The Curse of Time: Chapter 3
Three hours of casual conversation was torture to Raven as she wondered about the necklace. She attempted to pay attention, she tried to answer any questions, she planned to be involved in the conversation- but she really struggled. Finally, she gave in and tried to casually pull the necklace out and look at it.
It was truly, truly exquisite. Hanging from a thick gold chain, a small circular ornament dangled and made music noises like a wind-chime. It too was mostly gold, except for a small section of glass on either side which revealed a something in the hollow center. A delicate rose petal was folded up and pressed inside the necklace, but she could only identify it as a rose petal because the necklace also smelled like the rose petal which she had stuffed in her pocket so long ago. It smelled stronger though, and she identified it as a beautiful, sweet, fragrance that smelled something like spring, melting snow, dried flowers, the sun, dirt, the grass, and petrichor. It smelled old, like something that had been rotting in a tomb for all eternity, and new, like something that had been born mere moments before. It smelled like time.
Raven was so caught up in marveling at the delicate beauty of her new necklace that she did not notice that all conversation had stopped. Everyone was staring at the necklace. Everyone was entrance by its beauty. Everyone was frozen by the spell of its scent. No one spoke for the next three minutes.
“You didn’t tell me she was one of them.” Cameron said to Aaron, breaking the silence.
“I didn’t know.” He replied in a shocked voice, “She isn’t- are you?” he turned the question on Raven.
“Am I what?”
“See, she isn’t. She doesn’t even know what they are!”
“May I see it?” Cameron was clearly unconvinced by Aaron.
“No.” Raven suddenly felt very protective of the necklace.
Cameron and Aaron looked at each other.
“To think” Cameron said in a hushed voice, “We were looking all over Egypt, and all the time it was here- in your family.”
“It can’t be.” Aaron was talking as if unsure of himself, “She isn’t a Mtunza, she doesn’t even know about it.”
“Know about what?” Raven was beginning to become angry, “What are you talking about?”
“Why don’t we sit down?”
So they sat, and Aaron and Cameron alternately told Raven a very long and outrageous story. It was pretty much unbelievable. After they had told her the entire story once, they had to go back and cover the highlights all over again so that Raven understood what they were saying, but no amount of understanding could make her believe.
According to them, Cameron had been working at an excavation in Egypt when he found something. It was just a drawing, but it was a drawing of a necklace which Cameron had seen before. It was a drawing of Raven’s necklace on an ancient Egyptian tablet. Cameron had seen another necklace exactly identical to hers when he was a child. It had belonged to his mother who had disappeared when he was only ten years old.
After he had found the drawing, he was so curious that he dug around some more until he found some jars covered in writing and filled with rose petals. He had been so curious that he didn’t wait for the writing to be translated, and instead took a couple of the flower petals in his bag and carried them back to their campsite with him. Cameron was particularly amazed by these flower petals because, for as old as they had been dated, they showed very little signs of decay.
While walking back, he had suddenly found himself walking straight into a deep stream. He was so shocked that he was swept under the water immediately, and almost drowned. By God’s grace, he managed to catch ahold of a tree branch and pull himself out of the water. Cameron stumbled away from the edge, amazed and shocked by the sudden appearance of an impossible stream. Imagine his surprise then when he turned back to the stream and found that it had disappeared. Only a mad person would imagine a stream where there was none, but Cameron knew he was not mad because he was still soaking wet and coughing up water.
By the time he had finally made his way back to the campsite, Cameron had mostly dried off in the sun and the jars had been translated. They told the story about the source of time, and how it had been wrongly used. As a result, a group of men- Mtunzas- were assigned to be the keepers of the time source. While they were very powerful men, they soon came to trust no one and feared that when they died, no one would be left to faithfully guard the time source. So they had decided to make it so that no one could use the time source without their knowledge. The Mtunzas had taken their swords, and each of the twelve original Mtunzas cut into the source of time. The source bled on the ground, and from the blood grew roses that seemed to never die.
From each piece that was taken from the time source, each Mtunza fashioned for himself a necklace. Then, without telling anyone what they had done, they each gifted their necklace to someone special and warned them never to pass it on to anyone unworthy. Without all of these pieces, the time source would never be fully functional again. It could send a person to “possibility worlds”, but would never send people through time.
After hearing the story, Cameron had memorized the image of the necklace and continued to search for clues to support the existence of such a “Time Source”. Enter Aaron. This was the point where Aaron had entered the scene and been convinced, hired, and trusted with every secret about the Time Source. They had discovered that when one held one of the rose petals as they walked, they could easily slip through one of a million portals and into a “pocket reality” or a “bubble reality”. Pocket realities are alternate realities that stay almost exactly the same as the original reality, while bubble realities are alternate realities that change things greatly. A bubble reality was what Cameron had entered when he fell into the non-existent stream.
Raven listened to all of this and was convinced that they were completely mad, especially when they told her that anyone with one of the necklaces, like her, was automatically a Mtunza and was gifted with special abilities and heightened senses. Still, some bit of her wanted to believe them. If they had known about her experience with the fire earlier that evening, she would have had more reason to call them crazy because she could have convinced herself that they had pranked her. But they didn’t seem to know, and the whole “bubble reality” sounded like what she had seen. In fact, she realized that the rose petal she had picked up in class had been in the pocket of the jeans she had been wearing at the time. But no, it was much too crazy to believe- wasn’t it?