Reign Fall

Read it in Finnish here - thanks to Fijavan Brenk; Read it in Azerbaijanian here - thanks to Amir Abbasov.

Defanuh has a period of vivid dreams in which his dead love, Cleopatra, is struggling through a sandstorm, her hair full of sand, looking tired and malnourished. Wracked by guilt on waking, he sets about a determined drinking campaign to drown his sorrows. Ramon tries to get to the bottom of the problem but can't find a convincing argument to stop him drinking (even the bucket of water doesn't work).

Sarah is trying to have a quiet period doing the sorts of things that a Governor's daughter ought. Unfortunately this has resulted in an invitation to a "jolly big do at Shepheard's hotel for some French archaeologist who's about to start a dig. Oh and by the way Quentin will be there..." Oh joy.

Old Lady Cephelene has decided to up the tempo of Ramon's training as an initiate of Bast. She takes him on a tour of the werecat's tombs and lectures him on the importance of providing the dead with possessions so that they are properly attired to enter the afterlife. She also points out that the living have a duty to those who died without proper provision and are now stuck outside of the underworld. She suggests that Ramon might have glimpsed such a one? He hasn't...

Ramon approaches Defanuh and suggests that Cleopatra might not have all the things she needs for the afterlife. Defanuh will have none of this pagan rubbish..

After a few visits to the catacombs Ramon eventually meets a large grey cat who makes his acquaintance and suggests one must be wary in the Shadows. Deducing from the tingles going up and down his fur that this is one such as Cephelene mentioned Ramon sets about questioing him about the Shadow lands. Although old and vague the strange cat takes him above ground to show him some sights. The air is thick and dark with Nile fog and a huge pyramid looms over everything. He recounts the following tale; there was once a pharoah called Sethos who was worshipped as a God in life. As such to enter the after life he must come attired as a God-king and so he built a great tomb in the desert and filled it with the things and servants he would need. Unfortunately he wasn't very popular and his tomb was robbed within 7 days of his death. He could not enter the afterlife. Furious he used his remaining power to terrorize the Shadows and to build this pyramid. Shortly after the recounting of this tale Ramon fades back into the brightly lit real world.

*********** Session 2 ***********

Sarah and her father attend the dinner at Shepheard's hotel for the Parisian Prof Francois d'Aver, a renowned archaeologist. He has decoded an ancient Eygptian stele which Napoleon had brought from Cairo and had been lying around in the Paris museum. It apparently reveals that the pharoah Sethos' tomb was within sight of the great pyramids. He intends to mount a search and dig.

Defanuh returns home in the evening after a drinking session and is lambasted by Markus for not keeping a better eye on Abdul. Apparently Abdul has been associating with the Kattar brothers, two teenage radical nationalists. Defanuh confronts Abdul over the matter. He is sulking because he isn't being treated like an adult and being allowed to make his own friends. After some toing and froing in which Defanuh asks Abdul what he's planning on doing with his life, he points out that if Abdul doesn't know then he should do as he's told by those who have a better idea than him. Abdul continues to sulk.

Quentin is also at the dinner at Shepheards. He is embarrassed and awkward about saying hello to Sarah. His fellow army captain, Roger Milesford, is more forthcoming and relates an amusing anecdote. Apparently the local monastery of the Mewlewi dervishes claims that one of their members started whirling three days ago and hasn't stopped since. Intruigued Roger had gone along to see. He was forbidden entrance and it was explained that visitors were only allowed for an hour each day and then for a price. Roger was sceptical that the dervish whirled for more than an hour a day.

Ramon talks to Old Lady Cephelene about the cat in the Shadows. Cephelene says he is called Timeh and is lonely. He will make a good cautious guide to the dangerous Shadows. Ramon suggest that Defanuh's lover maybe a ghostly prisoner of Sethos. She is more inclined to believe that Defanuh is just too self obsessed. She warns Ramon against any impulsive stupidity in the Shadows.

At the end of the dinner at Shepheards, Roger and his drunken comrades decide to sneak into the Mewlewi dervishes' monastery and plant a British flag where the dervish is supposed to be whirling. Sarah and Quentin are invited along but don't think the enterprise is a wise idea.

Meeting at the temple the three cats exchange gossip. They decide to go see the whirling dervish. At the monastery, at the bottom of the citadel, there is a large angry crowd gathering. Apparently the soldiers climbed onto the roof of the monastery only to discover that indeed the dervish was still whirling. In the confusion they made enough noise to attract the dervishes attention. Fleeing, they got away, but left the flag behind. The dervishes are demanding the customary punishment of the removal of the right hand for the culprits. They intend to march to the Governor's house and demand justice.

Fearing the riot to come Defanuh quickly heads to the barracks and wakes Roger from his drunken slumber. He points out that if Roger doesn't quickly go and apologise he will have to remove his right hand. After being released Roger gets up in a furory about the lapse of security. Nobody notices the cat slipping out of a window.

By this time the riot is in full swing with several houses burning and an angry mob marching on everything British. The dervishes have beaten a hasty retreat. Sarah heads home to be present when her father comes to protect her from the disturbance.

Defanuh wanders about harranging the rioters for such dishonourable behaviour. Ramon is somewhat more surruptitious about negotiating a route through the crowd. Roger makes a speech at the barracks to the rioters telling them to go home. He is pelted with rocks and the soldiers retaliate with rifle volleys into the air resulting in a stand off at the barracks.

They meet Markus desparately trying to find Abdul who has run off into the action. After some searching they find him in a mob of stone throwing youths at the Governor's house led by the Kattar brothers. Again there is a stand off with the British soldiers within. Sarah meanwhile is having tea in the kitchen. Defanuh confronts the stone throwers and challenges them to an honourable dual. They proceed to mob him in anger and he only just escapes with a daring leap onto the governor's house's walls. Abdul is now scared out of his wits as to what Defanuh will do to him when he catches him and readily makes his escape with Ramon. In fact Defanuh is lenient with him seeing how scared he is.

The riot calms down towards dawn and the next evening Defanuh again sneaks into the barracks (on the second attempt since the guards are more wary tonight). Waking Roger he offers him one last chance to apologise or suffer his fate (Defanuh recognises that in his drunken state last night he might have made an error of judgement).

*********** Session 3 ***********

Next morning Sarah is quizzed by her father about what she heard Roger say at the party. She tries not to implicate anyone but it becomes clear that Quentin overheard too. He is summoned to the house and admits all that he saw before skulking off after a reprimand for not having stopped Roger. The Governor heads off to the barracks and instigates the imprisonment of Roger and friends for shipment back to England for a court marshall (insighting the locals to riot by behaviour unbefiting their rank). Defanuh ponders whether that's sufficient penalty.

Ramon returns to his duties of sweeping the temple and bringing offerings of dead mice to the vault. Timeh brings him to the Shadows and engages him in conversation about what's happening to the Kin. He seems to enjoy getting all the gossip (Cephelene is apparently more discreet).

Defanuh returns home to check on Abdul who continues to behave himself. Markus suggests that a word from Defanuh with the Kattar brothers might discourage future problems with Abdul. Defanuh heads off to a coffee house to consider his options. A heavily robed figure enters the coffee house and locates Defanuh. He says that he is a merchant who has been cheated in a transaction, not receiving due payment for delivered goods, and that he wishes Defanuh to take vengeance for him. The cheater is called Servant of Allah, he is an assassin. The payment will be a necklace that allows the wearer to know the true thoughts of loved ones. Defanuh accepts.

Sarah becomes aware that Ib's wishes company and trots over. He is in a thoughtful mood and contemplates the problem of too much power being as incapacitating as too little. In particular he seems to have in mind some new knowledge that would allow him to incarcerate some of the chaotic influences of the world. He wonders whether this would be dangerous at a later date if the binding failed or even whether the world needs more chaos than you might think. Sarah adds some useful meows to the conversation. They conclude that one may research such things without neccesarily having decided to act. The bottom line is that since it's a full moon today Ib's could send Sarah to a library to look something up for him. She agrees and he provides her with some spectacular dark blue flowers to take as offering.

Timeh takes Ramon on a tour of the fog covered Shadows. The buildings are decayed and empty. They encounter a group of six of Sethos' soldiers which Ramon peeks at from hiding. They appear to be animated sandstone statues. Ramon suggests that finding Sethos' tomb and smashing or removing the statues might be a good idea. Timeh agrees but points out that Sethos' tomb has been lost. Ah but now it's been found again points out Ramon. Anyway they climb a minaret to watch the sun set (a feeble copy of the normal world's sunset) and view the unfinished work on Sethos' pyramid. Apparently the stones are souls. Timeh comments that he particularly likes this minaret though he's not sure why. Ramon has been sitting around too long so Timeh releases him back to the world.

Defanuh sneaks into the Assassin's headquarters in cat form. The cult have a temple and training area within the building which is well guarded. It becomes clear that Servant of Allah is their common name. They have apparently recently received a consignment of rifles. Unclear who the target now is he returns to the camps of the desert traders and relocates his employer. The merchants are a group of four with delicate features and violet eyes... they renegotiate that Defanuh should kill the one responsible for the breaking of the contract whomever that may be.

Sarah arrives at the small, old mosque that is the library and knocks. The door is opened by an Eygptian woman wearing dark blue robes and unveiled. She allows Sarah entry to a hall with a large, old statue of the moon Goddess Ani. Behind the statue a doorway leads to a chamber with a catonic figure laid out on a stone bed. He is beautifully dressed but stares up at the moon and stars painted on the ceiling. Sarah offers up the flowers and shuts her eyes as instructed. She is suddenly in a vast library open to the night sky. The first book she looks at is the one she wants. She sits at a table and begins to read. Each hieroglyph is engraved on her memory as she reads it even though she can't understand a word. Scorpions skitter across the floor, a cloud obscures the moon dropping the library into pitch darkness for a few minutes, the prone man from the mosque watches her before flittering off as an owl, St Elmos fire dances across the bookcases. She reads, finishes, restores the book to the shelf and finds herself back in the mosque.

Ramon finds that in the real world the minaret belongs to an empty house with boarded windows. In one room a scrawny illkept man sleeps on a wooden pallet and a beautiful dancing girl with blue-black hair sleeps cross legged in a chalk circle. Ramon approaches the circle and the girl wakes and plays with the cat. She does not seem bound to the chalk circle. Eventually these two set about their daily routine. The girl, apparently a jinn, deludes the man into believing he's living as a Prince - she's seems to dislike him and find the whole thing tedious. When Ramon tries to leave by a window she freezes his muscles. Turning to human form Ramon discovers that the jinn, Salilea, is bound to stop others entering or leaving by the doors and windows. She is confused about how he came in. She offers him entertainment for his stay but Ramon is insulted that she offers it without personal interest (though he does steal a kiss!). He tries to call Timeh to help him escape but to no avail all day.

Defanuh returns to the Assassin's temple and reads their ledgers to discover that the Master of the cult terminated the payment for the rifles. He enters the Master's bedroom to take vengenance upon him. The Master wakes and challenges that Defanuh works for jinn that are devils according to the Koran. Defanuh ponders but concludes that a contract should be kept once made with anyone and shoots him. He escapes the rabid assassins in cat form.

Sarah returns to Ib's and copies out the text she read (with annotated remarks about the library's wildlife).

Just as desperation is setting in Timeh returns to the minaret for sunrise and rescues Ramon. Salilea is sad and asks if he will return...

Defanuh receives payment from his employer and their contract is fulfilled.

*********** Session 4 ***********

The cats gather for a gossip session at the temple after which they head off for the night. Defanuh and Ramon go off to find and chastise the Kattar brothers. The brothers are drinking and lambasting British rule in a favourite nationalist coffee house. Ramon asks them to see somebody outside and they arrogantly strole out. Defanuh meets them outside the door and gives them a solid beating (much to the horror of the owner of the bar) before requesting that they leave Abdul alone.

In amongst the Tombs of the Mamelukes this evening Aran is on his usual search for bones. His tested method of following a pack of ghuls as they roam around searching recently buried corpses works again and he watches the ghuls devour the recently deceased (from a good distance). The ghuls are eventually chased off by some local residents and Aran moves in and makes off with a whole handful of knuckle bones. He then heads for the Nile to wash them off before sleeping in a warehouse by the docks.

Sarah returns home to discover that Quentin has been by with an invitation for her and her father to visit the reopening of the Mewlewi Dervishes whirling dervish viewing hour (apparently he's still at it). She convinces her father to put off a meeting with the German ambassador to attend.

Ramon collects some flowers and sweet smelling herbs from the temple gardens then drags Defanuh downstairs to the crypt. They meditate in the hope of getting to the Shadows. Ramon is stolen under Defanuh's nose by a thief boy in the Shadows called Kimet. Kimet is very proud of being a master thief who has stolen his own life from death and now even a jinn cat. He explains, as he swings Ramon in a circle, that now he gets a wish. Ramon turns into human form, grabs Kimet and declares that he now gets a wish from the frightened thief. Kimet cunningly waits until Ramon puts him down then grabs him round the waste and makes his wish for a million wishes. Ramon claims to grant a million wishes for sand and says that's his lot for the day. They then discuss the fact that Ramon is easier to steal than Defanuh who seems further away. Ramon forms a plan to get Kimet to steal Salilea or the man Salilea is looking after to free her. They set off for the minareted house.

Defanuh bemused returns home to sleep. He dreams of Cleopatra in darkness and pain. She loves him. She hates him. She wouldn't have paused here were it not to see him... he is woken by a hashish drugged assassin putting him in a very professional armlock. The assassin explains that he has purified himself before Allah and been led to the murderer of their master. The only reason Defanuh still lives is the assassins' respect for him and hence he is offering him the chance to repent. Defanuh declines, changes to cat form, slips to his gun then returns to human form and shoots the bemused assailant. Markus is shocked. Defanuh contemplates this happening every night for the rest of the month while assassin's still live... he dumps the body in the Nile then sits down at the edge to contemplate his lot.

Kimet can't see Salilea very clearly so Ramon suggests he'll leave the Shadows walk three times round Salilea and then Kimet will know where she is to grab her. The house is decked out in finery and Salilea is delighted to see him again. The flowers he brought her are fabulously blooming... Ramon objects that he doesn't want the show if she's only doing it because she thinks that he thinks that he wants it. She dismisses the illusion but doesn't really understand the distinction. They talk about cinemas. Eventually Ramon gets back to the point runs around her and finds himself snatched back into the Shadows. Kimet can't get a good grip but the man she's watching looks easier. So they steal him. Ramon returns to see if that makes Salilea free. She's confused but not convinced he's dead and hence cross that she'll have to find him. She is sterner and taller than previously. Ramon goes to bring him back which only happens after a pause. It seems that while he was away Sethos' soldiers came and captured the man... Kimet is too tired even for the chase and Ramon fades back to reality somewhat worried...

Aran visits the magical sigil shop of Ala'ii Akbhar to sell on his bones. Ala'ii is still asleep and needs to be woken. He makes a great fuss about getting his considerable bulk moving. He doesn't seem very impressed by more bones and suggests that an honest lad would be working as a digger for the French archaeologist (2p a day, meet at Ibraim Place for pick up by truck). He also points out that such an honest lad would be in prime place to "inspect" the best of the finds. Aran still feels his bones were worth more than 1p.

Sarah and her father meet Quentin after breakfast (kipper) and drive off to the monastery. A crowd has gathered to see the dervish. Sarah also notices Aran eyeing the tourists' money pouches. The Governor harumphs his way into the monastery and regards the dervish, who still whirls. He doesn't really get the point. It's not clear anybody else does either. The locals are however very reverent. The contemplation of the dervishes' whirls are interrupted by a ruckus outside. A girl has joined the queue who speaks flowers. Little ones in a variety of colours. Aran plays in the flowers. The Governor tips the remarkable trick. The natives want to exorcise the demon from her. When threatened with foul smelling incense the girl flees with Aran. The British head off home after a delightfully exotic experience of the local culture.

At the first opportunity Sarah returns and drags the worried pair, Ramon and Defanuh, off to see this odd girl. Aran plays with her some more. She still speaks flowers. They decide that Ib's is the best hope on this one and drag her off to his abode. Ib's is very interested and says she is a prime example of the over concentration of creative forces that he spoke to Sarah about before. They reduce his further obscure statements to mean that she might "explode" but that he's going to try to dissipate her chaotic forces. This will apparently be the end of her. There is some philosophical discussion about whether a chaos spirit has a right to life or would be happier dissipated. It's unclear but Ib's seems determined. He encases her in a silver thread that she can't pass over, then performs some magic. She looks fleetingly sad before fading away to nothing. The cats are still not sure it was the right thing to have done.

They decide to have lunch and debate the mess Ramon's got himself into. They also get Aran a haircut, bath and new clothes (Ramon chooses him a pleasant set of native garb, Sarah a really smart little sailor boys outfit...). Dressed in the native garb he looks rather smart (if bemused).

*********** Session 5 ***********

Sarah heads off to visit Ib's who has apparently called her. The rest head to the temple to try to get into the Shadows. Razili is hanging out at the temple having apparently finally emerged from her latest lover's bed. An overview of past events is given and the plan explained - it's danger is discussed. They head down into the crypt and try meditating (or sitting or dancing). Timeh whips Ramon into the Shadows and they chat. Timeh is disapproving of Ramon's gallivanting and certainly not about to get involved in an attempt to cross Sethos. He dumps Ramon back into the temple.

Defanuh takes a few minutes out to write the Assassins a letter explaining that he acted in good faith in the matter, that they didn't, and that he doesn't want to have to dispatch the lot of them!

The next plan takes them by tram to Gisa where they check out d'Aver's dig. Wandering around in the God awful heat they learn that six digging sites are being investigated all south of the pyramids - none have revealed any ruins yet. They return to Cairo tired.

Wandering back through Cairo they become aware that they are being followed. Chasing one of the followers in cat form they find a group of Assassins apparently tailing them. Defanuh picks one to follow and eventually blows his brains out on a roof top.

Plan number three takes them to the Jinn's house but before they make it they're stolen into the Shadows by Kimet. Very soberly he asks for the restoration of his life as his wish for capturing them. They can't oblige but he gets over the disappointment fairly quickly when an adventure to check out Sethos and what became of Salilea's ward is suggested. Defanuh is now totally convinced that Cleopatra is held captive here by Sethos.

The north side of the Shadow pyramid descends into the northern slum houses, and rickety old wooden scaffolding climbs its outside to where construction is still underway. Kimet leads them up the swaying stucture to a shaft that descends sharply into the pyramid. The pyramid's stones have grey swirling mists within and leave any who touch them feeling sad.They descend and shortly the shaft becomes outrageously steep. Ramon slips barely catching Kimet's trouser leg (after gashing Aran's new trousers). They find to their horror that the shaft ends as a direct drop through the roof of a vast throne room inside the pyramid. Sethos sits on his throne flanked by black, lioness statues and with an honour guard of 50 stone warriors who bring the unfortunate captured dead before him. He pronounces that "Heaven has forsaken them to his justice" before using the pyramids powers (the stones shine a faint blue) to turn them to blocks of stone. Interesting as the vantage point is, no obvious rescue attempt for anyone seems possible.

They try to work out where the centre of the pyramid is before returning to the night in Cairo now utterly exhausted. They head for bed. Defanuh is again plagued by assassins - this time 4 accost him and point out that the first assassination attempt was governed by Allah and that he's let off. But he'd better stay off their domain in future...

Aran's sleep is interrupted by some raucous, violet eyed rafscallions brawling in a neighbouring dates warehouse. It becomes clear that they have gunpowder piled up against the back wall in great quantities. They argue protractedly about who gets to light it before one finally does with his bare fist. The warehouse and its neighbour are totally destroyed by the blast. In the following investigation it is concluded that the target was the British ship building company on the otherside of the wall (Wheeler's and son).

When Ramon gets home after investigating the explosion he is met by Salilea. She's in no mood for messing around and gets the full story sharpish. She says she will uncover Sethos' tomb the next night and Ramon must do his worst to the statues within then she will confront Sethos.

Everyone sleeps in late before meeting with Ramon. They head out to the desert to wait. Under the serene Sphinx they sleep and dream of lionesses hunting on the steppes... at dusk they wake to see a dark ominous storm gathering in the west....

*********** Session 6 ***********

The storm crashes on the western horizon but takes a while to move in. Their eyes fall shut and they dream:

The Sphinx Dreams of Rain

Before Time began there was no order just the idea of all that might be. Each thought and each possibility was equal yet there are concepts that by their very nature remain where others are transitory. Continuous time, constant law, lineage and the infinte all must remain. There is always though the possibility of the destruction of order before the tides of chaotic chance. This is a dream of the early struggles of order.

The Scene

Savanah grass blows on the wind. Herds of antelope and zebra stand in the shade of secluded groves of trees under the burning sun. On the valley floor a mile from the banks of the Nile the Sphinx rises high above the grasslands as a monument to the People; still new her features are crisp, her stones smoothed, the moat about her glistens in the sunlight. The wooden palaces and homes surround her and they in turn are surrounded by the fields, an ordered existence carved from a harsh past. The threat of storm clouds on the western horizon is ominously near though and the Peoples' trusted leaders meet in conclave to discuss the chaos to come.

The Characters

King Alarahana

Head of the People like his father before him and his father's father. Responsibility lies heavily on his shoulders.

Physical: Tall, strong, mass of dark hair and fercious brown eyes
Mental: Tough, determined, sturdy, a ruler but one that knows when an advisor's opinion counts
Social: Quiet but decisive, sets himself apart

He is dressed in the ceremonial white robe of office, hunting spear in hand, his feet sandalled and his head crowned by the wooden ring first warn generations before in his family. The people founded this dynasty on the ordered rules of the law makers, the priests and the mathematicians and when chaos threatens as now it is to them he knows he must turn. The babarain hordes of the west will be on the city within hours but worse yet than they is the threat they pose to the People's way - they bring primal chaos in their wake. Alarhana will listen to the advisors, make speech before the People as they prepare for war and then fight at their head. It is the Peoples' way.

High Priestess Kemee

The Goddess is light, the Goddess is order, the Goddess is love and she is destruction. The rituals are clear, handed from the minds of the people from one generation to the next. Now they are guarded and performed by Kemee.

Physical: Thin, graceful, grey haired.
Mental: Clear headed, unshakeable in her beliefs in the Goddess
Social: Gentle but demanding

Her robes show the marks of the Goddess on her skin as it must be. She carries the knife made from the lion's claw and the fangs of the python are hung around her neck. A storm comes but not just babarian hordes to test the fighting spirit but a test of belief of the people. It will be passed since the Goddesses words are known. The rituals will be performed through the day and the night without a word missed or a wrong thought. The priestesses are ready as it is written.

Mathematician Netose

Seldom are academic pursuits a matter of life or death. The counting of the days, the perfect measurement in construction and the tallying of barter are the keystones of the Peoples' order and thus is mathematics. Netose is the greatest mathematician amongst the People but that is because he understands where proof is absent and conjecture rampant and he is very afraid.

Physical: Young, gangly, weak
Mental: Scatter brained in everything but mathematics, intense, disgusted with his own ignorance
Social: Excitable, tenacious to his interests in conversation.

He is dressed in the loin cloth of the common man. The peoples' knowledge is in dire risk. The babarians will try to sack the libraries and the storm in their wake could turn minds from knowledge or even undo forever his precious mathematics. As the storm washes over, the theorems must be proved and reproved to retain their knowledge to certify their existence. But the holes in the knowledge gape and will not the chaos of thought use them to rip apart the meagre construct of the human mind?

Warrior Khemera

Commander in war of the People, ferocious, disciplined and unyeilding. His task, his duty is clear.

Physical: Tall, strong, battle scarred
Mental: Disciplined, good tactician, believer in the order of the People's society
Social: Gruff, to the point

Dressed in lion cloth and the black cloak of the warrior he is already prepared for battle with spear and knife. The dust clouds of the babarian hordes are on the western horizon. His warriors are readying themselves at the gate. The battle between men must be won and that is his job. His men will remain disciplined and at their stations come Hell or high waters and he will be their inspiration to remain there. Let it begin now.

Historian Theon

The continuity of the People's lives through past ages is recorded in the scrolls and the library stands as a monument to their constancy. Theon lives for the stories of the past that define who he is now.

Physical: Old, grey haired, stooped
Mental: Quick minded but lost in the parables of the past, dreamy
Social: Gently spoken, trusting

He wears the grey robes of the order of knowledge. The time to plant the crops is recorded in the scrolls. The methods of battle are recorded in the scrolls. They are the People's link to the knowledge of the past and they must be protected from the Western hordes. The continuity they represent must never be forgotten and the making of histories must never end. He will sit in the tower of the past and record all that he sees and afterwards he will hear the words of all the People until the matter is correctly set down for those to come.

Council

The four councillors and the King meet in the throne room of the great wooden palace. The light rain turns to a deluge and then to a rain of frogs.... nasty black ones that twich in their deaths after impacting the ground.

Preparations

Light misty rain falls. The wetern sky is purple, black and blue.

Alarhana - speech to the gathered troops
Theon - climbing the tower, setting up tower room, the view all around
Kemee - first ceremonies, the priestesses in each room chanting each of the nine prayers
Khemera - marching troops out onto plain, taking up positions of 10 and 1 legions.
Netose - setting the adders adding and the multipliers multiplying

Battle

The swirling purple haze behind the babarian ranks who advance with hatchets, flaming brands and wearing the skulls and teeth of their victims. They howl and screech....

Khemera - a big fight with a babarian....and the troops are being out flanked
Netose - proving pythagoras theorem which he has forgotten
Alarhana - fear amongst the ranks about the storm behind, breaking of ranks to chase those in flight
Theon - a stray fire arrow lands on a roof of the library that only he can see... he must quickly see to it and return to writing...
Kemee - must keep chants going as warriors and babarians fight in temple, some priests killed...

Chaos

An air of unreality breaks out everywhere like a feeling of static to the air. The wind blows in different directions against different cheeks, the ground is stony then muddy then a mass of vines, gibbering noises echo in the air.

Alarhana - The sphinx sits up and mentally asks how she may help. A chaos beast of swirling green mist and fkying clawed arms confronts her. She offer to summon her armies of the past People, they are countered by sandworms and flying elephants of many shades. She offers a rain of fire... he must refuse these offers for the People should fight as the People always have.
Kemee - the temples angles tilt and roll. Whole clumps of priestesses are swallowed and others lose their place and start to panic. She must strengthen their faith.
Theon - looks down at notes and can not remember writing them - it it not a possibility that all knowledge is just suddenly put before you with no continuity?
Khemera - a babarian is not a babarian but raps its tentacles around him, breathes ice into his face and yaps as it tries to bite his face off with gold fangs
Netose - measuring the radius of a circle to its circumference with rope the never endingness of pi occurs to him and he fears it is chaos inspired. In fact he must argue it is within the realms of mathematics for it to be so and put aside that it is chaos inspired.

Vortex

The mess of chaos turns into a churning vortex of sky and fire and water and air. Steaming and dazzling and giving forth every behemoth that could ever be dreamed of. It speaks with tongues. The land behind is a seething frothing complexity and the Land is being swept away.

The five must between them impose the certainty of the people's law or all is lost! They do though after heavy losses and the People are saved, though their land is turned to desert.

They wake in the midst of a torrential downpour. Wind whips the sand into their faces and the rain soaks their fur. Lightning crashes against the pyramid. When the storm finally clears the soaked cats see a new structure has been uncovered in the south about twice as far from the pyramids as d'Aver was digging.

The Mastaba tomb has a Ka chapel which is entered from the south. They clamber over the sand pile in the doorway and enter. The temple is dominated by a large statue of Sethos. Before him is a solid stone altar, along the walls are stone warrior statues and the floor is covered in rubble excavated from a central well. From the burn marks on the walls it is clear that the tomb has been previously violated. They set about the statues with sledge hammers (or chisel in Aran's case) which crumble pleasingly. Next they investigate the well that leads down into the crypt. Again a statue of Sethos surveys the lower room with lesser statues of his warriors. The broken remains of the inner shell of a sarcophagus lies in the chamber's centre, a huddle of bones and wraps is flung to the floor next to a broken bare wooden flail and staff. They heft their sledge hammers... Aran clambers up Sethos to chisel away his face. Over the back of his shoulder he finds a golden snake pendent with black stone eyes which he discreetly pockets.A few of Sethos' bones also disappear into a discreet pocket.

Their destruction perfomed they return to the desert and bury their tools. They decide to watch the excavators come across the find. The natives arrive on the first tram to set up food stalls and they marvel in the dawn light at the uncovered tomb. None will approach it though, fearing the curse associated with such a strange appearance, until d'Aver arrives in his car. The archaeologists swarm over the find and are horrified to discover the ruin within. Our heros beat a retreat to bed.

Mean the whilst Sarah has visited Ib's. He is pleased with the last sorcery and is going to try a summoning. For this he needs touches of creative spirit; the flower girl's flowers and the dove's feather are excellent but he'll require two more. He suggests that traditional components are the breath of an opium dreamer, a tile from a mosaic, or the dung of a ghul. Could Sarah see to collecting these while he is about setting wards?

Sarah discreetly removes a gold and blue tile from the back wall of a mosque. A wax covered bag seems to suit for capturing the opium dreamer's breath but some of her underworld contacts seem neccessary. The other cats are not to be found. Ghuls she asks? Her father assures her that it is local superstition based on the natives seeing bones gnored by dogs.

Aran nips off to take his prizes for sale to Ala'ii Abdul. Ala'ii on waking chastises Aran for stealing the suit before being distracted by Sethos' bones. At first he doubts that they are genuine until Aran produces the snake. A quick round of bargaining does Aran out of a major fortune and the relics are exchanged for a bag of coins.

Sarah sets out to find the other Kin again in the morning, noticing several groups of children playing a game of whirling on the spot. The cats are collapsed asleep in the sunshine before the temple. Gossip is exchanged and Ramon is convinced to visit an opium den for Sarah. He travels via Salilea's house where he finds her deeply asleep in the garden. He leaves her a flower and a note explaining their success in the desert and offering future devotion. He then procures a dreamer's breath and a small quantity of opium with relative ease.

Defanuh's sleep is disturbed by whirling children. He bites and scratches in their midst until they scatter. He returns to sleep.

Sarah heads off to take Ib's his components. The others plan a survey of the Shadows since they conclude if Ramon hopes to ever impress Salilea he'd better do something useful to surprise her. The first surprise is that he makes it to the Shadows without Kimet's help. Kimet obliges by stealing the others across. Apparently Sethos' warriors lie broken all over the city.

They sneek up the great stairs that lead up to the entrance to the pyramid's inner chambers. The entry way is beautifully decorated in heiroglyphs. Sethos sits on his throne brooding, still flanked by the lioness statues. The man holding the sunshade is now identified by Ramon as Salilea's ward turned to stone. They whisper amongst thenselves but the lionesses ears prick up and they spring off the dias to give chase. The cats flee but Kimet is slower. Defanuh reverts to human form to block the lioness' attack. One bites deeply into his shoulder the other leaps agilely past and chases down the others. Defanuh unloads his revolver into the face of the lioness menacing him, blowing off half it's face. The skirmish is looking grim when Ramon pushes Kimet down the steps to avoid the second's attack and suddenly they are all sprawling in the streets of Cairo.

*********** Session 7 ***********

Defanuh nurses his shoulder. Their attention is drawn to a gaggle of old men one of whom is whirling (somewhat arthritcally) while the others laugh and clap. Apparently spinning does not induce dizzyness - Ramon tries it out.

They head to the temple to see if Lady Cephelene can help with Defanuh's shoulder. She helps bind it up and pours some water from Bast's altar on the wound which has a numbing effect. She seems bemused by their exploits but Timeh turns up and is impressed what a good shot they're making at Sethos. It is suggested that they only found the false tomb of Sethos and that the true tomb is still sealed. Aran sleeps in the sun outside and is gone when next they return.

Ramon returns to Salilea's house. She wakes as he approaches and debriefs him. She says she will go to Sethos after this warning to him. Ramon says he'll try to find Kimet to steal them through to the Shadows. Collecting some sleep and Defanuh they reconvene and he searches for Kimet. He's not to be found - perhaps he didn't make it away from the lionesses. Salilea produces some anks which do most of the job of taking her and Defanuh to the Shadows. Ramon does the rest.

The sky over the Citadel is a deep turquoise colour. Salilea makes determinedly for the pyramid, cats in tow. She strides into the throne room. A new guard with Kimet's features stands to the right of the throne.
Sethos: Princess Salilea welcome.
Salilea: Still making trouble even after death Sethos?
Sethos: You forget yourself this is my realm you are in.
Salilea: Pah you forget yourself - Uraeus is my ward, return him.
Sethos: Your duties are at an end.
Salilea: What would you know of it?
Sethos: Let him speak for himself (turns the shade bearer statue's top half to flesh, he is bemused and confused). What do you know of this woman? Uraeus: Nothing.. erm.. never seen her.. where am I.. why am I disturbed?
Salilea: (distraught) Uraeus it is I Salilea - what have you done to him Sethos?
Sethos: Nothing. You are free of your ward. Uraeus if this woman believed she owed you some service would you release her from it.
Uraeus: I don't know her... yes, release her... erm
Salilea, tears on her cheeks, turns and runs from the room. The cats double take and flee. Sethos threatens the desecraters of his tomb before calling on the power of the pyramid. The Kimet statue whacks him in the stomach and tries to escape (look what's happened to me!) but is frozen by Sethos. Ramon empties his gun at Sethos before ripping off the ankh and falling back into the real. Ramon leaves the Shadows fast too. Was that a fair ending of Salilea's ward?

They find Salilea, in the chalk circle in the house where they first found her, crying. Ramon tries to comfort her. Smaller now she hugs him and cries. She says they don't understand, he did this too himself, he wanted it, how could he do it? She pulls away and runs away to disappear.

They head out to the desert that night and steal past the guards into Sethos' tomb. They search high and low for a covered entrance and find one behind the plastered wall beyond the lower statue of Sethos. Ramon sledge hammers his way through while Defanuh holds the guards at gun point. The inner chamber is dominated by a golden, bejewelled statue of Sethos, two lioness statues and the sarcophagus. Three layers in (all covered in gold plate and lapis lazuli)is Sethos' body holding the flail and crook and wearing a golden death mask. Ramon breaks these and tears the head from the body of Sethos just as the lioness statues awaken - one leaps on him and badly mauls him before Defanuh sledge hammer in hand saves the day smashing both statues. A final blow is directed to the face mask.

Escape past the armed archaeologists proves not so difficult - they're horrified but not steady of nerve. Defanuh escapes, bleeding Ramon in hand, on horse back out into the desert. They return to the temple and Defanuh places Ramon's bloody form before Lady Cephelene who sets about the healing. His legs are badly mauled. They sleep and dream that Timeh walks around them saying a storm has come, the pyramid is disintegrating, where shall I hide?

*********** Session 8 ***********

In the meanwhilst Aran has wandered off to squander some of his well earned fortune on some food. While he is eating a young urchin from the market comes with the news that Baya, Ala'ii's sister, is terribly distraught and looking for Aran. At Ala'ii's shop Aran finds Baya wailing inconsolably over Ala'ii's sweating and delerious form. Apparently he was bitten by the snake brooch which came alive and now he's poisoned. The snake crawled into the next shop. Aran searches the market for the snake avopiding the neighbouring rug shop until Baya joins the search. The rug shop owner is crouched in a corner pointing in terror at a crack in the back wall of the shop. It apparently leads into an old bricked up oven. Aran is still far from willing to get too closely involved but he hears someone moving around in the oven. Plucking up his courage he enters in cat form. A small urchin girl apparently lives in the oven (there's a passageway that leads through the walls). She is wearing the snake brooch. Aran plays with her until the snake comes alive at which point he grabs it in his teeth, rips it from the girls shirt and flees with it. After a bit of struggling with the thing it reverts to brooch form.

Aran quickly runs off with it to the temple where she first consults Razili then Lady Cephelene. Cephelene thinks it's a dream snake, used in ancient Egypt to poison enemies either with deadly poison or to induce nightmares. Maybe this one was just bad dreams... but in any case best not to touch them too much because the poison can seep out of their skins. Razili suggests seeling it in a pot and burying in some local rubble. They set about it but in the mid afternoon sun digging a big enough hole is hard work and they take a nap. They each dream that the snake escapes and bites the other.

Ramon is woken up by Salilea who grabs him up and starts dancing with him. His legs hurt unitl she kisses him on the cheek when they heal up. They twirl and spin up the temple steps and out into the night. The stars in the sky overhead whirl round and round. Everyone in Cairo is out in the streets in front of their houses whirling. A big turquoise mass of cloud swirls in a whirlwind at the foot of the Citadel. Salilea suggets they should dance to the cinema and they do. They swing each other round and into the auditorium ( picking up some turkish delight alog the way) where a news reel rolls. The figures in the film begin to move along the walls, then out into three dimensional images that swirl all round the auditorium making Ramon quite dizzy. Salilea leaps up to whirl with them and can not then be distracted and indeed feels as solid as stone to the touch. Ramon begins to fear this is more than a dream and heads out to investigate.

Defanuh wakes acutely aware that a shadowy figure is stalking him on the temple stairs. He moves to defend himself and the figure flees. He follows out into the world of whirling people and stars. He spies shadowy figures watching him from the roof tops. All his attempts to intercept the figures fail and the lurkers are always just out of range. He begins to suspect odd play too.

Aran and Razili wake and speedily finish the burial of the snake's pot (which seems unbreached) and then investigate the whirling natives. A baker whirls eyes closed and uneffected by even a good kick outside his shop. The cats nip in and help themselves to the bread within. Well now perhaps this is a fine time to find a jewlers shop.. they are pilfering such a shop when suddenly the broches begin to skitter across the counters and the necklaces form moving jelly fish-like knots floating in the sky. They flee fast.

Each of the cats sees a sudden profusion of doves flying up from a square in the Ezbekia and all head for the spot - a flock of doves are continuously taking to the air without ever depleting the flock on the ground. The dervish from the Mewlewi monastery is here. He is the sole other person they have met who is not whirling. He exhorts them to whirl and move closer to Allah as everyone else has done, following his example. He has stopped apparently to preech to the few remaining miscreants who are not whirling. They ridicule the idea that everyone whirling has anything to do with closeness to Allah and suggest it's closer to the end of the world. This confuses him and he blathers idiotic things about peanuts and pink furry hordes, which he seems to be able to make no more sense of than they. When in doubt consult Ib's.

Now Ib's had finished his preparations for his summoning of a spirit of chaos and was left pondering with Sarah whether they had any more clue whether it was a good thing to attempt now than before. Well moving forwards in small steps seems sensible. He meditates and sets up silvery cord wards levitating in the air, before returning to his mutterings. Suddenly in an explosion the wards fill with, well, everything. Ib's staggers back as the wards fizzy away to nothing and the chaotic mass fills the room. Struck in the face by a haddock, Sarah hears Ib's say a word reassuringly calmly. It is the word for the correct order of things and it settles into everything reassuringly as she blacks out. On waking she remembers the word very clearly. She also realizes the great potential nuts have both as a food source and art form. Ib's is unconcious and raving. She says the word to him and he calms.

The other cats have some problem finding Ib's house and are getting very tired of the dervish's silliness. Sarah happens to say the word while investigating the odd state of the world without and Ib's house reappears for the rest. They meet and exchange confused stories. Sarah tries the word out on a few spinning Cairo residents; it knocks them out of their trance at least for a while. Perhaps they need to go to the centre of the chaos and say the word there.

They set off. As they approach the turquoise whirlwind the very streets begin to move in a clockwise motion. The dervish becomes quite agitated randomly producing things to make his points with. He even summons somehow a tramcar driven by a monkey (it seems to enjoy ringing the bell). The perfect vehicle for getting to the centre of the chaos! They leap on and attempt to leave the dervish behind. He simple grows golden wings and flies after. Their car hurtles towards the centre of the whirlwind, buildings move strangely around them, turquoise mist blows through the car, the monkey excitedly rings his bell. Sarah and Defanuh take up position in the front of the car armed with the word for static reality and a rifle respectively. They see in the centre of the storm the dervish whirling and as they plough into him and through him Sarah screams the word and they all wake up where they were.

Aran and Razili find that they haven't in fact buried the pot yet, they do. Ramon and Defanuh are still injured at the temple. Sarah finds Ib's still unconcious though better and he wakes as she nuzzles him. Bleary he finds he has forgotten a word. Sarah says her's. "Ah yes" and she forgets it. She goes in search of pastachios.

Ramon talks to Timeh who has been hiding from the storm in the Shadows of the temple. The storm is tailing off but still happening. Everyone sleeps.

*********** Session 9 ***********

Ramon and Defanuh wake in the Shadows. Timeh says the storm has ended and they go to investigate. The buildings are crumbling into the streets and occasional gusts of wind blow the fog around. The pyramid is gone except for the stones at the base. There is no sign of Sethos, Kimet or Uraeus. They wander the streets a bit more but there seems nothing to be done.

Aran skirts by Ala'ii's where he hears Ala'ii apparently recovered but hungry. He decides to make himself scarce.

Sarah visits Ib's who is contemplating whether his spell, the whirling dervish or quite what was the cause and what effect. It is unclear. She returns home but as she approaches the Governor's house is jumped by three violet eyed assaulters who attempt to kidnap her. She turns to cat form and flees to the temple.

Everyone meets and listens to Sarah's tale.. They decide to seek out the strangers who seem likely to be the gun running jinn. They are not at the Governor's house, nor in the traders camp (though they were and recently packed up in a hurry), nor in the coffee house, nor anywhere else they look. They over hear that the whirling dervish has stopped whirling and taken a vow of silence. They go back to Sarah's room to sleep and hope to see the jinn. They don't show.

Finally they return to the temple where the three jinn are sitting waiting, bored. Defanuh approaches. They want to speak to Sarah but won't say why. They promise they won't try to kidnap her and seem rather embarrassed; one seems to want to write Sarah a letter rather than confront her. They arrange to let them meet in a coffee house where the others can watch for foul play. The jinn apologise to Sarah for the kidnap attempt, they didn't know she was chosen by Bast - they're really very embarrasssed, they leave quickly. Defanuh and Aran follow them as they head out of Cairo and into the desert where they notice the two cats following them. They turn back and try apologising again. Aran turns to human form and asks what they're about. They are apparently from the Al Jann tribe who claim jinn ancestory and live in the desert. Recently the Suez canal flooded their precious desert. They've sworn vengence on the British and are trying to destabilize their rule. The cats let them go after some petting.

Ramon talks Defanuh into taking them all to the cinema. Whilst there Salilea turns up and snuggles with Ramon. Razili prefers the dust patterns swirling in the light to the film. Salilea has to return to her kingdom soon but she explains that Uraeus was a great man who learnt the word for immortality but became bored with eternal life and spent 2000 years forgetting the word. She's sad about it. Salilea and Ramon stay to watch the movie again then she carries him back to the temple and leaves him with a kiss on the nose.

After that things seem to return to normal at least for a few months.