CHAPTER SEVEN

Port City of Alexandria, 1940

 

"See, the Bracelet of Lostris was made by her former slave, Lord Taita, just before he died. Some of the Bedouin said he was a hundred years old at his death and others said he was two hundred," Martin was explaining over a dinner of meat, vegetables, bread and beer.

 

He continued explaining his dream. "As a last respect to his beloved Queen, and to preserve her powers of protection to those that called upon her, Lord Taita had fashioned the Bracelet out of electrum and emeralds. When he fashioned the Bracelet, he added some of her hair that he had saved. He told me he would always be able to see the tendrils of her soul from the afterlife and know the Bracelet--and her power--was safe," Martin said, taking a sip of the cold beer.

 

Ardeth tried to remain interested in this new legend. He would ask Martin to write the Legend down, and Ardeth would give the scroll to his Scribe. "What does this Bracelet do?" Ardeth now asked, picking up his bread and sopping up the juices from his meat and vegetable plate.

 

"Why, the Bracelet protects those from evil," Martin said.

 

"My friend, when did your Queen live?"

 

"During the time of the Hyksos invasion. She was the only queen of Pharoah Mamose to give birth to a son," Martin said.

 

"Nearly thirty seven hundred years ago," Ardeth said, taking up his cup and draining the beer.

 

"Yes. Queen Lostris was forced to flee Egypt with her son and her beloved slave Taita. She fled south, leading her people to the lands of Kush and farther down into Ethiopia where they buried Pharoah Mamose. She returned to Egypt, twenty years after she left and her adult son, Pharoah Tamose, drove the Hyksos from Lower Egypt and their beloved Thebes," Martin said, sipping his beer.

 

He continued. "There in Thebes, Tamose begat the progenitor of the man who became my Pharoah Kamose. And the former slave Taita, freed by Tamose, became Lord Taita and lived in the desert, where at the end of his long life, made the Bracelet of Lostris. The Bracelet was made to ensure the freedom of Egypt during times of distress, for Lord Taita had helped the young Kamose run the Red Road, and thus become Pharoah before he reached the age of majority. Egypt needed a native son to start the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt."

 

Martin had evidently become thirsty from his long winded explanation for he tipped his cup up and drained the rest of his beer in one long sip.

 

Ardeth knew from his father's teachings that a young heir to the Horus Throne who was not yet of majority age, could assume the false beard by running the Red Road--an arduous physical task of endurance.

 

"You have vivid dreams, my friend. Has there been any evidence of Queen Lostris?"

 

"Sadly, no. I keep trying to work with Egyptologists but they dismiss my claims," Martin said sadly.

 

Ardeth stretched his back. "Lostris. I am not familiar with the name Lostris," Ardeth said as he took up a piece of baklava and bit into it. The Greeks really did know how to take honey and walnuts and make it into something delicious. "What does the name mean?"

 

"Daughter of the Waters," Martin replied and Ardeth nearly choked for the second time that day.

 

"Daughter of the Waters?" Ardeth asked after he'd composed himself.

 

"Yes. Does that mean something to you?"

 

"My friend, I think we have been brought together for a very special reason. Do you know how to dive?" he asked Martin, who was looking at him curiously.

 

"Dive? I can hold my breath under water, if that's what you mean. Why?"

 

"My friend, the Goddess Nuit has set forth a task for me: I must find the Ring of Nuit under the waters off Alexandria. If you were the Keeper of the Bracelet of Lostris, I will need you to call upon the Great Queen for her help," Ardeth said.

 

Understanding dawned in Martin's dark green eyes. "The Daughter of the Waters would be able to help you locate the Ring of Nuit in the seabed. Is this the same Ring of Nuit that was robbed from her Temple when the Hyksos invaded? There was a scrap of papyrus in the Cairo Museum, since lost, that told of a Ring stolen from a far southern town."

 

Ardeth didn't know why, but he nodded, and felt that he was right. "Yes, Chosen One. My Ring was stolen by the Hyskos of which your friend speaks. Indeed, a Daughter of the Waters would be an asset in your search," the Goddess's voice whispered.

 

Martin started. "Did you hear something?"

 

Ardeth replied, "Nuit. You heard Nuit." A shooting star streaked across the sky, from south to north, leaving a trail of green fire. The Daughter of Nuit hovered over the city of Alexandria, then moved to just off the shoreline, where she hovered, blinked once, blinked twice, then winked out. Ardeth felt a shiver of deja vu.

 

Martin gaped. "Did you see that?" he asked.

 

"Yes. Nuit was confirming the Ring is located there. But the ocean floor off the city is large and I shall need Lostris's help in locating the Ring," Ardeth said.

 

His dessert finished, Ardeth stood up, as did Martin.

 

"I have need to meditate and ask for the Queen's help," Martin said, as he made his way out of the small restaurant the two were sitting in. "Good night, my friend. I shall see you in the morning."

 

"Good night, my friend," Ardeth said as he too made his way out of the restaurant and back to his small motel room. He prepared himself for bed and for the first time in a long while, dreamed a dreamless, peaceful sleep.

 

Night Sky, 1940

 

Nuit, The Great Mother, caressed her Chosen One as he slept, protecting him from the terrible dreams which he'd been experiencing. Ardeth had done well, and with the help of a Daughter of the Waters, Nuit knew Ardeth could resurrect her powers and help fend off the terrible destruction. She'd been blinded when the earthquake had buried her in the Mediterranean mud and she couldn't direct Ardeth to where she lay under the Green Waters. She had to rely on Imhotep, and the Daughter of the Waters to help Ardeth find her earthly incarnation.

 

Day Two of the Search—Alexandria, Egypt, 1940

 

The next morning, Ardeth, sans the shadows under his eyes, and Martin breakfasted on another meat and vegetable mix. They didn't speak at all to each other but remained in their own heads, each thinking of the task set before them. After breakfast, they made their way down to the shores of the Mediterranean.

 

Ardeth paid for a boat rental with several of the gold rings he always carried with him. The two men ensured they had plenty provisions before they set sail.

 

"Did the Queen promise you her help?" Ardeth asked once they were under way.

 

"She promised she would direct us to the exact area over where the Ring is located," Martin replied.

 

Ardeth felt his stomach churn. "Just over the area? She will not direct me to the Ring itself?"

 

"She said that the way to the Ring was blocked by someone more powerful than her, but that you would know what to do once you dived into the water," Martin replied, then frowned. "The Queen was not in a happy mood. Her brow was troubled when she spoke to me, and she kept looking in the direction of the north, where the destruction will come forth," Martin said.

 

"She is worried about what will happen if I do not return the Ring of Nuit to the Temple of Nuit in four days' time," Ardeth said.

 

"Where is the Temple of Nuit?"

 

"In the city of Djeba," Ardeth replied.

 

"We will need to stop to refuel more than one time. The journey to Djeba is long," Martin said. The boat was taking to the wind and was sailing under full sail. Ardeth tilted his face to Ra and allowed the sun to warm his face.

 

The two men took out their flagons of beer and sat in the boat, sipping and sailing. Ardeth was steering the boat around the waters of the Mediterranean aimlessly, hoping that the Goddess would speak once he neared the right place. Martin dozed and a loud snore erupted from his mouth.

 

The boat was about four miles from the coast when a gentle wind stirred the water. "Chosen One, you are near," Nuit's voice whispered. Ardeth blinked.

 

"We are near the place where the Ring is located," Martin said at the same time, sitting up suddenly. "The Queen came to me as I was dozing and indicated we should drop anchor now."

 

Ardeth nodded. He picked up the anchor and dropped it over the side of the small boat. He felt hope surging into his heart for the first time since his frightening dream more than two weeks ago.

 

"Good luck, my friend," Martin said as Ardeth stripped off his black robes. Taking up a small cannonball in each hand and placing them in a leather bag that he tied around his waist, he took three deep breaths, and dived over the side of the boat into the sea.

 

The green waters of the Mediterranean closed over Ardeth's head. With the cannonballs in the leather bag, he sunk towards the sunken city of Herakleion rapidly.

 

Whispers surrounded him, murmuring to him of things past: the extensive trading which the inhabitants had done with distant peoples from far north of the shores of the Black Sea; a baby's cry was suddenly halted as the earthquake struck and the newborn babe died as the waters of the Great Green rushed into its mouth.

 

"Ardeth! Here lies a boat full of amphorae from Greece. We are filled with amber and silver coins."

 

"Ardeth! Here we are! We are the shards of a Phoenician wooden boat, one of the first wooden boats to sail the Great Green."

 

"Ardeth! Ardeth! Ardeth!" came the voices, whispering their secrets into Ardeth's ear, demanding his attention.

 

Ardeth opened his eyes. Surprisingly, he could see quite clearly under the water. He'd always thought the water would be murky this deep. But he could see as clear as day.

 

He saw a flicker out of the corner of his eye.

 

--A shark!--he thought.

 

But he felt the presence of someone else, a calming presence. He saw a shadowy shape, a figure of a golden woman, appear before him and the shark veered away from him.

 

"I have come to assist you as I promised the Caller, Chosen One," a beautiful woman's voice floated through Ardeth's brain. "I am Lostris, Daughter of the Waters, and the animals living in the waters of the Great Green shall not bother you during your search. I have also cleared the waters to aid in your search," she said to his mind.

 

Ardeth wanted to thank her but all he could do was sink towards the sunken city. His lungs were a third empty. He hoped he'd be able to find the Ring of Nuit before he ran out of breath. He didn't know how many times he could dive.

 

"Kick your legs, Son of Nuit, and go straight ahead of you," a male voice said in Ardeth's head.

 

He did as he was told, with the cannonballs in the leather bag holding him close to the floor of the Mediterranean sea. He brushed his fingers over the top of the mud as he swam.

 

"Keep going, you are near. Plunge your hand deep into the mud when I tell you," the male voice told him.  Ardeth did as he was told and kicked his legs hard.

 

"Here!" the voice commanded and Ardeth plunged his hand deep into the mud. He plunged his arm until the mud covered his elbow. His felt his finger tips touch something cool, and round. He poked at the unseen object, and felt the Ring slip partway onto his finger.

 

He closed his fingers around the Ring, and gently pulled his arm out of the sucking mud. The mud did not want to give up its prize easily and Ardeth felt the Ring start to slip. He stopped pulling, his lungs more than half empty, and carefully moved his thumb over the Ring and slipped it further onto his fourth finger of his left hand.

 

With the Ring now more secure, he curled his fingers and pulled his hand fully out of the mud. Pushing the Ring completely onto his left fourth finger, Ardeth kicked his legs, but he was weak and the cannonballs were holding him down. His mind started to grow hazy, then he heard two voices:

 

"Son of Nuit, you have done well. Now hurry back to her Temple. You do not have much time," the male voice said.

 

"Chosen One, I will bring a dolphin to help you get to the surface of the Great Green faster, for your breath is running out and you do not have enough to get to the surface," the voice of Lostris said and Ardeth realized she was right. He saw blackness creep into the edge of his vision and knew he didn't have enough strength or breath to get back to the top. He tilted his head up and saw the shadow of the boat he and Martin had rented.

 

"I am Imhotep, Great Architect to King Djoser, second King of the Third Dynasty. Son of Nuit, my pyramid will also be destroyed by the invaders from the north if you do not return the Ring of Nuit to her Temple in time. There are secrets that my Pyramid stills holds--and will not yet reveal--for the stars have not yet realigned in their positions. I shall direct you to her Temple once you arrive in Djeba," Imhotep told Ardeth. His statement intrigued Ardeth.

 

Ardeth felt his breath running out. He knew he'd been under the surface for longer than he'd ever submerged himself. He felt, rather than saw, a sleek skin brush by him. He grasped the fin of the dolphin that Lostris had sent and he felt the dolphin take him to the surface.

 

The two voices said in unison, "May the Gods see you well, Chosen One, Son of Nuit. And may the Gods speed you on your journey to Djeba." The voices faded out.

 

Ardeth's head broke the surface of the water. He sucked in a deep breath, mixed with water and coughed, trying not to swallow the water. He hung onto the dolphin, sucking in air, while Martin tried to get the boat nearer to Ardeth to he could pull him in.

 

"My friend! I thought you had passed on to the Afterlife!" Martin said, throwing Ardeth a rope. Ardeth let go of the dolphin.

 

"Not this soon, my friend," he weakly replied to Martin. To the dolphin he said,

 

"Thank you, my lady dolphin. Give the Queen my thanks." The dolphin squealed, backed off and then did a back flip, spraying Ardeth with water. He smiled.

 

"So the Queen sent the dolphin to help you," Martin observed as he pulled a weak Ardeth towards the boat. He helped Ardeth climb the rope ladder and Ardeth sunk gracefully into the boat.

 

He held up his left hand. The sun glinted off the silver edging the ring on the fourth finger. Martin drew his breath inwards.

 

"Beautiful!" he murmured.

 

Ardeth had to agree. The thick lapis lazuli ring, edged in silver, was a sight to behold. An inch thick, the ring was carved with hieroglyphics: Ring of Nuit, Ardeth read the simple engraving aloud. Martin lifted the anchor, turned the boat around and set sail back to the harbor of Alexandria.

 

"Do we tell of the lost city beneath the waves?" Martin asked.

 

"As the Keeper of the Bracelet of Lostris, I do not believe it would be a good idea to tell of this sunken city. Perhaps, at some point in the future, you, or your descendants, might wish to tell of our sunken city. But for now, she needs to remain beneath the waves. I do not know why; I only felt a terrible presentiment when you asked if we should tell," Ardeth replied.

 

"Perhaps you felt that Hitler would ravage the treasures," Martin said, his green eyes showing concern.

 

"Perhaps," Ardeth replied. He lay back, protecting the Ring of Nuit in his hand, and dozed in the afternoon sunlight.

 

"Thank you, Ardeth Bey," the voices in Ardeth's head were relieved.