Fanfic Time: Recycled Souls part 2

I swear to Blob I had more of this. Feckin backups… why do they never back up automagically. Blah.

  Sumer. 3542 BC.

  Ammon had given up struggling against the slaver’s bonds. It had taken him a month to do so, but he still hated his captors. He was not going to cow or grovel before these females, even if they *did* serve an earthbound Goddess!

  He’d spit in her eye, too, given a chance.

  Here came two servants, one dressed head to foot in a veil, escorted by a matronly priestess.

  The veilled one was younger, judging by the height, and of slight build. She - all the holy ones in these mud-lands were female - sailed past all the bucks on display until she came to him.

  “[This one. His strings reach for mine,]” said the hidden one.

  The onlookers gasped. They bowed and scraped and made a great noise that sounded vaguely celebratory.

  Ammon was looking at the veilled one’s feet.

  They were *paws*.

  And a cat’s tail twitched between them.

  He’d just been chosen by their goddess.

  Who was a child.


  Kymri[8] sighed as they returned to the temple grounds. “I wanted to see more of the city,” she said.

  Oro, her guardian and near-mother, comforted her. “You are a Goddess, child. If you were to stay too long on common soil, it would turn to gold or gems, and then were would people walk? What would they till to grow food?”

  “I just wanted to *see*…” begged Kymri. “I’d even go in a *litter*. Why can’t I look?”

  “Because I *know* you, Goddess. Looking leads to touching. And touching, in turn, leads to trouble,” Oro lifted the cat-godess’ veil and soothed the child’s face free of frowns. “You have a great many responsibilities, especially now that you’re coming into flower.”

  Kymri sighed, leaning into the Priestess’ embrace. “I know. I was born with Her blessing plain upon me. I must pass on that blessing to my worshippers.” She winced and grunted, rubbing her abdomen.



  “We’ll have a hot bath for you at the palace. You’ll feel better in no time.”


  “Yes, dear?”

  “That man… what was his name?”

  “Ammon, I believe.”

  “Can you make sure that Ammon is *not* branded? I don’t want him hurt.”

  “As you will, Goddess.”

  The young Goddess, new to her woman’s blood, lay down in the carriage with her head on Oro’s lap. “He has a fire inside him. A strength… I don’t want that put out. I want him to be with me - because *he* wants it.”

  “That may take time, Goddess.”

  “I feel like I could wait the rest of my life for it,” she vowed.


  Bought by a child.

  Ammon was so stunned that he didn’t fight his captors until he was nearly in the forge where he was to be ‘processed’. A polite word for being branded and fitted with shackles.

  The smith struck his bonds for him and, while several strong men held Ammon down, heated up the iron.

  It was, Ammon thought distractedly, an interesting design. A bird made out of fire. He’d thought, what with their Goddess being a feline freak, that it would be a cat.

  The metal turned hot in the fires. The smith bought it around.

  Ammon braced himself. _It’s only the body._


  The smith halted, bought the brand up. “[Milady?]”

  “[The Goddess orders that he be unmarked. Fit him with the bracers and anklets as normal, but do not mark him.]”

  Ammon didn’t understand one word of what they said. He just stared in confusion as the brand was put away. “What?”

  The white-haired woman with dark, dark skin stared down at him. “You know not our tongue.”

  “No, I was captured by slavers in another land,” said Ammon. “You do not speak like a kinsman.”

  “It is my duty to know the languages of the traders,” said the woman. "You’re a fortunate man, friend. The Goddess wants you as you are, not a broken thing that looks the same.“


  "She’s a Goddess,” said the woman. “What use has she for reasons?”

  Ammon thought about that. Gods and Goddesses were, of course, all powerful. Especially when they worked together. They played cruel games with humankind and never, *ever*, said why. “Perhaps it’s a game,” he suggested.

  The woman smirked. “She much prefers the game of stars from the orient[9]. Or mock-hunts in the gardens…” She bowed in greeting. “I am Oro. The Goddess’ advisor and caregiver.”

  “I am Ammon,” he said. “Now a mere slave.”

  “Hardly that,” said Oro. “You’ve been selected by the Goddess herself for a unique task. Now that her mortal body has come into maturity, *you* have been chosen to initiate her into full womanhood.”

  Ammon boggled. “That *child* has a woman’s blood?”

  “We call it 'coming into flower’,” said Oro. “Many remain uninitiated until they are older… but a Goddess has certain - duties.”

  He began to feel ill. “Duties?”

  “Every Spring, at the ritual of flood and flower[10], a man goes up to the Goddess to spend a night. Before she came to Earth, those roles were temporary. Once she was with us, she blessed the union of her representative. Now, she will lie with a man, herself. And so that she will not feel pain and forsake us, *you* must teach her the ways of adults.”

  “And then I’ll be sacrificed, no doubt?” said Ammon.

  Oro glared at him. “Why waste a good man?” she said. “And I *trust* you are a good man. You will not let fields lie fallow because one young woman is skittish around men.”

  “So I must break the soil for other men to plough her,” he said. 

  “If you’re going to be crude, yes.” Oro’s tone had gone icy.

  “Not with a child,” he said. “Kill me, torture me, do what you will, I will not 'teach’ her anything of the sort.”

  “You don’t understand,” she told him. “You have been *chosen*. You cannot be *un*chosen. You will do this one task set before you, and from there, whatever the Goddess wills. *You* are now exalted by her choice. Thousands of men would have *died* to get the position you are in, now.”

  “Then let *them* go!”

  “I cannot,” said Oro, leading him away from the forge. “The Goddess doesn’t wish for anyone else. She wants *you*. Goddess knows *why*…”

  Ammon couldn’t help but laugh. “She’s a Goddess,” he repeated her words. “What need has she for reasons?”

  That earned him a smart slap on the cheek. “Do not be insolent again! You’re smarter than a fool… use this to your advantage!”

  Ammon took her words under advisement.


  The gardens of the temple were a wonder. All the green, pleasant things of Sumer - and quite a lot of other countries, too - bloomed in these special grounds. The common folk could see little of them, save the tops of the trees as they dangled over the walls. Hence, the common people called them the Hanging Gardens.

  Inside the walls of the temple, they were the Goddess’ Gardens. Tonnes of soil had been carted into the terraces, blessed, and tilled by hundreds so that no green thing ever died there.

  The people believed that the rich, abundant plants were the work of the Goddess herself, and that as she walked, the trees burst into bloom.

  Quite the reverse was true, but people believe, and nothing can change that.

  The Goddess Kymri - shaped like a cat, one of the many creatures blessed by fertility - loved the gardens. It was as close as she could get to being outside. But she only ever came out on special occasions, to bless the lands when they were dry and the crops would not grow.

  She only saw the land in winter. And sometimes peeked at it from the temple-top in Spring.

  The rest of the seasons, save for this little slice of green, were a complete mystery to her.

  And so were the changes happening. She was going to be With a *man*. For the first time in her life. Before this day, no man was allowed to touch her, and she’d only ever seen them once a year, when blessing the union of her representative and the strange, hairy creature with no breasts.

  Now it was actually, *really* going to happen.

  A man.

  *Her* man.

  With *her*.

  Their souls were destined to meet, she could tell. Their lives were intricately linked before they even met. She just followed the threads. Kymri licked her lips and tested her breath, then ate a minted honey crystal.

  The other girls of the temple, when they thought that they were alone, giggled about that sort of thing. Men liked girls who tasted sweet.

  Whatever that meant.

  And there he was. Someone had put him in the bracers and anklets of a slave, *but*, as she’d asked, he hadn’t been branded.

  Kymri stood. “Ammon,” she said. “I– I welcome you to… uh.. my temple. Um. I’m Kymri. I…” she dared reach out for his hand. Her breath was coming fast, as if she’d run around the entire temple complex several times.

  They touched, just briefly, before her head sizzled and darkness overcame her.


  Ammon stared as the cat-Goddess babbled at him, brushed his hand with her fuzzy fingers, then fainted.

  He and Oro looked down on the prone girl’s form.

  _Now she looks even more like a child,_ he thought.

  “I *told* you she was skittish,” said Oro. “We’ve just *had* our ritual of flood and flower. You have a year to prepare her for the next. And if she is *not* prepared, your life is forfeit.”

  One year to live. One year to lie with this - beast - or perish.

  The law was clear for him. It was permissable to tame animals, feed them and groom them, yes. Even kiss them. But to lie with one was unforgivable sin.

  And he had a year to do it. Or die.

  “How am I to talk to her?”

  “I will act as translator,” said Oro. “And supervisor.”

  In other words, he couldn’t lie about it and neither could she - even if she wanted to.

  Well, if she was a beast, then Ammon would tame her. He would handle the rest - if at all - later.


  Kymri came 'round to the gentle breeze of the fans and the sweet smell of flowers and hot food. Someone was brushing her fur. She murmured and woke. _Oh, Goddess! It’s *HIM*!_ She almost began to hyperventilate again, but was calmed by the steady rythm of the brush.

  “Shhhh…” he whispered, making a sound like wind in the grass. "[*There*… just relax, now…]“

  Oro, somewhere in the serving throng, translated his every word.

  ”[I’m not going to hurt you, or do anything that makes you feel bad,]“ said Ammon. ”[I promise.]“

  He had the most wonderful voice. Kymri instantly got a massive attack of the giggles.

  Ammon kept brushing her, whispering at her, and generally being relaxing. He would only pause to offer her wine[11] or sweetmeats.

  Kymri got quite drunk, since she found herself unable to refuse him, and wound up babbling most of Ikesh’s[12] history as well as her own before she complained of being tired and passed out with her head in his lap and her arms around his waist.


  Ammon sighed. The 'Goddess’ purred in her sleep, and the guards suddenly became less part of the scenery and more intent on cutting when he tried to disentangle himself from the animal-girl’s embrace.

  Someone, somewhere, was playing the lyre… soothingly[13].

  Ammon daren’t let down his guard enough to drowse in the afternoon heat, lest he wake to find this beast doing something to him whilst still drunk.

  She was a beast *and* a child. Twice forbidden, if such a thing was possible. Yet he’d been chosen to be with her. *Why*?

  "Did this goddess of yours give *any* reason for choosing me?”

  “All she told me was that your threads and hers reached for each other,” said Oro.


  “Our Goddess can see the strings of fate[14]. She knows when two threads are destined to intertwine.”

  Ammon trained his face to stillness, and kept his disgust to himself. He and this - creature?

  Strange. When she was asleep, she looked almost like a child.

  There were some tribes amongst his people who were born with more hair than normal. Women *and* men, alike. Some shed, some remained furry to the end of their days.

  None felt like a cloud.

  “How is such a creature *possible*?” he wondered.

  “Her name is Kymri,” said Oro. “She is blessed.”


  “Ooooooooooooooohhh…” Kymri winced and decided not to move. Her *hair* hurt. “Owh… Never again. Never ever *ever* again. I promise…”

  Someone in the distance said something in another language. Oro?

  A man - *Ammon* - chuckled gently. He said something.

  “There’s a cup in front of your face, Goddess,” said Oro. “It holds some medicine for your hurt.”

  Kymri opened one eye. Ow. Light *hurt*. Ammon was holding the cup. It smelled of herbs.

  Trusting them both, she took a swig.

  _BLEAH!_ Warm saltwater, laced with herbs to soothe the stomach. It tasted *vile*.

  “[Drink it all, little Goddess,]” said Ammon, pushing the cup on her.

  Oro translated his words, and added, “It’s good for you.”

  Kymri whimpered and made a face, but took the cup and drank.

  She didn’t even notice that their hands had brushed.

  She was too busy shuddering and making faces. All her fur stood on end as she shivered and shook.

  “[You may want to get a basin,]” Ammon said. “[Looks like she’s going to–]”

  Kymri ran to the nearest shrub. {HYYYEEEUUURRRGGHH…}

  “[–be ill…]”

  She felt so ashamed. So embaressed. She couldn’t help crying.


  Ammon was astonished. Animals didn’t weep.

  “She *cries*…”

  “Yes,” said Oro. “She cries. And eats, and sleeps, and uses the privy, and bleeds like any other human. The only difference is that she is a Goddess. Her body has been made as a message so that we, mere mortals, would know her.”

  And the Gods had played the cruelest trick of all on this little innocent… making her in their image. He crossed the distance between them and gently petted her shoulder. “It’s all right, little Goddess," he smiled. "It’s a perfectly natural reaction.”

  Oro translated his words. And her return.

  “[I’m so ashamed…]”

  “Nothing to be shameful of, little Goddess. The body rids itself of poison in the quickest way it can.”


  “Wine and alcohol,” explained he, “like any thing, can kill if you take too much at once. Balance is the key.”

  Kymri smiled and went pink under her fur. He could tell by the way her pelt went ruddier around the cheeks.

  He helped her cover the mess with loam from the garden floor, then bade her wash out her mouth before she drank more water, then they both cleaned their hands and face.

  “There,” he soothed. “We’ve been through the worst. Fate can only smile on us from now on.”

  She broke into tears again, and let him comfort her. That much was not against the law.

  But how could the law judge about an animal that wept?


  In the garden, talking with her, it was as if it were work. Something he had to do day after day to earn his keep. That was how he treated it… but Ammon couldn’t help seeing the person sneaking through.

  There *was* a person trapped inside that hideous body.

  She was gentle and sweet and shy, and had no idea of the cruelties life had forced upon her.

  Ammon pitied her, even as he continued his work.

  She touched him freely, now, exploring him and making awkward forays into his language.

  Ammon winced. She’d found one of his nipples and pinched it. “Ow! Careful, Lady. They are as delicate as your own.”

  “But who do they nourish?” she asked.

  “Men don’t do that,” he told her. “But they are for something else.”

  “For joining,” she guessed. “To give the woman something to play with.”

  He really, *really* wished she wouldn’t keep bringing it up… but it was his fate. Chosen by her.

  Maybe he could still choose his own fate.


  Kymri’s heart fluttered in her chest. Today was the day. Spring festival. The day she, as a woman, would ascend the temple for the first time. To join with her chosen mate and bring fertility to the fields. She’d actually get to *be* with Ammon.

  Goddess and God.

  Woman and man.

  She’d spent an age bathing, having her hair dressed and her fur brushed. Having her body perfumed. Decorated. Beset with jewels and fine cloths.

  By the time they were done, the Goddess had her vessel on the Earth in the body of Kymri.

  She was absolutely calm. She was the Goddess.

  Kymri rode her litter in full view of her happy people, smiling benignly and waving blessings upon her people. She could spot the distant litter of Ammon travelling the man’s path. He threw out little tokens instead of giving his blessing. He was a man, and as such, didn't have power over life. In that, and that alone, Kymri pitied him.

  She thought about the following year they might be allowed to share, with their child growing in her belly. Their life.


 [1] He means India. Of course, he has the silk bit wrong, but *he* doesn’t know that ;)

 [2] A little side fling to _Paint Your Wagon_ ^_^ Excellent film. I heartily recommend it.

 [3] Sun stroke was once believed to lead to dementia.

 [4] The Jews and the Romany have customs in common, including the bleeding of meat before consumption. This makes it last longer.

 [5] Mistranslation of 'crocodiles’.

 [6] As in, inside their stomach.

 [7] Both men and women in ancient Egypt wore makeup, especially kohl, which is a black liquid used to line the edge of the eyelid by popping a drop into the eye itself. Ew.

 [8] Kymri being the name of Kurt’s female counterpart and presumed dimensional parallel in the Excalibur ish entitled _Kurt Wagner, Warlord of ?_

 [9] In other words: Chess.

 [10] ElfQuest side-fling. The *festival* of flood and flower is something celebrated in Sorrow’s End.

 [11] Most likely Date Wine, which hits the imbiber like a truck. Subtlety is nowhere in its lexicon.

 [12] “Undiscovered” [read “made up”] city of Sumer.

 [13] Side-fling to the entirety of Film Noir. “Someone, somewhere, was playing the sax… mellow.”

 [14] It’s pretty natural, once your society has figured out fibre, that you see time as a thread, or the human lifespan as part of a very strange tapestry. The concept behind Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos is older than you’d think.





Ancient China:



Dun KhanDuncan ;)

Feudal Japan:




The Roman Empire

Mediaeval Europe

Witch Hunts(?)

the Wild West

Victorian England

the “Golden Days” of the American Circus

The Not-Too Distant Future ;)

Sorry. That’s all I’ve got. At least I wrote down my plans. Such as they are…