In his first life, he was known as Alim which means ‘wise man’. While I thought at first the meaning to be true, it would become ironic just how false it was. He was the son of a noble who gave counsel to the pharaoh himself and he was to follow in his father’s footsteps. Though it was obvious Alim had no desire to do so, his father continued to prime him for such a role. His father simply didn’t realize Alim’s heart would lead him elsewhere.
A humble temple was nestled in the sand just outside the city and while most had forgotten its existence and purpose, Alim had not. It was a temple dedicated to Bastet the lion goddess, protector of the pharaoh, devourer of those that opposed him; it was a temple erected in honor of me. Each day Alim would come and worship and while he could not see, hear or touch me, he offered small sacrifices of crops and gold in exchange for protection of the pharaoh and his noble father.
For many years I watched Alim curiously, wondering what he wished to accomplish with the prayers of only one. All others in Egypt had forgotten my name but somehow this one man remembered and carried on ancient tradition. It would seem he was intelligent enough to realize my dusty temple was empty except for his presence, still he visited every day. With each of his visits I felt a pull towards him and as the years wore on, the pull turned into something more. Curiosity turned to adoration and I felt myself falling in love with this stranger who dedicated time each day to worship me.
As time went on, his prayers and worship gave me enough power to finally solidify my form and meet the man that had been coming to my temple day after day. As expected, he arrived in the morning with arms full of crops and other offerings in anticipation of praying to me once more. But as I stepped from behind the altar, he stopped short, the offerings scattering to the floor as he stood in awe of my presence. The black lion headdress and jeweled cloth draped across my dark skin was sure to be a sight but soon he dropped to his knees and bowed deeply to the floor.
”Mortal, I have seen you day after day come within these temple walls. I have heard your prayers for protection and felt the dedication you have for your goddess, Bastet. This temple has been empty but for your presence and I owe thanks for the power you have given me to regain my form. What is it you seek?” My voice echoed off the walls of the empty temple as I spoke, suspicion creeping into my tone. I had a great deal of adoration towards this mortal man kneeling before me, but past mistakes had jaded me and I knew well mortals always had a hidden agenda. It was simply a matter of uncovering it and bringing it to the light.
”Beautiful goddess, my sweet Bastet, I have prayed for protection for the pharaoh and my father these long years for it is all I wish. To be in your presence is more than a mere mortal man could wish to behold. Your generosity is unmatched and tales of your beauty do you no justice. I can only marvel at your presence and be grateful for the prayers you have answered.”
I approached him as he stayed kneeling on the cool stone of the temple floor, a smile spreading over my lips as I did so. Against my better judgment, I let my shields down, feeling perhaps he wasn’t like those that had scorned me in the past. Perhaps he was different...
”Rise, mortal. What is it that they call you?”
As he rose and his dark gaze met mine, I felt my chest tighten a little at the sight of him. All this time I hadn’t allowed myself to truly look at him, figuring he would be like all the other worshippers that had abandoned me before. I had failed to realize how handsome he was; his face was strongly cut, dark eyes piercing and skin tanned from the sun. He was striking.
”Alim, my dear goddess,” he answered, his voice deep and dark to match his looks.
”Surely there is more that your heart desires,” I continued, still suspicious of his motives for visiting day after day.
”Perhaps… there is something,” I could hear the hesitation in his voice. ”The slaves within the pharaoh’s quarters have grown ill and none of the healers know of how to ease the ailment. They are pharaoh’s eyes and ears and are important to him. Will you heal them?”
It was a simple task to ask, however my power was not as it was before. With so few worshippers to empower me, I wasn’t confident in my abilities. But this was my chance to gain more followers, and in turn, more power. ”Bring the slaves to my temple and task them with cleaning it and praying in my name. When they have done so for seven days, I shall heal them.”
Bowing in agreement, Alim did just that. The next day, the slaves came within the temple walls and began cleaning and worshiping me day in and day out. They cleaned the corners of the temple, swept the cobwebs from the offerings and shook out the banners and drapes. They sang songs and chanted in my name. And when the seven days had past, I had grown enough in power to do as I had said and healed the diseased slaves.
Alim returned the following day, bowing deeply in gratitude. ”The pharaoh rejoices in the health of his slaves and praises your name. But there is another task I must ask of you, dear goddess. The priest who confers with the gods and goddesses on the pharaoh’s behalf has become possessed with an evil spirit. He is the only priest he trusts. Please, dearest goddess… heal the priest.”
Though it might have been simple to do such a feat when I had many followers, now with so few, battling an evil spirit was not within my power. But again, it was an opportunity to grow in power. ”Send twenty farmers to sacrifice their fattest goats in my name and when this task is done, I shall heal your priest.”
Again Alim bowed in agreement and left to send message to the pharaoh. The following day, many farmers came within the temple, offering their largest goats and sacrificing them in my name. Each sacrifice was like a pulse of power growing within me and I could feel the gifts I had before returning slowly with each death. Soon the farmers finished their sacrifices and left the temple in silence once more.
Alim returned the next day with the priest, who jerked and moved in fits, screaming profanities as Alim guided him within my temple. It only took one look from Alim and I laid my hands upon the priest, chanting softly in an ancient tongue all but lost to the ears of men. The evil spirit fought against me, twisting the man’s body, gnashing teeth and clawing but soon the spirit was overpowered and fled the man’s body. Exhaustion overtook the priest as he crumpled to the cool stone floor. Alim bowed beside him. ”You are magnificent in your powers, dearest goddess, but I fear I must ask of you one last deed. A war is coming to our city with many more warriors that we have. They will swarm the city and overtake us without your help. Please, dearest Bastet… if you have any love for this city, and for me, assist us so that we may live on in peace.”
Alim’s words did not fall upon deaf ears. The spark of adoration I’d had for him from his years of worship had grown into much more over the past few weeks. He’d brought my name into the city, encouraged others to pray in my name and sought help from no other goddess but me. Surely he felt the same. ”If I am to help you with this final task, I will not ask for worshipers nor will I demand sacrifice. I will assist you if you say your heart will be mine and mine alone.”
As he turned his gaze up to meet mine, I expected to see some sort of expression on his face; surprise, acceptance, perhaps even shared adoration. What I saw was nothing; a neutral expression stared back at me before he nodded his head curtly. ”Do this and I am yours forever,” he answered before standing, pulling the unconscious priest into his arms and leaving the temple.
As war threatened the city, I used my powers to secure the walls, boost the morale of the warriors and draw other faithful servants from miles around to aid in killing off the threatening army. Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months as I depleted my power to help save a city that had once loved me. Warriors on both sides fell to their deaths but eventually we were victorious. Almost all the power that Alim had helped me build up had been sapped away, devoured by the waged war. It was all worth it knowing that he, the man who had brought me back to life, would finally be mine.
When the war was over and the city rebuilt, Alim eventually came to visit my temple once more. It had been several months, even after the war had stopped, until he finally came to give me my prize. His familiar silhouette in the doorway of my temple brought joy to my heart as I stood and went to him, but the somber look on his face stopped me short of embracing him.
”Dearest goddess… I must confess to you. When I first came within your temple walls and began praying in your name, I felt love far beyond any I had felt before. I longed to hold you in my arms and escape the life my father had dreamed for me. As I grew older and threatening forces swept over the land, I prayed to you still but prayed to other gods and goddesses as well. When my prayers fell upon deaf ears and all other deities forsook the city, I turned to you in hopes that you would regain power enough to help our beloved city. The adoration I once had for you fell away, replaced by raw need to save the people of the city. My devotion to you caught the eye of someone else and in the last few months, my heart had forgotten the love it once felt for you and filled with affection for my bride-to-be. Dear goddess… I never meant for this to happen, but I cannot give my heart to you for it belongs to someone else.”
As Alim spoke, I could feel the rage overtaking all other emotions, bubbling and swelling in my chest at his confession to loving another. For years he had visited my temple, giving praise and thanks in my name. For years he had whispered my name and gave power to me once more. All those years meant nothing now, the memories crumbling and wasting away, revealing the lies he fed me to gain favor for unfaithful servants. It was he who knew my name when all others had forgotten and now it was he who betrayed me.
With the last bit of power, I lashed out and took him by the throat, fingers curling painfully into his flesh. I could feel my nails sinking into his skin and drawing the blood as it trickled down warm against my hand. ”You think to betray me, mortal man? You mistake me for a far more forgiving deity. You will rue the day you scorned me, Alim!” I could feel my arm lifting him from the stone floor as my golden eyes seared into his wide, darkened gaze as he fought against me. ”Your resistance is futile! As long as my heart remains broken, so you shall suffer! I will follow you through all your lives to come, stalk you within the shadows, and drag you into the depths of hell as soon as your heart flutters with the hope of being rid of me!”
A sickening snap echoed through the temple as his bones gave way under the pressure of my grip and soon his floundering ceased. Dropping him to the stone floor, I knew he’d met far too quick an end, but I had time to make up for that. Now my soul was linked with his and I would follow him to the ends of the Earth, from incarnate to incarnate to ensure his suffering never ended.
Centuries have passed now from that first life, it seeming like a distant memory now. Though Alim does not recall his previous lives, I know each and every one of them. I follow him now as a familiar in the shape of a feline to keep myself inconspicuous as he ages and approaches adulthood within each life. I wait patiently until the time is right to remind him of his wrong-doings, concocting a death more painful than the last. My love for him has never been lost, simply buried beneath the rage of his deception. I had once hoped he would utter a confession of love for me before he met his end, but several lives later have proved such hope to be fruitless. Perhaps one day I will find forgiveness for him deep down and allow him to live a normal life. Then again, perhaps not.
Art, Story and Coding by Celestial
Base sketch for Alim by odduckOasis
Fonts from DaFont
Border from Brusheezy
By User not found: shinji