Loved and Lost

Chapter Five

Mummy fanfic by Katie Sullivan
Rated PG-13

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Now that Seti was dead, in the eyes of believers he was Osiris.  His son, the next Pharaoh, was now Horus.  Since Osiris was Imhotep's department, he was forced to put aside his anger and grief and conduct the funerary ceremony for the man he now hated more than any other.

He was to play no part in Anck-su-Namun's rites.  The deaths of non-Pharaohs fell into Anubis' jurisdiction, anyway, but his beloved would be buried unblessed as punishment for her crimes.  She would be mummified and placed in an unadorned tomb, buried as the commoner she had been at birth.  There were far worse punishments that could be inflicted upon the dead, Imhotep knew.  She was relatively lucky.  With her body preserved, her ka could theoretically live forever.  If, of course, she passed the test of Anubis' scales.  That was a stipulation even the Book of the Dead couldn't get around.  If the deceased's heart was heavier then the feather of Ma'at, their soul would be devoured by a monstrous creature, and that person would cease to exist.  How could a heart weighed down with the murder of the gods' representative on earth possibly pass such a test? 

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In a dreamy, almost drugged state, Anck-su-Namun walked at Anubis' side.  Her feet were light and her movements fluid, as if she were walking on air.  She should have been afraid.  She should have been in despair.  Instead she was completely calm, to the point of lethargy.  Whatever was to happen would happen.  She was past the point of bargaining and negotiating.  Her fate was no longer in her hands...but in her heart.

The great jackal-headed god had her stand beside a giant scale.  The contraption was made of gleaming gold, and one side contained a billowing ostrich plume.  A woman, beautiful as only a goddess can be beautiful, stood beside it:  Ma'at.   Green-faced Osiris himself sat on a throne, overseeing the proceedings.  The tall crown made him appear larger than the rest, or perhaps he really was.  Size was impossible to judge in this cloudy world of Nothingness.

Anck-su-Namun dimly realized that Seti should be around here somewhere, but there was only herself and the deities.  No other souls around.  Neither Seti nor Imhotep.   She knew Seti was no longer living in the mortal world.  As for Imhotep...here she felt no concern, only a swelling of love.  What would be, would be.

"Anck-su-Namun," intoned Thoth, the ibis-headed god of writing and knowledge.   "Thine heart will now be weighed."  He stretched out a feathery hand, and although he was not touching her, she felt him slowly draw her heart from her ghostly form.  She felt no pain or discomfort.  It felt like little more than exhaling.  She blinked serenely.

Thoth placed the glowing shape of her heart on the empty side of the scale.  It briefly dipped, raising the feather of Ma'at.  She felt no alarm, no disappointment.   She felt nothing.

The scale teetered uncertainly, as if it had a will of its own and was reluctant to make a decision.

Suddenly, Hathor was there.  She did not "appear," exactly.  She simply was not there one moment, and there the next.  The cow-headed goddess had a voluptuous body beneath a softly-glowing white gown, projecting a sensuality appropriate for the goddess of love.  "This woman is my servant," she intoned in a voice like silk.  "What she hath done, she hath done in my name."

The scale came to rest, perfectly balanced.

Still, Anck-su-Namun felt nothing.  No relief.  No joy.  Just serenity.

Anubis raised his hand.  "It is so.  Thine entrance to the Afterworld is granted," he proclaimed.

 

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Imhotep glanced up at the great statue of Anubis, feeling the stone god's gaze upon him.  He knew the gods would not approve.  He didn't care.

He strained against the stone case at the base of the statue, and with a satisfying *chunk* it slid open.  His hands trembling, he reached in and pulled out the heavy black book.  It radiated a supernatural chill, and he suppressed the urge to drop it.   Nothing would stop him now.

He hurried deeper into the necropolis of Hamunaptra, clutching the book to his chest.   His golden-skinned priests stood in silence, encircling the altar where the breathless form of Anck-su-Namun lay in state.  A row of canopic jars stood beside her, containing her still-fresh internal organs.  Imhotep stepped up to her, fighting tears.  Soon, he reminded himself.  Soon her eyes would open and once more look upon him with love.  Soon her limbs would move to embrace him and her heart would beat in time with his.  Soon she would be his, completely, and he would be hers.   Soon.

He twisted the key on the cover seal, and the book clicked open, releasing a puff of otherworldly air that made him shiver.  There it was:  the spell to revive the dead.  He swallowed and began to read, careful not to misspeak.  The other priests droned a chant, fearful of the terrible forces they were disturbing.

The sacred pool began to bubble and seethe.  Imhotep's heart raced.  It was working!  He kept reading.

A ghostly black sheet of...something...rose from the pool and lazily rose into the air, drifting on unseen currents of stale tomb air.  As he read, it drew closer and closer, until it stretched out and was absorbed into Anck-su-Namun's corpse.  She gasped for air, her eyes wide with fright.  Trembling, she stared up at him, begging for him to help her.  He steeled himself for the next part of the ceremony, putting the contents of those canopic jars back where they belonged.  He readied the ceremonial knife.  Soon, Anck-su-Namun...

Suddenly, there were Med-Jai everywhere.  How they tracked him there, Imhotep would never know.  All he knew was that they interrupted the ritual, and before he could react Anck-su-Namun's spirit fled from her body again.  With an unearthly screech, it plunged back into the black depths of the pool.  The Med-Jai apprehended his priests and dragged him away from the altar.  He gave vent to a howl of frustration, rage and despair.  He had seen the woman he loved die twice, now.  It didn't get any easier.

They had failed to do the impossibly possible: raise the dead.  Yet for even attempting such blasphemy, their punishment would be severe.  Imhotep watched in speechless horror as the Med-Jai and priests of Anubis mummified his priests alive.   It was obvious part of his punishment was watching the gruesome process.   He tried but could not tear his eyes away from the bloody spectacle.  These were not just his subservient priests; they were his friends.  They had risked everything to aid his relationship with Anck-su-Namun...and lost.

As Imhotep watched the hellish scene, he wondered.  What had gone wrong?  How could love lead to such suffering?  And what punishment awaited him?  The Med-Jai were renowned for their ruthlessness.  They would spare no mercy on him.   Whatever they had planned would definitely be worse than what his priests were enduring.  He couldn't imagine...didn't want to imagine what that could be.

Then he remembered the Hom-Dai.  It was such an unthinkably horrible curse that it had never been inflicted on anyone, even the worst of criminals and blasphemers.  He didn't even know why it existed.  But that had to be it.  There was nothing worse.

And so it was.  They were scraping the sacred carvings off the sarcophagus.   It was the Hom-Dai.  He trembled in fear.  No...

Imhotep was put in the sarcophagus, wrapped tightly in bandages.  He was utterly helpless.  The Med-Jai had removed his tongue so he couldn't even scream.  He couldn't move.  He couldn't do anything but wait.

It couldn't get any worse!

Then he heard a skittering, sickening sound through the bandages, and immediately recognized it:  scarab beetles.

It had just gotten worse.

 

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Anck-su-Namun was in the Afterworld, awaiting the arrival of her true love.  But he never came.  Time was impossible to judge in the Afterlife, but she had to have been there longer than any human life span.  She didn't understand.  What could have happened?  The gods wouldn't tell her.

There was supposed to be no suffering of any kind in the Afterworld, but Anck-su-Namun was besieged by worry for Imhotep.  There were two possibilities.  Either he had failed the test of the scales and had been devoured for all time by the monster, or he had been inflicted with the Hom-Dai, the living death.  Either possibility broke her heart.

Finally her primary ally, Hathor, grew weary of her pleading and pestering.   "My child, be at peace," the goddess said, holding out a delicate hand.   "Thy love will be with thee again."

"But when?" Anck-su-Namun pressed.  She wanted to cry, but such a thing was entirely unheard of in the Afterworld.

"Someday," the cow-headed deity said cryptically.  "But heedest thou my warning.  Be not afraid to risk returning here to prevent him from doing the same."

"I don't understand.  Return?  Here?  What are you talking about, my goddess?"

"Thou wilt know when the time comes," the goddess said.  "Yet ye will not remember," she said softly with a look of regret. "But such is the way of things.  Now go, and be content in the knowledge that thine love loves thee still, and ye will be together again in time."

"Yes, O goddess," Anck-su-Namun said with a sigh, bowing as she departed.

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And so they waited through the millenia...

 

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(Which of course brings us up to the twentieth-century events of The Mummy.   Read my fics "In a Mummy's Voice,"  "Through a Mummy's Eyes" and "To Begin Again" (in that order) for my take on the rest of the saga.)

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