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Chapter 16: Strange Bedfellows

Rowan reached up and put one hand on each side of his head and kissed him. She kissed him like she hadn’t seen him in a thousand years and Brannoc kissed her back. Eventually Pan cleared his throat and the two came back to the moment.

Brannoc straightened up his suit that Rowan had just about pulled off of him. He looked at her confused.

“Not that I am complaining,” He said sheepishly, “but what was that about?”

“That was for an afternoon spent in the tall golden grass a millennia ago. You were that good,” Rowan said with a smile.

Rowan looked up at him from the bed, her red hair disheveled and her cheeks flush with life.

“Now don’t get any ideas,” she said. “It is not like we are going to take back up where we left off. I am still me, but I did think you deserved a thank you.”

Brannoc and Pan were staring at her like she had gone mad.

“Don’t worry I am fine,” she mumbled, “in fact I am more than fine. I have never felt better in my whole life and considering how long that has been I think that says a lot.”

Rowan stood up and walked over to the brassier. She held her hands out to warm them. So many thoughts were

still running through her head. She had gained a thousand life times of experiences and learning in just a few minutes and memories were still being unlocked like petals unfolding in a flower.

“Pan would you bring all of the First Ones together I want to try something,” she said after a few moments of silence.

“Of course Eki,” Pan said as he bowed his head. “We will assemble immediately in the meeting hall.”

The Twelve Guardians of the Galax, the First Ones, stood in a room off of the main hall. It was a cozy room with a very large fire place and a long table made of dark wood. Inlaid spider designs done in buttery yellow wood covered the top of the table and the legs were carved to look like tree trunks. The walls were wooden panels covered in intricately carved vines and the floor was grey stone covered with a rich green wool rug. It was a beautiful room, formal and cozy at the same time. Two large chairs were positioned by the fireplace and Rowan went and sat in one.

“Pan would you please move that chair closer to me.”

Pan scooted the other chair across the rug until it was directly across from Rowan.

“Please sit,” she motioned to the chair. “Now Pan I am going to try something, I’m not sure what will happen. The Thracians call this Bayar; it is a sort of blessing. I am not even sure that anything will happen but if you don’t mind I am going to place my hand on the top of your head. Just relax and open your mind.”

“I would be honored Eki,” Pan replied.

Pan leaned his head down towards Rowan and she put her palm on the top of his head. She didn’t know if she could look into their minds like she could the Thracians but she thought it was worth a try. Rowan touched Pan’s mind.

Thracian minds had been compartmentalized. Rowan had to open one door to reach another door and follow the line to each pivot point searching for those moments in which their lives took the most important turns. Fadian minds were like the surface of a lake. She did not hear their thoughts she saw images flickering on the surface of the water just as she had seen the images that took her and Brannoc back in time. The images seemed to appear and disappear but not necessarily in any order, changing in a constant state of flux. She felt, she heard, she smelled and tasted, their memories were more sensory based. This was why they could communicate with nature. The part of their brain that was open was a more primal part.

Rowan didn’t try to talk to Pan she sent feelings to him. She gave him the overwhelming feeling of love that the specter from the pool had given her. It is one thing to be in love but it is something else altogether to feel only love and that is what Rowan gave him, a few moments of total joy. Pan had guided her to this great awakening; he had sacrificed his whole, very long life waiting for her. She sent him all the love of a thousand lifetimes.

When she took her hand from his head he put his head in her lap and begged that he should die at that very moment for never would he know such joy again. Rowan lifted up his head and kissed him softly.

“Remember Pan, all you have to do is remember. The joy you have today will always be with you. This is my gift to you for your service.”

Rowan did the same for every Guardian. She learned a great many things that day but perhaps the most important was that love is infinite, the more she gave the more she had. It came from a well within her that would never run dry. When she was done she looked at all of them and knew they would have a place in her heart forever.

“I hate to leave you all. I feel safe here; hidden from the things that I must face, but face them I must.”

Rowan stood up and walked over to Brannoc and took his hand.

“Thank you Pan, thank you all. We will meet again, I promise.”

Brannoc and Rowan were back on the disc in her room. He looked surprised.

“That was very good for a beginner.”

Rowan smiled.

“There are very few things that I am a beginner at now. When you said you had a surprise for me today you weren’t kidding were you?”

Brannoc shook his head.

“I took you there to get you out of this room and to show you where I came from. I had no idea that what happened was going to happen. Actually Rowan, what did happen?”

“That creature that rose out of the pool was Annunaki and in a strange way she was also me,” Rowan began the explanation, “She activated the device I was wearing around my neck, the little golden egg. You know the one you wanted to melt back on earth. The nanocytes within the egg altered my DNA unlocking genetic memory, basically allowing my mind access to the memories of all that came before me. The shock of that much information at one time overwhelmed me at first. I had to lose consciousness to take it in.”

“You have the memories of all your ancestors?”

“No,” Rowan replied, “I have only the memories from the female line. When we are born all the eggs we will ever carry are already with us so the egg that we came from was in our mother when she was born as her egg was already in her mother and so on and so on back to the very beginning of life. There is an unbroken chain of shared DNA and much more is recorded on it than I think anyone ever thought possible.”

Brannoc put his hands on Rowans upper arms. He looked her in the eyes.

“Margreth is your ancestor?”

Rowan nodded.

“Yes Brannoc I remember it all. You two were very happy together. She loved you more than life and she never held it against you that you were not there in the last months of her pregnancy. Seeing you at the end gave her great peace and let me tell you that daughter of yours, Erdene, what a life she lived!”

“My daughter was named after the Thracian home world? I don’t believe it.”

“You might want to sit down it gets better.” Rowan had a huge smile on her face. Brannoc sat down hard in one of the big white chairs. Rowan sat down across from him. She thought she was enjoying this way too much but she did it anyway.

“Erdene was named by Niurgun Bootur when she was just a toddler and years later he became her lover.” Brannoc’s mouth fell open a bit. “They were devoted to each other until he had to flee earth when it was attacked by Fadians. Erdene stayed behind on Earth. Her beauty and wisdom was legendary and she became a very powerful ruler.”

“So you are the descendant of both Niurgun and me?”

“One big happy family,” Rowan answered him, “…one big happy family.”

Brannoc and Rowan sat for quite a while talking about Margreth and Erdene until finally the day caught up with Rowan. The events of the day had helped to take Niurgun’s death off of her mind a bit but reliving his years with Erdene had only served to remind her they would not have the same time together.

“I am very tired Brannoc and I really need to get some rest. You really did show me quite a day though I thank you for that.”

“I don’t want to go,” Brannoc blurted out. “Please just let me stay.”

“I didn’t mean to give you any ideas with that kiss,” Rowan answered him,” it is just that at that moment I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore, I mean the memories were so fresh.”

“I understand Rowan; I don’t expect anything I just don’t want to go. I will sleep right here in the chair. You won’t even know I am here, I promise.”

Brannoc seemed so sincere and almost vulnerable. Rowan felt sorry for him. To have lived so long he really hadn’t had much love in his life. She on the other hand now realized that she had loved and been loved by so many. Maybe it was better to have been born and died over and over again. At least each life was a new roll of the dice full of possibilities.

“Well all right. You can sleep in the chair.” She pointed to the large overstuffed one by the window. “Good night.”

Rowan lay in the bed and thought about the day. For those few hours the pain of losing Niurgun had been pushed aside but now it was back sitting in the pit of her stomach like a lead weight. She hoped she might dream of him as she drifted closer to sleep and she was actually glad she wasn’t alone.

When Rowan woke up the next morning Brannoc was asleep beside her, his arm over her and his body spooned up next to hers. She started to be angry but she wasn’t, how could she be, part of her had loved him for a very long time.

Cali sat before the great mirror in her bedroom in the Universal Tree as a female carliff with the head of a giant parrot combed her hair. The massive room was formed by the living tree, the walls parted in places to form windows that from the outside would appear as knot holes. Cali’s furniture was grown from the tree as well. Her bed posts were four living branches that supported a sumptuous mattress draped in silks and furs; curved branches grew up from the floor and formed chairs upholstered with vibrant fabrics and luxurious pillows. Birds flew in and out of the windows lighting in the branches of her furniture.

Two huge carliffs stood motionless by Cali’s bed. One had the head of a raptor and the other was the carliff that Rowan had seen when she was taken from Earth, he had the head of a dog and the body of a Thracian. There was a sending disc by the largest window and beside the disc sat two small pigs each with the head of a young girl, identical twin girls. They had short blond hair and dark brown eyes. They looked to be about thirteen. The pig-girls wore sending collars and the room, like Rowan’s at the Academy, had no door.

Cali stared into the huge mirror. Inky black clouds moved across the surface of her lavender eyes.
“We are beautiful are we not, Lida?’

“Yes Divine Mother your beauty and mercy are infinite,” the parrot headed Lida squawked.

“Yes that is of course true but I am tiring of this body. There is one whose body would suit me better but she is not ready yet. Her full power has not been reached and her physical form is still aging; I must see to that soon.”

Cali had known what Rowan was from the moment she saw her. The Birilgi swam in Cali’s head and it had felt the Eki. It wanted Rowan, it wanted her power over all creatures, it wanted to walk in both worlds, and it wanted most of all to live again in the flesh.

No physical body had ever existed that would survive the complete inhabitation of the Birilgi. It had tried and they always died leaving it to pull back into the void and reach its tendrils back into the living but never could it become truly flesh again until now. This new body could accept its tremendous knowledge; this new mind could hold the eons of thoughts. It would no longer live as a puppet master, seeing through others eyes, tasting through others lips, murdering with others hands and fucking only as a voyeur. No soon it would do all these things in its own body. Rowan’s consciousness would be cast aside and only the Birilgi would remain.

The thought of this excited the Birilgi. It spoke to Cali; its dark whispers guided all of her thoughts. Its perverse tastes had become hers as well. Slowly at first it had made small suggestions. Only tiny things but eventually it indulged itself in all its pleasures, torture, agony, pain, and fucking but not for love, no sex for the Birigi was about control and domination and if it ended with blood then all the better.

Cali stood, she was completely naked. She walked across the room and stood before the raptor headed carliff. She hit him hard across the side of his head. His round avian eyes blinked but he did nothing.

“Strip,” she yelled and then she turned to the dog head carliff, “you too!”

Cali pushed the raptor and he fell backwards onto the huge bed. Frightened birds flew from the branches of the bed post. The carliff lay on his back as she crawled onto him. Cali took his cock in her smooth slender hand.

“Look how you welcome my touch pretty bird.” She spoke so softly while she gently ran her other hand down his chest. He began to make a strange bird noise deep in his throat. She continued to massage his now fully erect member as she tied a small cord tightly around its base. She looked at the dog carliff.

“Make yourself hard you lazy fuck.”

He began to rub his cock and Cali’s attention returned to the raptor.

She straddled him and slowly slide herself down onto his erection. Cali screamed with pleasure as she rode him. She took her nails and dug deep into his chest. Blood welled up and Cali laughed as she licked the blood off of her fingers. It ran down her chin and onto her perfect breasts.

“Now strangle him,” she said to the dog carliff.” Kill him while he is inside of me.”

The dog headed man reached down and put his hands around the raptors throat. The Thracian tattoos seemed come to life as his muscular arms squeezed the life out of the raptor. His beak was open and gasping for air, the round bird tongue flailing from one side to the other as Cali rose and fell upon his rigid cock. Finally his head fell to one side; the huge round eye did not blink. Cali wrapped her legs around him and rolled keeping his dead member deep inside of herself.

“Fuck his dead body dog.”

“The dog carliff spread the raptors butt cheeks and fucked him.

“Harder,” screamed Cali as each thrust drove the dead creatures cock into her again and again. Cali cried out in sheer pleasure. The Birilgi loved death, in fact that was all it could love.

“Now toss him aside,” she commanded the dog-man. He threw the huge body to the floor and stood fully erect looking down at Cali covered in the blood from the dead creature’s torn chest. She spread her legs for him.

“You know what to do, now do it,” she yelled.

He knelt and put his huge canine head between her legs and began to lick her with his very long tongue. He penetrated her again and again with his foot long tongue as she moaned in ecstasy. Finally Cali’s body came and as she did her eyes turned completely black as the Birilgi surfaced to share in her pleasure as completely as it could then she kicked the dog- head in the face.

“Get away from me you disgusting piece of shit,” she screamed, “if it wasn’t for that tongue I would have killed you years ago. Clean up this mess and have another head put on his body; a cock that big is not easy to find. Lida prepare me a bath I want to make plans for my new body, soon it will be time to show her some of the pleasures I have in store for it.”

“Yes Divine Mother,” Lida squawked.

The days at the Academy had gone by quickly, weeks had turned into months. Rowan had thrown herself into her classes; it seemed to be the best way to deal with the pain. She had expected Niurgun to rescue her; to take her away from this macabre wonderland but now he was gone and she was on her own.

Today Sukh was going to give her lessons in coordinate jumps. She and Sukh had spent a great deal of time together since her trip to the Temple of the Galax. Her progress had accelerated quickly after that day. No one but she and Brannoc knew what had happened in the mountains but it was impossible to hide her skills. There were only a few other trainees at the academy but Rowan was already well ahead of all of them and they had been there for years.

She had been right about jumping when she got the feeling that the jumpers were not really moving but the reality around them was being changed. A sender used the unconscious mind coupled with the computer and power source of the collar to change his or her location in the visible universe. The “stepping into the void” as it was called was the moment when the sender existed between the point where she was and the point where she wanted to be. Rowan liked to think of it as the space between matter.

Jumping requires energy and that energy is supplied by the collar devices or in the case of long distance jumps planetary magnetic field amplifiers assisting the collar. The more accurately a sender can focus her subconscious the less energy is required for the jump. Rowan was very accurate. Today they would be jumping inside of a massive cave system. It should be challenging and Rowan was actually looking forward to the lesson.

Sukh was a wonderful teacher and a very talented sender. His skill had probably saved all their lives on earth when Rowan had interfered with his ability to jump cleanly. Senders and their cargo could be lost in the void.

Brannoc and Sukh had been together for a very long time. He had been a very extravagant gift to the young Lord from Brannoc’s father who according to Sukh had later been executed by Cali for plotting against her. Brannoc had never spoken of it but Sukh told Rowan that Brannoc’s father’s head was the one closest to Cali’s head on the Throne of Souls. She had said that since he wanted to sit upon the throne she would let him and he could watch with his own eyes for eternity as she ruled.

Rowan couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Brannoc to see his father’s still living head silently begging for death every time he stood before his mother. She shuddered just to think about it.

“Dorben is Sukh here yet?” Rowan asked the AI.

“Yes, Rowan he and Lord Brannoc are waiting for you in the garden,” the hologram replied.

Rowan smiled, ever since the trip to the Mountains of the Giant Spiders she and Brannoc had become closer and closer. Underneath the pompous exterior was a strangely complex personality. He reminded Rowan of a thoroughbred horse, sleek and perfectly proportioned with an impeccable blood line, high strung and impatient, powerful and elegant; he was often hard to handle and even his mother had not broken his spirit; Rowan admired him for that.

Rowan didn’t need the sending disc anymore. She thought of the Academy Garden and she was there, seeing Brannoc and Sukh as the blue glow faded around her. Hammlin was chewing on a bush, his antennae waving rhythmically. He stopped chewing long enough to greet Rowan.

“Rowan you look lovelier than ever today. I swear your eyes are the exact color of a reddlish shrub and they are my favorite…oh yes they are.” Hammlin went back to chewing. Rowan gave him a firm pat on the head.

“Fine job Hammlin, the garden looks magnificent,” she complimented him.

Ripples of pleasure rolled down his pudgy speckled back.

“It tastes as good as it looks,” Hammlin said smiling with his ridged gums caked with crushed leaves. As Rowan laughed Brannoc slipped his arm around her waist and hugged her from behind. He playfully kissed her cheek as she squirmed out of his embrace.

“Stop that,” she pulled away from him but she was laughing. “Not in front of the caterpillar.”

Hammlin just looked up at them with his bulbous eyes and continued chewing. Sukh was looking as serious as ever.

“So are we ready to go,” Rowan said as she smacked Sukh on the shoulder. Dorbin has packed us a magnificent lunch and I can’t wait to picnic in a cave.”

Just as Sukh was opening his mouth to answer Rowan a blue glow started in the small grassy clearing of the garden and a pig appeared, a small white pig with black spots, a jeweled collar much like Rowans and the head of a human girl. Rowan gasped and the two men with her did not look pleasantly surprised. Brannoc spoke first.

“Nelise what are you doing here?”

“I do your mothers bidding and nothing else. You are the master of stupid questions,” the little pig girl snapped.

Nelise threw her little nose up in the air and trotted up to Rowan.

“The Divine Mother has decreed that upon this day you shall become immortal. You shall be given the gift of youth never from this day forth to age. Rejoice in your good fortune and thank the Divine Mother for her infinite generosity.”

Rowan turned to Brannoc.
“What does she mean?”

“She means that Cali has decided that you should be genetically altered so your cells continue to maintain themselves, perpetually. As organisms age their cells are preprogrammed to stop maintaining at some point and eventually the organism breaks down past the point of functioning, built in obsolescence. Your cells will never do that. The process is called Telomere Restructuring but it is done in a ritual known as Rebirth. It is an honor to be given Rebirth. It is not offered to all and if one wants to purchase it the process is enormously expensive. All senders are given rebirth at the end of their training.”

“But I am not finished with my training. You said it would take eight to ten years.”

Brannoc frowned,

“I know that is what has me worried. I don’t know why she wants this now.”

Nelise looked impatient as she shifted her weight from one hoof to another. Her corkscrew tail twitched sharply side to side.

“You are to come with me immediately and to mark this glorious occasion there will be a dinner in your honor tonight on Dana in the Royal Pavilion.”

“Can Brannoc come with me?” Rowan said as she reached out and took his hand.

“I was not given any instructions to the contrary so I do not see why not,”Nelise replied. “So are you ready?”

Rowan nodded and the three of them were enveloped in the blue light.

They reappeared in a room of solid crystal. It was as if they were inside of a giant geode. Enormous pink crystals taller than Rowan spiked up from the floor; the walls and ceilings were covered with the obelisk shaped rocks. In the center of the room set in the floor of polished crystal, there was a pool of water. Shimmering light was emanating from the pool. It was the only light in the room but once it left the waters it went through the prism shaped crystals and shot rainbows of light around the room. They stood in the heart of a jewel.

As they walked towards the pool Rowan saw their reflections repeated endlessly in the angular surfaces of the crystals for a split second Rowan though she saw her reflection as different in every crystal as if all of her incarnations were suddenly visible as she walked towards immortality.

Two Fades stepped from behind one of the largest crystals and they were First Ones. Rowan breathed a sigh of relief as they both nodded at her. She recognized them from the Temple of the Galax; their names were Geiselle and Kevan, Geiselle spoke.

“Welcome Rowan Ross, Sender from the planet Earth. You have been offered Rebirth do you choose to accept.”

Brannoc and Nelise stopped but Rowan walked on towards the pool and the First ones. She answered the question.

“It seems to me that here on Availon choice has a different meaning than from where I come from. I am offered choices here but no choice actually exists.”

The First Ones smiled. Kevan answered.

“There is always choice, you simply may not consider death an acceptable alternative.”

“No, I really don’t so I guess in that case, yes, I choose to accept Rebirth,” Rowan said as she came to the edge of the crystal clear pool.

The two First Ones walked around the pool and came to stand one on each side of Rowan. Kevan leaned close to her and whispered.

“This will be nothing compared to your real rebirth. No harm will come to you while we stand. Now please remove your clothes.”

Rowan ran her hand down the front of her suit and as it parted she thought of her time with Niurgun. She closed her eyes and let her clothing drop from her body imagining his hands running over her skin. She thought of herself as Erdene rising out of the lake in the image of the full moon. Her naked body glistening in the silver light as Niurgun waited for her like the forest god. If she was to be reborn his memory was going to be reborn with her. She thought too of Brannoc, here standing behind her. He too deserved a place in her heart.

The First Ones gently took her arms and lowered her into the pool. Rowan could smell the salty water. She floated effortlessly in the pool of light. I am back with the mother she thought; I am safe within the womb of Availon. She understood how this was seen as a rebirth in both a physical and metaphysical way. Suddenly she was surrounded by light; light so intense she could feel it. It went clear through her as warmth spread throughout her body and every cell seemed to vibrate with life. The nanocytes in her system hummed in sheer delight as her cells became immortal.

Rowan knew that what had just happened was a real physical alteration of her telomeres but there was more to it. Something beautiful had happened. Niurgun had been right when he said that this place held wonders as well as horrors and the Cave of Rebirth was certainly a place of Wonder.

The light faded and Rowan opened her eyes. The First Ones reached for her and helped her out of the pool. They wrapped her in a soft cloth and helped her to a crystal bench.

“Sometimes the process leaves one a little disoriented,” Geiselle said as she gently helped Rowan sit down.

Rowan felt as if she was tingling with life, she felt warm and new but she certainly wasn’t disoriented.

“Thank you Geiselle,” she said, “but I feel amazing, even more than when I was biostabilized.’

Geiselle sat beside Rowan on the bench.
“I am glad that the process was so pleasant for you it is not that way for everyone. Remember that only your cells are immortal. If your body is damaged too severely it cannot heal itself. Biostabiliztion is achieved with nanocytes that are programmed to carry out rapid healing and the Rebirth process allows your cells to replicate perfectly indefinitely. In other words if your head is removed from your body or your heart torn from your chest you cannot heal quickly enough to survive.”

“I understand,” Rowan nodded. “I will try to keep my head on my shoulders.”

“That is not so easy to do here on Availon… see what I mean.” Geiselle whispered to Rowan as Nelise trotted around the pool with her nose high in the air and her tail twitching.

“The process is finished is it not? We need to go immediately. The Divine Mother has arranged for you to have a fitting for your gown for the evening and I am to take you there. You can dress or go naked it matters not to me.”

“In that case I believe I will put my clothes on.” Rowan snapped at the haughty little pig.

“As you wish,” Nelise said as she sat down on her perpetually twitching tail and began to scratch herself behind the ear with one of her manicured golden hooves.

Brannoc was standing before Rowan with her beautiful black suit draped over his arm and her boots held between two fingers, he held them out to her. Rowan reached out for her clothes. When Rowan was finished dressing Nelise pulled herself away from her scratching and stomped her front feet.

“Now can we go? You are the slowest human I have ever dealt with,” Nelise griped.

“And you are the rudest pig I have ever dealt with,” Rowan answered.

“You have not met my sister yet,” Nelise said with a half laugh, half snort.

Rowan glanced at Brannoc and he gave her a little nod as if to say yes her sister is worse. Rowan nodded good bye to Geiselle and Kevan and the three of them were gone again.

This time they reappeared in a small round room that was lined in shelves that went up to the ceiling and the ceiling was very high. Rowan guessed it went up at least thirty feet to a round glass ceiling. There were countless jars, boxes and objects of every kind packed onto the towering shelves. In the center of the room was a round pedestal about ten inches high and three feet across.

A small desk and a stool were the only other pieces of furniture in the room and behind the desk sat a strange little man who looked like he was made of tanned leather. Tiny tattooed symbols covered his dark arms and his face was so wrinkled Rowan had a hard time making out his features except for his very large watery pale blue eyes underneath some very furry white brows. He had a tuft of white hair on each side of his head and small pointed ears. His fingers were very long and thin as were the toes on his bare feet. The suit he was wearing was made of feathers; beautiful red feathers and he couldn’t have been more than three feet tall.

“Are you an elf?” Rowan blurted out.

The ancient creature looked up at her from under his snowy brows.

“By elf do you mean the small creatures of earth mythology that lived under mushrooms and were mischievous and magical?”

Rowan was embarrassed to have asked such a silly question.

“Well yes, I do apologize for asking such a stupid question it is just that you look so much like what elves are supposed to look like.”

“Indeed,” the little man said as he got up from his tiny desk. “We often accompanied Fadian travelers to your world in ancient times and perhaps we are the inspiration for the elf myths. I am a Moche and my name is Nagas and you must be the very beautiful and talented Rowan Ross, sender extraordinaire. I am pleased to make you acquaintance.” He made an exaggerated bow.

“The pleasure is all mine,” Rowan said as she held out her hand to Nagas. He took her hand in his and cupped his spindly fingers around it. Nagas closed his eyes for a moment. Suddenly the blue orbs popped open and he stared at Rowan.
“No, no my dear the pleasure is definitely mine.” He said and then turned to Nelise and Brannoc.

“You two may go now I have a great deal of work to do before the banquet.”

Nelise looked as annoyed as ever but she didn’t give the old man any of her usual lip. Brannoc nodded politely and then turned to Rowan.

“We will return to get you when Nagas calls us. Don’t worry you are in good hands. He is the finest clothier in the entire Collective.”

“I’m not worried,” Rowan flashed Nagas a smile and a wink,” I will be fine.”

Brannoc and Nelise vanished in the blue glow while Rowan began to wander about the strange room looking at the contents of jars and poking at exotic taxidermied creatures on the shelves. Nagas cleared his throat

“Cali has commanded me to dress you in the manner befitting royalty. She told me that you are to rival even her in beauty and that no one should be able to look away from your exquisiteness. I am pleased to see that I have so much to work with but I must warn you that this is a most unusual request and the Divine Mother does nothing except for her own sake.”

“So you don’t know why she is doing this either?” Rowan said as she looked down at Nagas.

“No but neither you nor I have a choice in the matter so let’s get to work. When I am finished with you the stars themselves will pale in comparison. Now take your clothes off and stand on the pedestal.”

Rowan looked at Nagas and raised an eyebrow. Nagas laughed.

“My dear I am over ten thousand of your earth years old and I have seen more naked women, and men for that matter, than probably anyone in the universe so don’t be shy; you have nothing I have not seen before.”

He motioned to the round pedestal with a wave of his long fingers. Rowan ran her hand down the front of her suit and peeled it off as Nagas began to rummage on a shelf. She stepped onto the pedestal as Nagas turned around. He made a slight clucking noise.

“I stand corrected my dear, you are magnificent. Ten thousand years and I have never seen a more beautiful body and those eyes. They are as green as the Darien Sea. Truthfully you should go naked for I don’t think I can improve on what nature has provided but Cali is expecting a breath taking outfit so I guess we had better oblige.”

Rowan felt herself blush all over. Nagas waved his long fingers above the base of the pedestal and holographic symbols appeared in a column around Rowan. He began to touch various symbols and swirls of colored light wrapped around her body. He would look at one color for a while and then touch another symbol and watch another color wrap around her. Finally he stopped.

“Green, green is your color. I should have known it would be green, the color of life.”

Nagas touched a dark blue hologram near the base and a small flying platter descended from somewhere up above. It was flat and round but it had multiple robotic arms that extended from all around its base. Nagas touched a few more symbols and the platter took off up into the reaches of the cylindrical room. Rowan could see it moving from shelf to shelf picking up items. Eventually it returned to Nagas.

He began to sift through the items. First he held up what looked to Rowan to be an emerald about the size of a chicken egg. He put the emerald into the holographic field and it hovered in place as small symbols swirled around it. He did the same with a small gold ingot and what looked like a small piece of preserved skin from something that had once had iridescent green scales. She watched as he took a tiny flower out of an equally tiny jar and placed it in the containment field.

“Now we can begin,” Nagas said with a wide grin. His spider-like fingers were virtually invisible as he moved them over the holographic symbols at an incredible speed. He went round and round the pedestal touching symbols and as he did the garment began to form around Rowan.

She felt the sparks of life as the nanytes began to coalesce and become what Nagas was creating. First her breasts were cupped by basically a strapless, backless bra made of the incredible green iridescent scales. It fit her so perfectly you could not tell that it was not her own skin but it lifted her breasts slightly and gave her just the right amount of cleavage. The scale bra was barely big enough to cover her nipples.

Next Nagas created the matching bottom also made of the shimmering green scales but it covered nothing more than the triangle of skin between her thighs, her butt was bare. Rowan looked down at herself.

“I hope there is more to this than what I am seeing,” she said as she gave Nagas a serious stare.

“Patience my dear’ “he said, never stopping his furtive hand movements, “be still.”

Tiny strands of gold dropped over Rowans shoulders as they wove themselves into intricate braids. Gold and emerald began to form into a mesh of tiny gems connected with gold filament forming a netting of emeralds. The netting draped and clung to Rowan’s body in just the right places. It stopped just below the curve of her butt. You could see through the emerald netting but just barely.

Nagas smiled and continued his work. Rowans hair was dusted with gold and filled with the tiny flowers. The little white blooms were so delicate and from them wafted a perfume that made Rowans head swim it was so delightful and it was probably an aphrodisiac as well considering the thoughts she was having.

Finally Nagas applied her makeup. He outlined her eyes with thick dark lines to accentuate the green color and her lips were the color of blood. Her gorgeous scarab sending collar matched absolutely perfectly. She looked like the Goddess Isis incarnate and indeed she was.

“Perfect, you are perfect,” Nagas said as he clasped his weathered hands together. “I have out done myself!”

A holographic mirror appeared before Rowan and she hardly recognized herself. She looked down at her bare feet and back up at Nagas as if she was about to tell him he had forgotten something.

“Bare feet are a sign of royalty, there is nothing more erotic than bare feet,” he said staring at her wiggling toes.

“If I was five thousand years younger,” he said under his breath.

“And four feet taller,” Rowan said with a giggle.

Nagas laughed too. He went to his desk and then came back to Rowan. He held out his hand to help her down from the pedestal.

“I have summoned the Divine Mother’s Sender to return for you. That vile little creature should be here at any moment but before she arrives I need to tell you what I saw when I held your hand earlier.”

“Please tell me,” Rowan answered.

“Moche receive glimpses of the future and often these visions are out of context…hard to read; so you take what I tell you with a grain of salt. I saw you upon the Throne of Souls with the dog head carliff, Anubis by your side and Cali’s’ bloody head was at your feet. This is what I saw; I know not what it means or how it shall come to pass.”

Rowan frowned.

“I know this Nagas I would never sit on the Thrones of Souls, never.”

Nagas shook his head and said, “I know this Rowan, as surely as I know my own name, you will sit upon the Throne of Souls and Cali’s body will die at your feet. I do not know the how and why but the vision is always true.”

The familiar blue glow filled the small room and Nelise and Brannoc appeared. Brannoc looked at Rowan and his jaw dropped. He walked directly over to her and took her in his arms and kissed her like she had kissed him in the Temple of the Galax. Rowan kissed him back letting go of all the pain and loneliness of the past few months. He kissed her neck and then her breasts and who knows what would have happened if Nelise had not stomped her feet and squealed at the top of her lungs.

“Stop this instantly! There will be more than enough time for such behavior at the banquet but for now we must go.”

Nagas laughed.

“Calm yourself you little porcine bitch, this only means that my work has been a complete success. She is totally irresistible. However Rowan,” he added, “you cannot accept the advances of ever man or woman or you will be exhausted before the night has even begun.”

“That will not be a problem,” Brannoc mumbled as he disengaged from Rowans embrace, “I will not let her out of my sight.”

“I hope to see you again Rowan, I have never had a lovelier client,” Nagas said as he kissed her hand.

Rowan placed her hand upon Nagas’ head. He smiled as tears welled up in his pale old eyes.

“Thank you, oh thank you,” he was still saying thank you as the three of them disappeared.

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