The Sun Twins blazed up but before they vanished, Naida was certain that she’d seen Artemis wink at her. And the niche they were in was suddenly big enough for all of them to come out of the lamp and for Asteri to fold his wings and there was a cave with a glittering sun stone shining at its vertex.
Naida launched herself out of the lamp and latched onto Sybaris in a huge hug. “You can just be out! You can, and ow, ow, Kurama, how did you get so heavy?”
The fennec fox with four tails now gave a foxy grin, tongue lolling. “I knew you could out-sing that two-faced, plinking, ‘special’ artist!”
“Now, now, Kurama. Be respectful. I won’t notice that it was your voice that called for me to sing…”
“Me? Of course I would never do such a thing! It would put my friends into danger, though we were safe and sound inside that lamp. You do amazing work, milady.”
“Don’t try and distract me with compliments,” Sybaris snapped.
Naida caught up her fox and looked at her, nose to nose. “YOU endangered Syb? YOU were the one who suggested she sing for THE lyric poet God?”
Kurama licked Naida’s nose. “Yup. And I prayed too. Milady heard me and gave you lots of strength, didn’t She Sybaris?”
The lamia had an arm around Naida and just lifted the two of them up to the level of her face, or lowered her face, Naida wasn’t sure. “She did.” Her eyes narrowed to two flaming slashes of red, flickering. Her mouth stretched open and her fangs folded down from the roof of her mouth. “Foxth,” she lisped, tongue flickering in and out and up and down. “If you ever endanger me or Nai again, for your convenienth….ssssss…. Without athking me firtht… I will open my mouth all the way, do you underthtand?....SSSSSSSSSSSS!”
Kurama looked at one fang on one side of her head, and then turned to look at the other fang. “Um, this is how many warnings?”
“All RIGHT, all right. I’ll ask. I’m a fox and I just do things.” She drooped pathetically in Naida’s hands, only three tailed again.
Naida shook her and looped her around her neck, pulling her braids out from under. “Stop it with the poor me, I’m only a fox,” she said. “I know better and Syb knows better, and Asteri knows better.”
She turned to Asteri. “Could you feel how long this nasty storm is going to last?”
“Could be a few days. Could be more.”
“Well, I’m glad we have this lovely chapel to Apollo to shelter in,” Naida said. “It was good of Him to leave it for us.”
There were a few faint snaps and juicy crackles as Sybaris folded her face shut again. “Of course. And you’ll have time for some more lessons. And we’ll be staying in one place long enough that I will be able to see into Temis’s library and talk to her.” Her longing for her partner showed clearly on her face.
“Oh, good,” Naida said. “We get to rest.”
Bodhi, who stayed out of the way, as his wont, sat cross-legged, fingers pointed up on his legs like flames, a smile on his serene face.
And mama and papa will have to wait to see me again. Maybe I have enough protectors and Asteri might be grown enough to send him on ahead? He’s mama’s ushera but he’ll be able to tell them all about me.