Thousands of light years away, Drakian made his way back to the nearest human establishment. Last time he visited Earth the humans had the most basic of farms, with only simple mud huts for shelter. Seeing the civilisation before him made him wonder for how long he was trapped. The farms stretched in long paths away from the river, with irrigation canals stretching away from the river to water the growing plants. As he moved down the river, the farms slowly gave way to houses – simple hardened mud at the outskirts, slowly replaced by houses with more structure, some of which had multiple floors.
At first, there were little to no humans around, with only a handful working on the surrounding fields. As Drakian moved closer to the city and its center, more and more people were walking around. Initially, everyone was too consumed by their daily chores to notice the glowing eyes of a passer-by, but as the amount of people around him grew, a handful started to take notice, quietly sharing their observations with their neighbours. Before long, Drakian was followed by a circle of gazes and hushed words, with everyone steering clear of his way.
He paused at the city’s center and leaned on the hoe he was carrying. The entire marketplace was silent, aside from the whispers that were constantly being exchanged between people, and Drakian wasn’t going to change that. The unusual lack of activity was bound to attract attention faster than any commotion he could cause.
And indeed, within a few minutes the crowd opened up, letting through two caramel-skinned men, both wearing sleeveless robes. The man on the left was younger, in his early twenties, his robe bearing only a few colored stripes and markings, while the man on the right was a few years older, his robe decorated with a multitude of various golden hieroglyphs.
Simultaneously, the pair raised the wooden staves they were carrying and pointed them at Drakian. “We have to ask you to come with us. Now.” The man on the right said in a firm voice.
“Sure,” Drakian responded without hesitation, dropping the hoe he was leaning on and coming closer to the two mages. They looked at each other in surprise, clearly not expecting the lack of resistance.
“This way,” the same man spoke, leading the way back where they came from. Drakian followed behind, with the other man walking behind him. They moved through the city without a word, as the regular buzz of the town began to resume behind them. They didn’t walk for long, going off the main road and stopping at a grand, limestone temple, with sandstone columns lined at the front, behind which the gigantic wooden entrance stood – etched with hundreds of different pictograms.
The two humans lead him through the various corridors until they reached a large, windowless chamber – lit up only by the torches hanging from the sides of the four columns that supported the ceiling. Opposite to the entrance, a woman stood at the edge of the torchlight, with her back turned to them. The two men kneeled down, with the older one forcing Drakian to do the same as he spoke up. “We brought a man with a glow in his eye, oh great Bast.”
The information caused her to tense up. She raised her left hand, straightened two fingers and made a swift wave with her palm. The men understood the silent command and hastily left, closing the massive door behind them. As soon as the mages left, Bast turned around and came into the light. She wore a light white robe, decorated with golden jewelry. Her body was that of an idealised female, topped with a head of a cat, whose black fur clashed with the brown skin that covered rest of the goddess. She came closer as her eyes carefully scanned Drakian before she puffed in dissatisfaction.
“Good to see you too,” Drakian said as he stood up. “I had expected Ra to find me first. Is he out venturing?”
Bast gave him a sad glance before turning around with a sigh. “Ra’s gone, Drak,” she said as she made her way back to where she was standing earlier, sitting down on a stone throne that hid in the darkness. “Hasn’t been seen for a thousand years. I’ve got every mage across the Nile looking for him, but it’s like he just vanished.”
“Did he not say anything before disappearing? It is unlike him to leave without a word…” Before Bast could respond, the door swung open with a powerful gust of wind and in came a tall man, wearing a white toga, followed by four more, similarly dressed men.
“So this is the man you’ve been looking for?” The stranger’s voice was full of confidence, at the same time sounding as if he was already bored of the conversation. ”Can’t say he looks special, but if you want him then so do we.Whoever you are, you’re coming with us.” As the sand from the suddenly opened door settled, Drakian noticed that behind the intruders, on the floor laid the mages that brought him here.
“How did you-”
“Know that you found someone?” The man cut Bast off, finishing the sentence for her. “I have at least ten times the eyes you do, I knew of a mysterious glowy-eyed stranger strolling around the farms before he was brought here.”
“And it took you this long to get to him? Is the messenger getting slow or did the sand get in your sandals?” Bast crossed her arms as she taunted him with a smirk.
“That is no way to talk to your superiors-”
“You are not our superiors” the goddess cut him off, summoning a spear out of thin air and throwing it straight at the man in the center. In the fraction of a second between her releasing the spear, and it hitting its target, the man stepped to the side, allowing the spear to miss him and lodge itself in the hallway wall. After it passed him he moved right back where he was standing, as if nothing had happened. ”You’re too slow, kitty,” the man said as he rolled his eyes. “And besides, I’m not here to fight. We outnumber you three to one, so just give whoever-this-guy-is up and we’ll be on our way.”
Bast looked at the group in front of her, and then at Drakian beside her before looking back at the group with a mocking smile. “Three to one? I thought you Greeks were supposed to be the enlightened ones.”
The man responded with a confused look, which was quickly replaced by that of anger as he realized what she meant. “Morpheus, get your lazy ass over here!” From the hallway another man came in, his bent posture and gray-streaked hair giving him an elderly appearance. From his back, two large wings portruded, looking as out of place as Bast’s head did.
“No respect,” Morpheus mumbled as he came into the room.
“Must I remind you which one of us is an Olympian?” Morpheus shook his head in response. “Good. Now put this man to sleep so we can take him without any… issues.” Morpheus nodded, using his wings to straighten his posture. “While he does that, you four hold the cat in place.” The men on his sides nodded, and in an instant the room filled with fast-moving wind, coming from all directions towards Bast, pushing her to the wall despite her madly flailing arms.
Morpheus moved closer to Drakian and both stared at one another long enough that the Olympian had to shout a reminder that their goal was to capture and not to observe. With a sigh, Morpheus raised up his hand and started incantating a spell under his breath. The moment he started Drakian knew what he was doing – trying to put the dragon’s host’s mind to sleep.
Drakian allowed him to think that he was succeeding, letting the body fall limply to the floor as he stepped to the side, hiding himself from anyone’s sight. “That took longer than usual, guess there indeed is something special about him.” The man in charge stepped up to the body, picking it up with strength that vastly exceeded what could be done with the limited muscle mass situated on his forearms.
“What about her?” One of the men ordered to keep Bast in check asked.
“I’m a god, I have my honor – killing her with all of us against one would be a stain on it. Just leave her like this,” he said as he turned towards the door.
“No, stop! You can’t just take him from us!” Bast protested as she struggled against the invisible forces of the winds.
“I don’t think your kitty brain understands the situation. I can do whatever I want, it’s you that can’t do anything to stop me.” With that, he took off, leaving the temple at an inhuman speed. With a sigh, Morpheus spread his wings to follow him, while the other four tried to keep up, with one tripping over the mages on the floor.
“‘No, stop’? Is that really the best you could do?” Drakian asked after the men were all gone. stepping back into the reality, taking the form of an energetic dragon “I thought Ra taught you better than that.”
“He did,” Bast responded, unphased by Drakian’s sudden appearance, making all of the wind that kept her trapped disappear in an instant, allowing her to gently land on the floor. “So I knew you wouldn’t just let them take you like that.” The goddess headed out of the room to check up on the mages lying on the floor. “Good, only asleep,” she murmured.
“Could you explain who those were?” Drakian asked as he followed her out of the room.
“Hermes, Morpheus and the wind brothers – Greek gods of speed, sleep and, well, wind.”
“What is ‘Greek’?” Drakian interrupted as they headed back into the dimly lit chamber.
“Another civilization that popped up extremely close to us. Recently it grew in power and invaded our lands. Egyptian mortals lost without much of a fight, so now the gods expect the Egyptian divine to give in just as easily,” Bast paused, before continuing in a less saddened tone, “but you’re not here to help us fight. You’ve been gone for so long… why the sudden return?”
“I… I was imprisoned and could not come for a visit.” Drakian looked away in shame, sitting down on the floor beneath him. “And even now, I am afraid I did not come here as I used to do… ”
“Well then, what brings you to our planet?” She inquired as she walked around the dragon. ”Seeking refuge from your perpetrators? Or is there something special here that you need, mrr?” She finished with a purr as she stopped in front of the dragon, staring down at his snout.
“Sadly it seems that who I am looking for is nowhere to be found,” Drakian looked at Bast, watching her facial expression change from frivolous to grave.
“You… You’re here for Ra, aren’t you…?” She took a step back and, after the dragon nodded, turned around to walk over to her throne in the shadows. “I hoped you two were together, and that’s why you were gone. I always knew it was an excuse, but at least it gave me some comfort…” She sat down on the throne, resting her cheeks on her palms.
“As I was saying before we were interrupted, did Ra say anything before he disappeared?”
“Yes, yes he did,” and with that she started drawing mid-air, leaving behind a purple streak of energy as she did. First she drew an eye, then a line extending from the bottom of it, going from Bast’s left down and right, curling at the end. Finally she added an eyebrow above the eye, completing the symbol. “Iret!” The eye started to shine brightly, the purple lines replaced by golden ones, with the inside of the eye filling in with aqua-colored, substance that seemed to flow downwards constantly, but did not overflow out of the eye’s frame. The pupil of the eye started to move, as if it was looking around the room, while Bast continued with her incantation: “Mes rek- -mesneg!”
The eye froze and, after a short period of silence, words started to come out. They were all spoken in a single voice, similarly sounding to that of Drakian, with only pauses to indicate changes in speakers.
“…orked hard here and wouldn’t want my work ruined by an unfortunate event when I leave.”
“You’re leaving? Ra, you can’t go! We need you here!”
“For once I agree with Horus, we do need you here. Where on earth did you get the stupid idea of leaving us?”
“ I’m not leaving yet you fools. Within a millennia a new power will rise, and they will come to wage war at our land. They have their own deities, and I want to give them a fair chance. Which means I’ll stay away from the fight. I may go visit the hidden worlds then.”
“That’s a very ‘you’ move to make… so what about the aliens? How are you going to deal with them without the artifact?”
“Simple answer: I won’t. I will go and retrieve it right now.”
“After that, he disappeared,” Bast spoke again after the eye went silent.
“ <span style=”font-family: cursive;”> And that was the last you have seen of him?</span>” Drakian asked as he went over what he just heard in his head.
“Officially, yes-” before Bast could say more, the eye started to speak again.
“You look roughed up, I figured you-”
The eye went silent as suddenly as it started speaking, but it said enough for Drakian to move his head to the side, giving him a clear view of the goddess, uninterrupted by the floating hieroglyph. “And non-officially?”
“Well,” Bast pouted her lips “You know how he usually comes back almost instantly after his trips? Well, he did, and looked like he walked the full day’s journey in an hour. He ran into some troubles along his journey,” she waved her hand letting the eye speak up for a short moment.
“-it has proven to be more than expected-”
Bast clenched her fist, causing the eye to pause its speech. “He wasn’t done with his quest, but he came back for some reason. Said that he wants me to make sure Horus becomes the head of our gods and – well listen for yourself.”
“I want you to ensure Horus becomes the one in charge.”
“Replacing the ruler of the pantheon? So you are leaving us.”
“I already told you I’m not.”
“Then why do I feel like it’s the last time I will see you?”
“Because you’re of little faith, Bast. But you are right that it may take a while for me to return. Part of my abilities came from the artifact, and I have only so much leftover energy left. It will be hard to pinpoint exactly when to come back once I get the sword, so it could be decades before I return.”
“Fine, go do your thing, I’ll tell the kid to keep the kingdom together.”
“Await my return. I’ll find you, whenever it will be.”
“And that was the last I saw of him,” Bast closed her hands together and the eye began to slowly evaporate.
“Horus?” Drakian asked, confused. “Is he not the childish one with the never-ending stream of questions?”
“He was,” Bast said with a sad smirk before continuing. “He grew up quickly when he realized that without anyone in charge, Apophis and Seth would take control, and that’s the last thing he would want.” Bast paused, but seeing the dragon had nothing to say she continued. “I’m hoping that Ra will maybe show himself after we come to a resolution with the Greeks. But judging by their attitude, there is no peaceful way of solving this…”
“And this means that war is the only solution, or is there another way?”
“Sadly, there isn’t,” Bast stated as she stood up, starting to move about the room as she explained further. ”But Horus won’t let us go to war. Without Ra, we cannot resurrect like we’re used to, so our recklessness could be our downfall. Because as far as we can tell, the Greeks hardly resurrect – if at all; so they’re used to this semi-mortality already.”
“What if I help?” Drakian stood up and blocked Bast on her path. “I may not be able to resurrect you, but I could be of aid in battle.”
“Ra didn’t want to interfere, he wouldn’t like it if you did so,” she said in a worried tone.
“But he is not here, and if fighting this battle is what is needed to get him back, then fight it we shall.”
Bast looked up at the dragon, consumed by conflicting thoughts. She didn’t like the idea of using Drakian as a replacement for Ra – especially since having one of his kind in battle was specifically what Ra wanted to avoid. On the other hand, the proposition gave her a spark of hope that perhaps she could see Ra again and ask him about everything. “Okay…” She started reluctantly, “I’ll go tell Horus and-”
“Before you go,” Drakian stretched out his wing to block Bast from exiting. “Two conditions on which I will help.”
“Oh?” Bast turned towards the dragon with a spark of curiosity in her eye.
“First off, the time and place,” Drakian folded his wings back as he began to explain. ”I promised someone to be back within a few days, and I intend on keeping said promise. Depending on how long it takes you to deliver the message to the Greeks, the battle has to happen tomorrow or aftermorrow. And the place has to be far away from mortals. I do not want any casualties.”
“Those northerners are always eager to fight, so I’m sure we can arrange something easily. As for the place…” Bast paused as she thought through all possible locations. It couldn’t be anywhere remotely close to the Nile – and she’d prefer to be on their territory when fighting. Then, it struck her. “How about Atlantis? It’s in-between us and them, and not a live soul anywhere close, unless a stray boat passes above.”
“That sounds reasonable, but what about the Atlanteans?”
“About wh-” Bast started, but instantly paused as she realized how long it had been since Drakian’s last visit. “They… They’re all dead…”
“What?!” Drakian asked, shocked “How did that happen?”
“We don’t truly know, but somehow the air became poisonous,” Bast frowned as she scratched herself behind her ear. ”We suspected Seth, but he claimed to have nothing to do with it. Either way, we don’t need to breathe so it’s not a problem.”
“I see…” Drakian paused for a moment to ponder what could’ve been the cause of the ‘poisonous air’, but decided it was best not to dwell on it too much. “The other thing I need is for you to stay out of the battlefield.”
“What?! But Drak-”
“No.” The dragon stopped her firmly before she could say anything. “Ra said he will find you. Not that he will come back here, but that he will specifically find you. You know how he is with his details, and I cannot risk you dying, understood?”
Bast wanted to argue – wanting to say how she wouldn’t stand aside while others fought for her – but knew there wasn’t a point to it. “Fine,” she said with a sigh and continued with an annoyed tone. “I’ll wait here while you all fight, is that all you want?” The dragon gave a nod in response. “Good, I will inform Horus of everything.” The goddess walked over to the door and opened it. “Oh, and while I’m gone,” she paused, turning around to Drakian “Could you make sure my mages are all fine? Thanks.” Without waiting for an answer, Bast started to shrink down, letting fur grow along her skin, phasing through her clothes as the fabric got slowly absorbed into the black coat. Within moments she turned herself into a cat, which ran out of the temple hastily, leaving Drakian alone with the sleeping mages.