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Rise Again

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“Are you ready for my next trick?” A voice asked suddenly.

Aly and Dove, who had been working over a late dinner in the spymaster’s office, both looked up in surprise.

Dove immediately slid down to her knees in the traditional raka bow. Aly just snorted and leaned back in her chair. “What trick would that be, Kyprioth?” she asked.

“When my islands were taken-,” the God began, shimmering into existence in his elder statesman form.

Aly was tempted to poke at that wound, and how he had been defeated by the Great Mother Goddess and Mithros, but held back.

Unaware of her thoughts, or simply ignoring them, Kyprioth continued. “I was not the only one to be cast aside.” Having completed her bow, Dove rose and resumed her seat.

“Your sister, the Jaguar Goddess,” Aly agreed. She had been told that story by Chenaol.

“And Gunapi, the Sunrose,” Dove added. “Both were locked up, while you were relegated to the seas around the Copper Isles.”

“Something I’m sure the Wave-Walker wasn’t too pleased about,” Aly agreed. Traditionally, the seas were the domain of that goddess, but she’d been forced to share at least a corner of her domain with Kyprioth for several centuries.

“The time has come to do something about that,” Kyprioth declared regally.

“You intend to free Gunapi and Ixakua?” Dove asked.

“No, I intend you two to do it,” Kyprioth replied. “My divine Brother and Sister are still somewhat… upset with me for reclaiming my throne five years ago. They will not hear a suit from me.”

“Granted, I’ve got a Tortallan’s education,” Aly said carefully, “but I was under the impression that the Jaguar Goddess was a war goddess. She practiced cannibalism, as did her followers, and left chaos in her wake. We’ve just gotten the Isles all cleaned up after the revolution and I don’t much fancy adding some chaos back in.”

Kyprioth snorted and then spoke as though to a young child. “Ixakua was a goddess of war, yes, but also childbirth, much like the three facets of your Great Mother Goddess. Our children might not have openly worshiped her since the conquest, but many still offered her prayers before both battle and birth.”

“The wilder raka on the outer islands definitely still worshiped her,” Dove agreed. “Chenaol told me stories about her when I was younger. On places like Tanair she is not as forgotten as the lurian would like to think.”

“I see,” Aly still wasn’t sure about the chaos angle, but Dove seemed to be fairly accepting of the idea of adding another goddess to meddle in their lives. “And the other one?” She knew little about Gunapi from her studies, and had only heard Lokeij mention her here on the Isles. “She was a sun goddess?”

“She was called the Sunrose, but that wasn’t about the actual sun,” Dove corrected her. “She is a goddess of fire, including the kind that comes from deep inside the mountains. It is said that she created all of these islands.”

“She helped.” Kyprioth corrected. “It was my idea.”

Aly couldn’t help but giggle; he sounded much like Petrane, denied her due.

Hiding her own smile, Dove nodded at Kyprioth. “What must we do?” she asked.

“Worship them again,” he immediately replied. “Restore the temples, and revoke the lurian religious laws. When they have enough support, my brother and sister will have to let them free.”

“That seems simple enough,” Aly replied, looking for the catch.

“It is!” Of course, Kyprioth vanished before she could press him for more information.

Instead, Aly met Dove’s eyes. “So, shall we?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Dove nodded. “I believe we shall.”

---

The next day, proclamations were dispatched to all of the islands. The lurian laws against worshiping any gods beside Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess were revoked. Mentioned by name were Kyprioth, Ixakua the Jaguar Goddess, and Gunapi the Sunrose.

Raka families who still maintained personal shrines to the old deities were invited to share their traditions and stories. Dove further declared that a temple was to be built to Ixakua and Gunapi in each major city in the Isles. Most of those cities, bar a few high in the mountains, already had a temple of some sort for the Wavewalker, and all had lurian temples for Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess.

Generally speaking, the people took these commands well. The lurian were still allowed to worship Mithros and the Great Mother as they always had, while the raka were finally allowed to openly worship their own gods and goddesses again.

However, if these proclamations were having any effect on the actual gods and goddesses involved, Dove and Aly couldn’t tell. The two continued as they had before Kyprioth’s reappearance, doing their best to bring the Copper Isles back to their former glory, while not losing the throne in the process.

---

Then, two years later, without warning, the alarm came, both through Aly’s network and the royal mage chain.

“A new island forming in the sea?” Dove repeated, eyes wide.

“Made of molten rock that shoots above the waves and back down,” Aly confirmed, glancing up from Victorine’s report. “It is in the Emerald Ocean, off the southern coast of Malubesang.” Passing ships had reported seeing a glow in the ocean there for a few months now, but it was put down to wild tales.”

“I’d say a fire throwing rocks out of the sea was pretty wild,” Dove countered. “According to the ship captain who saw it, this new island is as long as a barge and twice as wide, made entirely of the same black rock as the high mountains.”

“Malubesang intends to send out a ship to investigate,” Aly suggested. “Kypry could get you out there to join them.”

“Don’t you want to come with me?” Dove asked.

“I’d love to see it,” Aly said, with a rueful head shake, “but it would take me over a week to sail there, and there is far too much for me to do here.”

Before her queen could answer, Aly suddenly felt herself slip away from her body. She had done this before, with Kyprioth, but the surprised squeak from his other side meant that Dove was also along for the ride.

“Don’t worry,” Aly reassured her. “Kyprioth transported me this way many times and never once dropped me into the ocean.”

“Was that supposed to make me feel better?” Dove growled back.

The essence of Kyprioth between them chuckled. “You said you did not have the time,” he said. “I wanted you to see what you have wrought.”

Within moments they had sped past Malubesang and had arrived at the new island that bubbled up from the sea. What none of the ship’s men had reported, but both women saw plainly, was the goddess that danced along the growing black rock. She glowed in Aly’s Sight, and only the fact that she was used to Kyprioth kept her from being blinded.

The goddess had the dark skin of a full raka, and wavy black hair that flowed below her waist. A crown of red flowers adorned her head, and she wore a red sarong that appeared to be made of glowing embers. Every time she lifted her foot from the rocky island, a jet of molten rock and fire spewed forth.

“Gunapi, the Sunrose,” Kyprioth said fondly, though Aly could have guessed at the goddess’s identity. “She is free at last.”

“And the Jaguar Goddess?” Dove asked timidly.

“Roaming the highland jungles as we speak,” Kyprioth’s tone was both joyful and smug. He quickly whisked them back to the palace on Kypriang, going so far as to deposit both women back into their chairs.

Gunapi and Ixakua have been freed” Kyprioth boomed, and Aly got the feeling that his echoing voice could be heard across the city, if not the entire island chain. “The Islands shall rise again.” With that, he vanished again.

After a moment to catch her breath, Aly snorted. “And without so much as a thank you.”