Nathan emerged from behind the pillar that had been his hiding place and walked in the direction of the woman, his knees shaking with fear. He didn't want to go to her at all, but the woman had something imposing about her that made it almost impossible to refuse her.
'Come, come, no need to be afraid.' A broad smile adorned her face. Her eyes seemed to shine with joy. 'Step forward, and let me have a good look at you.'
If she thought this would lift his fear, she couldn't be more mistaken. If anything, he was only more intimidated by her. Everything about the woman was intriguing: her voice, her posture, the way she addressed him. Not to mention the simple fact that she had spotted him in his hiding place. How could she have seen him when he was standing in the shadow, behind an enormous pillar? But then again, how had she been able to open a wall in the first place? In what kind of a madhouse had he arrived!
As he walked closer towards her, Nathan could see that the woman was barefooted. She wore a thin, almost translucent gown that appeared to be quite loose and airy, but at the same time was very graceful and elegant and reflected her figure perfectly. He would have been completely enthralled by her, were it not that he was simply too scared to be enchanted by anything at the moment and forget everything around him.
'Well then,' the woman said, her voice no more than a soft whisper, 'let me have a look at you.' She slowly started to walk around him,as if she was inspecting him from all sides. Maybe she was, as she kept repeating 'Nice.' and 'Very nice indeed.' Nathan felt like he was part of some sort of meat inspection. He wasn't sure if she was talking to him or just mumbling to herself, but he wasn't going to ask, afraid of what she might answer.
All of a sudden she touched him lightly between his shoulders, and he could not suppress a shudder. She moved even closer to him now and brought her head level with his, her mouth only inches from his ear.'Why so tense?' she whispered in an almost seductive tone. 'There is nothing to be worried about. Just relax.'
'What do you want from me?' he finally dared to ask, trying to hide the tremor in his voice as much as possible.
'Want from you? No, now you make me sound all malicious and wicked,' she said, feigning to be upset and sulking.'I don't want anything from you! You're my guest, my highly honoured guest.'
Nathan stared at her in surprise with dilated eyes and his mouth wide open. Her guest? She couldn't mean that. She had kidnapped him!
'Do you always invite your guests by force and lock them up in a cave?' he retorted. He was still scared, but no longer terrified, and he seemed to have recovered his voice and the ability to think.
'I am very sorry for that, I do apologise. Unfortunately that was not my bidding but the work of my servants. It is so hard to find good personnel these days. Especially here.'
'And where is here exactly?'
'In my palace of course. In this kingdom.'
So this was a palace. It didn't really look like one. It was more like a cave than a palace. And those strange light-emitting cracks in the floor weren't very regal either. But then again, there was this throne against the wall. Maybe this was a palace after all. So, this woman was a queen? But how could she be? She clearly wasn't his queen. Or had he been unconscious for so long that he had been taken abroad without noticing?
Nathan looked around him for a clue of what was going on, and then at the woman again. He just had to know. He had to ask. No matter what would happen next. He couldn't stand all this uncertainty anymore.
'Who are you, and why have you brought me here?'
'Who do you think I am?' the woman answered mysteriously.
'How could I possibly know?'
'Go on, take a good look around. If you are truly worthy, then I'm sure you'll find out in no time.'
Nathan looked at her with a confused look. 'Do you mean…? Can I…?' he started to ask.
'Yes, you can walk around freely inside this room. It will tell you everything you need to know. And if it doesn't, then you're not the man I thought you were.'
And what was that supposed to mean again? Nathan suppressed a sigh. He looked around, but didn't see anything new. A big, empty room with huge pillars and a throne. Wait a minute… the throne! He'd already thought he had seen something written on them! Maybe that was what she was referring to. He started to move towards it, stopped to look over his shoulder at the woman again, and as she didn't seem to make any attempt to hinder him in his pursuit, he continued in his course.
The throne was covered with a vast amount of drawings that seemed to depict some sort of story. A first picture showed a woman picking flowers in a wide field. She somewhat resembled the woman who was here with him and now no doubt watching his every move. So maybe this was her story? It was her 'palace', after all. On the next picture he saw her again as the field opened and a chariot emerged. The next few images portrayed how she was pulled in that chariot by the rider and taken to a world under the ground. Then he saw another woman, as beautiful as the first one, grieving. Was she grieving the disappearance of the first woman? On the next picture she was talking to a tall, bearded man holding a forked staff or stick or something. Then the images returned to the first woman and her abductor. They were joined by yet another man who seemed to be soaring above the ground. When that man turned his back, the first man gave the woman a piece of fruit. The next picture depicted the two women reunited. As they were hugging, the first woman seemed to look back over her shoulder, longingly…
He hadn't reached the end of the picture-show, but Nathan had seen enough. The woman was right, he knew everything he needed to know. He wasn't sure if he wanted to believe it, though. But somehow he did. He could not explain why, exactly, but he just felt it to be the truth.
The woman gave him one of her radiant smiles as he looked at her in shock. 'You… you are…' he stammered.
'Yes, I am,' was all she replied.