Standing before the Shining God, two small human figures stood. The little girl in the double crown raised her chin and spread her hands, one with the crook and one with the flail. “You are the Re,” she said. “But You are the Amun as well.”
“You see clearly child.” Amun-Re bent his head and placed one finger on her forehead. “With Me you shall be safe. Safer than your mother. I am sorry.”
“She trusted You,” the little girl said. And the God flinched.
Naida caught her breath. How on earth could a God flinch? “I’m sorry,” He/They said. “My priest here just didn’t care about earthly things like love. Empathy. Mothers and children. Even species survival.” His burning eyes turned to the man with the staff. “You were one of My voices on earth. Well?”
The wind flowing from the God buffeted the man this way and that, plastering his robes against his body. “I sacrificed humans to the idea of ultimate power, yes.”
“And yet you have enough feeling that your blood circle loves you.” The God’s sharp hooked beak turned sideways as he stared at the priest first with one eye, then the other.
“You KILLED my mother because she wouldn’t obey you!” The little pharaoh shrilled. “And you KILLED one of Bast’s lives! You nearly killed Re’s boy avatar and you led to Amun’s avatar being taken up. That’s NOT being a good priest.”
He turned to the pharaoh and bowed, exactly correctly. “Many, many more people would have died if your mother had continued in her course of war.”
“She was defending Egypt!”
“She was expanding an Empire.”
“Enough,” Amun-Re said, quietly and both humans bowed to Him. “Royal House, you have accused. Please go sit with Bast and Wadjet as your protectors and advocates, while I speak to this priest.”
She bowed even deeper and ran to sit in Wadjet’s coils. Naida was suddenly jealous because she hadn’t been able to cuddle with Syb like that for a very long time. Kurama licked in her ear and Asteri rumbled a purr at her. Bodhi bobbed in his lotus, watching.
“Priest… you have forgotten that most of My worshipers are concerned with one life.”
“I am abjectly sorry, oh God. That is my fault.”
The Horus eyes of the God grew even more fiery gold. “Your humility is a form of pride, oh priest.” Nieth-Amun drew breath as if he would dare and interrupt but the God raised one talon-tipped finger to silence him.
“LET ME PLAY WITH HIM!” Bast snarled and sank to all fours.
“That would not be just, oh Bast,” Amun-Re said. “Oh priest. You would have power and truth?”
“That would be my highest blessing, oh God.”
“Excellent. Then I bless you.” He turned and shrieked a word into the sky and a surge of mud rose out of the Nile and rolled into the Temple.
“Oh, Gods,” Asteri said, and sat down, wings clamped tight to his back, tail coiled hard around his paws and hooves. “He’s called Amit.”
“Who is Amit?” Naid asked.
“The Devourer,” Asteri said. “She can eat ANYTHING. Crusher of Bones.”
“Even sin and evil,” Bodhi said quietly. “There is nothing in creation that cannot be remade in Amat’s gut.”
“Oh.” Naida put her hand over her mouth.
The Goddess that heaved up out of the mud was awe inspiring and terrifying. She had the head of a crocodile, the hind quarters of a hippo, the torso of a cat. Bast howled and Amit roared back, like a lion.
“You who would be Highest of High priests, so you shall be!” Amun-Re proclaimed. “You shall be the First Priest Attendant of Amit, She of the crocodile head and hippo gut. She who cleanses all. She who passes all.” Everyone was looking around, confused, until Amun-Re waved his hand and the High Priest’s staff became a shovel. An electrum shovel but still, a shovel.
“I will not see you again, until you have learned true humility at Amit’s backside,” Amun-Re said, and Amit seized Nieth-Amun in her long jaws, complete with his excrement shovel, and they vanished in a blaze of yellow fire.
“I give him a thousand years before he learns,” Bast said smugly. “Fifteen hundred years, tops.”