“Well done,” Eli commended. “I shall require no escort on this visit.” He took Jaden by the hand, stepped past the guards without casting them a second glance and moved aside the thick foliage for her.
The atmosphere inside the oasis smelled like a hot house—unlike the dry dusty desert air she’d been inhaling over the past few days. Greenery, mixed florals, soil and moisture assaulted Jaden’s senses. She waved a hand in front of her face hoping to create a less pungent breeze.
“It is a different world in here,” Eli said and drew a deep breath through his nostrils.
“You ain’t kiddin’. Gads, I’ve never seen such a vivid green. You got some prime real estate here.”
“No one has ever attempted to build housing or anything?”
“Of course not. No Omari would ever allow—”
Jaden turned to him. “Say, what would have happened if one of those thugs didn’t recognize you?” she asked as he created a transitory path through dense foliage for them.
Eli smiled. “It would have been… unpleasant.”
“Ah, I see.” Two crossbows plus a healthy dose of unpleasantness didn’t equal her cup ‘a joe.
“Which, of course, is why, by my command, one experienced guard and one novice guard are assigned to each patrol.”
He held out a hand for her to take and they trudged through wide blades of grass that reached to her waist. A concert of crickets and other insect-like calls saturated the thick air. It sounded beautiful but at the same time, gave Jaden the creeps.
“So, how many of those guys are in this place?”
“No one is actually inside, save the daily gathering parties, but we have one hundred patrols of two guards each around the perimeter. They stay just within the boundaries of the oasis, and as you now know, they do not permit anyone to pass.”
She chuckled. “Unless it’s you.”
“Here we are.” Eli pushed aside a colossal leaf and on the other side, paradise stretched out before them. A tropical rainforest canopied rich foliage in huge patches that extended scores of feet into the air. In-between the massive trees, hills and valleys with lush landscapes rolled out like a carpet, each a seemingly different indigenous plant family, yet all of it living together in harmony with the other.
Jaden struggled for a breath. “Oh, Eli. It’s the garden of Eden.”
“Well, it’s one of our gardens. There are many more oases than just this one” He drew her forward and they started down a grassy rise which led into a valley.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. And I’ve been all over the world.”
“Have you now,” he chuckled. “Come. The sun still is menacing in the oasis, unless one knows where to hide.”
Be sure to read Oasis of Eden to find out where Eli takes Jaden inside the oasis he protects.
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Until next time —