Most Phyrnosian houses were the color of meat or almonds, and the house of Eriphet was no exception. A discreet brown camouflaged the large, rounded compound of his ancestors which stood by itself at the end of a long, dusty path. A sandstorm was rising outside Phayara; wind had already begun to rail against his house. Even so, music from the endless celebration of Phado could still be heard over the growing storm.
“Will they never cease?” Eriphet stalked the halls, shuttering his windows from the blowing sand. He couldn’t escape the feeling that he was being watched. That something was about to happen. Surely the eyes of the ruling goddess were everywhere.
Even within his family’s ancestral home. He paused beside a preserved Gilahawk at the top of the carved stairs, resting his claws on its hollow back. Even in death, old Ri-jar was good company.
Maybe he’d take the old bird to the Phodiine, see if they could bring Ri-jar back to life. It would be nice to have some company in the house. It was a shame, really, the way he'd let the house go like this. Always camping with his men outside the city. This restless, implacable vigilance. It had been with him as long as he could remember. And for what?
Phado had made him wonder. What did he want? What was he after, really? Martial action had been his father’s way. Qabal's way. Maybe all this time Eriphet had been meant for something else. That would explain a great deal. Still...
He grinned at the dead Gilahawk. “Eggs, Ri-jar," he whispered, as if he were a hatchling again. "There are eggs.”
Now, that was truly strange, wasn’t it? To have made eggs with the goddess. Even if he did nothing else with his life, he had done that. Someday, somewhere there would be demi-goddesses running around. Goddesses of the house of Eriphet.
He felt a twinge as he remembered their mother.
“I know you,” she'd said, and so she did. She was in his blood. He was made of her. He shook his head. A Grand Dragon did not have time for such thoughts.
There was a frantic rattling at the door.
“Eriphet!! Eriphet, sir! Come quickly, there’s an--”
Eriphet opened the door on a shivering, brittle-limbed slave driver. He'd been pounding on the door so hard that he fell forwards into the house. He rolled frantically in the entry way, apologizing all over himself.
“Calm down,” Eriphet said, closing the door on the storm outside. The small lizard was shaking himself hurriedly, not sure where to drop his sand. The wind had covered him in it.
“Never mind that,” Eriphet said. “What's this about?”
The driver blinked, licking sand from his nose. His tongue was bleached with fright. “It’s the Rush! They say they have Qabal, and you’re to meet them! Is it--”
The motion exploded from Eriphet before he knew what he was doing. It was the shock, and his surprise-- he slammed the driver into the wall with a swing of his claws. Now the small creature lay dead on the floor.
No. He was alive enough to flinch as Eriphet bent over him, crushed with shame. He hadn't meant to hurt him. “Oh,” he said. “oh.”
A blue thread hung from the driver's lips. His eyes were clouding, his gaze turning inward, as if he could retreat there from Eriphet. “Sir,” he breathed, “my family.”
“I’ll see to them,” Eriphet said, “What's your name?”
But the driver was dead.
Qabal. He’d said the Rush had Qabal. The words thudded back. His father? How could that be? Qabal had disappeared years ago.
No matter. He turned his screens to camp and called on his army. He'd had enough of the Rush.