The Candace, on her throne, surrounded by her Blood circle, Jahi and his Horus priests at her back, leaned on one arm, supporting her belly with her other hand. Her braids cascaded thick to puddle on the floor, rubies on the end of every one, a ruby diadem on her head. The wind-linens she wore had sea-waves in red embroidered on the hem and sleeves, with the blood waterfall embroidered around her neckline and down to her belt, also glittering with chips of ruby and garnet.
“Our Amun priest is again unwell?”
“He insists that he be brought to confess to you, Candace, even though he needs to be carried in.”
“If it is an emergency and a confession. Bring him.”
Jahi leaned forward under the slowly moving peacock fan. “If I might advise my wife?”
“Yes, my husband?”
“I don’t like this. Confession? What has he to confess that he cannot write?”
“He must be too weak to put pen to papyrus, husband.”
“As you command, wife.” He straightened and switched hands on his staff, so that instead of leaning on it, he held it in both hands in front of him. The golden butt of it just tapped the Candace’s throne as if to remind her that he still had his force of arms to defend her if she needed.
The great double doors, inlaid with bright latas flowers, shining blue and red and gold opened and Kyan was carried in, bare of all adornment, under a white sheet. He was carried by his women and when they reached the foot of the dias and set down the litter, one ran her hand over his head, as if to wake him and he began to sit up, with her help, eyes still closed as if he were dazed.
Asteri’s three heads snapped up, looking south, just as Naida and Bodhi, strangely enough, climbed on his back. “My heart is under attack!” Snake hissed and Ram shouted, the Lion just put his head down and Kurama just managed to jump and catch the tip of his snake tail as he shot into the sky. “Again?” she mumbled through her teeth and clung on hard until Naida reached out and caught her, folding her close against her chest.
Bodhi sat between Asteri’s wildly beating wings as if sitting on a lily pad, totally still.
“Amani!!!!!!” Asteri’s shout shook the sky.
There was a roar, a shout, a noise that startled the Candace to her feet and it saved her and her child’s life. As Kyan’s eyes opened, twin columns of flame shot from them, through the spot where she’d sat just a moment before, the golden cheetahs of the throne melting in a hideous spatter that sent the court fleeing for the walls.
Jahi’s staff blazed blue against the fiery tornados now pouring out of Kyan’s eyes and mouth, splashing against the green barrier flung up by the Candace’s circle. The Horus staff opened its lapis head and inhaled the fires of the sun flung at Amani-shakhete.
“Maaaaaaammmmmmmaaaaaa!” In the sky, over Meroe, Naida leaned down from Asteri’s back as he dove toward the columns of flame bursting through the roof of the palace. “MAMAAAA!”
Asteri backwinged in the middle of the fire-fountain and Kurama shielded Naida from the heat with her four tails and they landed with a thunderous crash in the Candace’s throneroom. “Mama! Daddy!”
The form of a man floating on a cushion of flames, over the blazing remnants of a liter turned his burning attention away from the Amani and Jahi, flames running blue, yellow, white over his skin, pouring from every body hair, crowned with yellow gold flames. “EFRA.”
Naida tumbled off Asteri’s back, waved the lamp and yelled “SYB COME OUT! SYBARIS COME OUT, SYB COME OUT!”