Forbidden Territories

Sarah finds Ib's and Kimet pawing over texts in one of the laboratories. They have convinced themselves that the meteor will serve as a seed from which to grow an astral sub-realm. The astral realm has areas of unformed matter and worlds with laws very different from ours so one must be cautious. It does seem though that with appropriate wards they should be able to create a realm that is to their own design and safe, not only from the astral realm but from vagueries of this one too. Ib's has in mind a villa on a mountainside with an overlook of the sea. Kimet is going to change his form in the realm so he's human. Sarah wants to be a lioness and for it to rain. They begin a list of features.

Rajiv tries again to find Daniel to bring him along to seek Maryam's sponsorship for his poetry. Daniel isn't about and Maryam's doorman turns him away. He meets Ramon at the temple who has heard all about the famed beauty of Banugua and they deside to go lay some ground work for Daniel. They sneek into the mansion house of Jafar Ibn Ofer as cats and find the harem. Banuqua is breath takingly beautiful. The two introduce themselves and play act a spurned love scene (still all as cats) which Banuqua watches with bemused delight. Rajiv runs off to a room with a view over the street and Ramon looks left behind. Banuqua catches him up in her arms (Ramon squirms blissfully against her bossom) and follows. Rajiv has gone down to the street below and tries to serenade her with one of Daniel's poems. Above Banuqua slams the shutter and is annoyed because it's the sixth such attempt by a man that week and her father hasn't even officially announced he's searching for a wife for her yet. It doesn't seem that Daniel stands much of a chance. Rajiv makes to leave but Ramon is having far too much fun basking in her attention so Rajiv has to leave them at it. After a long play Ramon does eventually leave too.

Defanuh has a request for his services from one Silat Ibn Hassan. He heads off to see him. Apparently a dead body turned up on their doorstep this morning. It is Silat's "ex-son" Arshad; Silat disowned him when Arshad's wife Zabidya up and left him for another man. The afther believes Arshad must have committed suicide and had his body delivered to the door to spite the family. He wants to burn the body and be done with it but the Imam said a little investigation was in order. Otherwise it seems Arshad was a lawyer and that he died in agony. Defanuh locates a pin prick on his wrist - poison? - but no pin. He heads off to speak with the law firm. They didn't know he was dead and are shocked. Could a case have baring on it. Well he was involved in an ongoing blackmail case but the lawyers will have to pick up the pieces of the case before they can decide what they can tell Defanuh.

Tai Li, Mirriam and Hunag meanwhile are learning to play Mahjong. Huang is very good. The gurad they've dragged into be the fourth player is not really up to it though. Tai Li suggests setting up a club to teach the locals how to play.

Rajiv finally locates Daniel who is still drunk. Daniel moans and asks if lust is worth dying for? Rajiv says no and prepares to break the bad news about Banuqua but Daniel has almost forgotten her for some other strange woman he calls Babylon. An exotic dancer? Of a sort - you'd have to see to believe. Rajiv agrees to be dragged along to see her in the evening.

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

Evening comes and Benoud drops by Ramon to drag him out for the evening. It's official Banuqua is to be married - lets get drunk then serenade her (Benoud has brought his monocycle along for his attempt). Ramon comes up with a plan and buys a very unromantic detective story. He writes a note : One thing you don't need is another admirer, secret or public. And another thing you don't need ia a lovely delicate gift for a proper young lady. Thus consider this a wholly inappropriate offering from a wholly imaginary friend. Later that night while a crowd of rowdy admirers cluster beneath her window Ramon slips in to play with banuqua and leave her his present. She seems tired of all the people outside but a little amused by the latest gift.

Tai Li finds Huang teaching the locals Mahjong. The Duchess wants to see her about the Beckehshaw's party invitation. Well the Duchess is close to entering labour so Tai Li will have to go as her representative. The reply is written to this effect and sent off.

Rajiv joins Daniel on a trip into the northern slums where a dingy bar backs on to a swampy bit of land. The bouncer refuses Rajiv access for no good reason but he eventually cats in to join Daniel. The bar, dancers and music are all uninspired and the patrons depressed and tense. Daniel coaches rajiv not to stare at Babylon when she come son or to draw attention to them. Eventually the act on stage changes and everyones attention is rivetted on the stage. A very suductive, dark haired, belly dancer comes out on stage and performs at a level far above this dive. Daniel final lets drop that everyone thinks she's a succubus! To sleep with her you have to sign away all your money and certainly die from the pleasure. After Babylon has danced she picks out a man at a table and leads him away. The bar quickly empties.

Mirriam and Darb recieve their invitation to the Beckenshaw party and agree to go. Mirriam dreams again tonight; as a panther she stalks Cairo's Shadows and explores the city. She hunts and eats a ghost (humans seem to taste as good as mice now). She yowls for her sister then returns to bed.

Defanuh's night is disturbed when maryam slips into his room and seduces him - thanks to you I'm free to make my own decisions now so I shall... She leaves him before dawn and he tosses and turns between pleasure and guilt as only Defanuh can.

In the morning the cats gather at the temple. Rajiv has a picture of the man who went off with Babylon and wants to discover if he's dead. Defanuh wants to forget about last night and investigate Arshad's death. Ramon is enlisted for the investigation of Arshad and soon concludes that Babylon must have killed him! Mirriam is up for checking the morgue for Rajiv's man but they find the place devoid of the dead. They all troop to Arshad's house where his servant is celebrating the receipt of 100 pounds from Arshad's will. He doesn't seem to have been involved in the death though. They find Arshad's younger brother Ghalif who is a salt salesman and shocked and dismayed by the whole sorry story. Arshad's wife is found living in squallor with a opera singer wanna be called Hisham. She turns out to be very empty headed though upset about Arshad's death. It must be that brutish father she assures them.

Tai Li returns back to the Chinese quarter. Bells have rung to announce the Duchess is in seclusion for giving birth and Po is striding about self importantly. Tai Li gets dragged into more mahjong. As one of the players leaves a set of wind charms by the door tinkles. Huang goes pallid. An old chinese gentleman with a very long beard enters and sits at the table. He declines to introduce himself, wonders why if they don't know him they cussed at him so much and insists they play. After four rounds, one apiece to each player, he says he must leave and that perhaps they should meet tomorrow at the same time for a more serious game. Huang nods mutely. That was a spirit Huang declares. perhaps the East Wind Dragon is upset because of their rude prayer flags. Traditionally Dragons eat people they're upset with.

Before returning home Mirriam goes for a lope round the Shadows in panther form and feels the urge to visit the ruins of Sethos' city. No signs of life. This jaunt seems to have the effect of letting her sleep peacefully.

Ramon drops by the Chinese street and acquires some oriental meditation balls as a present for Banuqua. Tai Li and Huang are painting polite prayer flags to the East Wind Dragon and wondering about buying their guest an expensive present (a canopic jar perhaps?). Ramon goes on to Banuqua. She is wondering whether Mustafa will be her husband since he has pressed his case with her father. She plays with Ramon and he takes a moment to place his new present. She is worried that a suitor is getting into the harem - what a fuss! I know she says I'll marry you puss cat! She kisses him on the nose. Ramon takes human form before her eyes and declares she has broken the spell and he's a man again after being cursed by a jinn princess! She lets out a little screech of surprise and runs for the door. Ramon steps into a cupboard and hides whle the harem guards assure Banuqua she was dreaming and cats don't become suitors! They put her to bed and leave. She sits up and eyes the cupboard. Ramon emerges and she shyly talks to him for a little before saying he should leave. But how witht he guards. Another kiss would make him a cat again. She does and Ramon heads off.

Rajiv talks to Daniel who is reading up on Succubi and doesn't recognise a phote of Arshad. He wants to find a way to sleep with Babylon without being killed. Rajiv drags him off to see Raphael. Raphael is concerned a succubus might be loose and tells Daniel to leave well alone. He says he'll investigate himself. Rajiv goes back to the bar alone in the evening hoping to show round the picture of Arshad. Babylon will not perform tonight so the place is deserted. He goes in anyway and cats out back. In a bedroom above he finds Babylon asleep but other than a slightly sulphorous smell no clues. He goes back below and jams a little with the band. Babylon comes down on to the the stage and regards Rajiv sensualously. I saw you come yesterday but you will have to wait because I have a meeting in Hell she says. Then there's a flash of light and she's vanished.

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

Sarah has been helping Ib's and Kimet write the spells to forge their astral realm. This mainly involves looking up the true names of lots of things in books and placing them together. They have quite a pile of spells. Ib's wants to try to forge an astral safe first. He sends Kimet away to let sarah and him do so. Kimet is very upset not to be included and stamps out of the room to sulk. They make the safe, warping space in a purplish heat hazy way. See if it survives overnight then start on the real project!

Mirriam awakes to find her sister panther lying at the bottom of her bed in the Shadows. They go for a Shadows romp together. Leaping through the fiercest winds is fun. Mirriam's sister hunts a ghost and eats it. Mirriam is unsure of the whole thing. They poke about Sethos' ruins and smell cats from the north. They lope that way but even when many miles away from Cairo have not found the source. They return to Cairo.

Defanuh visits the law firm that Arshad worked for. The case he was working on involved a businessman and an Imam conspiring to avoid religious taxes. The Imam was attempting blackmail but Arshad advised calling his bluff since the scandal would destroy him too. It doesn't seem to be related. Amongst Arshad's possessions from his office is a necklace with a staff entwined by two snakes with a winged helmet above emblem. It seems out of character.

Tai Li wakes to find the Duchess still in seclusion. Huang is a bundle of nerves. Tai Li goes out and buys four good examples of canopic jars.

Ramon is woken by a very upset Benoud. Capitalism and power hunger have overcome beauty again! Banuqua is to marry Sulyeman Maibib! Set! Benoud bemoans the unfairness of the world. Ramon wants to rescue her.

The cats slowly gather at the temple and exchange gossip. Arshad's symbol they think is a cadeceus, the symbol of Hermes. Mirriam talks to Lady Cephelene about what happens to ghosts killed in the Shadows. That's the end of them unfortuantely.

Defanuh decides to escourt Ramon in his attempts to rescue Banuqua. They enter her room and Ramon turns to human form. They discuss her marriage to an evil God but she thinks that's a silly story and just Ramon trying to win her. In any case it's not her decision but her fathers. Ramon owns up a little about how he's not cursed by a jinn but just a cat. Banuqua seems to like the visits and agrees to let herself be rescued if Maibib mistreats her. All the while Defanuh meows derisive comments at Ramon. Eventually they head on.

Mirriam and Sarah head off to Ib's. They ask Ib's about the cadeceus; it's a symbol of knowledge, wisdom and immortality through its associations with Hermes. The astral safe is secure and they practice opening and closing the gate to it. Everything works fine. Mirriam talks to Ib's about the cosmology of the astral realm, Shadows and normal space. Ib's hopes to be able to open gates to more of these worlds from within the astral realm. He doesn't wish to commit himself on what happens to peole when they die anywhere.

Mirriam heads on to ask Tai Li and Huang her questions about the dead. They are waiting to play the East Wind Dragon (or whatever the spirit is) at mahjong. They convince Mirriam to be the fourth player. The old man turns up and proposes playing for a boon. How about a boon that is restricted to the possessions of the loser suggests Tai Li? Very well but are you sure you're not restricting yourself? They play and the old man loses by quite a margin. Huang looks very surprised but doesn't seem to want to ask for too much as a boon. They let Mirriam ask the old man what becomes of the dead killed in the Shadows and he says they are reborn. He leaves promising to return the next day. They groan - what if he keeps coming back until he wins?

Defanuh has been summoned by Silat who on hearing the relative lack of progress declares he's wasted enough money on the matter and pays Defanuh off. He proceeds to have his servants take Arshad's body for burning. Silat seems high on the list of suspects but a serious motive is lacking.

Sarah returns home and hears that the Chinese Duchess can't make the party. The envoy will have to do. Gemma wants to do a side show so they set aside a room of the main dining room for her.

Defanuh and Ramon plan to try to spook Silat by pretending to be Arshad's ghost but when they return to his house Silat himself lies dead on the doorstep. he has been stabbed by a knife with a double wing motif on the handle. The murderer ran away and escaped though.

The day winds down and everyone heads for bed. In the morning Mirriam again goes off with her sister. This time they head north at a serious run. At the edge of the Nile delta they find a cat in the Shadows, then many more. Their origin is unclear. Then Mirriam finds one that is a werecat and turns to an ancient Egyptian - you have been sent by Lady Bast from Nubia to fight the Aten worshippers? Sort of. Aten worshippers have defaced the cats tombs in Bubastis and cast their souls into the Shadows. Right says Mirriam we'll get help and come back.

Sarah and Ib's start the true work of the villa in the astral realm. Kimet has spent the morning trying to be helpful but Ib's still says he's too inexperienced to help. Kimet is even more peaved and makes a lot of noise retreating to his room. The villa begins (the entrance to the realm is chosen as a cupboard door) and over several hours they flesh out the mountain backdrop, the villa with its five courtyards and pool, the sea, beach, waterfall and swampy area (so they know where bad things will come from!). So far it is very impressionistic and they'll have to instill detail when they've rested.

Ramon pays another visit on Banuqua this time with a gift of an extremely shear veil. They chat. Banuqua looks embarassed and mutters about her mother teaching her about being married, then rushes forward and tries out a pretty serious kiss on Ramon. Just for practice....

Duchess So Ya and Po have still not emerged from the birthing.

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

Rajiv is groggy this morning after an adventurous previous night. Daniel had come round with a book including a tale about a hashish eater. In a section describing just how high the hashish eater had got it said he couldn't even feel the kiss of a succubus. So Daniel wants them to get really stoned and then go sleep with Babylon. Rajiv agreed and allowed Daniel to smoke sufficient that he hadn't a clue where he was. Rajiv then guided him to a more earthly brothel and left him in the arms of an imagined to be Babylon. Rajiv himelf had gone on to check out Babylon herself. While watching her perform Raphael forced his way into the bar. He began reading Hebrew at her from a book, she reared in a distinctly reptillian fashion and then spat acid at him before disappearing in a flash of light.Rajiv still a little high himself had been trying to greet Raphael all through this. Finally getting his attention they decided to leave before the furious audience beat them up.

Defanuh trawls the bars for news of a hermetic cult but with no great success. Inspector Na'ib invites him to the police station and they discuss the case though neither has a lead beyond the cadeceus connection.

Tai Li and Huang await the Wind Dragon and discuss the Duchess' long labour. If it turns out to be just Po making too elaborate a ritual there'll be trouble! The old man shows and they play. Tai Li's hand is miraculously good but even so the old man wins hands down. Uh oh. He requests as his boon a copy of the religous texts of the Aten worshippers. He is sure they will have a copy in their possession by the time they next meet.

Mirriam returns from the delta and seeks out Lady Cephelene. Goodness we must do something to help - go find all the others. Mirriam sprints round everyone and brings them to the temple. Sarah has to leave the dinner party celebrations and Tai Li is only lured away by the word Aten (she has been to the museum so learnt a little on the subject - Aten (the sun) worship was introduced by a rogue intellectual pharoah 1000s of years ago but the cult didn't survive the pharoah). They must go to Bubastis! Darb can probably round up a truck while those who have to put in an appearance at the party.

Sarah, Mirriam, and Tai Li socialize and eat dinner at the Governors mansion. Everyone assumes Tai Li is the Queen of China so she has to keep correcting. Gemma is certain the spirits have a message for the Chinese in the seance after dinner. The cats decide they can't wait though and fake a note from the Duchess saying she has given birth and Tai Li must attend. The cats head off early and find the others outside with a borrowed camel-transport. They drive off north into the night.

They drive north for several hours until Lady Cephelene tells them to pull off the main road and head for a village on the edge of the delta. The village is quiet with everyone asleep so they sneak through and out along a path on the other side. It is recently heavily trodden and leads to tree and grass covered fields will hillocks which presumably cover old buildings. One such hillock has suffered a collapse at one end and the interior of a building within is revealed. Defanuh takes up a position from where he can cover any approaching nere-do-wellers.

Approaching they find a recent fire pit near the entrance to the building. Sarah cats down inside and finds that it is a temple-tomb to Bast. There are row upon row of shelves covered with small mummified cats. The shelves nearest the door are empty though. The cats without check the fire and find remnants of bones and wrapping. Horror! have the locals been stealing the treasures wrapped with the dead then disposing of the mummies? They investigate how the temple was breached. Apparently a pillar at this end collapsed, quite possibly naturally, and revealed the tomb.

Miriam goes across to investigate the Shadows. They are swarming with cat ghosts. Two are werecats, dressed in ancient fashion, and come over to talk. The pillar that collapsed apparently held the body of an Aten priest which was released with its fall and the priest has since encouraged the local's destruction of the tomb. The ghostly cats can not approach him because he can produce burning rays of sunlight. Some cats have been killed. The living cats should find the priests bones and burn them to destroy him.

They search in amongst the tombs. There are Aten worship related papers but no bones. Tai Li swoops on the papers to take to the Wind Dragon. Defanuh, Darb, Sarah and Rajiv head back to the village to see if the villagers ahve the bones safe. The mosque gives every indication that the villagers are true worshippers of Allah though. Mirriam and Tai Li search the ruins of Bubastis but find no sign of an Aten temple either new or old. Lady Cephelene goes through to the Shadows and greets the ghostly cats some of whom she seems to have known.

They wait for morning. The villagers call to prayer rings out and the villagers indeed all flock to the mosque. In the Shadows the sun rises brighter than they have ever seen. Mirriam, Lady Cephelene and Tai Li spy a man atop a hill hands out to the sun. They sneak up on him - he is calling prayers to the Aten. Mirriam regards the back of his neck. We want him dead yes? Yes. She turns into a panther and leaps, breaking his neck with a single shake of her jaws. She eats him while Tai Li and Lady Cephelene look on in surprise. Well that's panda toenail unction for you.

The others have seen the villagers gathering spades and heading for Bubastis. Defanuh decides to scare them off and looses a few bullets near them. They do indeed flee. They meet the others and hear about Mirriam's panther form and the death of the Aten priest. Sarah is very put out that Mirriam is a big cat.

What to do about the ghostly cats and their tomb? They decide to fill the truck with the mummies and take them to safety at the temple in Cairo. The Egyptology museum can then claim the tomb. Lady Cephelene and Mirriam go across tot he Shadows to tell the cats the plan. The ghost cats will have to retraverse the wilderness to the west to find the gate of Tuat. It does exist then? Oh yes and Tuat is paradise. Lady Cephelene hugs her friends good bye and the ghostly cats stream away west. The truck full of mummies they head back for Cairo.

They arrive back in Cairo. Tai Li rushes off to give Huang the Aten papers - he is releaved beyond words. Sarah goes off to help Ib's put detail on the astral realm. Kimet is allowed to help this time and seems quite meek about it all. The other cats unload the van. The temple is pretty cram packed now.

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

Defanuh heads home to dump his weaponry. Maryam is in an excited mood because Mdm Tulard has ordered enough pink silk for three ballons! They'll be rich! Defanuh prefers not to think what Gemma might want with that much silk.

Rajiv drops in on Daniel who is a little groggy after previous adventures. He's miffed with Rajiv for telling Raphael who just went and attacked Babylon. Raphael is unpredictable apologies Rajiv.

Tai Li invites Mirriam back to the Chinese quarter for the next game of Mahjong. The old man arrives and is pleased to have the Aten manuscripts for his collection. They play and the old man's attention seems to be wandering so they beat him. What do they need of him then? They ask him to go away and forgive them. That is what you want not what you need - apparently they need a wooden key. The old man leaves. How come he got to choose their boon? What would they do with a wooden key? Huang is beside himself with annoyance.

Tai Li agrees to take the key to the museum to see if they know what it's for. First she checks on the Duchess. Surprisingly the windows of the house no longer look shuttered but instead look out over a scene of Tibetan mountains and a small farming village! Tai Li hops through as a cat (Mirriam can see nothing of any of this and sees her jump through a solid wood shutter).

Tai Li lands on the mountain path dressed in rags and carrying a basket of yak dung. She heads down to the village. A number of villagers are arguing by an earth dwelling with a yak on the roof.

Kolo - is the wife of Tibetan farmer Hamai. They live in a small mountain village and have a reasonable number of mountain goats and a yak. She is short and tubby. Life is expected to occur in the usual fashion and she gets irrate when it doesn't. This means she is usually upset with their son Guohon. Today though Hamai has refused to work saying he's "worked it all out" and that farming is unimportant. Declaring he was still confused about the words whispered by the hill across the way he sent Guohon to find out what it was saying! Now the yak is still up on the roof of the house (where it grazes the grass) and has got truculent and put its foot through into the neighbours rooms. She's getting close to violent with Hamai.

Hanu - the buddhist priest the village. He is gentle and relaxed in his approach to life and encourages others to be likewise. A villager Hamai has declared some unusual worldly insight today and Hanu has come along to chat to him about it and see if it's real. Everybody else seems to be making an unneccessary fuss.

Raluma - is a Tibetan mountain farmer. He's rather unpleasant and enjoys a good moan. Take the neighbours - Hamai and Kolo and their brat, Guohon - always making too much noise and arguing. Now their yak has been left up on the roof (where it grazes) for too long and has put its foot through the roof of his living room. Compensation must be forth coming!

Foe - is the village idiot in a small Tibetan farming village. He never understands anything but talks about it a lot and loudly. Most of what he says is non-sensical (sometimes he sounds like he's about to make sense but then doesn't). There's a comotion in one of the huts and he's decided to be involved.

The villagers argue and Tai Li listens in. Another cowled starger does likewise. Hamai waits for his son refusing to work. The priest tries to help by letting the yak come down from the roof on a ramp but it runs away because he didn't tether it. Kolo is hopping mad and Ralmula pretty much the same. Finally they all see Guohon returning. He comes up to the house and his fatehr admits him to the back room. Ah that's what the mountain says - I see it all now, don't you? Everything goes quiet and when the others investigate the room is empty.

Tai Li finds herself suddenly standing in the hall of the Duchess' house on the other side of locked shutters and doors. She goes upstairs and finds the Duchess (no longer looking pregnant) and her midwives all drugged asleep in their beds. A final room has a shut door - from beyond she ehars Po saying - you are Hamai, a farmer, in a Tibetan village - over and over...

Tai Li stands in the village in her ragged clothes again. She beats a sharp retreat up the path she came down as the villagers argue about a yak on the roof of a hut. They seem to remember nothing of what came before.

Tai Li bounds out through the window startling a sleeping Mirriam. Something strange is happening. Yes! Tai Li explains all. Holding the key together they can both enter the Tibet.

Back at the village the argument still rages. The cowled stranger from before is not present. They see Guohon approaching from a far so go to meet him. Foe joins them making inane remarks. they cast aside their baskets of dung whcih distracts Foe. They see Guhon grabbed by a man jumping out from behind a stupa and run down there. The stranger is Po who is putting a knife to the boys throat and demanding the message from the from the mountain top. Mirriam grabs him.

Tibet vanishes and they stand outside the locked room. Po starts up again - you are Hamai, your son is just entering the village... Tai Li knocks on the door... which becomes the stupa. Po and the boy are up at the entrance to the village. They rush up. Po seems to have got the boy to tell him the message. He tries to run into the hut but Ralmula blocks him and then Mirriam lands on him.

They are in a pitch black room. Mirriam has Po pinned to the floor and a baby starts crying. Tai Li yanks the thick cloth off the window and confronts Po - what were you up to? He refuses to tell them. Huang and the guards are summoned. Huang gleefully uses the opportunity to kick Po a little. They find a box with a book of Buddhassatvas in it (those who have become enlightened). It's open to a page with the names hamai and Guohon on it. Huang does a quick horoscope of the baby - he's a rimpoche, a enlightened individual returned to human form to teach. Po was presumably trying to learn what he discovered when he first became enlightened or even replace the son in Nirvana. Tai Li berates Po heavily and they have the guards drag him away to await the Duchess' pleasure.

Everybody collapses into sleep for the night.

Come morning Defanuh heads off to try a few more avenues of investigation on the Hermes front. Nothing is at all revealing until he is accosted by a man who wants to speak to him privately. This man is apparently a memeber of an organization and another member killed Silat. He disapproves and will hand over the culprit who will confess if Defanuh promises not to investigate the organization further. Defanuh agrees and recieves the name of a scribe, one El Abu. He follows the informer to his place of work at a bath house.

Rajiv visits Raphael. Raphael says that the Jewish community has taken it upon themselves to deal with Babylon. rajiv is introduced to the Rabbi who queries Rajiv about what he's seen. To convince him the matter is in hand he shows him a workshop with a clay golem body laid out on a table, emet carved on it's forehead. This is Simon. Once given life his duty will be to find and destroy the succubus - there is no worry of Simon going out of control because he will be powered by God. They propose that Rajiv and Daniel should stay clear of Babylon for their own safety and so as not to alert her. Raiv wonders about taking Daniel to Alexandria out of harms way.

The Duchess awakens and is pleased to know her son is a Rimpoche. She calls him Hamai as it's his name. When told of Po's behaviour she summons him and then expels him from the Duchy! The guards take him off to be thrown out of Cairo. Those remaining have tea and discuss the Governor's party. Perhaps the new Duke should hold one too?

Mirriam hunts some mice for the newly buried. She crosses to the Shadows and finds her sister who wants to go check on the progress of the ghostly cats towards Tuat. They lope off into the desert and find the trail. 10 miles from Cairo a trail of 10-15 men meets the cats' trail and starts to follow it. They persue and find a group of nomad ghostly ghuls. The two panthers meanace them and they put up defensive spears. Mirriam turns to human form and threatens them to leave the cats alone. They are not so scared of panthers as one might have expected and try to bargain for dead bodies instead. Mirriam has none of it and they step off the cats' trail as if in compliance.

Defanuh finds the scribe El Abu and drags him inside and accuses him of the murder. he admits it saying that Silat's burning of Arshad's body was too great an effront to not be answered. Defanuh is unconvinced but El Abu refuses to say anything of the organization or other motives. Defanuh threatens to kill him which reduces him to tears but he is no less cooperative and resigns himself to death. Defanuh finally proposes to let him off and leaves in the hope he'll lead him to the organization. Instead El Abu tries to hang himself. Defanuh saves him and ponders what to do with the wretch.

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

Sarah has been busy with Ib's chanting the spells neccessary to complete the astral realm. The work progresses well. The evening after the party her father is grouching about Gemma - apparently she was visited by an Egyptian princess and told to undertake a visit to heaven - balderdash! Sarah pays Gemma a visit. She is very excited with blue prints of a bizarre vehicle consisting of a boat with three pink silk balloons to make it fly and a collection of birds attached around to guide it. Combined with a special draft this will serve as a conduit to the afterlife where apparently it has been decided to break down the barriers between life and death.

Meanwhile Rajiv finds Daniel intent on another visitation to Babylon. He persuades some neighbours to catch him in the drugged state he will no doubt be in and take him off to a bar that evening.

Tai Li considers possible venues for a party. A large tent in the Ezbekia park seems the best option. She rejoins Huang to wait on the Wind Dragon. He shows up and enquires about the key - very helpful. What are the dragons intentions for the future enquires Tai Li. Well truth to be told the spirit is not the East Wind Dragon at all but Guohon, the Rimpoche's enlightened son. The boon stuff was apparently all part of a game he was playing with them. He did enjoy the mahjong though and hopes to drop by and play from time to time. They play now and then Guohon heads off. Huang and Tai Li heave sighs of relief and ponder the weird behaviour of spirits.

Mirriam and her sister panther finally catch up with the cats heading to Tuat. They warn them about the ghuls but the cats have little way to protect themselves. The panthers stay with them for as long as the expected it would take the ghuls to catch up but they don't show. They head back and find that the ghuls turned back at their first meeting point and folowed the panthers' trail back to cairo (where their path is lost in the ruins).

Defanuh finally despairs of Abu and leaves him with his note admitting to killing Silat and lets him hang himself.

The cats all meet at the temple and discuss events; golem, ghuls, flights to the afterlife and astral realms. A dervish approaches the temple, pauses before it and throws back his hood revealing blond hair, blue eyes and a rugged suntanned face. It's Quentin! Sarah double takes and then flees into the temple. Defanuh speaks with him. Quentin is looking for Sarah. Sarah takes a bit of convincing to speak to him but fianlly agrees. The other cats all look on. Sarah! Sarah doesn't look impressed. Aren't you glad I'm back? That depends where you've been...

Quentin's Tale

After Sarah had convinced him to return to the barracks after the water of life expedition he started to do just that. He was very aware that the protectors of the fountain might want him dead though and indeed he noticed people following him. A few sharp turns and runs lead him deeper into the old city without losing his stalkers. As they closed in he took a wrong turn and ended up in a blind alley. He banged on the door of the end house which was opened by a large, voluminously dressed man with a long pencil thin mustache. As the guardians bared down the man refused to allow access to the house because it wasn't his house to offer access to. You do seem to be in a bad way he commented. The guardians reached Quentin and started to brawl with him trying to drag him down. Help they're going to kill me! Well, said the man, what would you give for my help? Anything! Well then - in a minor lull in the skirmish the man draped his cloak around Quentin and his attackers acted as if he'd vanished! When they had departed Quentin turned to thank the strange man only for the man, Farrukh Al-jann, to declare that Quentin was now his slave. He proceeded to knock Quentin out with some strange sweet smelling flowers and carry him from the city!

The Al-Jann Tribe : are a tribe of desert dervishes who claim descendance from jinn. They number about 250 and live in the deep desert west of Cairo. Although they spend much of the year living in tents on the move between sporadic oases they have a sacred home oasis. That is they did until the British incorportated it into the Suez canal. The tribe has been in uproar since, arguing over the correct way to recover from this loss. A small band recently attempted a terrorist campaign against the British but they are a small tribe and not capable of taking on a whole country. The tribe's sheik, Omar Al-jann, has determined on a new course - to attack and seize the oasis of the neighbouring tribe to the west, the Mistkal. There are those in the tribe who object to attacking their own kind rather than the British but a home base is essential in the desert so what alternative is there? A group of Al-jann is currently buying supplies of arms from traders in Cairo to ready themselves for the conflict. Omar has also asked them to be on the look out for a pretty male European slave since his interests ly in that direction... The Al-jann are in general muscular and sport rather long, pencil thin mustaches. Their jinn ancestory gives them the ability to create small amounts of water, to bear easily desert heat (even when garbed in chainmail shirts - the traditional battle wear) and, because of their affinity to air, to sometimes pass invisible before mortals. The latter ability works best at night or in thick heat haze but is only likely to be of marginal use against the ifrit descended Mistkal.

The Al-jann who have been buying supplies meet at a runied temple south of Cairo.

Adnan Al-jann : commands the camel riding elite cavalry of the tribe. He is unbelievably skilled on camel back being able to perform almost any trick.. he knows it too and likes to show off and perform. He is somewhat shallow and dreams of gold and fine art treasures above all else (except perhaps women). He hopes to be the first to raid the Mistkal treasurey. He has just returned from Cairo to the group with new weaponry for his cavalry including some, surprisingly cheap, scimitars with pearls set in the handle.
Physical: lythe, strong, good-looking
Mental: bright, not too subtle
Social: show off, full of himself

Malik Al-jann: seems at first always a little oily and shifty but he is in fact deeply morally driven. He leads the 'assassin' wing of the tribe's army though they are more spies than murderers. He was the one most in favour of the terrorism against the British. This is so wrong he has determined to do everything he can to prevent it - if neccessary even forewarn the Mistkal. He is not disloyal to his tribe - he wants the war to end in a stand off so neither side suffers and attention can again turn to the evil foreigners. He has developed a dislike of Omar too because of his decisions though he hides it in all matters except Omar's taste for men. His garb is all black and his invisibility powers are stronger than the rest of the tribes even working on jinn often.
Physical: swarthy, agile, oily
Mental: very intelligent, very religious, very moral
Social: superior

Daud Al-jann: is the premier wrestler of the tribe. Positively over flowing with muscle his thoughts are for training and little else. He is of course as a result the hero of the infantry, able to wrestle whole bands of bandits with just his bare hands. His one thought outside these matters is for Shadar Mistkal - the Mistkal hero who beat him in the last tribal games. Daud was young then, Shadar is old now. Time to seek account.
Physical: rippling muscles, tall
Mental: loyal and devoted to the tribe and Omar, dreams of battle
Social: fun, easily bored by social chit chat

Khasim Al-jann: is a poet and a musician. He loves beauty and detests physical exercise. The current time is not so bad for him though because he considers military tactics an art (just so long as he doesn't have to get involved in the mucking about on the ground). He spends most of his time in intellectual debate (for example sparring with Omar about whether young boys or girls are the more pleasant his taste is to women mainly where he is aided by his good looks). The particular spice of the venture is that the Mistkal leader is their princess Shafika who Khasim once saw and is hence, in the traditional arabic style, in love with. He dreams of claiming her as his slave after the battle. In Cairo he has found a mass of books on the tactics of the Great War and hopes to put the new information to use in the coming battle.
Physical: beautiful, stylishly dressed
Mental: subtle, sensitive, impulsive
Social: long winded, enthusiastic, always brings art into everything

Farrukh Al-jann: is a good and honourable man with an odd jinn talent for knowing when people are in trouble. Oddly this ability has lead him to become a slaver - it is neccessary for there to be an honourable way out of the dishonour of debt, or to buy something otherwise beyond your means. This is the role of the slaver to provide this means to those in need. Many times sad, but so much better than the alternative. He does not believe in charity of course - that is a subversion of Allah and Fate's will for the individual. He will fight with the tribe but holds no special role in the army. He does hope though to find and release a slave he once sold to the Mistkal called Idris - a trick was played on Farrukh and Idris was a free man drugged by bandits. Farrukh is in Cairo trying to find Omar's European - Quentin has filled the position nicely.
Physical: tall, plump, well groomed
Mental: honourable, enjoys debates about honour, cheery
Social: cheery, happy to do his duty

The tribesmen set out east to rejoin the rest of the tribe. Quentin awakes across the back of a camel and the tribesmen proceed to tease him about his future role as Omar's love slave (excepting Malik who finds the whole matter distasteful). Eventually they arrive at the tents fo the tribe.

Their men and Omar come out to greet them. Welcome, did the purchases go well? Yes and Oh Sheik we have one Quentin for you. Go give Omar a hug. Quentin is mortified and refuses any such thing. He is a British soldier, slavery is illegal and he'll have nothing to do with any of this. Omar looks cross but sends him away to be properly dressed and washed.

Quentin is taken to a tent and left to wash and dress himself in pantaloons, a waistcote and some bizarre curly toed slippers. He dresses and attempts to escape out the back of the tent. daud and his men see the attempt and have fun marching backwards and forwards making Quentin scurry from one supposed hiding place to another. Eventually the grab him and bring him back to his tent.

The tribe prepares a feast for the evening of roast mutton. They gather in a huge tent to eat. Quentin is again presented to Omar who decides to be amused by his refusal to get intimate this time. He proposes that since Quentin wants to be freed and he wants Quentin to love him that the two should become conditional on each other! They eat until Omar is overcome by the desire to resite a poem in Quentins's honour:

His skin is white like milk
His eyes love-heavy underneath blue lides
His cheeks the shadow of wine coloured silk
Thrown upon snow
"What modesty forbids?
Why do you pass me so?
I am as patient for your hand
As a lamb is patient for the priest."

The tribe laugh at the bright red colour Quentin turns. Omar moves on to slaughtering a goat and reading its entrails - they foretell fire and battle and that the balance will be held by the outsiders, surely the Al-jann!The tribe retreats to bed. Quentin prefers his own pile of cushions to Omar's.

The next morning the tribe packs up and begins the four day march to the oasis of the Mistkal. That evening Khasim entertains everyone by enacting his prefered tactics with troops of the tribes women folk. Omar brings wine to Quentin and proceeds to get drunk in his lap.

The tribe marches another day and Quentin is presented with a silk scarf embrodiered with a poem:

As the boy looked at it, my thing
Moved and he whispered:"It is splendid!
Do let me try its love-making."
I answered such an act is reprehended;

In fact, a lot of people call it awful."
He said: "Oh they - oh they!
With me all things are lawful."
And I was too polite to disobey.

They march on and come evening the tribe has a final meal together before getting down to business. Omar insists on feeding Quentin with his own hands and Quentin gives in to this (the tribe suspect Omar is winning him over). Omar has another poem:

Will you not understand, my lord?
Beauty like yours is not to hoard,
But to be thrown adrift, a golden joy,
My Lord, my gentle boy.
Your thighs are heavy and your waist is small:
Do you not feel the need for love at all
My lord, my gentle boy?
To have your buttocks pressed upon my knee
Is heavy ectasy,
And when you rise I do not feel relief,
But heavier grief,
My lord, my gentle boy.
God says to feed the hungry in their need,
And murder is not praised by any creed,
My lord, my gentle boy.

The next day the tribe stay encamped and Malik leads his assassins out to spy out the terrain. Daud and Khasim come along for a look to brief their troops, Adnan to settle his tactical plans. The oasis has a pool with a grove of palms to one side, and to the other a white washed walled compound surrounded by tents of the Mistkal. They identify the camel pens position. Malik intends to sneak into the compound (which has 12 foot walls) and see what is inside. The others hang back. Malik finds his way in with no one suspecting and scouts the mosque and market within. Finally there is a small palace which he scales the wall of and sneaks into the Princess Shatika's chamber to leave a note on her pillow...

Our leader has lost all sense of morality and is preparing to attack you, our neighbour tribe. beware and be prepared!
- An Al-jann

He returns to the others and the Al-jann camp making no mention of the note.

Back at camp Omar takes Quentin to the edge of camp and shows him how desert like the land is and points out that escape would be near impossible. Further he shows that the Al-jann produce their own water so there is none for Quentin to steal. So if Quentin wishes, as a soldier, he may join the Al-jann in battle tomorrow. Yes says Quetnin dreaming of escape.

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

The scouts report back and the leaders of the various troops plan the attack. Camels will rush in from various directions, infantry from others. Quentin is allowed to contribute, by Omar at least. At the end of the planning they head for bed ready for the dawn attack. Omar is heard reciting Quentin another poem:

His dim white lawns and tissues hide
The silver dawn of his backside,
As mists before a moon may ride;
Let us sing, let us be glad
For lawns and silvers of my lad.

Come morning the troops mount up and stage the attack. Scouts are sent in a bit before the troops to cause panic amongst the enemies camels. Khasim watches from afar and wonders if the enemy camp doesn't look a little deserted... indeed it is. The cavalry swing through the tent camp and find not a soul. The gates of the compound are open - a trap? The infantry cut down some trees to allow access over the walls. The group stands outside nervous about riding into an ambush.

They send Malik in to reconnoitre - everything is quiet until he enters the mosque whre Mistkal soldiers spot him and detain him. Arms tied he is shown back into the mosque where stairs lead down to a lava tube in the earth below. There he is presented to Princess Shafika and Shadar. So you are the one who left the message? Yes. You have saved our tribe if not your own. The Mistkal seem confident of their victory to come and send Malik back out to tell Omar to leave by dusk or face the consequences. The Mistkal say they will withdraw down the lava tube.

Malik reports back and the tribe moves in to the compound and indeed finds it deserted. Infantry are sent into the lava tube to block it up. Why would the Mistkal retreat from a defensive position and allow the enemy to hold it? Omar believes they are afraid of the Al-jann and have retreated from certain defeat - it is a victory! The other Al-jann do not agree though. Clearly something is afoot. They propose that a trick is played back on the Mistkal and that the Al-jann leave the compound deserted and camp across the lake hopefully wrecking the Mistkal's well laid plans. Omar is finally bullied into agreement. This, says Quentin, was their disastrous mistake!

They make camp across the lake.Spies are sent to search for the end of the lava tube - perhaps in the Mountians North East. Others seek signs of the Mistkal. Dusk comes with no signs of movement until a wind begins to pick up and then turns to a whirlwind at the gate of the compound. A 30 foot tall ifrit appears with red horns, yellow eyes and fire bretahing from his nostrils. He declares that he is Zain Abdallah ifrit of the volcano and protector of the Mistkal and... oh what are you all doing over there? No matter. He begins to circle the lake.

What defense can there be against an ifrit, cut off as they are from the compounds defensive walls? Oh woe. The water - everyone turns their mounts and heads for the lake. The Al-jann tribe gathers waist deep in the centre of the oasis pool. The ifrit indeed pauses on the bank but laughs at the sight they make. So what now asks Omar? Silence falls over the damp troops. Daud tries to break out but the ifrit seems able to appear and disappear from place to place as he chooses - they are trapped and rapidly become demoralized.

Meanwhile Malik who had been out scouting returns to the compound and, digging out the lava tube, heads off to parley with the Mistkal. That tribe are now in caves around the core of a volcano which the tube leads to. Malik is brought to the Princess by guards. Malik declares that he has failed his tribe and that he puts his life in the Princesses hands. Surely she must spare the Al-jann and just punish Omar? he is dragged away.

Back at the oasis the sodden Al-jann attempt to trick the ifrit into single combat or a riddle game for their release but he's far to smart for that. Eventually it becomes clear they must surrender. Omar will offer his capture for the freedom of his tribe to leave. He makes for the ifrit. Quentin follows vaguely thinking he'd rather be with the Mistkal than Al-jann. Omar is touched by his loyalty but send him back. The ifirt accepts their surrender and disappears with Omar.

The Al-jann wade out of the pool in depression and pack to leave. Quentin seizes a camel and packs it with water. He heads out before the rest of the tribe and they are too lack luster to care. He leaves them behind to their retreat and surely the beginnings of internal squabbles about a new leader and new goals.

After three days of travel and decreasing water supplies Quentin found and was taken in by dervishes. He travelled with them for many weeks learning where he was and how to get back to Cairo. Finally his trek has brough him home after months in the desert.

Oh Quentin it must have been terrible! declares Sarah. What to do now? Well she will get Quentin a pardon from her father and everything will be fine. They head off for the Governor's house. Sarah tells her father a long and convoluted story about slavers and some poor man who had to escape from them and only when Samuel is applauding his actions does she tell him its Quentin. A pardon is guaranteed! A release from the army so he may recuperate is also provided. Sarah decides to get all the shocks over with at once and takes Quentin off to brief him about her being a cat. She even proves it by changing in front of him.

And where has Ramon been this past week? Only a woman could keep him quiet so long and indeed he has spent the time on Banuqua's window sil watching her prepare for her wedding - a dress, guest lists, presents. Each night she sleeps with a purring Ramon in her arms. Finally though the preparations part them and Ramon returns to the temple to hear the end of Quentin's tale. recent events have rather left him behind.

Tai Li visits a tent purveyor and arranges a marquee rental for the Duchess' party - a red and white striped one tobe set up in the Ezbekia park. She also visits Eugene and makes a copy of the guest list for the last party of the Governors.

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

Daniel calls in on Rajiv. He just saw Babylon in the bazarre stub her toe on a stair! The bleeding and shouting were most un-demonic so she must be a fake. They head off to where the incident occured but she is long gone after visiting a bank. Rajiv heads off to tell Raphael that Babylon may not be a demon. This is no cause for worry because Simon acts in the name of God and will not commit a wrong act. Oh good.

Sarah sees the stunned Quentin off for a bath and a lie down. She heads off to see Ib's. The astral realm is complete; the white washed walls of the villa have dappled sumlight falling on them. They enter and Ib's becomes younger (with more hair), Kimet transforms to a dapper young 16 year old in a suit, and Sarah is a lion. She prowls about and roars alot.

Tai Li heads for the Ezbekia park and finds Gemma's double prowed boat under construction there. A pen holds several flamingoes. Gemma herself is selling tickets to the afterlife for 5 pounds a seat - so far she has sold 12. Tai Li decides her party should be across the other side of the park.

Ramon, unaware that Defanuh and Maryam are already bedded down, sets out to push things in just that direction. She wraps one of Maryam's handkerchiefs round a sword handle of Defanuh's then tips it to the floor in front of her. She isn't pleased to see so public a display of affection though Ramon doesn't quite know why she's so unhappy.

Mirriam joins her sister in the Shadows and they ghul ghost hunt. The smell of them is about the tombs but they seem to be hiding somewhere underground and they don't locate them.

Defanuh returns to the bath house and follows the Hermetic informer to a side street deep in the Old City. Speaking the word hermticanta a secret door to the basement of a house rises up and he enters. Defanuh follows shortly after - stairs lead down, four empty hooks and one with a feather mask hanging from it are on the wall by the door. Below is a temple to Hermes with two marble statues of the God, a flower strewn altar and a strange mercury surfaced mirror hanging behind it. two rooms lead off, one apparently lived in, the other a conference room with four men in feathered masks gathered. After a while a fifth man comes down the stairs and they talk. Number One asks Number Two to report - Initiate Abu has made the required sacrifice. Number Four is reprimanded for acting against the council with regards Silat. Next time an initiate will not take the fall. They plan a memorial for Arshad in two days time, after all he did risk what none of them have dared.

Tai Li gets home where Huang is worried that Guohon might have left a gate between the Wind Dragon realm and this open - his magics suggest such a gate is open anyway. Ghosts may get through. Tai Li says she'll keep an eye out.

Rajiv joins Daniel to go spy Babylon in the bar and taunt her about her toe. When they arrive though a crowd is gathered round a policeman investigating the dead body of Babylon - her neck is broken and she is covered in wet clay! Rajiv heads off quick to the Jewish quarter to learn what went wrong. Raphael is dismayed to hear the news. They go to see the Rabbi who has deactivated Simon. He offers a different version of events from that they perceive. Simon confronted and dismissed the succubus successfully. Demonic forces have though created the illusion of a murder of a woman to try to turn suspicion back onto those who have opposed them! The Rabbi does not believe the police will trace the trail back to them though. Rajiv heads off not sure what to make of events.

The cats gather at the temple and discuss all they've seen recently. Defanuh finally arrives after watching four Hermetics leave and then waiting for the fifth to fall asleep. On removing their masks he recognised none of them. After chatting he heads home and is summoned by Maryam who lets him know her displeasure at such a public display of affection as the handerkerchief. Defanuh heads back to harrass Ramon, the obvious culprit.

Meanwhile Sarah has been home and agreed to join her father at Mabib's wedding ceremony the next day. Ramon after sparring with Defanuh a while heads off to see Banuqua. She is sitting in bed crying. She is nervous about the wedding and wants Ramon to tell her he was only having her on when he said she was marrying an evil God. Ulp. Ramon says that he does think its true but that she might be treated well anyway. The only alternative he can offer is rescueing her to live with him in relative poverty so she should probably go through with it because he can always rescue her after anyway. She falls asleep cat in arms.

Rajiv heads of to find some of the band members for the wedding service the next day but instead finds Daniel who says there has been another murder. A man, believed to be the murderer of Babylon's was found, "his soul sucked out", in an alley near the bar. Someone reported seeing a ghostly green light in the alley which is where the divine vengeance theory has come from. Rajiv is now worried that the aftermath of Simon and Babylon might reach back to them. Returning to the temple he convinces Tai Li to let him speak to Huang. Huang listens attentively then proceeds to paint a chinese symbol in thick black paint on Rajiv's face which he promises will give him protection from spirits, at least long enough to run away!

The cats head off to bed. In the morning the city is all a talk about another murder like that in the northern slums. This time in the Old City a 12 year old boy has been found foetal and pallid as the grave. The cats gather at the temple and, led by Mirriam's desire to visit the morgue, decide to investigate the deaths. They speak to Inspector Na'ib who has apicture of the corpse but no lead. The bodies are being studied by doctors at the moment but were not sucked dry of blood crushing the vampire theory!

The cats head off to attend Banuqua's wedding which is a grand affair in a large house. Set does the rounds with an oily smile though he seesm to always miss the chance to speak to the Governor and Sarah. Banuqua arrives looking very timid but stunningly beautiful in her dress and fine jewelry. The amarriage occurs without event and presents are given tot he couple. Amongst them the Wafd party gives Set an award fro meritous service to the party. The couple drive away and the party begins to wind down.

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

The cats start to think about leaving the wedding when Tai Li and Mirriam hear the growl of a large cat from the Shadows. They scoot off to investigate whilst the others notice a commotion by the door to the mansion. The two groups discover the following outside: in the street a green glowing ghostly Arshad is fleeing down the street clutching in his hand some sort of tiara. He is visible in botht he real world and the Shadows. In the Shadows 12 ghostly ghuls are in pursuit and Mirriam's sister is watching from a wall top from where she growled for Miriram. In the real world people are fleeing the ghost of Arshad.

Mirriam tries to intercept the whole chase. Arshad heads off down a side alley so Mirriam and her sister pounce on a few ghuls. Tai Li chases after Arshad as do 8 or so ghuls. In the real world Defanuh and Ramon pursue Arshad too. Sarah and Rajiv rather get left behind at the party and miss the chase as it disappears round the corner. Not sure what's going on they end up going home with the Governor. Meanwhile the two panthers try again to head off the ghuls and succeed in stopping them and then forcing them to flee away from Arshad. Defanuh is guessing that Arshad is making for the Hermetic temple and tries a different route to head him off.

Arshad indeed arrives at the temple still running flat out in terror. Defanuh tries to block him but the ghost runs straight through him and then through the wall to the temple. Ramon, Mirriam and Tai Li arrive out of breath to varying degrees. Defanuh opens the temple door and they go in. The priest number one is having a fit at seeing Arshad's ghost. Arshad has collapsed on the temple floor. What's going on demands Defanuh and they make to deprive Arshad of his tiara. Then a voice rings out \across the temple - most devout servant have you completed your task? It's Hermes say the Hermetics but it sounds too rasping to the cats for Hermes! Arshad affirms that he has the crown and then two clawed hands emerge from the mirror (which from the Shadows reflects the real world). Arshad takes the tiara forwards and as the cats try to intercept throws it to the disembodied hands which juggle with it then catch it and withdraw into the mirror. Arshad vanishes from the real world and looses the green glow in the Shadows.

Sarah and Rajiv arrive back at the Governor's house. Sarah goes to talk to Quentin who is recovering from all the shocks but still shakey about the cat thing. Rajiv gets fed up with the small talk and heads off to the Hermetic temple Defanuh had told him about during the wedding.

Ramon tries opening the mirror with the word Abadigamontae, killing the "floopy mirorr realm people". There is no sign of the clawed hands within. On closing the mirror it returns to its mercury surface. They question Arshad. He thinks he is in a dream realm where Hera hid a crown stolen from Hermes and doesn't know he's dead. He takes a bit of convincing.It seems he stole the tiara from the ghostly ghul troop who perhaps were using it to feed off the living since it allows them tobecome ghosts on this side. The whole story is very reminiscent of the ghul magician Alabarut's search for the ghul king crown that Anubis had (although the tiara is not that one - perhaps though Arshad stole the wrong one).

They head off with Rajiv now to find Alabarut but there is no reply to knocks on his tomb's door. They return to the temple of Bast and meet up with Sarah and Lady Cephelene. Sarah goes to ask Ib's about the tiara. Kimet, after he takes a break from carting books into the astral realm, says he thinks it's a Ba amulet that allows spirits from one or other side of the veil cross to the other. Ib's invites him to copy that book out at some point.

The group search for the ghostly ghuls in various parts of Cairo but can't find them. Perhaps Alabarut has gone to the ghul throne room to be crowned? They crawl about under the tombs of the Mamelukes and find the over look of the throne room - a mass gathering of ghuls is taking place. Across on another balcony the ghostly ghul troop is watching too. Suddenly darkness gathers and Alabarut is illuminated somehow on the stage. He declares himself "King of the half realm between life and death" and puts the tiara on. He begins to glow green and exists in both realms.

The ghostly ghuls run for him. Alabarut thinking quickly tries to convert them to his cause and get them to attack the cats who are visible in the Shadows. Arshad infuriated at the trick played on the Hermetics leaps down the precipitous wall below the cats and goes to attack Alabarut. The cats are less keen on the jump which looks rather dangerous but as Arshad gets mobbed by ghuls Mirriam, and Sarah clamber down. Defanuh in the real world decides to take out Alabarut and with a well aimed shot puts a bullet through his forehead killing him. The ghostly ghuls mob the dead body for the crown. Sarah calls for Defanuh to drop down his Shadows sword but he instead jumps as a cat into her arms to fight himself. Mirriam as a panther is meanwhile recovering Arshad from the ghuls attacking him. Defanuh wades in on the tiara's position and kills many a ghul with the sword.

The victorious cats beat a quick retreat with the tiara and the badly mauled Arshad to the temple. What should happen to the tiara - it's not much use to the cats since they can go to the Shadows anyway. Leaving it at the temple might just leave it open for theft. Ib's could guard it in the astral realm though perhaps.

They take it over to Ib's house and Kimet guides them all to the astral villa. Sarah's manipulation of her own form has made all the werecats werelions in the astral realm which she is a little put out by wanting to be the only lion. They go to Ib's and show him the tiara. Interesting. Particularly the way it bends light and space round it like that.. what's that rumbling noise? An earthquake begins knocking the cats to their knees and hampering their attempts to flee with the tiara out of the astral realm. Space cracks and ruptures and a starry sky is seen throught he hole. Gravity gets a bit odd and Kimet starts to fall through the hole. Sarah grabs him but begins to fall too. Kimet disappears into the rift screaming for help while Sarah just manages to hang on to the edge of a table feet hanging over the void......

************** Session 10 **************

Defanuh and Rajiv are thrown to the floor and knocked out. Ramon struggles for the entrance with the tiara and slowly the astralquake subsides. Ramon flings the tiara out of the realm into Ib's workshop.

Kimet's screams stop and he announces that he's landed on something. Sarah is still dangling over the void. Mirriam rips down soem drapes to try to rescue sarah. Watch out for the spider things shouts Kimet! A many legged crystalline creature with faint pink and blue colours crawls over the edge of the crack right by Sarah's feet. She screams. Tai Li and Mirriam pull Sarah back while the spider investigates with strange antenna. The spider crawls round the edge of the crack and finds the villa's gravity and falls to the floor. Tai Li picks up a chair and whacks it, shattering the spider into many sharp pieces. Kimet says there are more and he's fallen on this bizarre and huge crystalline web in space. The cats begin tying together drapes to pull him out. Everyone including Ib's is against investigating. Three more spiders crawl round the edge of the crack. Tai Li bashes one with a chair which gets stuck to a sharp edge. She mauls it to pieces as a lion. Mirriam also whacks one but in the process of shattering it gets a nasty shard stuck in her leg. Ib's accounts for the third with a ray of light from his hand that seems to evaporate the spider. Mirriam pulls out the shard and bandages her wound while the others lower drapes to Kimet and pull him to safety. Ib's proposes a retreat until they have worked out a spell to close the crack and strengthen the walls of the villa realm. Everyone retreats back to Ib's house in Cairo. The cats head for bed, Defanuh and Rajiv still groggy from hitting thier heads.

Tai Li is woken in the morning by an explosion from Hunag's workshop. He has been making fire works for the party and had an accident. He looks a little charred but no other harm done.

Sarah's morning is taken up with the social embarrasement of meeting Quentin in his bathrobe on the landing. Eugene patches up and the couple decide to go shopping for the morning.

Mirriam and Ramon both decide to go and tell Lady Cephelene about the events with Ib's. Ramon stops off along the way and looks at Gemma's boat in the park. The faces carved on the outside are off Sethos, Uraeus, Anubis, Horus and Ani. He meets Mirriam coming out from talking to Lady Cephelene and tells this new news. How could Gemma know about the dead immortals? Ramon and Mirriam head off to see Gemma. Gemma is rushing about preparing things and tries to sell them tickets. Mirriam spies a dried bannana skin in the Shadows??!! Nothing else seems amiss though.

Ramon heads off to talk to Kimet and Ib's about Gemma, the Princess Falama and the boat. He also suggests a range of wild speculation whcih Kimet tries hard not to laugh through. Kimet finally says that he knows there was a Polynesian queen called Falama and maybe she'd eat bannanas. Mirriam finds out that same piece of information from several hours search in the library.

Ramon decides to see how married life suits Banuqua. He slips over the front wall of Set's house and into the garden which smells of snake. The harem is behind a second wall coming off the back of the house itself. He crawls along a damp drainage pipe but encounters a cobra. Quickly beating a retreat he lures it out and then waits for it to slither away into the grass. The next attempt brings him through into the inner garden whcih is more neatly kept. The harem is a low stone building with many windows but covered by elaborate stone carved grills. Creepers wind over most of the walls. There are four entrances, one to each side, all blocked by a long blue drape. The drapes smell thickly of perfumes and age. He slips through one into a samll chamber with drape covered entriy arches on each wall. Going straight ahead he enters a chamber with entries ahead and behind only. Ahead again and another chamber with four entries. A maze! Pushing straight ahead he eventually emerges from a door on a different side of the building! Perhaps this is not the best way in. He starts to climb the creepers but they are infested with black widow spiders and, although he does make it to the roof, this would be of no help in getting Banuqua out if he needed too.

He retreats to watch how others enter the building and sees Set enter by one door and emerge by another an hour or so later. The place is quiet except for a period when he hears a faint drumming from within. He wanders off to check on Gemma and think but nothing distracting is to be found there so he returns. He tries the entrance Set used and wanders for a while in the maze again. On emerging he tries a different path from the same start and this time quickly comes out in a garden inside the harem. A fountain bubbles and a half scorpion half man guard stands with a scimitar alert. Ramon ducks behind a flower bed. Faint singing comes from the drape and screened windows to one side of the court, quiet sobs from another.

He finds an entrance to the room from whcih the crying comes. The room is fabulously decorated in pile carpets and gold and marble ornaments but banuqua is on the bed crying. Meow. You've come - I'd given up hope! This place is terrible. Set is an evil God. He has 8 wives and they're all dragons. they've given her so many tasks it's impossible and when she complained to Set he hit her. She has a large bruise on one cheek.

Meanwhile in the same wing of the harem Salma, a fabulous beautiful Islamic wife with little intellect, decides to parade around the harem in her new make up to make the other wives jealous. Passing by Banuqua's room she notices she has stopped crying and sneaks a glance in. Ramon has become his human self out of sight on the far side of the bed but Salma hears whispering. She strides in and demands what's going on. Ramon becomes a cat. Banuqua says she's just talking to this cat. Salma knows it is new and is keen to find out how Banuqua got it into the harem (secretly she desires a way by which she can sneak lovers in to make the other harem members jealous of the power of her looks). Banuqua claims ignorance and Salam decides that the cat should be hers rather than the new girls.

This discussion is loud enough to alert the 2nd wife Hania whose room is across the corridor. She is also stunningly good looking and of Roam descent. She is paranoid about the other wives having more power than her and keen to increase her own power as far as it will go. She is worried that Banuqua is being recruited to spy on her so barges in. Salma and Hania exchange some mean spirited words before Salma stalks off with Ramon in arms. Hania stays with banuqua and tries to get out of her what she and salma are up to but Banuqua says it was all innocent. Hania heads back to her room suspicious.

Ramon allows himself to be petted a while by Salma who eventually tires of her new toy and gets ready for bed. Ramon hangs around just long enough to watch her get undressed then heads off nonchalantly as if looking for mice. He returns to Banuqua and on the other side of the bed again turns to human form to talk. Ramon suggests she should let herself be rescued but Set has promised to punish her family if she leaves. He also said that while she stays she won't age. Hania's paranoia has risen by this stage and she is again listening at Banuqua's door. She hears two voices so decides to enter. Ramon becomes a cat. Hania confronts Banuqua about the second voice. Banuqua isn't coping well with all the interrogations and blabs the first story she can thnk of. The cat is a man cursed to be a cat and can talk sometimes. Hania is very interested and proposes that Banuqua might be allowed to keep the cat if it were to spy on the other wives and report to her. Ramon nods that he'll do his bit though with sinking heart.

These sounds of voices have brought Salma back to spy and she hears that the cat can talk. She waits for Hania to leave then enters and starts to bargain for how the cat gets in and whether he might bring her lovers in by the same route or else she might have to tell Set... At this point the first wife, Nefertegi, who is an ancient Egyptian and surprisingly beautiful for her 50 years, passes by on her nightly rounds. Salma pretends to brush Banuqua's hair for her. Nefertegi invites everyone to retire for the evening and determines to return in 10 minutes to check.

Ramon is now dreading how many services he's going to get dragged into by the wives. He considers keeping Salma company himself but Banuqua would probably find out... he indicates that he can try to find her a lover. So far he has managed to keep his human form a secret anyway. Salma heads off to bed too. Oh says Banuqua at least they think you're a cat... just as Nefertegi walks in again on her return round. How interesting a talking cat that can become a person. You had better come with me. Nefertrgi takes a demoralized Ramon off to her quarters where she instructs him to carry messages for her or she'll make trouble for him and Banuqua. In particular she gives him a message for the owner of a shady drug den which says that she wishes to restart the trade they had with an earlier courier. When she releases him ramon heads straight for the Shadows and out before he's requistioned to any other task.

************** Session 11 **************

Defanuh has been taking care of the Hermetics. He turns up to what was supposed to be their memorial service for Arshad. The six masked leaders show and 10 or so acolytes. Their confusion over recent events though is such that they turn the memorail into a prayer to Hermes for guidance. Defanuh has sneaked behind the altar as a cat and chooses to appear dramatically as a man. He accuses them of being used as fools by a demon all resulting from their duplicity in Arshad's murder. Number 4 must hand himself over to the law, Number 2 must see to the wellbeing of Abu's family. Number 1 agrees that these things will be done so Defanuh leaves to watch from outside. The Hermetics slowly slink off and Defanuh follows Number 4. He returns to his home and begins to pack to leave! Defanuh appears from his closet to reprimand him. Number 4 pulls a gun but with a few shifts of form Defanuh is in control and drags him to Inspector Na'ib. Number 4 suddenly decides to have revenge on the Hermetics and tells all he knows. Right says the inspector lock him up and I'll go round up this cult. Defanuh heads off to inform Silat's other son of what he has found and receive payment.

Rajiv visits Raphael but everything at the Rabbi's home has returned to normal. Rajiv fills Raphael in on the ghul ghosts and he concludes that events seem to be over if no less confused. Rajiv then heads off and wanders about Gemma's boat for a while and volunteers to help gemma with the painting of mystic heiroglyphs on the balloons. This will begin in a few days time.

Sarah joins Ib's and Kimet who are researching spells. Ib's teaches the other two his spell for blasting spiders. They also learn a spell to seal off the break and strengthen the walls. Ib's would like to have the other cats along while they reclaim the villa if they're willing. Sarah says she'll ask and they agree to try the attempt at noon the next day.

The cats meet at the temple. Tai Li and Mirriam notice Arshad sat on the temple steps talking to an old man in ancient Egyptian garb. This turns out tobe Tameh's human form and they are discussing the trip to Tuat in the west. Tameh is more sympathetic to the idea now the ghostly cats from Bubastis have reported that it realy exists. Arshad will have to learn the requisite spells before leaving. back in the real world the matter of Gemma's boat comes up. When Defanuh learns about the bannana skin he's certain the culprit is Kimet. He can't get into the Shadows now he's a baboon can he? Who can say what knowledge was in Ani's library though. They decide to confront him the next day before the astral recovery mission.

The next day comes and the cats (barring Ramon who is still involved in the harem) gather at Ib's house. Defanuh has brought a sledge hammer, Rajiv some tuning forks for shatterign crystal. What does Kimet know about the boat? He looks uncomfortable and claims he was locked in his room on the day the ghost appeared so how could he have done it? No one quite believes him.

Ib's warns the group not to go rushing off on their own in the astral realm because the laws of nature could be very different there. They will try to recover the villa but only with minimal risk. He wards the wardrobe then opens the door. Sunshine spills out and the villa appears intact. They proceed cautiously and find that everything is as it was except 10 spiders have begun colonizing the room witht he rift in it. This involves covering everything in crystal deposite apparently.

It does not seem possible to communicate with the spiders so Kimet, who is begging to be allowed to, is given the go ahead to blast the spiders magically. The spell misfires though and results in a shock wave that knocks the cats on their backs and all except Tai Li pass out. Spiders crawl out of the room and begin to pick up Mirriam. Tai Li, as a lion, tries to interfer but ends up fighting a rather dextrous spider. She roars to wake the others. Mirriam comes too in the grip of four spiders who are carrying her towards the rift. She struggles valiantly but the spiders keep their grip. The others, except Kimet who was closest to the blast, come to and set about dispatching the other spiders between them and Mirriam. This they achieve but Mirriam is being carted off into the rift.

They search about for the drapes they used as rope before and Defanuh climbs throught he rift. Ib's states worries about entering the rift and the other realm but realizing Mirriam's predicament follows through. On the other side they climb down to the crystalline strut of the vast web of the spiders. The radial struts are wide and solid, the transverse struts only a foot across dangling over empty void. The spiders are carrying Mirriam across a narrow strut to return to the main web where there look to be many many spiders. Defanuh and Ib's follows after as fast as is safe. Sarah and Tai Li bound down as lions and follow on until Sarah suggests Tai Li go get Ib's magic carpets when she heads back. Sarah experiments breaking a thin strut of the web which shatters but she only barelt leaps back in time to avoid the fall below. Rajiv meanwhile stays with Kimet, who is coming to, and has no intention of going into a new realm.

Spiders are converging from all across the web including one huge spider to which the others present Mirriam. Defanuh, Ib's and Sarah converge on the back of Mirriam's guard and wade in. Crystal legs are everywhere and they are soon being overwhelmed. Mirriam tries to fight out too. This is hopeless shouts Ib's - get down! (Taking similar words out of sarah's mouth who had had the same thought). Ib's repeats Kimet's misfired spell and there is again a huge percussion. The spiders are shatter but the cats on the ground beneath them retain thier senses. They leap up, grab Ib's who has passed out bleeding from his ears, and head for home.

More spiders converge and they are slowed now by carrying Ib's. They make it to the narrow strut back to the rift but the spiders will catch them before they climb out or can close the rift. Sarah bravely steps forward saying she'll use the spell on the strut from the more solid main support. The others cower back and shield themselves from the blast. Crystal flies everywhichway. They look back and Sarah has indeed destroyed a 50 feet section of strut but also the piece of the main support where she stood has fallen away and Sarah is not to be seen. Defanuh rushes to the edge but there is only void below - Sarah must be falling!

They retreat back to the villa desparately trying to work out a way to save Sarah. Ib's and Kimet have no knowledge of magic in this new realm. They try the flying carpet but the commands to fly make it catch fire and plummet into the void. The spiders are reconnenting the web so Rajiv tries to find the resonant frequency of the crystal on his pipe. He gets it jut right and shatters a huge section almost as far as they can see sending spiders hurtling into the bottomless fall. Kimet and Ib's desparately search books but can find nothing and slowly the cats realize that sarah has been gone far too long to hope to rescue. Sadly Ib's declares that it would be best to close the rift and strengthen the villa realm's walls. Kimet is sat in a corner sobbing.

Mirriam goes to tell Lady Cephelene who is heart broken but can think of no recourse. Tai Li tries Huang who wonders if Guohon doesn't owe them a favour - they should ask his help next time he comes. The cats wonder how and what they should tell Samuel, Quentin and Ramon.

************** Session 12 **************

Ramon has been preparing to revisit Banuqua. He visits the seedy drug den and is given a letter and a packet of opium for Nefertegi. He tries carrying a vase around in an opened mirror and discovers he can use it as a way to transport large items around with out risk of damage. He then returns to the harem in the Shadows. Entering the Shadows aspect of the harem he sees a room across the courtyard from Banuqua's room with a dog headed and a rat headed ghost in watching him. They call out to him as if he's really a cat. Meanwhile in the harem itself 'Abla, a nubian princess who practices tribal magic, receives report of the cat spirit from the dogs head pinned to her wall after her sacrificial binding of it.

Ramon slips away without getting involved and appears in Banuqua's room. She is delighted to see him (the other wives said he wouldn't come back). Ramon gives Banuqua the stuff for Nefertegi and says he thinks he can sneak a man in for Salma. He wants Banuqua to negotiate for a better deal for herself though. She agrees and then gives ramon a long hug and kiss.

The spirits have reported the cats return to the real world to 'Abla and she puts on her ferocious lion skin hat and picks up her rhinocerous skin whisk and heads across the courtyard to investigate. Hania watches her come suspicious. 'Abla stops outside banuqua's room and over hears the whispers of a man and a woman. She strides in making a tribal cry of victory and seeks about for the man. Ramon is now a cat and banuqua tries to feign innocence.

The other wives on ths side of the courtyard; Sukaina, Salma, Hania and Nefertegi come to investiagte 'Abla's cry. Sukaina, a blond Romanian who is picked on most by the other wives, skulks on the outskirts hoping not to be noticed. The other three rally together saying the cat belongs to Banuqua (who is worried 'Abla intends some dark witchery with Ramon). Banuqua gives Nefertegi her opium and reminds her that ramon is her cat. Nefertegi agrees and sends the others off looking pleased. 'Abla and Sukaina can't remember such a show of solidarity - clearly something is up.

Nefertegi stays behind outside Banuqua's room to listen. 'Abla goes for some milk to lure the cat away. Everyone else lurks too. Ramon and Banuqua decide it is time to deal with Salma. Banuqua heads off to Salma's room and says the cat will bring her a lover the next day but only if Banuqua's duties are lessened (she suggests giving some of those Sukaina used to do back to her). Salma must also vactae her room for a few minutes while ramon does his magic to bring in the lover. Salma cagily agrees.

'Abla returns with the milk and enters Banuqua's quarters where Ramon still is. Hania comes out from hiding across the way in her room and joins her. Acidic comments are exchanged and 'Abla tries to capture Ramon. Banuqua returns and pretends to have seen Sukaina in Hania's room whcih sends her scurrying away. 'Abla wants to hear the cat speak or else Lord Set might be interested in events. Ramon and Banuqua sigh. Ramon nips under the bed and becomes a man so he can speak. 'Abla greets him and invites him to her chambers at his leisure then withdraws. That didn't seem to painful...

Sukaina has not really been able to work out what is so special about the cat with all the other wives about so heads off to see her lover Irene, a Persian beauty who is a bit of a daydreamer. Oh a cat how nice that would be. They head over to Banuqua's to investigate but ramon hears them coming and uses it as an excuse to slip away into the Shadows and back home. Irene is disappointed and retreats. Sukaina feeling a little spiteful goes to the scorpion guard and asks him to take a letter to Set saying that if the other wives can have a magic cat can she have one too please.

Rajiv across town turns up at the Ezbekia park to help Gemma paint the balloons. Gemma is very excited because the Princess came to her again and said that because the stars were changing they would need to change the heiroglyphs. Rajiv gets a copy of both the old and new glyphs.

The cats all slowly meet up at the temple. Mirriam is considering running to the gates to Tuat to ask if Sarah has passed through. Defanuh is drinking and practicing arms in equal parts. When Rajiv turns up with the glyphs they translate them

Artistic work by Kimet.

In memory of Lady Bast.

they read. It was Kimet and he's turned it into a memorial to Sarah! Ramon shows at about this time and asks why all the long faces. He's shocked about Sarah's disappearance and wonders if Salilea could rescue her. Defanuh tries to guilt trip Ramon about being off in the harem but his heart isn't in it.

They all head off to speak to Kimet about the balloon trip - it's was just a joke with nothing supernatural about it. His heart doesn't seem in it either though now. Mirriam suggests contacting Tuat and Kimet thnks it sounds like a good idea and suggests sending a carrier pigeon. They write a polite message promising Anubis a reference on the balloon if he'll tell them what has become of Sarah, attach it to a pigeon from a window ledge, then Kimet kills it and chants a spell. In the Shadows it flies westwards. They move on to talk to Ib's who thinks trying to contact Salilea is a good shot. He also says he'll deal with telling Quentin and Samuel later that evening.

Ramon has to take salma her lover. He visits Benoud and invites him on a dangerous trip to sleep with a fabulously beautiful wife in the harem of Banuqua. Wow yeah! He gets dressed in his finest attire and then allows Ramon to blindfold him. Ramon produces the mirror, opens it and makes the confused Benoud climb in. Then he closes the mirror and heads inthe Shadows for the harem.

He appears under the bed in Banuqua's room and discovers she is crying on the bed and a scorpion guard is in the room. he slips back to the Shadows worried someone has told Set (indeed Sukaina's tip off has been sufficient). He tries to appear under Salma's bed but forgets precisely where it is and ends up visible tothe guard there. The shock of having a scimitar wielding scorpion man bearing down on him is too much for his concentration and he can't make it back to the Shadows. He flees into the corridor where the guards shouts have alerted other guards. Darting about he tries to stay under their feet and get back to the Shadows. Eventually he makes a break into the garden after being scratched across the side with a scimitar end. He darts out right infront of Set himself but doesn't hang about to watch. He dives into a shrub in the garden which gives him a little more time to compose himself and he finally escapes intothe Shadows.

He returns Benoud to his home. Benoud had been unable to resist taking off the blindfold and is very paniced. Seeing Ramon bleeding doesn't help. They bandage Ramon up and head off for a drink.

The curator at the Egyptology Museum is in a bit of a flap when he comes to talk to Mirriam one morning. Apparently their old curator who usually takes the readings at the Nileometer of the Nile's flood level has bronchitis. They're terribly short handed and would it be possible for Mirriam to take the readings once a day through the flood season this year? Yes of course she volunteers.

************** Session 13 **************

Rajiv and his friends finish painting the balloon heiroglyphs for Gemma. She's had another visitation from Kimet as Princess Falama and some extra glyphs are painted on the front of the balloon with an Anubis head glyph very prominent. She asks them to show up before dawn the next day to begin filling the balloons for the flight.

Ramon returns home to find two of Set's men in his apartment waiting to capture him. He spots them first, flees and spends the night at the temple.

Mirriam makes her first check on the Nile flood waters and they are already very much present. The water is muddy and higher than the records indicate is usual for tis time of year.

The cats meet at the temple and everyone goes off to buy tickets for the flight to the after life. Mirriam drops by Kimet but there has been no reply from Anubis. She agrees to buy him a ticket for the flight too. gemma has sold all but the last few tickets but they each get one.

At dawn the balloons are beginning to inflate and a man is goading the flamingos to the appropriate places to be tied to the boat. Rajiv helps out. Shortly after dawn a tearful Quentin shows up and buys one of the last tickets. Rajiv goes to talk tohim but he's distressed the cats didn't tell him about the venture so he could have been there to sacrifice himself for Sarah. Slowly the 30 other passengers show up.

When the ship is ready (wow says Kimet I never thought I'd actually get to see it!) Gemma allows people up the gangplank taking tickets. On board they all settle into seats. Gemma makes a small speech about the momentous occasion and how thankful they all are to the Princess. To the afterlife. She begins to hand out a brown foamy broth in conch shell cups. Everyone drinks (excepting Mirriam who is too sensible) and the tether ropes are cut.

The boat rises gently into the air - it flies! It rises to about the level of the highest spires of the city before being held by long tethers to the ground. The broth is making everyone feel lightheaded and slightly hallucinatory. They can see that overnight the Nile has flooded its banks and overflowed several districts by its banks. A gentle breeze blows morning mist towards the boat and visibility reduces. Suddenly everyone sees a figure appear at the prow of the ship - indistinct in the mist but they all think they can make out the loved one they most wanted to meet. Mirriam thinks it's Anubis, the other cats that it's Sarah. The figure speaks to each in the voice they expect - The law is that none shall cross from dark to light and the law may not be breached by goodwill from either side" . Then the figure vanishes. Quentin faints away. Gemma cries that the Princess must have been forced to change her mind. The cats are surprised anything happened at all. Perhaps it was Anubis' unhelpful reply?

The boat settles back down into the Ezbekia park and everyone disembarks. What follows is perhaps though the beginning of another tale...