In Aleppo Meira found herself scurrying between buildings, hiding in doorways, and keeping her head very low. There were more forces now – more armed men of various factions running and shooting indiscriminately. It was frightening. It was frightening and horrifying with ruptured bodies in the streets and alleyways but it provided cover she wanted – she was unlikely to be arrested or questioned. The likelihood of being shot seemed a small price to pay.
She ran into the forecourt of The Grand Mosque only to see it had been bombed. Her heart sank. Had the minarets been hit? She rushed on through the inner galleries to the Minaret of the Bride, the oldest section, where she was sure she could make contact. It was intact. Excited, she went up to the first level and there sank into a corner where she was unlikely to be seen. An expert now, she stared up at the walls and emptied her mind. There was activity in her brain. Almost instantly synapses were connecting, images were flying and there was Catherine. Oh how she had longed to hear again from Catherine. Aleppo had been teeming in her day. It was a centre of trade second only to Babylon. A centre where caravans assembled for journeys east, to India and China, and west to Helena and Alexandria. Amathlaah, a Horite, had been here. North and south she had been here. Offered and wed she had been here. As a bride, and as a mother, she had been here. Who was her son. Who, so important as to leave such a strong memory, had passed this place?
Gunfire in the galleries broke her concentration. Grenades were exploding but not here. There were grenades, dull grenades, and sporadic, not automatic, gunfire. What was happening? Catherine had gone. Oh Fiona, mother was here. When was that? A hundred years – only a hundred years ago and mother was here – her memory so strong. Father too – he was here then. Father was more than a hundred? She had never thought that. Father was normal. Father lived as the modern male lived. Father didn’t have the memories but he was here. She was sure of that. He was here, but not now. Mother was here now and now she was fading, something else was happening. Ah. Ah now it’s becoming clearer. Mother was helping – so was Father. They had come to help. They were all going to reach back together. She waited. She could feel the power in her mind. Her head was filling again. Memories were flooding in and then the pain. Then there was a fierce, sharply tangible, pain in her back and shoulders as all consciousness left her.