Copyright © 2017 by Lori Lynn Mitchell
Gold Coast, Australia
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Mitchell, Lori Lynn
If I Were a Rich Man
- Fantasy Fiction
~ Prologue ~
It was time. The Device flickered on and off. Eons had passed, and now it was being called into service again. It had sensed the vibration of love and deep appreciation nearby. The exchange and balance between the two beings were felt. These two were the match it had been waiting for, to honor the gifts it carried. The prophecy was ready to be communicated. Glowing and sparking, it revealed itself to the nature around it. Then, it waited.
Looking down at his lover’s flushed face, Akalo smiled at her. Laying on the forest floor, she smiled back at him. This secluded spot beside the river was his favorite space. He was aware of the water flowing past them, picking up speed as it neared the waterfall’s edge, tumbling over to feed his peoples’ lake far below. Up here it was private, away from the throng of the tribe. He enjoyed being together with her, around the gentle sounds of nature.
Their connection was different from the others in his group. He knew that no other woman had the same essence; no other woman could be this way with him so he had never chosen multiple lovers, as was the custom.
The woman pulled herself up and kissed his face above her, then playfully pulled him back down and wrestled him over onto the soft moss, laughing. He laughed too, pushing himself upright, sitting with her on his lap. Suddenly glancing over his shoulder, she looked past him, distracted.
“What is it, Nabela?” he asked.
She didn’t answer. Instead she stood up and walked forward into the forest. Perplexed, he followed her. As he looked beyond into the forest, his hunter’s instincts were alerted. Without knowing how he knew, he was aware of something in front of them. He couldn’t see anything, but he could feel it. Scanning his senses, he could detect no danger, just a presence. Was someone in the forest with them?
Then he saw it – a flickering flash of purple-blue. Just for a moment, something sparked like tiny lightning in the forest in front of them. Startled, Akalo stopped. She continued forward however, and he had to follow. He stayed with her as they approached the place where they had seen the light. Moving forward into a shadowed clearing he was trying to adjust his eyes. He could see ancient ruins scattered around them. Glancing over at her he saw the delight and curiosity in her eyes. That was what he loved about Nabela most: her eyes; they could show so much in an instant.
Suddenly her face glowed with a reflection of light in front of them. He turned and saw it: sitting on top of a stone pedestal, it was some sort of object, made by the hands of man. The purple-blue lightning was trapped inside a large polished gemstone, held upright by a cubed frame made of a golden metal. The large clear stone was about the size of a warrior’s head, and had been shaped with funnels at the top and bottom, like a forest fruit. It was so clear that it was like looking through the water in a bowl. Perplexed, they both stood, studying it. He wanted to touch it, but with the lightning inside, it made him cautious.
Nabela reached out slowly, and held her fingers near it. Then, she smiled at him and gently moved her hand over the device.
“It is alright,” she said. “It means well. It is communicating.”
He sensed she was right, but he didn’t understand what this was.
“It wants to be found!” she exclaimed.
The man knew his woman had special abilities that he could not understand. He was conflicted with his instinct for safety at new things, but she was clearly not distressed, and even had some sort of communication with this new object. He felt surprisingly good about this too. He reached out and carefully touched the metal and found it to be nothing unusual, just like the tempered metal used for the hunting tools in the tribe. This must have been made by another tribe sometime in the long past and left here. It was surprisingly clear of moss and growth, though. She stepped back and let him explore. He held a deep breath, as he moved his hands toward the clear crystal lightning container. His fingertips felt the coolness, and he was surprised at the smoothness of the polish. This was the work of a master crafter. He had never heard of such a person of skill in the history of his tribe.
Nabela lifted the Device and took it out into the sunlight near the edge of the waterfall.
“What do you think it is?” he asked.
“I am uncertain, but it has a message coming through and it wants you to be the one to hear it. It has selected us Akalo; you and me. It has been asleep, waiting. It says that we are to fulfil a prophecy. There is a time in the future where all the faraway lands outside the island will fall into darkness and imbalance. Our people have been chosen to hold the secrets of this object from now until that time.”
“This Device has a way of nourishing and moving the inner workings of things. It will be the way to heal that world. Let me describe the prophecy as I have just received it:”
“This prophecy is entrusted as a gift to your people. In the distant future in the outer world, crafted tools will be worshipped like gods, and the earth will be used as the sacrificial food for crafting more of these tools. You will bring the balance of nature back and help the world’s people to again be free to live in peace and prosperity. Your tribe will then be the example and deliver this ancient message to escape the darkness of the world, restoring harmony and cooperation between humans and nature.”
Nabela stopped and took a breath. “If this concerns the tribe, maybe it is for the chief to carry this message, Akalo.”
Akalo knew that was true. It was rightfully the chief’s place. It was the chief’s decisions that ruled their lives. It was also the chief’s personality that made it impossible now for Akalo to go with Nabela and reveal that they had found this together, or that they even had this relationship. Their visits together had to be kept a secret, so that Nabela could avoid the scorn of the chief, his brother.
Ever since they were young, he had heard his parents tell his brother to ‘be more like Akalo.’ His parents had been harder on his brother, knowing that as the oldest, he would become chief one day. They had never showed any approval of his brother, only criticism. Long ago he and his brother were very close, but as they grew into manhood, his brother became more angry and resentful of Akalo’s natural talents.
Akalo knew he would never accept himself to be anything but his best, and serve the people as everyone in the tribe did, by exchanging their individual gifts with all amongst the tribe while receiving everyone’s strengths. That was what made the tribe strong, bringing variety and expansion.
When his brother’s resentment became intolerable Akalo finally had moved his team of fishers, relocating permanently to the lake, reasoning that they could trade for anything they needed from there. But his brother had become increasingly controlling, and it seemed was taking more than the tribe usually needed. Their trades were getting more and more unequal, with smaller piles of the fiber and food his fisher men and fisher women needed to live and naturally prosper.
As the chief, his brother could ask for anything for the tribe. But Akalo had begun to realize that his brother was accumulating more than he needed. Something was not right; maybe he had been trading out to the other tribes.
Today he was not happy to be forced to withdraw weakly, and let Nabela go to the chief alone, while he disappeared back to his lake tribe. Akalo again felt regret that he could not walk proudly with his woman. He knew it was better for her, though.
She was an apprenticed wisdom keeper and healer. The wisdom keepers were not meant to take a lover without the first choice of the chief. It was the one tribal rule that Akala had never agreed with, and when he fell in love with Nabela, he could not stop himself from disobeying a foundational rule of the tribe that he respected in every other way.
Suddenly Nabela’s face had that detached look again. She was staring into the distance, with her eyes unfocused. Then her face changed from a detached peacefulness, to fear. He could see it.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
We have a problem, Akalo. We have been tracked. Your brother’s warriors will be here soon. This device is very powerful. It is now communicating a future that I cannot stomach. It reveals that with the power of this device, our Chief will directly bring about such lack, such deception, such…”
Nabela paused and swallowed dryly.
“…such slavery placed upon our own people. Women will no longer have a place in the tribe. They will be like the young children without a voice, but worse. They will become the servant below all others, especially their companions. They will be like the dogs that wait on the outside of the tribal circle, hoping for a scrap.”
Listening to her, Akalo could feel a new sense of fear. He hadn’t considered where his brother’s ambitions might lead. Somehow, he must have found out about them and sent his warriors to find them. Angry at himself for dropping his guard, he turned and scanned the forest around them.
He would have never revealed Nabela’s relationship with him. Now, she would suffer. Because she was the healer’s only student, she would not even be released to join him at the lake. Worse, even with her unique talents she would lose her status as the next wisdom-keeper. The vengeful spirit within his brother would see to that. Akalo decided that he would not abandon Nabela now. He would not retreat in subservience to leave her alone. Their fate would have to be revealed along the lines of his will.
They could hear the noises of soft scuffling in the forest, coming in from three sides. The river was at their back, and they were being surrounded, like they were being hunted. Why? He hadn’t realized that their liaison had ever been noticed. What could his brother possibly be thinking? He looked at Nabela, and she moved nearer to him, holding the device closer as she drew herself up and stood taller, prepared for the challenge. He was so proud of her strength and courage. Yet, she had an incredible gentleness and softness that he wanted to protect. He would do that now.
It was time to face his brother. It was time to change the fate of his tribe. His brother’s future was not the one that Akalo would accept for his people.
Standing in a pure moment of clarity, Nabela made a decision. She had seen what would happen to her people if the chief found out about the device and commanded it. It had shown her a certainty; the strong women of the tribe being suppressed and subjected, the children becoming property and slaves of the hierarchy that he would create. Suddenly, hiding the device was more important than her life. It was even more important than her love for Akalo.
She turned and kissed him passionately, startling him.
Then, before the chief’s warriors could see her, she turned without any more thinking and ran along the riverbank, cradling the device tightly in her arms. She forced her body to obey what it strongly resisted. Moving straight toward the edge of the waterfall cliff, she threw herself out into the momentary abyss and then felt the final pull of the earth as it captured her and began to bring her down. Nabela was not flying, she was falling. Somehow she heard Akalo’s fierce scream in the background. Everything was in slow motion. She could feel the device locked in her arms and could feel the heaviness of her body. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and waited for the impact of the water far below.
When it came, it was shocking. It could have been solid ground; the jolt was so powerful. Still clasping the Device, her body was thrown even deeper under the water by the moving force. Hitting the rocks under the water, she was immediately sucked in between them, trapped with the cold flow. Becoming the observer of her body, she separated herself from the pain. In between the moments, she sensed the device, and saw a new future emerging: she saw how Akalo challenged his brother and won the leadership. She saw the banishment of the old followers to the scarce plains, far away from the lush mountain forest and lakes. She watched Akalo find the device, and her body. She knew that he would succeed in holding the ancient message for the people. She was proud of him and his legacy.
Then she was brought back to her body by the sensations from her nerves, screaming in protest. Held down by the flow without breath she became aware that her consciousness was ebbing. Fighting back the impulse to gulp, Nabela urgently but calmly connected with her wisdom-teacher, and using thought-pictures she communicated the entirety of the prophecy from the device.
This was going to have to be the end of her purpose in this lifetime. The rest would have to wait for another future. She saw it and knew she would meet Akalo there. She knew she could let go now. The device was safe. Finally, Nabala disconnected completely from her teacher and relaxed her consciousness, releasing the life force from her body.
~ Chapter One ~
Jack woke in a sweat. His apartment was already filled with the morning light. Looking out beyond the floor to ceiling windows he scanned across the city. He had barely slept all night again. The nightmares had been coming more often lately. It was always about trying to protect The Prophecy. In his dream, he was running through a forest, trying to catch something but it was out of reach. Then suddenly he’d found himself in a fierce battle. Finally he was diving deep into water again and again, searching achingly, only to find that a beautiful woman he felt was his wife, had perished.
Even awake, he could still feel the loss of the woman from his dreams. Since he’d never been married, he wondered why he was so sure this woman was his wife. But as always, he hadn’t been able to change the ending, and when he woke, the dream faded but the feeling of grief remained.
It was disturbing and he didn’t understand what his subconscious was trying to tell him. Walking out into the living room to his glass display case, he looked at the gold-edged book inside. This small gift was from his mentor, given to him twelve years ago when he’d first learned of the Prophecy and his part in it, and he had picked it up countless times since. Standing in front of it he unlocked the door and gently picked up the small book. Turning the pages carefully, he began to read the translated words of The Prophecy.
“This Prophecy is entrusted as a gift to your people. In the far future in the outer world, technology will be worshipped like a god, and the earth will be pillaged as the sacrificial food for the technology. You will bring the balance of nature back and help the world’s people to again be free to live in peace and prosperity. Your tribe will be the example and deliver this ancient message to escape the darkness of the world, restoring harmony and cooperation between humans and nature.”
Once The Prophecy is completed and fulfilled, each individual will be the servant of no authority. They will be free to be self-determined, exchanging and using power responsibly for increase to all.
Watch for the signs of fulfillment:
The last wisdom-keeper: she will be holding the ancient knowledge with sacred training and a direct connection to consciousness. Nurtured by a mother from the broken tribe, she will venture far to align the island tribes with the world tribes, and this wisdom-keeper will learn about both worlds. Eventually her lessons will become the foundation to bridge the worlds of nature and power. This last wisdom-keeper will be named The Light-Balancer.
Two students will arrive for her: the first will be the builder, who will begin the structure for housing and protecting the fulfilment of The Prophecy.
The second will be an unaware teacher whose arrival will be recognized by a coincidence, to eventually translate the message of expansion. Like a bell ringing in a new song, this one will spread the instructions for peace and prosperity. It will quickly heal the world and put the enlightened ones in charge of the future.”
There was more, but Jack had read enough to get back the focus to work on his goals. Suddenly feeling a need to be around people this morning, he carefully placed the small book back into the case and locked the glass door. Walking to the shower deep in thought, he mechanically prepared to go out for breakfast. His driver was at the curb ready to pick him up when he arrived downstairs.
The cafe was bustling and almost full. Jack placed his order, and then found a table along the window where he could observe people outside, as well as inside. He felt more comfortable when he could watch people around him, especially when they were interacting with each other. His breakfast arrived and as he began to eat, he overheard a woman’s voice nearby.
“I wonder what it’s like to be really rich.”
Anabel was sitting in the cafe with her best friend, Joanie.
“I said I wonder what it’d be like to be wealthy.”
Joanie stopped mid-drink and looked at Anabel with mild amusement.
“Are you thinking about quitting your job? What’s going on? Are you having trouble with that lunatic boss still?”
“He’s not a lunatic, but I think you need to be a little mad, or bad, to get ahead in this world.” Anabel sighed. She knew she was neither, and it seemed like those who got ahead were either blindly ambitious, or willing to sell out basic human values to get what they wanted.
Earlier, while she was standing in line to order her coffee, Anabel was triggered about money when she overheard the woman in front of her: “How do you people get away with it? That’s a ridiculous price for a coffee!”
She recognized the tones; she’d heard it for most of her childhood and more into her young adulthood. She still could hear her mother’s voice reverberating through her memory:
“You waste your money Anabel.”
“You think you’re better than us because you can buy that new dress?”
“You’re never going to find a man if you have too much money.”
“Men can’t handle it when women are independent.”
At first she believed her parents’ wildly erratic advice about spending and earning money. But as she earned her own way and moved out, she realized they were just attitudes. They had always watched their spending tightly. Most of what her parents had taught her about money proved untrue in her own experience.
And as she observed the woman ahead of her pay with a plastic zipped bag full of coins, she had a flashback of both her parents doing the same thing. She bristled at the flood of judgements – but this woman wasn’t her mother, and she had no idea what her background or personal story was. Anabel decided to drop her judgements and see this woman as perhaps fearful or worried because of circumstances. She suddenly felt compassion remembering the times when she was scraping coins together just to get a coffee – a time when everything seemed expensive. As the woman had turned toward her Anabel smiled in recognition of her own past self, and moved aside to let her go by.
She had placed her order and then joined Joanie, starting the conversation about money and true freedom. That’s when Anabel noticed a man looking toward their table and realized she’d been speaking loudly enough to be overheard. She looked back at him and he didn’t look away, as she would have expected. When they made eye contact she got the impression he was being curious, not nosy. He smiled at her briefly and then continued eating his breakfast.
She, however, kept looking at him because he was striking in appearance. He had light colored eyes, tanned skin, and shoulder length silver hair. He reminded her of a powerful middle aged Tarzan, but wearing a very expensive well cut suit, dressed in a way that showed he didn’t care about impressing others. She noticed no fancy gold jewellery or obviously expensive watch. His appearance seemed out of place. Now she was curious too. His smile had told her he was interested in the conversation and she wondered why.
“Anabel, are you listening?” Joanie’s voice brought her back to the moment.
“What was that, Joanie? Sorry, I was distracted by that guy over there.”
Joanie glanced over and asked, “Why?” Anabel decided not to say anything more about him.
“Just zoning out for a minute. Sorry honey, what were you saying?”
“I was saying you need to take a holiday!”
“I can’t right now. You know I’ve got the software upgrade scheduled next week, and it’ll take two weeks to complete, plus another four weeks before the training is done and everyone is up and running.”
“So? You have to book travel in advance anyway. Why not put the leave request in while you can, and then they’ll be happy to let you go away after it’s done, won’t they?”
Anabel thought about it, and decided Joanie’s suggestion was reasonable. She did need to get away. The planning for this upgrade had been incredibly stressful.
“You’re right. Do you want to come with me?”
“Oh ‘Bel, sorry, I’d love to but I already have my holiday booked in two months. Those bastards won’t let me take any more leave now.” Then she smiled and stared at Anabel intensely. “So, where are you going?”
“You only just talked me into getting away! I haven’t had a chance to decide yet. I need to go online and maybe find some last minute deals first. Hopefully I’ll find something decent. I’d love to do a beachside luxury resort, but I’ll have to see on my budget.”
“I can recommend a couple of exclusive places from our corporate travel agency. Maybe I can get you a head office discount. Well, you’d better get your leave time approved first. When’s the soonest you think you’d go?”
“Probably at the end of next month, but once I get the approval I can find something easily, as long as it’s luxury and a beach! You know, I’m not going to go with anyone this time.”
“Good for you! I love your independence. I could never do a holiday alone. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.”
“You do mostly the same things, except without having to check on anyone else’s preferences and plans. I can travel with others too, but on my own there are no compromises, just my own choices. It’s great! Yes, I’m going to pamper myself and enjoy an adventure!”
As Jack walked back to his car his mind was going over options. The driver had been waiting nearby and came to collect him when he called. Sliding into the backseat he said: “Jimmy, would you take me home and then to the airport? Then you can have the rest of the week off.”
Jack had been planning on returning to his beach home soon, and since two appointments had been put off this week he decided to work from his favorite office in the world.
In the cafe he hadn’t been trying to eavesdrop, but sometimes an interesting conversation became hard to ignore. The woman he had overheard had somehow seemed different. He could usually work out a person’s personality style and values with only a short conversation. But with her he wasn’t sure. It was her comment ‘you have to be mad or bad to have money’ that caught his attention. He laughed out loud remembering the way she had said it. He had liked her instantly with that comment. It showed that she had a desire for more in life, but she clearly had strong values around how she would allow it to be received. Jack thought about his own desire to become wealthy and remembered when he had decided to get rich. At fifteen years old, he had arrived home from school early and hoped to avoid his after school chores. For a while he slipped into the back yard to kick a ball around before his sisters arrived home.
As he walked through the yard looking for his soccer ball he’d heard an unusual sound. He stopped and listened. It was strange and unfamiliar to him. Maybe it was an animal breathing heavily. He carefully approached the garage and could hear the sound coming from within. Could it be a possum trapped in there? He opened the door quietly and poked his head inside, looking around. The sound became much clearer, and he recognized it. As his eyes got used to the dim light he saw his father, facing away from him sitting at the workbench. He realized that the noise was from his father’s sobs.
Jack froze, not sure what to do. What was wrong? Should he go in? No, if his father was out here, Jack knew instinctively that he didn’t want to be found or seen – or in this case, heard. Jack slowly backed out of the open door and walked up to the house. Perplexed, he went straight to his room. He wanted to find his mother and get her reassurance. But he also was in shock that his image of his big, strong irrepressible father had been shattered.
So instead, he went to his room and waited, listening for the comfort of the normal after school sounds.
It wasn’t long before his sisters arrived home and he heard his mother call them all to come into the lounge. They were never allowed into the formal lounge – it was reserved for adult visitors only. Alarm bells were going off for Jack as he moved into the unfamiliar room and sat down next to his sisters on the couch. His mother and father were both standing with stern faces. Knowing that his father had been sobbing out of control less than an hour earlier, Jack noticed that he was now composed, but something was definitely wrong. They all knew it. Then his father spoke, abruptly blurting out his first sentence:
“There’s going to be some changes around here. My business has gone bust. My biggest customer closed up and we’re not gettin’ paid what was owed from the last few months, and that means I can’t pay anyone else. I’ve gotta give it all away. You lot are gonna hafta start pullin’ your weight. Jack, you’re starting a job down at the wharf. Sally, you’re going to the sailmakers to sew. And Jacinta, you’re at the fish and chip shop after school.
With that he paused and looked across at his wife. She immediately chimed in with reassuring yet determined tones.
“It’s about time you all learned how the world works anyway. Jacinta can finish school seein’ as she’s the youngest and so good at her numbers and such. But Jack, you and Sally can help make ends meet around here. I am starting part time with the fish and chip shop too. We’ll get through this as a family. Dad’s not been able to find a job quick enough, and at his age, who knows who’ll hire him now!”
Jack was stunned as he sat in resentful silence listening to his life being taken in such an unexpected direction. His parents’ needs were now suddenly more important than his; school, sports, friends and even girlfriends. He felt a little guilty at his reaction. The family needed to survive and for the first time in his life he realized that wants and needs were different. His wants were no longer a priority, nor were they his choice.
From that day forward Jack had a compelling desire to control his own destiny – and to him that meant to be in charge of the flow of money into his life. The next four years were spent helping his family survive financially. He hated living in lack, with the constant denials of anything but strict necessities. He knew that was the day he had decided that one day he would be rich.
And today as he was listening to the woman’s confident voice, he had tried to continue eating his breakfast but he kept hearing the conversation. She had started talking about a beach holiday and it stirred something in him. Then he left, realizing he wanted to return to his sanctuary; his little piece of paradise.