|The Embodiment of Evil
Author: Hannalore Dayne PM
The soul is your inner self, your untouchable core... but what... if someone could touch it? Steal it? Use it?Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Angst - Chapters: 11 - Words: 13,422 - Reviews: 13 - Updated: 11-23-01 - Published: 07-22-01 - id: 365994
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Rick elbowed his way through the clusters of warriors, struggling to get to the front and find Evy. "'Scuse me," he muttered several times as the Med-jai gave him dark looks for his intrusion. Towards the front the Med-jai seemed to be upset over something. He wondered what was wrong. Pushing his way through more Med-jai, he emerged at the front next to the man he recognized as Ardeth's chief commander or something equally important. His eyes swept the room. "Evy?" he called, then stopped. The first person he saw in the room looked like a king or something. He squinted. One was dressed like an ancient pharaoh, and the other- Rick had to brace his hand on the commander's shoulder to keep his knees from giving out. The other had the head of a black dog. The commander glanced at his hand distastefully, and he quickly removed it. The two strange men were looking at each other silently. Rick got the funny feeling they were talking somehow. He tore his eyes away from the men and noticed two Ardeths. Ignoring how bizarre this whole scene was, he narrowed his eyes. "Hey!" he shouted. "What did you do with-" his heart stopped. "Evy?" he whispered, hoping hopelessly that her still form was just sleeping. He ran forward, not noticing as one of the Ardeths bowed his head in grief. He rushed up to his wife and took her wrist, feeling for a pulse. Nothing. Her pale hand flopped uselessly as he let it go. "Oh my-" his throat closed up. "Evy," he breathed, "not again, please, please…" She didn't move. He wrapped his arms around her, trying not to cry. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. There was nothing. He closed his eyes.
Ardeth's heart ached watching his friend. He swallowed and turned to Osiris, who was silently conversing with Anubis again. "Can't you do anything?" he pleaded, not caring that he was interrupting. Osiris looked at him.
Ardeth looked at him, bewildered. "Then why-?"
"I wait, mortal. There are events that must happen before things will be set right." Though Ardeth was nearly as upset as Rick, he thought he understood.
"How many events?"
Osiris smiled. "Only one, now. Watch," he said, pointing to Imhotep. Again, it was obvious that he had not heard a single word. Most likely that was what the God had intended.
Imhotep was staring at Rick bent over, shaking with suppressed sobs. There was something that this reminded him of… something… he looked at O'Connell. To his surprise, he felt empathy with the man, and then it came to him. He remembered what this was like: the second time Anck-su-namun had died. He had succeeded in rejoining her soul and her body, mere hours after her first death, and her beautiful eyes had opened when the Med-jai had entered, and reversed the spell. He had watched her soul trail away with heartsick, hopeless eyes, knowing that she was so close, yet so incredibly far. He had almost died of the sadness. But he had recovered… hadn't he? Wouldn't Rick O'Connell as well? He swallowed, averting his eyes. He did not want to watch. Because this time, it was his fault that a woman had died. And in the jumble of souls and bodies that accompanied resurrection, his mind equated Rick and Evy with himself and Anck-su-namun. And he couldn't bear it. Now he wished with all his heart that he had not been so bent on revenge, useless and painful as it had turned out to be. I'm sorry, he thought to both Evy and Anck-su-namun. I'm sorry…
Osiris gave a self-satisfied smile. "It is done," he told Ardeth. Anubis whuffed. Osiris ignored the tempestuous God and closed his eyes. "I will return shortly," he said, and was gone. Ardeth blinked unbelievingly. With all he had seen in the last 24 hours, he still could not quite believe any of it. He accepted for now, but after this was all over, he was sure he would be seriously conflicted with his beliefs. A second later, Osiris returned, and he was carrying Evy in his arms. Ardeth leaped forward. "Evelyn!" She smiled at him shakily as Osiris put her down.
"Do you understand what you must do?" he asked her kindly. She nodded.
"Yes, I think so," she said nervously. She glanced at Imhotep, who was staring at Rick and her body with an unreadable expression. "What about-?"
Osiris shook his head. "He will not harm you." Evy nodded in relief.
The Med-jai commander had overcome his shock and he now came up to them. "Uh, my chief," he said hesitantly, bowing to Ardeth. He glanced at Imhotep, bowing to him as well. "Greetings, Sha-bet," Ardeth said seriously. Sha-bet looked at him in relief. "My chief." He looked at Imhotep, who was not paying attention. "Who…" Ardeth pursed his lips. "An imposter, Sha-bet. Pay him no mind." Sha-bet nodded, preferring not to question. "Our chief, Ardeth Bay!" he shouted in Arabic to the rest of Med-jai, gesturing to Ardeth. They raised a great cry, relieved to know which was real. Ardeth shouted, "Quietly, my warriors," in Arabic, and they instantly silenced. He nodded appreciatively and turned to Evy. "If you would, Evelyn…" he looked at Rick meaningfully. Evy nodded, twisting her hands.
She walked over to her body and touched her hands to the temples. Osiris came up behind her and put his hands on her temples. Ardeth glanced at Rick. The grief-stricken man could not see Evy or Osiris now. Osiris intoned some words in Ancient Egyptian, speaking resonantly in that double-toned voice. Rick's head jerked up, and he looked wildly around for the speaker. Anubis looked at him apathetically. Evy gasped sharply, and her hands went through her body's head. In less than a second, she was sucked inside like water through a straw. It was, however, more than three seconds before she opened her eyes, fully adjusted to being alive once more. Rick's mouth fell open. "Evy?" he croaked. She smiled at him sympathetically. "Hi, Rick," she said. He laughed aloud and hugged her fiercely. "Oh, Evy," he said, tears streaming down his face now, tears of happiness. Imhotep stared, then hesitantly smiled as well. He said something in Ancient Egyptian that had a slightly reverent tone to it. Sha-bet made a warding sign and praised Allah aloud in the same moment. Ardeth's heart swelled, and he could not bring himself to break the moment by speaking. Even Anubis seemed to be smiling.
But he soon shook it off and said in growling tones, "Now it is my turn."
Osiris looked a bit apprehensively at his companion. "Gently, Anubis." Anubis did not respond. The jackal-headed God strode to Imhotep, who cringed but did not try to escape. Anubis reached inside Ardeth's body and yanked Imhotep out. The High Priest gasped as if falling into ice-cold water. Sha-bet swore and took a step back, and the rest of the Med-jai broke out in disturbed murmurs. Ardeth took an involuntary step forward as his body fell limply to the ground with no soul to support it. Evy and Rick looked on, concerned.
Anubis nodded towards the crumpled body. "It is all yours, mortal. Hurry, now." Eagerly Ardeth stepped forward. He touched his body's shoulder and felt the same rush of air that he had felt when the Gods transported him there. Almost instantly he opened his eyes, and realized that he was himself again. It was all he could do to keep from laughing aloud. He stood up from his uncomfortable position and shook himself vigorously. "Allah…" he sighed. It was so good to be solid again. Sha-bet watched him, wild-eyed, looking as if he had just seen a ghost. Well, Ardeth thought with slight amusement, perhaps he had.
Imhotep put up no resistance as Anubis threw him over his shoulder and Osiris came to stand by him. "I apologize for the trouble my subject has caused you all," the Lord of the Underworld said. "I can only hope that you will forgive me for allowing this mistake to slip by."
Rick shook his head. "I'm just glad that my wife isn't dead again." Osiris smiled.
"I can tell you for a fact that neither of you are ordained to enter my kingdom for quite some time."
Evy smiled back at the God. "That's very good to know, my Lord."
Osiris inclined his head. "Farewell, mortals." Anubis bowed intricately, surprising for such a rough person and for a person with a man on his shoulder. "May Ra favor you all." Then they were gone. Evy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Well," she said. "That was quite an adventure." Rick shook his head. "Evy, hon, you are quite the optimist." She smiled lovingly at him. "And you're a pessimist, I suppose?" He shrugged. "Well, I like to be prepared." Underneath their playful banter, Ardeth could see that they were both upset. They needed time to recover. "Med-jai," he said in Arabic, "let us return home. The O'Connells will be given treatment as my guests once more, and you all will be glad of it," he said severely as some of his warriors grumbled. "They will be leaving Egypt soon. We will make them feel welcome to come back. Come!" he said in English to the O'Connells. "We will return to my camp. You are welcome to stay another night." They nodded.
"Thank you, Ardeth," Evy said sincerely. Ardeth bowed. "It is nothing, for the favored one of a God," he said with a slight smile. Evy smiled at him and hugged her husband. Ardeth turned on his heel and strode towards his men, glad to be back in command again. He hated feeling helpless. "Thank you all for coming to help me," he said in their language. "We shall return now." They nodded with smiles for their chief, and started organizing the march.
Evy didn't want to leave Rick's embrace, but they had to go. Reluctantly she let him go and turned to follow the Med-jai. "I'm sorry I left you for a while," she said. "Me too," he said. "But it's okay. You're back now, right?" She nodded, frowning thoughtfully. "You know, Imhotep did all of this because of Anck-su-namun. He went crazy after she left him. Can you imagine being that in love?" she asked wonderingly. Rick put a hand on her cheek. "Yeah," he said softly. "I can."