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RECREATED Chapter 13-deleted scene
I twisted my hands nervously while the girl bustled about the room, turning down the thick comforter on the giant bed, laying out a filmy sort of nightdress, and showing me a washroom where she filled a basin with water and passed her hand over it. The bowl glowed a sunset-orange and when the brightness faded, steam rose from the newly warmed water. Waving her palm across a panel on the tiled wall dimmed the lights. After I put on the nightgown the servant had laid out, I pressed my hand against the various panels in the washroom, curious to see what each one did.
Finishing up, I toured the rest of the chamber.
As awed as I was by Amun-Ra’s home, now that I was alone, my worry over Amon rose to the forefront of my mind. Without the help of the sun god, I didn’t know how I was going to make it through my trials. Convincing him to help me had been the goal and now that he wouldn’t, I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go next. I’d boasted of finding Amon on my own, but the truth was, I didn’t even know where to start.
I settled into the bed and closed my eyes attempting to sleep but several hours passed until a fitful rest found me. Even then, my dreams took me to the Netherworld. Amon was awake and traveling in a forest, one unlike I’d ever seen. The trees shimmered and moved in the breeze with the sound of wind chimes. The color was wrong. Instead of various shades of green, the leaves looked more like a sky blue and they twinkled as if the leaves were coated with sparkling minerals or sugar.
Sadly, Amon was awake which meant we couldn’t communicate, but at least I knew he was alive, at least as alive as you could be in the Netherworld, and he wasn’t fighting a monster for a change which was a relief. Ducking under one tree, he ran his hand up a branch and came away with a shallow cut. Frowning, he tore away a piece of his tunic and wrapped it around his injury.
He moved from place to place in the forest trying to catch something. Water dripped from the trees and pooled on the ground but every time he dipped his hand into a puddle, the water dried up. When he cupped his hand around a leaf to guide the droplets to his mouth, the glassy leaf somehow curled and the water defied gravity, remaining stubbornly where it was.
Though it was raining and he turned his open mouth to the sky, he caught not a drop. Amon appeared to be desperately thirsty. His lips were chapped and he tried continually to wet them. Frustrated, he shouted defiantly to the trees that they would not beat him. That he would overcome this setback. Only the tinkling sound of the rain on the leaves answered him. Eventually, he gave up, put his back to a wide tree trunk and sunk down to the forest floor, resting his arms on his knees and pressing his head against them.
I wished I could comfort him. Offer him the cool drought of water he obviously needed. I thought about my sumptuous feast with Horus and Amun-Ra and how I’d taken the delicious ambrosia for granted. Water dripped onto his head, ran in rivulets down his neck and beneath the collar of his shirt. He swiped at it, licked his fingers and then beat against the trunk of the tree in angry aggravation.
That’s when I saw her. Amon hadn’t noticed her yet. A tiny sprite with translucent wings sat in the crook between the trunk and a branch of the tree watching him. She giggled silently, her hands over her mouth, and waved her finger in the air. A second later a stiff breeze shook the tree and a limb shifted, dropping nearly a bucket full of water on the top of Amon’s head.
He looked up quickly and though she tried to hide, he spotted the little tree sprite. As exasperated as he was, Amon addressed her kindly. “I won’t hurt you,” he said. “Please, don’t be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid,” she said with a touch of an accent I couldn’t place. “There are beasties who come to the Turquoise Forest who are much more frightening than you are.”
“So you’re the one who’s been torturing me,” he surmised.
She had the tenderness of heart to look guilty at least. Then, she said, “I didn’t hurt you. I just…doused you a little. And I willna apologize for it.” Cocking her head as she peered at him, she asked, “Are you very angry, then? Will ya try ta kill me now?”
“No,” he said. “I’m sure you’ve encountered many things that would, but I take no delight in killing.”
“You’re a strange sort of monster.” She put her hands on her tiny waist.
“Am I?” he responded with a tired smile.
“Oh, yes. You’re much more fun than tha’ old scorpion tha’ tries ta sting me. Aren’t ya at least going ta try ta sting me? Perhaps ya can’t. It looks as if ‘ur tail is missing.”
“I don’t have a tail.”
“Pity. His tail is rather impressive. There’s not much about ya that’s impressive as far as I can see. Are ya a dosser then?”
“I’m not sure what a dosser is. And I’m much more impressive with my weapons.”
“A dosser’s a fella up to no good. I don’t see any weapons.”
“No, then, I’m not a dosser. My weapons are magical. I call them from the sand.”
The sprite frowned. “We don’t trust magical folk but seeing as how ‘ur knackered nigh ta death, ya don’t seem to pose much of a threat. Been gawking at ya for the last two days.”
“Oh. That’s good, I…suppose?”
“Maybe ya can show me a bit o’ magic. No weapons, but something ta prove ya speak the truth.”
“I would. But I’m so very thirsty that I don’t think I’m able.”
She scowled while Amon smiled and then she furrowed her eyebrows as if attempting to puzzle out a difficult problem. “I heard ya,” she muttered, glancing at the tree trunk. “Stop interferin’, ya thick excuse for a tree. I suppose we can help,” she said reluctantly to Amon.
“Yes.” Then a mischievous twinkle lit the fairy’s eye. “Must be hard ta be so thirsty when it’s been bucketing down like ‘tis.” She smiled secretively. “I know how ta ask the tree ta give up her water. But you’ll have ta promise ta tell me all abo’t ‘ur magic after I do.”
“And ya can’t tell anyone that we helped ya, either,” she warned. “It’s my job ta guard this tree. If all the creatures in the Netherworld knew how ta take her water, well, there wouldn’t be any left for the trees then, would there?”
“No, I suppose there wouldn’t be.”
“So? Will ya promise?”
“Very good.” The tree sprite looked over her shoulder and peered into the depths of the branches around her and then crooked her finger at Amon to call him closer. “The secret,” she whispered, “is in the wantin’. You can’t want it.”
“Not want it?” Amon questioned with a bewildered expression.
“Right. If the tree knows ya want it, then she won’t let ya have it.”
“But, I’m terribly thirsty. I feel like a desiccated corpse left to dry to a husk in the blazing sun. I’ve never been so parched. How can I make myself not want it?”
The little fairy shrugged. “Ya have ta want the water for the tree more than ya want it for ‘urself. That’s the only way she’ll share it with ya.” She came closer and cupped her hand in front of her mouth. “She doesn’t trust men very much. Do ya see?”
“I see.” Amon nodded soberly, took a step back and examined the great tree that stretched wide limbs over his head. Reaching out a hand, he patted the trunk. “Well, tree, I’m not thirsty. Nope. Not needing a drink at all, though I just crossed the desert of a thousand burning suns where it was hot enough to make even a hell demon sweat and beg for relief. I can see that you need water though. Lucky for you, it’s raining something fierce here.”
The tree fairy giggled and then quickly pressed her hand to her mouth.
“It’s a good thing you have all that rain, too,” Amon went on, “because there are some parts of the Netherworld that are so dry, you’d think nothing could survive. Nothing but desert plants and fire scorpions, that is.”
“Oh, we don’t like fire scorpions,” the little sprite sobered and said with a shudder.
“I agree with you there. Nasty brutes. Why, the damage they could do to a tree such as yourself…” Amon stroked the lowest limb of the tree. “It pains me to think about it.” Slowly, a thin limb crept closer to Amon and a broad blue leaf unfurled showing that it held nearly a cupful of water. Amon raised his eyebrows. “Oh, no,” he waved his hands, “I couldn’t. You’re such a beautiful tree and I’m not worthy to even stand in your shade.”
The limb pressed closer and touched the leaf to the edge of his lip. “Well,” he said. “If you’re sure.”
Drinking deeply, Amon licked the last wet drops from his lips and smiled warmly. “Thank you. Imagine, a tree as lovely as you being stuck in the Netherworld. It just doesn’t make sense.”
The tree lowered another leaf to Amon and another and while he drank the sprite nodded sadly. “We were tricked into coming here.”
“Tricked? How?” he asked.
“Well, ya see, this here’s a fairy tree.” The sprite patted the limb she sat on proudly.
“I’m afraid that doesn’t mean much to me,” Amon said.
“It means the tree is magical.”
“I would assume as much since the tree is here.”
“It didn’t used ta be here though. It used ta be on the top of a lovely hill in Ireland.”
Now her accent made sense. She spoke with a lovely lilt to her voice—an Irish brogue I could listen to for hours.
“Ireland? Is that near Egypt?”
“I’m not sure.”
“I’ll have to ask Young Lily when I next talk to her. She is able to show me the world through her phone. Do you have one?”
She shook her head. “I’ve never heard of a phone.”
“It’s a miraculous device. So how did you and this gorgeous tree come to be here?”
Amon was rewarded for his compliment with another leaf full of water and the overhead branches shifted to keep the rain off of him as well.
The sprite tucked her wings behind her and sat on the limb with her arms wrapped around her drawn up legs. “I loved this tree before I even knew she was magical,” she said. “I always sat beneath her and dreamed about the far off places I’d like ta visit. On warm evenings, I’d climb her branches and gaze up at the stars. It was a grand thing.
“But then a man came to our village. He saw me at the market and wanted ta take me away from my da. I didn’t like the way he looked at me. He offered my poor father a lot of money if he would give me over ta him and my family was destitute. The money would help them immensely. I legged it to the tree and cried, telling her all my problems. She heard me.
“The trunk of the tree opened like a door and I stepped inside and was swallowed up in her. She kept me safe and warm. I knew no one could hurt me there. The tree would protect me. But the man figured out what had happened because he, too, had magic. Which is why I want ta learn about yours, by the way.
“One night when the moon was full, he chanted a spell and the tree began ta shake. The man hurt her somethin’ terrible. The leaves shriveled and fell off, the trunk twisted, and great drops of sap seeped from the cracks he made in her trunk. A limb was torn brutally away and then another one fell. The man told the tree she had to either give me up or give up her heart.”
“The tree didn’t know what ta do. If she gave up her heart, the man could steal her power and use it ta hurt even more innocent girls. The tree refused ta release me. She loved me and would not give me up ta him. Instead she pierced the heart of the man and kill’d em, something the tree was forbidden ta do.”
“I see. What happened then? Did the tree let you go?”
“No,” she answered sadly. “It couldn’t. The tree was struck down for killing the man and she died with me still inside. Because she was a fairy tree, she was brought ta the Afterlife for judgment and was sent ta the Netherworld because of the death of the man, even though she was just trying ta protec’ me. We both thought it best for me ta hide while the sentence was carried out so I stay’d tuck’d away in the trunk. When I finally emerged after the tree was planted in the Turquoise Forest, my form had changed ta what you see now. “We later learned that the man who had come after me was immortal. He knew the tree loved me and would protec’ me. He faked his death somehow and fooled the gods too. With the tree that sheltered our village gone, his power went unchecked and many people were made ta suffer.”
“That story is much like my own. An immortal terrorized my people as well.”
“Ah, that explains why I like you more than the fire scorpions.”
Amon laughed. “Is that the only reason? Am I a least better to look at?”
She tilted her head. “You’re a fine thing I suppose. Though I still haven’t seen any magic. I’ll hold out judgment until I do.”
“Fair enough.” Amon wrung out his tunic. Water seeped from between his fingers. “So the two of you just stay here in the Turquoise Forest?”
Shrugging, the sprite said, “Where else would we go? We’re safest here, I think.” She stroked a broad leaf, “Besides, it’s my job ta take care of the tree now, just like she took care of me.”
Abruptly, the vision of Amon, the sprite, and the fairy tree vanished and I found myself in a dark enclosed place.
CONTINUE THE HUNT
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