When the lioness finished destroying the last night creature, it turned and everyone watched in horror as it began a slow walk directly toward Phoenix. But then it slowly transformed into a woman with short black hair and golden eyes. By the time she reached Phoenix, the final box that separated them vanished and she caught Phoenix to keep her from falling. Then she embraced Phoenix and kissed her lip to lip in a true lover’s kiss. It was hard to say what Phoenix thought of that kiss since she did not even have the strength to stand on her own; but it was easy to see she did not exactly struggle against the idea. When they separated, Phoenix said the woman’s name.
Wadjet simply smiled and spoke with some volume. “I always wanted to do that.”
Then a man appeared out of nowhere, an older man who looked wise with experience. “Enough,” he spoke from Wadjt’s elbow. Wadjt bowed her head to the man and stepped back so the man could catch Phoenix. He kissed Phoenix on her head like a doting father, and again Phoenix identified the person.
“And her husband right here.” Amun scolded Wadjet who did not look the least bit embarrassed. Amun leaned over Phoenix’ shoulder and waved to Baran. Baran said nothing, but he took his hand from his ribs and smiled up at the man.
All this while, the big housecat sat and watched. It did not so much as wash itself.
At once everyone could move again and two lovely women came into the clearing escorting a man who was tall and lean and yellow skinned and looked crooked. He protested. “It isn’t fair.” But no one listened.
There was a brilliant flash of light reminiscent of Phoenix’ fire and four more men appeared to face the crooked man. One burned like fire. One had the head of a long beaked bird. The normal one had a skull cap and a square trimmed beard. The last had the head of a jackal. The latter three stepped back as the one that was shining and full of light stepped forward.
The crooked one whined one more word. “Father?”
The shining one offered no preliminaries. “The Kairos has served her term, and honorably. The rest of her days are her own and to be respected. You stay away. I will be watching all the day long.”
“And I will watch in the night.” A new voice entered the clearing, but this man never became fully present as if he did not belong there. He could be seen well enough and identified. Indeed, Boston blurted out the man’s name since the travelers had met him before. “Varuna.”
Anubis of the Jackal head stepped forward, but stopped on the word of the bearded one.
“The Kairos was counted among all the gods by an act of all the gods. The presence and pledge of this one simply affirms her place.”
There was yet another gruffer and hearty voice. “And I will watch both day and night.” The man who appeared, this one fully, was a giant, being eight feet tall. He wore a simple robe and carried a simple staff, but there was something about the eyes that made him hard to look at, like they penetrated too deep.
The bearded one spoke again. “The far seeing of Heimdahl is legendary even among the gods.”
“So be it,” the shining one said, though he did not sound happy with all the outsiders. He waved his hand and they all vanished with the words of the crooked one wafting on the wind.
“It isn’t fair.”
Wadjet turned her eyes once more to Phoenix and smiled before she transformed into the biggest cobra any had ever seen. She slithered off back into the delta, and Katie was hardly able to keep from screaming.
Papi Amun kissed Phoenix once again on the forehead and restored some of her strength. “Be good,” he whispered and vanished.
Last of all the big cat moved. She came up to the Phoenix and, big as she was, she acted like a true housecat. She purred and rubbed Phoenix’ legs before she changed into the most beautiful woman of all. When she kissed Phoenix on the cheek, she faded from sight. That left only Baran, Phoenix and the travelers at the house. Even the carcasses of the night creatures had vanished.
“Would someone explain to me what just happened?” Lockhart said with a look at Lincoln and at Katie.
Phoenix rattled off names. “Bast, Amun, Wadjet, Isis, Nephthys, Ptah, Thoth, Anubis the Ra, Aton, and Set in the middle, with Varuna and Heimdahl attending.”
“Wow.” Boston leaned into Roland. He had his arm around her shoulder.
“Quite a collection,” Lincoln said as he pulled out the database.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Baran confided to Lincoln.
Katie shrugged as Lockhart spoke again. “Would someone explain to me what just happened?”
Next Time: Avalon 2.2: Jericho …