“A masterpiece,” said the darksome lady before Justinian. “A thing of beauty and balance. That was what I wrought with this world.”
“The fish were especially nice,” said Ophis.
“Quiet, you,” snapped Douma Dalkiel. “I am being portentous.”
“Sure that’s the right word?” whispered Ophis.
“Positive,” she said.
“Because I can think of another word that sounds somewhat similar,” noted Ophis. “It even begins with a ‘p’.”
Douma Dalkiel stood rigid before Justinian “I created my servant to act as a… conscience and foil, if you will. Sometimes I think the creature takes a rather… perverse pleasure in it.”
“I am only acting as I made,” responded Ophis. “With honor and justice…”
“Oh, for goodness sakes, stop pretending I don’t know EXACTLY what word you were talking about,” snapped Douma Dalkiel. “And allow me to state, you’re one to talk.” She began to speak in a very high-pitched voice. “‘My wings enfold worlds, my scales are the size of stars, and the distance from the end of my tail…’,” she recited.
“All of that is true,” noted Ophis calmly.
“Still doesn’t stop it from being very stuck up,” said Douma Dalkiel.
Justinian watched the pair bicker. “Are you… always this…” He groped for a word. “Comical?” he managed at last.
“Yes,” said Douma Dalkiel. “And also ‘no’.”
“You see us in a form you comprehend,” said Ophis, “and you hear those aspects of our speech which will you will understand, and which will put you at ease.”
“For we are great, and beyond your full understanding,” explained Douma Dalkiel.
“So… how am I… seeing you now?” he asked, curious.
Douma Dalkiel leaned forward. “Your mind has been placed in readiness by your suffering, your fast, and your prayers…”
“Indeed, most of this is occurring in your mind--an argument could be made that we are not really here at all, save in the most metaphysical of senses,” stated Ophis.
Douma Dalkiel turned to her servant again. “Oh, you just had to go spoil things didn’t you? Now he’s going to wonder if this is all a hallucination or a dream…”
“Well, to an extent it is, my lady,” noted Ophis.
“So… wait, this ISN’T happening?” asked Justinian, puzzled.
“Yes, it is,” said Douma Dalkiel. “In every way that counts, it is.” She glanced at Ophis. “Are we agreed on that?”
Ophis nodded. “Oh, most definitely.”
Douma Dalkiel turned back towards Justinian. “Good.” She cleared her throat. “A masterpiece of balance,” she noted. “And now look at it. A mess. Like every other thing I’ve created.”
“Hey!” declared Ophis.