“SKIN-ITCHING, CROTCH-SNIFFING, CLOT-BLEEDING, PEELING-ARSED WITCH!”
Naida had her hands over her ears but was both appalled and in awe of Sybaris’s cursing. She’d never seen the lamia that angry.
“These are all delaying tactics, Syb,” Asteri said quietly. “Obviously this sorcerer has been doing what she can until she’s in full flood.”
“Or his circle is in full flood,” Kurama said. “You’ve been thinking this antagonist is a woman all along because of the magic but in the Floating Lands a man can be a sorcerer if he has a Bleeding Circle.”
Syb and Asteri both stared at her, then at each other. Asteri shrugged – an impressive sight with five sets of interlocking shoulders – and looked away. “She’s right,” he said.
“Or,” Naida said. “Isn’t human at all, though I can’t think why an ushera would want to meddle with humans and their power games. I couldn’t understand why Yal was so mean to me and we’re both the same kind.”
The haboob outside was loud enough that they could hear the howl of the wind and then the gradual muffling as the lamp was buried in the sand. “Of course,” Kurama said with disgust. “The wind isn’t going to scour things clean, but bury us.”
“This opponent of ours can just waste strength burying us here because we needed to rest anyway, after someone—“ Syb smiled at Asteri with her fangs folded down for a moment, almost too fast to see “—used up so much energy to break out of the last delaying spell…”
“To good effect,” Kurama said, tartly. “Bodhi would say ‘We cannot change the past. Accept it and move on.”
Sybaris looked down at the fox and Asteri started laughing. “Kurama either one of us could snuff you up a nostril without blinking and you still just say things like this?”
“Yes. It’s what I do.” She yipped and settled onto Naida’s lap where she’d sat down on one of Sybaris’s massive cushions. “Has anyone thought about dinner?”
Kyan dumped another carefully horded blood-jar over his head, sitting in a puddle in the middle of his courtyard, his fearful tears clearing tracks down his face. She CAN’T come back, it will expose me and everyone will want me dead or exiled and my loves my circle my family will be broken apart and they will all blame me and it was because I wanted power and that voice that whispered to me about glory and freedom and THE voice that’s become so loud I can hardly hear myself think… If I were exiled I’d be free. Freedom… to do what I want. To go back to the sun to cleanse myself in Her fires… what am I thinking? This isn’t human. This isn’t me. Amun help me.
Jahi rubbed his wife’s back as she wept, rocking around her pregnancy. “Love, it’s all right. The baby is safe. You can feel her kicking so she’s fine.”
“It’s HIM,” she snapped. “He’s pouring dreams into my head to terrify me into making a mistake.”
“Perhaps you should let HIM go?” Jahi tried to make it a mild question but she threw a horrified glare at him.
“If I let HIM go then HE’s free to do what HE wants on the surface of the earth! Goddess, no! I have to figure out how to imprison HIM forever. HE keeps… ah… HE might have been the cause of the island blowing up… and the other volcanoes around the earth, trying to make me free HIM.”
“I love you. You did the best you could with what you had.”
“Love,” she sobbed. “I’m so tired and the Goddess just hasn’t answered my prayers for help. I couldn’t even stop someone else from calling a roc, to take our child…”
“Hold on. I feel that things are going to be fixed soon.” He tapped his staff of office on the tiles, lightly. “I’ll hold you and our daughter is coming home, we saw. Things are going to be all right.”
“I hope so.” The Candace curled around herself and rocked. “I can’t see it right now and I can’t sleep and I’m so tired.”
“Let me hold you my wife.”
“Thank you, my husband.”