Disclaimer: The characters of Ardeth Bay and Alex O’Connell belong to Steven Sommers and Universal Studios. All other characters are creations of the author of this story.  This story is for entertainment purposes only-no money is being made here. No infringement intended.

Words in italics with in the story indicate speech in Arabic.

Rated: GA

Cairo Egypt 2002

Ardeth Bay Jr., grandson to the Great Ardeth Bay, was returning from Hong Kong sooner than planned.  He did however manage to obtain the artifact he was after.  It was the sword of Horus.  Most thought it to be a gold bobble for display and conversation.  The Medjai new the power it harbored and if in the wrong hands the threat it could be.  Ardeth managed to obtain it relatively easy by purchasing it at an auction house.  He liked when the task was that easy.

The trip was cut short however because his grandfather, for whom he was named, took a turn for the worse.  Over a month ago the old man insisted on going to London for Mary Carnahan’s wedding.  Mary was one of his six grandchildren.  She was also one that shared bloodlines with Jonathan Carnahan, who had saved Ardeth Sr’s live at Am Sheer.  He would never forget that day or the day when his daughter Ruth married Jonathan’s son Henry.  He owed it to the family to be present at her wedding.  The weather however was not what he was use to and he returned with Pneumonia.

Jaleel met Ardeth Jr. at the airport.  He was one of the many Medjai warriors Ardeth commanded.  He was also Cala’s fiancé.  Cala is Mary’s sister and also Ardeth’s cousin.  She was born with the ‘sight’ as the Medjai call it.  Ardeth, like his grandfather, keeps her close to protect her.  One with the sight is priceless and being his relative makes her even more precious.

As the white limousine approached the manor, Ardeth called home, he took in the welcomed view.  The huge brown stone building on the 20 Acers of land was surrounded by a similar brown stonewall with rod iron gates opening onto the long driveway.  When the limo pulled up to the front of the building Ardeth noted the fountain in the center of the drive circle was not running.

“The mayor asked us to turn it off during the day to conserve water.”  Jaleel volunteered.

Ardeth didn’t respond but went right inside.  “Ardeth, it is good to see you.”  Dr. Alex O’Connell has known Ardeth Bay Jr. since his conception.  In fact Dr. O’Connell was the one to determine that his mother, Nara, was pregnant.  He also delivered the first grandson of the Great Ardeth Bay.  That was a proud day for Ardeth Bay Sr.

“How is he Alex?”  Ardeth Jr. head directly to the center staircase situated in the main hall.  This is the room all the parties where held.  Entertaining heads of state and royalty all thinking the Bay family as great entrepreneurs and leading business men of Bay Enterprises and Foundation.  None of them, of course, new who the Bay family really were.  None knew the great number of warriors, observers and other useful individuals that were commanded by this one young man.  None truly knew about the Medjai.

“He’s been agitated.  He dreams of the creature.”  Alex remembered his own dealings with the creature, Imhotep. Even though it was so very long ago it was still giving him nightmares.  Especially when Alex’s mother Evelyn Carnahan -O’Connell determined that Alex retained some residue from the bracelet of the Scorpion King.  It slowed his aging process slightly but kept the memory of the adventure clear in his mind.  Yes it was still giving him nightmares.

“And his health?” Ardeth was almost at his grandfather’s door.  He ensured his grandfather was placed in the room nearest the master suite.  Most didn’t know that there was a secret door between the two rooms so Ardeth could spend long hours with his grandfather without interruption. 

“His condition is deteriorating.”  Alex sighed.  In spite of his own age Ardeth Sr. was still like a father to him.  He spent many holidays riding in the desert with his father and Ardeth.  The two fathers were best of friends and why shouldn’t they have been you don’t face certain death with some one and not become as close if not closer than family.  Then, as the years unfolded, their families did merge and now it was one.

Ardeth Jr. took a deep breath as if preparing to put on a show in front of an audience and entered his grandfather’s room.

“Hello grandfather.  How are you?”  Ardeth sat on the edge of his grandfather’s bed.

“The creature has been awakened.  You must get me my swords.  She’s not safe she doesn’t know yet. I must protect her.”  Ardeth Bay Sr., now eighty-one years old, tried to rise from his bed.

“Grandfather it was just a dream, a bad dream.  The creature is long gone.  Buried in Ahm Shere.”  Ardeth tried to reassure his grandfather.

“No, no, he is coming, he wants his power back he wants you.  He wants revenge on the Medjai and on you to Alex O’Connell, on your family.   He has been called back.  I must find him before he regains his power, before he finds her.  Only she can stop him, only she can prevent him from getting all his power.”  He was still trying to get out of bed.

“I will stop him grandfather.  That is my job now.  You rest.”  Ardeth Jr. looked to Alex who was preparing a sanative.

“No you cannot.  He is no longer physical.  He wants you, your body.  Only she can take his power, only she can keep it form him.  You must find her, Ardeth.  You must protect her, so that she can save you.”

“Now Ardeth you need to rest.   This will help.”  Alex injected Ardeth Sr. with the sensitive.

“No, I must stop the creature.  I have to find her.  Where is your father, Alex, I will need his help.”

“Grandfather, Rick O’Connell is dead.  Don’t you remember?  We went to his funeral in England.”  Ardeth Jr. tried to reason with his grandfather.

“Then it is up to us.  We must find her.”  Ardeth Sr. began to feel the sanative and laid back in his bed.  “She will save you and take his power.  She must learn to use the power to destroy him.  That way it will be done for all time.” Ardeth Sr. drifted to sleep.  Alex and Ardeth Jr. quietly left the room.

“As you can see he’s very disoriented.  He doesn’t even remember that my father died thirteen years ago.”  Alex sat on the sofa in the entry room just beyond the door to Ardeth Sr’s bedroom.

Ardeth Jr. joined him.  “Is it possible that the creature has returned? I have a hard time believing the stories but if they are true could he not have found a way?  And who is the woman he keeps referring to?”  Ardeth tried to keep an open mind, though since his parent’s death, in an auto accident, ten years ago he has lead the Medjai with his uncle Hasam at his side and his grandfather advising, he has never seen anything that could not be explained.  He certainly never encountered anything remotely mythical or magical.

“I lived it, Ardeth.  It’s all true and it wouldn’t surprise me if the creature did find a way.”  Alex paused.  “I’ll call John in the morning.  No one knows more about these things than him.  I think he spent every free minute of his life with my mother listening to the stories and reviewing her research.”  Alex stood.  “I’m going to call it a night.  If you need me wake me.”

“Goodnight Alex.  Sleep well.”  Ardeth followed Alex out of the room and headed down stairs alone and feeling empty.  He was only 29 and already he had been leader of his people for ten years.  It is probably the most secret and powerful private organization in the world.  The one man who means the world to him was on his deathbed and he was faced with trying to determine if an old man’s nightmare was in fact a reality.  “Where do I begin?”  He asked himself. 

Even though it was late he decided to go to the safe house and check on his men.

When Ardeth arrived at the safe house he knocked on the door.  There was no answer.  After several knocks he decided to try the knob.  The door was not locked.  That was very unusual.  Ardeth cautiously entered.  He found the bodies of Mohamed and two others.  Mohamed was a good warrior in his time and was rewarded by being allowed to retire from battle and run the safe house in Cairo.  As Ardeth was checking the bodies for life he heard someone speaking from another room.

As he peeked around the corner he saw seven men.  One was integrating a warrior who was barely alive.  The interrogator looked decayed almost rotting.  He spoke in a language Ardeth didn’t recognize and was using a hot fire poker to torture the man, while two others held the warrior still.  Ardeth couldn’t let this go on any longer.  He quietly returned to the entry and pulled a pistol from Mohamed and a sword from on of the dead warriors.  He then returned to the intruders not masking his movements “Don’t move.”  He pointed his gun at the man.

The torturer commanded something in the unknown language to the six other men in the room.  They rushed Ardeth, dropping the dieing warrior to the floor.  Ardeth shot two before his gun jammed.  He was then forced to use the sword.  When he heard a gunshot he realized the sword would not be too helpful.  He also heard the torturer yell again and the men rushed all at once.   Ardeth managed to push the first man upon him back into the others then ran out of the house and through the streets.

He ran several block before the first man caught up to him in an ally way.  They began to fight and the others soon joined in.  He was fighting all four men desperately when two managed to grab his arms and pull him to his knees.  One of the others was about to land a punch on his head when suddenly he flew forward and there was a woman standing in his place holding a pipe.

Nina Derix had been looking forward to her trip to Egypt for the last six months.  As a travel consultant she won the airline ticket for Egypt.  She also managed to get a reduced rate on a hotel room.  She saved every penny she could for the six months and felt she would do okay with what she saved and her credit card.  Now she was ready for a vacation.  When she arrived at the hotel in Cairo she barely unpacked, showered, and dressed to go exploring the city.

She hadn’t realized how late it was or that she wasn’t sure how to get back to the hotel.  She decided to find a main street and try to flag down a taxi.  On her way she passed an ally where it sounded like a fight was going on.  When she looked in she saw one man being pummeled by four others as another man began to approach them.  She looked around for help but there wasn’t a soul on the street.  There was however a pipe sticking up from a trashcan.

Nina grabbed the pipe and, for the life of her she didn’t know why, she ran into the ally to help the one man in jeopardy.  They didn’t see her coming and that was a blessing.  She swung the pipe like a baseball bat and landed it in the first man’s back.  He flew forward sprawled on the ground. 

The man not fighting said something in a language not know to Nina and one of the other men broke from the one being beaten and swung a rather large knife at her.  She managed to dodge it twice.  Then as he swung the third time she used her skills in Tai Kwon to knock him off balance.  ‘No more surprises.’ she thought to herself.  ‘They know what I can do now.’  Nina didn’t know how the victim was doing, as she was quite busy with her own predicament now.

Ardeth was still struggling with the two that held him in place as the leader of these assailants turned back to him.  For the first time Ardeth got a good look at the man.  His skin was decaying as if acid had been thrown at him or he had died days before and was putrefying.  The decaying man touched a stone in the center of a square shaped amulet and a faint glow came from it.  As the man began to reach out to Ardeth’s head the glow increased.  Ardeth knew this was not a good thing and fought desperately to free himself.  He unbalanced one of his captures who was forced to release Ardeth’s arm.  This was the opening he needed.  With his free arm he landed a fist on the other captor who was knocked back and Ardeth was free.

After Nina managed to fell the second man, the man she hit with the pipe was recovered and soon so would be the other and Nina wasn’t hopeful as to how the battle would go.  This time both of them had large knives and they were swinging them at her.  In an effort do doge both men one caught Nina’s left arm with the knife and she lost her balance grabbing for whatever was in reach trying to catch herself Nina ripped the amulet of the man who was in charge and hit the ground on her hands and knees.  The strange light had dissipated.

Once free Ardeth saw his savior on the ground with a clear path to freedom.  He ran and grabbing her up with by one arm he ran full force dragging her behind.  “Come we must lose them!”

They ran full speed for several block turning left and right with what seemed to be no plan what so ever.  After the last turn the man being beaten grabbed Nina and nearly slammed her against a wall and pressed his body to hers.  They were in a small ally behind a trash dumpster.  He placed his hand over her mouth and whispered, “Be quiet!”

Once those following had passed he removed his hand.  “Thank you.  You saved my life.”

Nina could barley breath.  She wasn’t use to such activity.

“We should get you to my home.  It is only a short distance.  There is a doctor there who can tend to your wound.”

Nina looked at her arm.  She hadn’t realized she was wounded.  Now that she did the pain came crashing in. The pain along with not being able to breath and the blood loss she was unable to maintain conciseness and passed out.

When Nina began to wake up she heard an older man’s voice “Please be still miss I’m almost done stitching you up.”

She opened her eyes and saw an elderly man with a needle and thread.  She also felt someone holding her arm down.  She looked to see the man from the ally. 

“This is Dr. Alex O’Connell.  He gave you and injection to numb the area of your wound cleaned it and is now almost finished stitching it closed.  I am Ardeth Bay.  Thank you again for your assistance.”  His voice echoed in her head.  She placed her free hand on her forehead. 

“Finished” Alex looked at Nina “Are you in pain, miss?”

“Nina” She responded.

“Excuse me?”  The Doctor had a British accent.

“Nina, my name is Nina Derix.” She took a deep breath.  “And yes my head hurts.”

“Try to sit up.”  Ardeth helped her and placed a pillow behind her.  “Here.” He handed her a glass of ice water and Alex handed her two pills.

“These are aspirins with codeine.  You should probably stay the night here.  Is there some one we can contact?”

“No, I’m traveling alone” After saying it Nina realized she didn’t know these men and probably should have lied about being alone.  The codeine was working fast, she was already feeling drowsy.

“The police are on their way for a statement.”  Ardeth watched as she drifted to sleep.  “I guess they will have to wait until morning.”

“Ardeth what happened?”  Though he asked the question before, Alex still hadn’t received an adequate response.

“I went to the safe house.  Someone had broken in and killed all there.  Only one was left alive and he too is most likely now dead.  There was a man who spoke interrogating him.  The ones that jumped me in the ally were working for him.  I was able to shoot two of them before the gun jammed and then I ran.  This woman saved my life.  I am sure those four would have killed me if she had not distracted two of them.”  Ardeth looked at her one last time before leaving the room.  She was attractive American with brown hair and green eyes.  He also noted her cloths were ruined with bloodstains, she would need cloths.

“Why did she help?  She doesn’t know you.  Why would she risk her own life?”  Alex was amazed as such courage and selflessness in this day and age.

“Apparently there are still a few truly good souls out there, Alex.”  Ardeth turned off the light and closed the door.  “Once the police have gone I will return to the safe house with some men, clean up and try and determine who the two I shot were.  That my give us a lead.”

“Be careful Ardeth.”  Alex started into his room.

“Alex,” Ardeth remembered the light.  “The one interrogating had a amulet that was radiating a strange light.  When the girl grabbed it the light stopped.”

“The amulet, was it square with a gem in the middle and tassels hanging off it?”  Alex looked pail.

“Yes, I believe so.”  Ardeth saw the expression on Alex’s face. “Alex?  What is it?”

In a very faint whisper Alex replied. “Imhotep.”

“Alex?”  Ardeth saw Alex become even more pail.

“The amulet I just described belonged to Imhotep.”  Alex needed to sit.  He indicated for Ardeth to follow.  “What if you grandfather is correct and Imhotep has some how been brought back?”

“Could this girl be the one he was speaking of the one that could take his power and destroy him?”  Ardeth sat across the small table from Alex.

“You must try and find the amulet in the ally if it is still there.  I’ll call John now and have him use the private jet to get here as soon as possible.”  Alex stood and went to the phone.  “Go you find the amulet and clean up the mess at the safe house when you are done with the police.”

Nina woke to sun streaming in the windows.  There was the sound of water running in the next room.  When she went to the door she saw a woman drawing a bath.

“Good morning miss.  Ardeth thought you might like to bathe before breakfast.  These cloths are for you.”  She pointed to a pile of cloths all newly store bought.  “The police will be here around 10 o’clock to take your statement then Ardeth will see you back to your hotel.  My name is Cala, just ask for me if you need anything at all.”  Cala then left the bathroom and began to strip the bed.  “Oh, Miss Derix.  Dr. O’Connell said if you are still experiencing pain to let him know right a way and not to get you bandage wet.”

“Thank you Cala.” Nina closed and locked the bathroom door undressed and slid in to the warm bubble bath.  It was heavenly after the night before.  When she was done bathing she found a robe hanging on the back of the door and put it on before leaving the room.

“This will never come out.”  She was holding her stained dress talking to herself.

“There are methods to try.  Give your things to Cala and she will see to them.”  Ardeth was sitting at a table near the door to the balcony.

“Oh!”  Nina jumped a little.  “You startled me.”

“My apologies.”  Ardeth stood and walked over to the pile of cloths.  “How do you feel?”

“My arm hurts some, but not too bad.” She pointed to the cloths.  “How did you get those here when the stores aren’t open yet?”

“I called the manager of one of the stores my family owns and had her bring them over.”  Ardeth picked up a sheer white blows.  “I particularly like this.  With a white tank underneath and a pair of black pants is would look very nice on you.”   He laid it back down on the pile.  “Breakfast is ready.  As soon as you are dressed Cala will show you to the dinning room.”  With that he departed.

Once the door was closed Nina looked through the pile of cloths and began to chastise herself “Oh! You startled me.  Girl you are such a dunce.”  She chose the white top and tank but decided to wear a pair of purple jeans.  He had even thought of underwear.  “How is it he knew my sizes?”  She found a pair of white deck shoes to wear as well.  When she was dress Nina opened the bedroom door to find Cala standing in the hall.

“Ready to go down miss?”

“Yes Cala, thank you.”  She followed Cala to the dining room.

Ardeth hadn’t seen Alex yet this morning so when he arrived in the dinning room the two men conferred on many issues.  First and for most was Ardeth Sr.’s health which had held through the night. 

“And how is Miss Derix.”  Alex looked at Ardeth who seemed surprised at the question.  “I saw you enter her room as I was coming down stairs.”

“She said her arm gave her some pain.”  Ardeth then let Alex know that the two men he shot were not at the safe house and all evidence of the Medjai was removed before the police arrived.  Also, he had found the amulet in the ally only the stone in the center of it was shattered.

“May I see it?”  Alex was hoping that it wasn’t Imhotep’s, but when Ardeth handed it to him he simply closed his eyes.  “This was his.  He’s come back.”

“Or someone managed to obtain the amulet.”  Ardeth was about to continue when Nina walked in.

“Good morning Miss Derix.  How do you feel?”  Alex was glad to see her up.  He and Ardeth both stood up when she entered the room.

“I feel good Dr. O’Connell.  Thank you.”  Nina sat down in a chair Ardeth held out for her.  She has never experienced men with such manners.

“Ardeth said you were experiencing some pain.”  Alex wanted to be sure.

“A little.  It’s not bad.”

“After breakfast I will change the dressing and give you something for the pain.  And how is your head?”  Alex offered some oatmeal to Nina.

“No thank you.  My head is fine the pain’s gone.”  Nina tried to reach for the tea.  Ardeth waived to a servant who then poured it for her.

“Did you sleep well?”  Ardeth was already eating.

“Mostly.”  Nina looked puzzled.  “I felt like I wasn’t alone in the room.”  She shrugged.  “It is probably because it is a strange place to me.”  Nina took some scrambled eggs and fruit for breakfast.  “Why were those men attacking you last night?”

“I don’t really know.  I found them at the home of a friend who they killed along with several other friends.  When they saw me they chased me to the ally where you found us.  Why they were at my friend home and killing as they did I do not know yet.”  Ardeth talked about the killing of his friends so casually Nina wasn’t quite sure weather to believe him.

“Did you tell this to the police?”

“Yes they are investigating the matter.  They will be returning for your statement.”  A servant came in and whispered to Ardeth.  “If you will excuse us please.  Alex he’s awake.”

Both men rose and left the dinning room.  

Nina felt uncomfortable all a lone to finish breakfast.  After some time she decided to return to the room she slept in and gathered her things.  As she was walking down the hallway she heard Ardeth’s voice.  Cala then came from the room where Ardeth was and left the door open.  Nina looked in, but was seen.

“You are finally here.” Ardeth Sr. saw Nina in the doorway and called to her in Arabic.  “Come, come closer.”

Ardeth Jr. stood and turned to see Nina in the doorway. 

“I’m sorry I hared your voice, then Cala came out.  I…”

“It is all right Nina.  Please come in.  This is my grandfather whom I was named after.  He is ill.”  Ardeth sat back down.

Alex was preparing an injection.

“Come closer.  I must see you.” Ardeth Sr. continued to tall to the girl in Arabic

“He is delusional.  It happens with old age some times.  He wishes you to come closer.  He will not harm you.”  Ardeth Jr. held out his hand to her to come and sit on the other side of the bed.  Nina did so.  She could almost feel the old man’s distress and concern for his grandson.

“You are here.  You must protect my grandson from the creature.  You must.” Ardeth Sr. seemed to be ranting.

“Grandfather, Miss Derix does not know Arabic.” Ardeth Jr. couldn’t understand why his grandfather was saying these things.

“You must protect him from the creature.”  Ardeth Sr. took Nina’s hand.  “You are the one.  The creature cannot harm you.  You must take his power and you must protect my grandson.”

“Grandfather, please calm down.”  Ardeth tired to take his grandfather’s arm.

Alex approached with the siring.  “NO! No more drugs.”  Ardeth Sr. flailed his arm causing Alex to lose the siring which flew against the wall and broke.

“It alright.  I won’t let the creature harm your grandson.  I understand.” Nina spoke in Arabic to the old man in a very calm and reassuring voice.  “It’s alright.”

Ardeth Jr. and Alex were both surprised.  She spoke like a native.  Ardeth Sr. calmed down and took both of Nina’s arms in his hands.  “Give me your word.  You will do all you can to stop the creature once and for all.”

“You have my word.  Now you must rest.”  Nina again reassured the old man.

“You do not believe right now, but you will. You are the one.”  Ardeth Sr. then turned to his grandson taking his hand and placing Nina’s in it.  “Teach her all you know.  She is the one the creature cannot harm.  She is protected by his own power.  She already has his power, yes.  You must protect one another.”  He laid his head back on the pillows.  “She has finally come.  I can rest now.”  He closed his eyes and drifted off.

Nina felt a lump in her throat the size of a cantaloupe.  “Is he sleeping?”

Alex pressed his fingers on the old man’s neck.  He shook his head.  “Excuse me Nina.”  Nina rose and Alex sat with his stethoscope and listened for a heart beat.  There was none.

Nina looked over to Ardeth Jr. and saw tears welling up in his eyes.  His grandfather just died.  She quietly left the room to allow the men their privacy.  She went to the room she spent the night, sat in a chair by the balcony door, and cried for the old man.

It was about 20 minutes before Ardeth came in.  “Nina the police are here.”  He saw she had been crying. “Do you shed tears for my grandfather?”

She stood up and looked in Ardeth’s eyes. “Yes.  I don’t know why but …” she placed her hand on her chest.  “I feel …”

He wrapped his arms around her and held her close.  “You honor me.” After a couple of minutes he took her shoulders.  “The police are here for your statement.  Just tell them about last night.  Nothing of what my grandfather said.  Do you understand?”

“Yes. Of course.” Nina and Ardeth both went down stairs to speak with the police.  Once her statement was taken to their satisfaction Ardeth arranged for a car to take her back to her hotel.

Nina wanted to ask him so many questions, but with the death of his grandfather Ardeth was very solemn, she didn’t feel the time was right.

Nina decided to tour the Plateau that afternoon.  All day she felt uncomfortable as if she was being watched.  Several times she caught glimpses of some one, possibly more than one some one in the shadows watching.  It sent shivers down her spine so she stayed with the tour group and always in open areas.

Upon returning to the hotel she decided to shower.  Once she was cleaned up she decided she was being paranoid and began to dress for dinner and to go to a club after.  As she dressed there was a knock at her door.  “Just a minute.”  She threw on her cloths then answered the door.

“Good afternoon Miss Derix, I am Ms Bala I manage the Channel boutique in the hotel’s shopping plaza.  I have this for you.”  Ms Bala handed Nina an envelope.  “It will explain everything.

“A note for me?”  Nina opened the envelope and pulled out a letter.

Nina,

I would very much enjoy your company this evening.  There is a charity performance of the Russian Ballet and a dinner after.  Should this be agreeable to you please accompany Ms Bala to the boutique where she will see that you have proper attire.  I shall arrive at your hotel at 6 o’clock pm.

Ardeth Bay, II

She looked up to Ms Bala.  “I don’t understand?”

“It is all quite clear dear.  Ardeth wishes to take you to dinner and the ballet.  He was planning on attending with Cala but … “She smiled.  “Come along dear we must find a dress for you.”  Ms Bala took Nina’s hand and nearly drug her out the door as Nina quickly grabbed her room key. 

Ms Bala picked out several gowns for Nina, but the one they decided was the best was royal blue and sleeveless.  It came with a royal blue scarf that was of shawl length.  The bodice was sequined and from the waist down was a clinging rayon material.  Nina like this type of material, it was somewhat form fitting without showing the form needed to lose a few pounds.

“Ms Bala, I assume Ardeth is paying for all this.”

“Yes, dear, he is.” Ms Bala was a Medjai woman though it was not publicly known.  She along with many others throughout Cairo and the world were observers.

“What is he going to expect from me for all this?”  Nina was concerned she didn’t really know Ardeth well or even his culture.

“Ardeth Bay is an honorable man.  He only wishes to thank you for your assistance.  Other than this I do not know.”  Ms Bala was about to zip up the dress.  “Oh, no.  This will not due.”

“What’s wrong?”  Nina tried to look and see what Ms Bala was referring to.

“Your panties, these are not appropriate for such a dress. They show lines.  Come put these on instead.”  Ms Bala had picked up a black lace thong.

“A thong.  You’ve got to be kidding.” Nina never in her life considered wearing a thong.

“Put them on.”  Ms Bala was firm.  “Also, these.”  She handed Nina a pair of stockings and a black lace grader belt to hold them up.  “Now, Ms Derix, there is not much time.”

Nina went into the dressing room and did as she was instructed.  She felt like a deer caught in the head lights of a car, no an 18 wheeler, the way things were happening.

When she emerged she was handed a pair of satin royal blue shoes that matched her dress and the beautician began her work.

When all was done Nina looked beautiful.  Her hair was pulled up in a French twist, her make-up was perfect and very natural looking, and she was ready to go with only a few minutes to spare.

“One last thing.” Ms Bala handed Nina a small royal blue satin clutch bag.  Inside were a small compact and blush, her room key, and a small atomizer bottle of perfume.

“Come he will be here soon.”  The two women went into the hotel lobby, just as Ardeth entered from the outside entrance.

“You look lovely.” Ardeth took her hand and kissed it.

“Thank you, for the complement and the cloths.” Nina wasn’t sure how to respond she’s never met a man with such fine manners.

“Shall we?”  Ardeth held out his arm for her to take.  Then the two walked out side to a large white limousine.

The ballet was wonderful and dinner perfect.  Ardeth had ordered lamb for both of them.  Nina loved lamb.  Their conversation during dinner was polite but not personal.  Any time Nina stated into a personal direction Ardeth steered the conversation the other direction.  After dinner Nina didn’t really want the evening to end.  Ardeth instructed the driver to take them to his home.

As they pulled up to the front of his house, more like a mansion Nina asked “Why are we here?”

The driver opened the door and Ardeth got out then assisted Nina in getting out.  “I thought it would be nice to have a night cap.”

“You’re Moslem you don’t drink alcohol.”

“But you are Christian and you may.”  The butler opened the door and they went into the parlor.

“Actually I’m non-practicing.  I think I believe more along the lines of Daoism than anything, but I don’t drink.  I don’t like being out of control.  Silly I know but I’ve been like that all my life.”

“Really, that surprises me.”  Ardeth didn’t expect her response.  “From my understanding Daoism philosophy and being in control are in direct conflict with each other.”  He indicated for her to have a seat “How about some tea instead?”

“That would be fine.  Thank you.”

Ardeth called to Cala asking her to make some tea.

“Why are we here?” Nina was tired of playing these polite games.  It was clear Ardeth had something on his mind.

“As I said, for a night cap.”

“Don’t give me that, Ardeth.  You have something on your mind.  What is it?”  Nina wasn’t going to give in easily.

Ardeth sat down in a chair across from her.  “Very well.  This morning when my grandfather saw you, he seemed to believe you were some one other than who you are.  You went along with this.  Why? Also you spoke Arabic like a native.  How did you learn the language so well?”  Nina was about to answer when Cala came in with the tea tray. Ardeth held up his hand to stop Nina until Cala was gone.  “Thank you Cala I will pour.  You will not be needed again this evening.”

“Yes.  Goodnight Ardeth, Miss.”

“You do not trust her?”  Nina was surprised he would stop her from speaking in front of Cala.

“On the contrary.  Cala would not be here if I didn’t trust her implicitly.  She is also my cousin.  Her father is due to return tomorrow then we will be leaving Cairo to return to our village to perform the passing ceremony for my grandfather.”  All the while Ardeth was pouring tea and he offered it to Nina.

“I’m sorry.” Nina took the tea and added sugar to it.  “To answer your questions. He was a sick old man I was merely trying to comfort him and I don’t know Arabic other than to ask ‘Where is the toilet?” or be polite.  I was speaking English.”

“Nina, Alex and I both heard you.”  Ardeth leaned forward and took her hands “You spoke perfect Arabic.” Nina was about to deny knowing Arabic again when she stopped herself and thought about it.  Looking off as if looking through her memory.  “No, I don’t know Arabic.”

”Would you care for cake?”  Ardeth asked in Arabic.

“Yes thank you.”  Nina replied without thinking then realized what just happened.  “Wow!  Ardeth I don’t know Arabic.  Was that Arabic?  How can I speak and understand what I never learned?”

Ardeth smiled.  “There are many things beyond our imagination Nina.  Your experience last night has possibly exposed you to such things.  Tell me about yourself.” Ardeth sat back as well with his tea.

“What experience?  You don’t just learn things by osmosis or something.  Oh jeese!”  Nina stood up.  “Do I know other things?”  She turned to Ardeth.

“Nina please calm down.  We can only wait and see.”  He regretted alarming her but wasn’t sure she could handle what Alex and he were speculating that she absorbed the powers of Imhotep from the amulet.

“Tell me why you are in Cairo?”  Ardeth smiled.  His teeth shown brightly from beneath the dark mustache and small beard he had.  That smile could have melted her it definitely made her feel secure.

Nina thought to herself he was very much a younger version of his grandfather.  They had very similar features.  Both were very handsome “I actually won the airline ticket and I’ve always wanted to see Egypt so here I am.”

“Won the airline ticket?”

“Don’t I get to ask any questions?” Nina wanted to know about him.

“Of course.  Please ask.”

“I was surprised you went to a social function, with me no less, so soon after your grandfather...”  She trailed off suddenly feeling awkward with the question...

 “I have duties to perform.  The ballet this evening was a commitment from several weeks ago.  I am most thankful you could accompany me.  My grandfather’s health has been failing for quite some time.  That is why Alex was here.  Given all this I have no choice but to deal with my distress in a responsible fashion.” 

Nina could tell he was annoyed at her statement.  “I’m sorry if I upset you.”  She decided to change the subject.  “Won the ticket yes.  I’m a travel consultant.  El Al had a drawing at one of the functions I attend.  I won the drawing.”

The conversation went on like this for hours both wanting to know more about the other.  Ardeth was telling her a story from his childhood.  He found it strange that he would share so much with a woman he barely knew.  When he looked over at her she was sleeping.  He then realized that it was nearly two o’clock in the morning.  He took the teacup from her hand and placed it on the try then picked her up and carried her up to the room she stayed in the night before.  As he was laying her on the bed she woke.

“Oh, I’m sorry I must have fallen a sleep.”

“Yes.  Stay here the night.  It is late.  The cloths from this morning are still here for you to choose from tomorrow morning.”  He stepped back from the bed.

“Thank you I will.”  Once Ardeth had left she undressed and climbed into the bed.  There were no night cloths so she was sleeping in the thong and a black tank top.  As she laid in the bed waiting for sleep to come to her she again felt as if she was not alone.  She turned the light on the night stand on and looked around the room.  She even checked the bathroom but no one was there.  Again she laid down and tried to put the feeling out of her mind and eventually fell to sleep and into a dream.

She was lying on cushions in a tent and there was a man standing near by.  Nina seldom found bald men handsome but this one pulled it off remarkably well.  He had eyes that burned with a fire, a power.  She couldn’t tell why but they were very entrancing.

“I will have all that is his.  I will have you.”  He knelt down next to Nina.  Not once did his gaze leaver her eyes.  Her mind was reeling, wanting to close her eyes and break away from this man, but he was so enthralling, his voice so soothing. 

There was a man standing in the shadows.  He was barely noticeable.  Had he not spoken to Nina she would have never known he was there.  “You must fight him Nina, he cannot control you.  You are protected by the powers you have taken.”

Then the bald man crawled up next to her and kissed Nina gently but fully.  Nina had to stop this; she managed to close her eyes.  This helped her regain control of herself.

“NO!”  She managed to push him so hard he rolled off her and she jumped to the other side.  There was a thud both in the dream and in reality.  This woke Nina up.  Ardeth was lying on the floor on the other side of the bed from Nina; she was crouching below the bed.  As she realized she was dreaming she stood up, it seemed so real.  She then saw Ardeth unconscious on the floor.  Just then Alex knocked at the door.  Nina opened it.

Alex was embarrassed.  “I’m sorry am I interrupting.  I heard a thud then a crashing sound.”

“No, yes.”  Nina was confusing herself.  “It’s not what you think.  I was sleeping … alone… when I started to dream.  The man in my dream was so alluring.  I couldn’t turn away from him.  When I finally pushed him away the thud woke me.  Ardeth was here.  I don’t know why or how.  I …” Nina put her hand to her head suddenly feeling dizzy.

“Nina, sit down and take a deep breath.  Let me look at Ardeth to be sure he isn’t seriously harmed then we will go downstairs.” Alex was a calming force.  While Alex looked at Ardeth head she pulled on a pair of black pants.

“Well he will have one hell of a bump, but he will live.  Come downstairs.”  Alex noted that she looked pail.  When they reached the kitchen Alex put some water on for tea.  “Okay, start from the beginning and go slowly.”  Alex sat across from Nina at the table.

“We came here after dinner and talked.  The time flew.  I fell asleep while Ardeth was telling me about his first attempt to swing his grandfather’s sword.  He carried me up to bed and I woke up.  He invited me to stay the night … in that room … and he left.  I was very tired so I found what I could to sleep in and went directly to bed.  But something didn’t feel right.”  She put her hands to her head.  “I don’t know but it was like some one was in the room.  When I fell asleep started dreaming about a man.  He was dressed as an ancient Egyptian; his eyes were … like … I can’t explain it I just couldn’t turn away from him.  He … he was going to … he kissed me and was going to …”

“Nina, what did this man look like?”  Alex was trying to lead her in a direction she could explain, he hoped.

She shook her head “I don’t remember.  It’s all fading.”

Ardeth came through the kitchen door.  “Alex, Nina, what happened.  I heard Nina crying out she must have been dreaming when I tried to wake her she pushed me away, the next thing I’m waking up on the floor.”  He rubbed the back of his head.

“When she pushed you the table broke your fall and almost your head.”  Alex handed him the ice pack he had prepared to take up shortly.  “Nina, have you ever been hypnotized?”  Alex turned off the boiling water and poured it into a teapot.

“No, why?

“I believe we may be able to get the memory of the dream back by hypnotizing you.  It’s helped many of my patients.”  Alex poured Ardeth some tea as he continued.  “However we would have to do this immediately.  People with very controlling minds and strong personalities can’t be hypnotized.  I feel you may be one of these personality types, but we can try self-hypnotism.  This way you will be in control, but it will allow you to relax enough to release your memory of the dream.”

“I thought you were a medical doctor not a physiatrist?”

“I am but many physical ailments are often brought about by mental issues.”  Alex sipped his tea.  “Ardeth, why don’t you go prepare the den.  You know what I need.”  Alex wanted to speak with Nina and as long as Ardeth was there she wasn’t going to relax.  “Nina, I know things have been strange for you since last night when you helped Ardeth.  Often we … see things, work them out in our subconscious, as it were, until our conscious mind can grasp the reality.  There may not be time for us to wait for these, shall we say thought or memories to surface in you.”

“Alex, I don’t understand.  Why is my dream so important?”  Nina didn’t like how both Alex and Ardeth eluded to mysterious things.

“Do you remember what Ardeth’s grandfather said?”  Alex paused to see if she was following him.  “He said ‘You are finally here.’ As if he was expecting you.  Also ‘You must protect my grandson from the creature.’ And ‘You are the one.  The creature cannot harm you.’  All this leads me to believe that he believed Ardeth was in danger from and old enemy and that you have the power to stop him this enemy.”  Alex rested his hand on top of Nina’s.

“He was an old dieing delusional man.”  Nina shook her head.  She could tell something wasn’t right but, surely it was just paranoia or something.

“Yes, but you gave him your word you would protect Ardeth from the creature.”  Alex pulled out his trump card.  “You don’t seem to me to be a woman without values Nina.”

“That’s low Alex.” Nina wasn’t happy that he would use such a tactic.

“I know, but what harm is there in trying.”  He took her hand and stood.

Nina stood with him. “All right.  You are very persuasive in a sneaky and underhanded way.”

“You don’t think that my many years of experience has left me without various skills and methods of getting what I want.”  He smiled teasingly at her.  They went to the den where Ardeth set up a candle.  All the lights were off and there was a soft melodic music playing on the stereo.

“Okay Nina, sit down in this chair and get comfortable.  Rest your head back and look up at the ceiling.”  Alex prepared a siring.  As he was prepared Nina for an injection she stopped him.

“What’s that for?”  She hated needles.

“It will help you relax that’s all.”  Alex tried to reassure her.

Ardeth saw her apprehension.  “Nina, if you do not wish to do this then say so and we will stop now.”

“It’s jus all too much.  I don’t even really know the two of you and …” She lost her thoughts.  The last 30 hours or so have been so confusion.

“Nina, you’ve spent the night here twice.  Alex has tended to your wounds.  You saved my life.  If we wished you any harm it would have already happened.  We just want to ensure your safety.  If your dreams reveal the man who wishes our families harm, we must all know.”

“How can dreams be so important?  I don’t understand.”  She felt as if she should understand, as if she did but her mind wouldn’t let her accept it.

“Nina, Ardeth is right.  If your dreams reveal that it is this man who you saw then he is trying to get to you as well.  We believe this man was involved in the attack on Ardeth.  You stopped it.  He would not have been pleased with your intervention.”  Alex sat across from Nina.

“This man has, what you would describe as, magical powers.  He can enter dreams.”  Ardeth didn’t think she would buy it.

“Telepathy, he’s telepathic or something?”

Ardeth looked to Alex and Alex finally replied “Something like that, yes.” 

Nina still didn’t like it but she nodded her consent.  Just before Alex was about to inject her “Wait!”

“What’s wrong?”  Ardeth came to her side. 

“I hate needles, really bad.”  Nina looked almost sheepish “Would you come and hold my other hand.  It helps take my mind off it so I can stay relaxed in this arm if I have a hand to squeeze with on the other side.”

Ardeth chuckled a little.  This woman took on two strange men in his defense and a little needle scared her.  “Of course.”  He went around the back of the chair to the other side and took Nina’s hand.

Alex injected her and Nina tried to relax. “Watch how the light dances on the ceiling.”  Alex’s voice was calm and low and there was the soothing sound of a rain storm coming form the stereo.  “Think of nothing but that light.  Let it sooth you, its warm color can take you to a place in your mind that is safe.”

Nina did as instructed.  Alex kept speaking soothing messages for nearly 20 minutes before she finally could no longer hold her eyes open.  The entire time she didn’t leave go of Ardeth’s hand.  “Can you hear me Nina?”

“Yes.”

“You had a dream earlier. Do you remember?’

“Yes.”

“Tell me about the dream.”

“I was laying on cushions in a tent.  There was a man there.”

“Describe the man.”  Alex was glad they were able to get right to the point of the hypnosis.

“He said ‘What is his will be mine.  You will be mine.’  He’s wearing an ancient Egyptian cloth thing around his waist with a gold trim, he also has a robe on, and it’s beautiful.  He wares an amulet around his neck.  It’s square with a stone in the middle.  He’s bald and his eyes are …..”  She stopped.

“Nina?”  Alex didn’t like that she stopped.  “Nina can you hear me.”  No response.

Nina looked into the dream man’s eyes.  Even in a memory they were enthralling.  She heard the other man again “Look away Nina, he will trap you.  You cannot allow yourself to be trapped here.”  She fought to look away.  He was on her again laying on the cushions.  She put her hands on his shoulders trying to push him away.

“Alex, what’s happening?  Who is she fighting?”  Ardeth quietly asked.

“Imhotep.”  Alex whispered.

“We must stop this.”  Ardeth stepped forward but Alex stopped him.

“To wake her abruptly could cause harm.  Turn the lights up slowly.”  Alex turned his attention back to Nina.  He sat on the coffee table in front of her being careful not to touch her.  “Nina, you must wake up now.”

“Nina, look at me.  Turn from him.” The man in the shadows was calling to her.  “You must do it or he will have you and you will be lost.  Do not give in to him.  It is the only way he can regain his powers.  The powers you took” 

“You feel alone, my darling, I will never leave your side.”  He kissed her again and ran his hand down her side feeling the swell of her breast as he passed. 

Nina sighed no one had ever touched her in such a way.  She was always cautious, no prudish, with men.  It was almost as if she feared something about them, or was it herself when she was with them.  Her mind spun and then she felt him kiss her again.  She turned here head “No, get off me.”  She fought to close her eyes then turned her head to the other man and opened them again.  It was Ardeth, “Ardeth!  Help me!”

All that she was doing and saying in her dream was happening in the den.

When she called out to him, Ardeth could no longer wait for Alex he went to her side and shook her “Nina!”  With that she was abruptly pulled from the memory and she jumped out of the chair knocking it and her self over.  Both men were immediately at her side trying to help her up.

“No!  Leave me go.” She swung her arms and backed herself into the corner.

“Nina, you are awake now.  It’s Alex and Ardeth.  We don’t whish to harm you.”  Alex was trying to calm her.  “Ardeth get some water.”  Ardeth went to the desk where there was a pitcher and glasses and poured some water.  “Nina, you called out to Ardeth for help.  Do you remember?”

“Alex.”  She realized she was still in the den.  “It wasn’t the same.  I remember the dream and this wasn’t the same.”

“How so?”  Alex helped her up then Ardeth handed her the glass and put the chair up right.  Once she was sitting she drank some of the water.

“I don’t know, it was just different.”  She then remembered the man in the shadows.  “The man in the shadows.  He was you, Ardeth.”  She set the glass down and held her head for a minute.  “Yes he was you but you had tattoos on your face like your grandfather.”

“It was more likely my grandfather.  Many have said I look very much as he did when he was my age” Ardeth sat in front of her and held her hand.

“But he’s dead.  Who is the other man?  Why is this happening to me?”

“Nina calm down.”  Once she seemed calm Alex looked to Ardeth who waved his hand in a silent gesture of permission.  Alex then began to explain about the creature, Imhotep, and the stories he heard and adventure participated in.

“This is ridiculous.  You expect me to believe this crap?”  Nina stood up.  “I’m out of here.”  When she got to the door of the den she turned.  “Thank you for the evening and the cloths, Ardeth.  Consider you debt paid, please, and don’t contact me again.  I want nothing of this nonsense.”  With that she left.

“Well now what?”  Alex was at a loss.  “We can’t let her go back to her hotel alone at this hour.  The sun hasn’t even come up yet.”

“I have some of my men watching her.  They will ensure she reached her hotel safely.  She’ll be back.”  Ardeth was confident.  “If Imhotep is after her she will have to come back.”

Alex didn’t know Ardeth was having her watched to begin with.  “You were having her watched, why?”

“Yes. When she left here yesterday I had my men watch her for her own safety.”  Ardeth paused.  “If she has some of Imhotep’s powers that would explain why they felt she knew she was being watched.”

John O’Connell, Alex’s grandson arrived around 9 o’clock a.m.  “Gramps, what’s up?”

“John.”  Alex hugged his grandson.  He loved all his children and grandchildren but John was his favorite.  He was named after Alex’s Uncle Jonathan and the boy was a cross between, Alex’s mother, Evy’s levelheaded commonsense and Jonathan’s fun loving personalities.  He also loved Egypt as much as Evy did.  “We think Imhotep has returned.  We don’t know how and we need your help.  John there is a woman involved, an outsider.”

“Gramps, an outsider how?”  John was amazed that and outsider would be involved.  Ardeth, his father and grandfather insisted that all the O’Connells and Carnahan's who worked with the Medjai took an oath of alliance and secrecy.

“She may have some of Imhotep’s power.”  Alex explained the happenings of the last two days.

John sat back and thought.  Just like Evy would have.  “That’s possible if she came in contact with someone who carried his spirit,” he sat forward again.  “but according to Great Gram’s research it would require his amulet to transfer power and spirit.”

“And spirit.  What do you mean?”  Ardeth entered had just come down the stairs.  “Alex, Hasam is ready to take grandfathers body out to the village.  Will you be going along?”

“The question is will you?”  Alex turned to face Ardeth.  “Yes I will be going.”

“Sorry about Great Gramps, Ardeth.”  John stood up and shook hands with Ardeth.

“Thank you John.  Did Alex explain things?”  All three men sat down.

“He started to.  To answer your question about the spirit.  Imhotep is divided.  With his disappearance at Ahm Shere is body was taken by Anubus into the underworld.  Before that Great Grams cast the spell to have his immortal soul separated from his body and taken to the underworld.  Anubus would not risk such a power fully in his domain.  Great Grams speculated that Anubus would have cast out Imhotep’s power.  Probably containing it in his amulet.  So he’s divided into three spirit, body and power.  He need’s a body.” John leaned forward towards Ardeth.  “Sorry old chap, but is sounds like he wants yours.”  Alex thought to himself how much John sounded like Uncle Jonathan just then.

“But if that is the case who was the one with the amulet in the ally?”  Ardeth stood up and paced a little.

“A carrier.  Someone who either is involved or raised Imhotep’s spirit from the underworld.  Someone who obviously found Imhotep’s power but couldn’t use it.”  John sat back again.  “The real question is where his spirit is?”

“The one who had the amulet was speaking a language I do not know.  I could have been ancient Egyptian.”

John stood and went to one of the shelves pulling a book down and thumbing through it.  “Yah, here it is.”  He handed the book to Ardeth who looked at the picture of what looked to be a zombie.  “The right person could place Imhotep’s spirit in to a newly dead body.”

“I didn’t get a good look at the man.  He wore a hood and never faced me directly.  When I returned to the ally there was nothing left but the broken amulet.”  Ardeth handed the book to Alex. 

“Can this woman his powers?”  Alex was concerned for Nina.  Especially since she wouldn’t accept that this was all real.

“She may be able to.  Just the fact that the power left the amulet and entered her would indicate she has a good chance at controlling it.”  John poured himself some tea fro the tray on the table in front of him.  “Also, grams found a story.”  John looked off as if thinking for a minute.  “Isis, yes that’s it.  There is a story of a priest of the Pharaoh seducing the high priestess of Isis and while she slept he stole her power and murdered her.  Grams thought that might be Imhotep.”  This woman would have to be a descendant of a High Priestess of Isis.  That is if the power entered her.  I would have to talk to her, have her try a few things to be sure, but what you describe with the light sounds like a transfer of power to me,” He picked up Imhotep’s amulet “and it’s obvious there’s no power here any longer.”  He set it down and picked up his tea and again sat back.  “When can I meet her?”

“That’s not so easy.  She doesn’t believe all this and has asked Ardeth to leave her be.”  Alex stood up.  “I’ll let Ardeth finish.  I need to see to … well make sure he’s loaded in the helicopter properly.”  Alex left out the patio doors and walked to the helipad.

Ardeth sat down again.  “As Alex said she does not believe and whishes to be left alone.”  Ardeth took some tea.  “I have men keeping a discreet eye on her.  If there is any trouble they will bring her here first then out to the training camp.  If that happens you should come as well.”

“Sure.  I’ll keep my things ready to go.  Ardeth, shouldn’t you be going.  You need to be there for the funeral ceremony.”  John like Ardeth a lot.  He was very much like an older brother; the two were only five years apart.  John’s parents lived here in Cairo until he was about 16 so he saw a lot of Ardeth until Ardeth’s father died.

“Yes.  Organize all you know and find out anything you do not.  If she has the power, Imhotep is sure to be after her, which means it is only a matter of time before she returns here.”  Ardeth then left and joined Alex in the helicopter, which was taking his grandfather home to observer the funeral ceremony.

Nina had to walk all the way back to her hotel.  There are no taxicabs at 4 o’clock in the morning.  The entire way she knew someone was watching her.  It made her feel creepy that she some how new she was being watched.  When she got to the hotel she showered then tried to relax and meditated before she went to bed.  The meditation was in hopes of calming her mind and keeping control of her dreams.  All the wild things that were happening were sure to give her nightmares.

“You cannot hide from me.  We are connected.”  It was the bald man’s voice.

Nina sat up.  “Damn!”  She was in the tent on the cushions again with the him.

He sat next to her and ran his hand over her face without touching it.  He then kissed her.  “Be mine and we shall rule together.”

“No.  I don’t think so.  This is my dream and I will control it.”  The two were then standing on top of a very tall building.  Imhotep was disoriented.

“How is this possible?”  He grabbed Nina. “You cannot have learned to use the power so quickly.”

“Like I said this is my dream.  I’m in control and I want you to leave.”  Nina was being firm.

Imhotep started to fade until he seemed to calm himself and concentrate.  He grabbed her again.  “I will have what is mine.”  Imhotep was holding her wrists so hard the blood flow to her hands all but stopped.

Nina woke up with a start.  She looked to her wrists where he was holding, she was bruised.  It was nearly 10 o’clock and Nina had a ticket for an afternoon cruise on the Nile.  She quickly dressed and took a taxi to the docks just in time to catch the paddleboat she was booked on.

The cruise was for six hours and included a lunch.  While dinning, Nina chatted with the other passengers that shared her table.  After lunch she went for a walk along the deck.  For the most part the deck was occupied by others also enjoying the middle breeze and the warm sun.  When Nina came to the front of the boat there were three men all very intently staring at her.  “Is there something I can do for you gentlemen?”  She felt uncomfortable.  Some how she knew they would be trouble.

“Yes, miss you can come with us.”  They all three advanced on her two grabbing her arms on either side the other clamping a cloth over her face.  It had ether on it and soon Nina was unconscious.  They took her to a rowboat and rowed to shore.  When they arrived and were about to pull her from the boat they were besieged by three other men dressed in black two with marks on their faces like the shadow man in Nina’s dream.  They were Medjai warriors.  A fourth man carefully lifted Nina out of the boat and carried her to a SUV.  Once the other three dispatched the men who took Nina from the boat they joined the fourth man and drove off.

Nina woke in a familiar room.  She was back at Ardeth Bay’s home.

“Ah you are awake.  How do you feel?” John had been sitting in the room watching her while he read his great grandmother’s notes on Imhotep.  Nina stood up and nearly fell over again.  “Be careful.  Raith said those men who took you from the boat used ether on you.  Pretty nasty stuff if not used in the right proportions.”  John stood up and eased her back onto the bed.

“How did I end up here, again?  This is the third time out of four I’ve woken up here.”  Nina was feeling ill in her stomach.

“First I’m John O’Connell.  Alex O’Connell is my grandfather.”  John held out his hand in introductions.  Nina didn’t take it she simply waited for the explanation she asked for.  “Okay … Ardeth had some of his men watching out for you.  Good thing too, those three men who drugged you were a bad lot.  The Cairo police have detained them.   They would like a statement from you, by the way?”  Nina listened to John but the entire time she was fighting nausea and loosing.  Quite suddenly she bolted to the bathroom and deposited her lunch in the toilet.  “Cala, bring some tea will you please?” John called out to Cala who was sitting in the hallway, just incase she was needed.

“Yes. John right away.”  She was off to the kitchen.

John picked up a cloth and wet it in the sink and handed it to Nina.  “They used too much ether, I would say.”  He knelt down on the floor next to Nina.  “Miss Derix, all this is real.  Even if it wasn’t there are those who fully believe and will stop at nothing to take back the power of Imhotep, which you hold.”  He stood up.  “Take some time and clean up.  There are cloths here.  They look to be your size.  Cala will bring tea shortly.”  John left the bathroom and went back to his notes.

Nina changed her top, washed her face and brushed her teeth, then joined John at the table.  “So, how do I stop all this?”

“You have three choices.  Well, two really.  You can let them take you and perform the ceremony that will transfer the power back to Imhotep.  This of course would require your death as a sacrifice.  Or you can let Ardeth and his men protect you and teach you to protect yourself.”  John spoke to her calmly and with candor.

“The third choice?”  Nina was hoping for something better.

John set down the papers in his hands, he had her attention.  “You can relinquished the power, but I don’t know how yet, you would have to rely on option two until I find a way.”

“Where are Ardeth and Alex?”  Nina realized she hasn’t see or heard them.

“They went to Ardeth’s village to perform the funeral ceremony for his grandfather.”  John took Nina’s hands in his.  “Miss Derix, for you to be safe you cannot stay here in Cairo.  There is a place I can take you where you will be protected at all times and taught how to defend yourself.   However, Ardeth left clear instructions you are only to be taken there of your own free will.

“FREE WILL!!!”  Nina shouted and pulled her hands from John’s.  “There is no free will for me now.  I help a man who is being pummeled by five others and now I can’t even go home because of it.  What FREE WILL are you speaking of?”

“Miss Derix,” John paused he needed to be more personal with her.  “Nina, would you have done anything differently had you known your life would be changed so?”

“YES!”  Nina sat down with a thud realizing she would have done just the same even knowing how the course of events would unfold. “I wouldn’t have grabbed that dammed amulet.”  She looked at John.  “You know about this stuff?  The magic stuff and all.”  John nodded.  “Why me?  Why did this power come into me?”

“So you believe now?”  John asked

Nina sighed.  “Not really, but if it is why me?”

“Two reasons.  One you grabbed the amulet at a time when I believe the wearer intended to transfer the power and Imhotep’s spirit into Ardeth.  This left the transfer open to whoever touched it.  That is as long as they met the second reason, which is you are of a specific heritage.”

“Heritage what heritage?”  Nina didn’t understand.

John stood and pulled out several papers.  “My great grandmother, Evelyn O’Connell, found that the power Imhotep had is the same power experienced by the Druids or Celtic Witches, and other individuals and groups throughout history.  She traced it back to the High Priestess of Isis.  Only those of a specific heritage and, as I’ve found out within the last few year, genetic make up can control this power.”

“But I haven’t control anything.”

“Not yet.  But the fact that you have not gone insane or worse, shows that you can control the power given time to learn how.  That is if you do contain the power.”  John felt she was starting to take some of this seriously.

“Okay, if I were to believe all this what would that heritage be?”  Nina was skeptical.

“Descended from the original ancient Egyptians.  Descended from those considered gods, specifically Isis.  It is said all her mortal children were her High Priests and Priestesses.  But only the priestesses were blest with power.”  John saw Nina couldn’t believe what he was saying.  “Look those considered to be the gods of ancient Egypt were in fact men and woman like you and I but their genetic make up, their DNA, allowed them to do miraculous things.  It is the same for people now who can read minds or move things with a thought or foresee the future.  They all have various mutations in their DNA.  There is a lot of research on it.”

“This is speculation isn’t it, the Egyptian god part?”

“Well, yes but with the help of the Medjai I may prove it some day.”  John tried to defend his theory.  “Ah, Cala come in please.”

Cala set the tray down and poured then proceeded to leave.  “Cala, stay and have tea with us.”

“It is not appropriate.”  Cala didn’t want to over step her bounds.

“Nonsense, we’re cousins.  It’s completely appropriate.” John walked over to her and led her back to the table.

“Wait you and Cala are cousins and Cala and Ardeth are cousins.  Does that make you and Ardeth cousins?”

“Okay, here’s the lay of the family.  Ardeth’s grandfather and my great grandparents along with my Great Great Uncle Jonathan all did the first and second Imhotep thing.  Gramps was involved with putting the creature down the second times.  I’m told you know about those, shall we say, adventures.  Well here’s how it all comes out in the wash.  My Gramps married one of Ardeth Bay Sr’s daughters, Shanar and Uncle John’s son Henry Married the other daughter Ruth.  Ruth is Cala’s mom and Shanar was my Grandmother.  Ardeth Jr’s father was their brother, Jochiem, the only son to Ardeth Sr.” John was getting himself mixed up.  “Did you get that?”

“I think. You are all three decedents from Ardeth Bay Sr. either as grand child or great grandchild.”  Nina’s head was still woozy from the ether this wasn’t really helping.

“Right.  You learn quickly.  That’s good.”  John saw she was not well.  “Why don’t you rest a bit while Cala and I make arrangements to take you to the training grounds.”

“Training grounds?”  Nina again didn’t understand.

“That’s were you will stay for a while.   Ardeth will join you there after the funeral ceremony.”  John saw her apprehension again.  “It’s either that or risk Imhotep’s men getting you and well I told you how that would end.”

Nina lay back in the bed. “Great.  Like, I have any choices.”

“We will come wake you when everything is ready.”  John and Cala left the room.

Several hours latter the helicopter was setting down outside what looked like a tent village.  “That’s the training grounds.  The building in the center is for Ardeth or who ever is in charge.  The tents are where everyone else sleeps.”  John was pointing things out to her.  “You see there is a small oasis over there about 500 yards from the tents.”

The helicopter came to a halt and John and Nina ducked down and ran out from under the blades.  “This is Jaleel and Naji.  Ardeth made them personally responsible for your safety while you are here.  They will also be training you.  Both of them speak English very well.”

Nina tied to smile “Hello.”

“Amirah, we are honored by your presence.”  Jaleel was courteous but Naji didn’t say a word.  Nina could tell neither of them wanted her here.  Nina turned to John to ask him more questions but he was already headed back to the helicopter and it took off.

“There will be no training today.  We are in …” Jaleel paused as if fishing for a word. “… mourning for Ardeth Bay.”  Nina new he meant the grandfather.  “I will take you to a tent and give you clothing to wear while you are here.  All has been prepared for you.”  Jaleel lead her to a tent that was closest to the building in the center.  “There is food and water in the tent.  It would be best if you stayed there until someone comes for you in the morning.”

Nina stopped him before he left.  “Jaleel, if I need to … relive myself where do I do that?” Jaleel pointed to a small outhouse several yards from the farthest tent.  “Thank you.” Nina was not happy with the situation but knew it wasn’t this man’s fault so she tried to be polite.

She spent the reset of the day in the tent.  John had loaned her some of his Evelyn O’Connell’s notebooks on Imhotep to read.  Most of it when over her head since she new very little about Mythology and even less about Egyptology.  When the sunset Jaleel came to check on her and brought more water.  He urged her to change into cloths, which were provided and left, again warning her to stay in her tent.

The cloths provided were two pair of black trousers, two white tunics, and a pair of gray boots.   John had told her to pack her under garments and socks, which he had brought from the hotel.  Ms Bala had packed them up for her.  She found a note with a package wrapped in very nice paper, obviously from the Channel store.  Inside she found several teddies and a black and green patterned silk robe.  There was also a toiletry kit, a journal and a package of pens.  The note read:

Remember, dear, you are first and foremost a woman.  May Allah guide you.

Nina changed into one of the teddies and the robe ate and then decided to use the journal.  Ms Bala must have known how boring it would be out here.  After making and entry in her journal Nina laid down on the cot to go to sleep.

“Nina, it is time to wake.”  Ardeth stood over her, then kneeled down brushing his hand on her cheek.  “Nina.”

She opened her eyes and couldn’t help but smile.  She was actually glad to see him.  “Good morning.”

“Are you still angry with me?”  He sat on the cot when she sat up.

“Yes.  I can’t believe any of this.”  She put her hand to her head but Ardeth took it in his hand and kissed her palm.  Nina felt a shiver go down her spine.

“You must relax and accept what is happening to you.  We will find a way to be relinquished of Imhotep’s powers, I promise you this.”  He turned her hand over and kissed her fingers then leaned in close to her face.  Nina was about to say something when he kissed her.  The kiss was gentle at first and then slowly he pulled her to him and became more demanding, more passionate.

Nina felt a queasiness in her stomach.  Something wasn’t right.  When she heard the whisper she realized she was dreaming.  It was the man in the shadows, Ardeth Sr.  “Nina, hear me.  Nina I cannot be here any longer.  You must ….”  The whisper got fainter and Nina had to strain t hear him.  “ … trust my children.  Be strong …” He was gone.  When she returned her attention to Ardeth Jr. and his kisses she felt cold.  She knew this was Imhotep trying once again to seduce her.

She pushed him away.  “This isn’t right.” 

“Darling it will be right.”  He leaned in to her again but she leaned away from him.  “What is wrong?”

“This.  You wouldn’t do this.  He wouldn’t do this.”  Nina stood up and backed away from the image of Ardeth.

He stood and smiled wickedly at her.  “You learn much too fast.”  He grabbed her arms and shook her.  “Do not resist me.”  Slowly his image mutated and once again Imhotep stood in front of her.  “I will find you and take back what is mine.”

“From what I understand you stole these powers you so covet from Isis.”  Nina pushed at him trying to get him to release her.  “Let me go.”  She demanded.

“It would be best for you if you cooperated.  I will take his body as my own and retrieve my powers from you.  Then we can be together you and I.”  He pushed her to the ground.  “That is as long as you please me.”

“I’ll be dead.  You can’t take the powers back without killing me.”  Nina stood up and brushed the sand off of her and picked up her robe and put it on.

“Ah but I can bring you back to life, pretty one.”  He stepped closer to her.  Nina backed into the wall of the tent as he ran his hand along the collar of the robe pushing it open.  “You are quite pleasing to my eyes and you are untouched.”  Nina slapped him.  Imhotep then back handed her again knocking her to the ground.  “You will learn obedience.”

Nina put her hand to her face.  “God, I need to wake up.”  She closed her eyes tightly and tried to think how to wake up.  How would she know she was finally awake?  Imhotep was in her mind.  Would he know what she knew?  “I need to wake up.  I need to wake up.”  She hoped, almost prayed she could talk her self into waking up.  Slowly she opened her eyes.

 “Good morning.”  Ardeth sitting on the chair in her tent.

“Ardeth?  Is that really you?”  Nina pulled the blanked up to cover herself.

Ardeth looked puzzled.  “Yes.”  When she turned her head to face him he saw the burse on her cheek.  He stood quite suddenly and went to her.  “What happened?”

Nina jumped off the cot taking the blanket with her.  “Stay away from me!”

“Nina what is wrong?  What happened to your face?”  He moved towards her concerned.

“GET AWAY FROM ME!” She pushed past him and out of the tent wrapping her self in the blanked.  Ardeth followed her and Jaleel ran up.

Amirha you should not be outside of your tent with out being dressed properly.”  Nina looked to Jaleel then back at Ardeth.

She was shaking as if cold.  “Am I awake?”  She looked back to Jaleel and reached out to touch him to see if he was real.  “Thank God.  I’m awake.”

Ardeth approached cautiously.  “Nina?”

She looked back at him.  “I’m sorry.”  Tears were welling up in her eyes.

Ardeth wrapped his arm around her shoulder and lead her back to her tent.  “What happened, Nina?  I can’t help you if you are not open and honest with me.”

Nina sat on the cot and began to cry.  “I can’t do this, I just can’t.”  She looked up at Ardeth.  “He’s in my head, my dreams.”  She held out her wrists to him.  “But it’s real.  Look.  He did that this morning.”  She ran her hand on her cheek over the burse “And just now this.  Oh God it is all real isn’t it.  Everything you said.  How can any one do this to a person in their dreams?”

Ardeth knelt down in front of her.  “We will fight him; teach you how to use his powers to fight him.”  He wanted to end the pain for her so much his heart ached but he didn’t know how, not yet.  “But you must be strong, Nina.”

She wiped the tears from her face.  “I guess it didn’t help much me running out there half naked and crying?”

Ardeth smiled a little.  “No it didn’t.  My men are not happy with me bringing you here.  Never before has a woman come to the training ground for warriors.”

“Your men?”  She didn’t know what he meant.

“Yes my men.  I lead the Medjai in their mission.”  Ardeth stood and sat in the chair.

“What are Medjai and what mission?”  Though Alex and Ardeth told her of Imhotep and his past activities, at least the ones in the twentieth century, they didn’t explain every thing.

“In short.  It was my ancestors who guarded the pharos and were made responsible to ensure Imhotep remained …” he was looking for the right word, “… imprisoned.  My father and grandfather and so forth back to the time of the ancients were the Lord Chief Medjai.  Leader of the twelve tribes of the Medjai.  We are now a very secret organization dedicated to protecting humanity from the mythical and magical evil that really does exist in this world.”

“Well you are doing a lousy job.”  Nina stood up.  “Now get out and let me get dressed.”  She watched as he opened the flap of the tent.  “But don’t go far.”  She didn’t really want to be alone.

He smiled back at her.  “I’ll be right out side if you need anything.”  She was dressed and out side in six minutes flat.  “That was fast.”  Ardeth was impressed.

Nina blushed.  “I’m hungry.”

Ardeth took her chin and turned her head to see the burse on her face better.  “He hit you in your dream?”

“Not much of a gentleman is he?”  She winced when Ardeth touched the burse.

“I don’t think anything is broken.  Let me see your wrists.”  He took her hands and slowly turned them over.  The burses went all the way around.  Ardeth shook his head wishing he could face Imhotep one on one and teach him not to hurt a woman like this.  “I’m sorry.”

Nina didn’t really blame him though she knew none of this would be happening if she hadn’t helped him.  She decided to change the subject.  “When did you arrive?”

Ardeth smiled “About a half hour ago.   My village is only a two hour ride from here. By horse that is.”  He led her to an area where John was sitting in the shade reading through his notes.  “I’ll get you something to eat.  Training begins in 30 minutes.”  Before walking off he spoke quietly.  “I would recommend you sleep with your cloths on.  There is nothing but men here and should you need to leave your tent quickly, though quite enticing, the teddy is not appropriate.”  Nina turned bright red and John laughed.

Nina lightly slapped him on the chest.  “Stop that.”

“Woo,” he grabbed her hand looking at her wrist.  “What happened?”

“Imhotep happened.  You wouldn’t happen to know how I can keep him out of my dreams?”  She put a piece of dried meat in her mouth and puckered from the heavy salt.

“Yah it’s not very good but it keeps well out here.”  He then picked up a tablet sitting on the ground next to him.  “I think there are some notes.  Here …” he pointed to something in the tablet.  “There is a crown, the crown of Osiris.  It is said to protect the wearer form Isis’ thoughts.  She made it for Osiris her husband to show him she trusted him.”  Nina looked puzzled as she tried to down another piece of dried meat.  “Okay, imagine you are married to the most powerful telepath in the world.  How would you feel if you know he could read your thoughts at any given moment?  Isis made the crown for Osiris to show she didn’t need to know his thoughts to trust him.  There love was strong enough that she didn’t need that.”

“Okay so you think this crown would keep Imhotep out of my head.  Where is it?”  Nina drank from the canteen Ardeth gave when he handed her the meat.

“I don’t know.  But I will make it a priority.”  John smiled.  “I should have thought of that sooner.”

When Ardeth returned he handed her a couple of bananas and some dates.  “You might like these better.”  He sat down next to her and ate a banana as well.

“Your men don’t like it much that I’m here do they?”  She watched as several of them as they were fighting with swords.  Ever now and again one would look over at her and she could feel they were uncomfortable.

“Your being here is my choice and a necessity.  Their desires are not of concern to the situation.  They will do as told, they are all loyal warriors.”  Ardeth looked over her cloths. Then stood up and held his hand down helping her to stand.  “Come, there are a few things about dressing in the desert you must learn.”  He handed her several strips of cloth.  “Wrap these around you waist and the openings of your boots.  In this way you will keep scorpions from entering into your clothing.”  He then unrolled her sleeves and buttoned them at the wrists.  “You must cover as much as of your skin as you can or the sun will cause you sickness or death.  Did Ms Bala include sun tan lotion in with your things?”  Nina nodded “Good.  Use it on your face, neck and hands to protect them from the sun.  Drink water as often as you can, eat when you are told to.  I do not care if you are not hungry you will eat.  Do not question any one directly, do as you are told.  If you have questions reserve them for when you and I are alone.  Try your best. I can ask for no more.”  Ardeth was very stern about this.

“Why am I being treated like I just joined the military?”  Nina didn’t like it.

Ardeth’s composure softened a little.  “Nina, to learn to fight and live in the desert is not easy.  It is, in fact, very serious.  These men have never taught a woman to be a warrior. That is what I have asked them to do with you so you can protect yourself and the power’s you hold.  You must behave as a warrior.”

“Ardeth I didn’t ask for any of this.”  She knew she had no choice.

“I know but it is the only way I know how to protect you so you will still have a life.”  Ardeth wanted to hug her and show her he cared but he couldn’t in front of his warriors, it wasn’t appropriate.

Nina regained her composure.  “Why do they call me Amirah?”

“Amirah is an Arabic word for Princess or leader.”  John stood with his hand full of notes books.  “Bing a descendent from the ancient gods would make you a princess.  This gives you the nobility needed to be allowed to learn the ways of a warrior.  This is how Ardeth obtained the councils permission to train you.” 

Ardeth waited to see if she had anything more questions.  “If you have no further questions we will begin.”

The entire morning was spent learning to hold a sword.  Several times Ardeth would place his arms around her to show her the grip or a particular movement.  Each time Nina’s heart raced.  When the sun was at its highest point in the sky they stopped and went to the oasis to eat midday meal.  It was dates and cheese, with some dried meat Nina hoped was beef.  Ardeth sat near by and several warriors came to speak with him.  Though Nina couldn’t hear what was being said she sensed he was being consulted on various things, as any leader would be.  When the break period was over Jaleel walked up with two horses.

Ardeth stood “Come, you will be learning to ride in the first half of the afternoon.”

Nina stood “Ardeth.”  He looked at her.  She obviously wanted to ask a question, so Ardeth approached hear to all it.  “Why ride horses?  Aren’t there vehicles for the desert?”

“Yes but they are not as reliable as a horse.  You will learn them as well, but for now you need to learn to ride a horse.  Go with Jaleel and I will join you later.”

Jaleel explained first how to care for a horse.  He discussed it’s grooming, feeding, and how to stable a horse under various circumstances.  He then introduced Nina to a beautiful black Arabian horse.  “This is your horse.”  Jaleel was leading it with rains that had already been placed.

“Oh, Jaleel it’s beautiful.”  Nina approached the horse slowly and rubbed its nose.

Jaleel handed her the rains.  “She seems to like you.  What will you name her?”

Nina looked had him, realizing for the first time that he meant she now owned the horse.  “Jaleel other than here what am I going to do with a horse?”

“It will be cared for when you are absent.  Especially this one, Ardeth breaded this one himself.  He was going to use her to race with.”  Jaleel caught himself.  “I was not to tell you this horse was so prized.  Ardeth did not wish you to know.”

“Why didn’t he want me to know, Jaleel?” Nina was curious why the secrets.

Jaleel look uncomfortable.  “He did not wish for you to feel indebted to him.  He expects nothing for this gift.”

“Thank you Jaleel for being truthful with me.  I will not reveal that I know these things.”  Nina realized he would probably get in trouble for having told her.

“Thank you, Amirah.  Come I will teach you how to saddle the horse.”  Jaleel spent the rest of the early afternoon teaching Nina to saddle a horse and how to mount.  She learned quickly so they moved on to how to control the animal.

While Nina was occupied with riding lessons Ardeth consulted with John.  “When grandfather spoke to her in Arabic she understood him.”  He handed John a file.  “According to what we could find about her she never learned the language.”

“It probably has something to do with the power.  Has she understood any of it since then?”  John was trying to determine what situations caused the power within her to emerge.

“Yes, when I spoke to her.  When I first pointed out that she heard, understood and spoke Arabic she denied it.”  Ardeth thought a minute.  “Though I don’t know if she understands it when others speak.”

John stat back against the tree they were sitting under within the oasis.  “Hmm, she spoke with great gramps just before he died.  That had to be an emotional time.”

“I found her crying in another room only minutes later.  She cried for a man she did not know.  She said she felt my loss.”  Ardeth tried to remember her exact words.

John opened a book that was near by.  “Great Grams wrote something about emotional control and the powers of the ancient gods.  Ah, here it is:  ‘I believe each god’s or goddess’ character was formed by their controlling emotion as is with normal humans.  With the gods however, their emotions controlled their miraculous abilities.’  So maybe the stronger the emotion the more the power will show.”

“We will have to test this theory.”  Ardeth took the book from John.  “It is a shame Evelyn O’Connell is not here to see her theories proven.”

“Yeh, I miss great grams.”  John sighed and then returned to his books.  “Ardeth, do the Medjai know where the crown of Osiris is?”

“I would have to check with counsel why do you ask?”  Ardeth stood.

“Well it may help Nina.  If she wore it, it could keep Imhotep out of her dreams.”  John stood.  “I’ve read about it but I’m afraid I don’t know much more than one small story about it.”

“I will send word to the council.  If we have it they would know and as you know there are several places it may be stored.  It could take weeks to retrieve if the approve which is highly unlikely.”  Ardeth watched as Nina walked away with Jaleel.  “The are opposed to her being here at all.  I’m concerned they would rather see her locked away like an artifact or worse.”

“Worse?  Ardeth she is a human being they can’t just kill her to prevent her from being a threat.”  John was appalled.

“Many on the council are very old.  They live in the past when the Medjai were unknown and those who did know us feared us.  We could do what was required with out reproductions.”  Ardeth handed the notes back to John.  “But that is not how the world is any more and soon they will have to realize this.” 

As promised Ardeth joined them when she was learning to control the animal.  “Have you named her yet?”

“No, I was very surprised when Jaleel said she was mine.”   Nina was about to dismount.

“No stay there my horse is being brought we will ride in the coral together.”  Ardeth walked to her side and stroked the horse.  “She is a fine animal she deserves a noble name.”

Nina was think Midnight might make a good name, but with what Ardeth just said about noble name she changed her mind.  “How does Mystra sound?”

Ardeth repeated the name.  “Mystra, I do not know this name.  What culture is it from?”

“It’s actually from a roll playing game it is the name of the Goddess of Magic.” Nina explained.

“A goddess.  Yes, this one could be a goddess.”  Ardeth patted the horse’s leg.  “It is a good name.”

His horse arrived and they rode in the coral for an hour or so.

“Now you will learn to fire a rifle.”  Ardeth dismounted and Nina followed.

“Shouldn’t we tend the horses?”

“Good you learn well.  Yes, normally we should but we took extra time to ride together so someone else will tend them while you start your next lesson.”  Ardeth was walking quickly again, so Nina had to run every now and then to keep up.

“This is Muta he will teach you to use various weapons once you have learned the basics of one you will move on to the next.  When we see which one you have the best aptitude for we will concentrate on that.  You will learn about rifles, pistols, bows, crossbows, hand to hand combat and more from him.”  Ardeth was about to continue when Nina stopped him.

“How long am I supposed to take to learn all this?”

Ardeth realized he was overwhelming her.  “For most it takes a life time.  You are not expected to learn it all quickly.  Though from what I have seen you do learn faster then most.  For the test you will need riding, the rifle, hand to hand combat, sword, and stealth.”  Ardeth reviewed what he said to make sure he didn’t leave anything out.  “Oh and desert survival of course.”

“Of course.”  Nina said calmly.  Then in a low voice but an annoyed one “What test?  You never said anything about a test.”

“To be treated as a warrior you must pass the test of a warrior.  Other wise the council will insist you be delegated to woman’s work until your powers are needed.  As a warrior you will be afforded the respect you, as a western woman, are use to.”  Ardeth could tell she was becoming more upset.  “Nina, these have been our ways for many thousands of years.  Women are not poorly treated, just the opposite the men protect and honor their women.  It is the culture.  Even though I do not agree with it, change is a hard thing.  Small steps are accepted easier than leaps and bounds.  You are a great leap.”  Ardeth smiled at her trying to lighten the moment.

“Okay, if I leave you are sure I will be hunted down and killed to take these powers away from me?”  Nina wanted to clarify.

“Yes.”

“There’s no way to remove them without my death?” 

“None that we know of at this time.   We will, however continue to search.  John is working on that even as we speak.”  Ardeth reassured her.

“Fine, so how do I fire a rifle?”

For the next three weeks this was her schedule; in the morning she worked with John and his notes attempting to use the powers she now obviously possessed, after that was sword practice, horse riding in the early afternoon, rifles and other weapons in the late afternoon, and in the evenings Ardeth himself took her into the desert to practice stealth techniques.  In between or when the winds would not allow training she was instructed on desert survival and the Arabic language, which she spoke almost fluently after the three weeks. 

Some nights Imhotep would come to her in her dreams other nights when she was so completely exhausted she was asleep before her head hit the cot she couldn’t remember if she dreamed.  When she did dream Imhotep tried always to seduce her, tick her, reason with her (at least what he thought was reason), she stayed strong against him but the last few nights she just wanted to be left alone.

Ardeth and John where helpless to stop the dreams.  Nina would tell them of her conversations with Imhotep but she never told him about his seductions or how they made her feel.  She never gave in to him but there were times as a woman she wanted to.

“Hello Nina.”  Imhotep placed his hand on her shoulder as Nina looked out on to the sand.

“Why do you always choose this place to bring me?”  Nina walked out of the tent.

“Why do you not choose another place to take us?”  Imhotep followed.  “You have done this before.”

“You have tried before to get me to take control.  Why is that?”  Nina was suspicious of him.  She hadn’t taken control of her dreams since the night in the hotel room.  She didn’t really know why but she felt it was not a good thing to do.

Imhotep laughed.  “I keep telling you that you need not fear me. And yet you never believe me.”  He leaned into her to smell her sent.

“You’ve hit me and hurt me on more than one occasion.  You have a temper that brings violence.”  She turned to face him.  “And frankly it doesn’t take magical powers to tell you are malevolent to the core and you even smell bad.”

Imhotep lost his smile.  “You force me to continually take dead bodies in order to anchor myself in the physical world.  If I had my powers I could move into a living body and we could be together with out the smell.”

“Right and what happens to the person who’s body you take?  And why is it I can smell the decomposing body here?”  Nina thought for a moment.  “You can’t hide what you truly are.  No, they are not your powers but mine now.”

Imhotep was becoming angry.  “THEN USE THEM!! Stop wasting my time.”  He waived his hand and walked away from her.

“If I use them you … you’ll be able to find me in the physical world.”  The realization hit her.  “If I use them here in the dream when you are in my head.  Of course.”  As she knew his intentions in coming to her in her dreams.  When she looked up she saw him begin to slowly fade.

“Then find me girl and protect those who would protect you.  They are more vulnerable in their dreams than you.”  He was gone.

“They, they who?  Where did you go?”  As she called to Imhotep in her dreams in the physical world Ardeth yelled and this woke her and others.  Nina having taken Ardeth’s advice was sleeping in her clothing.  She slipped on her boots and went to the center building.  Just as Ardeth called out again.  Already there were several Medjai outside and Jaleel and John were inside.  “John what’s wrong?”

“We can’t wake Ardeth.”  Jaleel was holding him down on his cot as Ardeth tried to thrash about.  “He’s in a fit of a nightmare.”

“It’s Imhotep.  He’s trying to get me to use the powers while in a dream.”  Nina went to Ardeth’s side.  “Is there something I can do?”

“I don’t know.” John was thinking.  “Of course when he is in your mind if you use the powers he could find you.  That is what binds the two of you together, the powers.  But you are only open to him in an unconscious state.”  Ardeth yelled again as if in terrible agony.  “He is getting stronger some how if he can enter Ardeth’s dreams.”

“We have to do something.  We can’t let this go on.”  Nina touched Ardeth’s face as he yelled again.  “Will power all this time you keep telling me if I will it hard enough I can make anything happen.”

“Yes but Nina, you don’t know what you are dealing with.”  John was concerned she would cause more harm then help.  Or worse lead Imhotep and his followers to them.

“I have to try John.  I won’t be in an unconscious state if I try this consciously.”  Nina closed her eyes and placed her hand on Ardeth’s chest.  She concentrated on him pictured her self moving from her body to his.  John had talked her through this once before when they attempted to see if she could do astral projections.  Nina felt her self leaving her body but it was strange and frightening when she became scared she slammed back hard and refused to try again.

When she opened her eyes Nina was standing in a temple cave in front of an alter.  Imhotep was standing on the opposite side of the alter and Ardeth was hanging from a pillar as Imhotep moved a torch to his bear torso burning him.  As Ardeth yelled in pain again Nina yelled to “STOP this!”

“Give me what I want.”  Imhotep set the torch down on the alter.

“I can’t just give you the powers.”  Nina didn’t really know what he meant but ultimately he wanted the powers back.

“Use them and show me where you are.  I will come and take them back.”  Imhotep walked to her side of the alter.

Ardeth moved to see Nina.  “Don’t do anything he wants.  Don’t reveal yourself to him.  Nina I would rather die than let the creature have the powers again.”

“I can arrange your death.”  Imhotep smiled.

“But you won’t.”  Nina smiled back at him.  “You want this body and you need it to be alive so you will be alive.”

“There are other bodies.”  Imhotep waved his hand as if Ardeth was of no consequence to him.

“No there is a reason.  You are becoming transparent to me Imhotep.  There is a reason you … need … this body, his body.  Of course.  But what?”

With her realization Imhotep became annoyed.  “I will have what is mine.” And the dream ended.

Ardeth woke with a start and moaned as he moved.  His abdomen was burned with third degree fire burns.  Nina snapped back into her body and fell to the floor.  Jaleel picked her up and set her on John’s cot which was next to Ardeth’s.  “Amierah, Amierah are you well?”  He was concerned for her not just because he was responsible for her but because over the last 20 days he grew fond of this woman who would be a warrior.

John slowly removed the blanket that covered the burn on Ardeth’s abdomen.  “That’s nasty.”

“Nina.”  Ardeth looked for her.  “You should not have left her do that.  She could have been in danger.”

“Ardeth we are all in danger as long as the creature is out there.”  John pushed him back on the cot.  “Now let me do something about this.”  He turned to the door where Raith.  “Go get the healer.”  Raith disappeared into the myriad of Medjai looking in through the door.

Nina slowly sat up.  Her head was throbbing.  “Ardeth?”

“I am here.”  Ardeth sucked in air as John wiped the area around the wound with a damp cloth.  “You should not have entered my dream.”

Nina looked over and saw the burn horrified that it manifested in the physical world.  “I couldn’t let him kill you.  Apparently it would have killed you here for real.”  She knelt down next to him and looked up at John.  “Can I heal this?”

He nodded.  “Like I said all it takes is strong enough will power and you can do anything your personality is capable of allowing.”

Nina sighed and rested her forehead on the edge of the cot.  Her head hurt so bad she wasn’t sure how she was even thinking yet alone channel the power.  Ardeth placed his hand on the back of her head and ran it along her hair.  He closed his eyes and concentrated on the feeling of her silky hair in his hand.  “I will be fine, Nina, you need not take care of me.  It is I who am to take care of you.”

She lifted her head.  “Shit Ardeth!  I am not some weekly woman who needs a man in her life to be whole.”  She rubbed her temple with one hand.  “I can do this.  I want to do this.”  She rested her hands above and below the wound and closed her eyes.  She had to do this.  In spite of what she said she did need a man.  She needed Ardeth.  He was always there when she was ready to give up.  He encouraged her to keep trying to continue on.  He gave her the strength she needed to face the things happening to her.  She felt the skin under her hands.  It was smooth and warm and muscular.  She could smell the burnt flesh and tried to put that out of her mind, though it was making her sick.  She imagined the healthy flesh under her hand spreading slowly over the wounded area.  Her own hands became warmer as she felt the exchange of energy from her to Ardeth.  She didn’t smell the burn flesh any more; she didn’t hear any noises or feel anything but Ardeth’s body under her touch.  It felt wonderful and built a desire in her she hadn’t felt before.  She wanted to touch more of him; she wanted him to touch her.  Suddenly there was nothing but blackness she felt nothing.

As her eyes fluttered trying to open she felt a dampness on her face.  “Nina can you hear me?”  It was Ardeth’s voice.  She tried to make words but she had no strength.  “Don’t try and move.  I see you hear me.”  He wiped her forehead.  “You healed me and I am perfectly well.   But John thinks you caused yourself to loose too much … energy.  He thinks you will regain it with rest.  Some one will always be with you so rest easy.”  Slowly his voice trailed off as she went back to the blackness.

She slept for nearly 36 hours straight.  Jaleel, Ardeth and John took turns sitting with her keeping her body cool with herbs and water.  When she finally woke Nina, sat up while Ardeth looked on.  “How do you feel?”

“Oh … shit. “ Nina pulled the blanket around her waist even though she wore pants.  “I need to go to the out house.”  She pointed to a bag, “Can I have that?”  Ardeth picked up the bag and helped Nina to the out house.  Taking the bag in with her she locked the door with Ardeth waiting.  No other words were said until she called out to him.  “Ardeth will you get my other pants please.”  She sounded weary, exhausted.

“Of course.  Is there something wrong?”  He was concerned.

“Just get my pants and the bag with my under things and a canteen.”

It was only a few minutes when Ardeth returned and knocked.  Nina stuck her hand out to grab the bag, pants and canteen, and then locked the door again.

“Nina, are you ill?”  Just as Ardeth asked John and Jaleel walked up.

“Just leave me alone.”  She was barely heard by the others.

“Nina, come out now.” Ardeth said with a firm but gentle tone.

Nina opened the door and stepped out holding her bags and pants.  “Leave me alone.”  She then walked off back to her tent.

“What is wrong?” Ardeth sat down next to her.  She didn’t answer him but kept walking and entered her tent.  Ardeth stopped outside.  “Nina?”

“I’m tired, Ardeth.  Tired of fighting, riding, firing.  Tired of everything.”  Nina paused.  “And I need toiletries.”

“What toiletries?  Did Ms Bala not send everything you would need?”  Ardeth thought everything was taken care of.

“No.”  Nina was embarrassed to say it but it had to be said.  “I need … pads.”

“You have the journal she sent.  Is that not enough?”  Ardeth didn’t understand.

“No.  Not tablets.  Pads.  Feminine napkins.”  Nina was turning several shades of red.

“Oh, I see.”  Ardeth himself was embarrassed.  “This is why it is a good thing women are not warriors.”

With that Nina opened the flap of her tent and went off “Wrong!  This is why women should be warriors.”  She had come out so fast Ardeth was startled.  As she advanced towards him yelling he backed up into Jaleel who was stunned.  “Because if I had a rifle right now I would take great pleasure in blowing out your knee caps for all you have put me through this last month!”  She turned and went back into her tent and closed the flap “Shees!  Men!”

Ardeth stood looking at the tent flap; he had a look of fear on his face.  John and Jaleel were flanking him.  They too had looks of fear on their faces.  “She needs more rest.”  He paused.  “Yes, more rest.”  Ardeth then went to the radio and sent word for Ms Bala to take care of the issue and send supplies immediately.

It wasn’t until midday meal that Ardeth approached the Nina’s tent again.  “Nina, I have a plate of food for you if you are hungry.”  No response.  “Nina?”

She opened the flap.  “I’m sorry.  I behaved terribly.”

Ardeth entered and handed her the plate.  He sat in the chair across from her sitting on the cot.  “It is understandable.  You have been thrust against your will into a world of myth, magic and intrigue.  You exhaust yourself doing miraculous things.  Add to that heightened hormones.  Well it is understandable.”

“Still I should have been less … confrontational.”

Ardeth sighed.  “I radioed Ms Bala she will be sending various … products for you.  I also instructed the men you will be resting until further notice.”

“How long was I unconscious?  Thank you.”  She raised the plate “For the food too.” 

“Nearly 36 hours.  We were very concerned.  The healer could find nothing wrong.”  Ardeth paused.  “Thank you for healing me.  I am grateful though you should not have risked you self in such a way.”

Nina swallowed before replying.  “He entered your dream because I figured out what he was up to.  He wanted to use you against me.  It was my fault.”

“No, it was his fault and he succeeded in his intentions.”  Ardeth stood.  “Finish eating.  When you are done I will take you some place where you can bathe.”  He started for the tent exit.

“Bathe?  Like submerged in water?”  Even being that time of the month Nina would give just about anything for a real bath.

Ardeth smiled.  “Yes submerged in water.”

Nina finished her meal in minutes and showed up at the building with cloths, toiletries and towel in hand.  When Ardeth stepped out he nearly laughed.  “If I had know the way to get you moving faster was to promise you a bath I would have used it sooner.  Follow me.”  He took her to the oasis near by.  Earlier he had the warriors erect walls of cloth around a wooden tub.  “Give the men a few minutes and they will have the tub filled for you, then all will leave the oasis.  Jaleel and Muta will be within hearing distance.  Yell if you need anything.”  He began to walk away then stopped.  “If you feel up to it we could go for a ride this evening when it cools off.”  Ardeth confirmed his intent “For pleasure not training.”

“That would be nice.” Nina paused, thinking about a question.

Ardeth found Nina sitting at the edge of a small cliff that dropped into the pond at the center of the oasis, not far from the tub.  She was quietly sitting with her eyes closed.  He patiently waited until she moved.

“Does it help?”  He was sitting behind her at the edge of the foliage on a rock.

Nina turned around.  She wasn’t startled by his presence; she knew he was there.  “Yes.  It helps me stay focused and keeps him out of my mind.”

Ardeth stood, he looked concerned.  “The creature enters your mind?”  He held his hand out to assist Nina in standing.

“Once in a while.  Only when I’m dreaming.  He’s persistent to say the least.”  Nina brushed off the dirt from sitting on the ground.  “Ready to go riding?”

“You should have told me about this.”  A shadow of worry crossed Ardeth’s face.

“I did earlier.  That is how I knew he was in your dream.”  Nina sighed.  “Besides until then he was harmless.  He tries to trick seduce me.  I know all he wants it the powers and your body of course.”

Ardeth was surprised at how nonchalant she was.  “Of course” he mocked.  “If it happens again …” Ardeth was cut off by Nina. 

As she walked past him she waived her hand and in an angry tone said.  “Fine!  I will tell you.”

“You are angry with me.  Why?”  Ardeth grabbed her arm to stop her.

“You treat me like a child and frankly I’m tired of it.”  She put her hands on her hips in a confrontational gesture.

“To these things you are like a child.” Ardeth stood his ground.  “Naïve and immature are two totally different things, though they often go hand and hand.  You are ill experienced in such matters.” 

She dropped her arms.  “You are condescending to me and the men see it.  They also are condescending and I don’t appreciate it, though I’ve put up with it.”

Ardeth thought back over the last month.  He had been condescending.  “I am sorry, you are correct.  Unfortunately it is easy to fall into a condescending attitude.  We have known what we teach you all our lives.  It seems strange to us that you do not know these thing.  I am the worst; I know other cultures do not know these things by nature and upbringing.  I will speak with the men as well.  If it continues please let me know.  Is there anything else on your mind?”

“Yes, I want to go riding for the fun of it.”  Nina turned and ran out of the oasis.  Ardeth would have been left behind if he hadn’t reacted and ran after her.

They rode until night fall then returned to the training grounds.  “Ardeth, thank you.  I enjoyed just riding with you.”

Ardeth smiled.  “And I with you.”  He dismounted then assisted her though he knew she didn’t need assistance.  “I should have considered that all work and no play is not good for any one, even one with great powers.”

Nina laughed.  “Great powers.  Woo.”

“You should not joke so.  The powers you hold are great and only restrained by your own ability to control them.”

“Ardeth I don’t want these powers or the responsibility.”  Nina pulled the saddle off Mystra.  “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Ardeth handed her a brush for the horse.  “Yes but, you are a priestess of Isis.  She chooses well I think.”

“You pagan.”  Nina jested with him.

“One would be … mistaken to discount the ancient gods altogether.  They existed either as gods or powerful humans.  I respect this though I do not worship them.”  Ardeth brushed his horse as the spoke.

“Okay I can buy that, but I don’t see you bowing down to Mecca much.”  Nina questioned his religious practices.

“I believe you said you were a non practicing Christian with Daoist beliefs.”  Ardeth looked to her as she nodded.  “Well I am Islamic, yes, and I should spend more time observing the practices of my religion.  But even Allah understands when there are matters of saving the world that interfere with ritual worship.” 

“Well put.”  Nina took his brush as Ardeth lead the horses to the corral.  She took her saddle and went into the small barn like structure they used to deal with sick horses and store the equipment out of the sun.

Once the horses were secure Ardeth followed her picking up his saddle along the way.  “You seem much more relaxed tonight.”  Ardeth set his saddle down and watched as Nina wiped hers with a damp cloth then oiled the leather.  She smiled at him not wanting to say what was really on her mind.  She was glad to spend time alone with him and away from any training. 

When she finished with the oil rag she handed to him.  Their hands touched and both felt flushed.  Ardeth wiped down his saddle and placed it on its post.  When he turned back around Nina was standing in front of him.  The moonlight came down through gaps in the ceiling of the barn and she looked like an angle to him.  Without thought he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him kissing her gently but passionately.  Nina was caught a little off guard but as his kiss caressed her lips she slid her arms around his neck and responded in kind.  Slowly he eased out of the kiss and away from her lips.  “We cannot do this…” his voice was raspy.  “Not now, not here.”  He released her from his arms and cleared his throat.  “Go to your ten.  You will resume training in the morning.”

“Ardeth …”

“Do as I say Nina.  There is no more to discuss.”  He turned away from her or he would not be able to let her leave.  She left quietly wonder what she had done wrong.  Why he rejected her.”

When Ardeth returned his quarters John was still awake reading.  “You two are back late.”

“We were taking care of the horses and saddles.  We have been back since sun set.”  Ardeth laid down on his cot.

“I think I found something about the Crown of Osiris.”  John watched as Ardeth turned to face him.  “I think it may have been looted several centuries ago.  If I’m right it will be hard to find but I have a description of it.”

“It is a start.  Send the information to your father and ask him to search both legal and not so legal avenues for it.”  Ardeth rolled on to his back and looked at the ceiling.  “Do you think she will learn to control this power she contains?”

“Nina?”  John sighed.  “It won’t be easy.  She is actually quite emotional.”  John placed his notes on the table and turned out the lamp.  “She’s trying her hardest to not lose it but she’s not happy here.”

“Would she be happier in Cairo?”  Ardeth wondered out loud.

“Yes.  She wants a shower and a good meal, to hear music on the radio.  She needs time alone … “John wondered if he should say all that was on his mind.  “ … and time alone with you.”

Ardeth didn’t move, he didn’t change his breathing, he made no noise at all.  Just as John was about to speak again Ardeth asked “Why would you say that?”

“Ardeth she trusts you because she has feelings for you.  She’s not one to give her … love easily to a man.”  John paused to find the right words but there were no right words, no way to say it without just saying it.  “And you love her too.  Though you won’t ever let your self admit it.”

“Good night John.”  It was Ardeth’s way to end the conversation and let John know he strayed too far.

In the morning Nina’s training resumed.  John left for Cairo for a few days to send off information about the Crown of Osiris and Ardeth seemed more distant than ever.  Nina felt alone in the world and blamed for having the power she did not want to begin with.

After several days of training and little contact with Ardeth she decided to take the initiative and approached him.  “Did I do something wrong?”

Ardeth looked puzzled.  “Have you done something wrong?”

“You hardly talk to me any more, you have Muta doing my sword training, you don’t even have a meal with me once in a while.  Did I do something wrong?”  She waited as Ardeth excused them from his men near by. 

He then took her arm and led her away from the camp.  “Nina I have had obligations before meeting you and they did not simply go away because of you.”

“I see.”  Nina felt her heart drop to her feet.  “I guess you will be leaving too then?”

“Not before John returns.”  Ardeth waited for her reaction but there was none.  “I know this is hard for you …”

“No, you don’t know that.  You don’t know me and you don’t care to know me.  All you ever cared about is this shitty power I have.  I should just let Imhotep have it back and then you can kill him and be done with it.”  Nina ran off before Ardeth could stop her.  He wanted to attribute her emotional outburst to hormones but he knew better.  He toyed with her and hurt her, but he has not time for her, not as a woman.  Jaleel and Muta had been watching out of ear shot.  Ardeth waived for them to follow her and they did.

She sat out in the sand all night.  In the morning Ardeth joined her relieving Jaleel and Muta who had watched her all night.  “You need some sleep.”  He said with concern, but Nina didn’t move or even acknowledge him.  “Nina?”

“Take me to Cairo or go away.”  Nina laughed after making her demand.

“Nina?”  Ardeth was confused.  He sat in the sand with her.  “Nina, why are you doing this?”

Nina turned to face him.  “You don’t care about me, the power yes, but not me.  What makes you any different from him?”  She stared off into the horizon.  “At least he pretends to care.  You can’t even do that.”

“Nina I care.”  It hurt him to say it.  “My life is not one of my own choosing.  I have no time for love.  When the time comes the council will choose a wife for me and I will not love her.  This is as it was for my father and grandfather.  I cannot allow myself the luxury of loving a woman.”

Nina laughed again “Poor you.”  Then she spoke but not to him.  “He’s so troubled.  You were right.  But you are no prize either.”  She turned back to Ardeth.  “I’ll find a way to Cairo it just takes enough will power.”

Ardeth was horrified.  “He is in your mind now, while you are awake?”

Nina laughed again.  “I was lonely for some one to talk to, but don’t worry I wont fall for his lies any more than I fall for yours.”

Ardeth was insulted.  He never lied to her.  He allowed himself to be week to fall for her to care for her then he backed up to his duty.  He hurt her yes but he never lied to her.  “Very well, do as you please but there will be no transportation for you to Cairo.  Should you choose to speak with me I am at your disposal.”  Ardeth stood and walked off listening to Nina’s laughter.

“John she speaks with him in her mind while awake.  You need to return.”  Ardeth was on the radio.

“No Ardeth you need to reach her.  I don’t know what you did but you need to fix it.”  John was worried about both Ardeth and Nina.

“What do you mean?  I have done nothing.”  Ardeth was getting defensive.

“Look Ardeth, Cala said only you can fix this only you can … help her.”  John found Cala in a terrible state when he arrived in Cairo.  He had to call a doctor to give her a sanative and had stayed with her ever since.  “She says Imhotep is getting stronger and he is no longer in Cairo.  Ardeth, you are going to loose her if you don’t do something soon.  I got to go Ardeth, Cala needs me here.”

“John, John.” It was too late John was gone.  Ardeth put the receiver down and looked out the window to see Nina walking back into camp.  The men all watched her but no one approached.

He watched her all day as she leisurely did as she please, some times speaking with Imhotep and others not.  It was a dangerous game she played.  Ardeth finally went to her.  “Nina, would you ride with me this evening?”

Nina looked up at him as she sat in the shade of a tree at the oasis.  She shrugged “Sure why not.”

Ardeth tried to speak with her as they rode she kept out pacing him making it hard to have a conversation.  Finally he had to grab hold of her rains.  “The sun will be completely set soon we should return to the training grounds.”

“Ow.” Nina pulled something from her shoulder.  “Someone just shot me.”  She then fell off her horse unconscious.

Ardeth recognized it for a tranquilizer dart and pulled his rifle out of its holster and was about to dismount and check Nina when he too was hit.

Several men approached them. Nina was completely unconscious and Ardeth was fighting to remain conscious.  The men were about to take the horses when Ardeth attacked them and the horses bolted.  Two men grabbed Ardeth and a third used the butt of his rifle to ensure Ardeth was unconscious.  Another man picked up Nina and the party rode off with their captives.

Nina woke up in a cage hanging several feet above the floor.  Her hands were tied behind her back with a something made of plastic.  She assumed it was similar to the plastic ties police use.  Her head throbbed with pain.  When she was fully conscious she remembered Ardeth.  She looked around to see where she was and if Ardeth was near.  She was in a cave by the looks of the walls, but it had been made into a temple.  There was an alter and on the other side a column.  Ardeth was tied to the column, his arms being pulled behind him and tied on the other side of the column.  The way it was done had dislocated both his shoulders.  He had a large gash on his head and the blood that ran down his face was dried.  They had been here for a while, Nina noted.  His feet were tied to a small platform that supported most of his weight.  She also noted there was no one around other than her and Ardeth.

“Ardeth.”  She didn’t get a response. “Ardeth.”

“Do not bother Nina.  Ardeth Bay will be unconscious for some time yet.”  A man walked in with three others and was carrying a ceramic jar.

“Imhotep?” Nina asked the man carrying the jar.

“Yes, my love.” He set the jar on the alter.  “Thank you for showing me the way to you.”

“You tricked me.”  Nina realized her mistake now.

“As you always knew I was doing.  You not once suspected any less of me.”  He walked close to her and she could smell the decay.  “You can still be my queen.”

“To get the powers from me requires my death.  I believe that makes it rather difficult for me to be your queen.”  Nina managed to sit up in the cage.

He took a black book from one of the other men.  “With the Book of the Dead and my powers I can raise you.  Your Medjai friend did not tell you this did he?”  He smiled a lipless decedent smile as if he defeated Nina.  Imhotep walked back around to where Ardeth hung from the pillar.  His arms were pulled behind him tied around the pillar as his feet rested on a small piece of wood attached to the pillar.  His body leaned over the alter as if to be a sacrifice.  “You lust after this body, do you not?  You desire it as I desire you.”

“You are wrong, it is not the body I desire; it is the man within it.  You are not desirable to me in the least.”

“Then you will die with the man you so desire.”  He turned and went to the other side of the alter.  Laid the book of the dead down and opened it to a particular page.  He then began to read from it stretching one hand toward Ardeth and the other toward the jar.

Nina didn’t know exactly what was happening but she speculated that Imhotep first had to manifest remove Ardeth’s spirit form the body.  She had to stop him.  “Seems to me you have some powers already?”  Imhotep looked up at her but didn’t stop what he was doing.  Nina struggled to move her hands over her butt and pull her legs through.  When she noticed Ardeth’s body beginning to convulse, she knew had to interrupt him and hope that it would require starting over.

Nina sat back and focused her vision and attention to the book of the dead.  This was their prize possession.  This man, this creature is one who has destroyed her life.  It was his fault she had to learn to defend her self in the fashion of a Medjai.  That book was what would make it possible for him to take Ardeth’s body.  Nina focused all the hatred and anger she felt over the last month on the book.  Suddenly flames emerged form it and Imhotep was successfully interrupted.  He stepped back from the flames as one of the men with him beat them out with the robe he wore.  The other two went to help.  One of them placed a gold book that looked much like the black one on the alter. 

With her hands in front of her now she was able to reach up through the open top of the cage to the chains that suspended it from the ceiling.  She used them to climb out and drop down to the floor.  As she drop one of the men saw her and tried to grab hold of her.  She managed to dodge him but with tied hands it was difficult.  As he lost his balance because of missing her she grabbed a large knife that was sheathed at his side.  When he attached her again he ran himself onto the knife as she held it out in front of her.  Her attacker fell to the ground dead and the bloodied knife remained in her hand.   The other two men were now approaching her one on each side of the alter.  Nina jumped up onto the alter, ran across it and tackled Imhotep.  Holding the knife to his throat “Stop or he’s dead.”

Imhotep laughed.  “I am already dead my dear.”

“NO!” Nina cried as both men flew backward lifted in the air and bounced of the walls of the cave.  Both of them had their sculls crushed from the impact.  Nina pushed the knife so hard into the dead body that housed Imhotep.  She pushed it through to the ground holding him in place. 

Nina then went to the Book of the Dead, placing her canteen on the alter she stretched one hand out to Imhotep and the other to the ceramic jar.  She then began to repeat the chant from the book.  At first she was simply remembering what Imhotep had said, but then she was actually reading from the book. 

“Nina!  I love you.”  Imhotep struggled to free himself.  “You will be my queen and we will rule the world.” 

Nina continued the chant, ignoring Imhotep pleas.  She was able to complete the chant.  Imhotep was now trapped inside the canteen.

“Nina.” Ardeth could barely whisper.

“Ardeth.”  Nina cut the ties at his feet then at his arms.  She couldn’t help that he fell to the ground in a thud.  Ardeth gritted his teeth rather than cry out in pain.

“Ardeth.”  Nina went to him, picked up his head and held him.  “I’m sorry.  I lead him here.  I… “  He was having a difficult time breathing.  She needed to focus on him not on her own regret.  “What do I do?  Your wound is serious.  I don’t think I have the power to ….”

“Listen to me.”  Ardeth swallowed the blood collecting in his mouth.  “You did well.  The creature is trapped.”  He closed his eyes.   He didn’t want her to see the pain he was in.  He was dieing and there was nothing she could do.  “Remember this, more than any thing …”  He swallowed again.

“Ardeth don’t.  Be quite.  I’ll get help.” She wanted to get help but she didn’t want to leave him either. 

“I love you.” With this Ardeth released his last breath and went limp in her arms.

“NO!  NO!”  Nina held him tightly to her body.  “NO! You won’t die.  I won’t let you die.”

As she was yelling in anguish Jaleel and Muta entered the cave.  When the horses returned without their riders they along with the others separated into search parties and had been looking for them.  Jaleel and his party found their tracks and followed them to the cave.  What they saw when they entered eliminated any doubt they had regarding the power Nina possessed and that she was in deed an Amirah and descended from the ancient gods.

Nina holding Ardeth was crying out with words and tears.  “You will not die, I won’t allow it.”  A glow emanated from her body and slowly surrounded his.  His wounds miraculously closed as if healing themselves.  Once all the wounds were healed the glow faded and Nina collapsed.

The two warriors rushed to Ardeth and Nina’s side.  Both were still alive.  While Jaleel took Nina out of the cave Muta checked out the other four bodies in the cave.  They were obviously the abductors and all save were dead.  The two books were placed in saddlebags along with the jar.  Muta had no idea what went on here so it was best to take everything and keep it safe until the events were discovered or disclosed.  Once everything was packed Muta and Jaleel carried Ardeth out and they traveled back to the training grounds.  There they ordered the helicopter to take Nina and Ardeth to Cairo where Alex would tend to them.

It was some time before either Ardeth or Nina awoke.  Ardeth was first.  When he woke the first thing he saw was the familiar ceiling of his room in his house in Cairo.  When he looked about he saw John sitting in a chair reading.

“John, how did I get home?” Ardeth slowly sat up.

John went to him and helped him situate himself.  “Ardeth, how do you feel?”

“Weak.  Not a good feeling.  I would like some water please.”

“Okay, but let Gramps look at you first.”  John went to the intercom and pressed a button.  “Gramps, Ardeth is awake and asked for water.”  He then returned to Ardeth’s side.  “He’ll be right here.  None of us have slept well since you were brought back.”

“None of use, who is hear?  Where is Nina?”  Ardeth was disoriented.

“Well Gramps and me, Cala of course, and dad.  Jaleel and Muta brought you and Nina back in the helicopter.  They’ve refused to leave even when the council called them back.  They won’t leave until they know you and Nina are alright.”  John had just finished when Alex came in with his bag.

“Ardeth, I’m so glad you’re awake.  Let’s listen to your heart and lungs.  They’ve been clear until now.  For the life of me I couldn’t find anything wrong.  Why you would remain unconscious for six days has eluded me completely.”  Alex pulled out his stethoscope and was about to listen to Ardeth’s heart when Muta entered.

“My lord, you must tell us what happened?  We have the Book of the Dead and the Book of the Living and a ceramic jar.  Other than the four dead bodies and the cage there was nothing else in the cave.”  Muta needed to know so he could report to the council.

“Muta, his health first.”  Alex raised a hand to silence the warrior.

All this bombarded Ardeth, and then he realized no one had said where Nina was.  “Where is Nina?  Is she alright?”

Alex was the one to finally answer.  “Ardeth you’ve been unconscious for six days now.  So has Nina. However, while I couldn’t find anything wrong with you, she has lapsed into a coma.  I don’t know why.  I’ve had her to the hospital and ran all the tests.  Her brain activity is minimal and she’s on life support.” 

Ardeth started to get out of the bed.   “Take me to her, now.”

Alex stopped him.  “Ardeth calm down.  She’s in her room.  I had all the equipment needed brought to the house.  Cala is in with her now.  She is never left alone.”

“I want to see her.”

“Alright, but let me check you out first.  Then we will take you to her.”  Alex was a calming influence. 

Once he was fully examined Ardeth went to Nina’s room.  John and Alex followed, Muta was already there. 

“How long has she been like this?”  Ardeth sat in the chair next to her bed and touched her hand.

“Just after the two of you were settled in your rooms.  I was checking you out when Jaleel came for me saying Nina stopped breathing.  I used CPR to get her breathing again then we took her to the hospital since we didn’t have life support equipment here.”  Alex put his hand on Ardeth’s shoulder.  “Like with you, I cannot find anything physically wrong with her.  However, you can see here…”  Alex went to the machine that monitored her brain waves. “There is very little brain activity.” 

“Have you contacted her family yet?”  Ardeth looked tired as if the world had just ended to spite his efforts.

“No, we were hoping you would come around and you did.”  John was across the bed from Ardeth.

The other’s continued to explain things but it was all lost to Ardeth.  His thoughts were on Nina.  Alex shuffled the others out when he realized Ardeth was not listening to them.  Ardeth stayed with Nina for hours.  Finally Muta went in to find out what had happened at the cave.  Ardeth described what he knew about the abduction and what little he knew about what happened in the cave.  Basically he only remembered watching Nina capture Imhotep in the jar using the Book of the Dead, being cut down from his bonds and telling Nina she did the right thing, then everything went black until he woke up in his bed.  He left out the ‘I love you.’ part it was too painful to think about.

Muta wasn’t happy with the little Ardeth had known but at least he knew now he did the right thing in taking the canteen to one of the Medjai protected locations.  Imhotep was trapped and under Medjai control once more.  This would stay the council for the time being.

When every one had left the room Ardeth leaned close to Nina.  “I’m sorry, Nina.  I should not have turned away from my feelings.  I should not have shown them too you then withdrew.  If my life was my own I would spend every minute with you.  I do love you.  I love you more than life.”  He kissed her gently then laid his head down on the bed next to her.

John and Cala brought Ardeth some dinner and try to get him to return to his own bed but he would not hear of it.  For four days he stayed by her side.  Cala brought him his toiletries, clean cloths, and food.  Ardeth would only wash and take care of him self as long as someone was sitting with Nina.  He read to her and talked to her.  One time when Alex came in Ardeth asked him if people in comas could hear what was going on around them.  Alex told him there was no proof one way or the other, so Ardeth continued to read and speak to her. 

Several times he would drift to sleep and dream of her.  She was holding him and he was tired of life, then their souls touched and he was rejuvenated.  He would wake his head resting on her bed as he sat next to it.

Muta had returned and went straight to Ardeth with news from the council.  “They have agreed.  She is Medjai now.”  He had hoped the news would cheer Ardeth up some but it didn’t.  Ardeth knew they agreed only because they thought she would die and wished to show respect to the woman who saved their leader’s life twice and captured the creature.

In the middle of the night around three o’clock in the morning Nina began to choke.  Ardeth didn’t know what to do so he pressed the alarm button on the intercom and returned to her side.  She had opened her eyes and continued to choke.  Alex arrived first since his room was directly across the hall.

“Alex help her, she’s choking.”  Ardeth was on the verge of panicking when John came in the room and pulled Ardeth out of the way.

“Nina, calm down, don’t fight the tubs.  Look at me, when I tell you I want you to breathe out as hard as you can.”  Alex was taking the tape that held the breathing tubes in place off Nina’s face.  When Cala came in Alex called to her “Cala come help me.  Get that tub over there, help me sit Nina up and hold the tub in front of her.”  Cala was taking classes to be a nurse and Alex often was glad for her help when some one here needed his services.  Once all the tape was removed Alex again instructed Nina to breathe out hard when he told her too.  Just after the tube pushed air into Nina’s lungs he gave the word and Nina did as instructed while Alex gently pulled the tube out.  Once the tube was out Nina began to vomit bile.  “It’s okay that’s normal.  Try and control it.”  

Ardeth returned to the bed standing next to Alex.  Nina gained control and the heaving from her insides stopped.  She looked up at Ardeth and tried to speak.  In a wispy, crack voice she said “You’re alive.”

“Nina, you must not try and talk just yet.  Those tubes have been in you for almost ten days.  Just shake and node your head.”  Alex and Cala set her back down.  “Are you in any pain?”  

She nodded and placed her hand on her throat.

“Okay that one I knew.  Are you in pain any place else?”

Nina shook her head, indicating no.

“Good.  This is what I want you to do. You need to rest a while, give your throat some time to heal and you to gain some strength.  No one, …” Alex looked around the room, everyone was there.  “and I mean, NO ONE, is going to bother you during that time.  Some one will be with you at all times.  If you need water or anything indicated here.”  He pulled out a card with pictures of a glass of water, a toilet, food, and other such things.  “Do not try and speak.  Do you understand this?”

Nina nodded.

“Okay, Ardeth I suppose you are going to stay here.   Cala will come back in an hour at which time you will go to your bed and rest.  If you give Cala a difficult time on this issue I will have Muta, Jaleel, and Naji take you to your room and tie you to your bed.  Do you understand this?”  Alex was worried about Ardeth not getting any real rest.

“Yes. I understand Alex.”

“Everyone else get out.”  Alex left and the other’s all followed.

Ardeth stood at Nina’s side and held her hand.  “I thought I lost you.”

Nina smiled and shook her head.  She then pointed to the glass of water.

“Of course.”  Ardeth poured some and helped her sit up to drink it.  Nina had a hard time swallowing, but managed.  When she was again settled Ardeth asked, “Do you remember anything?”

Nina nodded.

“All of it?” Ardeth sat next to her on the bed.

Nina nodded again.

“What I said?”

Nina looked at him while she thought about how to answer.  She then made a heart shape over her chest.

“I meant it, I love you.”  Ardeth paused.  “I should have died.  I didn’t want to do so without telling you.  I should have died.”  Nina made the heart again on her chest then made one on his chest.  Ardeth smiled and watched over her as she fell asleep.

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