I, Sybaris, Spinner of Light and Darkness, Sister to all the Medusae, Defender of Children, The Lurker Beneath the Bed who Eats Darkness, call upon the Shining Twins in the name of a child. I call upon Apollo and Artemis, not for myself. Athena, Wise One, oh, Olympians, there is an injustice and a hubris happening in the lands You call Yours.
“WHAT SAY YOU, SNAKE?”
“A human wizard or wizards called a Roc into existence, to carry off a Queen’s child and I wish to let her parents know that she is safe and being instructed by Temis and I.”
Owls. Owls and Horses. Waves of all the Seas of the World. Bees and White Stags. The White Doe and an endlessly pouring glass of wine. Forge Fire and Goddess Blood and Thunderbolts rumbling, Blue Fire, Darkness and waving Grain, Spiders and Flowers and Bears and sheep, herds and herds of sheep, a Distaff and a Drop Spindle, as the Olympians debate.
“PERMISSION TO REACH OUT OF YOUR PRISON, SNAKE. FOR A QUEEN’S CHILD’S SAKE."
I bow low before the Godssssss.
“She’s mocking you, you know, brother.”
“Shut up, Hermes.”
The Candace stirs in her sleep and the rope bed on lion feet, that keep tender human flesh up off the floor, away from the scorpions, creaks. Her consort puts out a hand in his sleep and takes hers. Intersting. Her spirit shows venom where there should be none. I shall have to tell her. I recognize venom.
“Amani-shakete.” “Jahi.” My dream talons draw their spirits out of their tiny dreams and into the greater one. “My name is Sybaris.”
Jahi raises his staff between his wife and I, the hawk’s eyes shining brightly as the Son of the Sun wonders if He wants Snake for lunch.
“Peace, my love,” the Candace says, her hands brimming over with blood and power that she holds up to me. All the blood of all the women with her shimmering in her soul. “She comes peacefully.”
“I do.” I coil myself away from them, politely. “I have permission from Those Who imprison me to speak to you. Your daughter is alive. Asteri is with her, growing up once more. They have sheltered with Temis and I and I have taken a liking to her. Her Ushera has not yet come but is on its way.”
“Wife, let me go fetch her home!” Jahi’s eyes are as bright as the falcon’s.
“The winter is deep already here, with the first blizzard burying us in ash and ice, after the Goddess’s answer to Atlantis kissed the sky.”
“I see. Do you have the power to show her to us?”
A single drop of my blood shines on the end of my talon and in it, reflected as in a mirror, is Naida-Efra, in her shining joy of the library.
“She…” The Candace’s voice nearly breaks with love and pride. “She looks happy, though underfed!”
“The villagers who succored her mostly died in the disaster,” I say. “I will be her teacher until she can come to you in the spring. I will see her schooled as a princess.”
Jahi grabs for his wife’s hand and nods at her. “Be more than just Teacher, oh Lamia.”
Goddess. They know me? She reaches out a finger and touches the ruby in the centre of my forehead. “Be her Guide and God Mother.” The woman’s power is like a jolt through my centre, all the way down to the tip of my tail. I… respect her.
“I will. You needn’t compel. I will be her Spirit Mother to the end of my strength and Asteri and I will see her home.”
“If you need help, fly into our dreams and we will spend our strength for her and you.”
“Indeed. She is loved. Amani... look to who gives you wine... there is venom there...Good night, parents of my child!”
I tumble back into the bars of my island cage, their stretch snapping me back over leagues of space, my trail a falling star against the Belt. I am coiled into a knot and confused. I haven't been so confused in a thousand years! How on the earth did that happen? She and he are like my sisters, coiled around my heart when all I did is open a small space for a small girl. How did that happen?
Sybaris groggily opened her eyes in her hot pool, stared around as if she’d never seen her firefly lights before, shifted her full belly a trifle and pillowed her head on her arm, going back to sleep.