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Not what she expected

(Karnak, Egypt, 1460 BC)

Borne along on the shoulders of eight muscular men, Bren struggled to fit pieces of the past, present, and future together. Like a giant puzzle, she had some of the edges, but very little else.. Ugh! – traveling back and forth through time is so confusing! Trouble was, she really didn’t know “when” she was in the past. At least the first time, shocking as it was, she knew she was in England and the year. Now, she felt adrift in history without any real reference point to navigate by.

A few days ago, as servants gave her and one of the Saras, yet another bath, she’d asked, “What year is it?”

Sara said, “The twentieth year of Pharaoh.”

“Okay, but what year is it in the world outside Egypt?”

“I don’t understand outside Mistress,” the other Sara who held a towel answered, looking puzzled.

“I mean outside your country. Have you heard of a place called Rome?”

“No mistress, we do not know of such a place. Is that where you come from?”

Bren replied, “No, I’m from a place called Eng… I’m from E…” but try as she might, Bren couldn’t get the word out of her mouth. Something deep inside her restrained her.

Let’s try this another way

“Let’s try this another way then, what of the great sea Kontar mentioned? What of the Barbarians he spoke of at the auction, do you know anything about them?”

“Not much, only that they are fierce and uncivilized. It’s said that they never bathe and that you can smell them from far!” Both held their noses and made faces, nodding to one another knowingly. Sara asked, “Don’t you remember where you come from Mistress Bren?”

The other Sara said, “Maybe soldiers hit her on the head when they took her.” Coming close and feeling Bren’s skull with her hands, Sara said, “Does it hurt when I do this?” Ugh, this is getting me nowhere. Bren realized.

Today, as evening closed in, nearing the Harem, Bren relived the wrenching feeling of being dropped into the middle of a future world war. The first world war in France – year 1918. Suddenly, as if stepping through a door, she found herself in a place devoid of hardly any life, only craters and charred tree stumps. Sam – poor, lovely Sam – knocked her to ground, saying, “Ma’am! we’ve got to get you out of here!” As her eyes welled up, Bren reminisced fondly about the young American who protected her with his life. After he’d brought her to safety, Sam told her to find a small, commanding lady with bobbed, jet black hair.

Doc

In the midst of a artillery attack, she’d met “Doc.” Bren pictured the woman’s confident face looking at her hard as she told her what to do. In an ah-ha moment, (grabbing a post of the palanquin as it swayed) Bren realized, Doc knew me in the future because she ‘d already met me in the past! Then, another piece fell into place as Bren exclaimed triumphantly, “That’s why Doc said, ‘pull yourself together Seraph Hunter’….the very first moment we met!'”

Hatshepsut

My word, Bren thought, recalling a conversation, she even told me her real name! “Hatshepsut!”

Remembering her hatred for the German prisoner Hans, who killed Sam, Brenzel felt the pain all over again. It was as if she were there, struggling to lower the gun as Doc stood between her and the unconscious prisoner. I’ve always admired her bravery, Bren thought. In light of Pharaoh’s court, she concluded with a sense of wonder, the future Doc made more sense. Hatshepsut started out life as a Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt. She was born and bred to command. Brenzel realized with amusement, no wonder the lady could handle herself in a crisis.

Yet, the person on Pharaoh’s throne was not the Doc she loved and respected in the future. This Hatshepsut didn’t know God, or perhaps worse, even thought she was a god. By her decree a young man was almost whipped to death as she watched without pity or remorse. As the Pharaoh examined her new slave like some prized horse, Bren felt a studied hardness in her touch. Only a flicker of future Doc surfaced when their eyes met and spirits touched. I know what you will become, Bren thought, but you’re a far cry from it now.

The litter bearers set their passenger down in the first court of the Royal Harem, and Bren felt a great weariness set in. She and her friends went straightaway to their new sleeping quarters. Everything for their comfort was prepared in advance, and Brenzel fell fast asleep despite the day’s unexpected turn of events.

Back at the Vatican

(Vatican City, 1690)

Sitting next to Cardinal Jenkins, Tim listened to reports about the aftermath of James II’s removal from the throne and the subsequent voiding of the second declaration of indulgence. Now, with the recent ‘bill of rights’ it was obvious which way the winds were blowing and that the might of kings and queens was being steadily eroded. As yet another nobleman bemoaned the state of affairs, Tim’s page tugged at his sleeve, whispering in his ear, causing the big priest to excuse himself from the gathering. Slim’s disapproving eyes watching him, the old Cardinal knew that no power on earth could keep his protegee focused on the matters at hand.

Down the halls and to the far end of the Vatican, Tim walked briskly, almost at a run. There was simply no other way to get there any faster. Thinking of what must be happening, Tim found himself praying, the sounds of his hurried footsteps echoing in the halls as he made his way past the guard to the door. Throwing it open, Tim found the physician waiting for him, holding up his hands, saying, “I am sorry…”

The lady Fiammetta insisted

“What?” Tim exclaimed, breaking into the man’s speech mid sentence, his heart sinking.

“I am sorry to disturb you, it was only false labor, the baby is not coming yet.”

Relief rushing through his mind and body, Tim relaxed slightly. “Why did you bother me then?!” the holy man demanded angrily, “I was in an important meeting!”

Looking troubled, the learned doctor said, “Forgive me Cardinal, the lady Fiammetta insisted. I tried to suggest it was premature to call you, but she demanded a page be sent anyway.” Realizing that no man could say no to Fiammetta, Tim shrugged off the incident as he went to Fia’s side.

With a deeply ingrained habit of leaving nothing to chance, Tim had hired the best physician in all of Florence. He paid the renowned physician a great sum, not only for his services, but also for his discretion. The doctor, aged and very knowledgeable in delivery, brought his own trusted staff, also paid handsomely, to assist with Fiammetta’s birthing.

Knitting

Tim knocked softly, and Maria opened the door, allowing him in. The relieved father to be found the love of his life propped up in bed, knitting. Her cheeks rosy and plump, her tummy was as as big as a ripe melon hid under the covers. A look of relief flooded her face as she took his hand and smiled, saying, “I am so sorry, my love, I was sure our baby was coming. I wanted you to be near me.”

Thinking about the nearly 100 dignitaries and high officials he’d left standing at the chamber, Tim answered, “Do not worry your head about it, Fia, my place is here with you and our child.”

After an hour, Tim emerged from the ornate room of the Borgia suite to the repeated apologies of the old doctor. Tim, looking at him directly, said, “It was not your doing. My Fia needed me, there was no error on your part.”

Tim made his way slowly out the door and down the hall, which led to the main part of the Basilica, thinking hard about what to do next. Perhaps he could ask for a leave of absence, just until the baby and Fia were okay? After all, in his long years of service, he’d never once asked for time away from his duties. Perhaps Cardinal Jenkins would agree to his request. As Fia’s time neared, Tim felt it increasingly difficult to focus on his work, anyway.

Tim, I am not well

Entering into the chamber, Tim saw that all had left, save the old Cardinal sitting at his seat, obviously waiting for him.

“Come close, my son.” Tim stepped up to the old man who looked at him with compassion, something Tim was not used to. “I realize you care for your woman, but leaving during important meetings is not only inconvenient, it might arouse suspicion.” Tim, assessing the Cardinal’s words, knew his his sage advice was correct; but it wouldn’t make a single shred of difference when Fia called.

“I am sorry Cardinal, I will be more circumspect next time.”

“Timothy,” the ancient priest continued, “I am getting old, and I am not well.”

Tim, caught off guard by his mentor’s admission, wondered what was up. The old man had never admitted weakness of any kind all the years he’d known him.

“Nonsense!” Tim protested, “You will live forever!”

A faint smile crossed Jenkins’ face, then he said, “Sit with me a moment. I must to tell you something important.”

Bringing a chair near, Tim sat, wondering what was on the old man’s mind.

A stroll in the countryside

Slim began, “I was born in Provincia di Chieti at my family’s estate just outside of Chiete. My heart, as a young boy, was to become a scholar, yet my Father desired that I be a priest. Out of duty, I obeyed him and took my vows, which I’ve kept ever since.”

Tim studied the old man carefully, trying hard to discern his real intent, but found it impossible to plumb. Why the stroll in the countryside of his past now? He’s definitely leading up to something, Tim thought.

“Timothy,” Jenkins said with a sigh and a faraway look, “service to Her Majesty comes with many sacrifices.”

Here it comes, Tim thought.

“One of the most trying sacrifices would seem, to many, a great gift, but believe me, it is not.”

“What do you mean, Father?”

“Tim, I was born in 1461.”

Impossible!

“What?” Tim stated, “that’s impossible!”

“No, young Cardinal, not impossible, just unnatural. I entered Her Majesty’s service in the autumn of 1511.”

Sputtering, Tim said flabbergasted, “That would make you over 200 years old!”

With a straight face, Slim said, “Two hundred and twenty-nine years old this November, to be exact. Service to Her Majesty prolongs your life if she… finds you useful.”

Reeling at the implications Tim just stared, dumbfounded.

The Old priest observed, “You’re most likely asking yourself, “What the hell does all this have to do with me?”

“It has to do with you, Cardinal Lambert, because I’ve been grooming you as my successor for many years. You will, very soon, become the head of The Order. It’s time for you to be examined by Her Majesty – It’s time for you to meet Beauty.”

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