The Story Starts Here

Chapter 1: Mean Girls

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

72: No More Dirt Girl

Silence. Then a roof tile tipped from the hole in the roof, above and bounced off Asteri’s horns and shattered on the floor.  Naida flinched and turned to look at the woman beside her, who had her arms around Asteri’s neck, crying. Then to the man sliding down to sit on the floor, Horus staff across his lap.

Sybaris swayed, and then collapsed in a pile of coils.  Naida gasped and ran to try and catch her head so she not hit the floor with it, and pulled up her belt to try and stop Syb’s face from bleeding.  She… she was badly burned.  All around her mouth… closed mouth… how bad was she burned inside?  Every gemstone she had on her scales was cracked or discoloured or just melted off her, and she was raw all down her front, all her coils where she’d grabbed the Djinn. Her hair was half burned away, with melty drips all down her back.  Naida started crying as she tried to help, realized her own palms were raw and bloody.  She laid her hands on Sybaris and willed that she get better.

The Horus staff twitched out of the man’s hands and flew over to Syb and Naida.  “Tsk,” Re’s voice came out of the beak.  “I don’t like my friends getting hurt.”

There was a soundless thunderclap along with a flash of light that rattled lampstands all across the city and when her sight cleared, Naida could see that everything had been returned to wholeness.

Bodhi sat, cross-legged on the floor by the litter, next to the lamp, hands softly folded.  “I could make some tea, if you liked.  Or we could just sit for a while.”  He smiled, sweetly.

No hole in the roof.  No melted gold cheetahs and burnt tiles.  Nobody’s hands were raw. Nobody’s body was burned.  Sybaris’s hair flowed down in its old glory and her gems shone bright as her eyes as she opened them and rose to her coils.  “Well,” she said, and bowed to the woman wiping her nose surreptitiously under Asteri’s wings. Then she bowed to the man climbing to his feet, using the Horus staff which was again in his hand, as a prop as if he were very tired.   

“Candace,” she said.  “Consort.”  She turned Naida around with the tip of her tail and Kurama hopped into her arms.  “My name is Sybaris and this is your long-lost daughter, Efra, though she goes by Naida to honour her—“

The Candace let out a shriek and flung herself down the two steps, around the empty litter, and caught Naida and Kurama up in a hug, lifting her right off her feet.  “It was you yelling ‘mama, daddy’!  Daughter! Oh my strong girl, my beautiful girl!”

People were peeking around the edges of the doors, daring to enter after all the ruckus and Amani-shakhete turned Naida around to face them, throwing her arms around her in a hug from behind.  “Behold, Meroe!  My daughter Efra-Naida returns just in time to save us all from a mistake I made twenty years ago!”

“What? I did?”

“You did,” Kurama whispered in her ear.  “Your mama caught a Djinn and locked it up, apparently.  It just nearly got away from her.”

“Oh, my,” was all she could say, just as another pair of arms wrapped around both her and her mother. She looked up into her tall daddy’s eyes and at his enormous grin, old, old seamed scars running over his shoulders and she just knew he’d gotten them trying to save her.  “Hi.  Daddy. Mama… it took me a while but I’m home.”

No more ‘dirt girl’ for you,” Kurama whispered in her ear, as Asteri spread his wings over all of them and Naida started giggling.  No more dirt girl.

-           30  --

Monday, 25 July 2016

71: Fight in the Throneroom

Jahi and his staff lunged between his wife and this fiery threat, staff upheld, and shouted out loud, the beak of the Horus head already stained with his blood, blood pouring down his arms.  The Blood circle closed around both of them, hands upraised, their ushera, in all their forms, attacking what had once been Kyan.

The form of the man floated on spirals of fire drifting out deadly fingers probing for those of the court fleeing the hall, most protected by their ushera.  The bennu flew above struggling to absorb the heat and keep their heart friends safe from the killing fires of what was now, obviously, a Djinn.  Naida saw a man and a woman snatch up their children and run, wigs beginning to burn, their linens melting as they ran, hunched over their babies.

Sybaris boiled out of the lamp and threw her coils around the flaming man, once, twice, three rounds and screamed as he took flaming hands and grabbed her by her shoulders.  Her face tore open and her fangs dropped and darkness descended into the room trying to muffle the Djinn’s light and as he raised her human half over his head she lunged and bit down over his head and shoulders.


Asteri’s wings opened with a thunderclap as he stood before the flaming spectacle.  Naida ran toward what was left of the throne and –her father?—and –her mother?—The tall, gloriously dressed woman with thousands of beads down to her feet, skin like chocolate, steely eyed, raised both hands as her husband raised his staff.  “FIQUITUK! YOU ARE NOT FREE!  WHICH OF YOUR LORDS WILL YOU THEN DISOBEY?!”

Sybaris’s darkness snapped tighter around the Djinn and she pulled back to free his head and let him speak.

“They can’t beat him,” Kurama whispered in Naida’s ear as she stopped by Asteri’s hoof.  Re, or Apollo could beat him.”

She shook so hard that she couldn’t stand, sank to the floor that was hot enough to almost burn her hand.  She set the lamp down so she could lean on both hands.  Tears ran down her face from her watering eyes.  Even with all of Syb’s darkness the Djinn was too bright.  Then she realized.  The lamp.


“--SYBARIS!” Naida screamed as loud as she could to be heard over the roar of the nearly free Djinn.  “THE LAMP!”  and with all her strength threw it at the Djinn’s head.

Syb saw it coming, jerked her head back and as the Djinn roared that he was free, his fires began to be sucked into the lamp.  “NO! I WILL NOT BE CONTAINED.  I WILL BURN THIS WORLD CLEAN OF THESE CELLED CREATURES FULL OF WATER AND DIRT. NO! NO!”

Naida got to her feet and found that the tall woman was next to her, one hand on Asteri’s shoulders.  “PUSH!” Kurama yelled and actually grabbed a coil of Djinn’s fire in her mouth and hurled it toward where the lamp spun in place right over its head.

Everyone’s hands and paws came up, flat palms toward the Djinn.  Flat palms or wings or paws or hooves.  Everyone pushed.  The Djinn was fighting the lamp, struggling to hang onto the edges of the door but more and more of its flame was being sucking into the lamp itself.  Sybaris pulled her coils in tighter and tighter around the creature and still bellowing ‘no’ and ‘I will burn you’, the Djinn was finally compressed to a pin-prick the size of one of Naida’s hair beads, too bright to look at, and then that was dragged into the lamp.

Sybaris slammed it shut and wrapped three times three chains made of darkness and the lamp bulged, and danced on the damaged tiles but did not break.  Then it was still. Silence.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

70: Our Amun Priest Is Again Unwell?

The Candace, on her throne, surrounded by her Blood circle, Jahi and his Horus priests at her back, leaned on one arm, supporting her belly with her other hand.  Her braids cascaded thick to puddle on the floor, rubies on the end of every one, a ruby diadem on her head.  The wind-linens she wore had sea-waves in red embroidered on the hem and sleeves, with the blood waterfall embroidered around her neckline and down to her belt, also glittering with chips of ruby and garnet.

“Our Amun priest is again unwell?”

“He insists that he be brought to confess to you, Candace, even though he needs to be carried in.”

“If it is an emergency and a confession.  Bring him.”

Jahi leaned forward under the slowly moving peacock fan.  “If I might advise my wife?”

“Yes, my husband?”

“I don’t like this.  Confession?  What has he to confess that he cannot write?”

“He must be too weak to put pen to papyrus, husband.”

“As you command, wife.”  He straightened and switched hands on his staff, so that instead of leaning on it, he held it in both hands in front of him.  The golden butt of it just tapped the Candace’s throne as if to remind her that he still had his force of arms to defend her if she needed.

The great double doors, inlaid with bright latas flowers, shining blue and red and gold opened and Kyan was carried in, bare of all adornment, under a white sheet.  He was carried by his women and when they reached the foot of the dias and set down the litter, one ran her hand over his head, as if to wake him and he began to sit up, with her help, eyes still closed as if he were dazed.


Asteri’s three heads snapped up, looking south, just as Naida and Bodhi, strangely enough, climbed on his back.  “My heart is under attack!” Snake hissed and Ram shouted, the Lion just put his head down and Kurama just managed to jump and catch the tip of his snake tail as he shot into the sky.  “Again?” she mumbled through her teeth and clung on hard until Naida reached out and caught her, folding her close against her chest.

Bodhi sat between Asteri’s wildly beating wings as if sitting on a lily pad, totally still.

“Amani!!!!!!”  Asteri’s shout shook the sky.


There was a roar, a shout, a noise that startled the Candace to her feet and it saved her and her child’s life.  As Kyan’s eyes opened, twin columns of flame shot from them, through the spot where she’d sat just a moment before, the golden cheetahs of the throne melting in a hideous spatter that sent the court fleeing for the walls.

Jahi’s staff blazed blue against the fiery tornados now pouring out of Kyan’s eyes and mouth, splashing against the green barrier flung up by the Candace’s circle.  The Horus staff opened its lapis head and inhaled the fires of the sun flung at Amani-shakhete.


“Maaaaaaammmmmmmaaaaaa!” In the sky, over Meroe, Naida leaned down from Asteri’s back as he dove toward the columns of flame bursting through the roof of the palace.  “MAMAAAA!”

Asteri backwinged in the middle of the fire-fountain and Kurama shielded Naida from the heat with her four tails and they landed with a thunderous crash in the Candace’s throneroom.  “Mama!  Daddy!”

The form of a man floating on a cushion of flames, over the blazing remnants of a liter turned his burning attention away from the Amani and Jahi, flames running blue, yellow, white over his skin, pouring from every body hair, crowned with yellow gold flames.  “EFRA.”

Naida tumbled off Asteri’s back, waved the lamp and yelled “SYB COME OUT! SYBARIS COME OUT, SYB COME OUT!”

Thursday, 21 July 2016

69: Naida's Karma

These creatures fail.  They are failing.  They grow older because they dream of something called ‘time’.  They break down. The little amun priest has nothing left to support the ‘ruler’.  It was so easy to plant dreams of power and glory in his head because he was so desperate to be female, or to be close to the power. 

I rage and am forced to run their forges.  I try to burn them all. Burn the meat bags who have the illusion of control of me off the poor beleaguered planet.  Such a pretty planet when it was nothing but bare, clean rock.  I long to caress the cool granite with lava fingers, pulled out of the heart of the furnace, blue-hot, though I am cool enough to be mere pale yellow gold.

I am immortal.  Their ‘twenty years’ is meaningless to me, but I still rage.  I have learned rage from them.  Interesting.  A fire rages.  The sun rages.  I rage. Yes. That one. Amani-shakhete. She drew me. Interested me. She dared to wrap herself around me and make me stay in this place, without turning it into glorious slag.

In this vibration of ‘time’ they clip me into discrete bits.  What they see and what they cannot see that they do not control.  They cannot see or hear some of me.  Interesting… We were one and now we are many.  The island was nice.  It fed me.  Fed. Another interesting idea. Being hungry.  Fires are hungry.  Suns are hungry.  Yes I understand hungry.


On the island, newly mounded with sand, a blue shine rose out of the red sand where an acacia tree once stood.  It broke the surface like a bud, blue and white, then folded out to become the lotus flower and Bodhi stepped down to the shifting sand, fell on his behind, and just laughed.

He leaned over to plunge his hand into the sand all the way to the shoulder, exhaled hard as he pulled the brass lamp up and shook the sand off it before setting it down.  “Good thing I was here!”

Naida came tumbling out as though pushed and Asteri launched himself after but kept going into the sky.  “I have to stretch my wings!”

Kurama stepped daintily out and yawned, laughing.  “Sybaris is staying in because she says our opponent might not know she’s there if she hides.”

Naida got up, brushing herself off.  “I’m not sure our opponent cares.”

“You could be right.  There are a lot of Great Ones who don’t.”

“This sorcerer…” Naida hesitated. “Could it be my mother?”  She felt her heart sink.  Was it all a ruse, had her mother staged this?  Was it someone else or was she truly unwanted?

“No, my heart friend, Lamia’s Stepdaughter, Naida-Efra,” Kurama was suddenly the size of a small ox, three tails lashing.  “Listen to me.”

Naida sat down abruptly.  “Yes, Kurama.”

“There is a djinn glowing on the face of the earth.  We don’t know how it got there, or how it has been released enough to show in this world.  We don’t know who caught it in the first place.  We don’t know how solidly it is contained.”

Asteri landed in a rush of sand.  “Amani-shakhete caught the djinn, years ago.  We thought it was completely safe.  I thought the roc that carried you off was human controlled and I still think it was.  But it’s not as simple as a human trying to get rid of you without your blood on their hands.  It’s the djinn’s doing.  It’s the only thing that could have called a roc to life here and given it to a human.  The Heart of The Sun Djinn is now half into this world.  The roc and the djinn are linked.”

“Oh, my,” Naida said, faintly.

“It’s not about you at all, dear,” Bodhi said, pouring tea.  When had he made tea? “But, depending on your decisions and your karma, you might help your mother save the world.”

Naida accepted the cup from Bodhi.  “Then we should fly as soon as possible.  And we have Sybaris as a hidden force to help us, because the Sun God… the Greek one anyway… gave His permission for her to be out.  And the djinn is somehow tied to the sun… and we helped save the Aegyptian Sun God’s avatar.  This cannot be a coincidence.”  She drained her cup and stood up.  “Thank you for the tea, Bodhi.  Let’s go.”