with whom she was to remain. She finally settled down near Ardeth's feet and barked as other shadows started appearing.
"Watch!" a deep voice boomed out over the massed people. "I am Osiris and now London shall be relieved of the daily bombings!"
Ardeth looked down and saw the swirling golden light covering the entire sky from horizon to horizon.
The fifteen bomber planes and seventy biplanes were now being tumbled nose over tail towards Berlin where the planes were being turned upside down, their pilots being violently shaken out of the planes. Once the pilots were out, the planes reared up, then hurtled towards the ground.
Upon impact, large belches of thick black smoke filled the air and Berliners ran for cover, trying to cover their noses but choking in the thick black smoke.
Thoth now addressed the massed crowd. "You will not remember this event," he said as the golden light began to disperse and the crowds thinned. In a heartbeat, only a few souls remained in the fading golden light.
Thoth turned to Ardeth. "Except for you and Martin. Your next task is to place the Bracelet under guard," Ardeth nodded as he watched Evie, Alex, Rick, Jonathan and even Cuppy regain solid form.
"I am a guardian of the City of Hamunaptra," he told Thoth. "My people have guarded against evil for over three thousand years."
"Then you know what will be required," Thoth stated and Ardeth nodded and the Afterlife began to fade.
As he slowly regained his own body, Ardeth heard Thoth tell Taita, "Make sure Martin and Ardeth know where to safeguard the Bracelet."
"I will do as you command," Taita's voice
echoed in Ardeth's ears.
A few minutes later...
"Where did the bombers go?" Alex asked, as he peered through the binoculars. "Mum? Dad? Didn't I just say there were fifteen bombers and seventy biplanes heading towards London?"
"Yes, you said the Regia Aeronautica were coming. Where did they go? I know they were just here for the bombers seemed to be heading straight towards us. I thought I could see the whites of their eyes."
Rick blinked his eyes and lowered his hand. The electrum link he held in his hand glowed faintly, then winked out. "Yes. I heard you say that, Alex. They dropped only a few bombs when they disappeared over Ramsgate."
Faint voices were heard from the planespotters.
"The Regia squadron just disappeared from the sky! One second they were there and the next, blam! Gone!"
"I they disappeared over Ramsgate. Not many bombs were dropped."
Other faint voices echoed the words of the planespotters and Londoners came outside, looking at the horizon.
Jonathan and Ardeth lowered their hands and each man handed his electrum link to Ardeth, who put the Bracelet back together, then placed the Bracelet in the leather pouch he carried.
Martin now blinked then wiped his brow. "Did we do it?"
Ardeth replied, "Yes. Look. There are no smoke trails today."
Martin smiled. "That took a lot of effort but the results were worth it, don't you think?"
"Gemstones and metals are mined from stone, and only against stone shall their souls be freed" Jonathan said, then looked surprised. "I think I've said that before but I can't be sure," he finished as the four men, followed by Cuppy at Ardeth's heels, walked over to where Evie and Alex were watching as Londoners came outside, looking up at the sky.
The only smoke visible was the smoke rising in wavering columns from the still-burning sections of London. There were no smoke trails in the sky from RAF fighters chasing Luftwaffe or Regia Aeronautica bombers.
Another eerie calm filled the city: the sound of silence stretched for a minute, then two, then five and finally the sound of silence filled the city for an hour and still the six mortals and one canine stood, along with dozens of Londoners, and watched the horizon.
After the sun set, and neither the Luftwaffe nor the Regia had re-appeared, Evie put her arm around her son and said, "Come, let's go home." Rick leaned down and kissed his wife as Evie and Alex started walking down Shooters Hill.
Rick, Jonathan, Martin and Ardeth started to follow, but the figure of a man rose in front of them.
"Watch," Taita told the four men before disappearing into a shimmer. And the four men watched the window which appeared.
SS Headquarters, Berlin, October 31, 1940
Adolf Hitler paced the mahogany panelled room. "And just what do we do? What do we do?" he repeated as he shook his fist at the window. The window, believing itself to be a crystal ball, was showing Hitler and his top officer what was happening around Berlin as dozens of Mussolini's planes fell from the sky.
"A decisive blow, Himmler. We used Mussolini's planes and even they were repelled by that blasted cloud cover that's been over London for the last three days. It almost appeared as if...it were alive," Schnell stated plainly as the smoke from the downed planes filled the air over Berlin. Berliners were choking and holding their noses as they ran to get away from the smoke.
"Don't tell me this is a decisive blow! We can not let a little city like London defeat the Third Reich!" Hitler shouted and shook his fist at the window again.
"I think we are merely 'distracted' for a while," Schnell responded. "We can say the lessening daylight in England caused our retreat from daily bombing."
Hitler stopped looking at the window and turned to Schnell. "And what do we say when we continue to bomb London by night?"
"We lie," Schnell replied curtly.
"We shall have to do just that," Hitler said, turning back to the scenes showing through the window. Just outside of Berlin, a bright blue biplane was suspended upside down in the air, its pilot were being shaken out of the plane. "London has not defeated us! But, Schnell, there is someone we can defeat!"
Schnell looked skeptical. "Himmler, who is this someone? We've got most of Europe and next we tackle North Africa."
"But we signed a non-aggression pact fourteen months ago!"
"If I can't have London, then I'll have Russia."
Schnell stroked his chin as the scene in the window showed another biplane, this one pale green in color, being relieved of its pilot; this plane was just outside SS Headquarters. "Then Russia it is. We will start planning our attack of Russia tonight."
"Good. Plan for a June assault. It will take time to get the regiments acclimated to fighting our former ally. Dismissed," Hitler said as Schnell saluted him. "And Schnell! No more German casualties in London today! Call off the daily assault," Hitler growled. "We will need to start stockpiling our supplies for the assault on Russia."
"Sir! Yes, sir!" Schnell responded as he left the room.
Hitler turned to growl again at the scenes in the window. The tall dark haired man with the tattoos on his face stared intently at Hitler and Hitler felt the first tendrils of fear in his soul.
"I am not afraid of you!" he shouted defiantly to the man in the window.
"But you are afraid, Adolf, and Ardeth Bey shall repel your forces in Tunisia. He will be part of your death, little man," a female voice told Hitler as the window continued to show various parts of Berlin and the downed planes still belching smoke where they had crashed to the ground.
"Hitler! Heed my mother's words, and mark
my own words: you will not succeed with the
And the scene in the window now showed Hitler, his face deathly white, lying sprawled on top of a bed in an underground bunker.
The scene was frozen in the window as Seth continued addressing Hitler, "You call your underground hideout a bunker, but its true name is a prison cell. And there, imprisoned by your own hand, you will lie dead as the Allies march to Berlin and liberate the people whom you imprisoned in the concentration camps. Yes, Hitler, I discovered your treachery when the souls of the people you mass slaughtered in the concentration camps came to me, and pleaded with me to help their survivors escape your evil."
"Oh, the irony! So obvious is the fact the Third Reich will crumble without your leadership that you will take your own life, a hypocritical and cowardly act in light of fact you designed your Third Reich to last a thousand years. What's the matter, Hitler? Too afraid to face the music? You don't trust anyone in the Third Reich to provide you asylum as the Allies march towards Berlin?"
Hitler shook his fist in rage at the scenes and stamped his feet, shouting obscenities.
And in the window's reflection, he saw himself, he saw Ardeth motion to his companions and Hitler saw the four men smile at the Third Reich's leader throwing quite the temper tantrum.
Top of Shooters Hill, October 31, 1940
"Hitler is quite the little child, eh?" Rick asked as the four men watched Hitler throwing a temper tantrum.
"A baby really," Jonathan commented. "Even the darkest deeds of Seth do not compare to Hitler's evil. And Seth did not know all that Hitler is doing in Germany."
"Someone, or something, unleashed an unspeakable evil on earth," Martin commented and Ardeth nodded.
"He will die as Seth said, but not before he causes the deaths of millions," Ardeth said sadly.
As Hitler's image faded out, Rick said, "Martin? Could the Bracelet cause someone to remain invisible long enough to kidnap Hitler?"
"Someone could try," Martin replied as Evie and Alex came up Shooter's Hill to where the four men stood.
"Is it over? Is it really over?" Alex inquired of Ardeth, his voice full of hope.
"For the time being. Hitler is evil and I think he will continue to bomb London and the surrounding countryside on an intermittent basis," he told the youngster, who, in response, hugged him.
Ardeth could not quite hide his smile as he hugged the youngster back.
"I think I could live with that, intermittently, though I'd prefer no bombings at all," Evie said, looking over the devastation fron the top of Shooters Hill. The citizens of London were out on what remained of the streets, looking up at the sky clear of the smoke trails from RAF fighters and Messerschmidt bombers. They were clearly confused but quickly smiles came over their faces.
Londoners were pointing at the sky, and nudging each other. A soft golden light settled down over London and its inhabitants.
Nighttime, October 31, Ardeth is standing on a hilltop in the grounds of the Carnahan O'Connell estate
"You have done well, my earthly son," Nuit told Ardeth as she blew a kiss of wind upon his brow.
"Your task has been hard, Mother," he replied, "but tasks performed for the Gods are never easy."
"Your words echo those uttered by the Great Imhotep thousands of years ago. But you have completed your current task," she responded and Ardeth knew there would be more tasks ahead of him.
Strangely, he found he didn't mind the upcoming tasks. He had found an inner strength which he didn't know he possessed. The accumulated training of his people from the last three thousand years protecting the city of Hamunaptra (and what the city contained) didn't measure up to the emotions he now experienced as he looked out over the now-quiet city of London.
He knew the upcoming nights would be tough for Londoners--when the Luftwaffe would appear on the horizon in pitch dark.
But London would never fall and the Third Reich would eventually crumble because London would still stand majestic, if burnt-out, and her skyline would rise again.
Nuit echoed his thoughts. "London will never fall, thanks to you and Martin. Had not Martin figured out Taita's clever puzzle of the Bracelet, the city would have fallen next week when London was to have been flooded. The Gods of Egypt give their eternal thanks to you, Ardeth Bey."
"The Gods are welcomed, Mother," Ardeth replied as the golden light of Nuit faded to be replaced by a tall flame-haired blue eyed man dressed in long flowing golden robes. His face was strong, the chin square, the nose almost aquiline.
"Greetings, Ardeth Bey. I am Seth. I wish to apologize to you. Had I known of Hitler's plan to destroy the Afterlife of Egypt, and known about his concentration camps, I would have helped you in your journey to London instead of impeding it as I did."
Ardeth was quiet a moment, then replied. "It was an arduous task. But I accept your apology."
Seth continued. "It was not my idea to create Hitler. I had intended to use him for my instrument, but I failed to use a protective spell. The Gods believe he was birthed by Evil itself--an evil born of another mythology. Maybe that is why he went out of control."
"A wayward spell on a ushabti," Ardeth observed.
"That is what Imhotep noted as well," Seth told Ardeth, who raised his eyebrows. "Things get around in the Underworld."
"So I noticed," Ardeth replied. "I would like to know how you would have flooded London."
"Ah," Seth said and hung his head a moment. He then raised his head and looked in Ardeth's eyes. "My father could explain this better, as geology is more his taste. The Thames' estuary is unique, for the sea waters at high tide reverse the flow of the river. The waters flow quite a distance upstream. I would have helped the high tide to innundate London."
"I trust your father was horrified when you told him?" Ardeth asked.
Seth nodded his head. "If you have need of help in returning to Egypt, or to London, quickly, merely ask. My mother and I will assist you--safely, this time. The Gods, including myself, are trying to find a way to stop Hitler once and for all," Seth said. "Again, I extend my apologies. Oh, one other thing," Seth said and Ardeth raised both his eyebrows.
"It was not my doing which caused the death by drowning of Hildred and Ewan. I checked with the other Gods to see if anything could have been done to prevent their deaths. There was nothing to be done."
Ardeth nodded as the image of Seth faded out. For a moment, Ardeth saw his remote ancestors Kysen, Khuta and Khuta's infant son. The relatives gazed at each other for a moment, and Ardeth thought how much he resembled Khuta, then the overcast night sky of London was visible to Ardeth's dark eyes.
He turned and walked down the hilltop towards
the O'Connell manor house, his black robes swinging around his ankles.
Irish countryside, on a rural lane leading to a small village, middle of November
"And Cuppy was reunited with David? I know he missed her," Ian asked Jonathan as they walked by one of Ireland's dolmens and virtually every county in Ireland claimed a dolmen in residence.
"Yes. Ardeth had renamed her Khuta while she was in his care but she's home with David."
"Good. Cuppy's a farm dog anyways," Ian said, then inquired, "Did the daily bombing really stop?"
Jonathan smiled down at Ian. The two were wearing matching thick tweed coats, and balaclavas, for the day was rather chilly. "Yes. Hitler has been beaten back to Berlin, although he still bombs London occasionally. It's as if he's sparring with us," Jonathan replied.
"But the bombs are not falling every day?"
"No, not every day."
"And it was an Egyptian Bracelet--the Bracelet of Lostris--which King Arthur brought from Egypt, with magic spells that expelled the Luftwaffe?"
Jonathan laughed. "Yes. Ardeth brought the Bracelet safely to London. There are a lot of things Egyptian which you will learn about from your Aunt Evie."
"Cool! I like magic. And I like King Arthur. I want to meet him."
"So, you've heard the modern legend of King Arthur have you?"
"Oh yes! How he was washed up on Wolf Rock and traveled on horseback through the Cornish countryside, on his way to liberate London from the daily bombings," Ian replied. "Irene's made up a play about King Arthur. It's quite good, you know."
"I shall have to see this play," Jonathan observed. "And write and tell Ardeth about it."
"We're putting on the play tomorrow."
"I look forward to it."
"Irene's also writing about the Four Children of Lir."
"Who were they?"
"They were transformed into swans and for a thousand years, they were doomed to swim the seas between Scotland and the northern coast of Ireland."
"Is that going to be a play?"
"Nuh-uh. A short story."
"I like to read."
"So do I. You know what else I like?"
"I like the idea of Aunt Evie. I've never had an aunt before. What's an aunt like?"
"Oh, most aunts like to do things, read and cook and all. Evie likes languages, and telling stories from her life as Neferteri."
"I want a past life too. And I want to have Egyptian adventures like Alex!"
"Perhaps we can discover if you've lived before, but I'll pass on Egyptian adventures like Alex experienced. However, you will be able to meet Ardeth," Jonathan suggested, smiling as Ian did a short skip down the deserted rural lane.
In the far distance ahead, the ruins of a castle tower rose up from the hilly landscape, but the two member family was heading towards the straidbaile--a village.
"I would like that very much, to meet him. And going to Egypt. I've never had a past life before. I've not even had a sibling before."
"No cousins either. I've been an orphan as long as I can remember," Ian said, stopping to look up at Jonathan.
"You're not an orphan any longer. You're my son, Ian."
"Ian M. Carnahan."
"You don't want your own surname?" Jonathan asked, surprised but deeply pleased.
"Oh, I'll keep it as my middle name, but I want the papers to reflect your surname, dad," Ian said taking Jonathan's hand and leading him down the rural lane. One of Ireland's standing stones rose up alongside the lane and beside the stone, a stray member of the county's ruminant population stood quiet guard, occasionally flicking its tail at an unseen irritant.
Jonathan was smiling widely. Although the sky was overcast with thick grey clouds, both Ian and Jonathan felt the sun was shining on their souls once again.
"Ian M. Carnahan," Ian said, then rolled the Ian and the 'm' together, and blurring the words a bit--just enough to corrupt the sounds ever so slightly, and he said, "I'm a Carnahan", now," he said, smiling.
Jonathan couldn't help but smiling as well. "Yes, you're a Carnahan. I see English is alive and changing even today," noting Ian's slight corruption of English.
Ian just smiled and said again, "I'm an Carnahan" as the two walked through the Irish countryside towards the tiny picturesque village where Ian and Jonathan were going to take tea.
Near the End of the Age of Taurus, royal felucca pleasure barge sailing on the Nile near Thebes, midday
Ra seemed to shimmer, and rays of golden light spread out from the golden disk. A Kushite rower was the first to see the phenomenon in the sky and he called out, "Look! Ra is greeting us! We are blessed!" Other rowers stopped and looked up at Ra.
Imhotep looked up from the scroll he was reading and Pharoah Djoser sat up on the throne placed on a platform in the middle of the royal water craft and watched Ra's light drift down to settle over all of Egypt. Her citizens stopped their activities to watch Ra shimmer.
A deep male voice sounded over Egypt:
"This Very Egypt of our is safe from a future pestilence. The Gods wish to bestow their thanks to the High Priest of Ptah Imhotep for his assistance to us in a future time. He will be pleased to know the Restorer of Ma'at has once again prevented the downfall of this Very Egypt of ours."
A great cheer rose from Egypt's citizens as they listened to the words of Ra.
Pharaoh Djoser smiled. "I think a Festival of Bastet is in order. Don't you agree, Imhotep?"
Imhotep returned the smile. Bastet was a popular Goddess and her festivals were celebrated with much wine drinking, dancing and singing. "Yes, a Festival of Bastet is in order, as this Very Egypt of ours is safe for the future."
"Scribes! Make a royal order and send the fastest messengers to tell all Egypt that a Festival of Bastet is to be held for ten days, starting this very day! Citizens! Spread the word as well!" Pharaoh Djoser told the smiling citizens of Egypt who were on the feluccas nearest the royal barges.
Scribes hurried to make up the royal orders as the Egyptians on the feluccas nearest the royal barges hurried back to their villages to spread the merry word. The royal order was already making its way up the Nile, for cheers from feluccas furthest from the royal barges were heard.
Djoser looked at Imhotep. "You have done well, Imhotep."
Imhotep inclined his head. "Thank you, but it is the Restorer of Ma'at who did most of the hard work. It is he who should be thanked."
"Who is the Restorer of Ma'at?" Djoser wanted to know, then held up his hand. "If the Gods of Egypt gave you that information, Ammit would eat your heart if you revealed that information to anyone. I will find out in the Afterlife."
"I am satisfied knowing this Very Egypt of ours is safe, safe for now, and safe for the future."
"That is enough for me as well. Now, shall we disembark at Thebes to officiate at the beginning of the Festival?"
"As you wish, my Pharaoh," Imhotep replied, as the city of Thebes drew closer. Thebans were already dancing in the streets, singing as a bull--the Apis bull--was being led by ropes.
"A further blessing!" Djoser noted happily as he accepted a faience cup of wine. "Apis has been found! A dual Festival of Bastet and an Apis celebration is history in the making, don't you agree?"
Imhotep nodded as he closed his eyes and offered silent thanks to Kysen, Khuta and Ardeth. The royal barge sailed closer to Thebes and the cheering intensified.
Afterlife, Sometime in Eternity (but scuttlebutt sets the date in the middle of November, 1940)
"Well, Taita was certainly an excellent student of magic," Thoth said to the assembled Gods and demons of the Underworld. There had been general celebrating, with much wine and sweets imbibed by the Gods, since the massed power of all living beings had been channelled by the Bracelet and their massed power had pushed Seth's former Chosen One back to his homeland for the time being.
London was safe from downfall and thus Hitler would not get his chance to destroy the Egyptian afterlife, although the Gods knew the city of London would be bombed from time to time in the coming months.
"Taita works magic better than Isis," Nepthys observed, always ready to needle her sister. She herself had married Seth while Isis had married Osiris.
"Ha! There is no one better at working magic than me!" Isis retorted, but smiled anyways. "Well, no other God can use magic like I can, except for Thoth. Taita was mortal and that doesn't count," she finished haughtily.
"Thank you Isis for the compliment," Thoth said and Isis flashed him a smile.
"We must call Lostris and Taita before us to commend them," Osiris told the assembled Gods. There was general agreement amongst the assembled Gods. The demons cheered before dispersing to continue their merriment in another part of the Underworld.
"What about Imhotep?" Bastet wanted to know once the demons had gone. She smoothed the fur on her face. Her green eyes glowed with happiness at the success of the Bracelet of Lostris.
Bastet had been rather taken with Osiris's High Priest and since he was the one who had interrogated Josef and learned of Hitler's dastardly plan against Egyptian afterlife, she wanted to make sure Imhotep received fair treatment.
"For now, his soul will no longer be devoured by the demons," Osiris said. "Determining his final fate will take a little longer. But he will be free to move about the Underworld, and he will be allowed to see his parents and his offspring."
"He has offspring?" Bes, the dwarf fertility god, asked, ever hopeful his image had been used in childbirth.
Osiris nodded. "Yes. Imhotep fathered fifteen children, all of whom survived to adulthood, and whom he cared about greatly." Bes smiled widely and accepted congratulations from the other gods.
"And Ancksunamun?" Horus asked and Osiris grimaced.
"She betrayed him and I doubt Imhotep wants to see her. She is better left to wander the underworld as a lost soul," Osiris replied. "She has grown quite ugly, and is by far the nastiest looking demon in the Underworld," he added slyly.
Afterlife, Sometime in Eternity
"Queen Lostris and Taita, step forward!" Osiris ordered the two Egyptians.
Obeying their command, the two stepped forward. Pharaoh Tamose, formerly Prince Memnon, grinned hugely, his dark green eyes sparkling.
"Lostris, it was you who protected the Double Crown of Egypt by exiling the Royal family during the invasion of the enemies. A smart move, going south to Kush until the Prince came of age," Osiris said. Then he smiled mischievously. "And although the Gods know Tamose is the son of Tanus and yourself, he was accepted as the God-King of Egypt by one of our own, Pharaoh Mamose."
"Tanus is my father?" Tamose asked, surprised, and Lostris turned, smiled and nodded. Tanus put his arm around Tamose's shoulders.
"And Taita, although you were educated by Egypt's traitor, you used your education well in protecting Egypt from future invasion."
"Therefore," Osiris called in his deep throated voice. "Let it be known in the Afterlife and all the Underworld, that Queen Lostris and Taita have earned the Flies of Valor," Osiris said and nodded to Isis and Nepthys, who placed Egypt's highest military honor around the necks of Lostris and Taita.
Cheers went up from the assembled crowd of assorted Gods and Goddesses, deceased Egyptians, and more than a few demons from the Underworld, the High Priest of Osiris Imhotep among them.
Pharaoh Mamose came up to Lostris. "My sister, from the moment I married you, I knew Tanus would father your child. I married you because of your intelligence and dedication towards preserving all things Egyptian."
"Then you are not angry at me for deceiving you, my brother?" Lostris asked.
Mamose shook his head. "It is the right of the Pharaoh to choose the next God-King, as did King Haremheb when he chose Rameses I to become Pharaoh. There was too much treachery loose and about in Egypt and I knew I needed someone pure of heart to bear Egypt's next Son."
Mamose hugged her, then went to join the other Gods.
Taita commented, "And I thought I had fooled him."
"He noticed everything," Lostris replied. She was about to continue but Osiris' voice rang out again.
"High Priest of Osiris Imhotep!" and Imhotep adjusted his golden robes, then stepped forward.
"You have been a difficult case to resolve. But you provided the information which helped us save the city of London from downfall and thus prevented the destruction of the Afterlife of Egypt and the destruction of the Egyptian Gods. Service to Egypt is highly valued," Osiris told the assembled people.
There were various cheers and shouts of congratulations directed at Imhotep. Osiris held up his hand for silence. When the crowd quieted, Osiris continued, "Therefore, it is the order of Osiris that you be allowed access to the Afterlife and the Gods are pleased to present you also with the Flies of Valor," he told a stunned Imhotep as Bastet came forward and placed the shining gold Flies of Valor around Imhotep's neck.
Bastet kissed Imhotep's cheek and purred softly as she stepped back.
And Imhotep's children and parents stepped forward to greet their astonished father and son.
More cheers erupted from the assembled crowd.
"Now! A Festival is in order! Bastet! This will be your festival, so let the merriment commence!" Osiris shouted gleefully as all of Egyptian afterlife erupted into song and dance.
The Grayson Pub, Land's End, middle of November, early afternoon
Martha was laughing. It felt good to laugh just to hear her own voice. Since September 7, she hadn't felt much like laughing. She laughed again and said, "Isn't is wonderful that the bombings have stopped for the moment?" she asked a customer, a seaman from Halifax, Canada.
"King Arthur was the one who got the bad guys out of London! I just know he did!" David asserted to the seaman and to his mother.
"King Arthur?" the seaman, Alan Hopkins asked. "How could King Arthur liberate London?"
David pulled on Alan's hand. "If you'll sit down, I'll tell you!"
"He's only four. He's just learned to tell a story," Martha told Alan.
"It's no problem, ma'am. I like hearing stories," Alan replied as David pulled on Alan's hand. The two went over to a table, and Martha brought Alan a mug of tea, a glass of milk for David and a plate of biscuits for them both. David began to tell Alan about his encounter with King Arthur.
"King Arthur was shipwrecked on Wolf Rock. It's waaay out there!" David pointed out to sea. "And the American seaman Thomas Wheaton and I sailed out to pick him up and when we got back, King Arthur borrowed our stallion and galloped towards London to free it from the bad guys! And he did this all in a week!" David finished triumphantly and Alan smiled at the innocent ability to telescope time. To be four again!
But David wasn't done. "I drew pictures of King Arthur. Here, on the wall," he pointed and smiled hugely.
Alan turned his head to look at the picture David was pointing out. It was remarkably well drawn and showed a dark haired man with intense eyes astride a magnificent stallion. On the man's back were two swords, crossed in an 'x' shape.
Alan couldn't help but to feel safe looking at the picture David had drawn. The man's eyes told of an inner resolve and you knew that when he was around, he would protect you.
"I'll draw you one, so you'll be protected by him," David said and Alan nodded absently.
Lizard Point, middle of November, early afternoon
Ida Dunham walked slowly along the South Cornwallian beach, occasionally smiling to herself. A gull landed on the sand a short distance in front of her and Ida stopped for a moment.
"Did you hear, mister gull? King Arthur made it to London!"
The gull flapped its wings. It had known King Arthur well before his arrival in London--for he had seen King Arthur on Wolf Rock and had woken him up from his long nap. The gull was a celebrity of sorts amongst the bird population of Cornwall, for not many birds had the chance to awaken King Arthur.
Ida's heart was humming for in the last few weeks, there had been good news from both London and France: London was no longer being bombed daily (and nightly) and Ida's two sons had each written from France. Ida was to be a grandmother twice over and both babies were due with a month of each other.
She'd decided she would go to Egypt as she'd dreamed, so she could write her grandchildren and tell them about her Egyptian adventures.
O'Connell bedroom, early afternoon on a mid-November day
"Mmmmmmm, now that satiated my hunger!" Rick told his wife as he ran his finger down her arm. She was curled into Rick's arms, the quilted down coverlet drawn up to her neck.
She twisted her head around to see him a bit better. "Even more than a hot cup of steaming joe?" she asked mischievously, a gleam in her eye.
Rick laughed, then considered the question seriously. "I would have to think about that."
"Rick!" Evie said as she playfully poked Rick in the ribs with her elbow. "Surely I'm better than some cuppa joe!" she said indignantly. "Hmmpf!"
"Then let me show you how good you are," Rick murmured.
"Quuuuaaaaacckk!" Ducky said as he and
a female duck flew past the surprised O'Connells and into their bathroom.
The two ducks landed on the edge of the tub, then jumped in and splashed
the water with their wings. "Quack!" Ducky told the two surprised humans
when he realized they were watching him and his new mate.
Red Cross station, outskirts of London (exact location to remain unrevealed, by order of the M5), early afternoon on a mid-November day
"You've got the lorries arranged?" Charlotte Myers asked, tucking her thick red hair into a bun and adjusting the pale blue siren suit she wore.
Like other young London women, Charlotte was enthralled by the siren suits, which were made with oil-proof cloth. Siren suits also protected the clothes worn underneath them--a bonus during air raids with their insistent heed-me-now siren, although should the war drag on for years, Charlotte thought she just might get tired of the siren suits, which were patterned on pilot suits.
The Canadian pilots called Charlotte's outfit a 'jumpsuit' but Charlotte preferred siren suit.
And with a ladies non-wool dress costing seven ration coupons--a steep price considering the government issued a paltry sixty six clothing coupons per person, per year and Charlotte was sure the number of coupons would grow smaller should the war progress--London ladies thought a siren suit was a good investment.
"Yes. They're to be heading off to our northern neighbor at daybreak tomorrow," Alex replied as he filed another home inventory sheet in the file cabinet.
"Will you be going with the lorries?" she asked next.
"You bet. I'll be meeting my uncle in our northern neighbor."
"Watch out for the haggis," Charlotte playfully warned him, filing another home inventory sheet from the Watford section of London.
"I've a question. What is haggis?" he asked her, filing an extensive inventory sheet for 10 Downing Street.
Charlotte glanced at him. "Don't you know?" she asked, narrowing her pale grey eyes.
Alex shook his head. "My uncle alluded to eating haggis in his letters but he never explained what the dish is," he replied. "My dad's American and mum's half-Egyptian."
"Do you really want to know?" was Charlotte's next question.
The tone of her voice caused Alex to look at her. "What do you mean, do I really want to know?"
"Haggis is made, well, rather unusually," Charlotte explained. "Although visitors to Scotland rarely order the dish more than once."
"How unusually?" Alex had stopped filing the home inventory sheets to look at Charlotte.
"Well. It's made from sheep," Charlotte said.
"Sheep isn't so bad," Alex said, turning back to his filing. "It's meat," then bit his tongue. He had been about to reveal he'd had chicken for dinner last night. Alex wasn't supposed to talk about the supplies Tallulah had stockpiled and he hoped Jonathan's letters weren't being opened before they arrived at the Carnahan O'Connell estate.
"Sheep liver, sheep lungs and sheep heart mixed with oatmeal, suet, onions and seasonings. Then it's all mashed together, stuffed into the sheep's stomach, and cooked, rather like an oversize sausage ball," Charlotte said then carefully watched Alex to gauge his reaction.
She herself relished a good bowl of haggis, having a maternal Scottish grandfather who had been a champion caber thrower in the Highland Games, not to mention he made the best haggis in all Scotland, and she was rather envious of Alex's forthcoming trip to Scotland.
Alex paled a bit. "Uhm, liver, lungs and heart in the sheep's stomach?" he asked.
"It's rather good."
"I think I'll order what my uncle did: bangers and mash."
Charlotte laughed then looked at Alex with appraising pale grey eyes. He was a bit young for her own twenty one but age was workable during war times. "Barring an air raid, do you want to get a cuppa joe? And if there are no bombs this evening, they're going to show a Bette Davis film, The Letter," she asked Alex, using the American term for coffee.
Much to his surprise, Alex replied, "Yes. I'd like a cuppa joe and a film. I'd like that a lot!" as the two shared another laugh, then went back to their filing of the home inventory sheets for Operation Take Out.
Egyptian Airspace between Alexandria and Cairo, late November, 1940
The two pilots were trying to outdo each other, making their planes turn somersaults in the air, going up high, then dive bombing the earth and pulling up.
Ardeth was in the rear seat of Martin's new plane. Izzy piloted the other plane and his whoops were audible to even Ardeth's plugged up ears, Martin flew the plane that high.
He was also cold and his robes weren't warm enough.
"Didn't you need to get to the Step Pyramid?" Martin called back. He'd recovered nicely from his bout with pneumonia and full health bloomed in his clean shaven cheeks.
"That would be nice!" Ardeth called back as Martin went into another steep nosedive, racing Izzy towards the ground again.
Ardeth was beginning to regret introducing Martin to Izzy, whom they had found in Alexandria, rummaging around in the markets there. With his love of belly dance, Izzy had found out important information about Rommel while dating a belly dancer.
The belly dancer was now in jail--in Scotland so she wouldn't be able to provide information about Izzy to anyone who came to visit her.
Izzy had been enchanted at the fact he was to be a spy for the British and he had been celebrating his first relay of information by visiting the Red Sea beach resorts. It was on his return to Alexandria when he'd run into Ardeth and Martin Wilkes. He'd listened as the two relayed their adventures in England and France.
And in turn, Ardeth and Martin had listened as Izzy relayed his capture by enemy soldiers stationed in Cairo and how he'd planted scorpions in their bedding to allow him to escape.
The wind now rushing past Ardeth's face plastered his beard in his eyes. "Martin! Did you get the instructions from Taita as to where to store the Bracelet?"
"Yes!" Martin called back. "Isn't this fun?"
"No!" Ardeth replied as the plane headed towards Imhotep's Step Pyramid. Ardeth clutched the Bracelet to his waist and hoped he wouldn't get airsick.
October 29 (overcast & drizzly) was the last intense day of the daily bombings.
October 30 (overcast & rain), there were virtuallly nil bombs dropped over London and the smoke trails began to clear over the burnt-out skyline.
On Halloween, 1940, Mussolini apparently decided--rather belatedly--that he, too, wanted a piece of London, so he sent to London 15 bombers and a motley collection of 70 biplanes, colored pale green and bright blue and seemingly relics from the First War.
Coming from the direction of Kent, the Regia Aeronautica flew over the soil of England, made a right turn and flew away over Ramsgate, where a scant handful of bombs were dropped before the tails of the Regia were seen heading towards the Channel.
The weather conscious Brits noted the sky was overcast and the weather? Wet, very wet.
Casualties for October 31, 1940: 0,
however 13,000 were killed and nearly 20,000 were seriously injured during
the month of October.
There were vague references to shorter hours of daylight and wet weather when the daily (though not the night attacks) bombings ended.
But we know better.