The birds swept up into the air and darkened the sky above the lion’s body. Saranna made ready to fling herself forward onto him. It cannot end like this, what can I do?
Then Naetsan shouted again, a shout of frustration and impatience. The great lion was changing. Its body was shrinking and its golden fur deepening to a rich chestnut red, sleek and shiny. Balked, the birds flew up again. Naetsan snorted with exasperation as a stumbling, wet-nosed newborn calf trembled towards her, bleating and imploring in a shaky voice. It trailed its runny nose across Naetsan’s green robe, and Saranna found she had to resist an urge to laugh. Instead she spoke carefully.
‘Naetsan.’ The ancient goddess turned to her. ‘There are other ways to reach an end.’ Saranna fell silent. The calf bellowed again, and started to suck at the folds of cloth in Naetsan’s skirt. She let out a growl and reached into a pocket. Saranna stepped forward as she saw the flash of a blade in the goddess’s hand.

sue bridgwater