Naida dreamed of a gigantic face looming over her. A face the same colour as hers and another face, darker, with a deeper voice. My parents. She knew. She stretched her hands out and they faded away from her faster and faster, with the thrum and crash of thunderwings.
And then the coil of snake as Asteri coiled around her, broken wings trying to break their fall, lion head still clamped onto the roc’s thigh as it fled. The squishy smash as they hit the ground, but she was all right. She rolled clear and Asteri limped away, in pieces that evaporated on the stoney ground.
“Hey. I won that fight,” he flung his goat head back, brandishing his horns. “You’re here. You’re in one piece.” In her dream he reared up on his hind legs, front paw and front hoof, both golden, flashing as they pawed the air. “I will make my spirit partner proud of me and bring you home.”
“Of course, Asteri. You are magnificent.” Naida knew the words from somewhere.
The Re’s barq is settling before it should, another ash storm blowing in, unseasonal. The Gods of AEgypt turning Their attention to saving their people.
The clouds were full of filthy rain that was falling all unseasonal and untimely and Naida dreamed that Bodhi took the lamp and he and Asteri walked up to a cliff where there was a little overhang and Bodhi sat down, cross legged and Asteri came up and spread his wings over him and somehow became part of the stone so that they were all safe inside.
Inside. Where… oh, yes I’m sleeping on Sybaris. And Kurama is my pillow and… the AEgypti Gods have all gone to Their home.
Oh. I recognize you. You’re the Sun God who doesn’t like snakes.
“Maiden, are you in danger from this foul creature?”
“Don’t talk about my godmother like that. She sings me lullabies and protects me and teaches me. She’s smart and kind and doesn’t eat children. They’re too boney she says. She likes aurochs and heaven ram best because they’re so fat.”
His face gets all red. “Are you MOCKING ME?”
“No, oh God of the Sun and oh… hey have you ever heard Sybaris sing? She’d be a worthy voice for your divine lyre, I think.”
He puffs up and then gets confused and there’s a giggle and His twin dances through on her toes, waving a bow under his nose. “Hey!”
“The child is right, oh brother mine! You condemned her on the hearsay of jealous men and you’ve never heard the siren sing!”
“I don’t have to. I don’t like snakes.” He sounded like a sulky boy.
“Silly patriarch!” Artemis laughs right out loud this time, not a giggle. “Snakes are our mother’s image… at least one of them. And owls. You took over the Pythoness’s eyes and cast a pall on all the lamia and the medusa and their sisters. Jealous. Let the lamia sing.”
There’s a long silence, even in a dream and the wind outside the cave of Asteri howls and scours his back and bent heads. Bodhi smiles and shrugs.
“All right, snake,” the God says. “You may come out of the lamp and sing.”