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Chapter Four

The small experimental jet sped down the driveway from Sir Hamish’s pad and banked skyward over the Pacific Ocean, it climbed to an altitude way over that of a commercial airliner, bang, bang, bang went the sound barriers as his jet catapulted towards Europe and sooner than you could possibly imagine he was landing somewhere in the north of Scotland. A beautiful castle isolated by the Scottish highland became the setting for the scenes that were about to follow. Hamish alighted in his traditional garb and a couple of his flunkies carried the unconscious bodies of Nat and Buzz into the medieval mansion. No military presence was apparent but the confinement of the area was reminiscent of Patrick Mcgoohan’s ‘The Prisoner’ and flashes of Inverlair, the infamous British 2WW gulag entered the imagination.

By the time of their awakening they were alone, fully clothed on a large four poster bed; Nat was nudging Buzz and saying. “Are you awake, wake up, speak to me, where are we, what the hell has happened, are you coherent, do you understand what I am saying?”

“Yes, yes, I am awake, stop punching me.”

“What’s going on?” she questioned further

“It’s all coming back to me,” said Buzz “were probably in Scotland.”

“What!” exclaimed Nat.?

“Sir Hamish explained it to me just before I passed out.”

“Explained what?”

“That we would be awakening in a foreign land,” continued Buzz

“And that it would be for the best.”

“What’s best about being deceived, knocked out and renditioned?” asked Nat

“I don’t know where to begin.”

“How about starting where I was knocked out?”

“When I met Sir Hamish for breakfast, he was most insistent that I told him everything I knew and by the time I had finished bringing him up to date, I was starting to feel the effects of whatever it was that he drugged us with. I confronted him about it; he just went into a rave about how he worked for some aspect of British security and how he and your father had been working on acquiring ‘the Breastplate’ for the current incarnation of the eternal Mereneith for a long time when we have stumbled into their scenario.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Natalie

“Yeah, wow” echoed Gabriel, “and not only that we were going to be flown out of the country but that we were going to meet this mysterious woman.”

“Why did he drug us?” she asked

“I think it was just a matter of convenience, expedience or a security procedure.”

“Tell me more of what you and Sir Hamish spoke about.”

“I told him of how I had traced Mereneith from Stonehenge to Spain via another sea voyage, on through France and into Greece

over the Tuscany Mountains. This would have been consistent with the spread of the Beaker peoples throughout Europe during the beginnings of the second millennium B.C.E. Are you familiar with them?”

“Yes, I have seen and own clay pots decorated with spirals from all over those areas but I had never understood what the connection was up until now.”

“I think they finally settled in the land of the Hiveites or what became known as Anatolia.” said Buzz

“Wasn’t Anat a deity that was known in Egypt?”

“Yes and I would presume to say that she was Mereneith.”

“Is that what excited Hamish?”

“No, there’s more, they had connections to the peoples who were ruling Babylon at the time and that there was some kind of natural disaster that forced them up into the Syrian Mountains somewhere around Harran and that from that time I began associating her with Sarah, Abraham’s partner from the Biblical story.”

“That was what landed us here?”

“Yes.” Concluded Buzz

The door burst open and a dark suited figure loomed in the portal saying, “So you are finally awake.”

“Yes, why …?”

“Don’t ask questions,” the man boomed back
“Your presence is required, dress for dinner, you will find everything you need in the ensuite. I will return in three quarters of an hour to escort you to the dining hall, please be ready.” He espoused, turned and with a click of his heels left the room.

“After you.” Gestured Buzz, alluding to the ensuite

Natalie nodded and moved into the adjacent room while Gabriel checked out the wardrobe, selecting for himself an appropriately sized tuxedo and an array of evening dresses for Natalie’s perusal. He laid them on the bed, making sure the most alluring one was on top. Later, after he had showered and shaved, he re-entered the bedroom to find Natalie looking absolutely stunning in the preferred ensemble, an emerald green bouffant that would have made a beer maid blush.

“I’ll put my make-up on while you dress Mr. Izzard.” She stated as she strode passed him in his bathrobe. He had only just finished dressing when she re-entered the room followed by a knock and reappearance of the man who had previously attuned them to their immediate future.

“Follow me.” He said

Buzz looked at Nat and mouthed the same words and with a click of his heels they marched off , down the medieval hallway to enter a grand dining room.

Sir Hamish sat at the near end of a long table, laden with all the niceties of a formal dinner. He stood to greet their arrival and in his Scottish tuxedo complete with kilt and ceremonial sporran, looked all the part of a magisterial lord. His voice boomed a Scottish welcome and he praised the appearance of his guests, he gestured widely seeking their approval of the surrounds which consisted of magnificent paintings, glorious statues, impressive suits of armor and endless ornaments that looked as if they had come as gifts from dignitaries around the world. The food had already made its way to the table and Gabriel had noted a lack of staff or musicians to provide the gastronomic masterpiece and music which was permeating his senses. Natalie commented to this fact and Sir Hamish belly laughed ensuring them that soon they would be audienced to her majesty and all their questions would be sated as well as their appetites. They began eating and before they had finished a small hooded figure unobtrusively entered the other end of the room and as she seated herself, they noticed the radiant quality of the magenta cape and its occupant.

Sir Hamish leapt to his feet, motioned to them to remain seated and rushed to assist the new arrival at the head of the table. They spoke quietly together for a few moments and then he returned to their end of the table to brief them with the following instructions.

“She would like to speak to you first Natalie.”

Natalie pushed aside her crockery, wiped her mouth daintily with the provided napkin, excused herself and slowly made her way towards the head of the table and the mysterious figure. Buzz looked on in awe at the scene that was unfolding before his very eyes but Sir Hamish returned to the remains of his desert, chuckling as he did so.

Gabriel continued to sit quietly transfixed with the sight of Nat in communion with this enigmatic figure of whom he presumed, with all the affirmation of his gut feelings, was the real life connection to the lady of his dreams and visions. He wasn’t guessing at what they were speaking about, his mind, for a change, was strangely at peace. If he could have verbalized what he was thinking at the time, he would have likened it to the Buddhist teachings of ‘no mind’. However his feelings were peaking at a level unprecedented in his recent memory, love entered the moment, not the love a man has for a woman, nor the love a parent has for a child, not even the love that empowers a person to do great things for their fellow man but a love that seemed to combine all those mentioned and much, much more.Euphoria engulfed him although he remained clear headed and relatively unmoved by the flood of emotion that had engulfed him. He was fully prepared to embrace the return of Natalie to his side after what was an indeterminable amount of time, he didn’t ask her what was said, he didn’t even notice that Sir Hamish had removed himself from the table, he just absorbed what it was that she had to say to him.

“She said she had reached a point in the great cosmic game of conscience were the walls of reality had pressed in to such an extent that the mind resembled a black hole. No externalizing was now possible, only the long journey of reduction lay ahead for her, compaction of all that was into a single point. The most comprehensive search of outward reasoning in the known was reduced to this; the kingdom of God is within. Jesus knew this, taught this, pointed the way but she had continued on the search regardless. Thousands of years of searching every possibility led to the ultimate realization that there is no point in it all more important than the center of ones being. It’s not that there’s no point in the search worth coming to, it’s just that when you have exhausted all, there’s only one way home. Through the worm hole of conscience we return to our creator for reassignment, taking all our experiential knowledge as our only prize. This is wisdoms gift, the peace of mind that no other possibility exists, that we all enter this world with a short simple job to do or a long complicated one or something in between. This applies to a one celled amoeba or an angle of light. When the life force is spent the conscience goes on in a never ending cycle of existence all working for God. Whether our time here is well spent or wasted is the product of our choices, whether we return here as an amoeba or an angle is Gods will.   We can go through life blissfully ignorant of this fact or if you can handle it, painfully aware it’s up to you. Enlightenment is the realization of the enormity of the task before us. Being bourn again is the ability to go about it in an enthusiastic way, putting aside destructive ways and operating as a child of the creator.”

She finished quoting her mentor and said directly to Buzz,” Now it’s your turn.”

He virtually floated into her presence and as she raised her head to meet his gaze, his eyes filled with tears as he was overcome with the combination of age, wisdom and beauty. His mind filled with instructions on how to fulfill her will, his heart filled with desire to commit to that end and as he was waking up the next morning, next to the fully clothed Natalie, he knew he would never be able to explain to anyone what he had experienced. Although awestruck and somewhat perplexed, he knew he was now fully equipped to complete this complex task they had undertaken and that Nat would understand what they would have to do as he would unfold it to her. He took a moment to admire her before he began shaking her awake.

“Was that a dream?” asked the awakening Nat

“No I don’t think so,” he said pointing to the gravy stain on his tuxedo.

“I feel like a different person this morning somehow older and wiser.”

“That’s understandable; it was certainly an enlightening evening.”

“I don’t remember much about it; how did we get back to our room?” questioned Nat

“I think we meandered back quite late.”

“Do you think we were drugged again?”

“I’m not sure but I feel good to good to be waking from a drugged stupor, how do you feel and what do you remember?” he asked as he moved away from her and over to the side board with the tea and coffee making utensils.

She propend herself up with some pillows and pulled a shawl over her naked shoulders and with a quizzical look on her face she began to explain,” Strangely enough, I remember the story of Sarah, Abrahams Sarah and their journey to Egypt. She was being presented to Pharaoh and he was very impressed with her and her stories. He positioned her above all other women in his court at a time when the entire main pyramid complexes seemed to be in place and Egypt was running at its peak. The majesty of the place was awesome as it was the time of the ‘Second Kingdom’, which put an end to the troubled “first intermediate Period’ and established the worship of Osiris as a permanent cult. The temples at Karnack and Abydos were being built and the ‘Labyrinth at Harawa’ was becoming the center of rule. Sarah fitted right in, becoming a spearhead of religion, culture and a master of the maze which was a huge temple complex, consisting of hundreds of chambers all dedicated to the god Sobeck.

This was a crocodile deity that was attributed to always returning to collect its rightful due. At the center of the complex, existed a chamber carved out of a single massive block of quartzite and on special occasions Sarah would don her magnificent breastplate and make her way into that chamber. Here she was at her most impressive and considered at one with God, eventually she became known as Sobeckneferu.”

“Wow, take a break. I need a moment to take all that in, what you have related is quite a revelation that I think can be substantiated,”

“But there’s so much more,” she said

“And I really want to hear it but drink this tea first.”

She took the tea, sipped as requested and almost immediately returned to the coalface by asking, “Is what I was saying feasible, I mean does it make sense and fit with what you know about Egyptian history?”

“Not only that but I believe it fits with what we know about Sarah from the Hebrew Scriptures.”

“How could I know these things when I have never studied them?”

“Maybe she told you last night,” answered Buzz

“No, I remember what she told me now and it wasn’t about history, it was more like philosophy.”

“Well maybe you dreamed it.”

“No, I remembered it, what I was telling you were from memory, from Sarah’s memory.” She stated.

“Tell me more of what you remember then.”

“I remember making many trips back into Cana and staying with Abraham, Laban and a Melchezdek priest named Abimilech, but always returning to Egypt. Then there was the destruction of Sodom and Lot with his daughters but most amazingly I remember as Rebecca,”

“What!” exclaimed Buzz?

“I remember as Rebecca meeting Isaac, I was riding on my camel. He took me as his bride back to the tent of Sarah and told me of her death. I thought of him as a child but I told him how much I loved him and that I would never leave him. I never told him about my sorties into Egypt, or my plan to incorporate our family into the ruling class.”

“Now you’re scarring me,”

“I’m scarring myself.” countered Nat

“Do you remember as Rachael?” asked Buzz

“Yes and I remember scarring the hell out of  Joseph as  Potiphers wife when he thought I was making a pass at him and when I met his brother Benjamin I was dressed as an Isis queen and he ran a mile before we could catch up with him.”

“So you would have been responsible for Joseph rising to the highest office in the land?”

“Yes and as Yuya and Thuya, worshipers of Yahweh, presiding over a new dynasty, a new peoples and a time of stability in the land of two kingdoms. Mereneith had returned and with her chosen Osiris, ruled for a very long time.”

“We need a break,” cut in Buzz, “I’m having a shower and changing out of this tux. I think we should find out what’s going on around here and who’s in charge.”

After he had finished showering and Natalie was having her turn, the revitalized Gabriel turned the ornate doorknob and pulled on the large oak door half expecting it to be locked, it wasn’t. He was prepared to yell the house down if it was, but seeing that it wasn’t he stepped forwards into the empty hallway. Its many doors were its main feature and he opened a few on his way back to the main hall, they were empty bedrooms. The dining room was also empty and had been cleared from last night’s meal; he crossed the room and opened the door that the hooded woman had stepped from. It creaked open to a short hallway with another large door at its opposite end; he preceded forwards and knocked on it presuming it to be her bedroom.

When no one replied he entered the room somewhat tentatively and immediately felt his assumption was correct as although no one was there her feel overwhelmed him. The four-poster bed looked as though it had not been slept in and the sparse decorations in the otherwise impressive room further confirmed what he was thinking. He turned and retraced his steps deviating only when he noticed a stairway at the end of the main hallway. Being somewhat grand he made his way down it stopping halfway to admire a painting, it was her, a much younger version but her never the less.

Her presence or lack thereof, presided over the grandeur of this estate; there was no doubt about that. The bottom of the stairs opened up to a foyer that would have been appropriate for many an old museum or art gallery. He wandered through with more than a little head swirling momentarily forgetting his task of finding someone to ask questions of. Putting aside his desire to swing open the large double doors that barred his way to the outside world, he proceeded onto an enclave that receded back from the opulence of the gallery like foyer and down another smaller stairway that led to a subterranean lair for servants. The possibility of a kitchen and other life forms loomed as he smelt the welcoming odors of a breakfast being cooked. A double hinged swinging door stood between him and his target, he pushed trough into a modest room with a kitchen table in the middle and two occupants midway between diverting their heads between him and their meal.

“Good morning Dr. Izzard, I hope you and Ms. McHale slept well?” said the man that they had met the day before when he barged into their room.

“Yes.” Replied Buzz “Now who are you again?”

“I am sorry I didn’t introduce myself, I am Laurence and this is my associate Dorothy.” He said as the woman stood up and asked in a slightly Scottish accent, “Can I get you and your friend some breakfast?”

“Just some toast and marmalade would be fine.” He thanked her as she turned to comply with his request.

“Tell me Laurence are you empowered to answer my questions on what is going on around here?” asked Buzz

“What would you like to know?” he countered

“For starters, are we prisoners here?”

“Goodness me no, have you been treated like a prisoner?”

“No, not exactly but we were brought here against our will.” Answered Buzz

“Was it really against your will?” asked Laurence

“I suppose not but why did Sir Hamish drug us?”

“He’s a bit old school and he has a penchant for the dramatic. I am sorry if he put the wind up you but we do have a policy of information on a need to know basis and he wasn’t sure if it was safe to tell you about us. We do have our enemies as you well know.” He replied

“Fair enough, but whom exactly are you?”

“We are a remnant of old secret service retirees and an offshoot of masonry drawn into the service of the Lady of this castle, whom you met last night.”

“And who exactly is she?”

“I think you know the answer to that.” Said Laurence

“Just pretend I don’t and tell me who she is in your view.”

“Well I first came into contact with her when I was a young man fresh out of university and newly conscripted into the bureaucratic procedures of the secret processes of the Government. I was in charge of the payroll and expenses of the men that were guarding her here. I’m still in that position now only we don’t have any connection or commitment to any government agency, we are self funded.”

“Why was she being guarded?” asked Buzz

“She provided information crucial to the defeat of Hitler.”

“So in a sense she is a national treasure,”

“Except, she doesn’t see herself as that, she likes to see her self as a mother to nations; always on the alert to help all peoples of all nation whenever she gets the chance.” Added Laurence

“Does that happen often?”

“Yes, more often than anyone would know or imagine, now finish your tea and toast and I will show you around the estate, there is much to see and you will enjoy it.”

“Thanks but I should be getting back to Natalie, she will be wondering where I’ve got to.”

“Don’t worry she will be alright Dorothy is with her.” Assured Laurence

“O.K, lead on.” Said Buzz as he packed up his dishes and deposited them in the kitchen sink

They moved through a solid external door and up a small stone stairway alighting on to a bitu-pave driveway that seemed to encircle the building. After crossing it and walking to a halfway point between a heavily pined forest and the castle, they turned and faced what was a stunning example of eighteenth century architecture.

“Superb isn’t it?” quipped Laurence, as he strode off again, this time parallel to the castle walls, “This is my daily walk, it does wonders for the constitution. I highly recommend it if you’re going to stay here for any length of time.”

“Why would I want to do that?” Asked Buzz

“Well, Dr. Izzard, there in lays the rub. Because of your unique skills and your association with Ms. McHale’s quest, you have made yourself a target for those who do not have your best interests at heart.”

“And who would they be, and what distinguishes them from you?” further quizzed Buzz

“They,” intoned Laurence “would be a powerful junta of secret government officials whose tentacles reach into people’s lives all over this planet of ours; ruthless army intent on control, dogmatically going about it, systematically exterminating any opposition.”

“We,” he continued “would be a counter-balancing force who conscientiously objects to that level of control, a kind of opposition party. If you like to think of them as big brother, we are the rebellious little brother, allowed to exist because of family considerations. We can negotiate on your behalf and you with your talents can assist us towards that end.”

“What if I don’t want to, what if I just want to go back to my old life and forget any of this ever happened?” he pleaded

“Sorry, your life as you knew it is over. If you don’t accept our offer of protection the only future I foresee for you is down a very dark hole being force-fed and milked on a regular basis, I’m sure you don’t want that. Anyway I have a feeling about you that you are going to fit right in around here, you’ve been favored and empowered to achieve much, isn’t that what you’ve been doing all that study for, isn’t that what you want?”

“I suppose so, what if I wanted my computer, could you get it?”

“It’s already here; Sir Hamish had the forethought that you might need it.”

“What if I said to you that I wanted to personally interview a certain Fulham road antiquities dealer?”

“I would say that I have a chauffeured Bentley in that garage over there awaiting your instructions. You can plug your computer into the modem and access a direct secured line back to me if you need any assistance or information.”

Natalie waved goodbye as Gabriel’s limo sped down the long driveway that exited the estate. She had agreed to his reckless escapade and also that her presence would complicate and compromise his plan. For now, she was looking forward to continuing her conversation with Dora who had been explaining similar things to her as Laurie had been explaining to Buzz. She had said how she had become involved in the intrigue Natalie was now embroiled in.

It had begun for her when she was a young woman in pre-world war two London. Her studies had qualified her as a filing clerk at the Egyptian department of the British museum under Sir Wallace Budge, keeper of antiquities. She specialized in the findings of Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray, who had become world leaders in understanding the big picture of Egyptian Beliefs. Since the excavations of the Osirian at Umm-el-Qu’ab had unearthed the tombs of the first and second dynasty Pharaohs, they had become experts in translating from ‘the book of the dead’ and that which was carved in stone upon the walls and Stella’s of the complexes of Abydos. After becoming fascinated with their findings, she packed herself of to Egypt where she met the Lady of the castle of whom she still serves.

When Nat found Dora again she was doing laundry in the area of the castle that was set aside for that purpose and in order to continue their conversation she said to her, “Please tell me more of your initial encounter with the Lady. When was it exactly and what did she look like then?”

Dora finished hanging up some items she was fiddling whilst remaining quiet; she picked up a darning needle and an item to use it on, seated herself comfortably and began.

“She was beautiful then, probably at her best and her countenance radiated. She drew people towards her, not like a leader sprouting doctrine or rhetoric but like a mother hen concerned with the wellbeing and the individual needs of her chicks. I became one of those chicks happily pecking around her foot, which was an amazingly accurate description of what we were then, mainly trainee archeologists picking through the remains of what was once her beautiful kingdom, Upper Egypt. We gladly brought our best finds to her and she would instinctively know what it was and what we should do with it. Some things were not meant for this world and we would rebury them, usually in a safer spot; the Breastplate and the Ark of the Covenants really came under this category.”

“Whoa!” Nat cut in and stopped Dora in her tracks. “Did you see those things personally?” she asked

“I did see Oma in her breastplate and she spoke often about the Ark, but I never saw it.” Answered Dora

“Tell me about the breastplate, what did it look like?”

“It was a beautifully crafted, well rounded, highly refined golden bodice in two parts, front and back. Each side had twelve different colored semi transparent stones and when worn, if you drew a line through each matching color you would have twelve lines going straight through the heart.”

“That’s what I saw, that’s what my father showed me.” Said Nat

“We know, he contacted us telling what he had and what he wanted to do. We advised him to come straight to us but he must have wanted to show you first.”

“He mentioned the Narmer Palette and how this find would prove some kind of fraud. Do you know anything about that?”

“You are very direct and to the point Natalie. The controversy you allude to has perplexed certain scholars since it was unearthed in 1898 at Hierakonpolis. Those at the British museum, who were aware of it and its importance, surmised it was an artistic interpretation of a long lost symbol of authority but there were those that fervently disagreed. An actual breastplate was worn by the unified kingdom leader of the first dynasty named Narmer by some, Menes by others and because of the work of Champollion and Thomas Young on the translation of the text unearthed by Amelineau and the Flinders Petrie/ Margaret Murray work in 1903, we were able to put together a theory of the most likely explanation of the controversy.

The findings from the tomb of Mereneith, ‘beloved of god’ at Umm-el-Qu’ab, ‘mother of pots’ indicated that She had ruled the Old Kingdom and worn a bejeweled breastplate and the warlike interlopers of the Intermediate Kingdom, when overthrowing her, had demanded that She hand over the symbol of her authority to rule. It was then that a ‘fake’ breast plate was made, emblazoned with hieroglyphics depicting the warlike nature of its intended recipient and Mereneith removed herself to a western kingdom with the ‘original’.

“That fairly well sum up what I have been learning about all this so far, but for now I am seeing her as Sarah from the bible, waltzing back into Egypt as a matriarchal figure, central to the beliefs of Christians, Muslims and Jews. The ramifications of this aspect of our history are awesome, so how come we haven’t been taught these things in school?” questioned Nat

“There have always been and are now those who would oppose her, those that would rule without authority, who would seize power with a war machine. They have no room in their hearts, nor in their minds for a Mereneith, a real Jesus or even a Gandhi. Their symbol for authority to rule is an abomination of desolation or a nuclear bomb if you like.”

“How can I retrieve this breastplate and make a difference, I mean why me? What do I have to do?” she asked

“Let others worry about these things, you my dear could busy yourself with the pursuit of higher ideals that would qualify you to wear such an item.”

With that Dorothy packed up her darning and said, “I have to prepare lunch, would you like to join me?”

“Yes I would, but shouldn’t I seek out the Lady of the castle?”

“Precisely, my dear girl, precisely as for now come with me, you will enjoy it.”

On to Chapter Five


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