Birth Of A God
TITLE: Birth Of A God
GENRES: Mythology, fantasy, drama, emotional.
SUMMARY: A mother gives up her child, in order to save him...an original myth.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2001.
LENGTH: 1800+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild adult language, mild adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Certain characters are from Egyptian mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Egyptian mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2001 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the other Kemet short stories and/or the Kemet/Egyptian mythology as I make use of it in my writing; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This is simply a "genesis" story, my own personal version of the birth of one of my favorite Egyptian god characters, and probably the one whose poor mind I've messed around with the most...who is he? Read on and find out...
ASTARTE BOWED HER head. She cradled the tiny bundle to her and stared down at her sandaled feet. When she looked up again she saw the moon.
The people of Keben--and their gods--were much used to sea travel. Astarte was no exception. She rode within a dark ship that propelled itself along the currents of wind, not touching the water; its reflection was cast far below. No one else could see it but her. If she'd wanted, she could let others see, in particular those whose land she was now headed toward. But she didn't want them to.
Wisps of clouds drifted by. The Great Green Sea was nothing more than black now, but smooth as glass, and she could see her ship reflected on it. It looked as if the moon rode upon the top of the sail.
The small bundle let out a whimpering noise and moved. She held it to her more closely and it fell silent. She shut her eyes.
It was the tradition. The damned tradition that she couldn't even understand. Who had first set it down in stone? That she, the great goddess of Keben, was not to be allowed children of her own, by any man or god. What sort of tradition demanded something so cruel of a mother? Was she to remain symbolically "pure," even while her body was not, and to give up that which by rights belonged to her? The tradition seemed horribly wrong. If she were to give up something that meant so much, what of the other party? It took two to make a child. What would he have to give up?
If she'd had a knife, she felt she knew what she would choose for him to lose...
She shook her head and banished that thought. How petty for a goddess. She was beginning to think like the people of that other country. The one she sailed toward now.
She opened her eyes again and looked. Far ahead lay a darkness blacker than the sea. Where she was going. Her destination. Her child's destination.
She knew not all of the Kemeti were barbarians...at least, their gods were not...but their people were mere brutes. She shuddered to think of them, and to think of what she had to do. She looked down at the child sleeping peacefully now in her arms.
Her love, her one love aside from this small thing, had demanded that she be rid of it.
Take him to the land of the savages. If they are worthy of a godling, they will save him. If not, then he is spared what would have become of him here, had you kept him.
Her lip curled back in a slight snarl of anger and disgust. "Baal..."
He had not cared that the child was his. That it was hers as well. The tradition stood above all. Apparently he had gotten what he wanted, and she had to give up the result.
She tried to hate him for it, truly she did.
Her attempt failed. She hugged the child so tightly that it murmured in protest. The dark ship began to descend from the sky, toward the Black Land, the weaving tendrils of the Delta gleaming under the moon.
She dreaded landing on that forbidding shore.
She had spent time with the tablets learning what little she could of the gods of Kemet--the neteru, they called themselves in their not-so-foreign tongue, for she found, to her surprise, that they shared similar languages. Their clothings were also similar; she wondered if the two races had not diverged at some point in the distant past. Baal had convinced her this was a ridiculous thought. The Kemeti, even their gods, were savages. There were reasons the mortals ran wild through the land while those of Keben did not. Their own deities couldn't keep them in check. Vile things.
Still...she had made the decision to bring the child here, even before Baal had. These brutes were his only hope, now.
The ship coasted down among the trees, palm fronds brushing against the hull, the wood sinking down slowly into the water and drifting along until it came to a gradual stop in a bank of reeds. It shimmered briefly, and though she still saw it, she knew no one else could. As it should be. These were the people she would have to rely upon, for her child's life. Yet she didn't wish for them to see her.
Another glance down at the baby, who raised his arms and whined softly.
Small one. You must never know your mother. She leaves you among savages. You will find a new mother. A better mother. One who will call you Son without the threat of losing her homeland.
She hated how a mere parcel of dirt had become more to her than this living breathing piece of her own being.
It was not her choice.
She took a breath and descended from the ship, bringing him with her. It shimmered again after her foot touched the ground--her sandal sinking into marsh--and disappeared behind her. She would find it again, when she returned. She looked about her, at the palm trees standing dark and crooked, the thick concealing clumps of papyrus, the glittering of boggy water, the occasional tiny movement of some reptile or other as it slithered away.
She took a step forward, sinking again, and began walking.
Her studies had told her a bit about the gods of this forsaken place. They were not as brutish as her fellows would have led her to believe. They had a god of the sun, and of crops, and of the river, one of the air, one of the rain, one for fighting--many for fighting--and many goddesses for fertility, the same as her own people. They had wise gods, and they had foolish gods. The same as her own. Their own god of wisdom had even tried to reach the mortals once, to teach them...from what little she could learn, the effort had obviously failed, yet it had been attempted. Perhaps these mortals were simply backwards, not ready to learn yet.
She wasn't interested in them, or in him. She'd heard of one goddess around these parts, whom she wished to meet.
Not face to face. But this was who she sought.
She walked along dry and wet patches of land, heedless of any creatures that may have sought to attack her. She didn't fear them. They were nothing right now. And indeed, as if sensing divinity, they left her alone. She held the baby tightly, more afraid of losing his life than her own, and continued looking around her. She kept her mind and her thoughts open, yet masked from others. The one she sought could not be too far away.
Finally, she sensed it. She stopped.
The moon briefly disappeared behind cloud. Astarte glanced up, then around her. There. The barest flicker of something, someone, intelligent, not too far away. Not a mortal's thoughts. Too advanced, too intricate. A deity. A goddess. The Northern Goddess. The Goddess of Foundlings.
The one she sought.
She quickly looked around for a safe place to lay him. She found one in the small hollow at the base of a tree, surrounded by thick scrub; she sloshed her way toward this and, crushing the plants down to form a bed, took the baby away from herself and laid him gently upon the grass. His arms were free from his bundle, and he held them out, murmuring to her, babbling softly. Astarte gave a soft smile and touched his cheek.
"Small one. My one. Now the one of the Lady of the Swamps. I leave you to her. You are hers now. Your mother, she loved you; yet she was not fit to be your mother. You deserve more, small one."
He seemed to sense her meaning, as his murmuring picked up, turning into a whine. His eyes welled up and he waved his arms at her harder.
She stroked his head, and then his arm. She gently pushed aside one of his wrappings to reveal what she herself had done, in secret, beyond Baal's sight, so that if she were to meet him again, by chance, she would know it was he. Her child. Her son.
A small simple tattoo darkened the skin of his chubby upper arm. A tiny wolf's head. She had had a vision when he was born, a vision of a great wolf in the strange wild land, a wolf with powers...she had no doubt it was a vision of what was to come.
"Small one. Strong one. This is your land now. You are Kemeti. Your name will be Kemeti. They will always consider you their own. You will never be cast out from among them, as you were from among us. Perhaps one day you will come to us again. You will help open the way. So our peoples may know one another. So one day, we may be friends."
She covered his arm again, kissed his forehead. He cried loudly now, knowing she was to leave him. Astarte's heart was breaking. Yet she stood, holding her hand out over him and chanting, making secret gestures of blessing and protection known only among her own kind, not his own. Now.
"Strong One. Wolf One. Dweller in Underworld. Dweller in Otherworld. Right Hand of the King. Guardian of the Throne. Protector of the Gods. Opener of the Ways. Up-uat. You are Kemeti. You are neteri. You are of the Black Land now. You are theirs."
She pulled her hand away, brought it back down to her side. The child cried harder. His howl carried through the swamp. She could sense an awareness now, someone hearing the cry, coming to investigate. She withdrew, yet her gaze stayed upon him even as she reached her invisible ship and went aboard, feeling it begin to rise into the sky.
His gaze stayed upon her as well. Pained eyes, knowing eyes, knowing that she was leaving him. Leaving him behind. Small arms reached out as if to draw her back down, ship and all. Mouth opened wide and howling with grief. Screams piercing her heart. Astarte closed her eyes and turned away from him.
She saw a shadow emerging from the swamp, snakelike and gliding, taking the form of a woman wearing the strange crown of her kind, parting the weeds and peering down at the abandoned child. She allowed herself a final glance, saw the strange goddess reach down for him, and could watch no more. She turned away for good this time. She kept her eyes closed. No tears streamed down her face. It was only because her shut eyelids held them back.
As the ship ascended, the moon again resting upon its sail, she took a breath and opened her eyes, staring ahead resolutely. She was a goddess, and this was tradition. She could not show her sorrow.
If a tear did stream down her face, she told herself it was merely the wind in her eyes, as her dark ship sailed back to her homeland across the Great Green Sea.