At the British Museum on Christmas Eve, Julius Kane accidentally unleashed all of the gods of the Demon Days while just intending to release Osiris. One of the group, the goddess Nephthys took magician Zia Rashid as her host. Sensing this and needing to protect her, Chief Lector Iskandar hid her in a tomb in the ruins of her old village, al-Hamrah Makan and replaced her with a perfect shabti copy. The shabti took Zia's place undetected for days, but sacrificed itself by using up all of its energy to shield itself and Amos Kane from death when the Red Pyramid was destroyed during The Battle of the Red Pyramid. Dying, the shabti revealed the truth of its nature to Sadie and Carter Kane before sending all of its memories to the real Zia. Realizing what had happened and having fallen in love with Zia's shabti, Carter became obsessed with finding and rescuing the real Zia, believing that she had an important role to play in the coming battle with Apophis and convinced that she'd remember the time her shabti had spent with him and like him back.
For the next three months, Carter searched everywhere for Zia, developing such a deep obsession with it, he believed he was seeing messages from her everywhere. He had Walt Stone build him a scrying bowl to look, but Zia was shielded from his ability to find her that way. During a confrontation with seven bau at the Brooklyn Museum, Apophis possessed one and told Carter that unless he gave up his quest to find her, she would die where she lay entombed in "The Place of Red Sand." This just furthered Carter's obsession, but even with that clue, he was unable to locate Zia. Later, after Sadie released him and gave him back his Secret Name as part of a deal to find the last part of the Book of Ra, Set gave her a free piece of information for Carter: Zia's village was called al-Hamrah Makan. Upon hearing this and learning that the name translated into English as "The Place of Red Sand," Carter realized that Iskandar had hidden Zia in the ruins of her old village and set out to search for it with the help of the dwarf god Bes. Traveling with bedouins in a truck, Carter and Bes spent many hours searching along the Nile River Valley for the village, finally learning the location from an old fellahin who had been there before it had been destroyed. As it was Bes asking, the fellahin gave them the location and Carter and Bes set out alone in the truck to the village. The two located the ruins buried under the Nile and began searching the shallows for a likely place for Zia to be housed, on the look-out for traps.
Confrontation with the Water Demons
After an hour of searching, Carter found steps leading to a tomb and was told by Bes to part the river so they could reach it. However, Carter didn't know how to do it and while the two were discussing the situation, they came under attack from three water demons. Both were caught off-guard and Carter lost his wand, having already lost his khopesh and was unable to summon it back through the Duat. Bes managed to destroy one using his "BOO!," but was unable to destroy the second one attacking him. The third demon focused on killing Carter, who didn't know any magic to ward off water demons and he nearly drowned. During the struggle, he accidentally punched Bes in the face, thinking he was a demon. Finally, drawing on the memory of Set trying to drown Horus, Carter managed to channel the god's power and use the Fist of Horus to destroy the demons and part the Nile, revealing the tomb's entrance which was inscribed with the symbol of the House of Life and Zia's name in hieroglyphics.
Entering the tomb, Carter and Bes finally located Zia in a water sarcophagus with the crook and flail of Ra as well as her staff and wand. Bes realized that Iskandar protected Zia by surrounding the fire elemental in water and using the crook and flail which shielded her so well that Apophis couldn't get at her, even knowing where she was, which is why he couldn't attack and kill her. Carter touches the sarcophagus and learns that Zia is in a constant nightmare of drowning and after three months of it, is in danger of going insane. He also realizes that Nephthys did her best to protect Zia, calling on the Nile to cover the tomb and shield them. Even with the danger of releasing Zia and exposing her to Apophis and anyone else searching for her, Carter decides to do so anyway due to the danger her sanity is in. Carter channels a small amount of Horus' power and destroys the sarcophagus, releasing Zia who immediately begins to reject the spirit of Nephthys. Carter carries Zia to the Nile's edge where Nephthys is released into the river and appears, apologizing for choosing Zia as her host as it was a poor choice as she was a fire elemental. Nephthys disappears, back in her true host, the Nile. Zia, after coughing up a lot of water, recovers but is still weak and is suspicious of Carter. She has the memories of her shabti, but they are more like a movie to her where she was played by an actress and it confuses her and her reaction devastates Carter. Zia is confused and upset by the revelation that Iskandar, who is the only family she has ever known, is dead and what he did to her. Carter tries to convince her that Iskandar was trying to protect her and cared deeply about her, having changed his mind about the Path of the Gods. Zia is too upset and stunned to accept what he says while Bes urges him to leave before Desjardins and Menshikov come.
Confrontation with Menshikov and Desjardins
Before Carter can do anything further, Menshikov and Desjardins arrive, encasing Bes in a cage made of bars of white light, with Menshikov planning to torture him later. Desjardins pushes for Carter to surrender while Menshikov wants him to fight so he has an excuse to kill him. Menshikov turns Zia on Carter by reminding her that Carter and Sadie made a deal with Set at the red pyramid rather than banish him and that her shabti saw and thus she knows. This causes her to side with Menshikov and Desjardins, though she keeps her distance from Menshikov, seeming to sense that he is evil. Carter realizes that Menshikov once tried to revive Ra himself and it caused his facial injuries, though both he and Desjardins claim that came from trying to destroy the Book of Ra. Carter also realizes that Menshikov wants them to find the Book of Ra and revive Ra as Ra needs to be revived for Apophis to be released as Ma'at and Chaos are linked: if Apophis rises, so must Ra to maintain a balance. Carter refuses to surrender and faces Menshikov, asking Desjardins to leave as he doesn't want to fight him. Carter flings Menshikov with Ra's crook and summons a combat avatar to fight. Desjardins tries to convince him to stop this and the Path of the Gods as this is how it used to be, magician fighting magician when the Path was followed, but both Carter and Menshikov refuse to stop. Carter smashes the steps to Zia's tomb with the flail and Menshikov summons a spell to turn Carter into a snake. Carter tries to stop the spell with his flail, but fails and is slowly turned into a snake, with his avatar protecting him somewhat but failing. Carter manages to grab Menshikov with the crook, but hesitates too long to kill him after seeing how scared Zia is of him and loses his grip on him. Both Desjardins and Zia try to get Menshikov to stop, feeling he has gone too far, but Menshikov refuses. However, before things can degenerate further, a portal, opened by the god Ptah and anchored on Bes, opens and Sadie and Walt arrive. The portal breaks Bes' cage and he uses a "BOO!" to knock Menshikov and Desjardins unconscious and send them back to the First Nome. The "BOO!" also breaks Menshikov's spell on Carter and he is saved.
Carter, Sadie, Walt and Bes are reunited and Bes is annoyed that he was used as the anchor for a portal until it is explained that Ptah did it not them. Zia, after trying to absorb everything that has happened, passes out and the group travels to Cairo in the back of the bedouins truck, following Ptah's suggestion to use the Great Pyramid to open a portal to the Duat to start their quest to revive Ra. Along the way, Carter, Sadie and Walt fall asleep and Carter's ba travels to the Hall of Ages where he encounters Horus who tries to convince him to merge with him again, take on the role of pharaoh and forget his quest to revive Ra. To try to help convince him, Horus shows Carter that Menshikov and Desjardins are planning an attack on Brooklyn House with an army of magicians including Sarah Jacobi and Kwai, demons and uraeus. Carter still refuses and wakes up to find that they are in Cairo and that after wrecking two hotel rooms, Zia has calmed down enough to hear them out. After learning what Carter has learned and their plans, Zia is convinced and sides with them, admitting that she never trusted Menshikov. She helps defend Brooklyn House and Carter is proven right in his belief that she had a major role to play when, by becoming Ra's host, she proves the key to his rebirth. Carter later even starts a relationship with her as he had hoped when he started out on his quest.