Since , the complete and transcribed book can be consulted by anyone online because of a collaboration between the four institutions that hold different parts of the manuscript —the British Library, the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai , the University Library of Leipzig and the National Library of Russia, St Petersburg. They will be part of what is the first major exhibition to explore, in its 1,year entirety, the transition of Egypt from a pharaoh-worshipping society to a majority Christian and then majority Muslim society, with Jewish communities periodically thriving throughout.
The exhibition will argue that the transitions, from a society worshipping many gods to a society devoted to one God, shaped the modern world we know today.
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There will be objects showing how the iconography of societies and religions fused in a unique way in Egypt. For example, there will be statues of the Egyptian falcon-headed god Horus dressed unexpectedly in Roman military costume. The show will include objects showing how people of different faiths often managed to get along harmoniously. For example, the exhibition will contain a document in which two female monks lease part of their house to a Jewish man; and another from the medieval period, which shows Jewish and Muslim craftsmen recommending each other to a client.
Tickets are on sale from 27 August. Topics British Library. Libraries Heritage Religion news. Reuse this content. Do you understand? They followed the soldier then and crossed the stream at a shallow ford. She shivered, gooseflesh racing up and down her legs and arms, but kept pace with Fidelias and the soldier. Professional military. Is it enough for the First Lord to bring it to the Council?
We have to have something that incriminates someone behind it. I saw his duel with Araris Valerian. Amara glanced up at the man ahead of them, careful to keep her voice down. Not another word. They walked in silence, then, into the camp. A large tent sat there, and two legionares stood outside it, breastplates gleaming, armed with spears in their hands and swords at their belts.
Aldrik nodded to one of them and went inside. Come inside. The commander wants to speak to you. Fidelias stepped forward, and Amara moved to follow him. Not the slave. Fidelias blinked. It could be dangerous. A warning. Get inside. Fidelias looked back at her and licked his lips. Then he stepped forward into the tent. Aldrick looked at Amara for a moment, his eyes distant, cool. Then he stepped back inside. A moment later, he came back to the opening of the tent, dragging a girl with him. The collar around her neck, even on its smallest sizing, hung loosely.
Her brown hair looked dry, brittle as hay, and she had dust on her skirts, though her feet were clean enough. The girl tumbled to the ground, along with a woven basket, and landed with a soft cry in a tangle of basket and skirts and frizzy hair. She rose shakily to her feet and kicked a puff of dust at the tent with her toe. She glanced around her, licking her lips, and thought for a moment. She needed to see more of the camp. Try to find something she could take with her. Optionally, we could get a drink of water. Amara caught up with her, eyes flicking around.
A troop of soldiers came jogging by, boots striking the ground in rhythm, and the two girls had to skip back, between two tents, to let them pass. Odiana looked at her with an amused smile. And the men never change. This is it. The soldiers passed, and the girls stepped out onto the track again. Odiana shrugged. Crows, soldiers are so messy. But at least the legionares keep their tents clean. Then an apple core, from which she took a judicious nibble before wrinkling up her nose and tossing it into the stream. Next came a piece of paper, which she hardly glanced at before flicking it aside.
Amara turned and stomped the paper flat with her foot, before the wind could catch it.
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Then she bent over and picked it up. Amara picked up the paper. She tilted her head to one side, watching, as Amara unfolded the paper and studied the writing inside. She read the note, and her hands started shaking as she did. You are hereby ordered to strike camp and make for the rendezvous point. You should arrive no later than the tenth full moon of the year, in preparation for winter. Maintain drilling until you march, and dispatch the men in the usual manner. Her fears were true. Put these in the stream. Who ask questions about troop movements. And who are also politically learned enough to realize the wider implications of one little note.
Pain flashed through her, dull and hot. The wasted-seeming girl had far more strength than Amara would have credited to her, and the blow stunned Amara and sent her tumbling back into the stream. She stood up out of it, shaking water from her face and eyes and drawing in a breath to cry out to her furies—but water rushed down into her mouth and nose as she inhaled, and she began choking. She struggled and choked, but only more water rushed in, coating her like a layer of oil.
The world began to glaze over with darkness, and she grew dizzy. She made it to the bank before the water filling her lungs made her collapse. Amara looked up as the wasted slave girl stared down at her, a gentle smile on her face. And she began to change. Her sunken cheeks filled out. The gangling limbs gained rondure, beauty.
Hips and breasts began to curve in enticing lines, filling out the clothes she wore. Her hair grew a bit longer, lustrous, darker, and she shook it out with a little laugh, before kneeling down next to Amara. We need you. Just go to sleep, Amara. It will be so much easier. And then I can send all the water back and let you breathe again.
Amara struggled and fought for simple breath, but none came. Darkness gathered, points of light appearing before her eyes. She clutched at Odiana, but her fingers had gone nerveless and weak. The last thing she saw was the beautiful watercrafter leaning down to place a gentle kiss upon her forehead.
Amara woke, buried to her armpits in the earth. Loose dirt had been piled over her arms and into her hair. Her face felt thick, heavy, and after a moment, she realized that her entire head had been liberally smeared with mud. She struggled to gather her wits through a pounding headache, piecing together fragments of memories and perceptions until, with a dizzying rush of clarity, she remembered where she was and what had happened to her.
She opened her eyes, and bits of dirt fell into them, so that she had to blink quickly. Tears formed to wash the dirt out. After a few moments, she was able to see. She was in a tent. She turned her head, trying to look. She could barely see Fidelias out of the corner of her eye, but he was there, hanging in a cage of iron bars by straps around his shoulders and outstretched arms, leaving his feet dangling a good ten inches off of the floor.
He had a swelling bruise on his face, and his lip had been split and was crusted with dry blood. Apart from being beaten, captured, and scheduled for torture and interrogation. Amara felt her mouth curve into a smile, despite the circumstances. Fidelias tried to smile. The effort split his lip some more, and fresh blood welled. She barely succeeded in freeing her arms enough to move them — and even so, they were thickly encrusted with dirt. Come pull me out. Then he banged his foot against the iron bars of his cage.
Fidelias closed his eyes and let out a slow breath. The words hit Amara like hammers. She swallowed and felt more tears rising, but blinked them away with a flash of anger. She was a Cursor. She thought for a fleeting moment of her home, the small apartment back in the capital, of her family, not so far away, in Parcia by the sea. More tears threatened. She took up her memories, one by one, and shut them away into a dark, quiet place in her mind.
She put everything in there. Her dreams. Her hopes for the future. Then she shut them away and opened her eyes again, clear of tears. Her teacher shook his head. Even with these precautions, if something went wrong, a Cursor could slip away and be gone as long as he was still alive. The flap of the tent flew open, and Odiana walked through it, smiling, her skirts swirling in the drifting dust the daylight revealed. Aldrik came in behind her, his huge form blocking out the light completely for a moment, and a pair of legionares followed him.
Aldrick pointed at the cage, and the two went to it, slipped the hafts of their spears through rings at its base, and lifted it, between them, carrying it outside. Fidelias shot Aldrick a hard look and then licked his lips, turning to Amara. She swept her eyes from Odiana to Aldrick and tried not to let her voice shake.
A moment later, there was a sound not unlike a knife sinking into a melon. Amara heard Fidelias let out a slow, breathless cry, as though he had tried to hold it in, keep from giving it a voice, and been unable to do so. Then there was a rustling thump, something heavy falling against the bars of the cage. Something about it would not register on her mind. The plan should have protected them. It should have gotten them close and away safely again.
It had never happened like that at the Academy. They only flooded over her again, bursting free, and as they did, the tears came with them. Amara did not feel clever anymore, or dangerous, or well trained. She felt cold. And dirty.
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And tired. And very, very alone. Her fingers were gentle, soft. She swept at her burning eyes with her dirt-crusted hands, but it did her little good.
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Her fear and sorrow turned itself into furious anger, and she started screaming. She screamed every imprecation she could at them, incoherent, and she sobbed into the earth, making muddy tears that burned her eyes. She thrashed her arms and struggled, useless against the grip of the ground she was buried in. She shook with sobs that she tried to hold in, that she tried to keep hidden from them.
Shame made her face burn, and she knew that she was trembling, from cold and from terror. Amara twisted and turned her head away, avoiding it, and shot the woman a hard glare. The warrior sat with his sword across his lap. He ran a cloth along its length and then tossed the rag onto the earth. It was stained with blood. The First Lord was so impressed with the way you handled yourself during the fires last winter, he asked you to visit him. You were taken to his personal chambers, and spoke with him. Is that true? Aldrick looked up at her.
He stared for a long and silent moment. Amara let out a shaking breath. Amara licked her lips, and then spat mud and dirt onto the floor. There was only one reason to be asking questions about the inner defenses of the palace. Someone wanted to take direct action against the First Lord. Someone wanted Gaius dead. She swallowed and bowed her head. She had to stall them, somehow. Stall for time. For the opportunity to find a way to escape—or failing that, to kill herself before she could reveal the information. She quailed at that thought.
Could she do that? Was she strong enough? Before, she would always have thought she was. Before she had been taken, captured, imprisoned. Before she had listened to Fidelias die. Had he been telling her to cooperate with them? Did he think the First Lord was already doomed? And, she thought, should she? Should she go along with them? Offer to throw in? Should she cast aside what she had been taught, what she believed, for the sake of preserving her life? The water witch would be able to sense whether or not she was sincere, damn her.
Everything was lost. She had led Fidelias to his death. Gambled his life and lost it. She had lost her own life as well. She might be able to redeem one of them, if she cast her lot with her captors. Another surge of anger flooded through her. How could she even be thinking such a thing?
How could he have died? Amara lifted her head abruptly and blinked her eyes several times. Her anger evaporated. The trap had been too well laid. They had been taken too cleanly. Which meant —. Which meant that Aldrick and Odiana had known that they were coming. And by logical extension. She focused her eyes on the pair of them and swallowed, lifting her chin a bit. Then she turned her eyes to the door and narrowed them, keeping her face set in a cold, hard mask.
Fidelias appeared in the doorway, his clothes still rumpled. This is checkmate. Maybe I can get her to see common sense. Aldrick regarded Fidelias with a steady gaze and then shrugged. The sky is green. I am seventeen years old. My real name is Gundred. In for a sheep, in for a gargant. The swordsman smiled, a sudden show of white teeth. No more. The water witch shot a glare at both Fidelias and Amara and then left. Fidelias waited until they were gone, then turned to Amara and simply looked at her, saying nothing. He stared at her, expression not changing.
I have no wife. No family. No home. I have given my life to protecting and defending the Crown. Carrying its messages. For the past fifteen years, the house of Gaius has been dying. Everyone knows it. What I have done has only prolonged what is inevitable. The southern High Lords chafe at the taxes he lays upon them to maintain the Shieldwall and the Shield Legion. The Shieldwall protects them as well. Should the icemen come down from the north, they would perish with the rest of us. The House of Gaius is weakened. He has no heir. He has named no successor.
So they strike. Think about this. Ever since the Princeps was killed, it has been in motion. The house of Gaius died along with Septimus. The royal line was never very fertile — and the death of his only child has been taken as a sign by many. His time is past. Is that any more right? Are their deaths vindicated because I serve this First Lord or that one? Gaius will fall. Nothing can stop that now. The slive that rushes in to poison the wounded buck?
The crow that soars down to peck at the eyes of helpless men not yet dead? He looked at her, eyes flat, and gave her a smile empty of mirth or joy or meaning. I could continue to serve the Crown. Perhaps prolong the inevitable. But how many more would die? How many more would suffer? And it would change nothing but the timing. Children, like you, would come in my place — and have to make the decisions I am making. Amara let her voice resonate with contempt.
Tell us what we want to know. You could throw in with us. We could help make Alera bright and peaceful again.
She returned his gaze, steady. I thought you were, too. His eyes hardened like ice, brittle, distant, and he stood up. Amara lurched forward, clutching at his boot. We could escape, now. Bring word back to the Crown and end this threat. Not from Gaius, And. She shot a glance up to the tent, and as soon as the flap fell, she started attacking the dirt that pinned her. She heard voices talking outside, too quietly to be understood, and she dug furiously. Dirt flew. She broke it up with the knife and then frantically dug it away with her hands, shoving it away, making as little noise as she possibly could — but even so, her gasps for breath grew louder, bit by bit, as she dug.
Finally, she was able to move, just a little, to shove enough loose earth forward to wriggle. She reached out an arm and dug the knife into the ground as hard as she could and used it as a piton to pull herself forward, up. A sense of elation rushed through her as she strained and wriggled and finally started snaking her way free of the confining earth. Her ears sang with a rush of blood and excitement.
Amara stumbled to her feet and looked around wildly. She lurched across the tent to grasp the hilt of a sword lying across a table, a light gladius little longer than her own forearm, and spun, her body still clumsy from its imprisonment, just as a dark shape filled the entry flap to the tent. She lunged out at it, muscles snapping together to drive the point of the sword in a vicious stroke at the heart of the figure in the doorway—Aldrick. Steel glittered.
Her blade met another and was swept aside. She felt her point bite flesh, but not much or deeply. She knew she had missed. The girl rolled beneath a table and came up on the far side from Aldrick. The big man came into the tent and stalked her, pausing across the table. There was a hissing hum, and then the table fell into two separate pieces. The man started toward her, through them. Amara threw the gladius at him and saw his sword rise up to parry it aside. She dove for the back of the tent, now holding only the little knife, and with a quick move slashed a hole in the canvas.
She slipped through it and heard herself whimpering in fear as she began to run. She looked behind her. Aldrick still pursued, but she had left him behind, like a doe outstripping a big slive, and she flashed a fierce smile at him. Caked dirt fell off of her as she ran for the nearest wall, and she prayed that she could get enough of it off of her to call to Cirrus. One of the legionares, a guard on the wall, turned toward her and blinked in shock at her.
He tumbled over backward, gagging and choking, and she ran past him, to the wall, and looked over. Ten feet down to the ground level, and then another seven or eight feet of ditch lay beneath her. Amara threw herself to the side, grasped the top of the wall with one hand, and vaulted it, throwing herself out into empty space.
Her fury pressed up against her, turned her body to a proper angle, and rushed down beneath her, so that she landed on a cloud of wind and blowing dust rather than on the hard ground of the ditch. Amara gained her feet again and ran without looking back, stretching, covering the ground in leaps and bounds.
She ran to the north and the east, away from the practice fields, away from the stream, away from where they had left the gargant and its supplies. The trees had been cut to make the walls of the encampment, and she had to run across nearly two hundred strides of broken stumps. Arrows fell around her, and one struck through a hanging fold of her skirts, nearly tripping her. She ran on, with the wind always at her back, Cirrus an invisible presence there. Amara reached the shelter of the trees and paused, breathing hard, looking back over her shoulder.
The gates of the camp swung open, and two dozen men on horses, long spears gleaming, rode out and turned as a column, straight toward her. Aldrick rode at their head, dwarfing the riders nearest him. Amara turned and ran on through the trees as fast as she could. The branches sighed and moaned around her, leaves whispering, shadows moving and changing ominously around her. The furies of this forest were not friendly to her — which made sense, given the presence of at least one powerful woodcrafter.
She would never be able to hide from them in this forest, when the trees themselves would report her position. The wind gathered beneath her and pushed her up off the ground — but branches wove together above her, moving as swiftly as human hands joining together and presented her with a solid screen. Amara let out a cry and crashed against that living ceiling, then tumbled back to the ground. Cirrus softened her fall with an apologetic whisper against her ear. Amara looked left and right, but the trees were joining branches everywhere—and the forest was growing darker as the roof of leaf and bough closed overhead.
The beating of hooves came through the trees. Amara struggled back to her feet, the cut on her arm pounding painfully. Then she started running again, as the horsemen closed in, behind her. Terror changed to simple excitement, and that transformed, by degrees, to a sort of exhausted lack of concern. She ran until she suddenly found herself looking back— and into the eyes of a mounted legionare, not twenty feet away.
The man shouted and cast his spear at her. She stumbled out of the path of the weapon and away from the horse-man, into a sudden flood of sunshine. She looked ahead of her and found the ground sloping down for no more than three or four strides, and then ending in a sheer cliff that dropped off so abruptly that she could not see how far down it went or what was at the bottom.
The legionare drew his sword in a rasp of steel and called to his horse. She flew on, up and away from the camp and paused after a time to look behind her.