By May It Be
~~ Authors Notes: Ok, this chapter took WAAAAAAAAAY too long to get posted and I'm MAJORLY sorry!!!! -_-;; But like I said this story is starting to get away from me and I am open to any ideas you all might have! ^_^ Any comments at all of course are always welcome! Lol ok sankyou again all of you for reviewing and staying with me throughout this mess I call a story and I hope you like this next installment as well. Ja!
Disclaimer: I do not own 'The Mummy', 'The Mummy Returns' or any of the characters belonging to them. (Just the bad guys, 'Heneb, Andrahi, Taniif, Hassan and other misc. characters that you don't recognize.) So please do not sue me I have no money this is just for twisted entertainment purposes only. However, the ideas and plot for this are solely mine. Do not take them please, ask first if you want them and can do better justice to it. Sankyou!
Chapter Eight……… "One Soul, Two Problems."
"Hold him tight! Don't let him hurt himself!" Evelyn barked at the three kneeling Med-jai surrounding the pale thrashing figure on the floor.
The three men complied silently, each trying to immobilize their leader yet at the same time not harm him further. "Keep him still! Please!" she practically begged, trying unsuccessfully to keep a firm grip on Ardeth's shoulders. "Ardeth! Ardeth please calm down."
The poisoned Med-jai however, could not hear their pleas. His ears were filled instead with the swift sound of his tainted blood coursing painfully through his frozen veins and his heavy gasping breaths.
Agony shot up his spine and pressed harshly down on his chest, freezing his pounding heart in his bosom. Burning chills ran their course through his troubled form lighting his blood up with fire, trying desperately to rip painful cries from his raw throat. Ardeth's vision was blurred and marred by phantoms of black flames and white starbursts, a steady ache forming behind his frantically moving eyes.
He strangled a cry that broke for air at the torments and pains only he could hear and feel, his shaking hands fisting tightly in the blankets about him; back arched painfully up from the ground.
"Ardeth!?" Evy called, soothingly running her hand over his sweat peppered forehead and down the side of his face, tears starting to prick her eyes. "Ardeth… Hold him still!" she wept, snapping again at the Med-jai as Ardeth once again lurched unnaturally in their grasps. Oh God, please help him!…
"Blast it! Where are the healers?!" One of the men called in Arabic, snapping his head towards the tent's entrance as if he could will them to suddenly appear. The slightly younger man next to him shook his head fiercely, his face wrappings falling about his neck as his fingers tightened around Ardeth's ankle. "They will be here as soon as they can Sebil, Hassan is the fastest runner we have! Now please just hold the master still!" He ordered his comrade, returning his own attention to the withering form of their king. His thin brows knitted as he noticed the small, discolored blotches under their fingertips.
"Mrs. O'Connell?" the young Med-jai questioned, catching her blurry almond eyes and redirected her gaze to the small finger sized bruises. "We are hurting him…" he whispered in a somewhat broken voice, his eyes becoming glazed and distant.
Evelyn's own shadowed eyes widened at the dark smudges, looking back down to Ardeth's face quickly.
Evelyn's head snapped up at the familiar call, her wide eyes locking on the tent's flaps as they flew open and her husband, brother and Taniif all came charging in.
Rick fell to his knees across from his wife, carefully placing his hand on his downed friend's unclad shoulder as it withered under his grasp. "What happened? Why did he react?" He asked nervously, looking Ardeth over as another sharp gasp pulled from the Med-jai's tight throat.
Evy shook her head fervently, her long chocolate curls flying about her face and shoulders as a single tear escaped and slithered down her flushed cheek.
"I don't know! I—don't—know!!" she replied, swallowing hard, trying to calm herself enough to speak. "We—we brought him in to rest when he suddenly started gasping, like he couldn't breathe! He collapsed and started thrashing about, and—and I was afraid he would hurt himself! So I, we—we tried… Oh Rick its too soon!!" She cried, the floodgates finally bursting open and the tears she tried to hold back began to tumble unheeded.
She threw her face suddenly in her fragile hands, her soft palms becoming increasingly damp.
"Jonathan—" Rick started to ask, but was cut off by a raised hand and a swift nod from the Englishman.
Quietly he knelt next to his baby sister and took her in his warm arms, soothingly rubbing her back as she cried into his shoulder.
"It's to soon, Jonathan… its just too soon," she mumbled, unconsciously mirroring Taniif's previous thoughts, her small hand fisting in her brother's white shirt as he rocked her. "We can't loose him yet!" She hiccupped, wrapping her free arm about his thin frame to tighten her hold.
"It'll be alright old mum, you'll see. He's a strong one," Jonathan whispered in reply, starting to gently pet her hair, keeping his own eyes averted from the thrashing Med-jai leader. "He'll pull through…. somehow." He breathed the last word more to himself then her. "He always does… he's.. Ardeth—" Jonathans voice broke on the whisper, placing a gentle kiss to his sisters forehead and closing his eyes.
"I don't understand; it's too early for him to be reacting this badly to the poison. The healers said he had longer!" O'Connell said, taking up Evy's failed attempt to calm down their hurting companion.
"I know, my friend." Taniif replied, his voice barely above a whisper as his own coal eyes began to darken and his lashes moisten. Please, Allah, do not take him from us! Please!…
"Sit him up!" the old graying healer ordered as he and his companion burst into the tent, a dark blood colored elixir recently warmed by the camp's fires nestled protectively in his wrinkling hands.
"What?" Rick started to ask. Up down, up down, make up your minds!
"He must drink this. Sit him up!" he ordered again, stiffly kneeling next to Taniif.
The Med-jai and O'Connell, upon being barked at again, set about following the command, gently shifting their leader while still holding him tightly. The apprentice healer scurried to the opposite side of the elder one, placing the large basin of water and fresh rags he had been carrying down on the sand next to him, then leaned in to help sit the struggling Ardeth up.
"Come on buddy, hold still," Rick whispered, wrapping his arm around Ardeth's back and grasping his upper arm with his opposite hand, trying desperately to hold him stationary. Ardeth however, arched away from the contact with a strangled half-gasp/half-cry, trying to move away as if the very touch scorched his flesh worse then the most severe fire.
"Hold him still please!" The healer quipped, taking a firm hold of the Med-jai leaders chin.
"We are trying!" Sebil snapped in Arabic, gritting his teeth with a hiss as Ardeth's flailing foot caught him under the chin. "He may be poisoned but he is not yet dead. He is still as strong as ever!" he replied, pouncing forward and pinning Bay's leg down, wrapping his hands above the knee forcing the whole of his weight into the hold. He was too occupied to notice the wince his words received from the others.
Carefully, but forcefully, the graying man pried Ardeth's jaw open and placed the jar to his cold lips, forcing the warm liquid into him.
Ardeth choked at first, gagging and spurting as the unexpected drink worked its way down his parched throat. However, he soon grew accustomed to it—instead, needing it, sucking down the overly sweet elixir almost faster then the healer could pour it. His struggles began to dwindle and die down as he drank more and more of the potion, his weak hand instead trying to find its way up to the glass to pour the drink faster.
"There." The healer sighed contentedly, lowering the jar as the Med-jai polished off the last of the nectar, a satisfied and relieved look creeping into his eyes. "Lay him back down, he will rest soundly now." He ordered, lowering Ardeth's head gently as the others moved to fulfill the command.
"What set it off?" O'Connell questioned, dabbing at his forehead.
However brief the struggle, it had been fierce; delirium and adrenaline providing Ardeth with more strength then presumably possible.
The apprentice healer, once the Med-jai leader was again arranged comfortably in his bed, dipped one of the clean rags he had brought into the cool water and gently began to bath his master's sweat peppered face. His hand froze suddenly and his eyes widened as the cloth traveled over Ardeth's cheek and jaw, his fingers suddenly going numb.
"T-Ta-Taniif?" the boy stuttered, removing the cloth, starring transfixed at the thing.
"Yes?" Taniif replied, halting the elder healer's response to Rick's question, shifting his gaze to the shaking boy and what held the child's attention so. With a gasp, his own eyes widened. By Allah! What new devilry is this?!?
"Taniif? What is it?" Rick asked, shifting closer to take look. What the—?! His fingers around Ardeth's hand tightened reflexively.
It was not so much the rag that held them all so speechless but the small dark hairs that were lightly flecked about it, and the now hairless side of Ardeth's jaw. Silently, Taniif stretched out his shaking fingers and brushed them gently along his king's jaw, watching with widening eyes as his friend's dark, trimmed goatee simply flaked off like so many grains of sand.
"How is this possible?!"
~~~~~( "Andrahi?" 'Heneb begged, hugging his beloved cousins' limp form tightly, ear to his too still chest; his eyes were closed fiercely against the wicked proof in front of him that assured his fears. "Please Andrahi, awaken!" he pleaded again, his voice practically breaking.
"'H—Heneb?" Gael spoke softly, he and another kneeling sadly across from their grieving comrade and his dead cousin. "'Heneb, he is gone." Gael said, trying unsuccessfully to make eye contact with his friend. He needed to understand, he needed to see the truth or he too would be lost.
'Heneb weakly shook his head, his eyes latching onto the almost peaceful look upon Andrahi's face. "I knew— I knew he would not make it. He—He didn't believe me but I knew..." he mumbled, his eyebrows knitting up.
"He was too young, too weak. The book overpowered him and devoured his soul and now he is lost!" 'Heneb cried, gazing up sadly at his two kneeling friends, almost insulted that they too were not crying.
Idhren shook his head remorsefully, placing his hand on 'Heneb's shaking shoulder. "He knew the consequences of failure, 'Heneb. He knew he would die and his soul would be lost. He did it for you."
"No!" 'Heneb cut him off shaking his head in denial.
"He did it so you would not have to," Idhren continued. "So that you would be free!"
"Do you not understand? Now that his binding has failed the task falls to me, I am to suffer the binding now! His death was meaningless!" 'Heneb rebuked, holding tighter to Andrahi's body, a slight breeze cooling his tears.
The room about the four suddenly went deathly silent, not a sound outside their own and the crackling of the flames echoed in the room. 'Heneb was so lost in his pain that he did not notice nor care as to the silence or its reason, nor did Gael and Idhren.
"Don't you dare say that, 'Heneb! Nothing Andrahi EVER did was meaningless! His death was honorable, and true and done out of love. Isn't that enough?"
"How can you say this to me and not grieve?! How? Did you not care for him and love him as all others who are Med-jai did? Ho—" 'Heneb's torrent of accusations ceased as he looked up at his companions, seeing then for the first time tears unshed and welling in their eyes and his pain reflected in them.
However, that was not what gave him pause.
There was someone behind them. Someone he knew quite well indeed.
His white hands were clasped softly behind his back, his thick curtain of hair veiling over his thin shoulders and a large, gentle, comforting smile was upon his loving features; melting away any anger or hatred in 'Heneb's heart.
"Why do you cry?" he whispered, moving gracefully around Gael and kneeling in the soft sand before the grieving Med-jai.
"Y—you left," 'Heneb breathed in reply, still holding tightly to Andrahi's body, his eyes however transfixed upon the vision before him. The Med-jai and soldiers around the room all went to their knees, bowing low in respect and amazement, muttering prayers and praises to their gods respectively.
Andrahi laughed, his eyes alight and glittering; the action which usually brought comfort, however, now only succeeded in unnerving, coming from this disembodied being—this spirit. "Nonsense my dear cousin! I am here, am I not?"
Gael spoke then, pointing to the body still in the older cousin's grasp. "But, not there!" he said, looking almost in awe up at the shimmering white spirit of his friend.
The apparition turned to Gael, then to his own body and smiled once more, shaking his head gently. "It is only temporary, my heart still beats. It was simply part of the binding. Please do not grieve...I am well." He let out a small laugh. "Or rather I shall be once I return to my body."
With one last gentle smile, Andrahi moved forward, cupping his slender hands on either side of 'Heneb's face and placed a soft tingling kiss upon his brow in respect and brotherhood. "Be at peace," he whispered, his voice almost lost on the non-wind that suddenly blew by.
'Heneb sucked in a deep breath and closed his eyes as a pulsating calm washed over him from head to toe at the gentle pressure upon his forehead, the lines of worry melting away from his face. With an 'almost-smile', he opened his light orbs, noticing rather alarmingly the sudden absence of his cousins' spirit. "Andrahi?" he asked, looking about the room quickly, then down with a gasp as he felt the body in his arms shift.
The longhaired Med-jai clenched his closed eyes and shifted again. "Heneb?" Andrahi breathed, swallowing hard as he tried to sit up.
"A-aywa?" 'Heneb stuttered still in shock, leaning him up carefully.
"Help me to the alter. I must finish this before my strength gives way," Andrahi replied, turning his face towards his beloved cousin, his eyebrows knitting up as he opened his eyes.
A collective gasp rang through the room as his startling eyes were unveiled.)~~~~~
The night had fallen quickly once Ardeth had been settled and returned to sweet sleep. The healers had stayed for a few hours still, tending to his wounds and fever, doing all in their power to preserve his life. However, it was all for naught, and they knew it. Without the accursed antidote they simply could not save him.
About midnight, the group had diminished and retired at insistence from Taniif, each off to seek much need sleep. Taniif and O'Connell both stayed in their comrade's tent despite the old healers' orders to leave and find peace and rest of their own. While outside, armed guards stood ever ready and watchful, keeping good care of their master's safety.
Ardeth was calm and steady throughout the remainder of the night, never once more waking from his slumber. Rick and Taniif were both soothed and worried by this, for they did not know if it was a good, restful sleep or the exhausted, feeble sleep that creeps upon one when they are near death.
They did not stray from his side, long into the evening and unto the wee hours of the morn, each taking their turns at catching a few fleeting glimpses of sleep before their worry woke them again.
The cooking fires were just being lit the next morning when a disturbance startled everyone awake.
"Ahi! Ahi!" Hassan yelled as he came bursting into the tent with a vengeance, practically collapsing on the sand, his body hunched forward as he gasped in heavy fleeting breaths, his hands braced on his knees to support his weight.
Taniif bolted awake at the cries from his younger brother, quickly scrambling to his feet and running to the teen. "Hassan!? Hassan, what is it? What's wrong?" he questioned, placing a supporting hand on Hassan's back, alarmed by the young one's unusually wide eyes.
"Scouts—Hamunaptra—Army!!!" Hassan cried between gasps, falling to his knees finally, his hands planted in the sand to keep himself from toppling over.
His brother knelt next to him, rubbing a soothing palm across his back to calm his breathing. "Hassan please, slow down and catch your breath," he replied, growing ever more worried, looking up as O'Connell shifted nervously over to the two, however, staying close enough to Ardeth's still form should the need arise.
"What is it?" O'Connell asked, locking eyes with the elder brother.
Taniif shook his head with a Med-jai equivalent of a confused shrug, and then turned back to the younger Med-jai as he started to calm down.
"The scouts at Hamunaptra! They report spying an army approaching from the east under the glare of the sun! They could not discern what they were, for the light of dawn blinded them until they were nearly upon us. They are battling NOW at the great city! I ran all the way here to tell you and was nearly cut down myself. They need aid, ahi!" The little one informed, leaning back and latching onto his brother's arm, his youthful chest still heaving.
Taniif's eyes went wide in worry and surprise. He scrubbed his battle-worn face with his free hand and sighed. "Not now!" he spat, glancing at Ardeth's still and silent form between his fingers before he released his little brother's grip upon his arm and stood.
"Hassan, take your message to Sadeik and inform all you pass on the way to draw arms and prepare for battle!" Taniif ordered, helping the young one to his feet and turning to the stunned American still seated upon the sandy floor.
"Ah—aywa, ahi, but there is one more thing you must know," Hassan stuttered, turning from his sibling to stare sadly at his master's weak body.
"What is it?" O'Connell asked suddenly, shifting nervously, placing his hand upon the pistol holstered below his shoulder, ready to protect his Med-jai friend.
"The men, the army, they are dressed in the same evil garb as those who attacked you in Cairo and poisoned the Master," he informed.
"What?! Son of a—" O'Connell cursed, hurrying to his feet and pulling his twin pistols free, ready to kick some badguy butt.
"Shukran, Hassan," said Taniif. "Now please go inform the others. Hurry!"
"Aywa!" Hassan quipped with a fast bow, then burst from the tent, his warning yells ringing clear as he ran.
Ardeth's third in command threw the tent flap open and grabbed the nearest surprised guard, barking orders at him. "You, see to it that all injured and sick men from previous attacks are evacuated." He pushed the warrior away, who then stumbled on to fulfill his duty with a curt nod. "You two, find the O'Connell's and bring them back here with three of the best warriors you pass on the way to move the Chief to safety. You!" he yelled pointing to the last one. "Go to the meeting hall and inform the elders of the attack and have them and the healers evacuated as well. Get EVERYONE moving NOW!!" he demanded in Arabic drawing his blade before he turned back to O'Connell.
"Let's get going." O'Connell said having not understood the other's previous words, and started out the door but was halted by Taniif's hand upon his chest.
"No my friend. I can not ask you and your loved ones to join us in this battle," he said quietly, his head and gaze lowered.
"What?! You don't seriously expect me to stay behind while you all run off to get yourselves killed? When I decided to join you I signed on for everything, battles and all!" Rick yelled back angered, his grip on his guns tightening.
Taniif nodded. "I understand, my friend, and in normal circumstance I would welcome you among my warriors just as Ardeth does. Nevertheless, these are not normal circumstances. I need you and your family to stay here and protect Ardeth until he can be evacuated with the others. Please O'Connell, there is no other I would rather entrust our king's life to then you and your family," he asked, locking eyes with the light haired American.
Rick opened his mouth to argue, but then closed it with an angered sigh. "I am sooo going to hurt you for this when you get back." He grinned, lightly punching the Med-jai in the chest.
Taniif chuckled, placing his hand on O'Connell's shoulder with his own small grin. "I'll take that as a yes," he replied before he turned and started off to the battle.
"Hey! Don't you dare die before I get my chance at ya!" O'Connell called after him, his grin widening as Taniif casually waved his hand over his shoulder, not the least bit worried by the threat, continuing to bark out orders at all he passed.
Shaking his head with a sigh, Rick holstered one of his guns and returned into the tent to wait for Evy and the guards.
'aywa' Egyptian Arabic for 'yes'
'shukran' Egyptian Arabic for 'thank you'