Chapter 47 - Anger
“We were the children at the edge of her dream, and Helena was the dead woman lying with her back to us. He saw into Helena’s dreams and glimpsed the future. He saw us through her eyes,” Alena explained, and his face turned to stone. Marcus’s rage made them feel as if they stood at the edge of a precipice.
“He saw her, and us, before Helena was ever born. He had the same gift,” Alena said because she didn’t know how to handle his quiet.
Marcus rose to his feet and stalked into the night. His silence was more terrible than anything else he could have done. They knew so much they didn’t share with him, and he would see that as a lack of trust — a betrayal. Ariana put them in a precarious position, but they both understood that the untold truth, might do more damage than the information they withheld. An hour passed, but he didn’t return, and they had no words to fill the silence his absence left.
“Ariana kept him blind to the change in us; what will happen now?” Rowan asked with practical worry, and Alena’s stark expression proved answer enough. The truth would condemn them. They chose Ariana over him, and for a man like Marcus, that would be the final betrayal. Neither of them could predict how he would react or what he would do once he found out. Telling him might even prove dangerous.
“The first tomb drew me to it, and the last one repelled me,” Rowan murmured to distract herself. She didn’t even want to imagine the expression on Marcus’s face when he realized what they did without his consent or his knowledge. She couldn’t imagine her life without Alena and Marcus. Couldn’t think how such a thing was even possible. They became part of her in a way she would have never believed could happen. Marcus cared about their wellbeing, he looked after them, and he saw them as his responsibility. Rowan wasn’t one of his subjects, but she cast her lot in with them, and that constituted an understanding.
“What do you want to do?” Alena asked. Ariana and time had taught her to trust Rowan’s instincts.
“I want to go back to the first tomb. Why did they never use that tomb, but sealed the entrance?” Rowan asked, and Alena had wondered the same thing. Rowan couldn’t face her thoughts or her guilt. Her choice to accept Ariana’s gift had been selfish, but she hadn’t realized that it would betray Marcus in such a way. She hadn’t even considered the impact it would have on him. They would do Marcus even more significant harm than Ariana, and she feared that he would end up hating all of them. He might even abandon this quest.
They left without waiting for Marcus to return. They wandered inside the empty tomb, not really knowing what they were looking for until Rowan returned to the panel which held the map of the other grave sites. She allowed her fingers to trace the engravings. When her hand touched a part of the panel that differed slightly from the others, almost as if the same scribe didn’t create it, it shifted. Rowan pushed it down and two more areas raised above the rest. One designated male, and the other female.
Rowan pushed down on the male symbol without even thinking about it, and something inside the wall moved like gears as one section lowered inside the wall and to the side to reveal a small niche.
Alena came closer, and they inspected it together, careful not to set off some trap, but it held only a cannister made from precious metals. Alena removed it with great care but could see no way to open it. Some instinct made her hand it to Rowan, who inspected it briefly before she spied a familiar insignia on the top, bottom and sides. Rowan didn’t hesitate before instructing Alena to help her push all four buttons at the same time. The canister opened to reveal a single piece of papyrus, brittle with age. It didn’t evade her mind that this canister could only be opened by two people.
They expected the document to be ancient Egyptian to fit with the container, but it was Roman. The discovered that the second expedition was never lost. The detachment of Roman soldiers came to demolish the black tomb but never finished their task.
Alena and Rowan rushed back to the camp but found their tent still empty, Marcus didn’t return until just before dawn. His face held no clue to his emotions he’d withdrawn within himself.
Alena held the rolled parchment out to him, and he hesitated before taking it from her. She noted how carefully he avoided the touch of her hand. The document contained everything they hoped for and didn’t help them at all.
“The treasure is cursed,” Marcus read. Tightly in control of himself, and still angry.
“It makes the living dead and the dead living before they disappear as if they never were,” already Marcus looked grimmer than he did before.
“Ceaser sent us to demolish the unholy tomb, and to eradicate every trace of its existence. We should have realized the monster would not allow us to ruin this place that holds the records of its existence. We were fools sent on a fool’s errand, and we will never leave this desert alive. It followed us back and claimed our lives one by one. Two full contingents of Ceaser’s best soldiers stepped down from our boats on this cursed soil. Our families will never see us again. We will not return home, and no one will come to retrieve our bodies,” Marcus stopped reading, and his fingers delicately traced the words as he considered them.