The Magician looked around the Kiva until his eyes settled on a large, ornate water vase. Using a stone knife from an animal hide belt around his waist, he broke off one of the curved handles. He held the six inch piece of buff-colored pottery in his hand and looked up with a wistful smile on his dark face.
"I remember the day my wife made this water vase. It was my favorite. I used to say that the water it held tasted sweeter than any other. I always liked these handles. They have finger grooves. Here, feel for yourself."
Jenny reached out and took the handle from the Magician. She could immediately tell what he meant. His wife had gripped the handle while the pottery was still soft, leaving the indentations of her fingers. When the pot hardened, the grooves remained, making it easier to grip the handle when lifting the vase. This kind of personal touch made every piece of prehistoric pottery truly one of a kind. No pot was ever absolutely identical to another.
"Yeah, I see what you mean," said Jenny with genuine appreciation. "But why did you break it off like that?"
The Magician pointed at the handle. "You keep that with you all the time. Hide it safely on your person somewhere."
"It will stop these people from succeeding with their plans, so you must not let them find it. Trust me. I will let you know when the time is right to use it." The Magician walked around the excavated burial, examining the destruction. "If the thieves were stopped, what then would become of my possessions?"
Jenny looked confused. "Uhhmmm, well, I guess the authorities would hold everything for trial, and when that was over, they'd turn it all over to some museum – probably the Museum of Northern Arizona."
"And what would they do with it?"
"They'd study everything."
"And when they finished?"
"Well, they would probably display some of the finer items, and the rest would be carefully stored away for future investigation."
Jenny felt oddly uncomfortable explaining to the Magician how his most prized possessions would be dissected by the scientific community. Until now, Jenny had never looked at articles unearthed from a prehistoric Indian burial as anything other than the valid property of professional archaeologists. Then again, she had never had to explain the system to someone whose grave had actually been dug up. Standing there before the Magician, it was hard to escape the conclusion that grave-robbing was grave-robbing, no matter who ended up with the remains, no matter the purpose.
"Could these people be convinced to give my gifts back?"
Jenny pondered the curious question. "Are you talking about putting everything back in the grave and filling in the hole?"
"That is my wish."
"It would take somebody pretty damn important to get that done."
"Are you such a person?" asked the Magician.
Jenny finally saw where the Magician had been patiently leading her. "Yeah, I suppose I am."
The Magician nodded solemnly. "If you hold on to that handle until I tell you, then these men will not win. I swear to you as a Warrior that my words are true. Can you promise me that you will do everything in your power to see that all that has been stolen from me is returned?"
"I promise," replied Jenny with a solemn resolve.
The Magician smiled, showing a full set of worn yellowed teeth. "Then I thank you, Warrior Woman. It is done."
With that final pronouncement, the Magician was once again an inert skeleton.
Jenny quickly slid the pot handle into her boot as she heard someone descending the ladder. She looked up to see B.T.
"How goes it, Red?"
Jenny was still so flustered by the events of the past few minutes that she could only shake her head and shrug.
B.T. walked over and picked up her notebook. "I told the boys to hang out up top for awhile so we could talk in private." B.T. flipped through all the pages in the book. "Doesn't look like you got very much written down."
"What the hell's the point?"
"You're probably right, Red. Who would believe all this shit, huh?" B.T. tossed the notebook in the dirt and crouched down to face the weary archaeologist. "We couldn't have done this without you, Red. You were the key that unlocked the magical door. I want you to know that."
Jenny couldn't help but laugh. "I didn't do it for you."
"You're one tough bitch, aren't you?"
"Yeah, I'm a real warrior."
B.T. laughed with amusement. "Whatever you say. How much longer before we're finished digging this kiva?"
"Oh, I'd say another six or seven hours to do it right."
"That's what I figured," replied B.T. as he sifted dirt through his fingers and did some mental calculations. "I won't be here the whole time. There's some unfinished business I need to take care of over at Bighorn Buttes."
Jenny remembered Linda Joyce and visibly shuddered.
"The boys got a little wigged-out this morning when they realized I had left them alone – Christ, the way Otis was yelling, I thought we were under attack. I just had a long talk with 'em and we got the ground rules set. I guarantee nobody'll mess with you while I'm gone."
"I feel better already," said Jenny sarcastically.
"You know what you need, Red? You need to do a couple more lines of coke. You're starting to come down. That's why you're so cranky."
Jenny didn't bother to argue with Saunders. She knew she was going to need something stronger than adrenalin to stay awake. She was running on empty and her whole body was screaming for some relief. She focused intently on the skeleton of the Magician, propped up on the edge of the burial like a sick joke, and she felt a calmness immediately settle over her nerves. She had her own unfinished business to handle.
"I'll do whatever it takes to make this thing right," said Jenny. “I promise."