“Rick! What have I told you about getting into trouble. You are lucky the Warden owed me a favor.” Her tone resembled a mother chiding her child while her accent made the words dance. The man in the cell glared up with bright blue eyes that stood out against the tanned skin.
“I know Nailah.” His gruff reply came. Rick sighed and looked at his companion. Nailah Hajjar had grown up to be a stunning woman. They had grown up together in the orphanage. They had grown to be friends but parted ways when he left the orphanage and she was taken in by a woman who wanted to teach her to be a healer.
“You have visitors.” One of two guards said coming into his cell. Nailah was confused mostly by who would want to visit Rick. Before she could utter a word the guards hauled Rick to his feet and began pushing him to the door that led to a barred patio of sorts. She slunk to the doorway and listened to the conversation.
“Who are you? And who’s the broad?” She rolled her eyes. Typical of Rick to insult everyone.
“”Broad”?” She heard a woman ask with a note of hurt. From the sounds of it the woman was a native to England.
“Well... I’m...I’m just a local sort of missionary chap spreading the good word and all that, But this is my sister Evy.” She heard another man’s voice.
“How do you do?” The woman, Evy, she guessed, replied.
“Oh well, guess she’s not a total loss.” She heard Rick say. Nailah wanted to go out and smack him herself.
“I beg your pardon?” The woman said. Nailah poked her head out and got a look at the visitors. The woman was lovely. Rich brown hair kept up under a hat, she was slender in frame but no less easy on the eyes. She was pale as a woman from England would be. Her eyes were a lovely bright hazel. The man next to her also had dark hair and pale skin. His eyes were a dull blue and he was a bit taller than his sister. They were definitely siblings. She heard the Warden yelling at someone.
“I’ll be back in a moment.” The portly overseer said before stalking off to whatever what the source of his grief was. The break gave Rick the chance to start eyeing one of the guards behind him. The “missionary chap” turned to his sister a whispered something into her ear. The woman began saying something but stuttered. When she saw that Rick wasn’t paying attention she she reigned him back in.
“We both found your puzzle box, and we’ve come to ask you about it.” The woman said with a smile.
“No.” Rick said matter of factly, He dropped him hand from the bars to rest on one of the horizontal supporting beams.
“No?” Evy sounded confused as she repeated what Rick just said.
“No. You came to ask me about Hamunaptra.” Rick said shifting his weight a bit.
“How do you know the box pertains to Hamunaptra?” Evei asked suddenly interested in Rick. Her brother was also staring at Rick with a serious expression.
“Because that’s where I was when I found it. I was there.” Rick replied
“But how do we know that’s not a load of pig’s wallow?” The brother asked coming closer and leaning down into Rick’s range.
“Do I know you?” Rick asked and pointed a finger at the gentleman.
“No, no. I’ve just got one of those faces.” The man said. Without warning Rick reached out an punched the man across the face. For a brief moment Rick just watched, until on of the guards crack his back with a wooden baton. While her brother lay in the dirt Evy stepped over his legs and focused on Rick.
“You were actually at Hamunaptra?” Evy asked.
“Yeah, I was there.” Rick said. Nailah could hear the smile on his face.
“You swear?” Evy retorted.
“Every damn day.” Rick said with sarcasm so heavy that Nailah placed her hand on her forehead.
“I didn’t mean that...” Evy began.
“I know what you meant. Seti’s place. City of the Dead.” Rick said cutting the woman off.
“Could you tell me how to get there?” Evy asked her tone full of hope. Nailah stopped listening after that mostly due to the fact that the Warden was coming back. She heard the sounds of a scuffle. Rick shouting at the woman to do something. The raven haired woman spread herself against the door as three guards came dragging Rick in. They passed her and out of his cell entirely.
Nailah asked the guards where they were taking Rick and one of them said that he was going to be hung. She rushed out of the empty cell and went to where the Warden was going to be watching to try and save Rick. She ended up behind Evy and when the woman stopped she ran straight into her back.
Evy turned around and had to look down a bit. The woman that had run into her was several inches shorter than Evy and fuller in figure without being overweight. The woman was lovely. Her hair reached to her hips and gave the night sky a run for how dark it was. Her eyes were more green with a sunburst of light yellow almost gold. Her skin was a darker shade of caramel naturally and only got darker the longer she was in the sun. She had full lips and a delicate face.
“I am sorry Miss. Excuse me I need to see the Warden. He is going to be hanging my friend and I need to stop him.” She said and started to move around Evy. Her goal was saving Rick.
“Wait. I think I can help you save him. He told me that he could take me somewhere.” Evy said taking the woman’s arm gently. Nailah nodded and looked up at Evy.
“Thank you. Let us go quickly.” Nailah said as she began pulling Evy to the Warden’s terrace.
“What is your name? I am Evelyn.” The taller woman said in a soft British tone.
“I am Nailah Hajjar. Now please hurry.” Nailah called over her shoulder. The women got to the terrace and Evy sat down next to the Warden. Nailah stood just behind Evy and looked down. There was a large stage where Rick was being shoved up onto the landing. A single rope hung from the top. Around the pit was a three story building with three sides being the prisoners watching area and the last the Warden’s building. The prisoners were shouting over one another. Some saying let him die but most cried for Rick’s freedom. The Warden sat back with a smug look on his robust face. Evy watched nervously before she began negotiating for Rick. Nailah kept her mouth shut and waited to see what was going to happen.
“I will give you £100 to save this man’s life.” Evy said turning to the Warden.
“Madame I would pay £100 just to see him hang.”
“£200.” Evy countered.
“Proceed!” The Warden said.
“£300.” Evy tried again. Nailah watched the small executioner sling rope around Rick’s neck and say something to her friend. Rick muttered something and the small man asked if they would let Rick go. The Warden seemed to become highly annoyed and shouted back.
“Of course we don’t let him go!” The Warden returned to shout in Arabic, but Nailah didn’t care. She watched as the executioner hit Rick upside the back of his head.
“£500!” Evy shouted. This caught the Warden’s attention and he called a halt to the executioner. He turned to look at Evy.
“And what else? I’m a very lonely man.” The Warden said placing his grubby hand on Evy’s thigh and gave her leg a squeeze. Evy struck his hand with her book that she had been carrying and that caused the prisoners to burst out into laughter. The Warden gave the command to the executioner. The small man pulled the lever and the panel under Rick dropped.
“No!” Evy shouted and stood from her chair while Nailah rushed to the closest support beam and let out a short wail. Looking down the women saw Rick struggling. He was alive for the moment. They heard the Warden laugh.
“His neck did not break.” The few prisoners in the center with the stage tried to go help but they were pushed back by the armed guards. “Oh I’m so sorry. Now, we must watch him strangle to death.”
The prisoners became louder in their protest. Rick twitched and slowly stopped swinging from his momentum. Evy sat back down and tried to think quickly of a way to save him. Her body faced the Warden head on.
“He knows the location of Hamunaptra.” Evy said with a rush of air leaving her lungs.
“You lie!” The Warden snapped.
“I would never!” Evy said offended by his accusation.
“Are you telling me this filthy, godless son of a pig knows where to find the City of the Dead?” The Warden questioned Evy. The prisoners tried to get closer but were unable to.
“Yes!” She exclaimed.
“Yes. And if you cut him down, we will give you..” Evy began knowing she had the Warden hooked. “Ten percent”
“Fifty.” The Warden countered.
“Twenty.” Evy offered.
“Forty.” The Warden said.
“Thirty” Evy said with a slight glare.
“Twenty five.” The Warden said not thinking.
“AH! Deal!” Evy exclaimed and agreed before the man could take it back. He realized his mistake and sighed angry at himself.
“Cut him down!” The Warden shouted know he had to keep his word. The other guard on the platform swung a sword and cut the rope, dropping Rick to the ground. Rick hit the ground and the crowd of prisoners cheered with glee. Evy stood and looked down into the pit, very pleased with herself. Nailah let go of the breath she was holding and leant against the pillar. She turned to Evy and embraced her into a surprisingly tight hug.
“Thank you Miss Evelyn. Thank you.” Nailah said with relief in her words. As the women left the Warden’s terrace to go get Evy’s brother and Rick. Evy managed to learn a bit about Nailah. A thought came to Evy.
“You know we could use your help. I don’t think anyone I know can to treat wounds. I would be more than willing to pay you to come with us.” Evy offered.
“I do not think Rick would let me go. He would say it was too dangerous and that I should stay where it is safe.” Nailah said looking down with a sad smile and faint blush. She cared for Rick like he was her brother and didn’t want to do anything to cause him grief that he did not need.
“Please, I insist you come. He owes me and I do wish for you to come along.” Evy smiled at Nailah. The smaller woman was kind and Evy knew that it would be good for someone who knew Rick to come along. Nailah thought about it and after a moment she smiled a bright smile at Evy.
“I would be honored to come with you.” The raven haired woman said. Evy grinned again and explained that they would meet the following day at the Giza Port in Cairo. Nailah agreed and the women parted ways. Evy took her brother and Nailah brought Rick to his home and took care of him till night fell.
“I don’t want you to come.” Rick stated after several hours of silence. When Nailah first brought him back to his apartment she confessed to him about what his savior had said to her. She had hoped foolishly that he would be happy about the news, but she knew better.
“Rick I am going strictly in case one of you should get injured.” The raven haired healer said tending to his now washed hair. She had already told Rick that she was going to help him with his hair and feed him before going home herself.
“It is dangerous out there Nai. You could get hurt! Besides whatever is out there that is under that god-forsaken sand is evil.” Rick tried to reason with her. Nailah didn’t seem to hear him as she continued chopping off the scraggly locks.
“I am not afraid of whatever is out there Rick. Besides I have you to watch over me just like in the orphanage.” Nailah said, her voice was soft and had a sweet clarity to it under her gentle accent. Her words struck him when she brought up the orphanage.
“I just don’t want to see you get hurt.” Rick admitted.
“I know. And I won’t. You and Atem taught me well. I will watch your back and you can watch mine” Nailah said smiling as she finished with his hair and leaving him to to shave.
“I swear to look after you.” Rick said to the now empty bathroom. She made him dinner and gathered her things before she left to return to her own dwelling.
When Nailah got home she ate a simple meal and packed several weeks worth of supplies and a couple of changes of clothes. They were mostly pants and fitting long sleeved shirts. Nailah knew that when traveling anywhere with Rick, pants and shirts were necessary. She changed into a dark blue nightgown and went to bed.