The Mercy of Artemis
By Zen Black
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Man, what a night…” I sighed cheerfully as I walked through the woods behind the school campus. Night’s like these were meant for walking, even if they were through a forest without a single pathway. As a 19 year old history student in college, it’d always fascinated me to imagine myself in a time before modern man, where chariots replaced cars and swords replaced guns. Forests without a trace of human meddling always helped along my imagination.
In truth, I held my own personal studies of mythology on a higher level than any of the History I was learning currently. Don’t get me wrong, History is a very important subject, and I did quite well at it. But I loved the myths and legends of the ancient cultures, especially the Greeks, more than anything else. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many colleges whose majors included Mythology, so I was stuck with simply spending my spare time in the campus library, looking up legends of great gods and powerful heroes. “Ah well. No sense moaning to myself now is there?” I chuckled as I continued on my walk.
I walked deeper and deeper into the woods, making sure to constantly check my positioning with the compass I kept handy. As long as I kept heading to the west, I’d be able to get back, no matter how far away I was, by just heading east. “A bit of a waste to bring the flashlight along…” I said to myself as I looked up at the bright full moon that illuminated the entire forest.
Then, without warning, a cloud passed in front of the moon so suddenly that I was momentarily blinded.
“Agh!” I yelped, stumbling around for a second, forgetting my flashlight, and suddenly losing my footing in the darkness. With terror and pain gripping at my every nerve, I tumbled down a leafy and very steep hill, giving small grunts and oofs here and there. I thought that any second I would hit a tree and that would be the end of me, but by some miracle I only got a few scrapes and bruises until I hit the bottom of the hill.
“Ouch… that wasn’t fun…” I groaned as I stood up and brushed myself off. I tried to grab my flashlight, only to find that I had lost it in my fall.
“Dang it… and I can’t see an inch in front of my face…” I complained, waving my hands about in the darkness as I walked around to try and find a path back up the hill. Momentarily, I noticed a soft glow coming from the forest.
“Ah! Must be a cabin or something!” I thought happily, quickly heading through the woods toward it since it provided me enough light to see by.
I ran for a few minutes, and the glow got brighter and brighter with every step. Finally, I slowed my run to a quiet walk as I neared the source of the light and looked around a tree to see what it was. As soon as I did, I knew immediately I was going to regret it.
What I saw before me was beyond belief. It was a large hot spring, with orbs of light hovering in places around the entire spring. Dozens of beautiful women, dressed in silken togas and with green (yes, GREEN) hair, sat around the spring, talking and smiling to one another. But none of them could compare to the woman who was sitting in the middle of the spring and washing herself. Her tanned-bronze skin seemed softer than fresh leaves, yet held lithe muscles under it that looked stronger than a canyon wall. Her long, slightly curly, auburn hair flowed to her shoulder blades, and her figure easily surpassed that of most super models. She held this otherworldly glow about her, as if such beauty could never be found on earth.
At the same moment I realized I was peeping in on a woman bathing, my foot found a branch to snap. The woman turned around in the water and saw me. I was struck cold by how beautiful her face was, as well as the terrifying anger that beautiful face held when she cast her eyes upon me.
At that moment she vanished, and in my mind I suddenly recalled the legend of Artemis, Greek Goddess of the hunt and virginity. She bathed herself in secret springs, and if a man were to ever find one of these springs and catch a glimpse of her naked form, she would kill him. Even before I felt the cold tip of an arrow digging into the back of my neck, I knew I was deader than… than… well, you get the point.
“Enjoy that image, you filthy pervert.” Came Artemis’ growling voice, sounding heavenly even while bubbling with hatred. “For it is the last that you will ever see in this life.”
Somehow, my brain went on complete autopilot at that moment. All of my panicking and terrified thoughts were shoved into a corner, and a single calm part of me took action.
“For the love of the Gods, oh great lady of the hunt, I beg you to spare me!” I cried out, turning about and getting on my hands and knees with my forehead pressed into the ground. “Please, I never meant you any disrespect. I was lost and thought that the glow of your beauty was a house for me to stop at and find my way home!”
For a second there was a pause, then a growl came from her as she said “petty words at best, you fiend. You don’t know a thing about me.”
Even if this Goddess didn’t like me, some other deity had to love me at that moment. I began to spout off every single myth and story I’d ever heard and read about her, from her birth from Leto and Zeus, to her part in saving the heroine-to-be Atlanta as a baby, to her relationship with Orion and so on. By the time I was done, I was panting for air.
There was another pause. “Mmm… quite impressive.” She said, the sound of a bowstring relaxing. “And I suppose your knowledge of the old ways does not only include myself… now then, one last question. Who is superior, male or female?”
“They are equal.” I said immediately, then felt my entire body clench up. Was that the wrong answer?
She laughed at that moment, and suddenly I felt incredibly relieved. “Stand up, mortal, so I can take a look at you.” She told me. I obeyed quietly, and once again I was struck with how beautiful she was. She was wearing a forest green tunic and skirt, with brown boots and her hair tied back in a tight pony tail. There was a quiver of arrows on her back, and her bow was in her hand.
“Amusing, mortal. If you had tried to be a ‘suck-up’ as you people say, I would have struck you down where you stood.” She said to me, her eyes watching me as if I were something cute and naïve. “Perhaps I should spare you death…”
I gave a sigh of relief, then stood up straight again as she continued. “Alright, I will not cast you to the Elysian Fields, but you still require a punishment for your transgressions.”
I swallowed and nodded. Anything had to be better than being killed. Artemis looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, then smiled and folded her arms.
“Tell me, mortal, do you know what I represent to the mortals of the past?” she asked me.
Easy question. “You were the Goddess of the Virgins, of the Hunt, and of the Moon.” I said with confidence.
“Very good. But you forgot one.” She said, leaning in very close until her lips were next to my ear so she could whisper “I was also the Goddess of newborn animals.”
Before I could respond, I suddenly felt something strange fill my body, and suddenly the ground below me burst into a smoking pillar. I had the sensation of falling as the strange feeling pushed through my skin and made me feel weird all over.
A moment later, the white smoke cleared and my vision returned to me. As soon as it did, I yelped. Artemis was now towering over me! I looked down at myself to find all of my clothes in a pool around me, and that I had fur! I began to panic slightly as I ran my hands over my face to discover my new features. Artemis chuckled, and then called one of her nymphs over. The green-haired woman arrived and held a mirror up for me to look in. I was stunned. Standing in the shirt that had fit me quite well moments before was a raccoon. His grey and black fur looked as soft as downy feathers, his little black ears were folded to the sides, and the same look of shock I knew I was giving was coming out of his little masked eyes. I wasn’t sure if it was the fact that I was now a (very cuddly looking) raccoon or because of the strange weight I felt attached to the base of my spine (I later discovered it was my tail), but I promptly fell onto my rear.
“Well? Is this more acceptable than a brutal death, or shall I get my arrows out again?” Artemis said with a smile, bending over so her face wasn’t a mile above mine.
“Um… ah… dis is fine…?” I said up to her, before clamping my paws over my muzzle over the embarrassment of my regressed speech.
“Good.” The Goddess said with a smile, straightening up. She called more of her nymphs over, then gave them a few instructions that my ears couldn’t pick up. The nymphs giggled and smiled at me, and I could help but feel like I was in trouble.
One of them picked me from under my arms, leaving me in only my large shirt. One of the others closed her eyes, and suddenly something resembling a shower curtain made of wood and leaves surrounded the nymphs. They grinned, and they got to work before I could even give a yip of protest.
By the time the curtain was removed, I was sure that my fur had to have caught fire with the amount of blush in my face. Not only had the exuberant nymphs seen me nude, but they had rubbed baby powder into my fur, tickled and cooed sweet baby talk to me, pinned me into soft cloth diapers and a buttoned green diaper cover, and dressed me in a light green toga tunic that I knew didn’t do a thing to hide the bulky diapers around my bottom.
“Awww, how adorable.” Artemis said with a smile as the nymphs handed me over to her. She held me out at arms length from under my arms, and I could tell she was very pleased.
“Is da twip to da Ewysian Fiewds stiww up fow gwabs?” I asked her sarcastically.
She chuckled and gave my head a kiss. My blush remained the same, but I actually felt quite better after she had done it.
“Now then… its time to go.” She said with a smile, pulling out a hunting horn from her side and giving it a loud blow. A few moments passed, and then suddenly a silver stag leapt out of the woods and landed lightly in front of Artemis. She gracefully climbed on top of it with me secure in her arms, and then tapped its side gently to send it leaping through the woods at tremendous speed.
“Whewe awe you taking me?” I asked her, surprised at how little the wind pushed even though we were going so fast.
“Well I can’t simply leave you in the forest, and I’m often too busy with other matters to be able to take care of you on my own, so I’m going to drop you off in a community with beings like you are now.” Artemis told me as she looked ahead through the woods.
I took that moment then to actually appreciate the full gravity of my situation. I had escaped a deadly situation with my life, was being carried in the arms of a Goddess, was the size of a toddler and dressed as such, and I was a raccoon. The whole thing just seemed like an insane dream to me, so I laid back in her arms to simply enjoy it and hope that it lasted.
I didn’t even try to watch how far we were going, only knowing that we were going at least as fast as a speeding car, but without having to worry about smashing into any trees. The stag was a magnificent creature, and I wondered if I could play with his antlers a bit. It took me a moment to realize how foolish that thought was, and I began to hug my thick tail to hide my blushing face.
I dozed off after a while, and was awoken by the gentle nudge of the Goddess. I rubbed my eyes and found it was already morning. We somehow were still in a forest, but the trees were farther apart from one another, and I could hear running water nearby. The line of trees broke, and I gave a small gasp as I saw where we were. We’d somehow had arrived in front of an Ancient Grecian designed city, which was built slanting upward on a mountainous area. The streets were paved with smooth stones, and the buildings were white with reddish brown tiles. Trees were planted everywhere possible, and there was a constructed stream that flowed down the main pathway. I was so amazed. How could something like this exist without the knowledge of the outside world?
“Welcome to Πόλη των ουρών.” Artemis said to me. I blinked and looked up at her. My language skills weren’t exactly the best. She chuckled then said “City of Tails. There are a number of places like this across the planet, hidden away from modern eyes and watched over by the Gods. Mmm… you know, I believe we should give you a new name, to represent your new life.”
“Ummm… ah… ok…” I said, one name suddenly springing to my mind.
“You have a name you’d like to use?” she asked curiously.
I rubbed the back of my head a bit, and then yipped “Philogus? I used to use it awot when I went onwine…”
“Philogus… the Latin word for Scholar?” she asked with a playful smile.
I blushed a little at her smile, then nodded.
“Very well then.” The Goddess said with a nod. “From now on, you are Philogus. Philo for short. A very nice choice for someone like yourself.”
I smiled, I liked getting complimented.
Artemis began to walk into the city, and I kept my eyes and ears open as she walked gracefully up the slope.
There were dozens of citizens, all of them dressed up in old Greek togas and other resembling garbs, and every single one of them was some kind of animal-human hybrid. I saw foxes and wolves and bears and cats and dogs, and I swore I saw a centaur trotting into a store that smelled powerfully of herbs and grasses. There wasn’t a single human around at all, which made me kind of curious about why no one said anything about the clearly human Artemis walking up the road.
As I started to wave to some of them to try and catch their attention, Artemis informed me that we were invisible to their eyes.
“I simply wish to be in and out of here to drop you off, so I’m hiding the two of us from their eyes.” She explained. I nodded and sat back in her arms quietly, wondering where exactly I was being dropped off.
She continued to walk up the main pathway, and I enjoyed myself by looking over the various columns and pillars, and watching people gather water at the bubbling fountains that were placed in intervals up the slope.
Finally, she stopped in front of a building, and my nose picked up the smells of paper and dust.
“What’s this?” I asked Artemis curiously.
“A place I thought you would feel most comfortable in.” she told me. She gently ran her fingers over my lips and my ears, then stepped into the building
The moment she stepped inside, I knew she was right. The entire place was filled with books. Old books, not so old books, newer books. I felt moments away from drooling when I noticed a walking stack of books nearby.
“Ah! Forgive me! I’ll be with you in a moment!” came a female voice from behind the teetering stack. It wandered over to a corner of the room, and then gave a yelp as the books collapsed into a pile in the corner.
Artemis chuckled, then walked over to the pile of books and reached in a hand. With an easy tug, she pulled out the person who had been carrying the books and stood her on her feet.
“Ah, thank you very much.” Said the lady. She was a furry brown mouse, her eyes matching the light mahogany color of the tufts in her ears. She wore a pair of small round glasses at the end of her nose, and she was wearing a navy tunic and a heavy skirt that trailed down to her ankles. Her eyes suddenly grew still and she gave a gasp, putting her paws over her mouth.
“Y-Y-Y-You’re… Artemis! Oh glorious days, forgive me for the condition of my store! I-I-I-I’ll get some tea ready!” she meeped, quivering with excitement. She was about to rush off when Artemis gently took a hold of her shoulder.
“Hold, dear mouse.” She said with a smile, turning her around. “You needn’t fuss over mine presence. I am only here to deliver a gift unto you.” With that, she handed me over to the mousette, making me feel a bit less like a child and more like a package.
The mouse looked down at me with surprise, then looked up and was about to say something when Artemis pulled out a pouch and handed it to me. I gave a small erf, it was the side of my midsection, it made jingling noises, and it was heavy.
“That should be able to provide you with clothing, furniture and supplies for him.” She said before giving me a wink and a tap to my nose. “Now you behave for your new mother, lest I hunt you down and discipline you myself in a most embarrassing manner. Farewell.”
There was a sudden breeze that caused the pages throughout the store to rustle, and with that, Artemis was gone.
The mouse looked stunned, and I couldn’t very well blame her for it. I felt slightly guilty about it as well. I mean, who wants to have a baby plopped into their arms out of the blue?
She looked down at me behind her glasses, then asked “Little one, do you like to read stories, myths and fables?”
I blinked, and then nodded. She grinned widely and gripped me in a tight hug.
“Oh Gods, thank you for this blessing!” she cried out happily. Apparently, this was one female who didn’t mind having a baby plopped into her arms out of the blue.
“Oh goodness, goodness, goodness, I have to get a room ready for you!” she said, quickly heading into her back room and padding up a flight of stairs. I held on tight to the bag in my arms, and she brought me into another room filled with books. “Oh dear…” she said unhappily as she looked about at all the literature. “I haven’t used this room in so long that it just filled up I suppose…”
She then shrugged and set me down next to the doorway. “Ah well, it cannot be helped. I’ll just have to do a rush job of organizing!” she said, her eyes looking quite up to the challenge.
“You stay right here, I’ll take care of everything.” She said with a smile, setting me on my bottom next to the doorway. She then quickly headed inside, and a few moments later she came out with an armful of books and scurried downstairs. I looked inside quietly, then got up and went inside. I picked up a book, brought it outside, set it down, and then went back inside for another book.
“If I’m going to sleep here, I ought to at least help clean up.” I thought as I continued to stack books. The mouse returned soon after, and was a bit surprised that I was helping.
“Dear, you don’t need to do such a thing.” She told me.
I smiled up at her and said “I just wanna hewp.”
She looked at me, then smiled and nodded. “Oh, I haven’t asked you your name, dear.” She said.
“Um… my name’s Phiwogus.” I responded, blushing a tiny bit.
“Philogus? How interesting.” She chuckled. “You don’t look old enough to be a scholar… but you do look quite wise for your age.”
I blushed a little more, and then asked “what about you? What’s youw name?”
“Ah, I am called Lotopia. Lotopia Popeas Anees.” The mouse said with a smile, stacking a few more books into her arms. I blinked curiously. What she had just said had to definitely be in Greek or something close to it, but it didn’t sound as close to how strange it sounded to me when Artemis had said the town’s name. I wondered quietly if she’d tampered with my ears or something.
I decided not to say anything, so we simply got back to work. As we did so, we talked a bit. Lotopia informed me that she came from a family that held books almost on the same level as the Gods. She’d inherited the bookstore from her parents after they’d retired, and they were currently traveling through some other hidden towns and cities on a fourth honeymoon. She loved books, especially fantastic stories of great heroes and valiant battles.
“Like Hewcuwes and Jason?” I asked her next, struggling a bit as I finished another stack for her to take downstairs.
“My my, human heroes? I didn’t expect one so young to know such names.” She said, taking the stack and going downstairs. I wondered if was supposed to hide my intelligence, but Artemis hadn’t said anything, so I supposed it was alright.
We worked a while longer, and soon the room was bare, except for a bed, a desk, and a dresser with a mirror and a bowl for face washing. A window opened up to the busy streets below.
“Done!” Lotopia said with a proud smile. I felt my tail wag behind me a bit. I felt surprisingly proud as well to have helped, even if it hadn’t been much.
“Well, this may be nice for someone visiting, but I think a child your age needs quite a bit more, wouldn’t you say?” Lotopia asked with a smile to me.
I nodded, wondering what exactly I was going to be sleeping in from now on.
“Right then, but first…” the mouse said, bending down and pulling out the back of my diapers. I blushed very bright, and I found myself frozen to the spot in embarrassment.
“Mmhmm…” she said before patting my crotch a bit. “Alright, you’re clean. We should probably put diapers on the top of our list though.”
I couldn’t respond, I was far too embarrassed. I doubt I would have moved from that spot for a week, but Lotopia took a hold of my paw and led me downstairs, with me too stunned to object.
She led little humiliated me right out the door and back into the street. We walked up the street for a few moments before she looked down at me with a playful smile. “What’s the matter dear? You’re all red.”
I looked up at her and pouted. “You know exactwy what you did. Dat had to be the most embawwising ting someone’s evew done to me.”
She put a finger to her chin in thought. “You definitely aren’t a normal pup. You speak so well, you know human stories; you were brought by a Goddess. I suspect there might be a lot more age to you than you show…”
“How’d you figuwe that out?” I asked curiously. “I read mystery stories.” The mouse responded with a smile. I couldn’t help but smile back; I was really getting attached to this mouse.
“But…” she continued, looking away for a moment.
“But?” I asked.
“No matter how old you are inside, I’m going to treat you as the baby you appear.” She said, flashing me a teasing smirk. “So you’d best get used to it, little Scholar.”
I blushed and pouted unhappily. “You Meany!” I yipped, before blushing more and covering my mouth with my free paw.
Lotopia laughed, then scooped me up into her arms and hugged me close. “Gods, you’re so adorable! I’m so lucky!” she squeaked happily.
I continued to blush, but it felt nice to be held against her warm chest. She carried me the rest of the way, and stepped into a colorful looking store, that had a number of toys and childish furniture sitting outside. Inside was packed to the brim with items for children, from beds to clothes to toys to paints to diapers and diapering needs.
“Oh! Topia!” called a smiling tan cat, waving at her from behind a counter. She was quite plump, but in the sweet and nice looking way that only a loving mother can pull off.
“Hello Chara.” The mousette said with a smile, keeping me safely supported in her hands.
Chara gave a gasp and a very bright smile. “Topia! Who’s this? You haven’t taken up cradle robbing have you?”
Lotopia laughed and shook her head. “Don’t be silly. I just found him, and I’m planning to adopt him.” She responded.
“Sure sure.” Chara chuckled, giving me a wink. “Watch yourself pup. This little mouse has been yearning for a child for years now. She stops by here almost every day just to daydream about using my products here.”
“Chara! Stop making me seem strange! I know you have at least half a dozen other females who do the same!” Lotopia squeaked indignantly. I just giggled. I found it funny to have her flustered instead of me. Chara smiled at me, and then began to discuss with Lotopia what she would need for me. She had me stand on the counter so she could measure me out for clothes, and Lotopia gave a few suggestions on what she wanted. When she was done measure, I was given a small candy ball to suck upon while she walked around with Lotopia, me in the mouse’s arms while sucking on my treat.
We spent a surprisingly short amount of time there. Apparently Lotopia had already had what she wanted from the shop chosen out before hand, due to her numerous daydreaming visits. Chara told her she’d have some of her heavy lifters help us take the furniture over to Lotopia’s home.
“Most of the supplies will be going with them, but I separated some of them to put into this.” The cat said, handing Lotopia a colorful woven bag.
“Ah, thank you.” The mousette said, slinging the bag onto her shoulder, looking quite gleeful.
“Best put it to use, I suspect little Philo could use a change.” Chara said, looking at me with a knowing grin. “Just take him into the changing room in the back.”
I blushed brightly as I suddenly realized she was correct. “H-h-how…?” I thought to myself as Lotopia chuckled and carried me into the back. She brought me into a small room that had a table with a soft mat on it. She laid me upon it, and pulled off my diaper cover. I wanted to protest, I wanted to struggle, by somehow my common sense actually broke through.
“This is going to happen to you from now on, and often. You’d best get used to it and learn how to deal.” I told myself. I was right, of course, but it didn’t stop me from blushing through my fur.
Lotopia unpinned the diapers and pulled them off me, then took a fresh washcloth, dipped it into a warmed bowl of water, then wiped me clean. Next, she held up my ankles while taking a powder puff from a jar and patting it against my bottom, leaving soft clouds of baby powder on it. She then slid a folded fresh diaper under me, set me down on it, fit my tail through the hole in the back, and then pinned them snug with fresh pins. She then took out another diaper cover, this one a light blue, and buttoned it onto me. The diaper covers were interesting. They were basically soft cloth, with rubber leggings and insides sewn in, and were fastened with big colorful buttons on the front. I had to admit, they looked very cute.
“Yup, I haven’t lost any of my skill from my babysitting days.” She said happily, picking me up and giving me a nuzzle. Even though I was blushing enough to roast marshmallows, I knew I liked the change. Lotopia had been very gentle, and the smell of baby powder made my nose tingle happily.
“Right then, off to see the furniture home.” She said, walking out of the changing room. She headed for the front entrance, then stopped and thought for a moment. “Say, why don’t you pick yourself out a toy, Philo?” the mouse asked while looking at me. “Like a little stuffed companion to play with?”
I blinked and my blush drained away quickly. That sounded really appealing, strangely enough. I quickly toddled over to look at the various toys for sale. They weren’t like the plush toys back at home. All of these were hand woven (er, paw woven), and were filled with items from dried beans to sand to cotton fluff. It was amazing how quickly I was able to identify the materials just by looking at them and getting a whiff of their scents. I looked about a bit more, and then found the one I wanted. It was a white and brown giraffe, with floppy arms, legs and neck, and with a pair of glossy black eyes. It reminded me of the toys my grandmother made me when I was a baby. I quickly picked it up and took him back to Lotopia, who paid for him with a smile and a pat on both our heads. I smiled as I hugged the toy.
The two large dogs that were helping us move the furniture waited outside with a cart, all of the items we purchased stacked and secured upon it. I said goodbye to Chara like Lotopia told me too, and then I took my new caretaker’s hand and walked out of the store with her, my giraffe held close in my free arm. I guessed I would soon need a name for him, and that I might have to start calling Lotopia ‘mom’. I smiled a bit at the thought. Maybe being a pup wouldn’t be so bad. I just hoped there wouldn’t be anything as embarrassing as a diaper change as time went on.
End Part One.