There were three Jaffa waiting for her in the ring room when Egeria arrived home the next day.
The Goa'uld queen greeted the man who stood at the fore. "Ren'kar. I trust that all is well here."
"I fear not, My Queen," the Jaffa answered grimly.
As he told her about the events that took place, Egeria was filled with shock, horror and deep anger. She immediately went to Decimus' chambers. Daniel and Titus were both there, talking with the elderly man, who was sitting up in bed.
Face to face with the queen for the first time in his life, Titus bowed his head deeply. Decimus made a move to get out of the bed.
"Remain where you are, my old friend," Egeria instructed gently. As she came forward, her eyes went to the livid bruises on Daniel's throat. Pushing aside what the sight of those bruises made her feel, she came up to the bed and took one of Decimus' hands in both of hers.
"How are you feeling? Are you healing well?"
"Well enough, My Queen," he replied. He frowned at Daniel and Titus. "They will not let me return to my duties. They insist that I must keep resting. Resting! I have been in this bed long enough. I am not an invalid."
Egeria smiled at the man fondly. "I do not believe that it will harm you to spend one day in rest, especially since, for all these years, you insist on ignoring all the days you are not supposed to be working unless I command you to stay away from the library."
Daniel smiled slightly at the comment. Though he was supposed to take one day off in six, Decimus hadn't taken a day off during the entire time that Daniel had been working with him. But then, Daniel wasn't really in a position to say anything about that since he was also guilty of often working on the days that he was supposed to take off.
Decimus sighed in resignation. "As you wish, My Queen."
Egeria's eyes went to the youngest person in the room. Titus, who had been gazing at her in wonder, immediately dropped his eyes back to the floor.
"And is this the young man whose swift actions saved the day?" the queen asked, smiling at the blush that colored the boy's cheeks.
"Yes, it is," Daniel replied. "I'd be dead if it wasn't for him."
"Then I will have to reward him appropriately. Tell me, Titus. Is there something for which your heart longs?"
Titus shyly looked up at her. "I-I would very much like to have a puppy."
"A puppy? Is that all? Such a small thing to give such a big hero. You will have your puppy, Titus. I will send you to Maurus, and you can have your pick from any litter in the kennel."
Titus' eyes were now shining. "Thank you, Queen Egeria!"
"Go on now and let your parents know so that they can prepare for your new puppy. Assure them that everything it needs in regards to food and medical care will be provided by the kennel for as long as it lives."
After bowing to her deeply, the boy hurried away.
Egeria turned back to Decimus. "You must let me know if there is some other reward I can give to Titus or his family."
"There is one thing, My Queen," he responded. "All these years, I have failed to find an apprentice to train, someone who will take my place in the library after I am dead. Titus is intelligent and has talent. I have decided that I would very much like for him to be that apprentice. If the Fates will it, I will live long enough to prepare him adequately for the job."
"I approve your choice, Decimus. Titus will be release from all other duties here in the palace and will be put in your hands to tutor. Though I do not think that he will ever measure up to you, I am sure that he will do well."
"Now, get some rest. I wish for you to be strong and well-rested when you return to your duties." Egeria turned to Daniel. "Come join me in the sitting room."
Daniel and the Goa'uld queen said nothing as they walked to the sitting room. After arriving, Egeria shut the door. She came up to Daniel and touched his neck where it was bruised, her eyes now filled with distress.
"I'm all right, Egeria," he quickly assured her.
"Are you in pain? I can use the healing device."
Daniel shook his head. "It doesn't hurt that much. Decimus would benefit from that more than I would."
Egeria turned away and walked over to the window, her back stiff. "My Jaffa have failed me," she said, anger now in her voice. "After Herminius' death, I commanded that they learn if there were any friends of his who might seek to get revenge upon you, yet they failed to learn of such a man right here in my own palace." The anger in her voice deepened. "This failure will not go unpunished."
"Please don't do anything, Egeria. It isn't their fault. I did a little investigating yesterday, and I found out that only a couple of people here were aware that Secundus even knew Herminius. They were childhood friends, but I guess that they no longer saw each other much. Secundus was very good at hiding his desire for revenge. The one time I spoke to him after I killed Herminius he didn't show even the slightest hint that he hated me. According to some I talked to here, he even publicly praised me a couple of times. Everyone is shocked that this happened."
Though Egeria was still angry that her Jaffa had failed to find out about Secundus, she decided to grant Daniel's wish that she not punish them. However, she would be chastising them for not knowing sooner about the incident with the flowers placed in the slaves' dining room. If they had been as attentive to their duties as they should have been, they would have heard about it and recognized that there might be reason for concern. It was the job of all Jaffa stationed in the palace to watch for trouble, and they had failed to do so this time. She had already let Ren'kar know that she was not happy about this and would let it be known that no other such failures would be tolerated.
It frightened her to think about how very close Daniel came to being killed. She had almost lost him. The thought made her want to take him into her arms and hold him tight, to keep him safe at her side every minute of every day. But she could do neither.
Egeria's thoughts were interrupted by Daniel's voice.
"I didn't know that you had Zat'nik'tels here."
She turned to him. "You know of them?"
Daniel nodded. "I've had some . . . experience with them."
"They arrived just ten days ago. I believed that it would be good for the Jaffa who patrol the city to have them."
"So that if they have to shoot somebody, they can do it without killing them," the archeologist guessed.
"Yes. I would have acquired some before now, but the technology was developed only a few years ago, so there are only a limited number of them available."
"Do you have any idea how Secundus could have gotten his hands on one?"
"I have pondered on that. Since the Zat'nik'tels arrived, my Jaffa have been training with them, learning how to use them proficiently. It is possible that Secundus witnessed their use. How he succeeded in obtaining one is something I do not know," her expression hardened, "but I will learn."
Daniel really hoped that it didn't turn out to be the fault of some Jaffa. That Jaffa might not live to regret his mistake.
"I've been thinking about it, and I don't think that Secundus knew about everything that a zat can do," he said.
Egeria looked at him inquiringly. "Zat?"
"Oh. Um, that's what I call them. It's easier than Zat'nik'tel. Anyway, as I was saying, he hit Decimus on the head, threw him in a storeroom and zatted him. Uh . . . zatted means used the Zat'nik'tel on him. Now, dragging Decimus' unconscious body around was a pretty risky thing to do. He might have been seen. If he knew what a zat could do, it would have made more sense to shoot Decimus three times and disintegrate the body."
"Perhaps he did not wish to kill Decimus."
"I suppose that's possible, but leaving Decimus alive would have been a big risk. Decimus might have been able to identify him. Of course, if I'm right, it also means that he didn't understand that to kill someone you have to shoot them twice. What I'm thinking is that his first thought was just to knock Decimus out and put him someplace where he wouldn't be found. But then he changed his mind and decided to kill him. He shot Decimus with the zat, thinking that one shot would do the job." The archeologist thought about the shock on Secundus' face when Daniel tackled him. He bet that surprise was mainly because the man hadn't realized that shooting the door three times would make it disappear right before his eyes. He probably just thought that shooting it would damage it enough that he could break it down.
"I guess it really doesn't matter now," Daniel concluded. "The point is that he was out for my blood and was willing to take down anyone who got in his way."
"Yes." Her eyes met his. "I cannot express how thankful I am that he did not succeed in his goal."
"You and me both." Daniel decided to change the topic of conversation. "So, how did things go with the negotiations? Did they get through it without any violence?"
"Barely. There was a great deal of hostility, but the meeting ended with both of them satisfied with the agreement that was reached, although it would not surprise me if the hostilities resume at another time."
"Maybe leaving them alone on the planet to settle things one-on-one would have been the better choice."
Egeria smiled. "Perhaps so."
How Secundus managed to get hold of one of the zats was discovered the next day. As Daniel had guessed, when not in use, the zats were kept in the palace armory, which was always under guard. On the day that Secundus tried to kill Daniel, the guard was drawn away from the door for a few minutes by the sound of a child screaming. The screams led him to a five-year-old boy who had gotten his foot caught in the broken section of a grate. It turned out that Secundus had bribed the boy with sweets to pretend that he was caught.
Because of the circumstances of the deception, Egeria decided not to punish the Jaffa since she would not want any of her Jaffa to ignore a child's screams of fear and pain. Besides, the man was already doing a fine job of punishing himself, terribly ashamed of how he had been tricked. He came to Daniel and apologized for his unknowing part in the attempt on the archeologist's life.
When Decimus returned to work, Daniel was pleased to see that Egeria had apparently taken what he said to heart and used the healing device on the old man. Decimus was full of energy and eager to get back to work.
When Titus arrived a while later, he was bouncing around excitedly.
"You must see my new puppy, Daniel!" he exclaimed. "He is gold and white, and his fur is so soft. Master Maurus said that I have a good eye, that Tiberius is the pick of the litter. He is going to grow up big and strong. Master Maurus is going to help me train him when he gets older."
"That's great, Titus. I bet you're going to have lots of fun with him."
Decimus waved the boy over. "Come here, Titus. I have something important to discuss with you." The youth came up to him. "As you must know, someday I will be gone. I have had a very long life, but I cannot live forever. When I am dead, there must be someone to take my place here, to care for the books and scrolls and to translate them for our queen."
"But Daniel will be here," Titus responded.
Over the boy's head, Decimus met the archeologist's eyes. In the light brown depths, Daniel saw that the man knew he would no longer be here when that day came.
Decimus returned his gaze to Titus. "Perhaps he will and perhaps not. Daniel will be a slave for only a short time. Once he is free, he has a home to which he must return, with people who love him."
Titus now looked upset. "But . . . but he will come back, will he not?"
Daniel dropped his gaze to the floor, not having the heart to tell the boy that he could never return.
"The future is unknown to us, Titus," Decimus said, having seen the look on the archeologist's face. "If he does return, he will need help here. If he does not, then someone will need to do the job for both of us." The man paused. "How would you like to be that person?"
Titus' eyes grew wide. "You wish for me to do the translations and take care of the books and scrolls?"
"Yes, I do. I want to make you my apprentice. I will teach you all that I know. Now, I warn you. It will not be easy. You will have to study very hard and for long hours."
"But what about my other duties in the palace?"
"You will have no other duties. Queen Egeria has released you from them. You will spend your days here, being tutored by me."
Titus' face blossomed with joy. "Oh, thank you, Master Decimus! I would very much love to be your apprentice!"
The elderly man chuckled and patted the boy's shoulder. "Good. Then it is settled. Go run and tell your mother and father, then come right back here so that we can begin."
Titus was gone in a flash. The two men could hear his footsteps running all the way down the hall.
"I'm glad that you picked him to be your apprentice," Daniel said. "I think he'll do great."
"Yes, I believe he will. It is a shame that he did not come along earlier in my life. I can only hope that there are enough years left to me to teach him sufficiently."
"Decimus, as stubborn as you are, I'd be surprised if you didn't live to be ninety."
They both fell silent, neither of them willing to talk about whether or not Daniel would be here to take over Titus' education once Decimus was dead.
Titus' first lesson as Decimus apprentice began half an hour later. Daniel spent a good deal of his time watching the two of them. Titus reminded him of himself at that age, so eager to learn every language he could, filled with a deep love for the written word.
When Daniel's attention was not on the boy and the elderly man, it would wander to something else, something that had occupied his mind often these past nine days. Had Egeria spoken again with her host? She had said that she would do so, but that didn't mean that she had. Would he be pushing it too far if he asked? He had to know how things were progressing before he could decide how to take the next step. And what a doozy that step would be. How on Earth could he possibly convince Egeria to let Arria have control of her own body, even if it was just for a few minutes? That was way bigger than merely talking to the host.
When Daniel was asked to join Egeria for lunch in the sitting room, he decided to take the opportunity to inquire about her talks with Arria. Unfortunately, he didn't get the chance.
"I have been putting some thought into the west garden," Egeria told him after they'd been eating for a few minutes.
Changing mental gears, Daniel said, "Oh? I, um, know that you removed all the plants and flowers. I decided not to say anything about it, though I do appreciate why you did it."
"I was unwilling to take the chance that you would be made ill again by something that grew there." She sighed. "I could not have foreseen that a man I had believed to be a good and faithful subject would use them against you." She pushed that thought aside. "I do not wish to talk about unpleasant things. I have been thinking that I must make sure that anything I plant in the garden will not cause you difficulties. I considered putting things there that already grow in the east and north gardens since you have said that you have no great trouble in those gardens." She smiled. "But I have decided on something else instead. If you are willing, you will help choose what will be planted there. We will create a new garden together, you and I."
Daniel sat in silence for a long while, not knowing how to respond. Egeria wanted him to be directly involved in recreating the garden?
"I-I, um, don't know what to say. It really isn't necessary, you know. If you're worried about my allergies, we could just, uh . . . test every flower and plant you choose and see if they affect me."
"Yes, we could do that, but I would very much like for us to do it together." She smiled teasingly. "That bouquet you were gathering for the library was quite attractive, which tells me that you do have at least some skill in choosing what is pleasing to the eye . . . at least in regards to flowers. I trust that your tastes and mine will not clash greatly."
A little embarrassed by her comment, Daniel ducked his head. He couldn't say that he had any great desire to help design a garden, but if this was something Egeria really wanted, he didn't want to disappoint her.
"I, uh, can't help but think that you might end up regretting this, but, okay. If you'd really like me to help, then I'd be honored."
Egeria smiled brightly. "Good. We shall get started tomorrow morning."
"So, where are we going to get the flowers? Do you have people who grow them professionally?"
"There are some who grow flowers along with their vegetables and sell them to the free citizens. I obtained some of the flowers in my gardens from them. But the rest came from other worlds. In my travels, if I saw a flower or plant that pleased me, I would have it brought back here. Many could not survive in our soil or climate, but others adapted and flourished. There is a particular planet from which I have taken many flowers. It is a beautiful, untouched world. There is no Naquadah there, so the Goa'uld have no interest in it." Egeria's eyes met his. "I will take you there through the Stargate with me."
Daniel was shocked. Egeria was actually going to take him through the Stargate with her? She had to know that she was taking the chance that he'd escape. Of course, they might have a phalanx of Jaffa with them to guard against that very thing, but, even so, it was still another display of trust in him.
"I'd like that," he said, saying nothing about the significance of her offer.
"Good. We will leave here at first light. It will be early summer there now, so there will be many flowers from which we can choose."
When Daniel told Decimus that he'd probably be gone all day tomorrow, the librarian, quite naturally, wanted to know why.
"Um, Egeria wants to start getting new flowers and plants for the west garden, and she, uhhh, sort of . . . wants my help," Daniel answered reluctantly. "She wants me to help her pick out the flowers. It's mainly so that she won't get any that I'm allergic to."
Decimus felt a muscle in the corner of his mouth twitch. He found the idea of Daniel being turned into a reluctant gardener to be rather funny.
Titus apparently thought it was funny, too, and was grinning hugely. "I like red," he pipped up. "Will you get some red flowers, Daniel?"
The archeologist gave him a look. "I'll keep it in mind."
"So, where are these flower going to be obtained?" Decimus asked.
"Off-world. Egeria and I are going through the gate at dawn."
The elderly man sobered. "Egeria is taking you through the Stargate with her?"
Titus looked back and forth between the two men, seeing something pass between them. "What is it? I heard that Daniel has traveled through the Stargate to many worlds. Is there something about this one that is different?"
Daniel and Decimus turned away from each other.
"I doubt that there is anything of great significance to that world," the old man replied. He waved at the book in Decimus' hands. "Back to your studies, boy."
After Titus had gone home that evening, Decimus looked at the man sitting at the other desk. "Again, Queen Egeria shows her trust in you. There are many slaves who would use a trip like that as an opportunity to escape."
"Yes, I know."
"And what of you, Daniel?"
The archeologist looked up to see Decimus focusing a very intense gaze upon him. "If you're asking if I considered trying to escape, then the answer is no." Of course, he could not tell his friend why it wouldn't even be an option for him. It wouldn't do him any good to escape while on another world when what he needed to get home was here on Estrania.
Decimus said nothing more, accepting Daniel's answer.
The air was chilly and damp the next morning when Daniel met Egeria outside. He saw that there were eight Jaffa with her.
Seeing him look at them, the queen said, "If it were practical to do so, I would go with only two or three, but, though there are no natural dangers that concern me, I cannot be certain of other threats."
Daniel nodded. "Such as unexpected company dropping in."
Just then, Egeria's Lo'taur and four men bearing the queen's litter arrived.
"Camilla will be accompanying us," Egeria explained. "It will be her job to extract from the ground each plant that we choose and place it in a container. She has great skill in doing this without causing undue damaged to the plant's roots."
That's when Daniel noticed the crates full of small clay pots sitting off to the side. There were dozens of pots, which clued him into the fact that they were going to be getting quite a few plants. How were they all going to be carried back?
At that moment, a cart pulled up, and the crates were loaded onto it, answering Daniel's question.
They all headed out, Daniel and Camilla walking beside Egeria's litter. As they traveled the distance to the gate, activity in the city gradually increased, slaves getting busy with their early morning tasks, merchants filling their stalls with merchandise. They stopped at one stall and purchased some sweet pastries that were a particular favorite of Egeria's. At another, they got some fruit that put a happy, eager smile on Camilla's lips. With an amused expression, Egeria handed her one, and she wasted no time in biting into it, a look of bliss on her face.
"Is there anything in particular that you would like to get, Daniel?" the Goa'uld queen asked. "We have plenty of food with us, but if there is some special treat that you would like to bring, let me know."
"No, I'm fine, Egeria. Thank you for asking, though."
Upon arriving at the Stargate, Daniel went to the DHD and watched as one of the Jaffa dialed it. He did not recognize the address.
The man who had been driving the cart got off, and a Jaffa took his place. Egeria's litter-bearers left, taking the now empty litter with them. With the other seven Jaffa in the lead and the wagon in the rear, the party went through the wormhole.
When they came out the other side, Daniel was greeted with the sight of a lush, green world, snow-capped mountains rising in the distance, a magnificent waterfall cascading down the side of a nearby cliff. But those things are not what caught and firmly held his attention. No, it was the ruins rising from the valley floor no more than half a mile away that had him aching to forget everything else and go exploring.
It didn't take long for Egeria to see the light in Daniel's eyes, the way every line in his body was saying what he wanted. She almost laughed, knowing now that this trip would be taken up with more than just gathering flowers.
"The ruins interest you?" she asked, pretending that she didn't see how very much they did.
Daniel drew his gaze away from the structures. "Yes. I, um, have a special interest in things like that. One of the things I love to do most is study ancient cultures by examining the remains of where they lived and the things they left behind. It used to be my job before I got involved in . . . other things."
"Well, then we will have to go there before we leave. I have examined them already, but I would not mind doing so again. So, shall we get started on our task?"
Pulling his thoughts away from the ruins, Daniel nodded. For the first time, he noticed that there were an abundance of wild flowers about, of many different shapes, sizes and colors. He could understand why Egeria saw this as a good place to get things for her gardens.
The next four hours were spent looking at the different flowers and plants. Though the physical appearance of the flowers did play some role in which ones Daniel chose, his nose was what he paid more attention to, or, rather, how his nasal mucosa reacted to each variety of blossom. Several times, he was hit with a bout of sneezing or other allergy symptoms. Each time, Egeria used the healing device on him even though Daniel told her it probably wasn't necessary. He was wishing that he still had some of his allergy medication, though. But then, that would sort of defeat the purpose since the goal was to find plants and flowers that were not going to cause his allergies to flare up.
Every time they found a flower or plant that passed the allergy test and that both Daniel and Egeria liked, Camilla got busy on digging it up and placing it in a pot, gathering several specimens of each plant.
When they took a break for lunch, Daniel found his gaze being drawn like a magnet back to the ruins. Egeria noticed immediately.
"I am thinking that now would be a good time to go to those ruins," she said, "before the day grows much hotter. Do you agree, Daniel?"
The archeologist turned to her and saw the sparkle of amusement in her eyes. Realizing that she was aware of how much he was aching to go there, he replied deadpan, "Yes, that would probably be a good idea."
Four of the Jaffa remained to guard the Stargate. Camilla stayed behind as well so that she could gather a few more of each variety of flower they'd chosen.
It didn't take long for Daniel, Egeria and the other four Jaffa to reach the ruins. When Daniel spied some writing on one of the walls and went up to it to investigate, he had to stifle a gasp. It was Ancient. With new eyes, he looked about at the ruins. This place was constructed by the gate-builders. What had it been? What was its purpose? If he was on a mission, he would insist that they needed to examine the ruins thoroughly, discover any secrets that lie there. He wished that he had his camera so that he could video tape the writing for later translation. He was still learning the language, piecing it together from the samples he'd seen and knowledge he'd gained these last three years.
"You know the language," Egeria said, having spotted Daniel's reaction to it.
"Um . . . yes, a bit. I've encountered it before."
"Can you translate it?"
Daniel looked at the writing, studying it closely. He wished that he had his notes with him.
"I can't be sure, but it seems to be talking about some event in the history of this planet," he replied after a few minutes. "Maybe this was a museum or historical center."
They moved on to the remains of other structures. Every time Daniel saw writing, he wished that he could translate it, but it would take weeks to do it all, perhaps months, especially without his notes to help him. When he got back home, he'd have to tell General Hammond about the ruins so that they could send a team here, preferably SG-1.
They'd covered perhaps half of the ruins, Daniel enjoying every moment of it, when they came upon a sight that made them just stop and stare. The vine growing up the side of the wall reminded Daniel of wisteria, but no wisteria that ever existed had flowers so intensely, vibrantly blue. It was the deep, stunning blue of the finest of lapis lazuli.
"Wow," Daniel said.
"This was not here before," Egeria declared, also awed by the display.
"Maybe some bird dropped a seed here," Daniel suggested.
"They are the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. And the scent is very pleasant." She looked at Daniel. "Is there any sign that you are allergic to them?"
"If I was, I'd have known it by now."
"Then we must take a cutting. This flower must be in your garden."
Daniel did not miss what Egeria had just called the garden, giving ownership of it to him.
Instead of taking a cutting, they found some young plants and dug them up. Daniel was surprised when Egeria tore off pieces of her gown and used them to wrap around the roots and soil.
"We must get them into pots," she said.
Though Daniel really wanted to explore the rest of the ruins, he nodded his head. This trip was supposed to be for the purpose of gathering plants and flowers, and, though he would far rather be playing archeologist than gardener, he was not the one in charge. And, unlike what he had done many times with a certain U.S.A.F. colonel, Daniel didn't dare argue with Egeria.
They returned to where Camilla was. When the Lo'taur saw that they had flowers, she came hurrying forward. Her eyes widened upon getting a better look.
"Oh, they are glorious!" she cried. She put her face right into one of the clusters of tiny, delicate flowers and drew in a deep breath. "And that scent is wonderful."
Camilla carefully placed the vines in pots and set them in the wagon, bracing them against the side for support.
They spent another hour on the planet. By the time they left, the wagon was overflowing with plants and flowers.
"We will get the rest of the flowers for the garden from the growers on Estrania," Egeria said.
Daniel stared at her. "The rest? Don't you think that what we have is enough?"
The queen smiled. "What we have here would not fill even half of the garden. It will take many flowers to make your garden what I wish it to be."
Daniel glanced at her upon hearing the words "your garden" again. He thought about saying something, but decided against it.
Out of necessity, the trip back to the Stargate was made slowly, care needing to be taken with the wagon's cargo.
Egeria's litter-bearers were waiting on the other side of the wormhole. The queen took a seat in the chair, and they began the journey back to the palace. As soon as they arrived, slaves got busy emptying the cart and putting the pots in the presently barren garden where their contents would eventually be planted. Camilla took charge of the work, making sure that every flower and plant was handled with care. She looked like she was about ready to have a heart attack when one slave took less than the appropriate amount of care with one of the blue-flowered vines, coming close to breaking it. Her voice, usually soft and mild, rose into one of harsh rebuke. The slave, duly chastised, took greater care from then on.
Daniel heard Egeria laugh softly.
"I do believe that Camilla would spend her whole life growing and caring for flowers, if she could," she said.
"I've seen her tending the flowers from time to time."
"Yes, when her duties allow her the time to do so. I fear that I made her weep many tears when I had the old garden here destroyed. She seemed inconsolable. I had to promise that the new garden would be even more beautiful before her tears would stop."
Daniel smiled slightly. "She must have been pretty mad at me since I'm the reason it was destroyed."
Egeria glanced at him. "Perhaps she would have been, but she quite likes you."
"Really? I've barely spoken with her."
The Goa'uld queen looked at him again, this time more intently. "She has told me she likes you because you put a smile on my face."
Daniel was startled by the revelation. "Oh," he said, not knowing what else to say.
Egeria rested a hand on his arm. "Come. Let us go inside and begin planning the design for the new garden."
"Um, Egeria, as much as I'm flattered that you want my opinions for this garden, I really don't know anything about landscaping. I would be of no use to you."
"You know architecture, do you not?"
"Well, yes, but what does that have to do with laying out a garden?"
"I wish for you to design a grand entrance for it, one with beautiful reliefs and other decorations. I will take care of designing the garden itself."
"Oh. Um . . . okay, I guess I can do that."
They went to the sitting room and began discussing things as they snacked on cheese and bread. Egeria's idea for the garden was that the entrance Daniel would design would open onto a circular area paved with the rose-veined marble-like stone that decorated several rooms in the palace. A small fountain would be at the center with benches around it. Leading off of it would be paths that wound and curved through the displays of flowers, plants and trees.
"A wall will be built on either side of the entrance, curving in to meet the walls of the palace," Egeria said, "creating a small, intimate, separate garden. Upon the walls will grow the vines with blue flowers. We will have to keep them pruned, though, so that they do not cover your creation."
"It sounds like it's really going to be spectacular."
"That is what I wish it to be."