The sisters faced each other, holding hands. A tremble ran between them.
“Calm down” demanded Isis. “If you cannot control yourself, you will not be able to control the outcome”
“I’m sorry” replied Nephthys humbly. It was not nerves that made her shake. It was excitement. She rarely saw her sister. Now, for the first time, she was learning projection spells with her. It was hard not to be overawed.
“Stop it!” snapped Isis. She was always so serious. Always. Nephthys wondered if she ever relaxed, ever had fun.
She wrinkled her nose in the way that even Ra could not resist.
The emerald eyes of Isis narrowed frighteningly. Nephthys felt the vicious slap of nothing but air across her face. Her cheekbones sang in pain. A rivulet of blood escaped her nose and ran to her mouth. She had never tasted it before.
The mistress of magic did not play childish games.
Nephthys felt sorry for her.
The slap came from the other side this time. Harder.
“Save your pity. And focus! There will be things you can do by touch as we all can. But not everything can be done directly. A time may well come when your life, and the lives of others, will rely on what you learn here. Will you behave like a child then? Or will you behave as the daughter of earth and sky?”
Nephthys nodded, working her jaw. Thankfully it was not broken.
Isis resumed the lesson.
“Behind me is Sandar-akh. Do you see it?”
Nephthys couldn’t help but see it. The towering pine was one of the biggest trees in the garden. Sky reaching and proud, it was the one that made her think of Osiris. Their beautiful brother. She tried to keep the thought from Isis, who looked at her suspiciously. Nephthys braced for a blow. It didn’t come.
“You know of Belleren?”
“Yes.” The unbreakable shield of Sekhmet was one of the two magical items created by Ptah for the warrior goddess. The other was the lance of Ra, Verinor. Belleren was an incredible item, able to change shape and size to defend the user. Light to carry but impenetrable, Ptah had imbued this piece of living metal with part of his own soul.
“The idea is simple. Imagine Belleren covering Sandar-akh, disguising it from view. And it is simple. It must be kept so. What is difficult to master is the transference of the energy. The maintaining of it. It is a glamour to deceive the eye, and if doubt enters it cannot work. Through my hands you will be able to feel the course I take. Ready?”
Their grip tightened momentarily before relaxing again.
Nephthys felt Isis concentrate her energy at Belleren. Into it. Her spirit swimming through the amazing shield, becoming part of it. Feeling the cool touch of the metal inside and around her. Then seeking out the mighty cypress of the sacred garden. Holding it in her spreading golden arms. Wooing it. Willing it to be still. Silent. The breath of the goddess upon it. Seeking its ills and soothing them. She felt the powerful drain on Isis. The price to be paid for casting the deception.
It was done.
She looked over her sister’s shoulder.
Sandar-akh was gone.
Isis looked at her shocked sister’s face. Her eyes were glittering green gems of challenge.
(from the novel “Last Goddess”)