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[sticky post]A Table Of Contents, In Progress
frustrated mother of teenager
rix_scaedu
As part of the January 13 Prompt Call, I started doing landing pages for series I write or worlds I write in.  I don't always write in an established world or series but I seem to have a lot of worlds and series out there.

Having created landing pages, they are of no use to any of us, if no-one can find them.  Hence this page.

The landing pages created so far are for:

The Angel Universe - a world of polytheism, angels, vard, and a lot of humans, including one group who believe they are the chosen of the gods.

Rensa - within the world of the Defensive Diaspora, there is a world where the revolution has wiped out the entire Imperial family.  Except for one princess, who was made a proposal she can't refuse by a man who's in his job because everyone else is dead.

The Prince of Cats - a father and son who aren't quite what they seem.

The Winged Cat Universe a contemporary world with magic, and winged cats.

After The Fairy Tale - so what happened after the fairy tale ended?

The Squad - four ship protection specialists in a space faring culture.

Mayin -  after a decade away fighting an interstellar war, a returned soldier tries to adjust to the civilian world with the complication of an unexpected suitor.

Erima -  the demons are taking over, the godssons are the free world's best hope, and Erima was not the child her mother hoped for.

The Elf - the elf has taken over the city.  He's up to something and he's being opposed, but the opposition doesn't care if they hurt people.

Nai - a mangaish road trip undertaken by a young, female, professional gi fighter and her instructor.

Frack - Ludwina Frack has reappeared after being missing for seven years, but her life of spaceships, piracy and offers she can't refuse isn't over yet.

Iphana - within the world of the Defensive Diaspora, on a world with extreme arctic climate changes, a young technician is almost abandoned for the winter...

Afterwhen - there was a catastrophe, maybe even an apocalypse, but that was a while ago and is just passing from living memory. Different groups have different resources, different skills and different issues.

The Unformed Coven - thirteen people who are quite happy as they are, with their own concerns and lives. Other people, it seems, have plans for them that they may not care for.

Dark Fantasy Bingo - based on the prompts from my Dark Fantasy Bingo card from 2013 we have the story of Sillan Denevda after she became Tamin Sorid - because of politics and stuff.

The Twisted Skein - probably space opera with star ships, isolated human civilizations, plus drama and intrigue if I can pull them off.

Inheritance - in the wake of an elderly man's death, secrets begin to come out and stories to reawaken. (Note: may contain super heroes.)

After I finish listing the various series, then I'll have to keep the landing pages up-to-date....

Liavan: Spring - Part 1
Elf
rix_scaedu
Back in September 18 I put out a prompt call and zianuray over on LJ tipped me for a second story. It was supposed to be 300 words. The original prompt is here.  Well, after 28,800 words, I have finished what is probably the first of four parts. This is set in the same world, and on the same continent as Consequences and this part runs to 3,268 words.

 

Liavan was starting her garden from scratch.  She'd marked out where she wanted the beds to be, and now she was lifting the sod from the first one.  That wasn't all it took, of course.  The sod was couch, which showed that someone else had lived here once even if there was no sign left of any habitation.  The sod was going out along the track verge that led past where she had erected her little house, all four rooms plus the attic, water tanks for rain collection, the outhouse, and the simple, low fence with her carefully stored up hoard of magic.  It hadn't been easy, but she had done it.  The hardest part of it had been gathering together everything she needed in the face of people, particularly her family, not understanding why she needed things.  She had lived in dread of her mother finding her thimbral, the round piece of lead crystal that she stored her magic in, and deciding that it was an ornament that ought to be displayed openly on a shelf in the family's parlour where she couldn't use it. 

 No-one, especially her mother, understood why she thought that she could be a withemistress.  The idea had been dismissed out of hand and ridiculed every time someone had come across Liavan writing out her observations.  The notebooks had survived Mother's zealous clearing hand because lemonade recipes, notes on nursing various illnesses, and diagrams of how to make patterns for new clothes adjusted to individual size were useful things, and if there were magical notes in there too, it was easy enough for Liavan to make sure that the notebooks never fell open at those pages.  Labelled packets of seeds had been fairly easy to tuck away out of sight in with her socks and underthings, but little pots of cuttings that she was trying to strike had too often found their way into the rubbish.  After all, withemasters and withemistresses were persons of importance and Liavan Haucmel was never going to be important.  Neither was she going to have her own garden, because she was going to be the one to stay at hand to mind her parents' old age - her mother, grandmothers, and aunts had decided that the day Liavan was born, or so she was told. 

To be fair to her mother, Liavan was fairly sure that Withemistress Penden of the enormous black and purple flowered hats and fur-trimmed cold weather coats didn't dig her own bean patch.  From the turf.  Being fair to herself in turn, Liavan pointed out to herself that Withemistress Penden was the fourth generation of her family to live in the comfortable townhouse with the extensive garden on Elster Street.   The house probably hadn't been that comfortable when it was built, and Liavan was sure she remembered her great-grandfather saying that Elster Street had been a lane between cow paddocks when he was a boy.  The Pendens back then probably hadn't gone in for big, fancy hats. 

The first bed took most of the day to cut the turf, break up the soil a little, wish she had compost (not that wishing did any good), erect the support poles and tie strings between them.  Finally, she added water and planted her summer beans.  Ideally there would be succession planting but Liavan only had enough seed for the double row in this first bed and she knew that she had at more than one strain of the climbing bean mixed in her handful.  That was what came of trading for what you could get, and it meant that she would wind up with something different from any of them, but that might not be a bad thing.  Of course, summer beans were practically magic in themselves, the first seeds on this continent having been traded across the southern ice from far off, mysterious Tlacatan only a few decades ago.  Liavan finished by adding nasturtium seeds to each end of the bed.  Satisfied with her work, she put her tools undercover beside the back door, and went inside to prepare her evening meal. 

It was her second night in the house her magic had built and the novelties of having four rooms to herself and being mistress of the kitchen had not worn off.  The house was still sparsely and simply furnished, and the food was plain, but it was all hers.  Tomorrow there would be more garden to create.  Liavan slept well and dreamed of her garden. 

Morning dawned fine again and Liavan's mind was torn on that point.  Fine weather would let her get more outdoor work done, but rain would fill her water tanks.  She ate and did her indoor chores, then went out to make more garden beds.  First, she looked at what she had marked out, considered the plants that she had, and decided to deal with the fruit trees first.  She had successful orange and lemon cuttings, so they went in a row along the back fence, leaving room for the gate she planned to put in one day.  The removed turf went out the front to build the trackside verge up, and the small plants were carefully watered.  Liavan considered the day and picked some bracken fern to put over the cuttings to stop them getting sunburnt and dried out before they'd adjusted to their new positions. 

Next was a herb bed, and Liavan resolved to research a sharpening spell that she could use on her spade.  Or buy a good whetstone.   This bed was going to be for the cuttings, roots, and dug up small plants that needed to go in the ground as soon as possible. That included three field memorazes, a plant with a number of uses, and several grass orchids that had been growing where Liavan erected her house. The new bed was much the same size as the bean bed, but Liavan seemed to have gotten the knack of lifting the sod more easily now and the business went faster that the day before.  It helped, too, that there were no poles to put in or support strings to tie.  The water loving plants went at one end of the bed, and the ones that would die with that much water at the other end.  She was just deciding where to put the field memorazes when there was a hail from her front gate, such as it was. 

"Hulloo!"  A tall woman in a black tunic over a purple dress, and with an enormous black hat festooned with purple roses stood there waving.  "As it seems we're going to be neighbours I thought I should drop over and introduce myself.  I quite understand if you don't want to ask me in, I'm sure that you at least feel like you're at sixes and sevens after moving." 

Liavan froze in shock.  It was Withemistress Penden at her gate.  She recovered herself, stood, brushed her hands, waved back in friendly acknowledgement, and walked over to her gate.  "Good afternoon, Withemistress Penden.  I'm afraid I wasn't expecting you.  I had thought that I had found a place that wouldn't intrude upon you and your responsibilities."  She gave a short, polite afterthought of a curtsy. 

"You did, my dear, and I do appreciate it."  The older woman smiled.  "I'm Elvie Penden," she held out her bare hand over the gate, "and you are?" 

Liavan took it and shook.  "Liavan Haucmel, ma'am." 

"You're that girl who sells cough mixtures at the weekly market in the square, aren't you?"  It seemed to Liavan that the older, black-haired withemistress was looking at her approvingly.  When Liavan nodded, she added, "I'm glad you've come to this."  She looked at the house behind Liavan, "And all your own work too.  The trouble some people go to steal magic to do this, you have no idea yet." 

"But then someone else has a hand in your work," said Liavan, "and if they want to change it then all they have to do is tweak."  She made an expressive gesture with her hand.  "If they were stronger or more cunning than you, they could even take control or possession."  She frowned.  "Leaving yourself open to that sort of thing doesn't seem very wise." 

"Many of those who take that path aren't," admitted Withemistress Penden.  "I'm surprised that you think that it would be easy to change another's spell."  She raised a well-shaped eyebrow and waited for Liavan's reply. 

"Well, if they've used your magic for it, then you're already involved in the spell, aren't you?"  Liavan shrugged.  "I mean, even if they've put wards up, if they've used your magic to do it, then you might as well already be inside them." 

Withemistress Penden gave her a penetrating look.  "Who was your teacher again?" 

"I didn't have one," replied Liavan directly.  "I had some of the notebooks that one of my great aunts used to put her observations in, and a copy of Goodbody's Physic that she used to use." 

"There are a lot worse places to start than Goodbody's," remarked Withemistress Penden.  "In my position, the content of your great aunt's notes might be more worrying on the matter of...ethics." 

"I don't believe that great-aunt was unsound," said Liavan carefully, "but she did want to know what the answers were, as opposed to what people said they should be."

 "I don't have a problem with that," replied Withemistress Penden, "as long as we aren't talking vivisection or human sacrifice." 

"She was more interested in the phases of the moon, planting cycles, and treating nasty coughs," answered Liavan.  "There's also some gossip." 

"And you've managed to work this out from that start?  You have been busy."  Withemistress Penden gave her another penetrating look, then she smiled and said, "Well, I believe I approve of you.  Do you have your licences?" 

"Yes, ma'am."  Liavan smiled shyly.  "One from the bishop and one from the duke.  I don't need one from the town or the baron because I paid my crown for a plot out here." 

"Well," agreed the older woman, "you're well out of town out here, and I happened to notice that none of the baronies claim this spot."

 "There aren't any villages out this way," agreed Liavan, "so the barons aren't that interested, and once you get a few miles back into the woods you run into the royal preserve." 

"So, you really are trying not to upset those of us already in the profession, aren't you?"  Elvie Penden shook her head and the great purple blossoms on her hat shook too, shedding fragrance as they moved.  "You are allowed to make a push for you own interests, you know." 

"My current interests, ma'am, are to have my own space to work in on my own interests."  Liavan folded her hands in front of her, school girl fashion.  "I've my cough mixtures to brew, and a few things that I want to perfect before I try to start selling them.  A work space where everything will stay as I left it is something that I have been looking forward to." 

"I won't offend you by offering money or magic," said Withemistress Penden, "but would you like a golden creckle berry bush?  Mine decided to layer its lower branches under the mulch last winter and now I have more than I need." 

"Only if you'll take a field memoraze and a grass orchid in return," said Liavan promptly with a smile. 

"Oh, I certainly will," replied Withemistress Penden with a smile.  "I took the liberty of bringing the bush with me."  She bent down and picked a pot up from beside her feet. 

"I'll just go and get your plants," said Liavan, and she turned and walked briskly back to her where she'd been walking to get a memoraze and a grass orchid.  She didn't pick the best of the plants, but she didn't pick the worst either.  Then she went back to her front gate to exchange them for the small golden creckle berry bush. 

"Thank you," said Withemistress Penden sincerely.  "I do appreciate this, and I do hope that we can be on good terms.  I find that creckle berries do well with full morning sun and afternoon shade - they're one of the fruits that do best after a frosty winter." 

"I'm afraid that the best I can do is tell you that I found the memorazes and the orchids growing where I put the house, in among the couch and the clover," answered Liavan.  "In case it's important, there were last year's lies-a-bed stems there too, but I only picked the pods instead of digging them up." 

"They could be companion plants," agreed Withemistress Penden.  "It would explain why memoraze is so difficult to grow in a garden.  Anyway, I must be getting along home.  It's been a pleasure meeting you and I hope everything goes well.  Please drop in for a cup of tea next time you're in town, perhaps after the market closes?" 

"Thank you, I would like that very much indeed," replied Liavan.  "I hope you have a safe journey home."  She gave no indication, she hoped, that she had no idea how the older Withemistress had gotten to her front gate without a vehicle, riding mount, or companion, and in her town street boots too.  Liavan had walked for three quarters of a day to get here, so she was certain that the Withemistress hadn't done the same thing in those boots. 

Withemistress Penden said judiciously, "I generally find, when I travel in these parts, that I am the most dangerous thing on the road, but I thank you for your good wishes.  Goodbye."  She offered her hand again, Liavan took it, and the two solemnly shook again for just the right amount of time before letting go.  The older woman turned and walked back down the track towards the road that led back to town.  Liavan watched her for the few minutes it took her to get to the dip in the track where it went across the top of the gully that dug a deep fold into the side of the hill further down the slope.  Withemistress Penden reached the edge of the shade cast by the trees in the gully, and then she was gone.  Liavan got the faintest whiff of the fragrance that had come off the flowers on that enormous hat, but she had no idea what the other woman had done, although she was certain that by some means Withemistress Penden was now well on her way back to town. 

Liavan went back to getting her plants in the ground.  With the welcome extra bush to dig a space for, it was almost dark by the time she finished and put everything away.  She made a quick meal, cleaned up, and then wrote about Withemistress Penden's visit, the plant exchange, and the invitation to visit for tea in her notebook.  Then she went to bed. 

Back in town, which was known by the name of Market Cranebourne, Elvie Penden had said good night to her youngest children and left the older girls sewing in the sitting room while she went into her library to talk with her husband and their father.  Elvie was wearing a more faded purple dress than the one she'd gone visiting in that afternoon, and she had a sun-bleached, undyed cotton up-and-over apron over the top of it.  Her husband was as tall as she was and wore his silvering dark hair pulled back in a single braid.  He looked up from the account books he was working on when she walked into the room and smiled.  "You want to tell me about your trip this afternoon, don't you?"  He smiled at her. 

"Of course I do."  Elvie threw herself down in a chair.  "She seems a perfectly nice girl.  All the magic up there is her magic, nothing stolen.  I don't know if she's done much gardening before this, but she'd making a reasonable fist of a start of it. The magic surge I felt the other day must have been her putting up her house.  She's polite.  Good at holding boundaries.  Good at respecting them, too.  Do we need to worry about her upsetting the status quo?  Only if we think the local status quo can't cope with expanding.  She's practically in the royal preserve, so she won't be neatly slotted in under one of the barons."

 "And she's far enough out of town that she's not your responsibility either, " pointed out her husband.  "If she does go bad, then it will be up to the duke to call in someone to deal with her." 

"We traded plants and I invited her here for tea next time she comes to town," admitted Evie.  "That will give me a chance to know her better.  I suspect that selling her cough medicines is her only income for now."

 "Will it be enough?"  He put down his pen.  "She has to make enough feed herself and cover both her license fees and the annual crown." 

"It's been enough for her to put together things she needed to strike out on her own, and now she won't be paying rent or board."  Elvie frowned.  "If you hear that anyone is complaining about a lost daughter or one that's run off with the family funds, can you let me know?  I suspect she's left somewhere that was less than accommodating."  She sighed.  "If people would just come to me when their child starts showing power, or aptitude, or interest, it would be so much easier.  Instead they think I'm going to be mad or eat the poor thing, or something!" 

"Withemistresses and withemasters do have a reputation for holding on to what is theirs," pointed out her husband mildly.  "All the best stories tell us not to steal from one." 

"Stealing is not the same as building almost the same thing by your own efforts," pointed out Elvie.  "Besides, I go out of my way to avoid entrapping people.  Gingerbread houses and unseasonal fruit in plain sight just scream out 'looking for a victim' in my opinion." 

"This new withemistress has made her magic-built cottage out of gingerbread?"  Her husband smiled and sat back in his chair with his hands in his lap. 

"Of course, she hasn't!"  Elvie stopped and looked at him, "I'm beginning to ramble again, aren't I, Lubric?" 

"Possibly, my dear.  In your most charming fashion.  I understand though, that you think the girl will do?"  He looked serious again. 

"Yes, I really think she will."  Elvie sighed.  "The world is changing, Lubric, and the way it's changing is mainly people and the number of them.  While that's happening, we need to keep up the proportion of people who do unusual things, and we're not.  We need more clergy.  We need more scholars.  We need more smiths and craftsmen.  Not everyone can go down the mines or into the foundries." 

"Or be cheap labour for these manufactories that Blace and his cronies want to construct," agreed Lubric, gesturing at the account books on the table.  "Now we've identified the problems of the world, if the girls are all busy or in bed, can I interest you in some snuggling on that comfortably upholstered sofa in front of the fire place?" 

"Lubric Blackshift, I believe I married you because of your sensible suggestions, and that sounds remarkably sensible."  Elvie Penden held out her hand to him and added, "Yes, you may interest me, sirrah.  Please, lead on."

 

This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/116167.html. There have been comment count unavailable comments there.

Eliane Background
cat wearing fez
rix_scaedu
 For those ofyou who thought Eliane's concern re muck piles was overstated, I have this. This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/115808.html. There have been comment count unavailable comments there.

In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 4
Flower person
rix_scaedu
 Here, following on from In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 3 is the fourth and final part of this story.  This story came out of my reading a thread by @NeotlithicSheep on Twitter.  This post runs to 2,084 words.

When Eliane woke she thought she felt surprisingly rested for someone who’d had an important conversation with a deity in her sleep.  She and Helire decided to go and see the cows before breakfast and found Second Cousin Herome in the cowstalls checking on his ox.  Eliane offered to help the team who were doing the shovelling out, but was waved away with their thanks because, they said, all the shovels were in use.  A turn past the muck pile was ruled out because Herome, who’d joined them after he’d finished with Smoke, wanted to try and catch Great Uncle Banning at breakfast.  According to Herome, Great Uncle had left their room after dinner to catch up with some old friends and not returned since.  Apparently Eliane’s great uncle had asked Herome for space on the cart on the way home for some seed, and Herome wanted to clarify as soon as he could whether ‘some’ meant a few pounds or several hundredweight.

Breakfast was in the same communal dining hall as dinner and far more informal.  Instead of servers bringing platters and bowls to the dining tables, the food was placed on a side table running the length of the room and everyone served themselves before sitting down at a dining table.  That was the intention, but Eliane saw one poor man eating his entire meal standing just out of reach of the dining tables because people kept talking to him.  She was considering whether she was bold enough to rescue a stranger from other strangers when the gong sounded to warn everyone that it was almost time for the morning service.

Eliane found herself a seat on the wall end of a row, under a carving of sheep and goats.  Helire and Herome were with Great Uncle Banning near the aisle of the row in front of her but the people already in the row Eliane was sitting in had refused to shuffle down and she’d had to push past their knees to get a spot.  Once she was seated, she realised why no-one had moved – the spot she was in had half its view of the sanctuary blocked by load-bearing architecture.  She sat quietly in her place and listened to the choir sing the morning order, recited the day’s prayers with everyone else, and passed the serving salver of devotional elixir on quickly when it came to after taking her a sip cup for herself.

Like everyone else, Eliane held the sip cup on the palm of her hand to warm the liquid in the small bowl-shaped vessel through the thin porcelain.  The priest leading the service, who was also the man Eliane had considered rescuing at breakfast, intoned the standard introduction to the sermon, and everyone raised their sip cup to their mouth.  At this point most people simply inhaled deeply and let the fumes clear their mind so they could pay full attention to the sermon that they were about to hear.  You could however, if you wished to truly open your mind to the goddess, drink the elixir.  Eliane had done it before, once when she’d asked to be considered for dedication as Skilled and then again at the actual dedication.  She’d found it an interesting experience that had left her senses more receptive and her mind better at processing new information for half a day, but she hadn’t thought it had brought her closer to the goddess….

Rhenasanamofa stepped into her fully awake mind.

I’ll need you to let me run your body for a little while,” said the deity calmly.  I didn’t mention this part of the plan to you earlier so you wouldn’t get anticipation anxiety about it.  Don’t worry, by all that may bind me, I swear that no harm will come to you from this.  If necessary,” she added calmly, “I will provide stout and timely physical intervention on your behalf.

Eliane felt herself moved aside out of the goddess’ way.  “What are you doing, ma’am?”  She could still see and hear what was going on in the temple, but she knew that she was no longer in control of her limbs or her voice.

“Manifesting myself in you, not that anyone else has noticed yet.”  The deity added conversationally, “Theologically speaking, that means you are currently my avatar.  If any of my theologically learned devotees ever start being difficult, you should remind them of that, and that this is the first time I’ve done this in about five of your generations.  What I’m doing with you is a big deal and none of you should forget it.”  She stopped to listen.  Learned Skilled Ordained Lammarac is giving a very sound sermon – I believe we can let him finish before we call attention to ourselves.”

“Ma’am, while we’re waiting may I ask a question?”  Eliane had noticed a change in what she was seeing.

Certainly you may ask,” the goddess answered kindly.  If I don’t want to answer, I’ll tell you and that will be that.  You’ve given me access to everything of you, so you should at least get to ask questions.

“Alright then, why does everyone look so…blurry now?  With different hair colours all at once, and somehow with scales and fangs as well as skin, and,” she trailed off.  “I’m not explaining it well, am I?”

What’s happening,” answered Rhenasanamofa, “is that you are picking up some of how I normally see living things, and you don’t have the experience or the information processing ability to interpret it and understand it.  The other side of the coin is that I’m finding my usual perceptions of the living world somewhat restricted because you don’t have the senses to receive the information about it that I do.  That fuzziness you’re seeing is the surface physical manifestations of each individual body’s possibilities if there were some tweaks in the way processes you can’t perceive work.”

Eliane pointed out, “Some of those possibilities don’t look human.”

A lot of what your kind are and perceive themselves to be is because of a few internal processes being turned on or off,” replied the goddess.  It’s more complicated than that, but your people need to do some more concept development so that you have the language for me to explain it better.  Change those process settings inside a human body and you could wind up with someone who looks like a different person, a different type of being, or whose body doesn’t work at all so they’re dead.”

“Is this related to the way different bits of the brain control different body functions?”  Eliane knew a very little bit about the subject, and most of that knowledge was that there were big discussions about how you could investigate the subject without slipping into monstrous behaviour.

Partly,” replied the goddess, “but a lot of it is in systems that underlie gross body functions like that.”

“Wait, systems that underlie brain function…?”  That was new concept to Eliane.

And liver function, kidney function, and the way your gut works.  Some of them are in the things that make cheese or inhabit your muck piles, but those are much tinier creatures than you.  So small that you can’t see them.  Ah, Lammarac is finishing.”  The goddess added brightly, “Let’s do this.”

They stood when everyone else stood for the blessing and then followed everyone in the row when they made their way into the aisle to walk towards the doors and the rest of the day’s business outside.  Great Uncle Banning and Eliane’s cousins had already moved towards the main doors with the press of the congregation behind them.  The goddess brought Eliane to a stop at the end of the aisle and had her wait.  When everyone else had moved on, the presiding clergy progressed down the aisles towards the doors, splitting into a group for each aisle to do so.

As it happened, and Eliane suspected that it wasn’t accidental, Lammarac was the principal Ordained on her aisle.  As he drew level with her, and Eliane had received some questioning looks from his attendants, the goddess said loudly, “Nice sermon, Lammarac.  Been working on your delivery?”  To Elaine it didn’t sound like her own voice, more like a chorus.  The priest turned to look at Eliane, his face went white, he dropped to his knees and then he prostrated himself on the floor in front of her.

Eliane heard him gasp out, “Divinity!”

Beside Eliane in her head the divine spark said enthusiastically, “Isn’t this fun?  Actually, he doesn’t look half bad from this angle – good muscle development…”

His attendants looked at him, looked at her, one of them swore, and they all copied Lammarac’s position on the floor.

Eliane commented to the goddess, “That looks rather uncomfortable, doesn’t it?”

I am trying to get their attention,” returned Rhenasanamofa.  Ah, here come the others.”

The rest of the presiding clergy arrived to see what their colleagues were doing, looked at Eliane, and also assumed the prone position on the floor.

Now that we’ve established that you acknowledge my presence here today within this young woman,” said the goddess, “you may stand and look upon my avatar, the chosen bearer of my divine spark in this generation and thus my vessel in the prophecy.”

The clergymen and women climbed to their feet.  Eliane noticed that about half of them kept their eyes downcast.  Lammarac and the priest who’d sworn weren’t among them.

The goddess said, “Excuse me, who didn’t understand the instruction to look at this person?  She is fully clothed and neither of us has any intention of disrobing.  Your job is to confirm with your own senses that I am here and to be able to recognise her later when I have left her person.”  The downcast eyes were carefully raised.  There,” Eliane could feel her face smiling as the goddess spoke, “none of you have been struck blind, now have you?”

“Divine lady,” that was one of the other senior Ordained, a woman with steel grey hair, “aside from being able to recognise the person of your avatar, what do you want us to do?

Help her do what I need her to do.  The prophecy embodied in the Chambourian Verses is moving, at long last, and my divine spark needs to be in place to play its parts.  For now, it is my intention that the bearer of my spark will be based here.  You will facilitate this.  I desire that the bearer learns to read, write and speak Navreen in preparation for something else I want her to do.  She has certain other tasks that you need not concern yourselves with, unless she chooses to involve you, but you might ask her about her skills and interests before assigning her chores.  The goddess seemed to be looking significantly at people as she finished speaking.

“Chores?”  That was strangled sounding male voice belonging to someone who hadn’t wanted to look at Eliane.

Of course chores,” replied the goddess.  She is used to physical activity and she has skills that the goose barns, for example, could use.  Almost immediately in fact.  After lunch will be too late.”  Eliane noticed some alarmed looks being passed between a few of the attendant clergy.

The divine spark commented, “Oh, so it’s an on-going problem, is it?  And some of you have been hoping it’ll get better without you doing anything?”

Eliane considered her skills and the goddess’s words.  “Their muck pile is about to catch fire, isn’t it?”

Of course it is.  Please save my geese, I’m very fond of them and I’ve put almost as much work into them as I have into you.”  The goddess smiled at her and then said to everyone, “Now that you all know what you’re supposed to be doing, I’ll go and leave you alone together.  Please keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, that if I decide my spark’s bearer isn’t safe among you, I will have her removed to a place of safety.  And I’m the one who decides if her safety is threatened.  I’m sure that I’ll be dropping in from time to time, just to check up on you all, you understand.

Then the goddess was gone.

Eliane looked at the very senior clergy looking at her, took a deep breath, smiled and said in her own voice, “Well, that was an experience, wasn’t it?  Perhaps we should do something about that manure pile fire before it starts?”


This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/115692.html. There have been comment count unavailable comments there.

In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 3
Flower person
rix_scaedu
This follows on from In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 2 and comes in at 2,141 words.  As previously stated, this was inspired by a thread by @NeolithicSheep on Twitter.

I hope that you enjoy it.



The trip was, on the whole, uneventful.  There were regular exchanges of blood stock between the two parts of the Bovine Divine Herd and the route was marked with regular camp sites for the cattle and their caretakers.  Travel being what it was, they shared several of the sites overnight with other wayfarers but there was only one group that caused real problems.  The group of travelling labourers who shared their camp site on the fifth night out from home included several blaggardy young men who assumed that female drovers were available for rough and tumble.  Three of them cornered Helire and Eliane on their way back from relieving themselves in private and propositioned them.

The two girls looked at each other and turning back to the men, Helire said loudly, “Well, show us your teeth then.”

“What?  The brown haired one who’d been doing the talking looked surprised.

Helire went on, “How can we decide if we want to keep you if we can’t judge what shape you’re in?”

Eliane, one eye on where Second Cousin Herome was beginning to stand up, added just as loudly and as sprightly, “How many children has your mother had?  Were they all live births?  How many of your siblings are still alive?”

“Look,” said the one with a scar under one eye, “this is the part where you tell us how many coppers it’ll cost us to tumble you.  You don’t get to ask personal questions.”

“Coppers?”  Helire laughed.  “You think that you’re going to get breeding rights with either of us for coppers?  Start talking years of household contribution and we might begin to consider your qualifications as breeding stock.”

The one with blond hair almost shouted back, “That’s not we’re talking about!”

“No?”  Helire snapped.  “It’s the conversation that we’re prepared to have.  If it’s not what you want, then go away and leave us alone.”

Eliane added quietly, because she could see Second Cousin Herome and Learned Brother Ruudmund coming up behind the three men who had them cornered, “It would be better if you choose to leave instead of being made to leave.”

“Skilled Sisters,” Eliane suspected that Ruudmund was deliberately projecting his voice to produce that fruity boom, “are you introducing these young men to the tenets of The Mentor of Those That Work in Life?  Will any of them be joining us on our way to Prothiarn?”

All three of the labourers looked over their shoulders and saw Herome and Ruudmund standing there.  Other members of both groups back around the camp fires were beginning to look in their direction.  The three men looked at each other.

With a smile Eliane added, “The principles that we apply to breeding cows can also be applied to people.”  She smiled.

“You’re priestesses,” the scarred one almost stammered as he said that.  He looked behind him again and added, “Travelling with priests and sacred cows.”

“Skilled Dedicates travelling with family,” corrected Helire.

“I’ll give you the cows,” conceded Eliane.  “You were just going back to your friends, weren’t you?”  She smiled again.

The brown haired one looked over his shoulder and said, “Yeah, we were, boys, weren’t we?”

They slunk away between Herome and Ruudmund to a lot of head shaking from their friends.  “That could have been a risky strategy,” pointed out Learned Ordained Ruudmund, being every inch the group leader and moral mentor.

“It seemed the best option for a situation we didn’t choose,” replied Helire.  “If nothing had worked, well the one with the scar looks like he’s got good wound healing capability and that’s not to be sneezed at.”

Ruudmund looked at Helire for a moment and then said, “I still don’t think you realise how dangerous that could have been,” and went back to their campfire.

There was no further friction, although there was some mutual wariness between the two groups until they broke camp in the morning.  Everyone seemed pleased that they were not all going in the same direction.

By the time they reached Prothiarn, Eliane knew that Helire was planning to stay there and study for the priesthood.  That did explain the amount of luggage that she’d brought along.  Eliane kept her envy that she’d been able to openly leave home to herself.  Helire, also had no-one among the cousins that she could safely marry, but her section of the family seemed to think that freed her from the obligation to return home.

“Well, there are five of us, plus two lots of first cousins,” pointed out Helire prosaically.  “we can’t all stay on our farm, some of us have to leave.  Me doing this frees up space all across the family because no-one has to fit me in.”  Eliane suspected that at least one of the male cousins along on the trip had similar issues, but she wasn’t having the types of conversations with them that she’d had with Helire.

Eliane had been expecting the temple at Prothiarn to be much like the one at home, a single storey building with a steep roof to shed the snow or rain and with a cupola-topped tower at each corner to house watch posts, bells, and a dovecot.  It sat in the middle of the community with the meeting hall and the rarely used clerical hostel, the three buildings arranged like the leaf of a clover.  The hostel wasn’t used often because visiting clergy usually stayed with one of the family’s households, the exceptions generating gossip after they’d left, if not sooner.

Prothiarn was like that because it had the same general layout.  It was just much larger.  The temple looked to be three times the height of the temple at home but built with the same proportions.  The meeting hall was longer and wider, as well as having two levels, going by the external windows, but the equivalent of the hostel was a series of buildings linked by covered walkways.  The whole thing was surrounded by fields, paddocks and barns, as if the entire complex was one huge farm.  Fortunately Learned Ordained Ruudmund knew where they were supposed to go, and he led them through the laneways that divided everything up into functional portions.  Eliane could tell what their general direction was, but soon lost track of the route they had taken within the complex.  They passed orchards, grain fields, ungrazed paddocks, broad stretches of vegetable, and herds of parti-coloured sheep and golden horned goats.

The first cows they saw, other than their own, were a herd of dark phase heifers sharing a paddock with a light phase bull, his pale grey hide surrounded by caramel coats of his harem.  The bull looked up from his grazing to watch the group but as none of the cows were bulling and Smoke made no moves towards the caramel-coloured harem, he did nothing else.  Second Cousin Herome and Great Uncle Banning had a conversation on the wagon about the local herd’s condition and conformation, with Great Uncle saying a lot about the pasture the cows were on.

Their destination was only ten minutes beyond that paddock.  They swung into a barn complex, and suddenly there were people everywhere who knew Ruudmund and were greeting them, and Eliane was trying to sort out the faces and names of people she’d never met before.  It didn’t help that she was becoming aware of the divine spark poking at her for attention.  A bustling, golden-skinned member of the Temple Hospitaller’s staff in an Ordained’s robes arrived to organise the new arrivals into accommodation and meals, and then hovered serenely on the edges of everyone getting the cows and Smoke seen to while snatching moments to collect names.  Eliane retrieved her bag from the cart, and then grabbed Helire’s bags too while Helire explained to the golden-skinned Ordained that she wanted to study for ordination herself.

Finally, they were led to the rooms they would be using and Learned Ordained Ruudmund made his farewells so he could return to his own quarters.  The hospitaller gave some very clear directions on where the baths were and how to get to the laundry, reminded them that there would be a warning gong sounded to give them time to get to the evening service that preceded the day’s end meal, and left them to their own devices.  Ten minutes later, Helire and Eliane were in the bath house.

It was glorious with wondrous amounts of hot water.

Then, clean and in fresh clothes, they went to wash their travelling clothes and found that the temple laundresses insisted on taking charge of the chore.  They were given beads strung on a string, one bead for each item, and told to come back the day after next.  When Elaine asked, she was told that ironing was included.

Liberated from their expected tasks, the two girls went to find the way to the temple from their quarters and then back again.  The route involved flower filled courtyards with scents of varying pungency and fragility, and a pond that hosted a type of duck neither girl had seen before.

The warning gong went earlier than they expected, and they hurried back to the temple.  Eliane looked around but couldn’t see any of their cousins, and she let Helire drag her inside so they could find good positions.  The temple had rows of seats, which Eliane didn’t expect because at home you stood or knelt throughout the service.  An usher directed them to a section for visitors and Eliane spent the service entranced as she sat, stood and knelt as required but had her senses loaded with unfamiliar incense, choir singing, and the paintings spaced around the internal walls.  In the back of her mind the divine spark hummed happily.  Helire had to shake her when the service was over to remind her that they had to go and eat.

They ate a meal as good as the one that Eliane normally got at home, and then they went back to their room to sleep.  Elaine expected that it would take her time to drift off but as soon as her head hit the pillow, she was out to the world.

“I expect you want to know,” said the goddess, “now that I’ve gotten you here, how I’m going to arrange for you to stay.”

They were in the place where Eliane had spoken with the goddess before.  This time instead of the red heifer there were ducks and chickens gathered around Rhenasanamofa’s feet while she sorted through a basin of fat, brown seeds.  Eliane thought that they could have been a type of bean.  Every so often a seed went into the clay pot on a table at the deity’s right elbow.  About the same number were tossed onto the ground to be eaten by the birds.  Most of the seeds remained in the bowl.

The goddess added, “By the way this isn’t a metaphorical thing I’m doing here.  I really am sorting seeds for another project I have underway.  Speaking of projects, have you seen a man you like yet?”

“I haven’t looked,” admitted Eliane.  “I’ve been more interested in getting clean, finding my way around and admiring your temple.  It’s glorious!” She threw her arms up and out in a grand gesture to emphasis what she was saying, then remembered who she was talking to and blushed.

“I’m glad you like it,” replied the goddess calmly and kindly.  “Getting those reasonable self-care needs out of the way promptly shows that you are a competent adult, something that is likely to prove desirable to anyone considering you as a potential life mate.  The project I have in mind for you will take a reasonable amount of time and probably involve some travel.”

“And what is it, exactly, ma’am?”  Eliane thought that, perhaps, she might be asked to grow the fat, brown seeds.

“I want you to learn Navreen and then find me an unedited copy of the prophecy in its original language.  Do you know that I’ve never seen one?” The goddess smiled and almost looked feral, “I believe that I should know what it actually says, and not what every translator thinks it says.  None of the full copies I’ve seen have been in Navreen and the ones I’ve seen in Navreen have either been partial copies or edited.”

Eliane asked, “How do I convince the people in charge here to let me stay and do that?  I mean Helire wants to stay and study toward ordination, but I don’t think that’s for me.”

“I’ll do the convincing, replied the goddess firmly.  “You just need to drink that mixture they pass around before the sermon in the morning service.  Her irises turned yellow and her rectangular pupils made it clear that she was not human.  “I believe that they will be very convinced.”


This is now followed by Part 4.


This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/115423.html. There have been comment count unavailable comments there.

In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 2
Flower person
rix_scaedu
 This follows on from In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 1Thanks to an inadvertent prompt from @NeolithicSheep on Twitter back in June 18, I wound up writing 8,880 words of story. This part contains a font change to indicate something particular in the story, and I have no idea if the font change in my document is going to show up anywhere that the document is posted. Whether or not my attempt at cleverness is visible to you at all, this portion of the story runs to 2,546 words.

I hope you all enjoy it.


The thing that Eliane hadn’t expected was the overhaul of her wardrobe that happened later that afternoon.  “I know you’ve had those boots long enough to get them well broken in,” said her grandmother critically, “but are they going to be enough to get you to Prothiarn and back?  And where’s your best outfit?  You’ll need it for attending services while you’re there.”

Eliane asked, “Does it really matter?”

Her aunt closed the door and leaned back against it, then looked at her mother, Eliane’s grandmother.

Eliane’s grandmother took a deep breath and began with, “You know how we like to marry inside the family and we keep the Blood Books to make sure we don’t marry too closely?”  Eliane nodded.  “Well, as each of you get old enough, we go through our Book and work out who your possible matches are.”  Her grandmother took a deep breadth and went on, “You’re too closely related to everyone for marrying any of the available men to be a good idea.  Being married can be a wonderful thing, with the right person, and not being doomed to only have dead babies helps.  This trip to Prothiarn is your best chance to meet someone suitable that you like.  Clothes help make good impressions.”

Eliane looked at her aunt, who nodded in confirmation.  “So, I’m going to Prothiarn to deliver some cows and find a husband?”

“From a certain point of view,” agreed her aunt with a nod of her head and a twinkle of amusement in her eye.  “This is just us making sure that you have all the tools you might need for both jobs.”

Later that night, Eliane moved from a dreamless sleep into something that wasn’t really wakefulness.  The sky above her was clear and the light had all the qualities of midday in early autumn, even though the sun wasn’t visible in that clear sky.  The air temperature held the warmth of early autumn too, and somewhere close there were enough bees that Eliane could hear them buzzing.  In front of her, on her left hand, was a planting of an unfamiliar crop; ranks of tall segmented stems as thick as her forearm, each row separated from the others by a space wide enough for a person to walk down, each stem segment joint having both a panicle heavy with purple grain hanging from it and two broad green leaves thrusting up and out.  On her right, splendidly rainbow-coloured geese browsed through a short pasture heavy with unfamiliar flowers and seed pods.  In the centre of the scene, seated on a stool made of moving things that might have been vines was…the goddess.

Elaine prostrated herself on the mixture of pasture grasses and other plants, narrowly missing a blackthorn thistle with her face.  The broad-faced, brown-eyed deity continued talking to the red heifer she was stroking for a few moments more, then said in voice that echoed in Eliane’s mind, “Please get up, my dear.  I know you don’t remember our previous conversations, but in the future, please don’t do that every time you come here.”

Eliane stood and asked, “Our previous conversations, ma’am?”

The generous mouth on the wise, beautiful, inhumanely-proportioned face smiled.  “Yes, we’ve spoken a number of times.  Usually here,” Rhenasanamofa gestured to indicate their surroundings with the hand that wasn’t being used to rub the black-horned heifer behind the ears.  “It is the one of my workspaces that you are most comfortable in.  But not remembering our conversations?  That’s part of what I did to your mind’s perceptions so that you didn’t know that you are carrying my spark.”

“Why did you do that, ma’am?”  Eliane had always wondered why the identity of the spark-bearer was a secret.

The goddess sighed.  “I’m afraid that several of your predecessors weren’t very nice people.  I picked Iorcan to take up the mantle after those righteous mabheads massacred the dwimmerweavers, including the then spark bearers, because he was the only surviving descendent of my previous last spark bearer.  Although he was definitely born with magic, he wasn’t detected by the zealots’ magic hunters, and he never exhibited any magical ability afterwards.  I don’t know how he did it, but I suspect that he tied it up in something big.  His children didn’t have any magic either but,” the goddess glowed with enthusiasm, well Eliane hope it was enthusiasm, “but some of your family do show signs….  I suspect it’s to do with the cousin marrying cousin thing that you’ve got going on, something that did not come from me.  Your aunt, for instance, really can talk to developing cheese which is even more remarkable when you consider what she’s doing to achieve that.  Blood line breeding is so interesting!”

Feeling that the goddess may have gotten off the topic she’d been meaning to talk about, Eliane asked respectfully, “Is that why you hid your spark from us, ma’am?”

“Sorry, I’m afraid it is easy for me to drift off into subjects that are related to my bee-alda, my existential essence.”  Rhenasanamofa smiled and went on, “Iorcan’s idiosyncrasies were probably due to having most of his close friends and family murdered, but his daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter had no excuses for the way they treated other people.  My long-term fix was to breed for better temperament, as well as health, intelligence, and reproductive viability, but I needed a short-term fix too.  So, I made it so no-one knew who the spark bearer was, especially not the spark bearer themselves.  That took away the alleged root of the problem.”  She shook her head.  “There may have been a better way, but the substance and function of life are my sphere, not social engineering or outright mental manipulation that’s not aimed at reproductive behaviours.”

“And now ma’am?”  Eliane thought she knew what the answer was.

“After things went so badly wrong the first time, most of us got together and petitioned Hlactea, the patron of predictions and oracles, for guidance.  She was,” added Rhenasanamofa, “peeved that we asked for something that she couldn’t calculate with measurements and mathematics.  I recall that she told us that we deserved whatever it was that we were going to get.  What we got was a money lender’s clerk who only spoke and wrote Navreen writing out a hundred and one five-line verses of not very good poetry that gave us events, milestones and an order to it all.”  The goddess pouted.  “Hlactea and the Silence Under the Hills both seemed amused.  Anyway, my spark doesn’t get bred into the, the divine conceptus that we’re making for many human generations yet but there is a verse much earlier than that about my spark and Sluan’s spark doing something in the place where my spark will be living.  I’m not sure what it’s all about, but it must be important, or it wouldn’t be in the prophesy.”

“So, you need me to go to Prothiarn so one of my spark-bearing descendants can meet the bearer of the spark of Sluan,” finished Eliane.  “About that descendant thing, you know I’ve never been much interested in boys and stuff, don’t you?”

“Given how closely you’re related to all the possible men around your home, I count that as a good thing,” replied the goddess.  “I must say, I was impressed by your grandmother and aunt.  I thought they were going to tell you not to be swept off your feet by some strange young man, and to make sure you got back home unimpregnated.  Instead they practically told you to go looking for a good stud.”

Eliane flushed and protested, “That’s not what they said.”

“They might as well have,” retorted Rhenasanamofa, “and I am.  We’re after a good constitution with lots of disease resistance, intelligence, a good disposition, and a family background of nice, broad birth canals.”

“So, no-one with a big head,” snapped Eliane tartly.  Then she realised something, “Wait, I’m part of an actual breeding plan?  That’s…actually way more appealing than ‘just go out and find a suitable man’ is.  Do you have any physical conformation standards?  Desirable patterning and colouration?”

The goddess chortled.  “That’s my girl!”

Eliane woke in the morning with a clear recollection of the conversation in the night.  The trip to Prothiarn wouldn’t begin for a few days yet, so her normal chores were still to be done, but the appeal of finding a suitable husband was beginning to grow on her.  She had truly never been interested in any of the boys and young men she knew, all cousins in some degree, in any way that might result in children.  With lists of necessary and desirable attributes to check off, the whole concept seemed far more interesting and achievable.  She also recalled that parts of her wardrobe were going to be updated before she left…

She was up and getting dressed when her aunt tapped on her door.  “Don’t get fully dressed,” she said through the door when Eliane acknowledged her.  “We need to measure you up before you start work.  That way we can check the fit of your new shirts and chemise before you start shovelling out the cowshed, and we should be ready to start on the kirtle after lunch.”

Eliane opened the door at that and asked, “When was it decided I’m getting a new kirtle?  I barely worn the one I’ve got!”

Her aunt smiled.  “Oh good, you’re already decent.  You can come downstairs with me now.  Your grandmother decided in the night that you haven’t been wearing the kirtle you have because it wasn’t a flattering colour on you.  Not nearly as flattering as your best vest and jacket.”

“Well, it was picked out so that not all of us were wearing the same thing,” pointed Eliane.  “And I was the one who agreed to use the last of that particular bolt.  I’ll admit that I didn’t expect to get much chance to wear it at the time.”

“I know,” her aunt acknowledged as she began to usher the younger woman to the stairs, “and then we found that flaw in the cloth that we had to work around, and I was never happy with the way it sat on you.  It always looks slightly uncomfortable when you wear it.”

“Does it?”  Eliane admitted, “I just thought that because I didn’t like the way it felt it meant that I don’t like wearing kirtles.”

“That’s possible,” conceded her aunt, “but let’s make sure that this one does what it’s supposed to do so that you have a proper base for coming to a conclusion.”

The rest of Eliane’s day was normal, except for clothes fittings.  Elaine wasn’t a skilled seamstress, so she did what she was told while people who knew what they were doing did things with pieces cut from old sheets to get the fit right before they cut the dress cloth.  Cousin Liveen, who wore her hair in a bun and had a small purplish birthmark on her cheekbone under the outer corner of her right eye asked peevishly at one point, “But why didn’t you say that your old kirtle didn’t fit properly?”

“I thought it was because I didn’t like wearing kirtles,” admitted Eliane again, “and you all worked so hard on it, I didn’t want to be ungrateful.  Besides, you had so much to do at the time, I didn’t want to make things worse.”

“Goddess preserve us.”  Cousin Liveen covered her face with her hands.  “None of that means you had to put up with it for two years!  If you’d said something, there are things we could have done.  No-one in this family has to wear their work clothes all the time.”  Then she’d gone back to pinning worn-thin linen into place to get the fit right under Eliane’s arms.

It took three days to get the cows and heifers that were being moved together from all the subherds and for their human escort to assemble.  Great Uncle Banning was coming too, riding on the ox-drawn wagon that would carry everyone’s bags and the food supply.  The trip to Prothiarn, moving at the cattle’s pace, would take fifteen days, including a rest day.  The selection of cows and heifers included both light and dark phase animals, so the herd was a mixture of fawn and caramel coloured bodies all topped by heads carrying arm-long, inward curving black horns.  The ox was a light phase bullock, so his pale grey hide stood out from the others, but his horns were just as long and black.

There were more humans in the group than the task ought to need.  Learned Brother Ruudmund needed to go back to Prothiarn, of course.  Each of the family farms that had raised the animals being moved had sent along two people, so that was eight, plus Second Cousin Herome who was driving the cart because he didn’t trust anyone else with his ox, Smoke.  Smoke was coming because Grandfather’s First Cousin Elver had volunteered him and their farm’s cart to make sure they could carry everything they all needed to take with them, particularly as his granddaughter, Third Cousin Helire, seemed to have three times the luggage of everyone else.

Helire was much of an age with Eliane and wore her hair the same length, and within the space of two days everyone realised that Learned Brother Ruudmund couldn’t tell them apart.  “But you all have the same face,” he complained when Herome made a joke about it while they were eating dinner.  “There’s the male version and the female version, but it’s all the same face.  I mean, some of you have moles or birthmarks, and there are different haircuts or beards for the men, but after that, if you’re in similar clothes, I can’t tell you apart.”

Helire indicated Eliane and protested, “But we’ve got different coloured eyes!”

“They’re both dark colours,” pointed Learned Brother Ruudmund, “and there are social issues about me getting close enough to tell the difference.”

Eliane realised, “So that was why you didn’t use names much when you were staying with us – you couldn’t pick who was who.”

“Um, yes,” admitted Ruddmund.  “I realise that makes me a bad guest, but I really couldn’t.”

“When I first started travelling with the Learned Skilled Ordained Philyana,” reminisced Great Uncle Banning from his place from the other side of the fire, “I had trouble telling who was who because everyone looked different and the variation was overwhelming.”  He paused and then added, “Then I met people from down near the mouth of the river and different skin tones became a thing….”

Helire started wearing a fresh field flower behind her ear every day while Eliane knotted a bandana around her neck, and Ruudmund seemed less confused.

The divine spark was amused.  Perhaps you want one with better pattern recognition that that?” it sniggered in the back of Eliane’s mind one morning when Ruudmund was temporarily confused before breakfast.  Mind you, Learned Brother Ruudmund does seem to come with a slightly better than usual overall standard mental package.  Perhaps this whole breeding out thing should have happened a generation or so ago?

Eliane didn’t know what to say to that so she didn’t say anything.

This is now followed by
Part 3.



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In the Service of the Cow-eyed Goddess: Part 1
Flower person
rix_scaedu
 Back in Jun 18 @NeolithicSheep on Twitter had a thread  that, among other things, talked about the Ancient Greek use of the phrase 'cow-eyed' to describe goddesses.  Despite what the Ancient Greeks actually meant, my mind went to 'what if they meant that literally?" and then, 'hang on, I have a universe where that would be true' which is how I wound up with a 8,880 word story.  @NeolithicSheep was kind enough to tell me about cow horns partway through the writing process and it was a great help.

This is set in the world of the Chambourian Verses, which can be found
here on Dreamwidth or here on Live Journal
.  This story takes place after "Tasking" and "In Which A Job Is Handed Out."  Part 1 runs to 2,113 words.


Eliane hadn’t slept well in the night, but the rhythmic hard work of shovelling the fresh dung out of the cow stalls was helping.  She’s started the day feeling restless and unsettled, and the familiar routine of work that had to be done for the animals’ well being was dispelling that feeling.  Not even the arrival of someone important enough for her grandmother to emerge from the farmhouse and add her shrill greeting to her husband’s and son’s gruff and respectful tones was enough to agitate her again.

Besides, no visitor was going to meet Eliane in the middle of this job, unless they were buying cow manure or selling shovels.

Once the dung was removed from the cowshed and added to the latest pile in the pens out the back of the farmyard, the fresh straw and sawdust spread, and her tools were cleaned, Eliane’s after milking chores were done.  There was just time for her to make sure her hands were clean, and then harvest the ready leaves from the everlasting greens section of the garden before lunch.  She delivered the basket of greens to her aunt at the kitchen door, and then went back through the kitchen garden and out into the yard to get to what her family called the farmyard door.  Taking the long way around meant that she could leave her work boots in the mudroom that was a buffer between the yard and the rest of the house.

Passing the herb patch on her way, she absentmindedly broke off the growing tip off a twig of red-leaved shamosay, put it in her mouth, and started chewing.

She didn’t realise what she’d done until all that was left was the unappetising wad of fibres from the stem.  She took it out of her mouth with her fingers, looked at the pale pink bundle that could only be shamosay, and began to panic; the plant was poisonous, and she had no idea why she’d eaten a piece, nor any memory of putting it in her mouth.

I must say,” the voice in her head was not the one of her own thoughts but it was somehow familiar, “you are sensible, and thus very hard to get to put things you don’t think are food in your mouth.  Do you have any idea how difficult it was to get you to chew on that?

“Who are you?”  Eliane was alone in the washroom and so she spoke aloud, albeit quietly, to keep her own words somehow more separate from the voice in her head.

“You know that divine spark of The Mentor of Those That Work in Life that your family has been carrying around inside them all these years?”  The voice chuckled, “Well, that’s me.  Congratulations, you are the Bearer of your generation.”

“But my grandmother, she’s the Bearer, everyone says so!”  Eliane stopped and then asked, “Nothing’s happened to her, just now, has it?”

“No, your grandmother is fine,” the voice assured her.  “And everyone only says that she’s the Bearer because she’s claimed to be so long and loudly that these days they think she knows what she’s talking about.  She was never the Bearer, and she’s convinced herself that she is based on some self-serving reasoning.  It was your mother who was the Bearer before you, and when she died I passed to you.  Your father’s line separated from the Bearer’s four generations back through your grandfather and six through your grandmother.”

“My mother’s been dead most of my life,” pointed out Eliane.  “Why are you talking to me now?”

“It’s time to stop hiding quietly out of sight,” said the voice.  “The prophecy is finally moving on, and I need to be moved into position.  Over lunch matters will be worked out so you will be escorting some heifers to the big temple at Prothiarn – all you will need to do is not object.  You’ll need to pack everything that you want to keep but given the length of the trip there and back, doing that shouldn’t get anyone agitated.”

Eliane demanded, “What prophecy?”

“We don’t have time for that now,” said the voice firmly.  “Now, go and have a big lunch and drink lots of water.  Oh, and you’ll need to open your bowels fairly violently in about an hour and a half.”

“I could have taken a dose of constipation syrup to do that, instead chewing on raw shamosay,” pointed out Eliane tartly.

“The bowel opening part wasn’t what you needed to open the lock in your mind,” the spark told her primly.  “Now, go and eat.”

Everyone at lunch was bumped down a place at the table except Eliane’s grandparents.  The guest, a priest of the Mentor named Ruudmund, was seated between her grandfather and uncle, and opposite her grandmother.  Eliane’s father and aunt rounded out the top of the table.  Great-Uncle Banning, who’d gone off on pilgrimage when he was younger and returned a decade later dedicated to developing better pasture plants, sat in his usual place at the foot of the table and the space in between was filled with Eliane and the cousins of varying degree who worked on the farm.  Eliane ate a little more than usual for her and drank more water, while at the head of the table the priest was plied with the first choice from each serving platter and was given citrus cordial to drink.

At the end of the meal her grandfather turned to the table at large and said loudly, “Wait a moment everyone, we have an announcement to make concerning the Learned Ordained Ruudmund’s visit.”  He turned to the priest, “Would you care to explain the reason for your visit, Learned Brother Ruudmund?”

“Thank you, Skilled Brother Almo,” the younger man smiled gratefully at Eliane’s grandfather who was, like most of their extended family including Eliane herself, a Skilled Dedicate of the Mentor.  “I would be most happy to.”  He turned to the rest of the table, “As you have probably heard, Jonan the Sun Emperor has claimed the seer of the Silence Under the Hills as his bride, and the temple in which she lived collapsed as soon as she left its grounds.  It turns out that the priests of the Sun God have spent generations building a network of treaties through the foothill kingdoms and duchies that have activation clauses like ‘when the Sun Emperor claims his bride’, so almost overnight Jonan’s Empire went from Jokkiel’s temple holdings plus Meshtinbar, Uustridge, Pellchase, and a dozen odd duchies that had pledged to his family for protection from bandits, to most of the western headwaters of the great river.  There’s a prophecy that says his empire will cover half the world, and it seems the priests of Jokkiel are working to make it come true.”

He made a face of distaste and went on, “Consequently, we are expecting a period of disruptions while the empire expands.  Just to insure against unfortunate incidents, we’re spreading out the Divine Herds and Flocks; expanding their numbers and locations.  Cows from here and two bulls from Prothiarn will go to a new farm in the upper Guadalfambra valley.  The lands there cleave to the Duchy of Ondon which is already within the empire’s orbit, so we expect things there to remain calm and settled.  Two bulls from here and cows from Prothiarn will go to another new farm near Charoix, up on the Balan Ranges.  It should be a generation or two before the empire bothers going up there.”

“Excuse me, Learned Brother,” that was Cousin Gwelifra who wore her hair in twin braids, “but were many people hurt when the temple collapsed?  I’ve heard that it is, perhaps was, the size of a large village.”

“That’s one of the things that has everyone talking,” admitted Learned Brother Ruudmund.  “No-one was hurt.  The emperor assumed that this Chambourian Verse prophecy thing meant exactly what it said and used his soldiers to enforce an evacuation of the entire complex.  The place collapsed in front of them and no-one was inside it.  Gossip says that the former high priest took himself off somewhere on his own the next day, but news said a lot of the clerical staff are going to some university-thing the emperor is setting up in his capital.”

He sighed.  “Important members of the senior clergy are excited about both the prophecy and the university-thing, and I can understand that, but no-one has explained the prophecy to me, so I can’t explain it to you.”

Thanks and blessings for that,” said the divine spark acerbically in Eliane’s mind.  You could probably make good money taking bets on which of your extended family would get to Prothiarn first if they knew what it was about.  What we don’t want is a fuss about who goes-.

“Send young Eliane to help take the cattle along,” recommended Great-Uncle Banning from his place on Eliane’s left plus two.  “She’s the only one who hasn’t had a trip since her Dedication.  She’s a neat hand at managing the muck pile, but that’s no reason for her not to see more of the world.  Besides, it would be a good idea if a few more people her age on this farm had experience with keeping the thing in line.”

“It was out to get me,” said Eliane’s aunt.

“You let it catch on fire,” pointed out her brother, Eliane’s father.

“I didn’t let it do anything,” she tossed her single braid back over her shoulder with one hand.  “It charged ahead and did what it wanted despite my best efforts.  Cheese is a more sensible thing to work with.  You can reason with cheese.”

You can reason with cheese, dear,” her husband teased.  “It’s not something that works for the rest of us.”

Everyone else at the table laughed, giggled, or at least smiled, even Learned Brother Ruudmund who looked like he wasn’t quite sure why he was smiling.  Then Eliane’s grandmother said, “I think Banning is right, no matter who else goes we should send Eliane.  As you’ve come here, Learned Brother, I suppose that at least some of our heifers will be going to the Guadalfambra valley?  Will more be coming from the other subherds our family’s families look after?”

“I wasn’t one of the people making the selection, Skilled Sister Liadra,” replied the priest, “but I’m told that they selected the animals in question with a view to establishing a vigorous bloodline and a herd with experienced animals to guide it from the beginning.”

“So, you’ll be taking some of the older cows then too,” commented Almo.  Then the conversation moved onto which animals would be going, and Eliane’s participation was an accepted fact.

That went more smoothly than I feared,” commented the divine spark as they left the lunch table.  I hadn’t considered that everyone might already believe that you were owed a trip away.  I was told that it would all work out, but I’ve been inside the minds of members of your family for a long time, and I’ve known more of you than the Bearers: I was worried.”

In her thoughts, Eliane asked, “Who told you?”

My…principal?  Technically, in theological terms, I’m an independent autonomous aspect of Rhenasanamofa, Mentor of Those That Work in Life.  We talk sometimes, well, a lot very recently.  I know you, your predecessors and your wider family very well.  She knows a lot more people.  Eliane got the impression that the divine spark was very happy about all of that in a child-like skipping on her way manner.

“So, do you have a name?”  Under the circumstances, Eliane didn’t want to be rude to the other person in her head.

Rhenasanamofa,” replied the divine spark.  We’re both Rhenasanamofa.  Or perhaps it’s all of us are?  I shall have to ask.”

“That sounds complicated,” allowed Eliane.

And that’s before we go into why I am what I am and what my function is.”  The divine spark giggled and then added in a serious tone, “You have your normal work to do this afternoon and I’m sure that you’ll need start packing tonight, although things won’t be organised for you to leave for a few days yet.  We’ll talk again later.  In the meantime, make sure that you’re near a privy in about three quarters of an hour.  Oh, and plan to take anything you’ll miss if you don’t have it with you when you leave.”  The voice in her head went silent but Eliane thought that there was a background hum to her thoughts that she hadn’t noticed before.

The advice about the privy was very much on point.




This is now followed by Part 2.
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Disrupting Arrangements
Master Que
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This follows on from Thank Heaven, Not Everything That Happens Is About Me and is 3,553 words long.

Some university activities may have been disrupted, but my classes weren’t.  The meeting between Professor Pu and the lady administrator ended rather abruptly after the explosion.  She made a phone call and then left to return to the Chancellor’s Offices.  Professor Pu returned to his office to try to find out what was happening to his home before his next work obligation.  Associate Professor Nei Li co-opted Fu Ji into helping him work out which of the graduate students were likely to need a place to stay.  The receptionist had contacted the central Physical Sciences administration to find out if she was needed to do anything for the greater school, and I quietly withdrew to find a pay phone.  When I did, I called Mr Han at Golden Mountain Real Estate in check whether there were any issues on their part if I offered anyone else a room.  The answer was that if it was for a limited period, I didn’t charge rent, and it didn’t result in damage to the property, there wouldn’t be a problem – as along as I obeyed the rules about furniture use.


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More Clancy and Pae'kura
cat wearing fez
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 If you are my patron on Patreon there is more Clancy and Pae'kura here. This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/114206.html. There have been comment count unavailable comments there.

More Clancy and Pae'kura
Flower person
rix_scaedu
 If you are my patron on Patreon, there is now more Clancy and Pae'kura for you to read here. This entry was originally posted at https://rix-scaedu.dreamwidth.org/114167.html. There have been comment count unavailable comments there.