am sitting at my grandmother’s bedside with her
clammy, paper-thin hand in mine. Raspy protests arise
from her skin with each caress of my hand. The rise
and fall of her chest is arrhythmic, and guilt courses
through me with each effortless breath I take. The
guilt is irrational, I know. Her impending journey
into the Netherrealm is not of my doing but the
criminals’. Those persistent men dog us relentlessly
for our land.
Grandmother and I fight them but she is the High
Priestess, and bears the higher burden from invoking
the spirits. After many years of defending this home,
Demetra Danakos is paying the ultimate price. She
ceases my stroking with her free hand, and I meet her
gaze, barely restraining the tears shimmering in my
“Avaris,” her voice is almost a croak, “my time is
nigh. You will be the High Priestess now.”
stomach clenches with fear, and my heart threatens to
shatter my ribcage. I wish my mother hadn’t absconded
from the house, leaving the weight of family
responsibility on my slender unworthy shoulders. I
speak with a sureness I do not yet feel.
“It will be as you say, Gran.”
“The men will return tonight but I will be gone before
they arrive. Do you remember the rituals?”
nod curtly because my voice curdles in my throat. She
unclasps the intricately crafted golden necklace from
her neck, and hands it to me. Without a word, I put it
around my own neck, and the tiny clasp clicks closed
with a finality I can feel in my bones. The magic
infused in the thin metal reaches inwards and weaves
connections to my soul – my magical nexus.
grandmother sighs and closes her eyes. Her lips are
pressed so tightly together, they are a barely
perceptible pink line in her ashen face. I consider
the enormity of the power I now possess, and a
suggestion tingles on the tip of my tongue.
She is already shaking her head, in tune with my
thoughts, as always.
“No, Avaris. Unlike the gods and goddesses we serve,
our lives are meant to end. Now come, give me your
cover her outstretched palms with my own, and a chant
I have not heard before slithers from her lips. Her
hands become warm and supple as she bestows the death
blessing upon me. I am inheriting the life forces of
all who have gone before, and it is humbling and
terrifying all at once. She ceases as abruptly as she
began, and my body is awash with the searing fire that
is the Danakos bloodline.
inhale deeply to quiet the roiling magic, and my
“Such talent you have, Avaris. You must never
She pauses and peers out the window. Her smile widens,
and she speaks to me without turning away from the
“Do you hear that, Avaris? The Ancient Ones are
singing for me. Oh…it’s beautiful.”
She is quiet, and I know she is gone. The smile
remains on her face bringing a touch of beauty to her
pale skin. A shrill keening fills the room, and I
glance at the inky black cat that is at my
grandmother’s side. She buries her face in my
grandmother’s lifeless palm and mewls.
Tears run down my face as my own sounds of grief
sputter from my lips. My chest tightens to the point
of pain but I cannot stop. There are no words in any
language worthy of describing the loss I feel.
steady knocking echoes through the house, and I
realize with alarm that the sun has set. The
developers’ men are here to claim what they have not
earned. I wipe the tears from my eyes and breathe
steadily. The knocking sounds again. I continue to
breathe. It sounds a third time. This time I rise from
the bedside, and beckon to my guide.
“Come, Miss B. Gran wouldn’t want us to keep our
The cat leaps from the bed and stalks out the door
before me. Her anger radiates from her skin, and
washes over me in waves. She is right. There is time
enough for grieving. Now is the time for rage.
The knocking becomes a booming assault on the
unyielding front door. As I descend the stairway, I
disable the protective wards with a flick of my wrists
and the door shatters. The men look at me
incredulously while still holding a thick plank of
wood. I close my eyes briefly, and gather the strength
of my ancestors.
“May I help you gentlemen?”
stocky fellow steps into the foyer, and tips his wide
brimmed hat in my direction. His grey eyes glint over
a hooked nose and crooked grin.
“Well ma’am, we have returned to collect the property
you Danakos women have been withholding from my
employer for the past few months.”
least twenty men stand snickering behind him after he
speaks. The cat hisses at my feet so I bend to smooth
her fur and her temper. As I rise, my bloodline rises
with me, and my grandmother tells me it is time.
“Come in, gentlemen.”
When the last man shuffles in, the door’s shards
reassemble with a resounding crack of wood. A few of
the trespassers pound on the door but the man with the
crooked grin keeps his eyes on me. I close my eyes,
and let the ancestral magic flow through me. The
spells begin as a feather light whisper then crash
from my mouth like torrential rain.
“Alima shaktar hareba kun. Palitha veran deni.”
“You don’t scare me, little girl!” the crooked man
His widened eyes and trembling lips tell me otherwise.
I continue to chant. The power of the words lifts me
from the stairwell, and I ascend heavenwards.
“Ashka taren dalen va! Gazen atan bata!”
This language of death sets my soul aflame, and fire
leaps from my palms. Properly summoned, Miss B.
reveals her true form. The trespassers are transfixed
by her transformation. She is an elegant, ebony woman
clothed in golden battle armour. Brilliant, emerald
eyes shine above her small, feline nose. Small, golden
wings emerge from her delicate back and sway
enchantingly. She raps her golden war staff on the
ground before unleashing a blood-curdling roar. The
men rightly cower before the goddess Bastet.
release the fire from my palms, incinerating two of
the men closest to me. Bastet attacks, slicing through
flesh and bone with ease born of many battles. I
continue to chant, beseeching the continued favour of
the Ancient Ones in finishing this battle.
“Batan muren tavar li! Vata geru havat!”
Screams echo throughout the house as my flames engulf
all who have not been felled by Bastet’s mighty sword.
Soon there is silence, and I stop chanting to scan the
foyer. Bodies are littered on the floor, haphazardly
piled upon each other, as each man had tried to flee
Rivers of blood flow towards the front door that is
too heavily warded to let a single drop leave. The man
with the crooked smile shivers before Bastet. The tip
of her golden sword presses against his chin. His fear
is as sweet as honey dripping on my tongue. My
ancestors have taken men from battle before to father
their young. I will likely do the same, but not with
this snivelling creature before me. He is no true
warrior, and he is not worthy of joining the Danakos
descend, and stand beside the goddess.
“Return to your master. Tell him this land is not his
to take. Tell him we will soak the earth with the
blood of all he sends until he leaves us be.”
The coward nods carefully but the sword still draws a
trickle of blood. I flick my wrist, and the door
creaks open. Thick blood pours unto the porch and down
the steps, coating all it touches. He runs through his
compatriots’ spilled blood, hopping and skipping over
their rent bodies. He jumps unto his horse, and is
many gallops away before he chances a look backwards.
I raise an eyebrow, and the sharp pain in his head
confirms he is not quite yet out of my reach.
caress the door, and whisper a cleansing spell to the
expectant house. Torn flesh, broken bones and spilled
blood slip through the house’s surfaces while the
tortured souls waft into the waiting, eternal void of
the Netherrealm. I turn to my guide.
“Thank you goddess for choosing to join me in battle.”
will always defend our home, priestess.”
She bends and curls and becomes a cat once more.
Together we ascend the stairway to attend to my
grandmother. The burial ritual must begin immediately
so Gran can be whole in the Netherrealm.
wonder if the coward is with his master and I wonder
if more men are already being assembled. It does not
Today we mourn. Tomorrow we fight.