Ascendancy, Renewal and Rebirth

Read it here in Czech thanks to Sandra Knudsen. Read it here in Latvian thanks to Arija Liepkalnietis.

The Baghdad Circus comes to town early in the summer. Sarah and Ramon meet at the temple to go and watch the circus set up. Defanuh is practicing archery in the park. Ramon attempts to convince him to practice on some local fauna. They head of for the circus.

The circus is setting up on the far, west side of the Nile. The faded, red and brown striped big top is already half up. A stream of interested watchers is crossing the bridge and forming a crowd over by the big top. A somewhat rabid zealot on the bridge decries the circus saying it is devil spawned and will give rise to Godless frivolity. Everyone ignores the kill joy.

The crowd has gathered to watch a group of clowns with white face make up and very baggy brown robes hit each other with pretty solid looking wooden sticks. It is all very comic, especially when someone in the crowd tries to cross through the clowns to look at the animal carts and performers' tents behind, since the clowns then turn their sticks on the transgressor to cheers from the crowd. The kin take to cat form and wander round the inner precincts. There are tigers, elephants, dwarves and horse riders. The trapeze artists are practicing doing hand stands on a thin wooden beam. Ramon befriends a waif like girl with startlingly dark eyes. Defanuh shares respect with a tiger.

A scream echos across the circus from the Nile's bank. Making their way over, changing to human form along the way, they join the gathering crowd on the banks. Apparently a child playing on the river banks has been seized by a crocodile and, judging by the heaving frenzy in the water, is beyond saving. Relations wail. A watcher comments that all this has been happening far too often because now the British are in control they don't arrange culls (of crocodiles Ramon not children). Ramon's waif friend exchanges concern over the incident and a crone from the circus cackles that it is a "sign of rebirth and change after the storm". Ramon is invited back to watch the acrobats, the waif tries to get Bastola to walk the beam but he declines so she cartwheels along it. The remaining acrobats return and sheperd the kin back out of the practice area. Ramon and waif exchange farewells and they head back to town.

Sarah is going out this evening with her father to a dinner party at the Forsyth-Roxbury's residence. Whilst getting ready Samuel recounts his discovery of the day that 1/4 of the leather used for army boots is lost in the cutting process. Sarah brings up the matter of children being eaten by crocodiles. Samuel finds the idea of a cull rather novel. The party is a small affair with the hosts, Margaret and Charlie, who have just returned from Kenya, Richard and Norma Meldewd, a drab serious pair, and a rather podgy woman, Gemma Tulard, in a quite excessively frilly blue dress. Apparently Gemma will be providing a little amusement after dinner. Over dinner conversation is dominated by Margaret's tales of Kenya.

Ramon feeling recovered from previous adventure's maulings decides it really is time to buy a new table and sets about it.

Defanuh is approached by a white robed and red fez wearing servant of Prince A'meer. The Prince wishes an audience at his house. They head there and after a pleasant wait in the well provisioned visitors room within the A'meer luxurious abode Defanuh is given audience. A delicate matter has come up; one of enforced, unjust slavery that touches not just on the highest levels of the Islamic society but also impinges on the colonial rulers. Apparently a trade has begun in western women being offered as wives and he fears that Al-al Mansaloon and Sarif el Fazir have already fallen to the dishonourable temptation. He wishes Defanuh to trace the matter to the head of the slaving chain so he can put an end to it.

Meanwhile at the Forsyth-Roxbury's Gemma has revealed that she is a medium. The after dinner entertainment is a seance. Samuel is quite enthusiastic but Mr Meldewd seems to think it's in bad taste but is coerced by social correctness. Holding hands in the candle lit room Gemma moans and rolls her eyes. Candles flicker and go out. "An Andrew... he says it is hard to see through the mist.. very lonely.. ah I'm loosing you Andrew". The whole performance is quite melodramatic. After seance conversation reveals according to Gemma that it has recently become much easier to contact the dead in Cairo. Also that Mr Meldewd is quite an occultist belonging to some society and studying alchemy.

Defanuh recruits Ramon to check out the houses of the two culprits A'meer named. Al-al Masoon's house has a spare bedroom with English books packed in a trunk but the room seems disused. Ramon sets up a terrible yowling in the room bringing the other wives running. They say that the rooms evil spirits must have upset the poor cat; jinn always gather after a suicide. Fazir's harem has a teenage Engish girl crying in her room. Ramon cheers her up by playing with her. When everyone else has gone to bed they revert to human form and wake her. They tell her they are going to rescue her soon and so win her trust. She is called May and was kidnapped on the streets of London, fed up and shipped here where Fazir mistreats her horribly. Alas she speaks no Arabic so does not know the name of any of her captors. She describes the warehouse by the docks where she was held for a few days though.

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

Razili sets about organizing a roster for the dancing girls in her show so that they can each spend some time at the Circus on its opening night even though their manager insists on them putting on a competing show. The dancers are all disgusted because they know nobody will come. Ginar invites everyone to a party she's going to after the Circus to cheer people up. Razili then heads off to arrange to be Sarah's pet cat for the evening in the Circus' box.

Sarah's father has got himself double booked by a Rosicrucian meeting and the circus but it's alright because he's given his ticket to Quentin. Eugene will be along to keep an eye on them. Samuel sets off. Quentin arrives with a rather sorry looking rose and is embarrased at Sarah. They head off, Razili in hand, in the car. Crossing over the bridge to the Circus they pass Ramon who scandalizes Quentin by blowing kisses into the car.

The circus big top is packed, sweaty, smells of animals and is almost overbearingly hot. This provides an excuse to send Quentin away to get drinks. Ramon elbows his way through to the front of the standing section. The circus show happens with more appearances by the clowns with their big sticks, fire breathers, strong men, elephants and tigers. The trapeze artists are particularly exciting with Elisa, the waif star, flipping back and forth through the air. The local crowd is noisy in its appreciation

Ramon manages to insert himself in the crowd milling around after the show to intercept Elisa on her way back to her tent. He pours praise on the show and her part in it and gets invited to a post show party in the hall of mirrors. The party is a small group of the entertainers; a western dwarf, a black strong man, a horse rider, the woman animal trainer, two dancing girls amongst them. They're drinking and smoking hashish and are keen to hear Ramon's praise. After a while the dwarf declares that it is time for the story and that it is Asabo, the strong man's turn:

Asabo's Story: I am of a tribe that lived in deepest Kush. My father was a witch doctor of great power and his father also before him and so on back through the generations. The witch doctor is a very powerful man who does not lightly give up life nor neglect his duty to his tribe. When he dies he lives on within his first child. Now it happened one night that Elephant passed by our village indicating her desire to judge us. The law of Elephant is absolute so we gathered together twenty warriors and wise men to track Elephant and know her will. The witch doctors became worried when Elephant's trail entered the swamplands. We trailed her many days for if Elephant keeps on then no man may catch her. The swamps brought their usual blights; sinking sand, malaria, and snake bites. Our group of 20 strong soon dwindled in size and those that remained were delerious. The witch doctors began to fear Elephant's words yet they had to be heard. Finally we found Elephant, two adults and two young, dead and decaying in the swamp. This was their message. When we returned to our village the white slavers had sacked the village and stolen our people. Those that remained wandered bereft by Elephant's word and I eventually came to this circus where I now live.

The other circus residents listen to the story unblinking even as his telling becomes more and more frenzied. When he has done they return to the casual discourses of before and the drinking. Somewhat bewildered Ramon gets on with the business of seducing the willing Elisa.

Sarah and Razili return home. As Quentin prepares to give her a peck on the cheek she pinches Razili, who shrieks and interrupts his venture, leaving him to return to his barracks. Samuel is already home and comments that the Rosicrucians have an old church in the Ezbekia where they meet and with a library. Apparently this is a time of ascendancy and they are creating a symbol of mans' ascendancy to heaven to bring heaven closer; he describes it as having gravel or ore round the outside and some white powder further in. Apparently they won't be able to finish it though since man's understanding of the divine is not sufficient. Samuel found the whole thing a bit intense and expresses the opinion that religion is all very well once a week on sunday but it shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of normal life.

Razili convinces Sarah to come to the dancers party. They stop off at the dancing theatre (somewhat of a dingy place) where it is decided that Sarah should wear a dancing constume and make up. Sarah is somewhat bemused by the flimsiness of the outfit... The party is a gambling group who drink and throw dice while the women pick up the winnings. It's not too exciting which they seem to want to rectify by bringing out opium to smoke. Razili decides that Sarah has probably had enough local custom so they leave.

A few streets away their path is rudely blocked by a cloaked arabic man with blond hair. He accusingly says that he can see Razili's sins upon her flesh and demands to know where they have come from. Somewhat annoyed Razili blurts about a party down the street and asks hom to get out of her way. He reaches up and touches her forehead before going on his way. Sarah can now see a jackal head symbol on her forehead. They discover that only she can see it so well and decide to consult Ib's about the whole incident the next day.

Ramon, who is feeling pretty pleased with himself after last night, can also faintly see the symbol on Razili's forehead. Ib's identifies; in the Crusades the western priests would mark cultists of Set in just such a way so that their warriors behind could identify and kill them. Ib's is surprised that anyone remembers the word for the sign now. He removes it though is concerned why Razili might be thought a cultist of Set. No answer is forth coming.

They talk to Lady Cephelene about the symbol too. She suggests that associating with strong believers might have left an imprint on Razili. Razili is still none the wiser.

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

Ib's and Sarah discuss the word for rejuvenation; it is ephemeral, hard to remember. Possibly it has a large element of chaos with respect to the natural order and hence only at times like this after the storm is it accessible. In the past there was an agreement about who would weild the word at each such occasion and that agreement would let it fall to the King of the Ghuls who used to live in tunnels beneath the Tombs of the Mamelukes. Ib's is intruiged to know what's going on down there...

Meanwhile Defanuh has been searching out the warehouse the British girl told him about. It is a boarded up and apparently disused building. He slips in through a gap in the boards to find the ground floor indeed unused and empty. People do seem to be entering through the neighbouring fruit storage warehouse though. Stairs lead up to a second floor and at the top a guard lies asleep. Beyond him is an area of metal cages in one of which is a not terribly attractive, skinny, arabic girl. He decides to return later when some of the ring leaders might be in evidence.

At the temple Ramon, Defanuh and Sarah meet up and exchange gossip. Sarah wants to set up an expedition into the tunnels under the tombs and no one has a better use for the afternoon. They cross town to the Tombs of the Mamlukes which are teeming with families, merchants and beggars. Any number of tombs seem to give access to tunnels beneath. Ramon finds an urchin and offers to pay him some pennies if he'll take them to the most scary (and hopefully therefore deepest) bit of tunnels, since he claims Defanuh has accepted a bet to spend a night there. Easily done says the urchin and they head off. At the back of a derelict tomb a well like opening provides the first descent, then a one foot high crawl leads to another vertical descent over which Ramon gets stuck but luckily it's dark so they flip to cat form greatly easing the journey. A tunnel crawl on is another tomb with little left in it beyond a pile of bones and rags. This is the scary place. It's haunted apparently. The beggar boy heads off. The cats make a torch of bone and rag from which they discern another entrance that seems to lead towards water and something moving around. Then the torch goes out. Proper tools for the investigation including a lantern might have been a good idea. They decide to put off further exploration until another time.

Defanuh wants to go and check on the warehouse, Ramon plans to go to the circus so they decide to go to the warehouse on the way. Defanuh slips upstairs again where the guard is playing dice with a rather plump man. Defanuh leaps in and dispatches the guard and starts to threaten the other who is now on the floor. From that undignified position he claims to be only the cook and not to know anything. Further threats reveal that slave girls are brought in by some Algerians (whose leader is jokingly called Aman)about once every two months on a boat called The Prophet Flies. The next delivery won't be for a month or so. He also believes they have another holding area in Cairo though he doesn't know anymore about it. Defanuh lets the cook flee. Ramon and Sarah come upstairs to survey the results of Defanuh's work... the slave girl in the pen is an Algerian street waif with nowhere to go and who doesn't really know anything useful. There is some debate about what to do with her. The final decision is that she should be given sufficient money to get herself a job after a trip to Alexandria, to avoid her being recognised by the slavers in Cairo (or blurting out about her rescue). They go to the train station and send her off.

They're a bit late for the circus and only just catch the high wire act. Ramon heads off in search of Elisa afterwards, the others head for bed. Elisa and Ramon go off to the usual post performance party in the hall of mirrors. Tonight's tale is told by the dwarf, Toladjek, in a monotone to the rapt attention of all the others.

Toladjek's Story: I was born in a small village in the hills around Sarajevo and was protected by my family from harm and persecution. Everything changed when the First World War started though - all the young men in the village went off to war leaving just the women, the old and the infirm. Bands of roaming soldiers from Italy, Germany and local bandits would pass by and extort, pillage and steal. A small militia was formed by the women and old men of the village to protect the village from such looting and I was part of that militia. One day a group of Italian soldiers took offense to our self defense and laid a short seige to the village. We fought them with our aging guns but slowly the militia fell and somewhere in the midst of it all I was hit by a bullet and passed out. I awoke in a trench with my friends rotting around me and my wound full of maggots. We were heros because the villagers had had sufficient time to hide our possessions and flee. It made me sick. I left and wandered to the east after the war and joined the Circus which at least tries to bring people happiness.

Again when the story is told everyone forgets it instantly and the party continues. Ramon and Elisa retire to her tent. Somewhat later in the evening Elisa contemplates the mirror in her room, " mirrors are nice.. have you ever wondered whether they do what we do in the reflection or we what they?". Ramon throws in the contemplation of what the reflections do when the reflected is not standing infront of the mirror.

Over breakfast Samuel expresses his enthusiasm for reinstating the tradition of crocodile and hippo culling. He's also planning to have a party with Gemma doing a sceance, it's all the rage apparently. Sarah wonders if requests can be made for who the dead are, how about a pharoah?

Defanuh goes to the docks to learn more about the boat. After a gun is pointed at the dockside adminstrator he final gives up that indeed the Algerian the Prophet Flies docks every few months and he is paid off to ignore what goes on (he hasn't investigated). Irritatingly after Defanuh is gone the adminstrator reports the incident to the British troops on the docks. After a very easy evasion he returns to give the administrator the fright of his life and leaves him in a faint on the floor!

The trail to the slavers seems to be cold for the next month until the boat returns. Ramon suggests trying to find people selling dates from the neighbouring warehouse to the slavers. Ramon and Sarah trail round dates salesmen until they trace Algerian dates back to a stall in the main market in the old City. The seller is apparently looking for a new warehouse guard since his vanished last night. On hearing this Defanuh follows the apparently respectable merchant home and applies for the job. He is to bring references to the warehouse the next morning.

Ramon again heads off to the evening party with Elisa. A dancing girl tells her tale tonight after which Elisa is very bouncy.

Ei'a'la's Tale: The first thing I remember is breaking out of my egg with the little tooth on my beak for the purpose. There was a big rush of bright light and air. Mothers warm feathers kept the chill away and then later she would bring great tasty worms to eat. Oh and then there was the flying - that was wondeful, twirling through the air. (At this point Ramon is seeing glimpses of blue sky and cloud out of the corner of his eye in the mirrors all around) I flew and flew until one day men put a net in my path, captured me and put me in a cage. They clipped my wings and I have never flown since. I was sold to the circus where I can at least dance and remember what it was to fly.

When Defanuh arrives letters of reference in hand at the warehouse he finds British troops investigating the body of the guard. The merchant says he always thought that the interconnecting doors were kept locked by the owner of the warehouses he rents off. And the guard was so useful and nice connecting him up with all sorts of useful contacts. He employs Defanuh as the replacement.

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

Samuel has arranged the party for tomorrow night and wants Sarah to do the nutty bits for before the meal. She suggests inviting d'Aver along.

Sarah and Ramon meet up at the temple and decide to go see how Defanuh is getting on at the warehouse. He's dozing inside and is planning on waiting for the merchant to return so he can inact his plan. Sarah and Ramon nip off to the docks, wait for the harbour master to leave his hut and then read through his books learning the name of the captain of the Prophet Flies (and that about 1 in 5 of the ships bribe the harbour master in some way)

At dusk the merchant returns and Defanuh inexacts his plan; he explains that he killed the previous guard because he was a slave trader and he'd like to know what else the merchant knows. The horrified merchant is pretty clearly ignorant of the whole slaving thing and is very grateful when Defanuh leaves. Defanuh first asks him to bring the previous guard's reference letters to him at his home. Ramon and Sarah are worried and hang around to check the merchant doesn't go to the police with Defanuh's address. Being a law abiding citizen he does just that! Ramon intercepts him and suggests that if he tells the British that one of his guards committed the murder that he will fall under suspicion.. he is convinced to leave things be.

The three meet up again with a few recriminations. Anyway they next turn their attention to preparing to go under the Tombs. Ramon trots off to leave Elisa some flowers since he'll be gone tonight. Then they head off. This time lantern in hand, they return to the haunted crypt. It's as before and they start to investigate the side passage. A mysterious "woooooooooo" cry comes from behind them - a ghost? Yes, a mysterious glowing translucent figure steps out of the wall! "Hello!" says Kimet what are you jinn cats doing here? He is apparently stuck between worlds, a state he achieved in avoiding the storm in the Shadows. Now he can't go far and can't unstick himself - he suggests he's successfully half stolen his life back. He wants them to unstick him, one way or the other. Sarah suggests getting Gemma to seance him.

When the conversation turns to their purpose in the underworld Kimet immediately assumes that they're trying to steal the Ghul king's firey egg. Huh? Apparently it's an egg in a fire that mercenaries, theives, Set worshippers and slavers are all trying to steal at the moment. Sarah suspects that it's the pheonix egg Ib's was on about. Kimet knows how to get to it but only through walls the cats can't traverse. They explore a little more, encountering a tunnel that leads past a scorpion nest (which Defanuh ignites) to a tomb lived in by a small family (Kimet haunts them by shouting boo loudly). The other possible route leads to a water logged chamber with two crocs and smokey vents that Kimet assures lead to the ghuls' egg. They decide to consult Ib's. So, assuring Kimet they'll be back to help, they head off.

In the morning Sarah visits Ib's. The egg is a physical manifestation of the word for renewal but can not be stolen except by taking the idea from the mind. Ib's isn't sure why one would want the physical manifestation unless perhaps as advertising. He would like the cats to keep an eye on things to see if they can work out what the Ghul's king's plans are. As for exorcising ghosts he is not an expert but he'll look into it.

The date merchant does not bring Defanuh the reference letters he was hoping for this morning so Defanuh goes to track the poor innocent down. He's not at his stall and won't answer his door even when presented with a gift of a large ornate bread. Defanuh cat forms over the roof and walks into his office. The poor man is quite beside himself and hands over the letters sharpish. The recommenders are two reasonable merchants Defanuh knows and one he can't track down.

The three intrepid kin digest Ib's wisdom. Defanuh wants to search the underworld for the slaver halls that Kimet alluded to. They spend the afternoon in the less savoury southern part of the Tombs where mercenary gangs have claimed whole areas of tombs. They find no sign of slavers though Defanuh does bump into a guard aquaintance who is searching for an egg for a wealthy client.

Sarah sets off to buy nuts and then to the party to do the hostess bit. She circulates catching up on society gossip. After the meal Gemma does her seance with the aid of an old scarab. She tries to reach the dead spirits of the pharoahs but instead has a vision of a column of hunched figures following a proud man in a jackal headed mask. They proceed deep into the Shadows to a ruined tomb where a pitiful figure sits. She is possessed apparently by this man and utters, "An eternity of punishment for a lifetime of misunderstanding is not justice. I do not want rebirth but rest." Gemma then collapses to be revived by smelling salts. The party winds down.

Elisa teases Ramon about not coming to the circus the previous night but seems happy with the flowers. He explains that he was discovering a ghost so she asks to see it after the party. They go and get drunk and high in equal measure and listen to the horse rider's tale

Deleya's tale: Well this isn't a tale more an observation from having spent my whole life with horses. You start to notice after a while how much They hate them. The horses are so noble that they bare it with strength of course. But the mice do hate them - they watch them, squeek hatred at them and steal their food. They even gnaw on their harnesses to spoil their majestic look. I think the reason must be that once Allah gave every creature the right to choose their own form. The mice were just unimaginative and now they envy the horses for what they could have been. Horrible spiteful creatures.

Ramon is sympathetic to this view of mice but doesn't like the oppressive feeling that people are crowding behind the mirrors watching... they return to getting drunk until Elisa remembers the ghost.They meander through the city picking up a lantern and then head out to the tombs. They see two ghuls feasting on a dog's carcass which is pretty disgusting but the ghuls flee. (Elisa comments that Ramon reminds her of a cat when he hides). They crawl down to visit Kimet. Elisa does some cart wheels for Kimet and is generally bemused and drunk. Kimet has been thinking about seances and wonders if he can just go into people. He tries it on Ramon whose fur stands up on end. Apparently Kimet picked up on Ramon's dislike of the whole thing. he wonders whether he can steal somebody's body? Ramon tries to alleviate the bad idea by suggesting just bad people's bodies. Eventually Ramon and Elisa head off back to Ramon's apartment.

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

The three cats meet to take stock of life at the temple. After a sluggish start they decide to get back on the case of the slavers. They check out the merchants who wrote references for the slaver guard - all seem respectable merchants who hired the guard before he took to slaving. Nothing for it but to dress Ramon up as a wealthy aristocrat and go out trying to buy slaves. The slave marketers are mostly not stupid enough to deal in anyhting but true arab slaves and even then they do it with a special eye not to alert the British. One dealer is convinced to look into the matter of getting a blond slave and they agree to meet the next day.

As evening approaches they head off to see what Kimet has discovered about the pheonix egg. As they enter the tomb a drop of blood falls from above them. The tomb has acquired a statue of an angel in classic Roman Catholic form. The blood is dripping from it's sword. Ramon starts to climb up but it turns (scaring Ramon half to death) and departs across the roof tops where they lose it.

Kimet does not at first appear to be about but then possesses Sarah making her wave her limbs about until he falls out of her in laughter. Sarah is not impressed. He has watched the Ghul King though who gathered together the ghuls last night an did some chanting, since when he's been contemplating the egg. Kimet lets slip that Ramon was there with his girlfriend which Defanuh considers wreckless endangerment of her life. The cats head off to the crocodile chamber where Defanuh hurls a spear at one causing it to flee. Not to be out done Kimet possesses the other crocodile present scaring it away too. They leap across and look down through the smoking vents into the ghuls' hall. A fire surrounds the egg. A man in a jackal headed mask stands staring into the fire.

Sarah heads of to see Ib's with all this information. Ib's thinks the Ghul King might be trying to advertise his possession of the word.. perhaps he would take offers? As for ghosts they are the dead that want too much to return to life and all he can suggest is the traditional attempts to dissuade them of this fact (priests waving smoke in their faces being a particularly crude example).

Ramon heads for his usual nightly party. Elisa thinks it will be her turn to tell a story but her life's been so dull what can she tell? When they get there it does indeed turn out to be her turn. The dwarf suggests she should tell a story of a previous life. Oh yes of course...

Elisa's tale of a past life: She was once a single young girl in Rome. There was this charming handsome young elite guard captain called Marcus Pleborius who took a liking to her. Now Marcus turned out to be just as delightful as everyone said (well he was particularly popular with women at the orgies and she hadn't got that far but..) and she was really happy when he asked her to one of his private parties. The food and entertainment at the party were fabulous and the people wealthy and exotic... but then it came to Marcus' particular party trick for impressing the girls which consisted of him killing one of his slaves. She was so horrified that she ran to the senate. Marcus was totally disgraced and fed to the lions.

Ramon did not get the chance to enjoy this story though. Soon after it started he became aware that one of the mirrors had become a doorway in which strange figures imitated the people outside while other copies of the people without huddle round the sides. At one point a mass of Ramon copies drag his first copy away and another leaps out to replace him. They notice Ramon can see them and, astonished, start talking about feeding, having won him, the machine having summoned him and pushing their arms out towards him. Then a brave mirror creature steps out of the mirror and tries to touch Ramon, "Soul, soul!". Soon a rush of mirror copies of the revelers are struggling in the doorway and rushing Ramon. Their touch is cold and slimy but they are weak. Ramon tries to bash them back. Some turn into mice. A number of officious mirror copies turn up and worry about what's going on but seem to conclude that the wizard hasn't told them what to do about people outside the mirror halls. Eventually they start shouting that the machine is stopping and they get dragged back into the mirror. Ramon is left standing fur puffed up looking at his reflection in the mirror. Elisa thinks his behaviour very odd, especially turning all the mirrors in her tent round.

The Mirror Halls: are an isolated pocket realm on the other side of reflection. Their inhabitants are mirror morphs, souls that struggle from the mass of seething protomorph in the dungeons. Mostly they emerge when another morph is forced too close to the protomorph and his soul energy is grabbed by potential morphs in the sea. A mirror morph has no source of soul sustance but through the mirror. They compete and fight for the right to be the reflection of whoever stands before the mirror. Whilst they reflect image, they absorb what little soul falls on the mirror and on this they live. Soul makes them stronger, but while they are reflection the other morphs form nebulous teams to drag those feeding away so they don't become too strong. Soul feeding is all their lives consist of. This is not completely apparent to those that stray into their realm who see their form as that of those they have reflected. In fact they can even talk and act like their form briefly but they lack imagination and tend to return to the desire to fight and to feed. As a result of their lack of imagination they are slow to adapt to change and somewhat fearful creatures. Of course a stray true soul in their realm is a huge source of soul food which the morphs can feed on the radiative emission of, most quickly by touch. While feeding they will begin to look and act like the soul on which they feed and when touching will rapidly overdose on soul and lose conciousness (at which point others of their kind will feed on them).

The dark wizard has come to the halls above the mirror halls. He has built the machine that attracts the reflected. The machine brings more soul food which is good. He has chosen servant morphs who are strong even though they do not feed. These morphs run and guard the machine. Other morphs are not allowed up into the higher chambers but then what morph would want to stray from the mirror?

The standard morphs: may be any people reflected in the circus' mirrors recently and act as they would (a particular morph can shift form). They can fight with each other. They will eventually let slip all the above information though in an obscure way because they don't really understand any of it. They want most to touch and feed on the soul.

The wizard's chosen morphs: are steady in their appearance taking that of recent people reflected in the mirror. The black, faceless wizard has given each of them a task operating the machine, guarding the stairs to the higher chambers etc. In return the wizard lets them feed from the soul collecting tanks on the floor above the mirror (they're part of the machine). Above the machine is the wizard's halls with the morph zoo (the wizard sometimes freezes some morphs and puts them here for no reason the morphs can fathom). Morphs are not allowed here and there are no exceptions. They will be most confused by the true soul entering. They won't know what the wizard wants them to do. They will try to protect their bit of the machine... and to feed. Perhaps they will gang up to stop the soul going to the wizard's chamber. With morning the three cats again convene at the temple. Ramon wants to talk to Ib's about mirrors.He tells Ib's and the other cats about the previous night much to everyone elses surprise. Ib's says it reminds him of some speculative work by a mage called Ibn Badr a few centuries back. He advises smashing the mirror and leaving well alone.

The slaver they'd made contact with the previous day is pretty negative still about blond slaves but suggests a rather disreputable bunch of foriegners down by the Tombs of the Mamlukes... he also advises that a body guard would be a good investment. This sounds hopeful so they head off. The address is of a run down house just across the road from the wall surrounding the Tombs. They cat in and find four swarthy gentleman discussing a guard duty deal, and a cooked chicken. The visitors want the residents to guard some place that is apparently in danger of attack but insist the guards must be taken there blindfold. The discussion of this point heats up until the two visitors storm out.

Sarah follows one into the Tombs to a room in which a man who has been sliced up by a sword is being laid out for burial. Ramon chases the other back to a printing shop. When they get back from these forays Defanuh takes on the two at the house taking them by surprise. They assume they can do a deal with Defanuh to get him off their backs, they're wrong. Defanuh dispatches one of them with a particularly painful disembowelment (Sarah and Ramon really wish they hadn't seen this side of Defanuh's character..) which convinces the other one to tell all about the six other slavers and how to get through the tomb crawls to their holding pens from the cellar below. Defanuh does away with him too.

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

Sarah has to head back to be at dinner. As she crosses the Tombs home she notices that many of the residents are packing up and leaving. She asks about a bit and is told that the ghuls are attacking and evicting people. She also notices a gathering group of vultures at the north end of the Tombs. Investigation there reveals a dead local. Many groups of local toughs are hanging around apparently confused. Sarah has to get back to dinner though.

Ramon and Defanuh arm themselves and investigate the slavers area of the tombs. The slavers have dug a pit between them and the entrance which Defanuh unceremonially throws Ramon across. Beyond they have a tomb filled with slaving pens. Two guards heave a sigh of relief when it only turns out to be two cats coming their way. One tries to chuck Defanuh out of the door upstairs and is butchered for his pains the other is shot in the groin by Ramon. The wounded man explains that the other slavers went egg hunting and haven't returned. The cats raid the slavers ledgers and books on mythology then retreat with the wounded slaver when six ghuls come searching the tombs. Perhaps the other slavers have been eaten by the ghuls?

In the Tombs above there are the sounds of scattered gun fights and a good deal of confusion. They carry the wounded slaver to the gate where there is quite a throng of escaping locals. Some British soldiers investigating try to intercept them but local youths start bombarding them with stones and the cats escape to a local bar where Defanuh is owed a favour by the owner. They leave the wounded man with a warning note to his fellow slavers not to return to Cairo and head off to the circus, leaving the sounds rioting locals and British gun shots behind.

They pick Sarah up after dinner and all three go to the circus. While Ramon goes to find Elisa he sets the others to ingraciate themselves with the horse woman by catching a few mice for her in the stables. All three follow along to the party. Today is the fire breather's turn to tell a tale

The Fire Breather's Tale: I have seen in the flames the future. The sun creature will come and smite us with his firey sword. Where he treads the soil will burn, cities will be left blackened in his path. Those that view his might will explode in combustion...

Ramon meanwhile has been fighting back the mirror morphs and confronting the wizard, a shadow cloaked pharoah with only a featureless black face. The wizard wishes him to enter the mirror and be enthroned to serve the machine. He declines until the story ends and the morphs are sucked back into the mirror. Defanuh and Sarah are completely oblivious to the whole commotion and in fact somewhat confused as to why Ramon brought them to here this ridiculous story. They take it out on him by berating Ramon for his dubiously young choice of lover. The constant yowls of the cats force Ramon and Elisa to flee the party and Ramon to do some explaining about his strange companions.

Ramon wakes in the middle of the night; mirror morphs are pouring from the mirror in his bedroom. The wizard tries to convince him to come through. No! Eventually the machine stops and they're sucked back in. In the morning Ramon takes Elisa home and then goes to Ib's house to leave a message explaining about the mirrors and asking for help.

Sarah and Defanuh check out the tombs which have now been closed off by the British. Kimet is not to be found. The ghul's chamber is empty of both ghuls and eggs. They conclude that Kimet has very likely stolen the egg. Perhaps the thing to do is to get Gemma to summon him. They go to Gemma's luxury appartment in the Ezbekia and talk her into performing a seance for Kimet. Hardly has she started when Kimet appears looking alive and breathing - "Aren't I the greatest thief ever?". Gemma is quite overcome. Kimet demonstrates that he can be alive, ghost like and in the Shadows as he feels like it now. He is apparently going to be an unstoppable thief now. Sarah offers to find him somewhere to live and then they pack him off and congratulate Gemma on her wonderful powers. They then leave pausing at the bottom of the stairs to let out horrified groans.

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

Ramon is sweeping the temple steps wondering if Defanuh is going to show up and/or stop prowling after Elisa and him. Kimet turns up in Japanese samurai armour, carrying a Scotish sword of ridiculous length and dropping humbugs all over the park. He's been stealing at the museum. Defanuh does turn up and Kimet tries to convince him that the sword is made of "more clay". Ramon suggests he go steal something from the zoo.

Over a glass of absinth Ramon again tries to be persuasive about the mirror people. Defanuh heads off to fill A'meer in on events. Defanuh is to warn the slave buyers to pack the girls back to England and then he'll get paid. Ramon buys Elisa a scarf. It being midday they return to the temple and sleep. Kimet is there with a Vietnamese pot bellied piglet that he thinks is hilarious - a plan is hatched to drop it in some respectable lady's closet.

In the early evening Ramon and Defanuh check the ledgers to get the names of the three slave buyers and then Defanuh gives them each a good warning. The message seems to get across.

They head for the circus. The crowds are large again because the circus is moving on soon. Afterwards they meet with Elisa (Defanuh as cat) and go to the party. Everyone is weary from performing every night.. It's Ramon's turn to tell a story - he reworks the whole Salilea business into something presentable. As he finishes he falls into a deep slumber much to the concern of Elisa and Defanuh who some how communicate that taking him to her tent for a lie down would be a good idea.

Meanwhile Ramon's soul has been trapped beyond the mirror by the wizard. He is being held in a cage (made of mirror morph and hence it tends to start looking like Ramon rather than a cage when it's not concentrating). The wizard interrogates Ramon through the mouths of the morphs about things that could only be important to a bizarre and alien intelligence (butter? which way is left? Ocelots. if you were a world leader who would you be?). Ramon soon gets tired of answering and leaps through the bars of the cage in cat form to investigate. The cage room seems to be a display room for morphs frozen as interesting people and things that have looked in the mirror. Below is a cathedral size room full of machinery with morphs swarming all over it (then Ramon - soul! soul!). The machine has tanks of glowing orange liquid attached at one end and lots of levers. Pulling them starts the machine, bumpily, but sets the morphs into a frenzy to switch on the soul intake. One floor further down is a vast chamber of seething fighting morphs all trying to get to their side of the mirror which is at one end of the room. The mirror is as impenetrable as stone. The next level down is a pool of unformed morphs - ick. Returning to the top the wizards throne room is the highest chamber with views out across a dark plain with many castles on craggy hill tops. The questioning of the morphs is becoming quite irritating and is no more informative.

Defanuh and Elisa return to the mirror with Ramon's sleeping form and tell some stories to try to open the mirror. Ramon sees them from within and tries to get to them. They see the mirror's reflection become very distorted. It isn't working so it's time to visit Ib's. Ib's warned Ramon about this and in any case isn't an expert. Defanuh is insistent so Ib's suggests a library where a lost book called the Tome of Reflection by Ibn Badr might be found. In the mirror world Ramon tries to enter the Shadows which has little effect.

The librarian is a dark blue robed woman who wants payment by another tome. Defanuh doesn't have one but points out that he knows somebody who used the word for renewal recently. The librarian is interested in the experience of such a one. Next to Gemma's for a seance to find Kimet. She sleepily agrees when told it's a life or death situation and performs it in her ridiculously frilly, pink nightgown. Kimet appears and is dragged off. The library is the strange one that Sarah visited before with a sleeping man and an ethereal reading room. Kimet enters first and apparently gives them a book. Then Defanuh gets to read the book he's after which has as it's final entry a word for the opening of mirrors...

Returning to the circus mirror hall with Ib's, they ward the miror, then Defanuh tries his word opening the mirror like a door. The mirror morphs are washed in more soul energy than is good for them and start dribbling at the ears and collapsing. A Ramon like person (one of many) leaps for the door and vanishes. The pool of morph goo pouring from the door is excessive so Ib's uses his word for the current order to shut things up. The mirror is left blackened and useless but Ib's demands to have it carried back to his house for study. Ramon, who is in the Shadows, escapes, but not so that the rescuers notice. He meets up with them as they return to Ib's' house to rethink their plans.

After a debriefing by Ib's the exhausted cats go off to sleep. The mornings gossip is that 10 wanted murders have been found hung on the city's park gates and no one knows who did it.

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

Mirriam is woken early that morning by her father to go to prayers at the local mosque. D'Aver has invited them to see the Sethos display which they've helped set up. They meet on the tram and d'Aver suggests Mirriam might be interested in a set of hieroglyphs describing ablutions for the afterlife. Apparently there are some new unknown hieroglyphs in the text. Arriving at Sethos' tomb they find some neatly typed and informative museum boards and the hung body of the night guard. "Thou shalt not worship false idols" is enscribed on the floor beneath him in blood. The police are summoned.

Sarah is woken by a Vietnamese pot bellied pig in her closet which Eugene chases out into the garden. Samuel is bewildered both by this and by the natives hanging their own murderers on the park gates.

Abdul charges himself with waking Defanuh in order that he can go to Mosque to avoid being killed by the angel sent by God to smite the unrightous. Defanuh instead makes for a coffee house.

Finally Kimet wakes Ramon to show him a strange symbol on his own forehead that has appeared over night. Cephelene declares it a debtors symbol that will stop him entering Heaven's gates until his descendants have repaid whatever debts he owes. Defanuh and Sarah show up during the conversation and then exhort Kimet to return all his stolen property to see if that helps. He slinks off to return the museum's stuff.

Mirriam is kept waiting in the heat of a tent for the police to interview her and takes a nap. She dreams about being a cat looking for Defanuh and Ramon. Unlike previous dreams like this she finds them at the temple and wakes up to talk to them. The other kin see a black cat wander up and become Mirriam. Hellos are exchanged. It becomes apparent that Mirriam has only just joined the kin and so Cephelene is brought in to explain the ropes. Discussions of cosmology come up. Mirriam displays her ability to read hieroglyphs - Ramon wants to learn. In the end Mirriam suggests that all this talk about old Gods might upset whoever is going round killing idol worshippers.

Defanuh decides they'd better investigate the hung murderers. Mirriam tags along. Eventually this leads them to the local morgue where they decide that bodies really smell bad and that these guys were all taken out with a sword before being hung. Defanuh heads off to the assassins to ask them if they know what's going on - they don't. The locals are all flocking to mosque in fear. Some prostitutes were killed last night - the cats head to the north slum area and get a grudging interview with a wailing mourner. Apparently the angel flew in from the roof tops and killed several women. They also check out the tomb of Sethos which turns up nothing much.

On the way back from Gisa they bump into a sun baked and crazed Mr Meldewd who is wandering the streets reading at people from the bible. He's totally out of it. They take him home to his wife who is very relieved because he's been missing since the previous evening. Sarah calls by the next morning with some fruit to check he's OK but apparently against Doctors orders he's gone off to the Rosicrucians church.

All of which puts the Rosicrucians back into focus as a possible angelic source. The kin wander down that way but the church is locked up. Defanuh hops up on the roof and is staring a big statue of an angel in the face. Eek. It seems pretty immobile purched at the summit. They think about sledge hammers. Suddenly and for no apparent reason the angel's wings burst into brilliant flame and the angel, now very much alive, begins screaming in agony and falling off the roof. Mirriam decides to try to help put out the fire but it is incredibly intense and the angel flies across the street to avoid her, plummeting from the sky eventually near a fountain. The local population first flee then start to consider a lynch mob. The flames soon die away leaving a badly burnt, wingless angel in an agonized faint. Sarah, Ramon and Mirriam drag him off while Defanuh deters potential lynchers.

Sarah goes to consult Ib's on the matter. He says that his theory is that the angel is a back reaction by the common order to the influence of chaos and that like a pendulum it should damp itself out eventually.

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

Defanuh and Mirriam look after the angel while Meldewd moans in the corner about not having done enough reactions. Apparently the stars said it was a time of ascension so they constructed this symbol showing how far they'd got in the alchemical work (turning everything to first matter is a long way off they're glad to hear). Meldewd thinks that because his alchemical knowledge was incomplete so was the angel. Ramon returns and suggests butter for the angels burns.

Defanuh takes Meldewd off to organise an evening meeting of the Rosicrucians to see if they can come up with anything. Meanwhile the angel, Raphael, awakes and is confused, about pain, about why he can't hear God anymore, about, well, everything really. It becomes clear that he's pretty much mortal now and has never made a decision in his life.

Ramon goes to try to find Kimet. He's at the temple looking subdued. The symbol is gone from his forehead. Apparently he stole something for the Ghul King. It's made him dislike who he is and now he thinks stealing is wrong. Unfortuanetly people will kill him for what he stole unless he steals more. Ramon is not getting the specifics. Well it's Kimet's problem now and he's not sure he'll be around much longer - thanks for the friendship. Worrying.

Defanuh and Ramon scout out the Ghul King's chambers beneath the Tombs of the Mamelukes. They are deserted. A ghul hisses that the King has gone to Ament. Later Cephelene fills them in that this is the land beyond the setting sun where the dead are judged by the Gods. Is the king dead? The Rosicrucian meeting is wet - they don't know how they summoned Raphael or what happened to him but they offer to look after him. Well OK. Raphael is onto philosphical matters such as how a good God could suddenly deny him the infinite knowledge he had.

They go talk to Ib's. He says that normality has returned and that whatever happened last night must have brought Kimet and the angel into line with what is considered normal. He doesn't know what that might mean but normality is a good thing.

In the real world Defanuh is grateful for being paid by A'meer. He gives some money to Markus and buys Abdul a bow.

When Ramon heads to the circus he finds it has left town. There is no sign of a message so he wanders home.

The period of adventure winds down with a number of unanswered questions with Kimet squarely at the centre - what did he steal for the King of the Ghuls and why did it change him?