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In Leg Post 66, Aman Tabiz and Pirithous have arrived in Otherworld, the Celtic Heavenly Realm, with Hathor, the Egyptian god. They need to reach Tech Duinn, where the House of Donn is located, but must first pay homage to the King of Otherworld on the island of Tír na nÓg. They instantly travel from one mountaintop to another through the soup of cloud that covers Otherworld. When they arrive, however, they find that the Otherworld gods are about to elect a new king for the next seven years - via a race to the top of a hill. Most of the deities don't take it seriously and are wearing silly costumes of characters and peoples and many of them falls down the hill in their cumbersome costumes, taking others with them. Cichol was the deity that won and after a very brief ceremony before Áine, the festivities continue. Hathor leads the humans to meet with him and he takes them to meet Donn, so that they could gain access to the House of Donn. Donn agrees to exchange 'handmaidens', very keen on the idea, and leads them towards Tech Duinn. On the way Hathor reveals to Cichol that she saw his army of monsters and she agrees not to reveal this secret to the other Otherworld gods if he agrees to help his handmaidens gain access to Hades through the House of Donn. They arrive at the old peoples' home styled house of the dead, with the Spa of the Dead to the rear, where they are greeted by the receptionist Coventina. While Hathor and Donn leave to speak of Egyptian fashions, Coventina guides the other three through the hotel-like mansion to a lower level where there is a large swimming pool for relaxation. She believes she is converting the two humans to their religion and Cichol encourages her to fetch some brochures. While she's gone, he alters the pool into a doorway to Hades and the two humans jump through.

Post

The Otherworld

Aman Tabiz and Pirithous stand upon a rocky mountaintop that overlooks the entire Otherworld. From this vantage point the various domains of this Heavenly Realm can be seen standing tall from the endless sea of clouds. Each mountaintop has its own domain for the deities of the British Isles. Unlike the Greeks and the Egyptians, these Celtic peoples have no ‘Underworld’, only the Otherworld. A world beyond that of the living where all the dead go and the gods reside.

Across from their mountaintop they could see Tír na nÓg, the land where the ‘King of the Otherworld’ would be. Behind them they could also see Annwn, the land of eternal delights. There was Mag Mell in the distance, where the glorious dead would reside after living lives of honour or glory in their human lives. But it was Tech Duinn that the two men needed to get through, which was the land of the dead for everyone that had not achieved fabled status in life. It was often called the House of Donn as it was the domain of the deity Donn, God of Death, himself.

For now, they would need to pay homage to the king.

Hathor motioned to Tír na nÓg with her head and as the three of them stepped forward they melted into the fabric of the Otherworld. Seeming miles were reduced to a second as their bodies moulded through the thick, cloudy soup of the Otherworld. Hathor strode forth with ease while the two humans struggled to keep their balance and composure as they landed on the new mountaintop. Aman Tabiz grunted as his stomach gave vigorous protest as being mistreated so while Pirithous looked like he might faint.

Hathor: “Looks like we’ve come at a bad time…”

They look at the tall hill, which stood atop of the mountain plateau, and there were several deities all stood at the foot of the hill.

Aman Tabiz: “What are they doing?”

Hathor: “Electing a new king!”

Around the hill were a lot of other deities and ghosts who were spectating this contest. The racers were all sorts, both male and female and not all of them seemed to be physically fit – but that meant nothing to gods. The three outsiders approached the race and joined the cheering crowds. There was a lot of beer going round and people were generally treating this as a silly but fun affair rather than a serious contest for kingship. One of the deities started to do a ridiculous dance to prompt cheers from the audience. Some of the deities were wearing odd costumes that neither human recognised – the Honey Monster[Ext 1], Barney the Dinosaur[Ext 2], a T-Rex[Ext 3] and someone dressed as Donald Trump with a big inflatable head. Stood at the end of the line was the god Áine. She was the god of sovereignty and thus had the divine capability to make a ruler or break one. She has bright orange hair that moves and curls like the plasma flames of the sun and upon her head is a crown made of stark, white light that juts up with several prongs. She has white skin and green eyes. Her dress is blue but, like her hair, it flows and moves like fire, representing the other domain of hers – the light of summer.

She rose her hand and most of the deities geared up for the race, though the dancer was still distracting himself with the crowd’s support of his antics. From her hand was a sudden BANG like the firing of a rocket.

The racers leapt to action and started dashing up the hill. Most wearing silly costumes wound up toppling over and rolling back down the hill, bowling over others as they went. The T-Rex rolled all the way to where Aman and Pirithous were stood and he wriggles his legs and arms in the air, helplessly trapped inside the cumbersome costume. Barney the Dinosaur had fallen and rolled so far that he went rolling off the edge of Tír na nÓg completely and disappeared into the clouds, the man giggling the whole way. As one of the gods was dressed as Hilary Clinton[Ext 4], one of the male gods at that, the deity with the blow-up Donald Trump head leapt on his rival and they were both taken out of the race as they rolled down the hillock together, bouncing most of the way down until they struck the bottom hard and blasted apart like a couple of bowling pins. The Honey Monster had actually done pretty well, despite his getup, but as he neared the top his head fell off and smacked the runner behind him in the face. That runner instinctively reached out, latched onto the Honey Monster, and yanked him down the hill. The two of them knocked over several other racers while the Honey Monster’s head bounced its way down, smacking several running at various intervals, pinging off each one and hitting another like a guided, fuzzy bomb.

Finally at the top one of the biggest of the gods, having a huge barrelled chest, reached the peak where he was the first to drink from the mug and pour most of it onto his own head. A few others got there shortly after him and together the lot of them celebrated the day. A new king was found for the next seven years, at which time the races would commence once again.

It was some time before the new king of the gods came down and when he did he was carried by the others. They tossed him in front of Áine. He bowed to her and she placed her hand upon his head. A moment later and a halo appeared around his head to signify his kingship of the Otherworld and the deities all collectively dropped to one knee. Some of the more drunk simply fell flat. After this moment of ceremonial seriousness they all cheered again and the party continued with more drinks, a banquet of meats and cakes and songs and dances.

Eventually the three outsiders were forced to insert themselves into the merrymaking as the king was constantly surrounded by his fellow gods who were constantly making new toasts and boasts. The new king was Cichol, a god of war but also a god of provisions, with a particular liking for meat. He is tall, reaching fifteen feet, and has a massive chest and broad shoulders. Though he is topless, he has long trousers of black and white but wears no shoes. He has a pair of brown-feathered wings sprouting from his back like an eagle’s. His face is handsome and very masculine, with a square jaw that could have been drawn by an artist over at DC[Ext 5]. His eyes are coloured more like a bird’s eye, with a solitary black pupil surrounded by yellow. He has a big roman nose[Ext 6] and his chin is scruffed by five-o’clock-shadow.

The gods make way from Hathor, most of them curious about her and her two human companions, though some of them are too drunk to know what they’re looking at. One of the gods there wasn’t even a Celtic deity but was Bacchus, the Roman god of mirth, who was encouraging everyone to chug entire bottles of brandy. He appears to be a reckless youth with long curly hair, fair skin and plump red cheeks. A ‘cheeky chappie’ that will certainly lead you down the road to destitution and leave you there.

Hathor: “I’m Hathor and these are my… handmaidens.”

Most of the gods wince at the two humans. The two men, who were never the prettiest to begin with, were in long dresses and had terrible wigs attached to their heads. Their stockings itched, their knickers were yanked up their butts and were strangling their testicles, their corsets rushed their ribs and their high-heels were making their feet bleed. Welcome to womanhood had been the slogan of Hathor.

Cichol: “Well—welcome! You came on a great day! Join us and have a good time!”

He wrapped his arm around Hathor’s shoulders and hoisted her from her feet with a friendly embrace. Hathor was bewildered at this and just hung there like a kitten being carried by the nape of its neck. He swung her around and introduced her to one of the buffet tables.

Cichol: “Some of the finest mutton in the world, I’m telling you! Help yourself!”

Instead of allowing her to help herself, he was grabbing at the food and thrusting it at her to sample. Hathor accepted one of the skewers of mutton, then another and another. Soon she had hands full of meat skewers. It was an odd sensation for Aman to see a god uncomfortable and out of her element. It actually amused him.

Hathor: “Thank you, Cichol, all of this is wonderful. But I really need to speak to you on an urgent matter.”

Cichol: “Oh pooh! You want to talk business on today of all days?”

Hathor: “Sorry! Can’t be helped. My handmaidens need some… training. In being handmaidens of the dead.”

Despite her words, Hathor had started to chomp on one of the skewers, which was a balancing act not to drop the rest and chew on the one.

Cichol: “Oh right. So you’ll be meeting with Donn. That’s his area. I give you permission, if that’s what you’re after.”

Hathor nodded mumbled an affirmative through a mouth full of mutton.

Cichol: “Need a drink to wash that down?”

She managed to nod. He angled a mug of beer for her to guzzle from. Cichol once again physically ushered his guest around and led her from the food. He beckoned with one of his thick hands for the humans to follow and they scuttled after him. They marched across the banqueting field, away from the hill, to where more of the gods were gathered. Several gods were reclining on a stage of sumptuous pillows, silks and fabrics. They were drinking just as heartily as everyone else, except they did so from golden chalices and ate from silver platters. At the centre of these longing deities was Donn himself. He was most striking firstly due to the ominous dark aura that surrounded his visage perpetually, gently swirling around and around in a mesmerising yet foreboding fashion. Yet in the centre of that was a god that shone brilliantly out of the darkness. His clothes were form-fitted and cut in such ways that reminded Hathor of the female Egyptian gods. The dress he wore sparkled and glittered like dazzling stars against the backdrop of space. Upon his head was also a crown of sorts – several long peacock feathers stemmed from a thin tiara and hung limp behind his blonde hair. His eyes irises were grey and his chin was smooth and soft. He had high cheekbones and an upturned nose. He was very skinny and his limbs moves loose and free.

He beckoned Cichol and his guests.

Donn: “Welcome, oh king! Who are our unexpected guests?”

Cichol yanked Hathor off her feet again and waggled her in front of Donn.

Cichol: “This is Hathor! She’s an Egyptian goddess of sex and death!”

Donn: “Sex and death!? There’s an unusual combination.”

Cichol: “Egyptians.”

Hathor was put back on the ground and she motioned to Aman and Pirithous to join her.

Hathor: “These are my handmaidens. I want them to train in the ways of your afterlife, Donn. Will you show them the ways of your culture?”

Donn clapped his hands eagerly.

Donn: “Oh! What a lovely idea! Like a cultural exchange! I don’t have handmaidens myself but there are priests I could send your way!”

Hathor: “Absolutely. Our customs regarding the dead are very complex, I’m sure your priests will learn much.”

Cichol: “Well you are goddess of sex and death, so complicated might be an understatement.”

Donn got to his feet, floating up from the ground rather than using physical force. He approached the humans and looked up at Aman.

Donn: “You are a big girl, aren’t you?”

Aman Tabiz: “Good genes.”

Donn glanced down.

Donn: “You’re not wearing jeans. And let’s be honest, jeans are so common these days that they are just plain old boring. Am I right?”

Cichol: “What the hell are jeans? In fact… what the hell are genes!?”

Donn: “We’ll have to get you suited up, my dears. You simply can’t be handmaidens in my house when dressed like a couple of hookers.”

Cichol: “Hookers? What’s that? That sounds like I’d like it!”

Donn: “Cichol, darling, you do yourself a disservice. I guarantee you can do better than a couple of trollops. You want glamour and elegance, my dear man.”

Cichol: “I have no idea what you’re talking about but I feel like you’re probably right. You really know about this stuff.”

Donn: “Praise from our new king. How delightful! But come, handmaidens, let me show you to my parlour.”

Donn sauntered away with Aman and Pirithous walking after them and then Hathor and Cichol a little behind still.

Cichol: “So, you’re a goddess of sex?”

He was standing straight-backed and eager to show his good side. Hathor gave him a playful smirk.

Hathor: “That’s right. Consort to several, wife of none.”

Cichol: “You’re not one of those, uh, trollops Donn warned me about just now?”

Hathor: “Certainly not. I may be a god of sex, but my passions are for a select few.”

Cichol: “So. Um. Any… tips?”

Hathor: “Many. First tip. Your evil army is showing.”

Cichol almost fell over.

Cichol: “What!? What!? What’re you talking about!?”

Hathor: “I saw them on my way through the Otherworld. I heard them. You’re lucky they’re all busy with this festival or you’d have been caught out by now.”

Cichol: “They’re not evil. My monsters are just… just… misunderstood!”

Hathor: “Right. Well. When I saw them, I knew you’d help me.”

Cichol: “Help you with what?”

Hathor: “These two are not handmaidens. They need to gain access to Hades. Best way to enter a Heavenly Realm is through another. I can’t use Duat, they’ll be watching for it. So. Your House of Donn. Can you do it?”

Cichol: “I can. But you won’t tell anyone about my monsters?”

Hathor: “I won’t. Why do you like them anyway?”

Cichol: “They’re cute!”

Hathor looked at him in disbelief.

Hathor: “If you say so…”

The group reached the edge of the mountaintop plateau and a second later, after splodging through the clouds, they arrived on the lower peak of Tech Duinn. Here was what appeared to be an old peoples’ home. A large hotel-like structure with a pretty and large garden for strolling. At the rear were resort-like facilities. On the other side of Tech Duinn was a massive hotspring area with many layers of precious hot, soothing waters. This was the Spa of the Dead and though it was part of Donn’s domain, it was also presided over by Grannus, the god of healing waters. However he rarely ever visited the Spa of the Dead on account of him claiming it too depressing. Instead there were often nereids to be found basking in the warm waters and gossiping with the men and women of ages long gone.

They strode up the steps of the hotel and entered the House of Donn. Inside faint muzak[Ext 7] was playing, a classic album of the 70s[Ext 8] (not that the 70s were classic before they existed, but you know). Unobtrusive but pleasant background noise that listlessly coursed the airwaves. The interior looked like a classic, old hotel. There was even a receptionist. She wore a white business suit with a skirt that reached the knee. She had a pair of white, leather heels to match and a smart cravat around the neck. Her hair was long, full and also white. Her skin was well tanned, a woman that spent her off hours basking in the sun.

Coventina: “Hello and welcome to the House of the Dead! My name is Coventina, I hope you’ll enjoy your stay with us!”

The two humans glanced at each other. The nicety of it all just seemed to make everything more depressing.

Donn: “Coventina, my dearest, these are not dead people. Not yet at least…”

Coventina: “I see! Then how can I be of service on this fine day?”

She beamed a bright, white smile of loveliness, hands clasped at her stomach.

Cichol: “Why don’t you show our human friends to some of the facilities, Coventina? Donn, you can show Hathor those priests?”

Donn: “How commanding you are already, Cichol! I’m sure you’re going to be a fabulous king! My beauteous Hathor, perhaps you’ll follow me?”

He linked arms with Hathor and the two of them trotted off together in a sudden discussion on the latest fashions of Egypt.

Coventina: “If you’ll please follow me, gentlemen? We have many fine establishments as part of our enterprise! Is there anything in particular you’d like to visit first?”

Cichol: “How about the bath?”

Coventina: “An excellent choice, your majesty! Would you please follow me? It isn’t a long walk.”

She turned and led them down a corridor. On either side of the corridor were doors to rooms. Sometimes one of the doors would open and a ghost would step out, on their way to go do… whatever dead people did here. Each room was an apartment for every individual that died believing in the Celtic Pantheon. Sometimes there were even animal ghosts, like a pet dog, cat or hamster. Coventia’s heels clopped on the drab, navy blue carpet as they marched along. Soon they found a staircase and she led them downwards. As they went down the steps, the walls on either side seemed to move with them. When they reached the bottom of the staircase they were someplace completely different.

A large bath, which would resemble the swimming pools of the future, stretched out before them. There was nobody here.

Coventina: “There are always private baths available at any given time. Of course, if you’d prefer company you can visit one of the public baths instead! We try to cater to everyone’s needs here in the House of the Dead.”

She smiled sweetly.

Coventina: “We can alter the temperature to suit your personal needs as required. To the rear here you will find a resting area with some comfortable wickerwork seats and muzak available for relaxing to. There are games and puzzles and books and movies—”

Pirithous: “Movies?”

Cichol: “Well, best not get too far ahead of ourselves, eh?”

Cichol was doing a bad job of not looking nervous but Coventina seemed not to notice. She gave the humans an expectant smile.

Coventina: “So, will you be converting?”

Pirithous: “Sorry?”

Coventina: “Converting to our religion. I can assure you that our benefits package is much more inclusive than our competitors. So many religions these days value punishment as a form of garnering belief but here, in the Celtic Pantheon, we strive to help our followers be one with nature and form a lasting bond with the physical world before they, ultimately, perish.”

She gave another sugary smile as part of the sales pitch.

Conventina: “I promise you, once you die in our religion you’ll never want to go back!”

Pirithous: “Isn’t that kind of a moot point? You can’t go back.”

Coventina blinked as she processed.

Coventina: “Um. Right. Yes. But! You won’t want to go back. So you it’s better… I’ll need to rethink this one.”

Cichol: “Coventina, would you fetch some brochures?”

Coventina: “Of course! Why not take a seat here and I’ll be back with you in a moment, okay?”

The two men felt uncomfortable but Coventina’s reassuring demeanour was enough for them to follow her suggestions. Aman drummed his fingers on the glass table.

Coventina: “Such a lovely couple.”

She gazed at them a moment while they both frowned at each other.

Coventina: “Don’t go away okay?”

She tittered and hurried away to find the brochures. As soon as she was gone Cichol turned and snapped his fingers. The waters of the bath slowly changed colour until they were now a deep, dark black.

Cichol: “Okay. I don’t know what you two vagabonds are up to, and I don’t want to know. This will take you to Hades. Hop in.”

Pirithous: “I’m going to get wet.”

Cichol: That’s your major concern?”

Aman Tabiz: “What will you tell Coventina?”

Cichol: “I’ll tell them you drowned.”

Aman Tabiz: “Uh… maybe think of a better lie than that. There’d be no bodies.”

Cichol: “Bodies? Oh right! Sorry, I’m not a god of death. I don’t really understand all this dying stuff. I’ll just tell her that your mother called and her cat is stuck in a tree. That’s an emergency, right?”

Aman Tabiz: “Barely. But it’s your neck on the line, not ours. Pirithous, are you ready?”

Pirithous: “As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose. To Hades we go!”

The two men jumped into the dark, black water.

Notes

Britt's Commentary

"This post contains a large number of referenced material from Celtic religion[Ext 9] that I used to create our NeS equivilent. As the Celts[Ext 10] had various names for "otherworlds"[Ext 11], I incorporated them all into a single place as smaller locations of a greater landscape, including from different Celtic cultures. Gwyn ap Nudd[Ext 12] is described as a king of Annwn[Ext 13], but his character was used as one of the kings in Albion already for NeS where he is named Windos ap Nudd. In a story of Tír na nÓg[Ext 14], the king of Tír na nÓg won races every seven years to remain as king until his son-in-law beat him in the race. I expanded this to be elected kings every seven years with a new deity on the throne. The race, rather than a serious was, is meant to reflect a marathon[Ext 15] for charity where many dress up in costumes to have a good time. It also reflects some traditional British and Irish festivals. Due to the set-up I was able to choose any god to be the new king. Cichol Gricenchos[Ext 16] was considered an ancient ancestor to the Irish people who led the Fomorians[Ext 17], a band of monsters, while his Gaulish[Ext 18] equivilent, Cicolluis[Ext 19], was a god of war and provisions with an affinity for meat. I merged the two into a single deity, granting aspects of both original sources, which includes the 'monster army'. I wanted the House of Donn[Ext 20] to be like a nursing home[Ext 21] with the idea that it's nice but also depressing. Coventina[Ext 22] was also added as a minor deity as she is actually a deity of a single location in England[Ext 23], which is a well - which inspired the additional of the Spa of the Dead, though I added the god of healing waters Grannus[Ext 24] as the deity for that spot." ~ Britt the Writer

References

External References

  1. Honey Monster Puffs article, Wikipedia.
  2. Barney & Friends article, Wikipedia.
  3. Tyrannosaurus Rex article, Wikipedia.
  4. Hillary Clinton article, Wikipedia.
  5. DC Comics article, Wikipedia.
  6. Aquiline Nose article, Wikipedia.
  7. Muzak article, Wikipedia.
  8. Mall Music Muzak - Mall Of 1974 (Full Album) video, YouTube.
  9. Ancient Celtic religion article, Wikipedia.
  10. Celts article, Wikipedia.
  11. Celtic Otherworld article, Wikipedia.
  12. Gwyn ap Nudd article, Wikipedia.
  13. Annwn article, Wikipedia.
  14. Tír na nÓg article, Wikipedia.
  15. Marathon article, Wikipedia.
  16. Cichol Gricenchos article, Wikipedia.
  17. Fomorians article, Wikipedia.
  18. Gaul article, Wikipedia.
  19. Cicolluis article, Wikipedia.
  20. Donn article, Wikipedia.
  21. Nursing Home Care article, Wikipedia.
  22. Coventina article, Wikipedia.
  23. England article, Wikipedia.
  24. Grannus article, Wikipedia.
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