Bastet’s Fearful Symmetry

ra, apep, bastet

A depiction of the Egyptian gods Ra, Apep, and Bastet

The 27th Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

“I can’t believe this. You’re telling me that the snake is really something called a Lord of Chaos whose name is Arioch and who by the strange magic of randomization accidentally merged with Apep, the ancient Egyptian god of chaos and evil?”

“That’s about it, Gramps. We in trouble, big, big problems.”

While Gramps and Landon were shivering in terror, the snake addressed the god with the head of an eagle.

“I may be merged with this strange snake god Apep, but if you seriously mean to threaten me with that toy of yours, you will feel the full wrath of Arioch.”

“I know not of this Arioch of whom you speak Apep, but I do definitely intend to test the limits of your immortality with the blade on my staff.”

“Buddy!” Landon cried out. His mini-railroad lantern around his next was burning as bright as it could. “Get us out of here.”

“Buddy have good idea…run!”

The small Ambrosial dragon began to dash away from the two combatants and Grandpa and Landon followed. They started running down hill as the sound of powerful magic spells being weaved screamed and echoed behind them. Then, it was as if a giant wind picked up the three of them and tossed them through the air. Grandpa and Landon were helpless, but of course, Buddy had wings and could fly. He was too small in his present form to carry the two humans and was about to use a levitation spell to slow their descent when Landon beat him to it.

“See?” He called up at the dragon. “I do remember my lessons.”

“Good, good. Very good. Land in valley. Need a plan to get home.”

Buddy rejoined Grandpa and Landon a few seconds later. The older man said, “I’m afraid this is somehow my fault.”

“What do you mean, Grandpa. How could you do any of this?”

“You two remember my friend in Egypt, Dr. Issa Salib.”

“Yes, Grandpa. What’s he got to do with this? Is it because he’s an archeologist? Does this have to do with the Mummy we had to fight when we were in Egypt?”

“Sort of, Landon. Issa gave me a computer file with all of his research, the type his government doesn’t encourage. They wouldn’t have let him keep it and he even could have lost his job just for having it, so he asked me to smuggle it into our country and keep it safe.”

“No safe, No looking safe at all to me, Gramps.”

“It was on my laptop. When that Arioch or whoever he is turned our living room inside out, some of his crazy magic touched the computer and somehow brought Issa’s research to life.”

“More like transported us back in time to Ancient Egypt, Grandpa.”

“Not time travel, more dimension travel. Mythical dimension.”

“Mythical dimension, Buddy?” Grandpa thought he’s heard everything now.

“Ancient gods exist because believe, worshipers believe, like in imagination dimension, fantasy is real.”

“Meaning we’re in an unreal world, one that exists only because the worshipers of Ra and Apep believe they exist.”

“Yep, yep, yep, Gramps.”

“How do we get out of here?”

At the top of the hill where time hangs between day and night, in the eternal twilight, Ra and Apep (or Arioch in snake’s clothing) continued to battle wielding spell after deadly spell as if they were swords.

“You surprise me, Apep. You have changed your battle tactics considerably.”

“Maybe now you’ll believe that I only bear the appearance of Apep but am truly Arioch, the Lord of Chaos and Duke of Hell.”

“It matters not what you call yourself, vile serpent. I will extinguish you regardless of your name.”

“I think not. We are too evenly matched. This is why Ra and Apep battle dawn after dawn, dusk after dusk, and nothing ever changes. Except that I am not Apep, so perhaps that will give me the edge.”

Watching the incredible battle from the safety of the valley below, Landon’s right hand began to ache. It was the Soul Coin. It was reacting to the presence of Arioch. The eight-year-old realized that the Chaos Lord was weakening. The Spirit of the Emperor Dragon inside the coin longed to release his energy and join the fight while there was a chance to dispatch the Lord inside the snake.

The child felt himself starting to float again, but he didn’t remember re-envoking the levitation spell.

“Landon, what are you doing?”

“I can’t help it, Grandpa. I’m not doing it.”

Buddy fluttered around the rising Landon. “You are, you are, I sense, it your magic, but something else, something else here.”

Normally, no being magical or otherwise could sense the Soul Coin or the Spirit it contained unless the Coin desired it, but now that the Emperor was exerting so much energy and taking over Landon’s powers, he and the coin became detectable.

Buddy used his own magic to counter Landon’s levitation, but since the boy’s spells were being re-enforced by the Dark Dragon’s soul, all he could manage was to suspend the child in mid-air, stray bolts of energy falling around them from the epic battle above.

glowing hand

Found on YouTube

“Buddy, you’ve got to do something.” Landon held out his right arm and opened his hand showing his palm to the dragon. Buddy could see the Soul Coin and realized it was mystically fused with the flesh, blood, and bone of his best friend. If he couldn’t find a way to stop the Emperor’s power, Landon would be pulled into the middle of a fight that would almost certainly kill him.

Buddy turned his head and looked back down at Grandpa who was helplessly standing and staring up at them. The small golden dragon threw a magical bolt at the older man, hitting him square in the chest and knocking him down.

“Buddy! You hurt Grandpa! Why?”

Landon felt hurt and betrayed. Why would Buddy suddenly turn on Grandpa when he had shown the dragon nothing but kindness?

“Not hurt, not hurt, you see, you see.”

Landon looked back at Grandpa and was shocked. He was sitting cross-legged on the ground and he was glowing. His lips were moving but he was speaking too softly to be heard, especially over the sounds of the fight from above.

Then tendrils of light began to shoot forth from Grandpa’s body up, up, up toward the top of the hill. But how was all that going to help and how was Grandpa doing all of it?

Arioch felt himself growing tired. If he were really the snake god, his magic could have withstood the attacks of Ra endlessly, but the Lord of Chaos was unable to adequately wield the serpent’s power, and in this body, he didn’t have full access to his own. He was at a dual-disadvantage. When he started this quest, he felt it would be child’s play to get the proper information out of the humans and the little dragon, but now he realized that this day, he could die.

“If I go down Ra, I’m taking you with me.”

“Strong words from a weak worm, Apep.”

Arioch prepared to channel all of his remaining eldritch energy into a single burst. It would probably cause a crater a mile wide and half a mile deep and destroy him and well as his bird-headed adversary, but it would be worth it. At least, along with Ra and himself, he would also kill the two pesky humans and their small but troublesome friend the dragon.

The Lord of Chaos coiled his body and then sprang forth, drawing power from all around him including from Ra. The Egyptian sun god staggered under the sudden assault and for the first time understood that the battle might not end in his favor.

“I see you boys are at it again. Don’t you believe in inviting a goddess to play with you.”

A woman’s voice, but it was hissing and purring, almost like a…

“A cat.” Landon could hardly believe his eyes, even after everything he’d been through. She had the body of a woman and the head of a cat.

“This is not your fight, Bastet.”

“I disagree, Ra. Our legends say that I am to defend you, since I am the goddess of the Sun, and it will be my claws to cut the snake to pieces.”

The cat goddess cried out like her namesake and five obsidian claws raked half the length of the snake.

Arioch and Apep both cried out. They turned black, like tar, oozed and twisted, and then there were two, the snake and the Lord of Chaos in human form.

“By all the realms, what trickery is this?”

“I do not know, Ra. My attack would have killed any single god, but two?”

Before the startled onlookers could react, the snake slithered around a corner that wasn’t really there and vanished back to the underworld.

Arioch was lying on his side and amazingly, he was bleeding out of five long scratches extending down his left ribcage.

“I…I don’t believe it.”

As Arioch was not the enemy of Ra or Bastet, they were uncertain how to respond, however the Emperor Dragon inside the Soul Coin knew exactly what to do. Buddy’s spell vanished around the boy and he was pulled by his right hand toward the Duke of Hell, the coin glowing black and purple in his palm.

“Landon, no!”

The Spirit of the Emperor Dragon, sensing how vulnerable Arioch had become, was moving in for the kill. If he was able to release enough chaotic energy, the dragon might once again escape the coin, and this time, there would be no one to put him back or into an accursed sword.

Landon wanted to use the magic of the dragon trapped inside the coin, but he didn’t know it could use him.

“Help me, Buddy!”

“Another interloper. A child but not from the race that worships us.”

“It’s not the child, Ra but something possessing him, something else.”

Arioch looked at the approaching Landon and recognized the energy coming from the coin stuck to the palm of the boy’s right hand. “Just when I thought this day couldn’t get any worse.” The Lord of Chaos chuckled fatalistically.

Again, Buddy did the one thing no one expected. He fired a magical energy bolt at Landon, into Landon, into the lantern around his neck, out again, and into Arioch.

A whirlwind of pure chaos opened sucking Arioch inside and threatening to consume everyone on top of the hill, which now included Ra, Bastet, Buddy, and Landon.

Landon felt like he was inside a tornado spinning around and around, not knowing which way was up, down, or out. “BUDDY!”

Then everything stopped. Landon had his eyes shut tight but he could feel something around him. It was Buddy, His paws and wings were wrapped all around him. Were they both pulled into the whirlwind? Were they both dead?

He felt the dragon letting go so he opened his eyes and looked around. They were back in the living room as if nothing had happened. Grandpa was standing in the hall looking in with his laptop still in his hand. No, it wasn’t the same as before. Grandpa looked really, really confused.

“Uh…I’ll be right back.” He walked toward his bedroom.

“Buddy!” Landon hugged and hugged the dragon. “What happened?”

“Tell later, tell later.” The golden dragon nodded his head. Landon turned in that direction and he could see Daddy carrying his sister Dani, now in her PJs, into the room.

“Oh hi, Buddy. Glad you’re back. We were starting to get worried when you didn’t come home for dinner. Hungry?”

Little Dani got out of her Dad’s arms, trotted forward, and hugged the dragon as if she hadn’t seen him in a week. “Buddy!”

“Daddy-o save some leftovers?” Buddy was really hungry after his latest adventure. Fortunately, they’d all returned to the real world a second after they left, so Landon’s Dad and Sister had no idea anything happened at all.

David put Dani to sleep and he went to bed right afterward since he had to be at work in the morning. Grandpa, Buddy, and Landon sat in the living room talking quietly.

“So what did happen, Buddy.”

“Needed to stop fight, to stop Apep, to stop Arioch. Gramps, you study, study, study Egypt magic months and months but no magician. I put magic in you, summon Bastet. Change balance.”

“But what happened to Arioch?”

“Chaos unpredictable. Anything happen. Anything did happen. Magic secrets in computer turned real by chaos. Ra, Apep, and Bastet turned real by chaos.”

“It looks like chaos can affect the Chaos Lord if Arioch unexpectedly turned into the snake god Apep.”

“Yep, yep, yep, Gramps. I use Landon’s magic to make more chaos. Pull Arioch away and without chaos, we come home.”

“Now about the coin in Landon’s hand…”

sword

Created by mykeul fafane and found at free3d.com

This was the part of the conversation Landon had been dreading. Buddy and Grandpa now knew about the Soul Coin, at least enough to know it existed, and knowing that, Buddy would find out everything else.

“Buddy sense where Emperor Dragon went…in magic coin, soul coin. Magic make it stick to Landon. That also part of Buddy’s plan.”

“What plan, Buddy? What did you do?” Landon felt the coin still on his hand, but it didn’t feel the same.

“Chaos does crazy stuff, Landon. Hold out hand.”

The boy obeyed and held out his right hand, palm up.

“Upside down. Turn hand.”

Landon did so and was shocked when the coin fell to the floor. “What the…?”

Landon no more slave to Soul Coin. Coin empty. Chaos free him.”

“You let him go?” Landon felt like they were all in great danger with the Emperor Dragon on the loose.

“No go, just different trap.”

The dragon reached a paw into something no one could see and then out of nothingness, produced the sword Demonslayer.

“Where did that come from?”

“Chaos, where Arioch put it. I take out of whirlwind and put Emperor in it.”

“You can’t give it back to Yao Jin, Buddy. The sword controlled her and controlled you.”

“No give back to her, give back to him.”

“Him who, Buddy?”

“Arioch, Gramps. Arioch. Sword his and he guard it. Emperor no get free, no control Arioch, and no control Landon.”

“Aw but Buddy, I wanted to learn the dragon’s magic.”

“Too young, really too young. You wait. Be patient. I teach more magic tomorrow.”

Landon had the power literally in the palm of his hand and now he’d lost it again.

“Coin. You get keep coin. Nice coin.”

“Is it safe, Buddy?”

“Magic gone, Gramps. Coin just coin. Nothing in it. Nothing go in it ever again.”

Grandpa looked at his grandson. “Maybe you could take up coin collecting.”

Landon rolled his eyes. He didn’t need another hobby.

“Well, I have a revelation.”

“What, Gramps?”

“I looked on my computer and all of Issa’s data is gone, completely erased. It must have happened as an effect of chaos.”

“Maybe good, maybe good. Dangerous magic. Should go away.”

“Perhaps you’re right, Buddy.”

“Landon, you have school tomorrow, so it’s time for you to go to bed.”

“Buddy, too. Buddy, too. Buddy tired.” The dragon cuddled with the little boy.

“Okay, Grandpa. Okay, Buddy. It’s been a long day. I’m tired, too.”

Grandpa was in his bedroom getting ready to go to sleep. Then he remembered something and opened the drawer on his night stand. He pulled out the thumb drive his friend Issa had given him in Cairo six months ago. Grandpa had uploaded the information onto the hard drive of his laptop and that’s what had gotten erased. The thumb drive however was completely untouched. Maybe this was something that should be his secret for the time being.

Early in the morning, while everyone was asleep including Buddy, Landon got up to use the bathroom. After he finished, he washed his hands. The palm of his right hand was tingling so he looked at it. For a second, he saw the symbol of a dragon’s head glowing there and then it disappeared.

He returned to his room, opened the top drawer of his dresser, and pulled out the coin from under his jeans. It felt a little heavier. Something was still inside.

This tale immediately follows At War with the Lord of Chaos, and resolved the cliffhanger from that story, including what happens in the battle between Ra and Apep/Arioch, and the fate of the Soul Coin and the Emperor Dragon.

I’ve been writing this series of stories for my grandson for just over a year. This is the latest in the adventures I’ve created for him.

To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.

The next chapter is The Very Old Dragon.

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