“No, Naida, your mother’s capitol city is much larger than that. Think of the city where we picked up Bast.”
Naida put her head down on the scroll. “I just can’t remember such stuff. I’m an idiot when it comes to these things! She’s going to think I’m a complete empty-headed fart brain!”
Bodhi, sitting in his meditation giggled quietly. “Fart-brain! Very funny. Untrue, but still very funny! Fart-brain!”
“All right, rather than tell me how big each city is… tell my about them in your words, from what you’ve read,” Sybaris said. Kurama, curled into a hollow in a cushion, whimpered and farted in her sleep.
“Ew!” Naida held her tunic up over her nose. “I just remember Napata and Meroe.” Sybaris nodded encouragingly. “Meroe is where we’re going to go when this filthy ash/rain/snow stops. It’s really cold for this time of year, even in the highlands.”
“Yes. Go on.”
“There’s trees around both Saba and Napata… oh, Meroe used to be called Saba I think… that was before we started making iron. Lots and lots of iron.”
“That’s good. What else?”
“Oh, we make jewelry and if there’s extra crops people bring it in to Meroe so we can spread it to places that had crop failures… oh, and our armies kicked that Roman Empress’s butt!”
There was another snort from Bodhi and a chuckle… then “fart-brain and Empress’s butt!”
Sybaris wound around Naida and the cushion she sat on, and the one with Kurama on it rose up off the floor so Syb could hug her declared daughter. “See? You know more than you think. Just keep reading about that.” Her taloned finger tapped the scroll on Naida’s lap.
“Do I have to read more ‘mister-they’re all brute savages and eaters of donkeys?”
Bodhi fell right over laughing this time and Naida sniffed. “Well, listen! I quote:
On the right-hand coast next below Berenice is the country of the Berbers. Along the shore are the Fish-Eaters, living in scattered caves in the narrow valleys. Farther inland are the Berbers, and beyond them the Wild-flesh-Eaters and Calf-Eaters, each tribe governed by its chief; and behind them, farther inland, in the country towards the west, there lies a city called Meroe."
— Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chap.2
“Well,” Bodhi said as he sat up again, wiping tears of laughter out of his eyes. “He’s certainly full of himself, isn’t he?”
“Yeah. Fish-Eaters? Is that where we are?”
“That sounds like a lovely idea. Going hunting underwater means you don’t have to deal with the ashes falling out of the sky,” Sybaris said. “Hey, fox!”
“… yes, yes, I heard. I’ll get us some fish… I’ll even get us a fish big enough for your appetite!”
“No, don’t do that,” Syb said. “I don’t want to be asleep when Naida gets home!”
“We’re that close?”
“Once it stops raining/slushing outside we’re about a moon’s walk away from your home and a week’s ride by water, since we’re past first cataract. If we get a boat…”
Sybaris snorted. “A boat? I shall stretch my length for the first time in hundreds of years and you can all ride on me! I get to SWIM!”