|maxine_bastet (maxine_bastet) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-11 09:23:00
|Entry tags:||bastet, hermes|
Never Bring a Dog To A Catfight
Who: Bast and Hermes
What: A cultural exchange between pantheons.
Where: ye olde ancient Greece
When: ye olde ancient Greek times
Curiosity may have killed some cats, but Bast was far too resilient for that. And immortal.
Things back home in Egypt were pretty well taken care of, and as was her wont, Bast tended to wander far afield when she wasn’t immediately needed by her people. Other explorations have taken her to many different cultures; in the form of a lynx to the hardy but fair-skinned people in the far north, and as a lion to the dark-skinned people in the heat of the far south.
But this place was different than those others; mild and without extremes. Blue skies, azure water and cool breezes. She wandered around in the unassuming form of a common cat with glossy black fur and shimmering gold eyes, and met a few actual common cats in the streets nearby. They called this place ‘Greece’, and directed her to visit the place of power nearby, called ‘Olympus’.
With light steps, Bast made her way to the mountain, climbing ever higher until she could go no further, and then taking a giant flying leap that only an immortal could do, up to the height of Olympus, landing with sure-footed grace. She wandered around this new place, pausing to mark her new territory and inspect the people here, purring, weaving in and out of legs, and endearing herself to everyone. There were regular humans here, but there were also humans that were part gods, and gods who were higher and lower than each other, reminding her a little of home.
She didn’t know any of these new Powers though, and curiosity filled her again. Still, one foreign god suddenly revealing herself to many others in their home might be construed as a bit threatening, but finding one alone to talk with...that would be less so. After a bit of wandering, she found herself in a large room of polished marble, with what looked like a deep pond of clear water in the middle of it. The pond was also made of marble, and there was a man who was not a man lounging in it. She could see the aura of the deity he really was on him, and thought this was the perfect opportunity to learn about this new place.
Strutting into the room as if she owned it, she walked around the edge of the marble pool, watching the man who was not a man with wide intelligent eyes, dark with curiosity and rimmed with flashing gold. She paused by the edge of the pool to demurely groom herself, not far away from the other god, waiting for him to notice his visitor.
Dogs were fine beasts. Loyal, responsive to orders, and above all, friendly to the common man. They were excellent guardians--fiercely defending flocks of sheep and goats, protecting their owners at the expense of their own lives. Even Lord Hades had settled upon having a dog to guard his private realm.
In fact, when Hermes visited the Underworld, he brought with him small pieces of smoked meat, and biscuit-like edibles for Cerberus. Given how frequently the messenger god traveled to the lower realm, it was a mystery how the monstrously large, three-headed animal hadn’t become completely spoiled.
Dogs, then. Clearly, they were the superior animal when it came to house pets. One certainly couldn’t bet on, for instance, a cat actually protecting anyone but its own self. Most humans were wise to keep a dog on their property, and Hermes greeted all of them as he traveled the expanse of the world. He would silence them, of course, were they to bark at his presence. The dogs never seemed to mind; they were all wagging tails and friendly licks, which suited Hermes for his own secretive purposes.
Cats, however, were another story. As Hermes lounged during a rare moment of silent contemplation, a cat entered the room and made itself at home. No meow of greeting, no affectionate tilt of the head, eyes wide with excitement and joy. Nothing whatsoever other than a small, pink tongue dipping out to cleanse itself of invisible dirt and grime.
“Hospitality does not suit your kind, does it?” he asked the cat plainly, making no show of pretending to be happy with its presence. But the god was not angry, nor annoyed--merely disapproving of the utter lack of hospitality the cat effused. All felines were the same, without a doubt; he’d yet to come across a friendly cat, hadn’t he?
Bast smiled on the inside, though her current feline form wouldn’t allow such an expression. Instead, she paused in her grooming and gave him her full attention, as if just noticing that he was there. She stood and walked towards him, brushing her body against the back of his neck and shoulders as she passed, a mew accompanying her purring as her fluffy tail slid across his skin. She settled herself next to him then, looking up at him, attempting to judge what kind of deity he was and whether or not to reveal her human form to him. It had been her experience that a lot could be revealed about a person - divine or not - by how they treat an animal.
No answer from the small beast, but Hermes hadn’t expected one. A smile curved his lips upwards in amusement. “I hadn’t thought so, and you’ve chosen not to prove me incorrect.” The cat had, however, decided to make its presence fully known in other ways. But he did not flinch at the cat’s touch, soft fur slipping across his skin in the wink of an eye.
Cats suffered no arguments at their own existence; this one, like many others, followed the same course of action.
“I have never understood the ulterior motivations of cats,” the Slayer of Argus continued, quite unasked. “No quality stands out to me more than your inherent sense of self-preservation--admirable, surely, under fitting circumstances. But,” he said with a particular glint to his eye, looking down at his newly acquired feline companion, “Far be it for me to tell any creature it should not do what is necessary to save its own skin.”
So this deity was not partial to cats, that was obvious, and part of her was sure he was far more kindly towards dogs. That thought alone caused her hackles to rise just a little, though she forced the instinctive reaction back, her curiosity winning over her sense of dominance.
The cat stretched, arching her back and standing on her toes, and then fluidly stepped into the water next to him, only as she did so her form shifted, and in the blink of an eye a beautiful woman with burnished skin and khol-lined eyes was sitting next to him in the pool. Naked, but for some strategic tattoos, and unashamed. She smiled at him, and her pointed teeth flashed in the half-light.
“Some might say discretion is the better part of valour,” she purred, “to live to fight another day. ‘Saving your skin’ may sound cowardly to warriors,” she said, inspecting her nails as she spoke, “but at the end of the battle, it’s the warriors lying dead on the field, and those with...as you say, ‘self-preservation’ are the ones who build civilisation from the ashes.” Her eyes met him through the steam rising from the bath, a twinkle of playful amusement in them.
“Having said that, those that anger me and my kind do not live long to tell the tale,” she added. It wasn’t a threat, it was a boast. A fact. Those who mistook her kindness, her maternal instinct, and her love of pleasure and finery, for weakness were shocked to learn of the lioness that lived inside her. Her fierce protectiveness over her people, her worshippers, was legend.
His interest in the cat had been minimal, the animal merely a small piece of his eternity. Making one-sided conversation with it proved to be relatively amusing, but Hermes had never been one to withstand prolonged boredom--and he’d sooner have left the cat to hunt whatever smaller animals best suited it.
The form the cat now took, however, interested him far more than its small, four-legged shape. He raised his eyebrows in cool astonishment, no stranger to gods changing from animal to man, and back to god again; nor was he unfamiliar to mortals being transformed into animals. Or being transformed into inanimate objects, a favorite curse he personally held close to heart.
But he did not recognize this woman, and it was this aspect which surprised him more than her fluid shape-shifting. Hermes knew all of the gods by name, including the minor deities and dryads. He worked for his father, and in turn, worked for whoever else needed an errand ran, or a message sent. Therefore, he would have been hard-pressed to forget the name of such a goddess as this, lithe and strong-limbed as she invited herself into the pool.
“Your kind?” he asked lightly, smiling as he spoke the words. She was self-assured rather than arrogant, giving off the airs of a goddess rarely denied what she wanted. “I have no intention of angering you, though I did not expect a philosopher cloaked in the skin of a cat.” When noting this, he let his gaze move across her body, eying the detailed tattoos with curiosity rather than desire. Their designs were unlike anything he’d seen before, and when he again looked her in the eye, he knew she was not of his realm.
Bast smiled widely at his comment. “Just as no one ever expects a goddess concerned with both love and war to have much of a brain,” she said with a grin, “both aspects can very easily lead a lesser being to lose their head.” Her warrior instincts were tempered by protectiveness, pleasure and love, granting wisdom to her predatory nature. That, in her opinion, is why she was far more loved in Egypt than her sister Sekhmet, who was all lioness and no love.
“You have not angered me, young god,” she said with a warm smile, immediately sensing that she had been much longer on this earth than these Greek children. “I must have been taking a nap when you and your kind appeared. Do you also come from Ra?”
She reminded him of someone, a certain seafoam-born goddess whose every aspect sang of love and physical lust, but nevertheless married the mockery of a man who created weapons for war. Perhaps it was the new goddess’ familiar, confident attitude and sleek sensuality which inclined Hermes to speak with her further, despite her former shape.
“Young, you say,” he wondered, delight warming his features and sharpening his smile. “I suppose I could be considered such a thing. But who is this Ra?” The clever god canted his head to the side ever so slightly, searching the woman’s beguiling face for answers. “You speak a name not even I recognize, and I recognize the whole of Greece. Its people know me by name as well. I am Hermes, and I concern myself only with matters of utmost necessity. Furthermore,” he grinned, his eyes bright, “I do what is necessary to not anger beautiful goddesses.” That earned him a wide smile from the cat goddess sitting across from him.
The blade in Hermes’ cunning smile went dull around the edges, softening to a less devious twist. “And tell me, kin of Ra, what am I to call you?”
Her brows arched slightly, as if considering the question. “I have been called Eye of Ra,” she said, “protector, avenger, destroyer, giver of life. Lady of Perfumes, Midwife of Egypt and Mother of Cats. But...the mortals call me Bast,” she finally finished.
She crossed her legs under the water, her arms outstretched on either side of her on the edge of the tub, as she considered him. “If you were of Ra you would know, young one” she said cryptically. “Perhaps you are a trick of Set, or a plaything for Thoth,” she mused, but then shrugged as if it didn’t matter. “And you rule over this small land?”
Hermes listened avidly to her personal epithets, each one more interesting--and conflicting--than the last. Here, indeed, rested a goddess unafraid to proclaim her own aspects, bold and unashamed. Zeus himself might take a keen interest in her, were he to discover her presence; perhaps even Apollo would desire her for himself, were he to leave his flighty nymphs alone long enough to actually discover the errant goddess.
But Hermes had always been faster than his brother, and more clever; he believed this to his core, and thereby created his own truth. He lived within it, confident and at ease in this reality.
“My father is lord here, and I am his personal messenger of goodwill and punishment,” he answered Bast with an unmistakable touch of pride. Hermes managed, with a substantial mental effort, to withhold laughter at her innocent assumption. “But I am also called Argeiphontes, because I have slain the many-eyed beast without awakening him. The roads are mine, every one of them, and I exchange the living for the dead at the crossroads to the gates of Hades.” Hermes shifted ever so slightly in the pool, growing more comfortable in the presence of the new goddess. His entire attitude suggested he was of a lackadaisical temperament, unwilling to rush through not only listing his more prominent personal aspects, but immortal life itself. It was a rather engaging mask to wear.
“The very words you speak are mine, for I preside over communication. I do not know this Set you speak of, nor Thoth. But I create my own tricks, and I am the plaything of no one. I tell this to you so that you will not make the same mistake a second time, Bast, the Eye of Ra.” The smile he had worn but a few moments earlier returned, sly and cunning, self-assured down to the marrow of his bones. “You are a guest, and I will welcome you as is our custom in this land. But tell me, Midwife of Egypt, why you have traveled here.”
Bast smiled, a hint of playfulness evident in the glint in her eye. “I was curious, Prince of Roads,” she said, making up her own name for him based on his own admissions. “I have seen all of Egypt, but occasionally I find myself drifting away to other lands to explore other peoples.
“And I accept your gracious welcome, but...I must warn you, everything is my plaything,” she added with a wicked little grin, “for what I delight in most of all is play, pleasure, and the chase.”
Though the title she bestowed upon him was undoubtedly improper, it nonetheless pleased him. He warmed to it much like the dawn rises to meet her duties, looking over at the foreign goddess in his familiar land and wondering how long it had taken her to arrive.
Certainly, she simply could not travel as fast as him. But perhaps there were other aspects of hers which might prove commendable, and she would choose to reveal them to him in time. Or had she already accomplished this necessary feat?
“I see that you’ve given yourself fully to feline interests,” Hermes observed cooly, with an inquisitive raise of his brows. “But you’ll find a lack of chase here unless you are keen to interlope with those from the woodlands.” The confident tilt of his smile expanded, and he eased himself out of the water, to sit upon the pool’s edge. Near him rested his sandals, and his well-worn cap. A white robe lay in a messily dropped pile within arm’s reach, somehow immaculately clean despite having been carelessly tossed to the ground.
“Or do felines give themselves to my interests?” she said, her eyes watching him with unabashed curiosity as he pulled himself from the bath, an appreciative smile on her lips. “Chase is often in the eye of the beholder.”
“I doubt you are of that variety, however. Would you care to take a walk with me? Surely you would enjoy seeing more of my world than what is contained within this bathing room.” He studied Bast while he waited for her to accept or forgo his invitation, eager to hear her answer and yet maintaining his attitude of nonchalance.
She took slightly longer than necessary to follow him - for she had instantly decided to do so - stretching happily in the hot water before pulling herself out of the bath as well. The water cascaded over her skin, but she paid it no mind, instead wringing out her ponytail of long black hair that hung past her waist, and then flicking it behind her back to help it dry. “I will follow where you lead, Argeiphontes,” she said, stepping into the sunlight so that it could bake the moisture from her bronzed skin.
Truly, it was possible his gaze rested a moment too long on the foreign goddess, so different than anyone upon Mt. Olympus, and yet curiously similar. But Hermes prided himself on attending to business in a fastidious manner, and strived to not allow himself to fall prey to distraction.
Not too often. Unless he felt like it, of course.
“I will show you the gardens, then,” he said with a polite, short bow of his head. Collecting his clothing, he dressed quickly. Hermes then gestured for Bast to walk beside him, glancing over at her long, sun-touched legs in the process. Droplets of water clung to her skin, rolling ever downwards to meet the earth. Hermes captured his own peculiar interest and stifled it, momentarily, a flush of interest hidden beneath the helm of his petasos.
“You do have gardens in the land of Ra, I assume,” he mused, recollecting his affected lackadaisical composure. He did not walk fast, allowing Bast to match strides with him. The gardens surrounded the bathhouse, reaching up and down the sides of the hill where the soil permitted more than olive trees to grow. “And baths as well. It is curious to see someone...well-associated with the feline animals so interested in water. I admit I am intrigued,” he intoned, with a flash of his bright, inquisitive eyes.
Bast nodded and easily kept pace with the messenger god. “We do,” she said, her eyes scanning the gardens around them with appreciation and not a little bit of wonder. “Ours are far different than yours, however,” she said, “I see species of plants that do not grow in Egypt.” She stopped briefly to admire a particularly delicate flower that would never be given the opportunity to grow in her home’s arid climate.
She smiled at his observation of feline habits, turning her impish stair over her shoulder at him. “Are you covered in fur, young god?” she asked him. “I doubt you would appreciate a soak in the baths if your body was thick with fine fur that grows heavy when soaked in water.” She turned and continued along the path with him. “Many cats do bathe, after a fashion. But those with heavy fur stay clean in other ways. Myself...in this form, I do delight in the feel of water on my skin, just as I delight in all pleasures,” she added, again catching his eye with spark of mirth and allowing her eyes to wander over his form.
As they walked along the path, the gardens gave way to the start of rocky outcroppings, and further below, pastureland. A flock of fluffy sheep grazed contentedly, watched over by a dozing shepherd and a much more alert watch dog. Hermes smiled appreciatively at the scene, his admiration paused only by Bast’s clever flirtations.
“Then Greece is plenty suitable for your visit,” he calmly articulated, allowing his arm to brush against hers, briefly. “Here, we have much in the way of pleasures. Feasting, with the richest wine to be offered, and theaters filled with the talents of actors and writers alike. It is a land that embraces knowledge but does not deny itself the flair of epicurean delights.” As he spoke, he eyed the road stretching ahead of them, looking for a clearing that would offer not only shade from the afternoon sun, but privacy as well.
“You chose well,” Hermes continued, his smile pleased and self-congratulatory at the same time. “I myself could not have chosen a better guide to introduce you to this land.”
“And so modest,” she teased, grinning over at him as he walked her through the beautiful gardens, watching the sheep with the open hunger of a carnivore. “Do all your kind think so highly of themselves, or is this another special trait of the slayers of many-eyed beasts?” she asked, playfully teasing her new toy. The water from the bath had now evaporated in the warm sun, her bare skin drinking in the sunlight, though it didn’t seem quite the same as the sun in Egypt.
“You say your father is in charge of all the gods in this realm?” she asked him, “is he the ruler of the sun? Our sun is much warmer in Egypt, because it is also Ra,” she stated matter-of-factly.
He smiled, accepting her witty assessment of his personal talents. She could not insult him, nor did she seem to seek such an outcome. Neither option particularly interested the messenger god at the present moment, his attention better fixated on his traveling companion’s form close to him. Her newness, her utter strangeness, fascinated him.
“Zeus does not rule the sun,” Hermes said lightly, his smile quirking further upwards at the thought of his father being told he must also consider the management of the sun’s rays, in addition to his ever-growing number of sordid affairs. “Our sun is ruled by Helios, though my brother Apollo would think that the job better suits him rather than the Titan.” Bast’s brow furrowed at the unfamiliar names, but she tucked them away for later.
“Come,” he continued, in the same matter of fact tone that Bast had used on him, though he carried ever with himself a sense of immediate urgency. “Let us sit beneath that tree,” Hermes pointed to the tree in question, a vividly flowering plant which had clearly vowed to one day meet the sky in union. Its branches were heavy with soft, pink flowers, nestled among broad, bright green leaves. “Then you must tell me more about this Ra, who must have only the nights to himself. His life must be one of the sweetest of joys, even if he is unable to enjoy the fruit of his own endeavors.”
With a smile she followed him, settling herself comfortably below the towering tree and it’s colourful blossoms. “How do I describe Ra,” she mused to herself, though loud enough to be heard. She leant back on the grass beneath the tree, watching the dappled sun coming through the leaves and blossoms.
“The Falcon. He is the source of all warmth, the defender of the night and the guardian of the day. Every morning he is reborn and every night he descends to the Duat with the other gods to do battle with chaos.” Pride shone on her features as she spoke, a gleam in her eye, a smile on her lips, her hands itching to do battle. “He is our father. He defends us, and I defend him,” she finished, looking over at Hermes with a wan smile.
Lounging against the tree, Hermes had a better opportunity to study the foreign goddess, as well as keep an observant eye upon the distant shepherd and his sheep, a field away from their location. This suited him well enough, and he listened to Bast’s explanation with a nod of understanding, though the figures she spoke of were separated from what he knew to be familiar. Different motivations, and different names, but the sense of dogged devotion was not lost on him.
“Then your cause is noble, I suppose,” Hermes acquiesced, with a particular gleam to his eye. Honor and nobility held no power in the realm he inhabited, yet perhaps these values colored Bast’s world in broader strokes. “You need not worry about battling chaos here, nor defending your almighty Ra.” He tipped his petasus upwards on his forehead, fixing Bast with a nearly honest smile.
“We have long since defeated chaos, and this world is thus more suitable for enjoyments. Perhaps you might stay,” he added, gaze flitting over her tattooed skin. “For one as long-traveled and battle weary as yourself, rest would be advantageous to better serving your own needs rather than those of your Falcon lord.”
Bast laughed, “how arrogant to believe that you have defeated Chaos itself!” she teased. “This is a battle that will never end, young god, not until the ending of the world! I predict that your...peaceful idyllic world will not stay this way forever,” she said, lifting one eyebrow. She shifted on the grass, lying comfortably on one side and facing him, her head propped up on one hand.
“This is why in Egypt, we take our pleasures when we find them. The struggle of life makes times of joy all the more sweet.” She’d noticed his eyes on her, and rather than shy away from them, she shifted to make the view more appealing, while letting her own eyes flit across his form.
The shepherd and his sheep temporarily forgotten, Hermes allowed Bast the entirety of his attention, eyes gone dark with curiosity and desire. He mentally traced the slope of her hips, the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed in and out; she was supple and soft-looking, despite her claims of being a warrior. Still, there was strength in her limbs, that much was certain. It coiled beneath the surface, close enough that he might almost touch it if he dared.
But he dared only to touch her, a being as alive and vibrant as himself, ever adapting to new circumstances and delights. “War is no stranger to one such as I,” Hermes stated, with little arrogance. “But days of joy and merrymaking, those are the moments that I find more intriguing.” He removed his treasured hat, letting it rest in the grass. “When one is allowed to delight in the world around them, it becomes a matter of understanding the journey they are on, rather than being concerned with the end result.”
As he spoke, he drew closer to Bast, indeed daring to touch her. He trailed his fingertips along her painted body, moving from her leg to the rise of her hip and the smooth skin of her side. “Allow me to better understand more than your world, guardian of Ra, Midwife of Egypt. Allow me to understand you.” It was no less a command than it was a request, a simple inquiry to gather to himself a more thorough knowledge of the strange deity.
Bast smiled widely at the thinly veiled request, tilting her head a little and looking up at him. “Are you asking for a ‘cultural exchange’?” she asked, a playful lilt in her voice. “For me to ‘open myself’ to your explorations? Experience Egyptian ways firsthand?” She grinned, showing off her feline teeth, shifting on the grass a little closer under his hand. Teasing, yet inviting.
A blush of shame never crossed his cheeks as Bast saw straight through to the heart of his intentions. Were she nothing else, he could at least call her encouraging. But thankfully for both of them, she was much more than her affectations, and he felt determined to discover what else lay beneath the fanged smile of the cat goddess.
“I do like to involve myself in exchanges of information,” Hermes mused, voice smooth and confident as he drew closer to Bast, feeling the heat emanating from her skin as he continued to touch her. Often, mortals interested him more than his own kind, and thus he made no great habit of chasing nymphs and minor goddesses, like many of his relatives did. But sometimes the messenger god made exceptions.
“And I would never say no to matters of exploration,” he added, amused and earnest. Leaning down, he took advantage of Bast's upward tilted face, cupping her chin with one hand. Briefly, Hermes studied her eyes, closer to him now than ever before. They were a dark, rich brown, full of a secret history he had not yet comprehended. Then, in a moment, he had shut his own eyes, closing the distance between the two of them with the eager press of a kiss.
Her own eyes slid closed and she opened her lips to him, allowing and encouraging his explorations and enjoying the delicate tingling on her skin from his touch. A soft barely-there purr of pleasure started in the back of her throat, and she lifted one hand to grip his upper arm, lightly at first, but then with a little more strength, pulling him flush against her skin. Her other hand coasted down his side with slow but deliberate touches. “Does your kind always wear so much clothing while engaging in such explorations?” she asked, tugging playfully at the edge of his robe, a grin on her lips.
“I cannot say I attribute it to being particularly habitual,” laughed the young god, pleased at Bast’s continual good humor and sharp wit. He sat back from her, breaking precious contact between the two of them in order to shrug his robe from his shoulders, and unlace the sandals from his feet. Hermes was, admittedly, not as robust as some of his more aggressively inclined siblings; instead, his frame was slender, his muscles lean and taut from his ample time spent on the open road. Uneven tan lines crossed his shoulders, from his occasional ventures of dressing as a shepherd under the hot noon sun, mingling with the common people of Greece and ascertaining they would arrive safely at their destinations.
“Perhaps,” Hermes mused, as he drew close again to capture Bast’s lips once more with his own, “you have caused me to misplace my proper sensibilities.” She grinned at him and returned his kisses eagerly, purring and helping him out of the rest of his clothing. He gave himself over to her then, the foreign goddess of cats who professed to be both a lover and a warrior--he determined to see for himself the validity of her claims.