Serpent's Foe by J.M. Ney-Grimm by J.M. Ney-Grimm - Read Online



In the legendary duat - the mystical passage where the sun god Ra travels from west to east in the night, so that he rises again in the dawning - a lioness of ancient Egypt lies caged.

Once she stalked the duat by Ra's side, carrying his light in her eyes and battling the monsters that assailed them.

Now, tormented by confusion and her own fury, she longs to regain the unique powers which - inexplicably - elude her in captivity.

Even her own name slides out of her thoughts, while the how and why of her capture escape her memory entirely.

More than she realizes rides upon reclaiming her freedom and defeating her unknown captor.

In this mythic tale of pride and revelation, a fight beyond death delivers one last chance at redemption.


What would hunt a lioness?

And toward what end?

Her breath came hot in her mouth and heaved her flanks. She was no horse, meant to race from river mouth to first falls. A sprint, not the marathon, was hers.

The mud grew dry and cracked under her paws, grew sandy.

She slackened her speed. Had she outrun that which chased her?

A rattle of the reeds behind galvanized her anew. Amon Ra! That she should come to this!

The desert sand provided easier running as she spurted for the Valley of the Kings.

I will escape my hunter and then defeat him. I, who protect the gods themselves, will do this.


J.M. Ney-Grimm lives with her husband and children in Virginia, just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She's learning about permaculture gardening and debunking popular myths about food. The rest of the time she reads Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, and Lois McMaster Bujold, plays boardgames like Settlers of Catan, rears her twins, and writes stories set in her troll-infested North-lands. Look for her novels and novellas at your favorite bookstore - online or on Main Street.

Published: Wild Unicorn Books on
ISBN: 9781386210511
List price: $1.99
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Serpent’s Foe


by J.M. Ney-Grimm

Copyright © 2014 J.M. Ney-Grimm

Cover art:

Egypt Personified by Farid Fidel

Blue Sky with Clouds by Sherrie Thai

For D.J. Gelner –

without his nudge,

I would never have thought

to write

Serpent’s Foe

Table of Contents

Serpent’s Foe

Author Bio

More Titles by J.M. Ney-Grimm

Serpent’s Foe

When the sun-disk descends below the western horizon, then does the sun god Ra enter the duat, for his perilous passage through the Realm of the Dead. There he must battle many monsters—the chief of them Apophis—before he achieves the eastern gate, to emerge and rise with the sun-disk at dawn.

—Egyptian funerary text


Born helpless with eyes shut

Her mother moves her cub to a new den

Often, lest scent build up


Hunts for her pride while he-lion watches their young

Working with her sisters so cleverly

Stalking, that all may eat


Rampant on the shield of might

Couchant in the sigil of cunning

Royal, hear her roar

– hieroglyphic inscription on the fragment

from a forgotten tomb

Abruptly she returned to herself.

Where had she been?

The desert spaces of a dream, hunting as a lioness should? She didn’t know. But this dim-lit vault looked different through waking eyes than dreaming ones.

Why didn’t they sweep the floors?

Sand lay on the flat stone expanse in patches of dusty sparkles. The whole complex cried out for a scouring. Rust coated the iron bars of the cages, from their tops, anchored in the sandstone ceiling, to their bases, sunk into rock. Dung decorated the corners.

And the carcass of her last meal rotted against the bars separating her from the jackal next door. That black-coated beast gnawed at the bloody remains, his snout poked through a gap.

Fah! She lifted her forepaw fastidiously to lick it clean.

Movement diagonally across the broad corridor caught her eye. Another feline – a cheetah, not a lion – paced.

Back and forth.

Back and forth.

Prowling restlessly.

This is no place for me and mine. I, who carry the sun in my eyes by night.

She was caged, she who was meant to be free.

Who had perpetrated this outrage?

She shifted the bulk of her feline body, feeling the press of the cool stone floor against