Ardeth's Quest: The Liberation of London
 

BOOK TWO: The Liberation of London--Part Two 
 

Liberation: Shifting Saharan Sands                    Liberation: Book Two, Part One (Chapters 8-12)
 


CHAPTER THIRTEEN

O'Connell Estate, October 1, 1940, mid-afternoon 

Weary was an excellent adjective to use these past days. Daily and nightly the Luftwaffe kept bombing: the Docklands were destroyed, homes had vanished, families dispersed.  

The unextinguishable fires resulting from the Docklands bombings had an unfortunate side effect: the fires made excellent beacons for the Luftwaffe pilots. And the pilots had unerringly targeted schools, train stations and railroad lines. London was running short of food supplies.  

Time and again, there was one train which managed to slip into London: Puffing Billy brought food and fresh military recruits to London. By unspoken mutual consent, foreign journalists vowed to keep the train's origination and termination points a secret, just in case the Nazis read the foreign newspapers.  

Most heartbreaking were the radio reports concerning London's children. The three O'Connell's wept openly when the BBC broadcast interviews with the children of London. 

Most of the villagers had either courageously returned to their homes, or had deserted London for safer environs in the country. Excepting Alex, the village's children were sent to the Irish countryside at the O'Connell's expense.  

And tonight the O'Connell's would shelter a dozen or so villagers whose homes were destroyed.  

But there was one incongruity which perplexed both the adult O'Connells: despite the intense nightly destruction of London and the high loss of human life, London's nightlife had, in the past few weeks, seemed to intensify. It had been Alex who had proffered an explanation. 

"See, mum and dad, my mates think we'll be the next to die. Tallulah died from shrapnel on her way to donate blood. It's like that; people think they're going to die, so they want to go out and have fun while they are still alive," he'd said with all his seventeen year old authority.  

The explanation about London's burgeoning nightlife from Alex didn't make sense to either of the adult O'Connell's but apparently the explanation made perfect sense to the rest of the world. Every day, the BBC broadcast reports about the foreign press commenting on "how the courageous young people of London went about their daily activities as if thumbing their noses at the Luftwaffe and the horrible destruction being wrought by the bombs. What spirit!" 

Radio reports were filled with news about how the two Princessess were buying yarn and knitting for the soldiers. England was especially proud of how Queen Elizabeth had decided to turn Windsor Castle into a farm to grow crops. Taking up the Queen's suggestion, Rick had thought the Queen's idea a splendid one and he decided to grow vegetables on the vast O'Connell estate to supplement the meagre war rations.  

Evie heard footsteps thundering up the stairs. "Alex! Stop running! You'll wake the dead!" Evie called out as she tried to shoo the duck from the bathtub. "Ducky! You know water is being rationed," Evie told the duck. Ducky, for his part, ignored Evie's statements to him. 

The footsteps were now thudding down the hallway towards Rick and Evie's bedroom suite. 

"Mum! Ardeth's made the news!" he thrust a newspaper at Evie. "Besides, I already woke the dead!" he said, remembering how he'd used the Book of the Dead to resurrect his mother eight years ago. 

"Where did you get this? Did you go off the estate?" Evie asked at once, concerned for Alex's safety. The O'Connells had decided that it was necessary for someone to refresh supplies and to see to the villagers' needs, and although Rick had volunteered, Alex sometimes went in Rick's place.  

Evie had been concerned at first, for Nuit had told the O'Connells that they should stay on their estate, but as the O'Connell's and the villagers had quickly learned, it was safe to go about the village when the bombers weren't in the sky; Nuit would rumble whenever a Luftwaffe raid was imminent and warn the villagers to return to the O'Connell estate. 

However, the rule at the O'Connell's was that at least one of the three family members remain on the estate at all times.  

Now as Evie looked at the headlines on the front page of The New York Times, she felt her heart flutter. "Oh my! He's made it to England?"  

"Yeah, but to the wrong end. He's in Land's End. Read it, mum." 
 

    Penzance Ferry sinks off the Cornwall Coast in Surprise Storm 
    Land's End, September 25, 1940. The government-contracted supply ferry, Gilgamesh, sank in storm waters off Land's End two days ago. The ferry was on its way back from France to Penzance on an authorized supply run when the storm caught them unawares. "A freak wave nearly capsized the ferry," said the Captain Roger Wiltshire of Penzance. The captain and first mate Harry Blanch were found alive in the water, clinging to a piece of wood.  

    One other survivor, a deckhand hailing from Cairo, Egypt, was rescued from the notorious Wolf's Rock, site of the sinking of the submarine SS Joshua Nicholson on March 18, 1917.  

    Four year old David Dunlop, looking through a telescope at the setting sun from Zawn Reeth, had insisted to his mother that a man was shipwrecked on Wolf Rock, a treacherous rock outcrop 1.2 kilometres from Land's End. A sympathetic sailor, Thomas Wheaton of Savannah, Georgia, USA, in the true spirit of a seaman, went to investigate David's claim and found the shipwrecked deckhand clinging to life on Wolf's Rock. The deckhand's name was not immediately known. 

"It's Seth again. But Ardeth outwitted him. Let's show this to dad. He can wire down to Land's End and see what we can do to get Ardeth here," Alex suggested after his mother had read the article.  

"Is he really here? The paper says a deckhand hailing from Egypt was rescued." Evie didn't want to get her hopes up but hope flared in her heart and she wasn't sure if she could keep her face from betraying her feelings. She looked at article again, then at the name of the paper.  

"Where did you get this paper? It's from New York!" she exclaimed.  

"From a Canadian who got to town this morning," Alex said.  

"How did he get here? Air and sea routes are closed!" 

"He came via Toronto to Dublin, ferried to Cardiff, then came on the supply trains that are still running," Alex replied.  

"Not the Canadian, dear. Ardeth! How did Ardeth get to England?" Evie asked, a frown creasing her brow. 

"I suppose he'll tell us when he gets here," Alex replied.  

"Why hasn't he at least sent a telegram? He must have been in England for nearly a week," Evie stated, her eyebrows knitting in confusion. 

Alex stroked his chin. "That is strange. I'll go ask dad if he's received any telegrams," he said as he sprinted out of the bedroom and down the hallway. Evie's voice floated after him,  

"Alex! Be careful!" she called,  then she addressed the duck.  

"I'm going to leave the bathtub to you, Ducky," she told the duck. Since the 7th, the male duck had made himself quite at home in the O'Connell residence, going so far as to make a morning ritual of flying up and down the stairwell each day--quacking loudly--as his way of ensuring the O'Connell household greeted the new sunrise.  

"Quack, quaaaaccck, quack, QUACK!" Ducky said to no one in particular, as he swam serenely in the bathtub.  

Evie left the bedroom and went to find Rick. As she went, she began reading the accounts that Londoners gave to the foreign press.  

    Danni, Age 6, Stepney, London 
    The bombs were terrible when they fell. I was having high tea with mummy when I heard a loud explosion. She motioned for me to get down under the table but another explosion turned the table onto its side. 

    Mummy and me hid. And we fell asleep during the second bombardment.  

    The next morning my mummy went outside to see the neighborhood. She came back and told me that my best friend's house was destroyed.  

    And mummy told me my best friend Carol and her mum were lying dead in the grass of her front lawn. Mummy covered her up with a tablecloth. Then she did something unusual: mummy rummaged around the remains of the home and took all the food. She brought these items back to our house.  

    Then she went back and took all their silverware. She told me she was going to keep the silverware safe until Carol's relatives can send for it. They live overseas and are glad to know their family valuables are safe. I heard on the beeb that people were looting destroyed homes for the valuables. Mummy says that's not what we did: we're safekeeping Carol's silverware. Her relatives know we have it for Mummy got word to them. Later we found out that Carol's dad and Carol's little sister Michelle were wounded but they left the country.  

    Now we have to go to bomb shelters every night. My seventh birthday is in November. I hope the war is over then. I don't want to spend my birthday in a bomb shelter. I hate war.  

    Paul Perlman, 41, South London  
    He's got us where he wants us, all right. With the shape of the Thames, London is a no-miss target. But blitz or no blitz, the nightlife of London goes on. One would think that nightlife would stop, all the entertainment would shut down, with the Luftwaffe dropping bombs every night. 

    But the young Londoners think they might not have a long life and you know how the young think: they might as well enjoy themselves for they might not be alive tomorrow night. So the young Londoners head out to their favorite pubs in Central London. The local council looks the other way when the pub owners stretch the licensing hours. Sometimes the hours are stretched all night.  

    I usually like to go to the mess hall when I'm off duty--I'm a quartermaster--where a LACW will serve bacon, eggs and hot coffee. I know what you're thinking: an Englishman drinking coffee when you thought all English people drank tea. I like coffee better than tea and I met my new girlfriend while drinking coffee in a shop down in Piccadilly. Bad conclusion to draw, I know, but this is war and I'll take meeting a new girlfriend while drinking coffee over watching a bomb destroy a London neighborhood any day.  

    Linda Burns, Watford 
    My childhood semi-detached was bombed back in '18, when I was fourteen. I had been in the basement when the bombs fell and I was the only survivor from my family. My mum, dad, two sisters and my brother were outside in the garden when the bomb dropped on our neighbors. My family was killed instantly.  

    Physically, I lost my right eye and three fingers from my right hand from '18. That didn't stop me from going to work though. I was fourteen and had no other family to take me in. The social people tried to place me with different families but I ran away from every home. So they finally put me into a gardening job. That was good work for my mangled right hand.  

    That's what I do now for England: growing a garden. The Queen had a most wonderful idea of using Windsor Castle to grow crops for the war effort. The two Princesses come round to the estates to help with the work sometimes. Good patriotic spirit in Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. When I heard about the gardens, I went down and applied to be a gardener. Now I go around to the various Estates and oversee the planting of the crops.  

    That's good work for me, because the homes on my street were destroyed on the 7th. Actually, our street seemed to be overlooked when the bombs first started dropping at high tea time. But during the overnight onslaught, my house was destroyed. So I like the fact that I can get lodging in the Royal Estates as I oversee the planting of the war gardens.  

    It seems like I'm destined to be homeless every twenty years or so, so it looks like I'll be in my mid fifties when I lose another of my homes.  

    Hettie Williams, Chauffeur, Piccadilly 
    I don't like to talk about the 7th. Karen can do that.  

    In my off hours, me and the Brylcreem Boys go around to the coffeeshops when they come off duty. My regular job is to pick up the airmen coming in on Puffing Billy. Puffing Billy's the name is the name of the transport that brings in food and airmen. I won't tell you where Puffing Billy originates or terminates because the SS might have their eye on this newspaper and then bomb Puffing Billy.  

    The Brylcreem Boys' CO gives a day off every four or five days. So the Brylcreem Boys come to London and I drive them around, seeing the sights like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. They're young and war or not, they need to unwind.  

    The Brylcreem Boys keep me in nylons, lipstick and cigarettes, so I would like to say thank you their families in America for sending those items. I picked up the term cigarettes from the Americans.  

    It's a wonder that my own street has escaped a lot of the damage but with the daily bombings, I suppose that will become a thing of the past. There are areas of London that the British soldiers won't let us drive through because of the fires, especially at the docklands, and the debris from the destroyed homes. The bombed out homes are still smoking. 

    Karen Wilson, South Ealing 
    Hettie might not like to talk about the 7th but she's just too shaken. I'm shaken too. Four hundred eighty eight people died on the 7th. When the planes first moved towards London, I thought it was a huge thunderstorm coming. I remember feeling a bit let down when I saw the thick line of black in the sky moving towards London at high tea time.  English weather is wet and rotten on an ordinary day, and although the 7th was a nice, sunny day, English weather is known to turn in a heartbeat.  

    So I thought: a squall. Then I went about setting out the silver for high tea. As I was pouring the tea, I thought: we're inland!  

    That's when I knew the war had come to London. August 24th had seen a lot of heavy Luftwaffe activity. Portsmouth, Dover, Ramsgate, South Wales, Birmingham, most of the north-east coast and a lot of airfields were targeted with bombs. A few bombs dropped over Central London but the papers the next day reported that the bombs were inadvertant. We learned later that England retaliated for the 24th by bombing Germany. Apparently, Hitler didn't like our actions.  

    Nobody in my family really believed that the bombs over London on the 24th were inadvertant. It seemed we were just existing in kind of a daze, waiting day after day for the bombs to start dropping over London. Hitler seems like the "take it all" kind of person--I don't really want to call him a man and I'm being kind when I say person--and he seems to be methodically taking over Europe. 

    But he won't win. London will never fall. I have faith in our country. And I have faith in mysterious things, you know, those ethereal kind of things. Magic, some people call it for I've Egyptian blood running in my veins from my grandmother's side. And I just have a feeling that we'll beat Hitler and send him packing back to where he belongs.  

Evie, having managed to get nearly all the way down the stairs while reading the newspaper accounts, slipped on something left on the stairs. "Aaaaaahhhhhh!" she said as she fell rather hard down the remaining stairs.

"I'm okay! It's just my rotten luck!" she called out to no one in particular. Taking stock of herself, she found that all she had bruised was her ego. 

Twisting around to see what she had tripped on, she saw a most unwelcome sight: Ducky had left a calling card on the stair. 

"Either he wears diapers or he will have to find a nice pond somewheres," Evie said halfheartedly. But she really didn't have the heart to displace Ducky. 


Article in The London Times 

    London, October 2.  
    Carrying six survivors, the derelict supply ferry, Gilgamesh, was found a mile offshore from Plymouth. The Gilgamesh was thought to have sunk in storm waters off Wolf Rock (Land's End) on September 23. The captain, Roger Wiltshire, had thought the ferry sunk when a freak wave nearly capsized the boat with six lives lost. 

    The six survivors, all crew hands of the Gilgamesh, after a medical exam, were found to be healthy, if a bit hungry and thirsty. 

    The cargo of the Gilgamesh was found intact. It is not known how the ferry's crew survived without food or water for over a week, although the crew related the same strange dream of being surrounded in a golden light. The six survivors did express surprise upon learning the date, for they had thought just a few hours had passed.  

    The captain expressed profound relief at the survival of his entire crew, whom he thought perished in last week's storm.  

    The cargo of the ferry will be delivered to its destinations. Although the ferry did not suffer external damage, the captain thought it best to decommision the ferry, sell it, and purchase another.  

    "I can't have the name of my ferry being bantered around the newspapers. You never know who is reading," he said.



 
O'Connell residence, October 5, 1940

Alex had been sitting in one of the kitchen's thick leather chairs, idly flipping through an issue of the Times. He'd been dozing there earlier when his dad had come in from a supply run, his dreams filled with Native Americans. It had been Evie's idea to move a few chairs into the large kitchen, where the chairs flanked a fireplace. 

The nightly toll from the bombings were showing on all three O'Connells' faces--their eyes had deepening shadows under the lower lids, and there was a general melancholy in the air. 

But the melancholy was not surprising, despite the foreign reports of London's young partying the night away. Although Alex could well understand why London's nightlife would continue, he didn't understand 

"Would you like some tea?" Rick asked, filling a pot full of water. Alex nodded. Before Tallulah had died, she'd stocked up the empty storerooms in the basement level. Evie had found enough tea, sugar, flour, tinned meat, candies, biscuits and spices to feed the Twelve Commanders of the Medjai and all their troops for a year.

Using the knowledge of her previous life as Neferteri, Evie was in the process of sorting out weekly rations for the next five years. In her previous life, her father had relied heavily on the Nilometer to gauge the flow of flood waters, for if the flood waters were too high, or too low, the harvests would be severely affected, causing famine and disease.

Indeed, the period in Egyptian history known as the Old Kingdom ended as the result of floods and droughts. The resultant food shortage and disease decimated the population and the morale of the population, and the Old Kingdom had collapsed and ushered in the First Intermediate Period. 

Earlier in the day,  Alex had finished reading Black Elk Speaks. He'd found the book amongst Talullah's belongings. Actually, he'd been standing in what had been Tallulah's sitting room and  the book was lying on top of a small marble topped sitting room table. He'd picked up the well worn book, sat down on the divan and was immediately fascinated about the wisdom and visions told by the Oglala Sioux Elder. 

Black Elk had a Vision in which he saw four ascents. These ascents, he told John Neihardt, were the four generations he should know. On the first ascent, the land was green, and the sky ahead was filled with clouds of baby faces. A holy tree was green and healthy. 

On the second ascent, the land was still green but the ascent was steeper. The people changed into elks and bison and all four footed beings and even into fowls, all walking in a sacred manner on the good red road together. 

And Black Elk was a spotted eagle soaring over them. But just before they stopped to camp at the end of the ascent, all the marching animals grew restless and afraid that they were not what they had been, and began sending forth voices of trouble, calling to their chiefs. And when they camped at the end of the third ascent, Black Elk looked down and saw that leaves were falling from the holy tree. 

Then a Voice came to Black Elk, and told him: "behold your nation, and remember what your Six Grandfathers gave you, for thenceforth your people walk in difficulties."

Especially prophetic were Black Elk's words about the third ascent of his Vision,

"Then the people broke camp again, and saw the black road before them towards where the sun goes down, and black clouds coming yonder; and they did not want to go but could not stay. And as they walked the third ascent, all the animals and fowls that were the people ran here and there, for each one seemed to have his own little vision that he followed and his own rules; and all over the universe I could hear the winds at war like wild beasts fighting."

And Black Elk stopped his narrative to remark, "I think were are near that place now, and I am afraid something very bad is going to happen all over the world." 

When Black Elk had reached the summit of the third ascent and made camp, he saw that the nation's hoop was broken like a ring of smoke that spreads and the holy tree seemed dying, and all its birds were gone. And the Voice spoke to Black Elk again: "Look there upon your nation," and Black Elk did and all the people were think their faces sharp, for they were starving. Their ponies were only hide and bones, and the holy tree was gone. 

The Oglala Sioux's remarks had been made in May 1931, and the Elder's prophetic words astonished Alex. A footnote in the book said Black Elk knew no English, was, by Western standards, illiterate, and Black Elk knew nothing of world affairs.

Alex knew that Black Elk's Vision knew neither race, nor language barrier, nor geography. His Vision was meant for all mankind. 
 
Swinging his leg over the edge of the chair, Alex thought over the Vision of Black Elk as he idly flipped the pages of the Times. The Oglala Sioux Elder had joined the world of the Spirits and hadn't lived to see his frightening prophetic words come true. 

He flipped a few more pages in the days old paper. Then he sat up suddenly, all traces of sleep fleeing from his eyes. Flipping back a few pages, he ran his finger down the page to ensure he'd be reading the ad correctly.

"Dad! Ardeth put an ad in the Times. It says King Arthur is coming to London," he said as he swung his leg back over the arm of the chair, stood up and started walking to the stove. 

Rick met him halfway. "How did Ardeth know about the Times?" he asked, reading the ad. "To: Rick O'Connell, London. King Arthur is coming to London. The ad is addressed to me," Rick observed, a smile breaking on his face. 

"Someone else must have placed this ad for him," Alex noted, flipping his blond hair out of his eyes. With the daily bombings, death and destruction of London, and of England, Alex yearned for the times in Egypt when he was younger, and riding across the desert. At least there were spells one could incant and people who could dispell the evil doers. 

"But why would he use the name King Arthur?" Rick asked as Evie came into the kitchen. Rick poured a cup of tea for her.

"King Arthur?" she asked, brushing a lock of her dark hair behind her ear. "What about King Arthur? That's not my primary mythology, mind you, but I am half English!"

"Someone put an ad saying that King Arthur is coming to London," Alex explained, showing his mum the paper. She took the paper and looked at it for a long moment. A smile played on her lips, and her eyes, for the first time in weeks, danced. Rick and Alex couldn't help but smile back.

"King Arthur? Ardeth. Ar. Der. Ar. Thur. King Arthur. His name's been Anglicized but that's a good sign! It means that languages are alive and well," she said, holding out the paper and waving it like a flag.

"If someone placed this ad, why did they use King?" Alex asked. 

"According to legend, King Arthur freed Britain from Roman rule and successfully defended Britain from the Anglo-Saxon invaders. Whomever placed the ad is most likely an Arthurian enthusiast and had reason to believe Ardeth could help England," Evie commented, smiling. Her hopes had just been increased a hundredfold now that Ardeth was in England. . 

"So he did make it to England? And he's on his way to London?" Alex asked. He didn't want to hope that much, but was there hope after these past few weeks? Hope that someone could do something to stop the daily bombings? If anyone could do something about the bombing, Alex believed that Ardeth Bey could stop the daily bombings, perhaps even stop Hitler. 

"Yes, he did make it to England," Evie replied. "Arthur could very well be the English pronunciation of Ardeth. I'll bet Horus's Throne that a child mispronounced Ardeth's name and the name stuck," she said.

"Why do you think that Ardeth met up with a child?" Rick wanted to know.

"Young children have a hard time forming certain sounds and they commonly mispronounce words, especially people's names. English formed out of an archaic sub-branch of German claimed for its own thousands of words. Kasmin became Cashman. The Greek Giorgios becomes George. Ardeth could have become Arthur."

"Mum! The kitchen window!" Alex exclaimed, pointing at the window which was simultaneously growing dark and shimmering with a golden light. The trio watched Ardeth galloping on a black horse. Windsor castle was showing in the background. 

"Nuit!" Evie said as Rick exclaimed in confirmation, "Ardeth's here!"

"Well, he'll be here. That's Windsor," Alex pointed out, tucking his hands into his blue jeans. 

Evie and Rick hugged each other, then the two parents hugged Alex. 

"One is here, and the other must be brought to London safely to unlock the spell," Nuit's voice said before fading out and the scene int the window pane also faded. 

"What does she mean by that?" inquired Alex, after squriming out of his parents' fierce embrace.

"Someone else must be needed for the Bracelet to work correctly, someone who knows the spell needed to activate the Bracelet," Evie replied, twisting a lock of her hair around her finger.

"But we have a copy of the Book of the Dead!" Alex protested. "There are spells for protection, like Spell 151B, which was used as a protective spell on the Mask of Tutankhamun," Alex finished. "Can't we use one of those spells to activate the Bracelet?"

"We need to know which spell the Bracelet needs," Rick pointed out. "The Bracelet appears to have had a Keeper and apparently we need to locate this Keeper to unlock the spell." 

"Wouldn't the spell be engraved on the Bracelet as protection?" Alex now asked. "Mum, you incanted the spell which woke up Imhotep," he finished. 

"The spell should be engraved on the Bracelet," Evie agreed, nodding her head. "And then there are the spells used to protect Seti's tomb," she said.

"Neferteri's father?" asked Alex, surprised.

"Yes, didn't I ever tell you the story about Seti's tomb?" Evie asked, just as surprised.

"No!" Rick and Alex replied, simultaneously.

"It was October, 1817," she began, her eyes going distant."Giovanni Bastita Belzoni had caused a small excavation to be done behind a waterfall in the wadi of the Valley of the Kings," she began but Rick interrupted.

"A waterfall?" a bit of sarcasm came into his voice.

"In the desert, the floods between July and October can create waterfalls. Besides, Seti was very cunning and placing his tomb behind a nice waterfall, at least during flood times, would discourage tomb robbers. Now, to continue, after digging some more, the Fellahs perceived the rock to be cut, which indicated a tomb. On the 18th, they found the entrance to a large tomb," she told her two menfolk, their blond hair highlighted by the kitchen fire.

"Seti's tomb," Alex observed.

"Well, they didn't realize that at first. Neferteri had caused to be deposited in the tomb's entrance large stones, so as to discourage tomb robbers," she said, smiling at her previous incarnation's cleverness.

"Were the robbers discouraged?" Rick now asked.

"Yes. And Seti had had his tomb walls painted with masterpieces of art, including a well renowned astronomical drawing," Evie stated.

"Seti was an art lover," Rick observed.

"An art lover indeed. The drawings in his tomb are of such high quality, figures from the astronomical drawing were incorporated into the pottery of Wedgwood and Sevres," Evie commented. "And speaking of pottery, now that I remember that part, we really do need to try and get some of those pottery pieces," she finished.

"That will probably have to wait until after the War," Rick said, a frown bending the corners of his mouth. "On the other hand, we can place an ad, for if someone has some of the pottery, they'd be more willing to sell it now," he said.

"Or exchange it for food supplies," Evie put in. 

"War sucks," Alex said, then commented, "I hope Ardeth gets here soon."

"We need to get some dinner for him and a hot bath," Evie said, then called, "Tallulah! Could you set out some fresh clothes for Ardeth?" but Rick put his hand on her shoulder until she realized that Tallulah had died on her way to give blood for the Red Cross.

"She was doing her duty," Rick whispered in Evie's ear, as Evie put her hands around Rick's waist. Alex didn't know what to do with himself, so he busied himself at the counter, making ready potatoes for roasting.

"Excellent idea, Alex. Let's see, potatoes, vegetables, some of the fish the villagers caught from the river today, bread," Evie said, disentangling herself from Rick and going to the counter to help Alex. The villagers had been fishing in the river, and had caught several dozen fish, which they had shared with the O'Connells. Evie needed to move around and do something constructive. Making dinner for Ardeth would be an excellent idea. 

"Mum, dad," Alex began. "Why doesn't Ardeth use Puffing Billy or a lorry to get to London?"

"Good question," Rick replied. "The answer is possibly because there are sixteen railstations out and three rail lines destroyed on the 7th. It's probably faster to get around by horse than try to find a lorry for a lift."

"But couldn't he catch a lift with the soldiers?" Alex wanted to know as he scrubbed potatoes.

"Now that you mention it, Ardeth probably didn't realize he could catch a ride with the soldiers," Evie said. "I'm sure he will tell us everything when he arrives," she finished, taking up a fish. "Rick, would you take off its head?" she asked, holding out the fish to her husband. 

"But he needs someone else who can recite a spell that the Bracelet needs," Rick said, accepting the fish Evie held out and taking up a small sharp knife. "But who is that someone else, and how do we get that person to London?"

The three O'Connells pondered Rick's question in silence as they readied dinner for themselves and Ardeth: fish went into the oven to bake, as did the potatoes, bread dough was readied and let to rise. 


Horse hooves galloped fast over the countryside just outside of Windsor Castle. His mount was fresh. Ardeth had assessed the situation and had come to the same conclusion that Rick had: riding a horse was much faster than trying to catch a train which ran sporadically. 

He had found his journey through the mists of Cornwall to be rapid, and Cornwallian hospitality was the best on this side of the Mediterranean. Only his native Tuareg provided the same level of hospitality, for in the Sahara, when one came upon a tribe of Tuareg, one was welcomed for three days. The dessicating Sahara sapped the strength of even the strongest person, and the strongest beast. Three days was enough to rest and rejuvenate. 

The one anomaly that perplexed Ardeth was the Cornwallian natives' tendency to refer to him as "King Arthur." 

The "Arthur" he understood; David's referral to him as "Arder" was natural for a four year old for even the young children in his own tribe often mispronounced words. Martha's interpretation of "Arder" as "Arthur" didn't bother him; Ardeth was well aware of the differences in pronunciations by speakers of different languages. 

Nor did the moniker of King Arthur bother Ardeth. Conversely, he had discovered that upon hearing the gallop of the horse he was riding, the natives of Cornwall had been quick to saddle up fresh horses, provide a hot bath, hot meals, fresh clothes while his own were being washed, and a warm bed. All these were offered, even before he'd dismounted from his sweaty horse.

"Ay, call down to the dairy and fetch King Arthur a fresh pail of milk!"  someone would call as Ardeth's mount, sweating and tired, galloped up to a farm house. 

"Ay, call upon Mary to fetch King Arthur a hot bath and a hot meal!" came the call from a farmhand to someone in the house as Ardeth swung over the side of the panting horse. 

"Ready and saddle up a fresh horse for King Arthur!" came another cry as Ardeth's feet came into contact with the ground. 

Farmhands and stable boys would come running to curry the horse, lead him to a feeding trough and water the horse. 

And, as always, when possible, the Cornwallians drove Ardeth to his next destination, or as far as they were able, given the blackout restrictions. And in England, the latitude and the date being near the end of September meant that darkness came upon the Cornwallian countryside earlier than it did in Egypt. And for some of those hours Ardeth needed to sleep.

There were dark shadows underneath Ardeth's eyes, for he was sleeping less and travelling more. A bombing of some of the coastal ports meant that Ardeth had been delayed a few days, but he'd spent those days in relative comfort, regaining some of the sleep he'd lost, but the worry about his arriving in London weighed heavy on his heart.

And for some reason, he had been unable to find out Martin's whereabouts. He knew Martin was alive, for somehow the Bracelet had formed a tenuous link between the two men. He rather suspected that knowledge of Martin's whereabouts were being kept from him by Seth. 
 


The Afterlife: The Myth of the Restorer of Ma'at 

"Gather round and I'll tell you the story of how Ardeth Bey stopped the Destruction of the Pyramids and saved mankind from destruction," Taita told the assembled children, who were new to the Afterlife, having just arrived there during the past eight earthbound months. Taita always had had a soft spot for children, especially children killed as a result of war.  

"Ardeth saved my mother," whispered one girl--a four year old. Taita smiled at her gently before beginning his tale:  

    "In the time of the Age of Taurus, the Great God Imhotep, Architect of the Step Pyramid, received a vision from Nuit: 

    "You are to build a Temple to me in the village of Djeba, in Upper Egypt." 

    Imhotep replied, "I will do so, Goddess." 

    "There is a block of lapis lazuli buried in the sands. That block of lapis lazuli is my earthly body. You are to find my earthly body and construct a Ring and line the Ring with silver. Place my earthly body in my Temple." 

    Again, Imhotep replied, "I will do as you command, Goddess." 

    Then Nuit delivered horrifying news: her Temple would be ransacked by Hyksos. The Hyksos were invaders of Egypt and they were from far beyond the Tigris River.  

    The Hyksos would steal the Ring and travel with the Ring to the Delta of the Nile, along the shores of the Great Green. Late in the first half of the Age of Pisces, the Ring would be buried in the muddy bed of the Great Green when a terrible earthquake would strike the Delta region.  

    Imhotep was horrified at the Goddess' words and told the Goddess he would ensure the Ring of Nuit would not be stolen from the Temple and taken to the Delta. But the Goddess told Imhotep the Temple of Nuit would be toppled by an aftershock of the Delta earthquake. If the Ring of Nuit was in the Temple, the Ring would be crushed under the stone pillars.  

    Imhotep was saddened at the knowledge his architecture would be toppled, but he obeyed the Goddess and built her Temple soundly. The Temple survived the millennia, survived the invasions of many foreign peoples and was only toppled by the earthquake late in the first half of the Age of Pisces.  

    Near the end of the Age of Pisces, Ardeth Bey, Commander of the Medjai, had been awakened one dawn by the soft breath of Nuit kissing his forehead.  

    She revealed to him that he was her Earthly Son and he had been chosen to return her own earthly body to her Temple in Djeba by the ninth day before the full moon or else the Pyramids would be destroyed along with all humankind.

    Ardeth travelled across the searing desert towards the Nile, rarely stopping to eat or rest. Sprouting wings of silver, he flew to the mouth of the Nile and dove under the waters of the Great Green. 

    Under the waters of the Great Green, the Great Imhotep and Queen Lostris appeared to Ardeth. Imhotep and Lostris told Ardeth he would have their protection and help. The Great Imhotep used his powers to help Ardeth locate the Ring of Nuit and Queen Lostris cleared the waters under the Great Green and  provided a dolphin to help Ardeth return to the surface.  

    Retrieving the silver lined lapis lazuli ring from the muddy bed of the Great Green, Ardeth, with the help of his earthly priest Martin, again sprouted wings of silver and flew to Djeba.  

    Once again, the Great Imhotep assisted Ardeth by showing Ardeth the location of the Temple ruins. Ardeth located the shrine to Nuit, buried in the sands by a dedicated priest. Placing the Ring of Nuit in the shrine, Nuit was able to resurrect her Powers.  

    She dispelled the silver winged invader who was planning on destroying the Pyramids and humankind, depositing the invader directly in the Underworld.  

    In gratitude, the Egyptian Gods granted Ardeth Bey the title "Restorer of Ma'at."

"Ardeth Bey was the man who helped save my mother!" the four year old piped up.  

"He did! I watched him!" a six year old boy said. The two children had arrived together in the Afterlife, confused and upset. Taita knew that the two kids, in the middle of their long lives, had been destined to restore the Pyramids to their former glory. Once again, the white limestone and gilded capstones of the Pyramids of Giza would have been the shining jewels of the Sahara.  

But the Dark One had seen to it that the two children would not live to achieve their destiny. The kids had been instructed by a soldier to make their way to the O'Connell estate. A bomber plane had spotted the two children trying to make their way towards the village where the O'Connells lived. The plane had dropped a bomb directly in front of the children, killing them instantly. 

For her part, Nuit had been furious. The children had died just outside the limits of her protection. Nuit had stamped her feet, and Ardeth had thrown the Bracelet down in disgust.  

But his disgust had cracked the Bracelet. Evie had picked up the Bracelet and put it on her wrist.  

Flinging her arm out, the Bracelet flew off Evie's wrist and cracked into three pieces.  

Alex had found a spell to repel demons fromt he Book of Thoth and recited it as Ardeth was trying to put the pieces back together.  

This was the event which had massed all the power of the animals of the land, the fishes of the sea, the wind, the rain, the thunder, the volcanoes and all the gods and demons. Their massed power repelled the bomber planes from London. 

After that day, Seth's follower had lessened the bombing, but his mind was now elsewhere.