Eternal Games

Raphael's art group has grown to fifteen or so painters, poets and musicians. One day he gives them a little pep talk; he says that once he saw Heaven and that a bit of what he saw is in each of their art. He wants to combine all of those elements to create an artistic rendition of Heaven on Earth.

Sarah is sleeping at Ib's one day when a blue cloaked woman comes baring a message for Ib's. She addresses him as Lord Thoth and explains that her ward, Ani, has died. She invites Ib's to the funeral which Ib's accepts. He seems very shocked but she declines to answer his questions leaving instead.

Ramon observes a similar visitation to Lady Cephelene. She too is sad and has apparently been cast in to questioning her own mortality.

Defanuh is summoned by A'meer. A'meer is far more good natured than normal, calling Defanuh old friend. He has a problem with his daughter who insists on running her deceased husband's business. He thinks she will do a good job but doesn't think the rest of the Islamic world will appreciate it. He has got her to agree to take on a protecting guard and he hopes Defanuh will be that person. He also hopes that she can be convinced to at least seek his advice. With a slap on the back Defanuh is sent off.

Mirriam on her way to the library, where she hopes to finally crack those hieroglyphs, meets an old blind man struggling through the Shadows. He's worried about his wife and seeking the gate. Mirriam escorts him to Anubis who lets him pass through the gate. Then he thanks Mirriam and asks her to keep a look out for the Pharoah Sethos who should by rights apparently be coming to the gate too.

Rajiv hears that a new musical script by the famed deceased composer Zaldol Mfir has been found and is on sale. He buys a copy and discovers that it mysteriously contains a section that his old, missing teacher, Efal Muheine used to hum.

That evening Sarah is woken by Quentin tapping on her window - he's brought her a rose and wants to check she's OK after her capture.

Ramon is visited by Benoud who returns the money he lent him. He claims to have stumbled on some old music in his Grandmother's attic which he sold for 500 pounds. They go off gambling.

Defanuh turns up at Maryams and is shown to a room then left to his own devices. At morning prayers Maryam gives him a very cold shoulder. It does not seem that he is appeciated.

The cats all gather in the afternoon at the temple and begin to exchange gossip when one of A'meer's men turns up to talk to Lady Cephelene. Apparently there is talk of foul play with regards Ani's death. Much speculation results

******** session 2 ********

Ramon and Rajiv set out to see Benoud. He's at his Grandmother's house where he's holding a press conference in the attic; showing them where he found the music (amongst old letters between his parents when his father was in the army). When the reporters have left Ramon suggests the whole thing is a scam. Benoud looks awkward and goes to get everyone drinks. They don't push the point though Benoud is keen to ask them not to talk about it being a scam in public.

Defanuh goes back to Maryam to discover her angrily sacking an accountant for reporting to her father. Defanuh keeps out of it and goes out back to train. Later he over hears Maryam crying in her bedroom above. He switches to cat form and goes and plays with her to cheer her up. As she determinedly goes back to work he thinks how much she looks like Cleopatra.. except, oh, Cleopatra never looked particularly determined... he heads back outside for a long work out.

Ramon and Rajiv investigate Mr Zefra of Zefra Music Publishing - he's busily printing Mfir's new work and selling copies. Ramon hatches a plan to harrass him to see what leaks. However before they return, dressed as seedy business men, Benoud intercepts them. He tells them he's been paid to claim to have found the music because he thinks its stolen goods they're trying to sell. Now please leave it be because he'll get in trouble. Rajiv still hopes to find Efal but they let it rest.

A group of dark robed strangers start lurking outside Maryam's. Defanuh cats in amongst them; they seem to be lurking on orders to scare her. Defanuh goes back inside and brings them coffee. They sneer and knock the coffee to the floor. A brawl starts but the ruffians run after a few kicks. Defanuh trails them to the Tombs of the Mamlukes then corners one in an alley. He claims to work for the "Great Desert Storm of the East" and to have been sending A'meer a message. Defanuh knocks him out and drags him off to A'meer. A'meer's people know who these men are and say to release him and not antagonise them.

Maybe Gemma could speak with Efal or Mfir or Kimet and shed some light? Ramon and Rajiv convince her to try. Efal is not out there. She begins humming Mfir's most famous work when summoning him - Rajiv convinces himself she's faking though.

Ramon stops by his detective agency stall and is approached by a secretive policeman who asks if he could come discreetly to the Ezbekia station tomorrow for a job. Ramon agrees.

Lady Cephelene asks Defanuh, Ramon and Rajiv if they'd come along to her friend's funeral as she'd like there to be a big group for it. They agree and go off to get suitably dressed.

Ani's funeral is attended by: Sarah and Ib's; Lady Cephelene and the three cats; Anubis and four ghuls; A'meer with four of his men; a cowled, thugish man with four of the men Defanuh saw earlier - this man apparently likes to be known as Set and seems unsympathetic to the proceedings; a quiet neatly presented, bearded man who apparently lives out in the desert though Lady Cephelene doesn't seem to know much more about him. There are also Ani's six blue robed priestesses.

Ani's body lies in state where he did when Sarah and Defanuh previously visited the library. Now he's in an open stone sarcophagus. The priestesses chant sing and speak in an old language only, Lady Cephelene, Anubis, Set and Ib's seem to understand. Next A'meer says a formal Islamic funeral rite. Then the priestesses lift a lid on the sarcophagus and the ceremony is over. Set moves quickly to leave but A'meer intercepts him. The six leaders are to have a conference with the priestesses. The rest of the attendants move to the outer lobby. Pretty soon Set storms out crying "The rules have been violated so there are no rules!" and he leaves. Defanuh scuttles back to make sure Maryam is alright. The others continue their conference.

When the five finally emerge everyone disperses. Lady Cephelene reveals some of the discussion; Ani died of a mental wasting disease, foul play is suspected. Ib's pushed Anubis to explain his actions with the word for renewal. Apparently with the death of Sethos he wanted to open a new gate to Tuat and, to encourage the dead to come to him, he used the promise of rebirth as a lure. When it was stolen Kimet instead gave him the word for opening the gate more fully. Kimet's ability to steal words from people's minds makes him a serious suspect. Lady Cephelene thinks they owe Ani to find out what happened but all the others except A'meer were more worried about their own safety. Ramon offers to investigate and she suggests if he's careful he could look for old books in new form. Mfir's music?

******** session 3 ********

Mirriam has finally come up with a translation of the hieroglyphs from Sethos' tomb that she's happy with.

Before the truth of Ma'at and against the lies of Set this account is written down. Of Lord, God, Pharoah Sethos searching for the life water (life in the Nile?)

It has been spoken of. Lord, God, Pharoah Semempses in the First Dynasty searched the Nile waters for Lord, God, Pharoah Osiris. Lord, God, Pharoah Osiris was found and raised on high that all could receive his blessing.

It has been spoken of. Lord, God, Pharoah Set returned baptised in the purifying Nile, sustained on Lord, God, Pharoah Osiris' loss (sustained to Osiris' loss?).

It has been spoken of. Lord, God, Pharoah Horus gave strength to the land and in conflict the Old Kingdom grew. War with the desert lasted three centuries.

It has been spoken of. Lord, God, Pharoah Djoser and advisor Imhotep gave council. Lord, God, Pharoah Djoser carried the waters to Tuat and Osiris (Osiris' water to Tuat?)

Before Ma'at it was seen. Lord, God, Pharoah Sethos demanded entry to Tuat at the steps of Saqquara on the path of Lord, God, Pharoah Djoser.

Before Set it was seen. The east provided entry.

Before Ma'at it was seen. Lord, God, Pharoah Sethos overcame the twenty steps and approached the central stone.

Before Set it was seen. Lord, God, Pharoah Sethos turned to Lord, God, Pharoah Osiris' fields of grain and wisely spurned the dark soil.

Before Ma'at it was seen. In Tuat there was ruin. In the Nile there was ruin.

Mirriam forms a theory that the lines beginning with Ma'at's name are true while those beginning with Set's are false.

Ramon and Rajiv head off to see if they can make progress at Zefra publishing. Mr Zefra is within the closed establishment dressed in a rather fine dress suit. He is deviding the days take into two piles. One half he puts back in the till the other he puts in his pocket and heads out. He hails a horse drawn taxi and asked to be taken to the opera. Two cats leap onto the luggage rack out back.

Mirriam creates a version of her translation that down plays the water of life stuff and leads to an interpretation of a comparison between Sethos' views of Djoser and Osiris's relationship with Set. She then goes off to see Francois. She has to wait because he's entertaining a mysterious someone who turns out to be the bereaved German ambassador's wife. She is extremely smartly turned out with make up turned up to red. d'Aver seems enchanted but she eventually leaves and he turns his attentions to Mirriam's translation. He tries to lead her to his more radical interpretation of the hieroglyphs as a map to a chamber within the step pyramid of Djoser where the water of eternal life is stored. Mirriam tries to down play that interpretation. In any case the German government are apparently willing to fund an investigation.

At the opera the two cats sneak in the back door and eventually situate themselves one under Mr Zefra's seat, one on the scaffolding above the stage. In the interval Ramon who was below tries to follow Mr Zefra through the mass of legs. Ramon catches a glimpse of a fleeing man that Mr Zefra seems to have performed an exchange or drop off with. The man leaves the opera and Ramon attempts to chase his taxi before loosing him in the Ezbekia amongst the traffic. On relocating Rajiv they realize the description of the man fits his friend Efal.

In the morning all the cats meet at the temple and exchange news. Ramon has to go visit the police who wanted to hire him. Mirriam tags along. Inspector Na'ib's office is covered in pictures of Nubian relics. Apparently some stored Nubian statues (the one's left by a British expedition 50 years ago because they weren't up to much)have been stolen from the museum. They want Ramon to keep an eye on the black market in stolen artifacts. He provides a pass that will let them see the site of the theft.

Rajiv goes back to Zefra publishing and flagrantly asks for Efal. Mr Zefra procrastinates so Rajiv leaves Efal a letter.

At the museum the uncatalogued pieces (statues of pharoahs) are clearly missing. The veil between here and the Shadows is almost non-existant. There are some signs that someone used to live in the Shadows here - tattered weaving on the walls. Mirriam proposes that the statues walked away.

Rajiv finds Raphael now with hair returned to undyed blond. He mutters about beauty showing an example. He's found a mysterious female sponsor and gives all the artists 5 pounds. He wants to get on with the great work. Meanwhile Rajiv realizes the bit of tune he wrote when he first saw Raphael would be better with "blond hair". He plays it and everyone is very impressed.

The cats regather and decide to recheck out Sethos' tomb just in case. In the Shadows there they find an odd group. A berobed guru sits with ten or so acolytes sat round. He pontificates on making the most of the world in which they live not looking back or beyond. Mirriam recognises him from her dreams and goes and sits at his feet followed innocently by Rajiv while Ramon cowers. The guru seems pleased that his "old friend" has returned but takes it all in his stride. He sends his acolytes off to seek items of use to their new life. The cats leave the new Sethos meditating.

******** session 4 ********

After the funeral Ib's and Sarah had had a discussion on astrology. Six dates in the years 2116BC, 1567 BC, 1024BC, 20AD, 551AD and 1227AD are all in times of waning. Ib's wonders if the age of magicians and prophets is at an end? Is this a time to show prudence or seek justice? With those thoughts Sarah returns home where her father has arranged a personal guard for her. His name is Mark and he snuffles.

Defanuh has had an entertaining evening too. Waking on a hunch in the middle of the night he finds a mysterious man sneeking out of Maryam's courtyard. He follows and leaps out of a side alley tripping what turns out to be in fact Maryam. She is embarrassed to have been caught and assumes Defanuh is planning on reporting back to A'meer so insists on returning home mission unaccomplished whatever it was.

The next morning the five kin gather at the temple and exchange stories of recent events. Sethos!

Ramon sets off to search the city for Nubian statues; the museum, Kimet's old hangouts, pretty much everywhere. He even visits Raphael with Rajiv. Raphael has started painting the inside of the church with images of heaven much to the horror of the vicar and Mr Meldewd. Rajiv helps out with the white washing preparation of the walls. No sign of Nubian art even in the belfry.

Mirriam is confused about whether she's on Sethos' or Anubis' side. She asks Lady Cephelene why she's started being a cat. She sticks to the story that it's Lady Bast's doing and that their only purpose is to look after the memory of dead cats. Mirriam heads off with Sarah and asks Ib's about it - he mumbles about her having subconciously learned the word for being a cat. Mirriam and Sarah discuss conflicts of interest between cat and human aspects of the kin.

Defanuh returns to find that Maryam has gone out. The cook finally blurts out that she went out dressed as a man. Defanuh traces her path through the bazzar where she's acting as her own accountant but loses her when she headed off into the Old City.

Mirriam visits Anubis. He suggests that perhaps Lady Bast has given her catness in order that she can work with the newly opened gate to Tuat. Any conflicts it seems to him are for the individual to resolve, no different for the kin than anyone. Sethos has his acolytes building a tower - the first building of a city apparently. Mirriam asks about the past. Sethos says that he listened before to the words of people in life and beyond death who told him he was a God and how he should act. By trying to realize their words he did great harm when he never even knew if they were true. Now he's listening to himself and building a new world in the Shadows. He also tells her that his search for the water of life at Saqqara when he was alive revealed an already plundered tomb.

Ramon drops by Francois in his search who is organising a dig trip to Saqqara for two mornings time. He asks Ramon to tell Mirriam about it. They discuss failed pyramids. No sign of Nubian statues.

Defanuh hangs out at Maryam's as a cat until Maryam again slips out thinking him not there. She makes straight for Ani's tomb that is now an open tomb. She looks round confused and unsure. She notices some little round glass or crystal stones on the floor but doesn't seem to know what to make of them. Then she returns home.

Back at the temple Lady Cephelene listens to the account of Ramon's search and suggests it might be easier to look in the Shadows where you can get to more places. Defanuh turns up with a tiny crystal from Ani's tomb. It seems to mean something to Lady Cephelene who says she's off to chat to A'meer but doesn't otherwise want to reveal what it means.

Ramon tries searching the Shadows. As he approaches A'meer's house a Nubian pharoah steps out and tells him that the way is forbidden. The statues are apparently in the possession of A'meer and acting as Shadow guards - against Kimet?

******** session 5 ********

The cats are at the temple discussing recent events. Suddenly a canvas backed lorry, belching black exhaust, drives up to the temple park. About 15 rifle toting Setites get out and head for the temple. Sarah and Ramon flee into the temple. Defanuh tries to bar their way but is told to retreat. As he does they exchange shots - several of them go down but Defanuh is shot in the leg. Mirriam is standing by in cat form to drag his injured form through to the Shadows.

The Setites unload a crate of dynamite and set up some lighted sticks in the entry. Ramon and Sarah pull them in and blow out the fuses. Mirriam and Defanuh reappear firing from behind the Setites trying to set off the explosives but with no luck. They are forced to retreat into the Shadows again. Ramon and Sarah relight some dynamite and throw it back out. This time the whole crate goes off knocking a hole in the temple wall, killing several Setites and forcing the rest to flee.

The damage to the front wall is quite serious and will need repair. Lady Cephelene should be told! They all head off (Defanuh carried) to find her at A'meer's. They meet her returning looking rather pale. Seeing their disarray she asks if He attacked already. Yes Set they say. Oh not A'meer thank goodness she replies. A'meer??!! They return to the temple where lady Cephelene promises to explain.

Lady Cephelene's explanation begins with an old story:

THE TALE OF HORUS' CRYSTAL KHAT

Even then Set warred on Horus and the Gods allied with him. Since Set had drunk from the fountain of life he was invulnerable and so, though Horus punished him painfully after each battle, eventually Set would always try again. The events which concern us occured after the Festival of the Sun where Horus had been given a crystal statue of himself in perfect likeness. The Gods were weary from the celebration.

LADY BAST: Lady Bast has the head of a cat but is otherwise human. She is quiet, neat and inquisitive. She has the ability to freely travel into the Shadows.

THOTH: Thoth is an intellectual - he basically knows the true name of everything and can thus do what he will with stuff. He does not know the true names of the Gods. He has an ibis' head. He has a baboon companion.

A LESSON IN HUMAN ANATOMY: The human body and soul has seven pieces:

  • Khat: the human body.
  • Ba: the soul
  • Sah: astral body inhabited by the Ba after death
  • Ka: the twin spirit or shadow
  • Khaibit: the shadow body inhabited by the Ka after death
  • Sekhem: the magical spirit
  • Ren: the person's true name

    Thoth's abilities to resurrect the dead: the main problem at death is the loss of a functional Khat. At this point the other parts of the person tend to separate - the Ba often forgets it's dead and carries on for a while in the Shadows, the Ka heads off to Tuat to begin the defense proceedings for the person at trial and the magical spirit just goes off to have a good time. If they can be regathered and a substitute Khat found then with the Ren the person can be brought back.

    URAEUS: Uraeus is a companion of Horus and a friend. He is very depressed. He's immortal and knows pretty much everything and it still hasn't made him happy. He tends to morosely watch the world go by with no care for his own safety - death, what of it? Horus has ordered a jinn, Princess Salilea, to look after his well being. Well whatever.

    PRINCESS SALILEA: Salilea is a princess of the djinni - she can command water and air. She has in return for a favour from Horus agreed to serve and protect Horus' friend Uraeus. He is a pathetic, suicidal moaner but she owes Horus and that is sufficient, she will keep him alive and well.

    The Gods woke in the middle of the night to find the house on fire. Lady Bast quickly vacated to the Shadows. Thoth walked through the flames and commanded them not to touch him. Uraeus watched the flames unenthusiastically until Salilea put up a shield of water around them. Horus though soon found the ceiling falling in and valiantly held up the burning supports of the house. As more and more debris accumulated his strength was tested to the limits and then a final ember and he gave way, buried beneath a pile of burning logs.

    In the Shadows Bast observed Horus' Ba (inhabiting the Sah)chase off to have revenge on the arsonist, Set, totally unaware of his own death. Thoth declared that if they regathered his souls and found a new body he could bring Horus back. Uraeus rather distractedly suggested the statue as a new khat.

    Bast persued the Ba. It had found Set and was hurling abuse, blasts of fire and blows at him. Separated by the veil this had little impact on Set who roared with laughter and hurled abuse back and gloated over his victory. Bast attempted to calm the Ba but any sense talked into him was lost the next moment he saw Set and he again flew into a rage. Bast became a ten foot tall cat and chased Set away. The Ba heard the plan and agreed to return. Set though sneaked back and again restarted the furious confrontation. Uraeus stepped in and took up the distraction of Set by getting in his way and with bits of cheese. Finally Bast and the Ba return to the statue.

    Salilea saught about for signs of the Sekhem; a firey hawk was charging off into the eastern sky. She persued on a cushion of wind. The childish spirit was determined to return to playing in the sun. Salilea reminded it of its duty to Horus and it acted sulky. A deal is struck and the Sekhem will get an hours play in the sun but will then return. Salilea waits, but an hour passes and no Sekhem, so she sets up a huge rain storm threatening the sun. Soon the Sekhem comes flying out evicted for bringing the cloud. It had forgotten the time while playing. They return.

    Thoth himself heads to the West to intercept the Ka (hopefully with the Khaibit) on its way to the trial in Tuat. He gets to the twelve gates at the base of the western mountains that lead to the Offering Fields just as the Ka has received permission to enter Tuat from the guards. The Ka has one foot in Tuat the other out. The guards think he must remain. Thoth blusters about finding essential new evidence for the trial. The Ka, lawyerly, points out that the rules are not to be imposed by the letter but by the spirit. Between their bluster they escape the guards and Tuat and return.

    Horus knows his own Ren which he shares with Thoth and Horus is reborn in the crystal statue. He heads off to find Set. The astonished personification of evil is soundly beaten in a titanic battle. As they leave his battered form, Horus notes that where his new Khat was scratched in the battle it now bleeds crystal blood.

    So when Defanuh showed lady Cephelene the crystal blood she knew A'meer was involved and went to ask how? He was very upset and angry and she thinks the only reason she got out unmolested was because she claimed to have told all the cats everything already. Everyone is very confused: why would A'meer kill Ani, his friend? Or indeed threaten Lady Cephelene? What is going on?

    Sarah, Mirriam and Lady Cephelene go off to fill Ib's in on things. He is equally confounded.

    Ramon goes off to search Ani's tomb anew but no more clues are turned up.

    Defanuh returns to Maryam and confronts her about the crystals. You followed me?! She is very cagey thinking still Defanuh is her father's spy. Defanuh coaxs out of her that her father has been acting strangely forgetting people and having a different demeanour. She thinks perhaps he might be possessed.

    Maryam's story sinks in and the cats realize that most likely Kimet has possessed A'meer after stealing the library, Ani's thoughts. They go to Gemma but she is only faking trying to contact Kimet - Ramon is quite rude about it and they leave on bad terms.

    Mirriam and Sarah visit Anubis at the Shadow gate. They learn that the spirit of A'meer has already passed through to Tuat.

    Back at the temple there is much debate and Defanuh breaks the news to Maryam that her father has been killed by the possessing spirit. She takes it with determination.

    Ramon slips away and visits A'meer. A'meer is slumped very Kimetishly in his chair. Ramon is upset and asks why Kimet has done all these dreadful things. A'meer/Kimet sorrowfully explains that the thief didn't realize the consequences of stealing immortality but that once Ani was dying he had to take sufficient information to protect himself. Then he hid as A'meer to avoid retribution. He was hoping to never be discovered. He is not planning any more killing unless he is attacked. They part on sad but friendly terms and A'meer fakes a purchase order for the Nubian statues from the museum that Ramon can pretend to have tracked down.

    Ramon explains and there is much shaking of heads. Ib's and Lady Cephelene are not happy but will not press a war.

    ******** session 6 ********

    Meanwhile Rajiv has received a letter from "an old friend". It invites him to meet at the Ezbekia park that evening. Rajiv first heads down to the church to talk to Raphael. He thinks that Raphael's true form is the inspiration for his song so asks if Raphael has changed his appearance in any other way than dying his hair. Raphael mutters about a sword but given that he's wearing a rather sharp suit is not too interested in a return to the past. They discuss putting the orchestra up on a platform and dressing them up as angels.

    The other cats are still in some disarray after the days events as night falls. Sarah and Mirriam agree to meet in the morning so Sarah can go along on d'Aver's dig too. They head off homewards except for Ramon who elects himself to guard the temple from the roof where he sits with a gun and a few sticks of dynamite.

    Mirriam is retiring to her bedroom when she discovers Sethos sitting on the shadowy version of her bed. What are you doing here?! He tells her that when he was young he had two black kittens who he played with. They used to catch mice in the garden. When they died he had statues made of them so he could play with them again in the afterlife. He was wondering whether the second kitten was with Mirriam. No, but there was a second statue broken beyond repair. A little sad Sethos wanders off.

    Maryam wants to know what Defanuh and his friends are planning to do about avenging her father's death. Defanuh tries to communicate the power of Kimet. Maryam says she still plans to visit the wizard Alabarut and ask him about it. Defanuh says he'll come to keep an eye on things.

    Rajiv goes to the park and practices his pipe. A greying and weary looking Efal approaches him. They greet each other with a hug and Rajiv enquires after his whereabouts the last few years. He has apparently been across the Arab world and Europe failing to be a big success. Rajiv pushes a little about the new Mfir work. Efal makes some comments about famous musicians being lucky and equal talents being lost. Rajiv tells him about his music and the church. Efal is very impressed, describing it as almost painful, and suggests they go along so he can hear it with backing strings. At the church (the floor of which is now strewn with white feathers) an impromptu jam starts and goes on late into the night.

    With morning light Kimet, back in child form, appears at the temple roof and he greets Ramon. He supposes it has fallen to him do something about Set. He suggests a trap to capture Set after Ramon suggests it would look bad to kill him given past events. Ramon is to pretend to have seen Kimet's ghost back in the tombs and tell everyone so Set will investigate and Kimet block him up there from a hide out in the Shadows. Ramon says he'll set the rumour up but doesn't want to lie to the other cats.

    Sarah gets up early and gathers up the hamper of food Eugene has provided and heads outside to find Mark. Quentin has apparently substituted for Mark who is alleged to have the snuffles. They head off to d'Avers.

    Mirriam arrives first and finds two trucks covered in diggers. Inside are Francois and Gertrude, the German ambassadoress, and surprisingly a rather militarily dressed Raphael. Raphael and Gerturde seem to be connected to Francois' distress. Sarah and Quentin arrive and Gertrude does not look best pleased to see a representative of the British along. They head off into the desert in the trucks in any case.

    Rajiv, Efal and the other musicians emerge from their mad playing exhausted around dawn. A small crowd of stunned on lookers has gathered. Everyone is tired so they head home. Rajiv has a sleep and dreams of his own funeral where his mother demands his work be played - gratifying because she's always told him his music wasn't worth anything.

    Ramon heads off to the Tombs and pretends to have seen a ghost where Kimet used to hang out. A small crowd gathers to listen and the local urchins start seeing ghosts too. Work done, Ramon heads back to his market stall and collects a cheque from the passing police inspector who has checked that A'meer does indeed have the statues.

    Defanuh has been practicing swords at the temple. Ramon and Rajiv turn up and dreams and Raphael's sword are discussed. He's not getting it back. Defanuh shows it to Rajiv who ponders putting a little more bite into the music, pain and ecstasy and all that.

    The archaeology convoy arrives in Saqqara. Francois and his diggers go charging up the pyramid while Raphael and Gertrude sit in the trucks. Sarah, Quentin and Mirriam make their way over more slowly. Francois is looking on the east side contrary to the Set/Ma'at hypothesis. He doesn't find anything but gets the men to pull out a big block. Meanwhile Quentin tries to walk Sarah round the site but Sarah drags Mirriam along too. Mirriam finds signs of an entrance in accordance with the Set/Ma'at hypothesis. Francois is too disappointed by his falure to notice. Mirriam would rather not make the discovery with Gertrude around so they head back to the trucks for lunch. Refreshed Francois decides to return and search every inch of the pyramid. He or the men is going to find the entrance so Mirriam takes the credit by showing them. While the men pull the block out Raphael and Gertrude come up for the find. A tunnel in that divides to a passage painted with wheat fields and harvest scenes and a darker smaller access way. Mirriam checks the place out in the Shadows. It's quiet and in considerable disrepair but she does notice a bright light on the west bank of the Nile back towards Cairo - Sethos' doing? Francois has now worked out the Set/Ma'at cipher and heads down the smaller one. A sacked room with burnt walls is at the end. The floor has a pool shaped depression with the remains of a broken statue or fountain in the middle. Everyone is very disappointed. Francois is excited though that there was a pool here. They set off back to Cairo.

    Defanuh and Maryam head off to see Alabarut. He lives apparently in the Tombs of the Mamlukes. He is a ghul, though with the decency to cover himself in a long cowl. He hisses that for a price he can send someone to the Shadows and if their will to kill a spirit is stronger than the spirit's will to live they may prevail. He can also provide a sigil that if freely accepted by a spirit will force it back to the ghostlands. The price is two fold; the person must drain their blood until the point of death and also he would require a service in the ghostlands. A person must be visited, a word said and an object conveyed back. Anubis Defanuh wonders as they head away to ponder what to do?

    While driving back to Cairo Francois ponders having a press conference and getting everyone to look for inscriptions with the water of life symbols in the hope of unearthing an account of the theft from the pyramid. The cats try to discourage him.

    Quentin walks Sarah, via dinner in a restraunt, home. He's apparently restless with his life wishing to do something more important than march about but doesn't know what. He stops a little away from the Governor's house and begs a kiss which Sarah acquieces to. He proposes going to an art exhibition at a local church the next day.

    Finally the cats regather and discuss their woes. They shake a number of problems by various legs to see what falls out. Defanuh intends to get the sigil from Alabarut in return for going to talk to Anubis. Mirriam offers to help if she doesn't have to get involved with Kimet. Ramon keeps quiet about Kimet's plan to capture Set. Lady Cephelene mentions that she and Ib's had wondered if Anubis' power to summon the Ka of the dead for the trial could be used aginst Kimet. It wouldn't solve the Ba problem though.

    ******** session 7 ********

    Defanuh, Mirriam, Sarah and Rajiv decide to pay Alabarut a visit to weddle out of him his method for casting Kimet into the Shadows. Alabarut, after being convinced somewhat that they might be able to travel to the Shadows on their own, states that he requires in payment that they go to Anubis and say "Hazarram, Alabarut demands the crown". They are to bring him back what they are given. Defanuh says he'll see what he can do and they leave.

    They travel to the Shadows and visit Anubis. Defanuh explains what Alabarut wants without actually using the phrase but hinting he knows Anubis' true name. Anubis appears angry at Alabarut, that this name is known and with the cats for "meddling". So they don't force the issue but return from the Shadows and go their separate ways.

    Rajiv gets involved in a discussion group with the art collective and Raphael. Raphael is terribly excited about their Nazi sponsors who are apparently intending to lead humanity to higher beauty, strength and right behaviour through example. Humanity is going to evolve to a better form as a result apparently. Anyway in view of this he thinks they should fly the Nazi flag over the door. Well as long as it doesn't clash with the decor they agree.

    Defanuh gets home to find Maryam flat out on the landing after drinking scorpion poison! Apparently a dark robed, bearded man visited her and after he left she drank the stuff, to commit suicide the servants suppose. The doctor is grave and hopes the paralysis doesn't reach her heart. In one hand she is clenching the hilt of a broken sword. In a panic Defanuh runs for Maryam.

    They begin a search of the Shadows. After checking several places they hear shouts in amongst the Tombs of the Mamlukes. A determined Maryam is confronting Kimet and one of his Nubian pharoah statues. She has an impressive black metal sword. Kimet is trying to talk what he considers sense into her, "The statue will carve you up!", while the statue intercedes between them. Mirriam and Defanuh decide they're both on Maryam's side. Defanuh trains his gun on the statue while Mirriam rushs forward and hurls sand in his eyes. Maryam takes advantage of the distraction to land the sword on the statue reducing it to rubble. Kimet seems surprised and continues to try to sooth things down but Maryam advances. Finally Kimet is forced to defend himself (the cats certainly aren't helping) by drawing on the Shadows' winds to sweep into Maryam's face and blow her back. She struggles valiantly against the storm and Mirriam does a bit of distracting too. A little impass allows Defanuh to notice sulphorous brown fumes beginning to wind round Kimet. Mirriam can see they're coming from the otherside of the veil. She goes across to look - a dark robed, bearded man is doing something with a smoking lantern. They feel each other out with regards the ghost and the man assures that he is against the ghost for all its done and that's why he's trying to capture it. Maryam isn't sure so nips back. Meanwhile Kimet has noticed the smoke and deeming that more important than Maryam sweeps her and Defanuh away on a massive gust of wind. He pleads for Maryam to help him because that's Set trying to capture him. Maryam goes to find Defanuh who is staggering back and he confirms it sounds like Set. They head back across and Set speaks to them politely. The cats are uncertain what to do and in the end prevaricate until Set picks up the lantern saying the ghost is caught and walks off. Well Maryam's wellbeing is certainly worth worrying about so they go to find her but she's nowhere to be found in the Shadows. They head off to bed worried.

    The cats gather early at the temple. Maryam is still comatose so perhaps she is lost in the Shadows. They go to search, looking everywhere they can think of but no Maryam. They bump into some of Sethos' followers and ask after Maryam but then it turns out one of them is Cleopatra! Both Defanuh and Cleopatra seem to be in shock. She demands to know why he's here, and says she's started a new life and doesn't want to have anything to do with the old. Defanuh can't gather his wits. Finally the other initiates of Sethos bring her away telling her to find comfort in the work. Defanuh is reeling.

    What if Sethos has Maryam too? They start to head off that way but Mirriam doesn't want harm to come to Sethos so sprints off leaving the others lost. She finds Sethos meditating in his tower (with a bright beacon light on the top) but nothing she does wakes him. Maryam doesn't seem to be around. She returns to the other cats who are cold, wet, confused and lost. Rajiv demands to go home so Mirriam shows him back. The remaining three ask Anubis whether Maryam has been through the gate? No. They can't think of anywhere else to search.

    Sarah visits Ib's who's been reading about evolution. He thinks there's the nub of an idea to do with the continuation of true names in there. After all the word for reproduction must be very commonly known while that for one's own death much less so. They return to the whole Set issue and the worry is that now there is no one who can stand up to the bully.

    Rajiv meets Efal and the other musicians at the church and they set to practicing. A crowd shows up to listen including Quentin and Sarah. Everyone is rapped with attention and then suddenly it's late afternoon and everyone is very tired. Quentin and Sarah head off with Quentin bemoaning the dull dreariness of his life. That night Sarah dreams of contented hoards of future Beckenshaws running around for generations after she's gone.

    ******** session 8 ********

    Where had Ramon been all this time? Sitting guard at the temple he is visited by a phantasm of Kimet. "Heh isn't this a great spell? Think what Hollywood could do with it? It can't listen though. Anyway, Set has been hanging around my trap in the tombs so why don't you hop on over to his house and check it out?" Then the apparaition vanishes.

    Set's house is old, dark and tree enshrouded. The grounds seem deserted except for the odd snake. A couple of unshuttered windows look into a library and a small museum off it. Ramon breaks a window just sufficiently to get in and pokes about. Sarcophagi, statues, piles of newspapers and political tracts concentrating on British and Eygptian politics. Outside the library a corridor leads around an inner court from where a light shines. Caught in its glare Ramon imagines he is in a vast desert with a statue of Set on the horizon, snakes crawling across the sands. He begins to suffer from thirst and heat.

    The mirage is broken by the sound of the front door opening. Ramon bolts back to the library as Set enters, derobes and heads off upstairs. Ramon follows and watches from behind a statue. Set decants a blue light from a lantern to a piece of obsidian saying, "to be sealed away until the light bringer Horus provides release". Apparently satisfied he heads off leaving lantern and obsidian behind. Ramon grabs the obsidian and flees. He goes to a market and buys a substitute piece of obsidian that he then smashes and returns to Set's house to leave in place of the orginal.

    The cats meet up at the temple and exchange gossip though a number of points are rather skirted round. Defanuh is depressed. The obsidian piece presumably contains Kimet's Ka. Perhaps Maryam's too? They go off to talk to Ib's who confirms it is a Ka trap, that it can only hold one Ka, and that Kimet's not likely to be getting out in a while what with Horus being dead. Ib's seems to think that justice has been done but suggests putting the stone somewhere safe and away from him. It's given back to Ramon who goes off and hides it in a neighbour's cellar. Everyone heads off to bed or guard duty at the temple.

    A follower of Sethos is waiting in the Shadows at Mirriam's house. They have found Maryam and Sethos sent him to get Mirriam to take her back. As they head over to New Tanis the follower explains about Sethos having confronted his shadow and overcome it, pressing it into his breast where he can control it. That was when he had the vision of New Tanis and why he has to commune with his shadow to suppress it. Uh huh. They have indeed found Maryam - she was blown out into the desert and only found her way back because of the beacon. Maryam is returned to her body where she wakes in the real world.

    In the morning Ramon heads off into the Shadows to see if he can find the famed Cleopatra. She is out collecting stones for Sethos' construction. Sethos is communing, staring towards Cairo. Ramon investigates the houses and the beacon light. Talking with the followers he learns that the light was made from a bit of their hearts which sounds a lot like the old pyramid trick. The city is eventually going to cover the world apparently.From the top of the beacon tower he spots a procession approaching from the Citadel - Sethos seems to be expecting them. It is Anubis with an entourage. He accuses Sethos of distorting the natural order and when Sethos protests he is doing no harm bangs his staff to the ground in anger. An earthquake results knocking over the tower and dumping everyone in the sand. Sethos stands serenely through it all until a sudden flare of anger crosses his face and he makes as if to strike Anubis before reasserting control over himself. Anubis adds finally that this is Sethos' last chance to come of his own will to trial or Anubis will drag him there! Sethos watches him leave.

    Sethos' acolytes are in confusion. He tells them not to fear. He is going to go out into the desert to commune with his shadow but when he returns they will find a way to rebuild Tanis once more. He then heads off. All sorts of discussions of the rights and wrongs of doing as Anubis or Sethos say follow. Some of Sethos' supporters do seem to be there of their own free will and even have a point about making the best of their current life rather than throwing themselves through a gate to who knows where?

    Cleopatra returns and Ramon broaches the subject of Defanuh. Sethos has taught her to forgive but all that is behind her now and she wants nothing more to do with him. Ramon points out that he's been mourning her for 10 years and she seems a little pleased at the idea. Perhaps they might speak when the current difficulties are over.

    Sarah hears through her father that d'Aver is holding a press conference and she offers to go along and report back. Neither Quentin nor Mark have turned up though this morning. A phone call to the barracks produces a new escort, Matthew, and the news that Mark is being reprimanded. They head off to the press conference.

    Mirriam turns up as well. They take seats in the small hall. Francois, Gertrude and Raphael are sitting up on the podium. A man, Sarah identifies as the stranger from Ani's funeral, approaches the podium and apparently threatens the archaeologists with dire results if they don't stop their search. He is chased from the room by a crowd of photographers but somehow vanishes anyway. Francois is furious and determinedly gets on with the show. He reviews the Saqqara find and asks for new leads on the "Osiris water" front - everyone should look for hieroglyphs and anyone providing useful information will get a cut of the findings.

    As Sarah passes the guards at the gate on her way home she learns that Quentin was talking about water of life the previous day too. It's hard to find out more without telling Matthew he was replacing Mark.

    The cats regather and discuss the Sethos Anubis confrontation. Lady Cephelene supposes that if Sethos has bound his Ba into himself then Anubis could summon him to trial. And then they have Anubis' truename too. Best to keep out of it...

    ******** session 9 ********

    Rajiv goes to the church to practice. Everyone agrees that the music is almost ready, the paintings too. A number of gothically dressed fans have turned up for the practice. While tuning up, the chaplain arrives. He's displeased about the Nazi flag and wants to talk to Raphael. Raphael turns up shortly after with Gertrude and Raphael is laid into by the chaplain about taking Nazi support. He explains how they plan to set an example of beauty and so forth for the less endowd to aspire to. The chaplain says man was put on earth to look after the less well off not attempt to make mankind evolve. He rips down the flag and deposits Gertrude in the street to Raphael's confusion. The musicians play and Raphael stays to listen. He likes the music but is confused by how physically draining the long session seems. He heads off looking perturbed and saying that that wasn't how he remembered Heaven.

    Rajiv joins the other cats at the temple. They resolve to go and ask Set whether there's still a war on. Set welcomes them to his house and reveals that he is preparing for a coronation ceremony in which he will be crowned Pharoah of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms. He assures them that loyal subjects will not have to fear attack though he does ominously suggest that Sarah may have to choose allegiance between Britain and Eygpt. Lady Cephelene and Ib's are neither too pleased to hear these developments - is Set really planning to raise an army against the British?

    Mirriam goes to the market and buys a tarot deck. A black, shadowy crow appears and wants to be followed, as it turns out, to Anubis. Anubis says a hard battle with Sethos is coming and that any aid Mirriam could provide would be appreciated. She chooses her words not to offend or offer any information.

    Defanuh returns to check on Maryam. She is up and wants to speak to him. She thanks him for his aid and he tries to avoid giving too much away about how he gets to the Shadows and so forth. There was a ghost woman she met who knew Defanuh - she said she'd waited for him but he only came after she'd given up hope. She wonders who he was. Defanuh considers getting drunk.

    Sarah, humming Rajiv's tune, goes home to discover her father looking for her. Quentin has gone missing after meeting with a bunch of American treasure hunters. Some of the truth about the trip to Saqqara comes out.

    Rajiv heads off to see his mother. She asks about the music and he plays her a bit. To his horror he slips across to the Shadows. Somehow the music guides him towards the church though the way is convoluted. Half way there he comes across Anubis mounting his chariot who welcomes him as Piper. The music seems to fit the glide of the horses' hooves through the mists.

    Mirriam goes to the Tombs and speaks to Alabarut. He says Anubis was a tyrant who used people and then stole the ghul's crown. Mirriam suspects this is propaganda. She returns home and asks her new tarot deck whether she should decide between Sethos and Anubis. They say to make a decision will lead to a more definite future. Is Sethos reformed? - he is a mix of very good and very evil. She concludes to leave matters to them.

    Defanuh decides to visit Cleopatra and goes to Gisa. At the feet of the Sphinx he meditates his way across to the Shadows. Sethos has returned from the desert and is telling his followers how the Ba's path to the Ka's forgiveness has been thwarted and the Ka's fury is rising beyond control. Perhaps after the battle they can begin to rebuild New Tanis again. He then goes quiet and Defanuh gets to talk to Cleopatra. She is loathed to be dragged into conversation but they discuss the Sethos Anubis debate and Abdul. Then Sethos walks to the base of the broken tower and uncovers the light. He draws the light into his body so he shines then heads off for Cairo.

    Mirriam can't sleep; there's a tension building in the Shadows. She nips over to Sarah and together they go to investigate. The four cats, Sethos plus followers and Anubis come together at the church. Through the veil come strains of Rajiv's song. Sethos and Anubis confront each other. Sethos casts the light from himself as a weapon at Anubis and where the light glints back off his mask the cats feel anguish and fury. Sethos seems surprised then throws himself into the strange battle. As the music grows in intensity Anubis stumbles then falls. A subtle change to the music's peak fills everyone with a sense of pain and then it falls deadly silent. The light fails and Sethos and Anubis fall to the ground.

    The combatant's bodies are decaying to dust. The cats nip real world side and discover all but one of the musicians dead. The only survivor apparently rustled his score at the moment where Efal had made a change. Rajiv stays to cope with the cleanup and to mourn for Efal. The other three return to the Shadows where the ghosts seem gaunt and confused.

    To the gate to see what has become of it! The stone pillars are cracked and the gates broken from their hinges. Through the gate the cats see only void but the ghosts claim to see Heaven and start trooping through. Defanuh wonders whether this is what's best for Cleopatra but lets her go, a picture of Abdul in her hand.

    ******** session 10 ********

    Ramon had spent a restless night too. He'd felt the tension of the events in the Shadows but mistook it for something to do with a number of dreams of Kimet. In the dream a ghostly Kimet approaches him and then stands there doing nothing. Ramon goes to investigate the obsidian but nothing seems to have changed.

    Mirriam is woken up early by Francois' butler summoning her to an urgent meeting. Francois, Gertrude and a SS Officer are interrogating a young Egyptian man who claims to be the apprentice of the Guardian of the Water of Life. For a lot of money and a ticket to Europe he'll show them where it's hidden. They must be quick though. Everyone leaps into a truck and heads north west into the desert before Mirriam can think of a way to get a message to the others.

    Sarah while making her way to the temple in the morning is almost run down by a truck hurtling towards the west of Cairo. It's drivers though dressed as locals are all European, one of them is Quentin! The truck disappears off before Sarah can make enquiries.

    Rajiv finally locates Raphael wandering the streets. The angel was going to break ties with the art group because "it isn't right, the vicar was right, we need to direct the common man's good will better" is his new conclusion. Rajiv breaks the news of the deaths and Raphael seems honestly horrified and incomprehending. He goes off to see the deads' relatives saying he wished he'd closed it down earlier.

    The cats meet at the temple and discuss life and death. The Guardian, the man from Ani's funeral, walks up and tells Lady Cephelene and the cats that his apprentice has gone missing. They haven't seen him. If they do they should come to a certain hostel. The Guardian says that he will have to assume the worst and set things in motion.

    Mirriam's absence is suggestive. They go to check on Francois and Gertrude. They learn from Francois' butler that they have gone off on a dig. They rush to find the Guardian but he says that matters are beyond his control now. But Mirriam is on your side! Well maybe they could try to catch them before it's too late. They head off with the Guardian into the desert.

    Meanwhile Mirriam has desparately been trying to waylay the expedition. On the excuse of a call of nature she brings the truck to a stop, disappears behind a rock and returns as a cat to rake holes in their front tyre. Repairs have to begin and the apprentice begins to get nervous about pursuit. More so when a truck comes careening along the road towards them. Mirriam flags it down and as it stops Gertrude pulls a gun on the three drivers declaring the Fuher can stand no more delays. Francois and Mirriam are horrified by this act of banditry until the drivers are revealed as American treasure hunters out to steal their find at which point Francois is somewhat appeased. Mirriam still makes a fuss so Gertrude is happy to leave her stranded too. In cat form she leaps into the back of the new truck as it heads off. Quentin and his American friends are left to fix the tyre in the heat.

    The archaeologists drive out across the desert, climb an unlikely pass through some mountains and descend towards deep Saharan dunes. The apprentice's directions then lead along the base of the mountains to where a large undiscovered temple to Osiris stands at the base of a cliff. Meanwhile an hour behind the Guardian and the other cats traverse the same route passing by the beleaguered Americans unaware of who they are.

    Gertrude and Francois begin to explore the astonishing find. At the entry to each new court a catted Mirriam appears out of the Shadows and scratches their legs. The apprentice flees what he thinks is a venegeful servant of Bast and hides in the truck. A little unnerved by this supernatural cat and stockings badly torn the others still perserver. The inner sanctum of the third court is walled up. Dynamite it says Gertrude! No! cries Francois. They compromise at a half hour photographing the frescos before dynamiting. Mysteriously during this time a second truck turns up outside but its occupants have not shown their faces. Dynamite is primed.

    The Guardian drives to within sight of the tomb where the parked trucks are visible and begins to turn round saying it is really too late. The cats object. As they start to return another truck, the Americans, comes towards the temple. The Guardian stops to block their way but they career off the road and onwards. Now Ramon is miffed and jumps into their truck and starts up again. The Guardian warns them they go to their doom. Ulp.

    As the dynamite is about to be let off the Americans arrive and hold the archaeologists at gun point. Quentin guards them while the Americans light the dynamite. Mirriam appears out of the Shadows to put out the dynamite and steal what she can.

    The cats' truck arrives and Mirriam heads off to fill them in. Well they're all doomed so lets go. But Quentin! Sarah rushes off to rescue him, the others in pursuit. BOOM! Finally the dynamite is exploded and when they get to the courtyard everyone has gone into the sanctum. Noises of argument between the two groups and falling masonry are heard. Sarah calls for Quentin and finally he is sent to investigate. "Club him!" yells Sarah and Defanuh does. From within are the sounds of gun shots. They decide to cut their losses and leave the rest to the doom.

    They drive off in the truck after Rajiv has sabotaged all the others. Who was in the fourth truck they wonder - the suspicion is Set cleaning up for the Guardian. Quentin comes to and is miffed to have been dragged from the action when the fountain was just there apparently. He's also started suspecting something odd is up with this bunch who saved him. Are you a witch Sarah? Ridicule and no answers are heaped on him.

    Back in Cairo Sarah has a long chat with Quentin in which she manages to get away with only telling him that her friends worship old Egyptian gods. He wants to be her guard and desert from the army. She convinces him to return and say he was mugged. He heads off to, but she learns later he didn't turn up at the barracks and is still missing.

    A little more light is shed on events when Set's coronation takes place at the temple of Osiris with the Guardian performing the service. Ib's refuses to go. Lady Cephelene is very scornful of the inaccuracies of the ceremony and heads off at the earliest opportunity. The cats hang on to hear Set's speech. Egypt has apparently been beset by petty squabbles that have distracted her from her true plight that she is ruled by a foriegn army. Set pledges to return Egypt to her own rule.

    All of which seemed to settle these matters, at least for now.