Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil watched as the others laughed.
“Being immortal does give one a long range outlook on things,” Anubis commented while pacing the room. “We can’t get complacent though. Those men can not be allowed to get their hands on anything that might further their agenda.”
“What does this say?” Jamil motioned to the spell. “I don’t mean for you to cast it or anything like that.”
Thoth snorted. “We couldn’t cast the spell even if we wanted to. There are preparations and sacrifices that need to be done first before someone could even think about doing it.”
“Sacrifices?” He hoped Thoth didn’t mean what he thought he meant.
Anubis slid his hand up Jamil’s arm to grasp the back of his neck and urged him to move closer. Jamil eased into Anubis’ side, needing the safety Anubis inspired.
“Just like you’re thinking. I wonder if the guards were their attempts to please the gods, so that they would help them find the book.” Anubis rubbed his thumb along Jamil’s jaw while talking to the rest.
“If they were, then they did something wrong. The gods turned their backs on their pleas.” Thoth took the book from Jamil then wrapped it in the leather. “Now that we know what this is, I’ll take it to our library.”
Kellan eyed him. “Don’t hide it. Put it in with the other copies of the Book of the Dead I found already. I don’t want to have to search the whole place to find it.”
“Yes, sir.” Thoth bowed slightly and Bastet rolled his eyes.
“Stop teasing him, Thoth,” Bastet ordered. “You know how much he hates the way we let the library go.”
Thoth snorted. “Thank the gods, you fell in love with him then, Bastet. Our library will be organized while we’re out saving the world.”
Anubis reached over and punched Thoth. “You’re being an ass. Kellan actually is doing us a favor by going through the books and artifacts we’ve collected over the centuries. He’s finding things we’d forgotten about—or didn’t realize we had. Once he has the catalogue done, I’m sure we’ll be shocked at what we have.”
“I’m sorry.” Thoth patted Kellan’s shoulder. “Your job is something I’d never want to do. I’d go out of my mind digging through all those dusty tomes and weird artifacts.”
Jamil straightened. “What kind of artifacts do you have?”
“Things that should be in museums,” Kellan muttered as he glared at Thoth.
“We can’t risk the wrong people getting a hold of them, Kellan. We’ve discussed this before.” Bastet shook his head.
“But you have things from lost civilizations that modern people know nothing about. If they could see these items in museums, they could learn about them.”
It sounded like an old familiar argument they’d had several times before. Jamil looked at Anubis who shrugged.
“I’m sure you would feel like Kellan does, but I’m with Bastet on this. The reason we have the artifacts is because of the danger they present to the rest of the world.” Anubis brushed a kiss over Jamil’s lips. “Maybe after you get done with your dig at Petra, you can come to Scotland and see our library.”
He stared up in Anubis’ dark eyes and felt something click inside his chest. It couldn’t be. He couldn’t feel like that after only knowing the man for a few days, and after listening to his story, could Jamil truly believe that Anubis was immortal? Or was he just a paranoid guy?
As weird as it might have sounded, Jamil didn’t feel as though he were in danger when he was with Anubis. In all honesty, he felt safe and that was saying a lot, considering men who were friends of Anubis surrounded him.
Lifting his hand, he cradled Anubis’ cheek. “I’d like that, though I won’t be done here for another year or so.”
Anubis nuzzled Jamil’s palm. “Lucky for you, I have all the time in the world.”
“All right, gentlemen. I’m glad to know you’re going to see each other after this is over and all that, but we have shit to do and dangerous people to find.” Thoth grimaced. “I changed my mind. Bastet, take the book and Kellan back to Scotland. With it in our collection, they’ll never be able to find it. Anubis and I will go in search of the men who want it.”
Jamil tilted his head and asked, “Why wouldn’t they be able to find your place in Scotland?”
“Have you ever seen that play Brigadoon where the town only appears for one night every hundred years?” Kellan waved his hands around as he inquired.
Frowning, Jamil shook his head. “No, I haven’t.”
“It’s not important that you have. All that’s important is to know that normal mortals can’t find our place easily. Plus Isis is usually there and sometimes Sekhmet is as well. There’s very few who could get the drop on either one of them. If they chose to challenge them, then they will learn why Isis and Sekhmet are the strongest of us all.” Bastet’s smile held a hint of evil and Jamil wasn’t sure he wanted to meet Anubis’ other brothers.
“They should kind of scary,” he mumbled.
Anubis nodded. “They are, though I will say Isis isn’t once you get to know him. Sekhmet still scares me from time to time.”
Jamil nodded as he watched the others say good-bye then Kellan and Bastet vanished in a blink. He rubbed his eyes, not sure he’d ever get used to that. Thoth and Anubis looked at each other, and Jamil got the impression they were holding a silent conversation.
“I’ll see you in a few. I’m going to Jamil’s house and making sure it’s safe. Is there anything you want me to bring back for you?” Thoth questioned Jamil.
“Why would you do that?”
“Because right at the moment, you aren’t going back there. You’re safest here in my suite with me. Once we figure out who the master minds behind this is, you can go back to your place.” Anubis hugged him. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to risk your life.”
Sorry. The last couple of days have been really busy and I wasn’t able to get the installment done. But I’d like to let you all know that my newest book, Bulls and Blood, is available for early download at Pride Publishing (formerly part of Totally Bound). It’s book one in a new series, The Blood & Thorn Ranch.
It’s vampires, cowboys, and various other paranormal creatures. Also, I have a short story coming out in a new military anthology, Aim High, from Pride as well. My story, Possibilities, features a para-rescue jumper in the Air Force and a diner owner.
I don’t have a cover for the single release yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll try to remember to share it with you. lol
I hope you all have a great weekend.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil cringed inside at the rather squeaky tone of his voice, but he was a little outraged that they would consider taking something from the Vatican.
Ahmed grinned at him. “It wouldn’t be the first thing we stole from there.”
“Ahmed. I mean Anubis.” He stopped and Ahmed touched his shoulder.
“Call me whichever you feel most comfortable using. I don’t mind.” Anubis motioned to the others. “Bas and Thoth could tell you stories of the places we’ve entered and took things from. There are artifacts that shouldn’t be allowed where anyone can find them.”
“Why? What do you do with them?” He glanced at Kellan. “Do you help them steal things?”
Chuckling, Kellan shook his head. “I can’t appear and disappear like they can, so it’s best if I stay behind. I take care of the library where they store the items. You should see it, Jamil. Books that were written centuries ago. There are even some I’m pretty sure were supposed to have been lost when the library at Alexandria burned.”
Shock rushed through him. “You have to be joking. No one knows what was lost when that library burned. How do they know they have anything from there?”
“Sekhmet took them when he realized what was happening. He got as much as he could before the fire destroyed the rest.” Bastet shrugged when Anubis and Thoth looked at him. “Kellan asked him one time when he showed up in our library while Kellan was working.”
“How as I supposed to know none of you talked to him?” Kellan rolled his eyes at their surprised expressions.
“It’s not that we don’t talk to him,” Thoth protested.
Kellan snorted. “You’re all scared of Sekhmet. Well, all of you except Isis. Maybe he’s just lonely. We talked for about an hour and he showed me where the Alexandria books were.”
Jamil saw the way Bastet’s eyebrows shot up. Apparently this Sekhmet was a man the others either respected or feared. It was also apparent they were amazed that he talked to Kellan.
“Isis showed up to drag him off somewhere, but not before thanking me for listening,” Kellan said.
“We need to focus, people,” Anubis told them. “We’ll worry about the other artifacts later.”
A thought hit Jamil. “Are you going to take any of mine?”
Anubis shrugged. “I don’t think so. This is the only thing I’ve seen so far that’s dangerous to the world. The other things you found will help establish information about an unknown ancient society, but they won’t help you raise the dead.”
“Not that I want to do that anyway,” Jamil muttered as he ran his fingers over the faded ink, trying to work out the writing. “This isn’t the normal hieroglyphs I’m used to seeing in the ancient Egyptian texts.”
Thoth grimaced. “It’s not, so I’m not sure how they expected to read it. Maybe they have someone who can.”
Jamil peeked at Anubis who frowned. “Are there people out there who would still know this language? Aside from you guys.”
“There were a few in one of the local tribes who would remember. I’m not sure they’d help outsiders though,” Anubis mumbled, rubbing his hands together.
Kellan leaned into Bastet’s side and Jamil watched Bastet encircle Kellan’s waist, drawing him closer. “Could it be the same group of people who kidnapped me?”
Kidnap? Jamil’s heart beat sped up. He didn’t like to hear that. “You were kidnapped?”
“Yes. By a crazy man who wanted me to tell him where to find the spell on how to make Earth Warriors.” Kellan motioned to the other three men in the room. “I’d stumbled on the knowledge that they existed and that there was actually a book with the spell in it. The man kidnapped and tortured me to tell him. But I didn’t.”
“Why not? It might have stopped him from hurting you.” Jamil didn’t understand why Kellan wouldn’t spill his guts.
Kellan met Bastet’s gaze and smiled. “I knew Bastet and the others were searching for me. I just had to stay alive long enough for them to get there.”
“You said a group though. Are there more men who might do something like that?” Jamil thought about Sandy and Eesha. “I should warn the girls.”
Anubis touched his arm then shook his head when Jamil met his eyes. “You can’t. One of my brothers is watching them for us. He’ll be able to keep them safe or at least will be able to get a hold of us if he needs help. Horus will stay unseen.”
“If the men after the book were to see the ladies had a guard, they would think Sandy and Eesha knew something and take them. What the girls don’t know won’t hurt them.”
Jamil wasn’t entirely sure he trusted Anubis to keep his friends safe, but since he didn’t know who to keep an eye out for, it was best for Anubis’ brother to protect them at the moment.
“Sterling was part of a group of very wealthy men who wanted to be the most powerful in the world. They also wanted to find immortality because they didn’t want to lose their power or money,” Thoth explained.
“It’s possible they decided if they couldn’t get immortality, then raising an army of the undead would be the next best thing.” Bastet rested his cheek on Kellan’s head while he spoke.
Jamil winced along with Anubis. “I can’t imagine what that would be like.”
“No need to, because it’ll never happen. The book is going to disappear into legend and no one except for us and our other brothers will know where it is.” Thoth stared down at the book in Jamil’s hands. “But before we do that, maybe we should think about setting a trap to find the killers.”
“We know it won’t be the ones who hired them,” Anubis pointed out.
“Of course not, but justice will be served for those who were killed. We’ll keep working to search out all the members of the group. We have time on our side. They don’t.” Thoth’s eyes gleamed.
Anubis copyright c.2015 T.A. Chase
Anubis touched Jamil’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. As long as Kellan and you don’t touch it, we’ll be fine.”
Jamil nodded, though Anubis could tell Jamil struggled with not being the one to open it. Gesturing for Thoth to continue, he held his breath as his brother opened the cover. There was no surge of power or ‘wrongness’ when he did so and Anubis relaxed a little.
“Nothing that I can feel,” Thoth informed the rest of them.
“Good.” Bastet took up a pair of the gloves Jamil had tossed on the table. “Now let’s see what makes this copy so special, our enemies will kill for it.”
“How many copies of the Book of the Dead are there?” Jamil asked while Bastet turned pages.
Anubis snorted. “Millions of modern day printings, but this isn’t modern.”
Kellan nodded. “You’re right. Plus this isn’t the typical book we’re used to seeing, even with ancient versions. It’s almost as though all the other ones were translated from this one.”
Bastet stiffened and Anubis heard Kellan inhale sharply.
Without saying anything, Bastet held the book out to him. He took it and glanced down to read the page they’d been looking at. As his mind translated the words, worry settled into his very soul. This wasn’t good.
“You can read that?” Jamil asked Kellan, who shook his head.
“No, but Bas and I are connected mentally, and he lets me know what it says. The Earth Warriors are given the ability to read any language ever used.” Kellan flashed Jamil a bright smile. “It comes in handy with some of the books they have in their library.”
Jamil didn’t look like he believed Kellan, but Anubis couldn’t go about convincing him right then. He finished reading the page then handed it to Thoth. He removed his gloves before beginning to pace.
“I didn’t realize there was such a spell in the Book,” he commented.
“Neither did I,” Bastet said. “I know it isn’t there in any of the other copies we have, or even the ones that are available nowadays.”
“So when was it removed? Is this the only book that has it? Did the people who copied it know the danger of the spell?” Anubis rubbed his hand over his head as he thought.”
Jamil took the artifact from Thoth and frowned. “I can’t read this. It’s not any of the ancient Egyptian languages I’m familiar with.”
“No. From what I can guess, it comes from a culture far older, which would make it one of the oldest books—and languages—ever recorded.” Thoth flopped onto the couch.
“Seriously?” Excitement caused Jamil’s voice to shake. “This is a major archaeological find. The Jordanian government is going to have a field day.”
Bastet glanced at Anubis and as much as he didn’t want to say it, Anubis knew he had to be the one to burst Jamil’s happy bubble.
“Sorry, Jamil. The world will never know this book exists.”
“What?” Jamil clasped the book tightly to his chest as though he expected Anubis to wrench it from his hands. “Why not? We can’t hide this away. There is so much we can learn about an unknown civilization from this manuscript.”
Thoth laughed. “If it was just an older version of the Book of the Dead, we’d let you have it. We have other older copies in our library. But unfortunately, the spell on that page you’re looking at means we have to hide it away.”
Jamil squinted at the faded words. “I don’t understand. What’s this spell and why do you think it’s dangerous?”
“It’s a spell to raise the dead,” Kellan told him.
“So what? There are a ton of spells out there to do that and none of them work. No one can raise the dead or bring people back to life.” Jamil sputtered to a stop when Thoth shook his head.
“All of the known spells don’t work. Mostly because no one has the power to make them viable. But there are some spells that even a nonbeliever could use and they would work.” Thoth gestured toward Jamil. “The book you’re holding has one of those.”
Jamil shot Anubis a questioning glance and he nodded. “Thoth is right. You might think it’s crazy, but looking at Bastet, Thoth and I, do you really think there aren’t ways to bring the dead back to life? We are examples of what can be done with enough power and belief.”
“But you said the gods created you. I’m pretty sure they aren’t inclined to help anyone else who might try this.”
Anubis sighed. “They aren’t the only gods around, Jamil. There are others who wouldn’t have a problem helping a mortal cast this and some of them are ones we don’t want to have that kind of foothold in the world.”
He watched as Jamil set the book down then tore off his gloves. He’d known the moment he’d dug the book out of the dirt that it would never be seen by anyone other than the other Earth Warriors. Well…and Kellan. He hadn’t planned on allowing Jamil to see it.
Anubis knew it went against everything Jamil stood for to hide a priceless artifact like that away from the world. As much as he understood, Anubis wasn’t about to let Jamil change his mind. The spell wasn’t the same as the one that had created Anubis and his brothers. It didn’t imbibe immortality on people, but it could help create an army of the undead which would give the person controlling them extraordinary power.
“Are you like the Vatican, hiding books away from the world to make sure they don’t give people radical ideas?” Jamil accused.
Bastet chuckled. “I’ve been in the Vatican’s library, even the secret one with the banned books, and I have to say our library is far more impressive.” He turned to eye Thoth. “Though I did see a book there we might want to think about collecting. I’ll talk to Isis about sending Amun after it.”
“You’re going to steal a book from the Vatican?” Jamil sounded outraged.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
“Well the world hasn’t gone up in flames yet, so you have to be doing something right,” Jamil pointed out.
Anubis grimaced. “Thanks for the encouraging words.”
Shrugging, Jamil said, “It’s the best I could come up with.”
After brushing a quick kiss over Jamil’s lips, Anubis stepped away. “I’m sure the more you think, the more questions you’ll come up with, but right now, we need to focus on what I found. I can’t let my past distract me from what’s happening now.”
“Right.” Jamil clapped his hands together as he turned to glance around the room. “I assume you’re going to want your brothers here to look at it with you.”
“Yes, but you should be here as well. As much as I’d love to keep you away from this, I’m afraid you’ve been in the middle of the situation from the beginning, even though you didn’t know about it.” Anubis ran his hand through his hair then sighed. “I’ll call them back.”
::Can you join us now?:: he asked Bastet and Thoth.
Jamil jumped about a foot in the air. If Anubis hadn’t been worried about what was going on, he’d have laughed at the disgruntled glare Jamil shot at Thoth.
Thoth grinned. “Sorry. I forget you’re not used to our powers yet. Have you told him the craziest part yet?”
Anubis punched Thoth in the arm. “You know I didn’t, and I don’t appreciate you bringing that up right now. We don’t have time for it.”
“What are you talking about? How can anything be crazier than thinking you’re immortal and put on this earth to fight bad guys?” Jamil flopped onto the couch with an exasperated exhale.
“Oh trust me, some of their powers are stuff of legends,” Kellan commented as he joined Jamil. “Anubis is right though. We don’t have time. Whoever is after the book is willing to kill for it. We need to know what’s in it then get it out of their reach.”
Bastet motioned to Anubis. “Retrieve it,” he ordered.
He bit back the sarcastic quip he wanted to make to do as Bastet said. At the moment, it wasn’t important to take Bastet down a peg. Really though? Who did he think he was? The only ones who gave orders were Isis and Sekhmet. The rest of them were equals.
Taking a deep breath, Anubis closed his eyes and imagined the chamber where he’d taken the book. With his second breath, his nose filled the musty odor of age and decay. He glanced around to see the sarcophagus and other burial treasures.
Anubis bowed. “Thank you for allowing me to store the book here, your majesty. I’ll continue to pray for you as you travel through the underworld.”
He picked the book wrapped in leather then thought of the hotel suite. A soft gasp told him he’d returned there. Bastet stood close to him, holding out a glass of whiskey. After drinking it, Anubis nodded his thanks.
“Where did you hide it? Why not just send it to the library in Scotland?” Kellan studied him.
“I put it in an as-yet undiscovered tomb of an unknown pharaoh,” Anubis informed him. “I knew no one would ever find it there, so it was the safest place. Especially if something happened and we couldn’t retrieve it.”
Jamil’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “Undiscovered tomb?”
Anubis nodded. “Yes, but don’t ask me where it is. I’ve only been inside. I have no idea where it is in the grand scheme of the desert.”
“How did you find it then?”
“I’d been led there on an earlier mission.” Anubis wasn’t going to tell Jamil any more than that. He told the truth. He didn’t know exactly where it was and wouldn’t be able to point to a spot on the map. But even if he could, he probably wouldn’t.
There was a disturbing heaviness in the shadows hugging the corners in that tomb. Anubis didn’t want Jamil to open it and end up dealing with more than grave robbers. Vindictive spirits could cause serious harm to innocent people. Anubis wouldn’t run the risk it would injure Jamil.
Bastet and Thoth stared at him and he gave a slight shake of his head. Thoth snorted softly while Bastet merely shrugged.
“Let’s take a look at what you found,” Bastet suggested. “I have a feeling we’re running out of time. Our enemies are closing in on us. We need to be ready for them.”
Anubis walked over to the table while the others followed. He set the book down then unwrapped it. Stunned silence filled the room as he revealed it.
“A Book of the Dead,” Kellan breathed, reaching out to touch it but stopping inches short when Bastet grabbed his hand.
“Don’t touch it,” Bastet told him.
“Wait. I have gloves in my backpack.” Jamil dashed over to where he’d dropped it then dug through it.
Anubis cleared his throat. “It’s not just that it’s an artifact that Bastet doesn’t want Kellan to touch it, Jamil. There could be poison or curses on the book to keep it safe.”
“How can you find out?” Jamil trembled and Anubis knew it was because he wanted to look at the book, but was restraining himself.
“I wish Amun was here,” Thoth muttered.
“I know. He’s the most knowledgeable about curses and poisons. Unfortunately, he’s on another mission and I doubt Isis will take him off.” Bastet rubbed his chin. “Do any of us have the courage to ask Sekhmet to come and look at it?”
Anubis shared a glance with Thoth then met Bastet’s amused gaze. “No.”
Bastet laughed. “I didn’t think so. I guess we’ll have to do it the old fashion way.”
Thoth groaned. “I hate this, but I’ll do it. I don’t have anyone I need to keep safe, so if there’s poison, I can be sick.”
“What if there’s a curse?” Jamil inquired before Thoth touched the cover.
“Then I’m stuck with it until I can find Amun and have him break it.”
(Sorry the cable went out last night before I could get this scheduled to post.)
Anubis copyright c.2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil’s confusion was evident in his frown. “You’re telling me that each one of you died in some way. Then the gods chose to resurrect you, so you could save the earth from destruction. What kind of destruction and how did they know it’s going to happen?”
Anubis bit back his laughter. “They’re gods. Just as the one you all worship nowadays is omnipotent, so are they. People might not chose to believe in them any more, but they still have power. They saw the earth wreathed in fire and blood. They knew mortals would bring it to the brink by greed, violence, and various other evil. They had one of their priests cast a spell to give my brothers and me eternal life and powers to stop it from happening.”
“You died? How?”
He knew Jamil would eventually ask that question. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Anubis sorted through his thoughts. How little could he get away with telling Jamil? To be honest, he had no interest in telling him anything, yet he understood the only way Jamil might believe him was if Anubis told the truth.
::You do realize he doesn’t have to believe you. It doesn’t matter. We can deal with whoever is robbing Petra without him.:: Thoth reminded him.
::I thought you were gone.::
Thoth chuckled. ::We’re digging through very dusty books in the library. Kellan is muttering about how disgraceful our treatment of these books is. I’m quite capable of multi-tasking. Don’t tell him anything if you don’t want to.::
His brother was right. Anubis really didn’t have to explain anything else to Jamil, yet he couldn’t help but want his lover to know everything about him.
“Ahmed?” Jamil touched his shoulder. “I guess I should call you Anubis, huh?”
“When we are alone, Anubis is fine. When we are out among others, Ahmed is best. There are very few people who know of our existence. Some groups believe the rumors about us and look for the spell that created us. We have collected every book that surfaces that has the spell—or variation of it—and hide it away.” He shrugged. “It seems like men don’t want to lose their power and wealth as they get older, so they become desperate to find the Fountain of Youth.”
“Humans fear death,” Jamil said. “We don’t know what comes after and that scares us.”
Anubis nodded. “I understand that.” He took a deep breath. “You’ve been impressed with all the knowledge I have of Prince Okilma and his family. My knowledge comes from the fact that I was his bodyguard and lover up until my death at the hands of our enemies.”
Jamil stiffened, jerking his hand away from Anubis like he’d been shocked. “You used to live at Petra? All that information wasn’t from your tribe? Do you have a real tribe?”
Shaking his head, Anubis pushed to his feet and stalked to the windows. He stared out at the street below them. “My tribe died when Prince Okilma did. I was an orphan when I went to serve the royal family. I was chosen to be his closest companion because of that very fact. My loyalty would always be to him and I’d be grateful to be saved from a life of slavery.”
“Were you grateful?”
He smiled. “Yes, I was, plus I loved Okilma as a brother when we were younger. Then as we grew older, I discovered I loved him as far more than a brother. We became lovers before he took over the throne. There was no taboo against two men loving each other like we did. I was his bodyguard as well, and when he married Eesha, I swore to protect her too.”
Anubis saw Jamil edge closer to him, his curiosity getting the best of him. “Weren’t you jealous of them?”
“No. I understood he needed to marry and have children to secure the throne for the next generation. Plus the princess was a beautiful soul, gentle and kind. She accepted Okilma’s relationship with me without anger or hatred.” Anubis swallowed against the sob threatening to escape as he thought of Eesha. “She’s the one who lead me to the book in the caves. Her spirit had been tasked with the mission of making sure I found it.”
A soft pulse in his chest told him his god acknowledged his sorrow and then a tiny burst of joy informed him Eesha was indeed happy again. He pressed his hand to his heart. Thank you.
“How did you die?”
“We were attacked. Unfortunately, our enemies overwhelmed us and we were captured. They told Okilma he had to sacrifice one of the royal family. If he did that, they would leave the rest alive. Even though I wasn’t blood, I was considered part of the family, so he gave me to them.” He ignored Jamil’s rough gasp of surprise. “They slit my throat and made Okilma and Eesha watch me bled out. I’m pretty sure they murdered the prince, princess and their son shortly after I died.”
Jamil slid his arms around Anubis’ waist then rested his forehead between his shoulder blades. “I’m sorry.”
Anubis turned in his embrace then placed his knuckle under Jamil’s chin to raise his head. He stared down into Jamil’s eyes. “You believe me?”
“I believe you think what you’re telling me is true and you’re hurting because of that. I am sorry for that. Whether it’s true or not, I’ll still have to work on that. The fact that you and your friends appear and disappear before my very eyes is a trick I need to figure out.” Jamil rolled his eyes. “I’ll admit I’ve been trying to figure out how you knew so much about this obscure group of people that we’d never heard of before. Something told me it wasn’t just from legends told by your tribe.”
“I have no tribe except for my brothers,” Anubis said softly. “We have been alone in the world, fighting against a tide of evil I’m not sure we can conquer.”
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
::Will you be returning soon?:: Bastet’s voice entered Anubis’ mind.
::Yes. We’re leaving Petra. The police have been called and they’ll pick up the grave robbers. Why?::
Bastet’s amusement came through. ::I think I might have broken your boyfriend.::
He tensed and Thoth glanced over at him from where he crouched next to one of the robbers. Anubis shook his head, not wanting to explain at the moment.
::How did you do that?::
::I told him we were born in the age of Pharaohs and he really hasn’t spoken since. Kellan says Jamil is processing what I told him, but since I said nothing else besides that, I’m not sure what he could be thinking about.::
Anubis sighed. ::You couldn’t have waited until I was there to soften the blow.::
::I figured it would be easier to hear the truth from a man he wasn’t sleeping with.::
He didn’t think it mattered. Jamil would think him crazy whether they were sleeping together or not. Not everyone would react like Kellan had to the truth. He hoped Jamil let him explain more before he took off. If leaving was his solution, Anubis would make sure the news of the book he’d found got out, so whoever wanted it wouldn’t go after Jamil.
Thoth joined him. “We need to get back to the others. I’m afraid whoever is looking for the book will go there to find it.”
Nodding, Anubis said, “Let’s go. The authorities will pick these two up and call Jamil. We must impress upon him the importance of not mentioning us.”
“I’m pretty sure he’s not going to say a word. He’s not sure what—or who—we are any more.” Thoth clapped him on the shoulder. “I’ll see you there.”
Anubis closed his eyes and thought of the suite. In the instance after he imagined the room, he heard Bastet and Kellan talking softly. He stretched before he opened his eyes to spy Thoth, Bastet and Kellan gathered near the door of the suite.
When they realized he watched them, Bastet turned and smiled. “Jamil is in the bedroom and has been since I told him how old we are. We are going to go back home. Kellan wants to go through the library to see if he can find any books that mention Petra. Let us know when we can return and we’ll take a look at what you discovered then.”
“Of course. Thank you for watching out for him.” Anubis accepted the hug from Kellan and the hand shakes from his brothers. He wasn’t looking forward to talking to Jamil about any of it. Maybe he could skip over his past and just get to the part where they were trying to save the world from destruction.
::You know that’s not going to happen.:: Isis’s laughter skated through him.
::I know, but one could hope, right?::
::True. Send the others back. We’ll see if we can’t dig up information on who might want what you found.:: Isis sounded intrigued.
Anubis rolled his eyes. ::We don’t know what I found yet. I haven’t had time to look at it. I tucked it away where no one is going to find it.::
He could almost feel Isis shrug. ::Check it out then. Don’t waste time trying to explain us to Jamil yet. Have him look at the book with you. Maybe he’ll see something we don’t.::
The others were gone and Anubis knew he couldn’t put off talking to Jamil. After stalking to the bedroom door, he knocked on it.
“Jamil, I need you to come out here. We don’t have much time.” He stopped then said, “Please.”
He waited a few minutes, wondering if Jamil was going to open the door or if the man planned on ignoring him. He knew he could enter the room, but he wanted Jamil to give him permission.
Finally the door opened and he stepped to allow Jamil to join him in the living area. Anubis studied his lover, not liking the skepticism in his dark eyes and the distant expression on his face.
“Are you hungry? Would you like something to drink?” Nerves made him babble and Anubis didn’t like it. It had been a long time since anyone had made him nervous.
“No. I’m good.” Jamil propped his fists on his hips, glaring at Anubis. “What is your real name?”
Anubis pursed his lips then shook his head. “It has been too long. I’ve forgotten it.”
“Don’t bullshit me. I know Ahmed isn’t it and I doubt your parents named you Anubis to honor the god.” Jamil began to pace, forcing Anubis back to the couch.
“It’s true. My parents didn’t name me Anubis, but when I was reborn into the life I live now, the god chose me to represent him on this earth, so I took his name.” Anubis held up his hand to stop Jamil’s protest. “It has been thousands of years since I used my real name, Jamil. Do you think I would be able to remember it? Especially when it meant nothing to me when I lived.”
Jamil gave him a narrow-eyed stare. “You make it sound like you were raised from the dead. We both know that isn’t possible.”
Anubis rubbed his chest where an insistent throbbing built. “It’s possible when the gods and goddesses are involved. And more importantly, when the god of the underworld wishes for you to be his avatar, he can control life and death. I assure you, I would’ve preferred to remain dead.”
“I don’t believe you,” Jamil muttered.
“I would have been more shocked if you did believe me right away,” Anubis admitted.
“Who the hell are you? And Thomas and Bastet? Is Kellan one of you as well?” Jamil continued to pace while shooting Anubis questions.
“Wait. If you wish for me to answer you, you must give me a chance to speak.” Anubis grinned. “You’re as bad as Kellan when he wants to know something. And no…or yes. Kellan is one of us, only in the fact that he is Bastet’s husband. He knows about us, but he’s not one of the original seven.”
Jamil stopped. “There are seven of you?”
“We are the Earth Warriors, created by the old Egyptian gods and goddesses to protect the earth from destruction. Sehkmet, Isis, Amum, Horus, Bastet, Thoth and me. We were warriors in our own way while we lived and when we died, our patrons demanded we serve them.” Anubis touched his chest again. “It’s hard to say no to a god.”
(Sorry I’d forgotten I’d been using this picture for Jamil’s point of views…lol)
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil shook Kellan’s hand “Bastet?”
The tall dark haired man nodded. “Yes. Just like the goddess. She is my patroness.”
“Meaning you worship her?” He frowned then turned to look at Ahmed. “You worship Anubis, which is why Thomas called you that. And I assume Thomas worships Thoth. Are you members of some weird Egpytian god cult?”
Ahmed and Bastet exchanged glances before Ahmed shrugged. “I guess you can think that for now. I must go. Bas, you keep Jamil safe.”
“I will, brother. Now you need to go. Thoth will only wait so long before he does something on his own, and we both know that’s not a good thing.” Bastat clasped Ahmed’s hand. “Kellan, Jamil and I will wait for you in your suite.”
Before Jamil could protest again, Ahmed crushed their lips together. He melted into Ahmed’s embrace, choosing not to think about the couple watching them. After Ahmed broke the kiss, Jamil watched as he took two steps away from him then vanished.
“Holy shit! I swear to God, I have to be dreaming. People can’t just disappear like that,” he muttered, rubbing his eyes.
Kellan touched his arm. “It’ll take time to get used to it, but it’s a pretty awesome way to travel. I mean no waiting in line at security in the airport.”
“Kellan, stop.” Bastet rested his hand on Kellan’s lower back.
The touch looked gentle as did the smile he gave the younger man. Jamil could see the very obvious love between the two men. Kellan didn’t come across as crazy, so maybe Jamil should wait to get all the facts before he judged Ahmed as insane.
Exactly what does crazy look like? Some of the craziest people in the world looked normal. He huffed. “I need to finish putting this stuff away before we leave.”
“We’ll help out. Bas handles artifacts like these all the time and I’ve gotten good at being careful with fragile things.” Kellan glanced around. “What do you want me to do?”
“Kellan is cataloging my family’s private library,” Bastet informed Jamil. “You two can do this. I’ll keep watch.”
“You don’t think they’ll come here, do you?”
Fear rioted in Jamil, but it wasn’t for his safety. He didn’t want anything to happen to the priceless items he’d dug out of Petra. They were already learning new information and it was important to not lose any of it.
“To be honest, I don’t think so.” Bastet lifted an eyebrow at Jamil’s disgruntled glare. “I can’t be a hundred percent sure, but Anubis and Thoth will do their best to discourage them. Also, we need to know what they’re looking for and why.”
Kellan’s eyes gleamed. “Could they be looking for the book we found? The one with the immortality spells? Do you think the same group is behind this?”
“I’m not sure, love. We’ll know more once Anubis and Thoth return. Now help Jamil finish up.” Bastet’s firm tone shut down any further questions.
Jamil bit his tongue. So many questions. Yet he got the feeling neither Bastet nor Kellan would answer them for him. He was going to have to wait for Ahmed—or Anubis—to return before he got the information he wanted.
They finished cleaning up the lab then Jamil locked the door behind them. Bastet loomed over both of them as they made their way out of the museum. Kellan didn’t chatter, though Jamil could tell it wasn’t a normal thing for the man.
Silence reigned until they were inside Ahmed’s suite at the hotel. Jamil set his backpack down on the coffee table before rounding on Bastet and Kellan.
“Who the hell are you people and why are you doing this?” He propped his fists on his hips. “I’m not waiting until Ahmed gets back. How do I know you’re not trying to steal the artifacts to sell on the black market?”
Kellan gasped. His outrage visible on his face. Bastet simply grinned as he removed his coat before tossing it over the back of the couch.
“Get comfortable, Jamil. Kellan, why don’t you order us some room service?” Bastet paused, tilting his head as though he were listening to someone. “It’s going to be a while before the others get back.”
“Yes, sir.” Kellan brushed a kiss over Bastet’s cheek. “What would you like to eat?” he asked Jamil while walking over to the phone.
As much as Jamil wanted to stomp his foot and throw a tantrum about Bastet not answering him, he realized it probably wouldn’t help his cause if he did that. So he gave Kellan his order then flopped down into one of the chairs.
“Are you going to explain what the hell is going on?”
Bastet was far more graceful in his movements as he sat on the couch across from Jamil. “Maybe it is best for you to hear it from someone other than Anubis. It’ll give you time to process the information before you see him. You might be less likely to want to call the authorities.”
Jamil tensed. “Call the authorities?”
“Of course, if you try to do so, you’ll find no one believes you,” Bastet pointed out. “It’s an unfortunate outcome of our story.”
“Yet somehow you’ve convinced Kellan your story is true.” Jamil nodded in Kellan’s direction.
Bastet smiled. “Kellan is special. He’d already heard about my brothers and I before we met. In fact, it’s the reason we met in the first place.”
Jamil motioned for Bastet to continue. The other man sighed and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees.
“I’m not sure if you’ve ever come across any mention of an Earth Warriors cult in your digs,” Bastet began.
“It doesn’t sound familiar, but I haven’t done a lot of digs here in the Middle East. Most of my digs were down in Central and South America.”
Bastet nodded. “We’ve done a good job at removing any written knowledge of us from those parts of the world.”
Again Jamil bit his tongue. Don’t interrupt him, or I might never know the whole story.
“My brothers and I were born during the time of the Pharaohs, though I think Sekhmet might be older than that. There are times when it feels like he’s been around since the world was born.”
Jamil’s mouth dropped open and, for once in his life, he was speechless.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
“Are you ready to call it a night?”
Jamil glanced up when Ahmed spoke. He spied the man standing in the doorway of the room, leaning against the frame with his arms crossed over his broad chest. Jamil rubbed his eyes and sighed.
“Yeah. My brain’s about fried, so I’m not going to learn anything else today.” He shut down his computer then started to put the artifacts he’d been studying away.
Ahmed strolled closer. “Can I help with this?” His hand hovered over one of the gold armbands they’d dug up in the antechamber.
“Sure. Just grab a pair of gloves.” Jamil gestured to a stack of cotton gloves Sandy had gotten out earlier. “Not that I needed to tell you that. You’ve probably handled way more artifacts than I have over the years.”
“Hmm…” Ahmed’s reply was distracted as he put on the gloves before picking put the armband. His startled gasp caused Jamil to turn.
Ahmed stared at the jewelry in his trembling hands. “This was mine,” he whispered.
Shaking his head, Jamil figured he’d heard wrong. “We’re not sure who that belonged to. It doesn’t seem quite ornamental enough to be one of the royal family’s, but still whoever wore it had to be a high ranking member of the court.”
“The jackals denote that the wearer was a personal bodyguard for the prince,” Ahmed said absently as he ran his fingers lightly over the raised images. “The entwined branches marked him as more than that. He was the prince’s lover.”
“Lover? But the prince had a wife and a son.”
Ahmed snorted. “Having those exclude Okilma from having a lover?”
Jamil’s cheeks warmed. “Well no, but still…How do you know all this? I’m pretty sure your family legends don’t have all this information in them.” Jamil narrowed his eyes as he gazed at Ahmed. “There’s something else going on here.”
“Our records of this particular society are quite extensive,” Ahmed seemed to be dodging the question.
“Anubis, we have to go.”
Jamil jumped as Thomas spoke from behind him. Whirling, he saw the man standing in the middle of the room. “Where the hell did you come from? You weren’t here a minute ago.”
Thomas waved away his inquiry. “Did you hear me, brother? They are back at Petra right now and this time they’re destroying the graves in the caves.”
“Fuck. They must be looking for the book.” Ahmed gathered all the artifact trays and took them to the vault. “Jamil, hurry. Put all of the items from the dig in the vault. Make sure it’s locked. I can’t guarantee they won’t come for them here.”
“Who are they? What are they looking for? What the fuck is going on here?” Jamil wanted answers, but the urgency in both men’s voices convinced him not to balk on what Ahmed wanted. “Why did he call you Anubis?”
“Are the others coming? Or will it just be you and me?” Ahmed met Thomas’s eyes and nodded. “Okay. I haven’t had time to look at the book, but it’s safe, even if they were to break into my suite.”
Jamil shut the vault door then set the lock and alarm before he turned to the men. “What book? Did you take something from the site, Ahmed? You can’t do that.”
Thomas swung to face him. “Stop with the questions. None of it is your concern. Go back to your house and lock yourself inside. They might come for you next if they don’t find what they want and if we can’t stop them tonight.”
He reared back, about to argue with Thomas. Ahmed stepped between them and took his face in his hands. Jamil looked up into Ahmed’s worried gaze.
“Thoth, go. I’ll join you in a minute. Just watch them for now, but don’t let them leave,” Ahmed ordered Thomas without looking away from Jamil.
A loud annoyed exhale told them how Thomas felt about the whole situation, but he disappeared in a blink of Jamil’s eyes. He tensed.
“Did he just vanish? Why did you call him Thoth? What’s going on here, Ahmed?”
“You were never supposed to find out. We’ve existed for millennium outside the boundaries of your world, watching and searching for ways to save all of us from destruction,” Ahmed muttered as he rubbed his thumb over Jamil’s bottom lip. “Our gods and goddesses bound us to this task.”
Jamil frowned, confusion and worry sweeping through him. He’d never have guessed Ahmed was crazy. “Let me help you,” he pleaded. “You should talk to someone about your delusions.”
Ahmed chuckled. “Oh, love. Doctors and therapists won’t fix what’s wrong with me. Please, go to my suite and stay there. Don’t let anyone in. No matter who they say they are. If I send someone for you, they won’t need you to open the door for them. Once I take care of the men at the site, I’ll return and tell you everything.”
“I’ll call the police. They’ll go out and catch whoever it is that’s doing this.”
“No.” Ahmed shook his head. “We can’t allow the police to get involved. This problem goes beyond what they can handle. Thoth and I will deal with the intruders and find out what they are looking for. Also, we need to know who they work for. These aren’t just some grave robbers, Jamil. If they were, they’d have stolen a few artifacts or waited until the dig was over to search in the new rooms for items. They haven’t done that. Plus, they’ve killed two guards, quite viciously. I don’t want you to be the third life taken.”
“Aren’t you worried they’ll kill you? Why do you keep calling Hutchinson Thoth? I thought his name was Thomas.” Jamil stated to pull out of Ahmed’s grip. “None of this makes sense.”
Ahmed inhaled deeply and nodded. “I know it doesn’t make sense, Jamil. And you’ll probably still think I’m insane once I explain it. I can’t help that. But I need to go and you need to get to the hotel. You must stay safe.”
“Kellan and I will make sure he gets there and stays there, brother.” Another voice replied and Jamil grunted.
“What the fuck is up with people appearing and disappearing? Maybe I’m asleep and dreaming all this shit,” Jamil mumbled as another couple joined them.
The smaller man laughed. “I promise you’re not sleeping. I’m Kellan Largent and this is my husband, Bastet.”
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
“I’m sorry, my lady.” Anubis bowed his head. “I should know better than that.”
And he should have. When Princess Eesha had been alive, she’d never been the kind who cared what others thought of her. Of course, being a princess gave her more leeway than if she were a regular person, but Anubis had the feeling she would’ve been like that even if she were poor.
“What is in here that you wanted me to see, my lady? Can you show me?”
Something hit his right shoulder, shoving him forward a little. He smiled as he moved in the direction she wanted him to go. Guess she still have some strength left or Anubis is lending her the power so I can find whatever is hidden here.
A small throb in his chest told him his patron god was there and he too wanted Anubis to search. He rubbed the spot over his heart as he walked to stand in the middle of the cavern. When he reached the center, he started turning slowly in a circle. As he faced due east, there was another push and he stalked off. There were moments when he went on these treasure hunts wishing someone had drawn an easy map for him to use, instead of relying on a ghost to give him directions.
::Quit whining and just get it done. We’re at the bodies.:: Thoth’s voice entered his mind.
::What did Jamil say when you told him and the officers?:: Anubis ran into what felt like a wall of air. He grunted in annoyance. Then he repeated the turning thing and headed to the right when he got another push.
::He wasn’t happy about it and he was worried about where you were. I told him you were taking a very important call, which was why you hadn’t come with me.:: Thoth snorted. ::Like anything can happen to you.::
Anubis shrugged, even though Thoth couldn’t see him. ::I’ve always figured that when our jobs were done, the gods would remove their favor and we’d end up growing old and dying like we were supposed to all those thousands of years ago.::
Thoth seemed to be considering what Anubis said. ::You could be right. The police are furious that we fond the scene and keep asking me how I knew it was there. Like I killed the guards, hid their bodies, then suddenly decided to tell the police where I put them. Idiots. If I did it, I wouldn’t be telling anyone about it.::
He let Thoth mutter in the back of his mind while he paused in front of the cavern’s far wall. Anubis knelt to peer at the spot where the wall met the floor. The dirt and stone there looked as though it was a different kind from the original rock. Changing back into his jackal, Anubis pawed at the spot, digging until he uncovered a medium-size hole. He gritted his teeth as he shifted back. Gods, he was going to be exhausted by the time he got to the hotel that night with all the shifting he was doing.
As much as he hated sticking his hand into a dark hole in the desert, Anubis knew it had to be done. Of course, if there was a trap, a snake, or a spider in there, it wasn’t like he would die from a bite or anything. Being immortal did have its perks.
::There are days though where the perks aren’t enough to overlook all the other shit.:: Thoth spoke up.
He closed his hand around a square leather object. Anubis tugged it out then set it aside so he could fill in the hole he’d made. No point in letting someone know exactly where it’d been buried. After picking up the object, he stood, but there wasn’t enough light in the cavern to see what it was except that it was book shape wrapped in leather.
::I’m going to find another way out of here. I don’t want to appear from the tunnel while they’re still processing the scene. Shit. What am I going to do about clothes?:: He’d forgotten he’d left his back at the entrance to the tunnel.
::I’ve got it covered. I stashed your clothes in the cave next to this one. The officers didn’t even notice me taking them.:: Thoth’s tone was scornful.
Anubis sighed. ::They are merely human, brother. They don’t realize there is more in the world than what they see. Thank you. I’ll find my way there and change then come and join you.::
Thoth growled. ::I left my backpack there as well. Stick whatever you found in there and we’ll examine it once we’re out of here.::
Anubis knelt on one knee in the middle of the cavern. “Thank you, my lady. I hope Lord Anubis will offer you sanctuary in the underworld now for your help. I’ve prayed every day since my death that you and your family had survived. It hurts my heart to know you did not. I hope you didn’t suffer before your death.”
The breeze that had guided him through the caves brushed over his cheek like a caress and Anubis’s eyes welled with tears. He’d never really hated Okilma or Eesha for the choices they made to save their own people. He’d understood that one life for many was an acceptable bargain. That they were betrayed anyway broke his heart.
“If there was some way I could avenge your deaths, I would, but I fear I’ve outlived all of those who hurt you.” He closed his eyes, letting his chin fall to his chest. “I’ve outlived all those I loved and I must admit I’m weary at times.”
He tilted his head as he heard whispering in the wind. Straining, he finally made the faint words.
“He loved you most of all, Ahmed. He was a broken man after he gave you over to them.” His princess’s voice was a balm to his ears. “Our lord Anubis has granted me and my son peace, but Okilma wanders this city, trying to find absolution for what he did to you. If you find his spirit, will you grant him forgiveness?”
“Yes, my lady. Okilma was my prince and more for all of my life. I’ve gotten over my anger. I wish I could’ve told him of my love and forgiveness before I died.” He swiped the tears from his cheeks.
Ghostly fingers ran though his hair, tugging gently on the ends. “He always knew he had your heart. I think it was that knowledge that got him through the last days. That and the thought he might see you again some day in the afterlife. Yet when we got there, you were nowhere to be found.”
“Lord Anubis had other plans for me,” he said.