My gut twisted as it had never done before.
I don't know where this feeling came from... but I'd felt it before. It was a sort of sickness that I felt. My love stirred next to me and put her arm around me, asking me to go back to sleep.
"No, my nefar," I said, and reached out for my only weapons, a small axe and a throwing stick. I stood up, looking around.
But something told me to stop looking. Instead, I felt. I could feel around me. There were few plants or animals nearby. We were in a small rocky sheltered place in the desert.
There was something nearby.
I almost didn't get any warning. A sudden pang in my insides caused me to double over, and I heard something whistle over my head. I stood up and returned the throw with my stick, but I don't think I hit anything.
The next moment he was on top of me, swinging a short sword. I caught his wrist with my free hand, and swung my axe at his midsection. He grabbed my wrist as well.
I heard my love scream something, but I was too busy to take note. I grappled with the intruder, neither one of us able to bring a weapon to bear on the other.
Then I tripped. A rock caught my toe, and I fell forward. Both blades drew blood, but I rolled away in time to prevent his following swing. As I regained my feet, I almost fell again.
As I looked up at the face of this intruder, my heart almost stopped beating. At first I had not been able to see his face. The only light was from the flickering embers of the fire behind me. But now my shadow was not towards him, and I saw who I faced. I had cheated him once before. I could not get away this time.
My eyes snapped open to the sight of an in-flight movie. The horrifying godlike visage was gone.
My fear remained. I turned to see a pair of dark blue eyes looking back at me. A lovely young girl... no, a woman, sat next to me. She inquired about my dream. I told little, besides the fact that it was a recurring dream I have had for quite some time.
She has no idea how long.
We trade small talk for a few hours. I find that she will be staying at the same hotel as I am, and we agree to travel together until we get there. She seems approachable, but after dreaming of my love, I know that she will never compare.
Soon the pilot announces that the plane is over the mediteranian, near Crete. We will arrive in Egypt soon.
We will arrive in the place I had not been to in almost a millenium.
Over the last few hundred years, I have developed the habit of letting my mind wander on its own. If I am doing nothing, or even if I am doing something that doesn't require concentration, I find that I can do it as well. While talking to this young woman, with the unlikely name of River, I manage to stay fairly focused.
I refuse to jump at shadows that have been gone for a thousand years.
She tells me of the uncle who lives here who she has come to visit. She tells me of the college she attends. I listen well, and store this information for later. I may forget it in a month, or I may not.
I tell her of my interest in Egypt. She comments that I look like I could have been an ancient egyptian.
Few people do. She must know a great deal about egypt.
I have dark skin, like most people picture egyptians as having. One thing that most people don't know is that when egypt was first populated, we were mostly red-haired and fair-skinned. The egyptians you see now are a crossbreed between the ancient egyptians, and the muslims that invaded after the Roman empire fell apart.
I have dark skin, but light red hair.
At the moment it is getting a bit long. It is just long enough to get in my eyes, but short enough to be managable.
I grin childishly as she says it. I fumble for the anhk hanging around my neck and show it to her. She looks at it and judges it, rightly, as cheap, american-made crap.
I manage to divert questions of whether or not I have been in Egypt. While I would be completely comfortable making up a story to fit the facts, normally I try to avoid things like that. Not only do I dislike lying, but it makes it impossible to be caught in a lie if you don't tell one.
As the plane nears the airport, our conversation dies off as we vie for window space. Luckily, I am the one next to the window, so she has to lean over me to see out. I must admit, she is quite lovely.
After getting our bags, she finds the nearest phone to call her uncle. He tells her to catch a cab, and he will be around at dinnertime to pick her up at the hotel. So she and I catch a cab together, and go up to the front desk together.
As much as I'd like to wait and find out what room she is in, I am also anxious to get back to the privacy of my room. I have not survived for more than a thousand years without some amount of caution. And, although I am not unarmed, I do not have my customary sword with me. Someday I will devise a way to get it around the airport metal detectors. But for now it's stowed away in one of my suitcases.
I let her go first to help ease my impatience. By coincidence, she is in the same room number as I am, but one floor below. We take the elevator together, and I walk her to her door, as any gentleman should. We promise to call each other's rooms when we are done unpacking, and I head back to the elevator.
The first thing I do is find a place to put my sword, some place I can store it while I sleep where it will be accessible to me quickly, while at the same time, hidden from prying eyes or bed-making maids.
The next thing I do is find a place on myself that I can store it. I know what the climate is like here. I came prepared.
I have a long light overcoat, one that will act as a screen from the sun during the day, and will hold in heat during the night. My sword slides in it well.
And it slides out just as easily.
River and I seem to have hit it off better than I thought we did. Either she is very easy to impress, or I am simply getting better in my old age.
She wants to bring me along to see her uncle tonight. I don't know whether to call it a date or not, and she's made no indications that she wishes to do anything with me, but I could be misreading. I've been alive for over a thousand years. The concept of 'dating' hasn't.
We spend time together, talking and flipping through the limited channels on the TV. Neither one of us spoke the native language well, but we could both understand it with some difficulty.
As we both begin to grow hungry, her uncle shows up. He is a well-educated man, a man of no small importance both in the museum and the archaology world. He is currently in charge of a small digsite, and he is bringing all of his finds directly to the museum to be catologued. After conversing with him quite a bit, I find him to have the heart of an adventurer, but the soul and body of a paper-pusher.
We eat, and enjoy our meal. And although things seem to be going well, I still feel something in my gut... perhaps, even after all this time, I'm still not ready to be back here.
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