The baby roc hurtled out of the exploding island into the night sky, screaming its pain and rage at having lost its prey and been defeated and imprisoned. It tumbled in the soothing radiation in the upper atmosphere and grew, and grew. It devoured ash and drank in the spilled blood of those dead in the disaster.
But the thing it ate most was shame. A roc losing its prey? A roc forced to drop an infant? The human wizard had paid in dream pain for setting it on such a tiny morsel but the Chimera chasing it had not let it settle to devour the child, nor even lick the blood of the father off its claws. The Chimera had grown and grown and fallen on it in a thunderbolt, ripping itself into three, one to catch the child and two to fight and drive the bleeding core of itself into the depths of the earth, into the life-giving lava, but sealed the door and left it locked away for more than a decade.
An eye-blink of time but cut off from the radiation from the sky, from the asteroid belt and the crackle and spark of the moon generating lightning in a thousand ways the roc… no name now. Un-Named I shall be! It cried. I am Un-Named!
It could not see or smell the prey it had lost, but there were traces of heart-creatures all around the eruption bearing her smell.
It nursed its rage and its thought on the wind from the sun, and considered. As it floated above turning earth it caught a streak of light hurtling across the plateau and down Chomolungma leaving a trail of power and sparks of stars in its wake.
Its wings began to unfurl in the warm sun and it turned its fiery eye on the snow below. The creature hurtling toward the Silk Road moved so quickly that rock and melting snow and slush tumbled down the sides of the sacred mountain. It yipped and chirruped as it ran, as though laughing, lightning following in its footsteps.
The roc folded its wings and opened its beak, feathers burning as it fell through the air. Its target, a red speck on a snow field looked up, jumped all the way to Chukung but couldn’t avoid the deadly strike completely. It was knocked, tumbling, leagues away crashing into snow pack in Mahalangur Himel mountain and all the snow and rock crumbled in around it falling all the way from the peak, burying it in tons of ice.
Self-satisfied, the roc flapped its wings once, twice, and soared back toward the heat rising from the golden deserts. The prey, if it lived, wouldn’t get its heart creature. If it lived, it would be dreadfully damaged.
It was strong enough to rise past the earth’s moon now, to rise up and swim in the oceans of one of the other belted worlds… the thick seas of the Elemental moon. The roc shrieked its defiance to the wizard who would have it hunt specks of meat on a thin aired planet. No more petty magics.
It ripped the blood collar of its slavery off its leg and dropped it into the Indian sea.
The High Priest in Kush, in the middle of the prayers for propitiation and succor to all those under the column of fire, fell unconscious, blood streaming from his nose and ears.
Briut, the second priest, picked up the litany as acolytes carried Kyan away to the healers and people wailed that someone or something had attacked their Voice of Amun.
The Candace stood before her throne and joined her voice to the priests' until calm settled on the temple.
“Kehemet,” the Candace beckoned to her mother-in-law as she sank back down on her throne. The woman leaned close as though she had asked for a sip of water from the cup she held. Amani-shakete sipped and under the cover of the goblet whispered. “I would speak to you after. Someone is attacking us and we need to find out who.”
“Of course, my queen,” she said, eyes rimmed with kohl and with lapis powder. Her phoenix raised itself on the back of Amani-shakete’s throne, and sang with the priests.