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Chapter XXIX:

The Seven of Wands


Showing the fire burning down and trying to survive









Ayesha looked deeply into Jim's eyes.  "Who are you.  I sense that I know you. You remind me of Qblh.  And they called you Qblh."


"Qblh?" queried Jim.


With him not wishing to reveal his identity to her immediately, she had boldly stated to him that she recognized him.


This definitely caught him somewhat off guard; and she was challenging him to her bedroom, where she would certainly find out that he was indeed Qblh.  Now how did she know him, and how did she come to get here.  This, he needed to know immediately.


She would not be free to discuss the time displacement.


He continued.  "That's an odd name.  Is he a lover of yours?"


Ayesha took greater interest in Jim.


"Perhaps, it is someone I want to love."


"What is the price that you would be willing to pay?"


"If you are not to perish, then you will take me to Artemis."


"Before I take you there, how did you get here, if you know me?"


Ayesha was trapped.  Qblh stood there before her, clearly offering a route back to Artemis.  Isis had assigned her to this time to keep watch for him.  Only he had taken her by such surprise.


"Tell me what I want to know about this time and I shall return you to Artemis.  But first, you must tell your people to leave this island, and you are not to warn Dagon of me.  Understood.  He is to be executed."


Ayesha shuddered.  She was submissive to Qblh.  She had been there when he was crowned.  She had been on the starship Pegasus, Artemis to Earth, on its latest mission.


Now she knew it was time to return.


"I will pay your price, but you agreed to prove to me that you are from Artemis, and that means you must satisfy me."  She spoke in Jim's native tongue, and disrobed before him enticing him to prove his species.  The scent of ambrosia was heavy.

Ayesha had been chosen by Isis because she was such a capable temptress.  She controlled the copper industry and the trade within the Mediterranean, but now it was quite apparent that her influence would be at an end.  "I have a golden peg," she whispered at him.  "You must return me to the Pleasure Dome.  I have a nest there."


Jim was somewhat startled.  It seemed apparent to him that he had to return to Artemis now.  He had been tagged.


Realizing that Idiot was with him, he resolved that he would need to use a little tactical maneuvering in the immediate future.


"Then you wouldn't mind if I introduced Genie.  He's been itching to come out of the Box but was shy you wouldn't understand."


"I would be delighted to meet the Genie."


Ayesha was delighted to see the Genie.


 "Can he fulfill my wish?"


"We're taking you back to Artemis and I shall take from you your golden peg after our consummation.  What else, do you want?"


"Forgive me, my Qblh.  That is more than I could have dreamed of yesterday."


"Tell me of Dagon.  Is he really as tyrannical as I think he is."


"Worst, my lord.  You really don't want to know.  Should I tell my people to get off the isle now?"


"The sooner the better.  We both know that I shall fulfill my promise to you and will not abandon you."


Charmed by Qblh, she accepted his command and led him out to the balcony before her people.

"Go take Antiope and Helen to safety, and come back for me.  I'll be waiting in my chambers here for you at the setting of the sun.  Do I have that much time?"


"If not, I shall rescue you," he promised her.


He extracted from her lips enough ambrosia to kill ten men, as he kissed her good afternoon.


Obediently and quite efficiently, Ayesha called her counselors and advised them of what they must do.  She told them that she was going to offer herself as a sacrifice, and this was her role, and that her people would be freed from destruction if her sacrifice was acceptable.  She also sent word to Dagon that she had a special surprise for him, and that he would see soon the Lord of Fire and the Pit.  She would conjure him up for him.  She knew Dagon would find this offer too much to resist.


Planning to do no such thing, she would simply mislead Dagon while her people planned an evening escape.  In the meanwhile Dagon would be delighted with the fear of the people as they tried to flee the island in the face of this very powerful demon that Ayesha was going to summon.  She promised Dagon, that it would be easy to retrieve all the population, once they realized that they had nowhere to go.


With the promise of seeing more power than he could ever imagine, Dagon found Ayesha's sacrificial offer acceptable.  He didn't even care that she was sacrificing her life in order to do so, for this is what she told the people.


She dismissed Qblh off as a madman and claimed he was harmless.  "Let him rattle and hum," she said.  "He's mad and harmless.  Let the people throw rocks at the fool."


Thus Qblh was free to frighten the people warning them of upcoming disaster, and to flee the island.  He seemed to have made some arrangements with a shipbuilder who was able to produce or accumulate boats at a remarkable rate.


Antiope and Helen assisted Qblh in encouraging people off the isle.  None of the rich seemed to eager to leave.  They had heard inside word of a promise of more power to Dagon and even greater riches, and wished to stay to become even wealthier.


Eighty percent of the population was in a hurry to get of f the island as those left behind laughed at the foolishness of those who had listened to the talk on the streets.  As promised Ayesha was there at her chambers when the sun set and Jim arrived.

Idiot had advised Jim that the island would begin erupting without warning in a couple of hours.  In just a few days it would erupt in a huge cataclysmic explosion.  The time to leave had passed.  Those that were on their way would live to tell of the destruction of an empire with the eruption of the mountain.  When it was finished, nothing would be left of the city that was there, and a harbor would be where a palace once had been.


Antiope and Helen were also underway.  Idiot was active awaiting command.


"You are aware I was left here by Isis to find you."


"No, You are aware that she knows I can't allow you to stay here.  I must return you to your home."


"Either way.  You must fulfill my wish.  Come.  I will take you to meet Dagon."


"You are not going to do that, Ayesha.  You are simply not going to pass me off as some demon of yours.  I preferred coming off as a madman."


"I didn't say that.  I simply am going to tell him that you are my lover and he can witness our union."


"Now Ayesha, I'm not going to allow him to watch us do that.  Besides that will be on our way to the Pleasure Dome."


"Exactly, my love.  I want to see his face when you take me away with you.  He wanted me for himself.  He made me so miserable.  I just want him to see me happy after all the misery he caused me.  It would hurt him more than his death.  He was so willing to see me die.  And he shall see you  exhibit just a minute amount of your power as you take me away forever from him."


Kissing him, she led him towards her secret temple where Dagon awaited with his nobles to witness the sacrifice.  Qblh was dressed a little differently so that Dagon and his cronies would not recognize him as being the stranger.  The ground started to rumble a little as the signs of the eruption started to become apparent.


Dagon was enraged.  "The mountain is angry.  Ayesha, my vizier's warn me that great magic is indeed needed to quell the mountain's hunger for blood sacrifice."


"Am I not enough."


"What do you mean, Ayesha?"


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