romance versus relics chapter 12

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  • 1.
    Welcome to chapter twelve! Nellie is on her way to Egypt. What adventures will she find there? Will her life get easier, or more complicated as time moves on? Hopefully you will find this chapter as much fun to read as I did to write! Thank you for continuing this journey along with Nellie and me. We hope you enjoy the adventure! Now, let's get on with the show.
    Note: For those who may not know, CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer. It is a term used later in this chapter.

    As Nellie gazed out her plane window at the landscape of Egypt, she marveled at how dry and barren most everything looked, except for that which followed the path of the river. This led her to thinking about her life and how dry and barren certain aspects of it was, especially the part concerning a love life. Before Ho Sung, she had never given much thought to that sort of thing, but after having known him and allowing him to get inside her heart, as well as into her bed, things seemed to have changed for her.Now it seemed as if her body had begun to crave to be touched the way Ho Sung had touched her. Nellie was coming to the conclusion that, although the emotional part had hurt her, she could very much use a bit more of the physical part.
    Nellie also knew that being near Gustav Delven was the catalyst that had brought her realizations to life. The mere nearness of the man seemed to turn the blood in her veins to liquid fire which burned with a ferocity that could only be quenched by his touch, or maybe another man's touch. Nellie was not sure which, but she was certain she wanted to feel, again, the way Ho Sung had made her feel during their one night of steamy passion together.

    Nellie had been so absorbed in her thoughts that the flight attendant had to come tell her the plane had landed and it was time to disembark. Even now, as she made her way to the address Francois Lambert had given her, she could not shake the troubled thoughts and mixed emotions that plagued her heart and mind. She was coming to realize that she was lonely. Although she enjoyed exploring alone, she longed for someone special with whom to share her experiences. Nellie missed China and her friend, Zhan and she desperately missed what had been blossoming between Ho Sung and herself. At the same time, she was already missing France and her budding relationship with Gustav Delven. She felt as if her heart had connected somewhat with his when she had heard the story of his troubled childhood.Feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, and longing threatened to overwhelm her.
    " No!"she growled to herself. " I will not allow myself to fall apart at this point in time! I am on an adventure, and I need to remain focused."Nellie, the avid adventurer, forced all the bad stuff into the back of her mind, to be dealt with later, and determinedly moved toward her current destination.

    Nellie found Francois Lambert's Egyptologist friend, Fatima Amin, rather quickly and introduced herself, unsurprised that the French Special Merchant's friend happened to be the Egyptian Special Merchant. After telling the woman what she was after, Nellie eagerly awaited her response, and was relieved when one came quickly.
    " Yes, I would be willing to help you, but first you need to help me. Bring me five Cerambryx Beetles from France for my research. You are clearly a woman of travel, so that will not be so hard for you, will it?"
    Laughing, Nellie reached into her bag and brought out the insects she had collected in France before leaving and handed them to the woman.

    " Ah, I see you have come prepared"the woman smiled. " Francois Lambert knows me well! Thank you for your help."She set the insects aside and continued, " History tells us that, centuries ago, Jean Necteaux lived in Al Simhara, Egypt for some time before running back to France with the Pharaoh's daughter, with whom he fell in love. According to myth, when they left, they stole three mystical gems that were going to be used to make a new crown for the Pharaoh. Perhaps these are the gems of your riddle."
    " I find all this simply fascinating"Nellie responded. " It is always exciting to learn about the history and cultures of other lands." She nodded a greeting and smiled at the man and child who had come out of the house, Fatima's husband and son, Nellie guessed.

    The woman smiled and continued, " Go speak with the Al Simhara Relic Merchant, Fahad Madbouli, who follows the less than . . . wholesome markets on these things and may know something."
    " Thank you so very much for your help"Nellie smiled. She turned to leave, but the woman stopped her.
    " Wait!"she exclaimed. " There is something else you should know. Delving into the black market is not the only unwholesome thing about Fahad Madbouli. Watch out for him! Not only is he unscrupulous, but he is unsavory. He has a wife and a brood of little ones, yet he has a roving eye as well as roaming hands!"

    Nellie stood in the center of the Al Simhara Marketplace gathering the strength she knew she would need in order to deal with a man like the Relic Merchant. Though she had been to the place before, she had never met Fahad Madbouli, and after hearing what Fatima Amin had to say about him, she wished she did not have to meet him now. Always trying to look on the bright side, Nellie told herself that, perhaps, he was not quite as bad the Special Merchant had said.
    The day was not getting any younger, so Nellie took a deep breath, sighed, and then made her way toward the Relic Merchant's shop. If the air had been stifling in the heat outside the shop, it was nearly non-existent inside. Reluctantly, she made her way toward the man, and he turned to face her as she approached.


    " Well, what have here?"the Relic Merchant said as he slowly eyed up and down Nellie's body. The young woman's skin crawled as she suddenly felt as if he could see right through her clothing. " What brings such a beautiful young vision of loveliness into my humble shop?"
    Fighting the urge to turn and flee away from this horrible man, Nellie told him about her mission and asked him about the three mystical gems.
    The awful man's eyes gleamed greedily as he exclaimed, " Ah yes, the legendary gems of the Pharaoh Anak-Rus! The legend lists a sapphire more blue than the desert sky, a ruby redder than blood, and an emerald more green than the eyes of a cobra!"His gaze burned into Nellie's as he added, " Ah yes, we have much to discuss."

    " Those gems would be truly great treasures to own! I will help you find them. As luck would have it, I believe I know where the Ruby of Sakhara is. However, before I dispense this information, I will require a small . . . fee." His gaze moved slowly over Nellie's body once more, causing bile to rise into her throat in fear of what sort of fee he wanted from her.
    " I require a simple donation of two relics worth at least two hundred simoleons apiece. That is reasonable, yes?"Nellie could not have agreed more as she released the breath she had not realized she had been holding. She had relics fitting the bill at base camp, so she left to retrieve them, and then hurried back.

    " I was able to locate the Ruby while you were gone"the sleazy Relic Merchant drawled upon her return. " Seeing as how the Ruby did not come cheap, if you could bring me one more relic worth at least five hundred simoleons, I would be most grateful! In fact, I may have a few of them right here in my shop, for sale, if you wanted to purchase it!" He laughed heartily at his own feeble attempt at humor, but Nellie was not amused.
    In fact, she was struggling to fight off an attempt to strangle the horrid man. As many dealings as she had in the past with other people, this one was certainly the most unpleasant. Lost momentarily in thought, she did not notice when the man moved in closer to her.

    " Of course"he whispered huskily against her ear, " there are other forms of payment we can discuss . . . if you prefer."His breath felt hot and sticky against her ear and stank of raw onions and stale beer. Struggling to control her gag reflex, she grunted as she squirmed quickly away from him as hand moved down and squeezed her bottom. " One day, I have dreams of having a harem you know!"
    Nellie backed away and glared hotly at him. " Ugh! I don't think so!"she spat furiously. She had anticipated such a move on the horrible man's part, so she had come prepared. Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a relic and handed it to him.
    Undaunted, Fahad Madbouli took it from her. " Ah, it is too bad. I was beginning to like the idea of alternative method of payment! Nonetheless, this will do."He sighed, " Here is the Ruby of Sakhara, as promised. I believe the other gems are in France. Myth states that the Sapphire of the Crescent Moon lies in the tomb of Jean Necteaux wife, Isael, who is buried near her husband. I suggest you return to France and speak to Estelle Fouchier."

    Once outside the Relic Merchant's shop, Nellie finally felt as if she could breathe again. The man had infuriated her! She had to draw really hard on her training in discipline in order to keep from using her Martial Arts skills in violence, which went against the training of The Order of the Resolute Fist. Although, she was sure that under extreme circumstances, she could be forgiven. How could a man with a wife and children be so openly disloyal to the woman he had married? Ho Sung's handsome, sweet face popped into her head at that thought, but she quickly pushed it away. It had not been quite the same . . . had it?
    It was then when something caught Nellie's eye, something that swept everything else from her mind completely. She was so intrigued and enthralled by the sight that she moved closer to get a better a look.

    An old wom