Dawning of Day Six of the Search
As the rays of Ra began to piece the velvet cloak of Nuit, Ardeth found the golden shrine. Apparently, the Hyksos hadn't removed this item from the shrine, or perhaps one of the priests had hidden the shrine until the invaders had finished pillaging Djeba.
Ardeth decided the latter explanation made more sense. It wasn't unknown for priests to hide a temple's religious objects if the temple came under seige, and if the Ring had been under the shrine in a small cup, it must have fallen out when the priest had snatched the shrine up in a hurry.
Ardeth brushed the sand off the golden shrine as these thoughts ran through his mind. The waning light of Nuit's children was being replaced by Ra's golden light.
Placing the Ring of Nuit in its cup underneath the golden shrine he'd unearthed, Ardeth stood up and looked around.
He heard an eerie tinkling sound as he stood in the ruins of the Temple of Nuit. Not for the first time, Ardeth felt the world shift, turn sideways, then upside down. When the world righted again, in front of him was a light filled tunnel. He looked, and saw to the past--he saw the a king of Kemet as Egypt was called in those clear ancient days--the great King Menes who had first built the city of Memphis.
Looking further, Ardeth saw the architect who had built Nuit's Temple and knew his name to be Imhotep; he who had spoken to him under the waters of the Great Green. Imhotep's mouth was open in horror and he was looking behind Ardeth.
Still further in the golden tunnel, he saw a beautiful woman, with dark green eyes (Martin's eyes, Ardeth thought), standing in the light, her arms open to him. A tall man was standing slightly behind the woman. Ardeth realized this man was Taita, the maker of the Bracelet of Lostris. And he knew that this woman, this very young woman, was Queen Lostris. She was pointing to the tunnel behind him.
Ardeth turned around, and looked behind him.
What he saw chilled his blood. He saw ahead of him that the city of London was devastated by a line of airplanes much like the ones in his dream. He saw the man responsible for this carnage and responsible for the deaths of millions and knew this man would die by his own hand.
Ardeth looked towards the distant future and saw large silver buildings tumble down and he saw the pale screaming faces of those trapped within the buildings. Those buildings caused great grey clouds to billow forth, and a rumbling noise louder than any earthquake he had ever heard washed over him and Ardeth covered his ears but could not drown out the sounds of the dead.
He lifted up in the air, and going even further ahead, saw human blood running thickly in the streets in the land once known--and soon to be known again in Ardeth's time--as Israel.
Ardeth shuddered. He didn't want to look at this time. He turned back towards the man he knew to be Imhotep. Unlike another man by that name, this Imhotep had kind eyes, worried eyes. This Imhotep was gaping at the destruction he'd seen in Ardeth's future--the future of mankind.
But the Pyramids, and Cairo were overlaid on this vision, and neither was destroyed. Both glimmered under Ra's golden light and Nuit's starry cloak.
"Thank you for your help, Imhotep," Ardeth said to the one who'd build the Step Pyramid. "Without you, I would have never been able to find Nuit's earthy incarnation. I rather suspect Nuit put a task to you and had you fashion her earthly incarnation."
"You are welcome, earthly Son of Nuit," Imhotep replied. "Yes. I was honored to perform the Goddess's command. All those who wish for Egypt's continued glory work together in the past, present and future to ensure Egypt remains as the Gods intended her."
Imhotep held up his hand in a come-back gesture. Ardeth knew this meant that he should walk with the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt watching over him.
He made the same gesture at Imhotep and Imhotep and Lostris and the first King of Kemet faded, replaced by a shimmering golden light.
Now Nuit's voice, as soft as silk or velvet, whispered in the air around Ardeth. He saw the shimmering golden light grow stronger as the voice continued to speak.
"My child, my Chosen One. You are standing in the Crossroads of Time. Time does not flow evenly here, for what appears to be a few hours may be a few seconds, or a few days, or even centuries. One can see the past, the present and the future all at once. Those who have just died may have found thousands of years to have passed in the earthly realm, yet they find they have just arrived in the Crossroads. This is where the Paths are Chosen by the Gods and where one meets their Destiny: either the Afterlife, or the Underworld."
"You have fulfilled the task which I have set before you, Ardeth Bey, Commander of the Med Jai, and restored Ma’at to Egypt. Cairo will not be destroyed. Nor will the Pyramids be destroyed by the man those living north of the Great Green call Hitler. But there is another task that awaits you, and your descendents: for so long as the Pyramids shall stand, so stands the future of Mankind. Should the Pyramids tumble, so shall Mankind tumble."
"This is the decree of Osiris. And this is why the Pyramids were built: not only to house the Pharoah's earthly remains but also to celebrate the earthly tenure of mankind, to pay homage to the knowledge given to Man by the Gods."
"I gave a challenge to my another of my earthly children, the one you know as Imhotep. It was to him that was given the first vision of the Pyramids and it was to him that was also given, by the Dark One, Set, the sour knowledge of knowing that one day his pyramid--and those a few hundred years later--could be destroyed."
"Imhotep had the Ring of Nuit constructed to help him reach you here in the Crossroads of Time, and to give you directions as to the location of the Ring although thousands of years have passed between my earthly children."
"You have risen to the challenge of your Ethereal Mother, Ardeth Bey. You and your descendents shall be forever blessed with Ma'at and having hearts less than the weight of a feather--and a happy afterlife awaits you and your children."
Nuit's soft voice faded out. Ardeth could see the shimmering golden light was in the shape of a woman with blue skin, hair the color of honey, with eyes the color of lapis lazuli. Her irises were pure silver. She smiled at Ardeth before fading out.
"Farewell, my Chosen One. I shall have need of your services again, but not for many floodings of the Nile. Sleep well during your nights, my Son."
2644 BC, Temple of Nuit, Djeba. Dawn (Dawning of Day Six of Ardeth's Search)
Once again, Imhotep had spent the night in the Temple. He didn't know why, but he felt he needed to be here in case the Son of Nuit needed additional help.
When Ra started poking his long golden fingers into the temple walls, Imhotep got up from his vigil in front of the golden shrine to Nuit and began to walk back towards Djeba. The Son of Nuit didn't need his help today.
Imhotep's steps towards Djeba halted as he saw before him a golden light tunnel. In this light tunnel, he saw the Son of Nuit looking at him. He heard the words the Goddess was telling her earthly Son, and tears slipped down Imhotep's face in relief: this Son of Nuit had completed the task set before him.
Behind the Son of Nuit, Imhotep saw terrible shiny birds rent destruction upon a city of stone; he saw two tall silver buildings take their tumble; he saw the streets of the land just east of the peninsula run thick with blood...and he knew the Son of Nuit would not be able to stop this destruction. But he could stop the destruction of the Pyramids.
Imhotep also saw the woman he knew to be Queen Lostris. She was beautiful, her eyes were dark green, and beside her, and slightly behind her, stood a tall man with piercing blue eyes, a color Imhotep had never seen before in a living human. Lostris too was watching the time behind the Son of Nuit, her mouth open in horror.
He was grateful the Goddess of the Sky allowed him to speak to her Son again in the Crossroads of Time. Imhotep raised his hand in a come back gesture, hoping the Son of Nuit would know that Imhotep wanted him to walk with the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt watching over him.
After the Son of Nuit faded, and in the dying remnants of the golden light, Lostris turned to Imhotep. He couldn't hear her words clearly in the fading light, but he thought he heard the words, 'thank you.' He raised his hand in a come back motion and Lostris and the man beside her nodded their heads. The golden light faded.
Imhotep walked out of the Temple and into the brightening day. Ra, as if to approve of Imhotep's actions during the night, burst forth over the horizon and shone his full light on Imhotep, illuminating the golden pectoral Imhotep wore and suffusing Imhotep's face with his light.
Crossroads of Time, in the Waning of the Golden Light
"Taita, why are tendrils of my soul reaching out towards the future? Do the sons of my bloodline run strong there?"
"Yes, my Queen. Sons and daughters of your bloodline still thrive in Ardeth's time," Taita said as he hugged her. "But there also awaits in the future a Bracelet to protect those in need of your protection."
"Did you make the Bracelet?" she asked.
Taita smiled at her. "Yes, my Queen. I took some of the hairs from your head when I embalmed you and made the Periapt of Lostris. My very last earthly deed in your name was to embed some of your hairs in a thick band of electrum that I studded with emeralds. It was after I passed the Bracelet unto the care of the Keeper and instructed him in its use that I heard your voice calling me to the Afterlife. And here I am."
"Taita! You should have told me this straight off!"
"I meant it to be a secret."
"You imp!" Lostris laughed. "You know I can never resist a secret!"
Now it was Taita's turn to laugh. "The Bracelet needs to be restored, for it is lying in a jumbled heap of jewelry in a bazaar, but it will fall into Ardeth's hands. He will have need of your protection," Taita said, a bit sadly. He realized that thousands of years had passed on earth yet he'd just arrived at the Crossroads. He would think on this concept of time later, after he'd been reacquainted with Lostris and his friend Tanus.
Lostris stood on her tiptoes and kissed Taita on the lips. She smiled at him and leaned her head against his shoulder. "Oh Taita, I am glad the earthly Son of Nuit will have my protection. He is worthy of being Commander of the Med Jai." She sighed. "I wish he had been protecting my pharoahs. Now it is I who can protect him."
As the golden light vanished, Lostris smiled as the reunited friends walked off into the Crossroads of Time to meet Tanus, the father of Lostris's son, Pharoah Tamose.
Dawn: Day Six, Northern Rim of the Mediterranean Basin
The bomber plane rumbled through the darkening clouds. The dark thunderhead had sprung up suddenly in the dawn over the northern rim of the Mediterranean. Lightning flashed.
The pilot, unknown to anyone, had chosen this day to make a reconnaissance of Cairo. He heard a voice come out of the thunderhead.
"Grey eyed One! My Chosen One has completed the task that I set before him and returned the Ring of Nuit to its rightful place. For centuries my earthly incarnation lay buried in the mud of the Great Green and my powers were reduced. But with the restoration of my shrine, I have returned to earth and have called upon the wind and the rain to stop you in your task. You are in the Crossroads of Time, where your Destiny is determined."
The pilot screamed as a lady's figure, blue skinned with dark blue eyes and silver irises, emerged out of the dark clouds before him. The plane continued bucking.
"I have sent this thunderstorm to crash your plane into the sea. Your heart is heavy and you shall be sent to the Underworld, your soul eaten by the demons who reside there," she said as the plane began to plunge downwards into a whirlpool that had formed in the now turbulent waters of the Mediterranean.
"Nooooooooo!" he shouted as lightning struck the plane and the plane crashed into sea and down into the gaping maw of the Underworld. Demons snashed their teeth, and shoved each other in their attempts to get to the new arrival first.
1940, Temple of Nuit, Dawn of Day Six
Ardeth saw another shimmering light and he stopped in his tracks.
Dimly, he saw a plane coming out of the light and crash into the sea. He saw Nuit watching as the plane went into the gaping maw of the underworld where the demons awaited the pilot.
Ardeth saw Nuit turn towards him.
Tears were slipping down his face.
"Do not cry, my child. He planned the destruction of Cairo and the destruction of the Pyramids--and of mankind. It was his choice to make. He chose darkness when he chose to worship the Dark One."
"Will London be saved?"
"Alas, no. It is meant to be."
"I can get a message to my friends in London. Perhaps they can warn..."
"Ardeth, the destruction of London has already begun. Look."
Ardeth looked. He saw a line of bomber planes filling the sky with darkness and dropping bombs over London. Tears slipped down his face in rivers, wetting his beard.
"Your friends are safe, Chosen One. I shall protect their home from the ravages of the bombs,," Nuit's soft voice told him. As she faded out, Nuit reached out and held Ardeth's cheek in her hands. "Fear not for their safety, Chosen One," she said.
Ardeth tried to smile behind his tears. The vision faded and he was standing in the ruins of the Temple of Nuit.
He looked up at the blue sky over Egypt, clear of airplanes, clear of bombs.
2644 BC, Temple of Nuit, Djeba. Dawn (Dawning of Day Six)
The world suddenly shifted sideways, then upside down, and finally right side up. A light shimmered in front of Imhotep as he stepped outside the temple walls.
He saw a dark grey metal bird, with a human inside. Dark thunderheads clouded the horizon and Imhotep knew that Nuit had called upon her sister to bring the thunderstorm. Thunderstorms were rare in Lower Eypgt, but when he'd been along the shores of the Great Green, Imhotep had experienced water falling from the sky.
But he'd never seen Nuit so angry. A whirlpool opened up in the murky waters of the Great Green and Imhotep saw the dark grey metal bird plunging into the gaping maw of the underworld.
Imhotep saw the demons of the underworld waiting for the new arrivals, and he shuddered with fear.
Nuit allowed him to see the maw of the underworld close around the plane, and he felt the Ma'at of Egypt restored to rightness.
The light faded, and Ra once again shined his light on Imhotep. A smile suffused his face, and he walked towards Djeba knowing that the Son of Nuit--Ardeth Bey--had succeeded in his task.
Ardeth is a worthy Commander of the Med Jai, Imhotep thought.
A week later, John's restaurant, Cairo, 1940
"John, you really should name your hotel," The Keeper advised him as the Priest of Osiris placed a pitcher of iced tea on the table.
"So others will know what to call your place," Martin said, pouring himself a glass of the tea.
"They know the hotel as John's, next to Kahn's Bazaar," John replied, sitting down. "When will Ardeth get here?" he asked.
"Don't know. He's had a difficult few weeks, especially the past week. May I ask you a question?"
"Do you think he'll need the Bracelet of Lostris? With London and all?" Martin asked, as he took out a small leather pouch from his shirt pocket. He opened the pouch and slid out a heavy object, wrapped in velvet.
"He may, now that London's been bombed for a week straight. He'll no doubt be worried about Rick and Evie," John replied as Martin placed the object on the table. Martin opened the ends of the velvet to reveal a thick bracelet of electrum. Where the emeralds had been inserted, there were small holes. Martin would replace the emeralds.
John's breathing slowed as he gazed upon the Bracelet of Lostris. "Can you feel its power thrumming at the edges of your soul?" he asked.
Martin nodded, gazing at the Bracelet. He thought he could see tendrils of light drifting upwards towards Ra.
"How did you find it, after all these years?" John asked Martin.
"Lord Taita came to me in a dream and told me that when Ardeth placed the Ring of Nuit in its rightful place, he entered the Crossroads of Time and Lord Taita was able to trace the threads of Lostris' soul back to the Bracelet he'd constructed as his last respect to her. The Bracelet was in a jumbled box of jewelry just pawned by a family who desperately needed the money," Martin said as he brushed his fingers reverently over the electrum.
"I shall replace the emeralds and restore the Bracelet to its former glory," he whispered. "The emeralds are the earthly Eyes of Lostris and those who are in need of her protection shall be able to protect themselves. Ardeth needs this protection for his friends," Martin finished.
Just then, a tired and haggard Ardeth strode into the hotel's small restaurant area. The black shadows still under his eyes attested to the hard journey he'd had to make, and of the sour knowledge he'd had to endure.
In his hands was an English language newspaper, five days old.
"You have read this headline?" he asked of John and Martin but his eyes were transfixed on the Bracelet. Ardeth's eyes grew wide and his breathing shallow.
Lostris's voice whispered to him, "Ardeth, take my Bracelet and lend it to your friends, for I know they are in need of my protection. Even without my Eyes, the Bracelet shall protect your friends from harm. I know Nuit is protecting them by night but they need my protection during the day," Lostris told him as Ardeth slipped the Bracelet onto his wrist. An soft glow emanated from the Bracelet, reached up and twined itself with tendrils of Ardeth's soul, glowed brightly, then faded out.
Martin and John could only look on, dumbfounded. When the light had faded out, the three men sat, awed at what had happened.
Finally, Martin remembered Ardeth's question. "I know London's been bombed," he told Ardeth, wincing a little at his words.
"I knew the day they started the bombing," Ardeth said. "I was referring to one of the smaller headlines," he said as he opened the paper to page three and read from the lower left hand corner:
"Nazi Bomber Plane Downed in Mediterranean" —Crete, September 8
"Pieces of a lone Nazi bomber plane were found washed ashore in Crete late yesterday afternoon.
Residents say that the plane was headed south when a surprise thunderstorm downed the plane. The pilot's body has not yet been recovered."
John, who was sipping his iced tea, asked, "Was that the man who was planning on destroying the Pyramids?"
"Yes. Yes, that was the man. I am grateful to Nuit for not showing me his face. It is difficult to know the face of your enemy and I don't think I could have lived with myself having that knowledge," Ardeth said, as he reached for a piece of baklava. "The demons in the underworld wrestled each other in their attempts to get to the new arrival first."
Ardeth took a bite of the baklava. For the first time in weeks, he felt peace but worry still nagged at the edges of his Ka. He knew millions would die in the coming years, and there was nothing he could do, no task he could perform to save their souls.
"I have received a telegram from Rick and Evie," Ardeth continued after he'd taken a bite of the baklava. "They tell me that a strange darkness cloaks their home and that as bombs fell directly towards their home, the cloak seemed to take the weight of the bombs and bounced the bombs back into the bellies of the planes," Ardeth said, taking another bite of his baklava.
"It seems the Goddess is protecting them," John said, not quite hiding a smile."She is back to her full powers now that her shrine has been restored."
Ardeth nodded, and a smile suffused his face. "Yes, Nuit said she would protect them. Rick and Evie also say that the bomber planes now avoid their area of London."
"The enemy decided to be superstitious?" Martin asked.
Ardeth nodded, his face grave. "But I must send the Bracelet of Lostris to Rick and Evie," he said as he got up. "They need her protection as well as Nuit's protection."
"The Bracelet is at your disposal," Martin replied.
"I will get some sleep now," he told the two men. The Bracelet seemed to glow briefly as Ardeth walked out of the small restaurant and went to rent a room for the day.
"London will be difficult to get into with the bombing. How will Ardeth get the Bracelet to London?" Martin asked John as John poured himself another glass of iced tea.
"Possibly Ardeth will go by boat to Devon and make his way over land," John replied, setting the tea pitcher down.
"Or possibly the Goddess will lift the Bracelet on the wind and fly it to England," Martin said.
"Anything is possible in Egypt," John observed. "But one thing is sure--Ardeth will not rest until the Bracelet is protecting Rick and Evie."
"Why didn't he go now?" Martin asked, curious, because he didn't know Ardeth well enough to understand his actions.
"Because Nuit is protecting his friends and he trusts Nuit. She is back to her full power--I can feel her power thrumming all through my soul where there was no power before," John said, picking up a piece of baklava and biting into it. "Mmmmm! No wonder he likes this so much!" John exclaimed as a paper boy came walking by with the latest newspapers telling about the bombings in London.
Martin bought one and the two men sat reading, their eyes filling with tears as they read of the nightly bombings of London.