Kegan watched as his friends left one by one. He
held the orb; only three stones remained. He had no idea where they were
going or if he would ever see any of them again. Tears flowed as he hugged
each one and bid them farewell. He asked Alroy to write about this journey
and the departure of the twelve men. It was Serbelís turn. Kegan handed him
the tanzanite and sent him on his way. He watched the strong, muscular manís
back until Serbel disappeared behind a hill.
Serbelís Burillian features helped in his venture. He was able to reach the
plum-like fruits of the jujube tree, move fallen pine trunks out of his way
and to chase away baboons, jackal, or wild boar that came too close. He
feasted on hedgehogs, elephant shrews, ostrich eggs and prickly pear cactus
fruit as he headed the same route as Chessa had. He too found passage on a
ship headed for the new world across the sea. When they reached the coast
Serbel carried on southwest to the tip of the unfamiliar continent; a long,
tiring trek. He stood at the edge of the world and looked at the waves
pounding against the boulders. The tanzanite called to him as he eyed the
sea otters, seals and a few penguins that had swam over from Antarctica.
ďWhere should I hide you?Ē
* * *
The second to last man, Limhi, left and headed to the southern coast. Limhi
had heard that the tribes of southeastern Africa had began trading with
Arab, Persian and Asian traders and many ships sailed there in hopes of
purchasing gold, ivory, shells and animal skins. Instead of walking the long
distance, Limhi caught a ship that took him down the coast of eastern Africa
and docked in Mozambique. Bantu tribes had settled there and many were
spreading to other parts of East Africa.
Limhi felt right at home there with his long, wiry black hair and olive
skin. The diamond Kegan had pried from the orb lay safely in a pouch that he
kept on a string around his neck. He headed inland, searching for the right
place. On his way he spotted white rhino, lions, leopards, elephants,
zebras, and gazelle. There were many waterfalls and flowing rivers full of
crocodiles, hippopotamus; along their banks stood brush, cork trees,
cypress, and fields of maize. Birds of every color and size flew to the
river to drink; bee-eaters, swallow, kingfishers, ostrich, ducks and
Amazed by the life teaming in the land, Limhi followed the river until he
came to a raging waterfall. Water plummeted over the edge, bursting into a
million drops as it hit the rocks below. Spray flew high, turning into a
misty vapor. A rainbow formed, arching from one side of the falls to the
other. Never had Limhi seen anything as grand. He pulled the diamond out of
* * *
The last man departed, leaving the familiar life he knew behind him. The
red- haired, green-eyed Aidan turned for one last look, knowing the kingís
journey would be much more difficult than his own. In his hand he held the
alexandrite, the twelfth jewel.
Many years before Aidanís own father had taken this route, but traveled
toward Burill instead of away from it.
Eleven men had left before him, going in all directions to seek a place to
hide their jewels. Aidan chose to take the same route as Kitar, north and
east. He didnít know how far Kitar had gone, but knew that when he reached
the right place, he would know. Aidan didnít have the same sense of
adventure that his father, a trader, had. He never wanted to join him in his
expeditions and it wasnít until he was sixteen that he finally went. When he
arrived in Burill, he didnít want to leave. His father wasnít happy with the
decision, but let him stay. It wasnít many years before he became one of the
kingís trusted friends and found himself living at the palace with the other
eleven men. Now he was on his own, going to some strange land with customs
he would never understand.
At first he kept to himself, avoiding the busy roads and took the less
traveled ways, but by the time he reached northeastern India, he had
completely changed. Every corner he turned, every river he crossed and every
valley he sauntered through brought a new experience.
Aidan saw animals he couldnít even imagine; his favorite, the porcupine. He
saw birds with chocolate brown feathers and silvery blue heads. He passed
through places that sold carpets of every design imaginable and tasted new
spices, like paprika and saffron. He bought himself a piece of leather,
lined it with lambís wool to wrap himself in at night.
When he reached northern China, he found the area with little arable land,
steppes and arid deserts with whispering sand dunes and knew this was the
land of the Mongols. Once again he reverted to traveling alone, hopefully
keeping himself away from danger. The tanzanite needed to be hidden. Huge
green crickets shot out from his feet like splashed water. Wild horses ran
in the distance; their whinnies echoing off the distant mountains. Yak
lumbered from one grazing spot to another. Aidan saw some cliffs to his
left. He headed that direction, knowing this would be the home to his gem.