FOUR

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Esther watched Sammy, a smile on her lips. “I think you’ve found it.”

“What is it?”

“The Midnight Emerald bracelet.”

“The Midnight Emerald…” repeated Sammy, trying not to sound too interested.

“It found its way into Alexander the Great’s possession several thousand years ago, but no one knows where it came from before that. He conquered most of the Middle East, so it could’ve come from anywhere: Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Persia. All he ever said was that an old woman gave it to him and she told of a lock placed on it. One that could only be opened by the chosen.”

“Was he the chosen?”

“I don’t think so. He spent years trying to work the mechanism, but without luck. Finally he quit and set the dial into a bracelet for his wife, Roxana. He died shortly after, struck down with stomach cramps after a banquet, never knowing the secret of the Emerald Dial.”

“So the Emerald Dial was never unlocked?”

“Maybe not, but something happened.” Esther leant forward and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Alexander’s wife, Roxana, was pregnant at the time of his death. Which meant a regent was chosen to govern the kingdom in the hope that Roxana would give birth to a boy who would later become heir.”

“And did she?”

Esther nodded and smiled. “She did. Many regents ruled the kingdom while the boy was a child. But before he came of age, a new regent took over. His name was Cassander. He wanted to rule the kingdom for himself, so imprisoned the boy and mother, later giving orders for them to be killed.”

“So what happened?”

“Men came for them in the night. They entered the prison, where a great screaming and commotion followed. The men ran from the place, saying that Roxana’s bracelet had exploded, killing both boy and mother. But when the prison guards entered the cell, they found only the mother’s body, along with the Midnight Emerald bracelet, on the floor. The boy had gone. Cassander acquired the bracelet and since then it has been passed down from regent, to dictator, to President. Here to there, backwards and forwards. And now it finds itself here on my stall.”

Sammy stared at the bracelet, gripping the edge of the stall, her knuckles white. This must be how Mama feels when she finds a handbag she likes. She didn’t like being so affected by an accessory.

“But how did you get it?”

Esther shrugged. “Better you don’t know.”

“You stole it?”

“Hush, child!” Esther looked about, clearly on edge.

Sammy stretched her arm towards the emerald and her fingers tingled as they neared. She snatched her hand back.

“You feel something? Yes?” Esther smiled. “I thought you might.”

“How?”

“You have a gift.”

“A gift? What kind of gift?”

“I will get to that in good time, my dear. Now, it is documented that Alexander the Great spent day and night searching for the Vara of Yima and it was his belief that this Emerald Dial held the key to finding it.”

 

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