A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 42byTaLtos6©
***This is a tad long here, I think, but I wanted to move along. I hope that some of the revealed background fits, but in this, Dakhete finally remembers and Yasmin learns a thing or five herself.
Book of the Djinn Part 5
No one said anything to her that morning, but by her count, Yasmin was certain that it was her birthday. She thought it a bit odd that Khyan said nothing of it to her. He must have known, she thought. The way that he'd kissed her that morning had taken her breath away and when his kisses had begun at her throat she'd wanted to drag him back to her bed and just ...
She looked down at her breakfast of bananas and wanted to curse. Bananas again. And again.
Dahkete appeared at the edge of the small city, leading another group of human settlers to the place that she and they hoped would become their new home. Dakhete nodded and spoke to anyone who came to her about something. They walked through the streets until they came to where Yasmin and Khyan trained with Piankh to watch for a little while, admiring the way that the pair seems to be a little competitive between them and how that seemed to drive the two of them to learn and train harder. She'd had to admit that even though they were both more than human, she'd never seen anyone learn and master what was taught so quickly.
They walked through the small but busy marketplace and ran into another newly-arrived group of settlers. After welcoming them and offering to help them to find suitable land, they chatted, recognizing Khyan from Napata. It began even more conversation for a time, but that faded suddenly as Dakhete sensed something different as they were making to leave to go back to the palace.
She stopped and looked to her right suddenly. Far out there at the edge of the city, she could see a few specks moving in the shimmering heat. Yasmin and Khyan looked as well, standing on their toes to see over the heads of the crowd. All that Yasmin could see were two blobs, but she could tell that they were getting closer.
She heard Dakhete's quiet gasp and asked.
"It is only someone that I thought that I would never see again," she said, "When they arrive, both of you watch me and do as I do."
By now the crowd had turned as well and spoke in hushed voices and whispers. The two blobs changed into one larger one for a little while and then became two once more, before finally coalescing into two jackals who loped slowly side by side, but a strange thing happened then.
A bull and a cow walked from a clearing and stood for a moment looking at the jackals. As the pair of jackals neared the cattle, one might have expected some sort of reaction, either defensive or threatening, but neither happened. They only joined with the Jackals and began to amble almost beside them.
As they approached further, they were joined by lions who rose out of the grasses -- three males and five females, and Yasmin wondered if they were the same ones that she'd seen a few weeks before. She was a little surprised that neither the jackals nor the cattle seemed to be nervous about the lions at all; they only made a little room for them on the path and they all walked together, though they stayed with their own kinds.
She was even more surprised when a pair of large cobras slid onto the pathway in front of the approaching lions and looked toward them. When the group neared the snakes, the serpents began to shift and grow. Yasmin gasped as the snakes seemed to transform themselves into a pair of snake-headed women who only waited.
As the group came abreast of the women, they shifted as well, the jackals became a humanlike pair, though their heads remained canid-like, one a dusty tan color and the other one rather larger and pure black. The cattle became humanoid in appearance except for their heads as well. The lions and lionesses transformed themselves into a group of people with the heads of cats. All of them looked around and saw the multitudes of shades who kept their heads down and many obviously trembled in fear.
"I wonder what has happened to my eyes," Dakhete said quietly as she stared, "to see something such as this." She turned to Yasmin, "This will either go very badly or well."
As the strange group walked closer, they moved among themselves. It was the lionesses who came to the fore. The lions allowed this and hesitated enough for the jackals and the cattle to catch up. The cow stepped forward to walk with the lionesses and they all allowed the snake- women to join with them as they stepped forward and stopped.
They stood looking serenely at Dakhete, Yasmin and Khyan.
"Who are they?" Yasmin whispered.
"Gods," Dakhete hissed, "The Eye among them, of all things, and here, right in Meroe."
"The eye?" Yasmin repeated, "What eye?"
"Never mind." The Kandake whispered sharply, "Kneel before them, do as I do."
Other than the odd group, nothing much seemed to have changed. There was a hot breeze puffing a little fitfully and off in the grasses and trees, the birds seemed to think that nothing out of the ordinary was happening at all.
"I cannot think," the woman with the bovine head smiled, "that I can recall a time when this many -- thirteen of us all stood in one place together. But this is a different time in an old place.
Do you know us, famed Dakhete?"
Dakhete raised her head and nodded, "I do, Hathor, Lady of the House of Jubilation. I feel such honor."
"We do not know if you should feel as honored as perhaps you ought to know your luck," the goddess said, still smiling, "To have this many together speaks of our regard -- and it speaks of the times as well. We all know Dakhete from long ago, but who are these ones with you?" she asked in a whimsical tone and then she continued speaking, as though to answer her own question.
"This one, this Khyan, he does you much honor -- more than he knows, perhaps, coming to you from where he does. To have been away as long as you have, Dakhete, and to still draw subjects to you, and more than that, to have this one know you and wish to serve -- as he does in his heart, that is high honor."
She looked down at the young man, "Rise, child. There is no need to grovel. None of us feels any wrath toward you.
And this Yasmin here, "she said, "a young thief and once so desperate to stay alive. So unlike her to have almost given up and accepted the cruel fate which you saved her from, Dakhete. This one who begins to train so hard for you. Do you know why?
She is happy to know your love, Kandake. As is Khyan, the prince."
Yasmin looked down, ashamed at having her feelings announced this way.
"Just as you are so quietly hopeful for hers -- even with your self-doubts that she could return your love," Hathor continued, "Raise your eyes, Yasmin. There is no shame in this love. To do what is being done in this place requires either much gold or a want to love the queen."
Yasmin looked up and then her eyes snapped onto Dakhete, who was looking down herself for a moment.
The goddess chuckled, "For the moment, I will not even say much of it, but neither of you know of what burns in the heart of Khyan for you both. Friendship and love at the start of a kingdom's rebirth. That is not why we have come. It is only pleasing to us to see it. For the young ones here, I will tell of my companions around me.
Anubis is here," she said, sweeping her hand toward the dark jackal lord, "He is curious, ..."
"And he would know," Anubis said, "why you raised these ones in their multitudes, when the dead are my domain."
At once, Dakhete knew her transgression. She bowed her head, "It is unforgivable," she said quietly, "I thought only that I would need help to begin here again. I should have sought for you and asked."
"You should have," Anubis replied with a nod, "And I likely would have refused. But you only raised them and I watched, and seeing what you would do, I am pleased. This would be worth your soul otherwise, but not today, Dakhete. Do as you will, only if you can remember me the next time, be sure to ask."
Dakhete nodded, feeling relief.
"Menthu the war god is here as my friend," Hathor said, "and he wears the horns of the bull out of his anger, though not with you or what you do here. This will be explained in a little time. First, there are things to be said and revealed, understandings to be agreed upon, duties to be spoken about and this is not the place for that."
As she spoke, Najmah sidled up to Yasmin and stood a little against her. It caused Hathor to smile.
"Your beast behaves more like a dog than an ass, I see. She knows that you are about to leave and wishes to be with you, just as your cat companions now stand next to you. We will allow it."
Yasmin was startled, "I am leaving?"
"You three will come with us, the beast too," she said, "so that the words which we have for you may be heard only by those for whom they are intended. We go to another place of Kas," she said as she raised her arms and in a moment, they stood near a temple far from Meroe.
Yasmin wasn't sure what to do about Najmah, but one of the lioness women nodded to her, "Bring the beast inside," she said, "we hold this as an illusion to suit us all. She will not have been the first ass in this place since this fell into disuse. If she wishes to learn as well, let her come inside."
The interior was pleasantly cool and servants bustled about. The three were ushered to couches and they sat as the goddesses stood before them. Najmah drifted around the room a little, but she settled down at last and only stood near Yasmin, happy to be out of the sun.
"We," Horath said, indicating herself, at least one of the serpent-headed ones, and the group of lionesses, "We are The Eye of Ra. Whether together or even one of us alone, we are The Eye."
"We are a part of Ra's power, though as such, we are also able to act independently of Ra," one of the lionesses said.
"We smite and destroy the foes of Ra," another said.
"We protect Ra, the faith, the land and its people," said a third.
"Our purpose is legion, "one of the serpents said, "and may represent many aspects. If our famous sister goddesses Hathor and Sekhmet stand together, the people may see the combination of Hathor's gentle and nurturing nature beside Sekhmet's blood thirst, though to ourselves it may have only been one of us speaking with the other over something not related to those aspects at all. The people have always looked for signs from us."
"While there were still people who cared to know," a male lion god remarked quietly from the other side of the room.
Dakhete nodded as she looked at one of them in particular. She knew all of this, of course. The fog which had pervaded her earliest memories lifted at that instant and she knew everything once more. The object of her gaze looked back and held out her arms, "This is also a time for meeting one's family in joy," she smiled, "Come to me, hidden daughter, for there are no unwelcome eyes to see us now."
Dakhete fell into Sekhmet's embrace and the two wept for a time. "I have always watched and guided you in your thoughts when I could," Sekhmet said sobbing, "It does nothing for my heart as much as this, to hold you once again, now that you have returned to me."
Yasmin and Khyan stared at them, and then looked at each other in amazement.
"I will try to help," another of the lionesses began, "They need time," she smiled.
"It has been long for them." She sat down on the couch between the young ones and looked from one to the other as she spoke.
"Something which must be understood is that to humans, the gods never change and in fact we change little. What changes is human perception of us over much time. At first humans were more simple, yet they had questions. How to explain everything about us in words and terms which might be understood? No matter what was attempted by us, it was always not correct in how they understood it. After a time, we gave up," she shrugged.
"As an example," she said, "Imagine that you try to show how the gods are to someone who you cannot even make yourself understood to. Their way of thinking and their speech would not permit it. You cannot say 'I see you' and be understood when the other says it as 'See I you.' They needed simple order and they were not happy unless they had us fixed in their simple minds, each one to a purpose.
The Green Lady I was called because a human saw me weaving a new mat for myself and told of it to others. We said nothing against it because it was hopeless. Even so, some of it was more or less correct.
What muddied everything were the priests, "she said, "We should never have allowed that. They lived like leeches on the backs of the hard working, taking a measure of food and wealth in exchange for their fantastic and stupid interpretations of everything. The locusts came and they said that the gods were displeased. The Nile flooded early and they said that we were happy with them. It was such foolishness, and I even slew a few of the priests myself for their insolence and fanciful tales of who they might imagine that I would take to my bed.
I am called Bast and in what was Lower Egypt, I was the Lady of Flame and many saw me alone as the Eye of Ra. As it happened, there were others, as there always had been. There was even another like me," she indicated Sekhmet with her hand.
"Pure chance and happy luck to us both, for we became fast friends when we met and we always have been. She has lived in Upper Egypt while I dwelt near the river mouth. In truth, we are much the same, though she is more violent when roused. When the two Egypts fell under one banner, the humans began to confuse us and many thought that we were the same goddess. We do not care any longer, and those people are gone,"
She looked at Khyan and smirked, "Well, almost gone. I can say sitting here, that from what I see and feel, humans have grown much wiser over the time. You are not really one of them, none of you three are. To you, I could explain everything as it is and you would understand. A little sad that it has taken so long, but I am happy to meet ones such as you.
But that is the past, and in the past, some of us saw ahead, far past the ending of the time that we were worshipped. Sekhmet and I were among them. We knew that long after the pharaohs were no more, something would happen that would place this world -- all of it -- in peril long after the start. All things have an end, even us," she said, "But we know that this can be undone before it truly happens.
Long after the pharaohs were dust in their tombs and mighty Egypt had fallen, a large object passed close by the world. It did little outwardly to it, but it caused changes. In thinking of numbers, most of the humans are now gone and return slowly. But there are things now here on this world -- and they come more every day -- which may cause an end to humans altogether, or more likely, only absorb them as one kind of man has always done to another over time. Even we cannot see that end clearly and so long ago, we chose to act as though humans would die out if we did nothing.
We wish to do something," she said, "As what we are, we could live here ignoring the new kinds of creatures, but we choose to help man. There are others here who have come. They seek to help man as well, they tell themselves, but we know that it is only for their own purposes, no matter what they say to one another. It has happened before."
Sekhmet and Dakhete came to them then. "We needed weapons," Sekhmet said, "but time was against us -- not as one would think. We had too much and needed to wait, but fortune comes at a time of its own choosing, even for us. You three each believe that you have no purpose and wonder if there is one for you. We have a need. Be our weapons for this world, and you have your purpose."
She stopped then and thought, "Perhaps I say too much too soon, and there is this boy who wishes to be a part of anything that you both do. Let me tell of how my daughter came to me, and he will see that he has a stake in this too, and that you and he are not far removed from each other.
In man's simple mind, a female must be the wife or consort to a male. I was the consort of Ptah, but like all of us, I was not bound to him. In my travels, I chanced upon one seldom seen anywhere, a male of a kind known as a Djinn."
She looked a little embarrassed for a moment, but she recovered in an instant. "I have been known to make certain -- choices a little hastily. But in that one, I saw a male who stirred my heart, to say nothing of my loins, and I took him as mine for a time until we parted. It took a little time to see that I was with child, and I knew that one of the weapons needed was in my own womb, far too early. I birthed you and loved you Dakhete, knowing that we would need to be parted one day for such a long time. The pain that I carried in my heart, ...
In my time, I also learned that there was a race of other gods here, ones who wished to shape mankind to their ends as well. We met and they offered to teach my child their ways in exchange for her service to them. I agreed, though it tore my heart, since it would allow time to pass and you would learn from them. They clouded your memories and became your masters, Dakhete. You have outlived them, killing the last of them yourself as was planned.
This world, this hobby or pastime that they indulged themselves in was a game which plays out longer than they could live. I knew this but it hurt me so to watch it. I will never allow us to be apart for long anymore. It has cost us too much, but it had to be. A god can act as he sees fit, but you are not all god and must act as you need to. For that, you needed their teaching."
She stood with Dakhete, holding her daughter close, her face carrying a proud smile. Dakhete looked a little dazed, but she was obviously happy to have her memories of her mother returning to her at last. She had been loved, she knew now, and she understood why what had happened needed to be that way.
"This one here," Bast said as she put her arm around Yasmin and hugged her a little, "She has her own lineage." She looked to one of the males, and he nodded as he stepped closer.
"I wish to say something," he began, "and I do not know how to begin so that you will understand, so I hope to show you in this way instead, "he said as he reached out slowly to lay one large pawed hand on Yasmin's shoulder.
In the instant that they touched, her eyes, which had been fairly wide at all of this anyway, flew open as did her mouth. He leaned down a little and he took her shocked face into his hands. "Sometimes, things happen," he said, "and we may not wish for the way that they do, but they happen regardless. They may even be for the best, though that is not to be seen for a time.
I wandered for a long time, with no one to need me or care. Even one such as I am feels this need at some time. One night, I found myself at one of the wells in the city where you come from. I had nothing on my mind, I only looked around myself in the darkness, wishing for a way to have a drink.
A young woman came to the well and I was not careful. I thought only to change myself so that I would not frighten her as I am now. I gave no thought to it, but the way that I looked had its effect on her, though it was not what I wanted at first. Seeing me in the darkness there, she was a little nervous at first, but I assured her that I would not hurt her and she felt more at ease.
We spoke for a time, and she told me that she lived with her brother. I saw what the brother wanted for her and I told her that she was much too kind and lovely for that kind of life."
The lion-headed god looked down a little as he remembered it. "She had never had a male before and she begged to have me as her first. I argued, but she wore me down and I took her to an oasis in the desert."