Re waved his hand imperiously and Wadjet bowed as only a serpent could. She turned on herself and Naida found them all protectively encircled by the green snake body and her cobra hood spread, green and gold, to shade them all from the Sun’s fury. Naida could see Sybaris like a black and green shadow of the Goddess and her fear went away with her out-breath. Syb wasn’t gone, and now she wasn’t locked inside a tiny cage of a lamp, however big iw was on the inside, it was still a prison. She hadn’t even complained once and Naida knew that she missed Temis every moment.
And… she herself hadn’t even met her parents and suddenly there was going to be a little brother or a little sister there. I want to get home before the baby is born. I want my parents to myself for a little bit before I have to share. Syb keeps telling me they love me and miss me. She drew a shaky breath. If they don’t I’ll run away and live with Syb and Temis. That thought made her feel even better.
“Children,” Wadjet said, and Bhodi, sitting cross-legged with his hands in his lap laughed.
“Yes, oh Goddess,” he said. Her hand, with wing feathers blazing gold, came down into the shadow of her hood to run fingers over his bald head. “Even the Divine are often plagued by karma.”
She hissed a laugh herself. “Indeed. Especially the youngest in creation.”
“How is it so cool in your shadow, oh Lady of Flame?” Naida asked. There was a bump and the barq transformed again, into the night barq as it settled down on something. She stood up and looked around frantically as her lamp blossomed into golden light.
“Because it is night again,” she said. “Re is impatient to rescue the avatar of Bast, and –“ the ear-splitting snarl of an enraged lioness interrupted her and Wadjet reared up still protectively encircling them. Then there was a whole pride of lionesses prowling all around the front of the barq.
They were on the roof of a temple in the middle of the Nile. “FATHER GET ME OUT GET ME OUT GET ME OUT THAT WART ON AMMAT’S BEHIND KILLED ONE OF MY LIVES I ONLY HAVE EIGHT LEFT. GET ME OUT! HE’S PUT ME HERE WHILE THERE IS HORRID HORRID FLOODING AND I’M NOT ABLE TO GET OUT. THE ROAD IS GONE, WASHED AWAY AND THE CITY IS BUILDING WATER WALLS AS FAST AS THEY CAN. ALL THIS NASTY, NASTY WATER UNDERMINING MY PERFUME GARDENS!”
It was true… the temple was actually lower than the rest of the city and the Nile had washed in and around foamed at the base of the stone walls.
Re turned in the middle of… Naida counted eight… images of the same woman with a lioness’s head. She held the same sistrum and the buzz was like a venomous snake about to strike.
“Calm, Bast. Calm. I will replace your road and it will be magnificent, but I need you to come and face the priest.”
“CAN I/we EAT HIM?”
“No, no. I have a better fate in mind.”
“Feed him to Ammat, LET HIM LIVE A THOUSAND YEARS IN HER GUT!”
But as She raged around the bright blue, Horus Headed God, tail lashing in rage, Her numbers grew fewer. Seven. Then six. Four. Three. Then finally all eight melded into one being, one girl.
Wadjet held out a cup of wine to Re, who took it and sipped from it Himself before giving it to Bast. “Drink something. It will calm you down.”
She took the cup and proceeded to drink as if it were an ever-flowing cup. One tiny goblet couldn’t hold the quantity of wine She drank out of it, and when She gave it back to Re it was still full.
Re offered Her a cone of perfume and She actually unbent enough to stroke both cheeks against His before bending Her head to accept the offering.
“I’m calm, Father. I’m calm. Let Us go and teach this priestling what happens when you enrage a cat.”