As the ship pulled into the harbor, nearly half a decade since she had seen her mother and now six-year-old sister, Miyu, Catalina stepped onto the desert sands near the Nile. Her new home away from home, as she could tell, was surrounded by sand and the life around the Nile. Her mother’s people relied on the Nile for the livelihood, without it this would be nothing more than desert.
She instantly fell in love with it.
Her mother had taught her eldest daughter her home language, and as she approached a nearby vendor for directions; she stopped. A comforting scent, much like her mother’s own, drifted around her. Deciding to follow it, she soon found herself in front of a rust colored building. At the base were two columns. One column was a female with a Feline head, cats tumbling playfully at her feet as she stood sternly watching over the land. The other was a male with a head of a jackal, a book in his hands as he carried a flail in his hand.
She moved past these columns, her tail twitching with slight unease. Power surrounded this place, almost calling to her. Warily she made her way up the stone stairs, coming upon a smooth open floor. She looked around in slight awe at the many statuettes, mostly of the same two columns outside.
‘They must be important deities…’
“Indeed they are young Catalina.”
Catalina looked around yet saw no one. She knew she could not have been hearing things; her ears were too acute for that.
“Who said that?”
Hearing a shifting of cloth to her left, she turned, her claws already flared with life as a tall woman took her place on the throne that stood there. Her feline eyes looked back at Catalina’s with wisdom and fierce protectiveness, as though she knew something Catalina did not.
“I did…you do not need to be leery of me. I am a friend, as well as the one who gave you your name.”
Startled, Catalina claws dimmed as she made her way closer towards the feline-like creature. She was…familiar somehow. A small smile crossed the woman’s face as she ran a finger down the girl’s cheek, causing Catalina to shiver lightly.
“W-Who are you?”
Pulling back her hand, she rested her hands on the arms of the throne just as a feral cousin of Catalina’s hopped into the woman’s lap. Gently scratching behind one of the feline’s ears, the woman looked into Catalina’s eyes again.
“I am the Goddess Bastet, Patron to the Cats and Feline-kin, defender of the elderly and child alike, Ra’s warrior and Isis’ sister at healing. You, Catalina, are very special. Very few people can find this Temple, dedicated to the living and the dead, the fighters and the healers. The Jackal God you saw at the entrance of this door was Anubis, God of the Dead, Patron and Tester to those souls who are to be judged in the Underworld.”
Stunned, Catalina bowed, her hair falling into her face. It had grown to great lengths since she had left her mother, however it had not dimmed in its luster in the years at sea.
“Calm yourself, my child. You have no need to be like a frightened butterfly in a spider’s web. This place is where you will learn. Your mother gave you the name that I chose for you. Your name shall honor both of your homelands and the one beyond it. You shall be an upholder of the living, and a savior to the dead. You are what you are meant to be…”
Finally gaining the courage to face the Goddess, her emerald eyes flickered faintly as she stood. She had inherited her mother’s markings mostly, a child of her Mother’s people in heart, body and spirit.
“My Lady, I am not worthy of this honor. I am not a full blooded Nekoyoukai of my mother’s people.”
Bastet shook her head slightly, before raising an eyebrow slightly.
“You were born with great power, Catalina. A rare power not found in many Youkai to the East of these shores. The ability to heal the wounded and sick, a power that should not be wasted or denied its teaching. You are a woman of your people and ours. When you leave these shores many, many moons from now you will be much stronger than when you left. You will also face many struggles – of the physical, metaphysical and mental. Remember, however, that you will never be alone. There will be one that will complement you and yet not at all. Today, you are an Acolyte in my Temple, far from now you will face your inner demons of your soul before you leave these shores. Then you will understand why you are the way you are.”
With that, she vanished; all that was left of her was the faint smell that had led Catalina to this place. Taking a deep breath, she made her way around the Temple, hoping she was not alone.
A new smell drifted by her nose, the smell of fish – freshly cooked. Following her nose, she came upon a cooking area of sorts. Clearing her throat, she hesitantly peaked her head inside the chamber.
“Sumimasen…is anyone here?”
A thin cook stood, blinking as he wiped the flour from his hands. He tilted his head to one side, his hands on his hips as he grinned.
“’Ay, I’m here. I believe you are Lady Bastet’s newest charge, eh? Well make yourself at home – this will be your home for a long time, little Butterfly.”
Blinking somewhat confused she looked at the cook as he called her a butterfly, the same thing that Bastet had called her.
“Why did you call me ‘Butterfly’?”
He smirked slightly before handing her a bread roll to chew on.
“Because, until you gain your claws, you are just as frail and beautiful as a butterfly.”