Flight of Souls
Chapter 1 – Ancient Times

Author's notes – The prologue is long – it'll take a couple of chapters to get through all the background I ended up having to write. Please stay with me! I'll be commenting on similarities/differences with real history at the end of each chapter. I haven't done a huge amount of research, but I have done some! Please review, I look forward to your thoughts.

I don't own any of the characters portrayed in the Mummy or Mummy Returns, and I'm not making any money at this.

Anck-su-namun stood motionless as her handmaidens applied the paint to her body, creating the delicate black lines that would appear, from a distance at least, to be a mesh garment. Her eyes watched the process in the mirror. Yes, her body was perfect again. With a quick glance, she noted a girl entering the room, carrying a young child. Pregnancy had been a burden Anck-su-namun had no intention of bearing again. She'd borne a healthy son, who was now just over a year old. There would be no more. The child had secured her position in Pharaoh's affections, and she would be Queen in a few short weeks. She looked at her reflection again, and her lips tightened as she noted the women delicately painting lines to hide the stretch marks on her belly. No, there would be no more children. She knew the necessary herbs to be sure of that.

While she stood, she indifferently watched the nursemaid with her son. Young Prince Horemheb was strong and healthy. The Pharaoh was delighted with the boy. Prince Ramses, his son by his first wife was currently away from Thebes. Anck-su-namun said a quick silent prayer that he would have a chariot accident or something before returning home. No matter. When she was secure as Queen she'd see to it that something happened to him. Or Imhotep would.

Imhotep. Anck-su-namun closed her eyes as the handmaiden lined her eyelids with kohl. Since Seti was currently away from Thebes as well, she would take this opportunity to go to her lover. The passion she and Imhotep shared burned so bright that she could scarce draw breathe in his presence. It was becoming harder and harder to conceal their relationship from Pharaoh. Yet conceal it, she knew they must. Their plan was still unfolding. In a few weeks she and Seti would be married, and she would be Queen of Egypt. After that, she and Imhotep would plot the death of Seti's heir, Prince Ramses. Imhotep did not think it necessary to kill Ramses's wife, Princess Nefertari, but Anck-su-namun disagreed. Nefertari hated Anck-su-namun, and rightly so, she mused. After all, Anck-su-namun and her lover planned to kill Nefertari's husband. And, after a decent interval during which Anck-su-namun's son would be declared Pharaoh's heir, she and Imhotep planned to kill Pharaoh himself. Life would then be as she wished it, Anck-su-namun thought dreamily. She would be Queen Regent for her son's sake until he grew old enough to rule on his own. She and Imhotep would be together without fear of discovery, for who would deny the widowed Queen the right to take a lover? Together they would wield absolute power over Egypt.

Eying the baby again, Anck-su-namun fought the urge to laugh out loud. Yes, Seti was delighted with the strong, healthy prince. As was Imhotep. Both men believed themselves to be the father of the boy. As for Anck-su-namun, she honestly did not know which one actually was. It served her purpose, however, to tell each man what he wanted to hear.

Young Horemheb began to fuss and Anck-su-namun narrowed her eyes. "Aset," she snapped, "take him away!"

Just then another girl entered the room. "I'll take him, Aset," she said, reaching for the child. The nurse handed the boy to her. He chortled happily and reached for the dangling gold and lapis earrings that she wore. "No, no, little brother," the girl said smiling, "those are not for you."

"Thank you, Tiye," Anck-su-namun said coolly. "You have a way with children."

Princess Tiye, returned Anck-su-namun's cool smile, her odd golden eyes meeting Anck-su-namun's dark ones. "I enjoy them," she replied to her father's mistress. With a slight nod, Tiye left the room with the baby."

Anck-su-namun returned to the contemplation of herself in the mirror. Young Princess Tiye was another of Seti's daughters. Like Nefertari, she was the child of one of Pharaoh's concubines. Tiye would be spared when it came time to thin the ranks of Seti's possible heirs. She could be relegated to the nursery and given the task of bringing up the boy prince. As she was only fifteen years of age, she was young enough to be molded however Anck-su-namun and Imhotep chose.

High Priest Imhotep waited impatiently for Anck-su-namun. They had few opportunities to be together, and he was eager to be alone with her. He prowled the chamber restlessly, waiting for her arrival. Finally, the door opened and the gorgeous woman strolled in, clad only in a loincloth, some jewelry, a wig decorated with gold and silver strands, and some paint. At first gingerly, and then with increasing passion, Imhotep slid his hand over her shoulder as they kissed, unknowingly smearing the body paint.

Suddenly they hear the unmistakable sound of Pharaoh's arrival. Quickly Imhotep concealed himself as Anck-su-namun posed by the large statue of a cat, hoping to seem as though she'd been waiting for Seti all along. As Imhotep watched in horror, however, Seti noticed at once the smeared paint on his mistress's shoulder. The time for deception had passed. It was now time for action. Quickly he stepped forward and drew his sword.

Anck-su-namun knew with horrified clarity that her carefully laid plans were now in shambles. Seti still breathed, but he could not now be allowed to live. Not only had Imhotep attacked him, but also Seti knew that she herself had been unfaithful. If Seti did not die, then both Imhotep and Anck-su-namun would die horrible deaths. Grabbing a knife, she stabbed it into the Pharaoh with all her strength.

Imhotep's priests rushed forward to pull him away. Anck-su-namun heard the commotion in the outer chamber and knew that the Medjai would be there within moments. They could not both escape. Imhotep was pulling against his priests, calling for her. "Only you can resurrect me!" she hissed. Their future together might yet be saved if he could escape. The priests pulled Imhotep from the chamber, and Anck-su-namun turned to face the Medjai as they entered the room. As they paused, shocked at the sight of Pharaoh's body on the floor, she spat "My body is no longer his temple," and used the bloody knife in her hand to end her own life. The diversion caused by her suicide giving Imhotep the time he needed to escape.

Imhotep raced through the corridors, surrounded by his terrified priests. Suddenly, he stopped. Princess Tiye stood there, holding the young child, her eyes staring, confusion written on her face. Swiftly he reached out and grasped her arm. "You must come with me," he ordered. Confusion was replaced by alarm as he hustled her and the baby she held out of the palace.

Author's Notes:

Nefertari was the wife of Ramses II, who was also known as Ramses the Great. He reigned as Pharaoh 1290-1224 BC. There are some differences of opinion on what Nefertari's parentage was, though she seems to have been of royal blood. Many scholars think she was a daughter of Seti I. In Mummy Returns, she is called Seti's daughter, so that's what I went with – making her the child of one of his concubines. This makes her Ramses's half sister. It was pretty common for the Egyptian Royalty to marry their siblings, so her being both Seti's daughter and his daughter-in-law is perfectly plausible.

Princess Tiye isn't a made up character, per se – although I know very little about the real princess. One website listed Seti's daughters as Henutmire and Tia. Henutmire was listed as being the daughter of Tuya, Seti's wife. (Not sure that he had more than one). There was no such distinction made for Tia, so I chose to have her be the child of a concubine. A few generations back there was an Egyptian queen named Tiye, which is probably pronounced very similarly. Therefore I chose to use this spelling for my Egyptian heroine, and the more modern looking spelling, Tia, for my more modern heroine. This way it will be easier to tell them apart, and still emphasize the similarity. It seems logical to me that Seti's daughter might be named after his great-great grandmother. Because I know nothing else about the real princess, I felt free to make up a character for her.

One more historical note – Seti I apparently died of natural causes after a 14-year reign. He wasn't actually murdered by his mistress and her lover or anyone else. But hey, let's not ruin a good story by confusing it with fact!