A petite middle-aged woman in loose khaki trousers and a white tunic shirt entered the tent. She walked to the knee-high table and sat cross-legged on a handwoven carpet. Ornamental shadows from iron lanterns flickered on her pleasant face and reddish-blonde curls that escaped the silk headscarf. She opened the parcel with a stack of documents, but a sudden commotion made her look up.
“Stand down, Hassan. He’s a friend,” she said.
An armed bedouin that guarded the entrance relaxed his rifle and let the visitor pass.
“Greetings, Louise. Still taking precautions?” A tall man walked in, dressed in a travel kaftan, his head and face covered by a white shawl, but not a speck of dust was on his shoulders. The rich aroma of frankincense filled the air around him.
“Such is the nature of my calling, Tzali.” The woman got up and bowed slightly.
“Please, no formalities. We’ve known each other for too many years.” The man uncovered his face, revealing a smirk behind his gray beard. His blue eyes sparkled like two sapphires.
Louise smiled back. “You haven’t changed one bit.”
“From the moment we begin our service as Magi, we are no longer bound by time or space. But your bloodline is,” he said, taking the woman’s outstretched hand. “That’s why I’m here—to discuss the next carrier of the gifts.”
“My niece?” She startled and pulled away. “What urgent matter regarding her made you seek me out in the middle of the desert?”
“She’s finally ready.”
Louise sighed. She gestured the traveler to recline on the colorful floor cushions and poured him tea before speaking again. “I love Grace to pieces, but she’s too reasonable for her own good.”
“We are aware of that,” Tzali said. “She will need your guidance.”
“I don’t even know where the gifts are. They were sent with your courier years ago. Grace hasn’t received them yet. I mailed her the key a few months ago like you instructed, but it might be too late now.”
“The Sovereign One is never late.” The blue light shimmered in the man’s eyes once again.
“But her time is running out, and we need to take precautions against the rising threats.”
Louise shook her head. “There is no way I can get to her. I have to complete my mission, and it will take several more days to travel back to the States. Plus, as you know, it’s too dangerous for me given the circumstances. It might cause more harm. I can’t compromise—”
“I understand,” Tzali interrupted. He sat up and took out the golden pocket watch. “The package with the treasure will be delivered to your niece in exactly twelve hours. Find a way to call her. We’ll take care of the rest.”
If you enjoyed reading the introduction to my new book The Seven Lives of Grace, you can find it on Amazon and follow the main character as she figures out what to do with her supernatural inheritance: