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Excerpt from "Daughter of the Dragon Tree"

Chapter Three

by Susanne Aernecke

Hesitantly Romy opened her eyes. Above her nothing but rock. The rushing of water. It took her several minutes to finally orient herself. Where was she? What had happened?

Only slowly the memories welled up in her. The panic. The fall. The thick stone. The noise must be the rain that beat down outside the cave entrance. “Strong rainfalls later in the afternoon,” Romy recalled--the weather forecast she had heard in the car on her journey from Augsburg this morning. By this time she had intended to be back for a while.

Cautiously, she moved her head and noticed a weird feeling and an earthy flavor in her mouth. She spat, but the taste on her tongue persisted. Her eyes fell on the small backpack with her winter boots, which she had left here in the cave next to the climbing entry. But how on earth had she ended up here? She had a total blackout. Romy searched her mind for a clue. But there was nothing. Nothing but the fall . . .

Cautiously she tried to move her limbs. First her fingers, then her hands, arms, and legs. Amazingly, she was even able to get up without feeling any pain. Obviously, the production of the body’s narcotics was in full swing. Was this the famous “golden half hour,” a gift from Mother Nature to all injured that enabled them to take life-saving measures? Impossible. Outside it was getting dark already. A glance at her watch told Romy that she had been lying there for at least seven hours.

Even without having studied medicine it would have been clear to her that one did not just get up and walk away after having fallen on firmly frozen forest soil from a height of twenty-five feet. All limbs should actually be broken, ligaments torn, muscles bruised, not to mention the internal injuries. She could be a paraplegic, if not dead. In no case, however, could she have been able to trudge into the cave. And by no means, could she have now been able to stand. But she was on her own two feet nevertheless, albeit slightly bent in order not to bang her head on the cave ceiling. Someone must have caught her! But how? And who? This was impossible. And why then had the person left her alone here? That made no sense at all. In addition she did not feel a bit cold. After the many hours on the floor of the cave, she should be stiff like a frozen pizza.

Had she perhaps only dreamed the fall just as she had dreamed the experiences in this strange Stone Age world during the past few hours?

But dreams were different. Both the fall and what she had seen through the eyes of this young girl with the strange sounding name appeared utterly real to her. Even though she had not the slightest idea in what part of the world or in what period of time that creepy ritual she had witnessed could have taken place. The language had been completely alien to her, yet she had understood every word. And also the people, especially the old medicine woman, had been somehow familiar.

She needed to talk to Thea about it. Certainly she would have a plausible explanation for it. Her best friend had worked as a neurologist in the same hospital as she.

At the thought of Thea, Romy suddenly saw the cup with the toxic brew from the dream in her mind’s eye. Had she perhaps invented the girl that had given the death potion to the wise woman out of hidden guilt? Fear for her friend might have played a role. She had also been administered a kind of death potion after all. And it had been Romy herself who had ultimately persuaded her to undergo chemotherapy. But why the Stone Age ambience, the strange vegetation? She had never before seen such an archaic tree as the one under which the medicine woman had died.

Romy felt completely unable to organize her thoughts and to distinguish what was imagination and what was reality. Something that normally was not difficult for her at all. Both in her private and professional environments she was a woman who had both feet on the ground. But at the moment her brain seemed to be playing games with her.

Whatever had happened here, she had to get away. Preferably as fast as possible, because soon it would become dark.

She searched the pocket of her anorak for her cell phone. It was broken into several pieces. That at least proved that she actually had fallen. But how could she get help now?

Romy stood in front of the cave. The rain had somewhat subsided by now. Carefully, she took a few steps. Her knees were a bit weak, but she would make it to the car. Perhaps it was better that way. What could she have told her friends from the mountain rescue service? That she had started to climb the cliff without securing the climb, was having a panic attack, and had fallen off the wall like a dead beetle? That someone had caught her and laid her down in a cave, where she had set off to a little trip into the Stone Age? They would probably institutionalize her right away, and not even Thea would get her out of that easily.

Sighing, she took her winter boots out of the backpack and slipped them on. This also did not cause her any trouble. She stowed her climbing shoes in her backpack, threw it over her shoulder, and cautiously felt her way along the cliff to the place where she must have fallen. The snow there was trampled down and melted away by the rain in a number of places. Nevertheless she thought she recognized, in addition to her own tracks, the footprints of foreign shoes. Somebody definitely must have been there.

Susanne Aernecke studied directing at the Munich Film Academy in Germany and is an acclaimed filmmaker, shooting documentaries with shamans in Brazil, Buddhist monks in Indian, nomads in Mongolia, and boat builders in the South Pacific, among many other ethnological and spiritual subjects. The author of several books in German, she lives on the Canary Island of La Palma and in Munich, Germany.

Daughter of the Dragon Tree by Susanne Aernecke © 2018 Bear & Company. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com

Availability: Usually ships within 1-2 business days. Price: $20.00. To purchase this book visit B&N.com, Amazon.com, InnerTraditions.com, or your local bookstore.

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