Ayesha, the Return of She is a gothic-fantasy novel by the popular Victorian author H. Rider Haggard. When the narrative of Holly's manuscript begins, nearly twenty years have passed since their first adventure in Africa, but he and his ward Leo Vincey are convinced that Ayesha did not die. Following their dreams, they wander for years through Asia, eventually coming to "e;Thibet"e; (as it… is spelled in the book). Taking refuge over winter in a remote lamasery, they meet the old Abbot Kou-En, who claims to recall a past-life encounter tales with a witch queen from the time of Alexander the Great. The Abbott tries to dissuade them from going on and warns them that, however beautiful, nothing is immortal, even if the Queen was born centuries ago in Ancient Egypt or remembers it from a past life. He believes the Queen is holding on to the distractions of life, which will lead them away from Enlightenment and peace, whether she is a demon, a fallen angel, or only a dream. Despite the Abbot's warning, Leo is compelled to press on and Holly will not abandon his adopted son. When spring breaks, they travel out into the uncharted region beyond the monastery; after a perilous journey and many narrow escapes, they arrive in the city of Kaloon, which is ruled by the evil Khan Rassen and his imperious wife, the Khania Atene, who claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great's ancient Hellenist generals. The people of Kaloon live under an uneasy truce with the people who serve the Hesea, the Priestess of Hes, who dwells on the Mountain, a huge volcano that dominates the region, at the summit of which is a massive natural rock formation in the shape of an ankh. Atene declares her love for Leo, but the jealous and dissolute Rassen (who has been driven mad by the sorcery of Atene and her uncle, the wizard Simbri) wants to kill them.