Origins

A Beauty and the Beast Fan Fiction

By: Linda White

 

Authors Note:

Dear Beauty and the Beast fans. Welcome to my fifth story featuring our favorite romantic couple. This time, I have taken a slightly different turn and combined elements of History with elements of Legend. This is also the first time I have tried to insert a couple of graphics. Hopefully they will enhance the story. Enjoy!

 

Catherine padded down the stairs to the library where she found Vincent stretched out comfortably in a large wing chair, his long legs propped on a cushy ottoman. He had a large book open in his lap.

“I’ve finished with charity work for the day, Vincent, and was about to make some lunch. Are you hungry? You’ve been down here all morning."

Vincent had been so wrapped up in his reading, he hadn’t really given food much thought, but now, at the mention of it, he realized he was famished. “The time got away from me, Catherine. I am hungry, now that you mention it. I’ll walk up with you. There’s a passage I want your opinion on."

“Passage?” She looked and realized the book he’d been reading was a Bible. Catherine knew Vincent was not an adherent to any particular religion, but was a scholar in his own right, having read extensively his whole life, and had devoured numerous religious texts from various sources. He had a wonderfully open mind when it came to such matters.

Vincent marked his page and tucked the weighty tome under his arm. He walked back up the stairs with Catherine.

“Let’s go sit in the living room,” she suggested. “I’ll bring a tray."

Several minutes later, they sat companionably side by side on the sofa eating sandwiches. “Mmmm, these are good,” he said appreciatively. “We don’t get bacon very often Below, so BLT’s are rare."

“I’ll have to remember to pick up more bacon at the market." She laughed. "I’ve never met a man who didn’t love bacon."

They finished up, and Catherine took the tray back to the kitchen. She came back into the living room and sat back down beside him.

“So, what is this biblical passage that has you so intrigued?” she asked.

“The passage is from 2 Samuel 23. 20." He began to read in that wonderful, resonant voice she loved.

“Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lion-like men of Moab, also he went down and slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day."

Catherine knew instantly why this particular passage had so fascinated him. “I admit I have never heard this before. What an interesting connotation."

“Yes, interesting indeed,” he enthused. “Lion-like men, Catherine! As differentiated from an actual lion in the very next sentence. I have been pondering on this all morning. Who were these lion-like men of Moab? Were they an actual race of beings? Were there others like them? Most of all, could this have some meaning for me?”

Catherine realized that this short biblical reference had impacted Vincent very strongly. In the past, he had almost never opened up about possible theories pertaining to his origins, seeming to prefer to simply accept what was. Now she realized there might be a deep need within him to belong to something greater than himself, to know he was not just some random accident of nature, that perhaps he belonged to a noble race of beings, even if he were some sort of throwback to an earlier epoch of history.

She prayed that wherever his research took him, he would not be disappointed in the outcome. She vowed to herself that she would support him no matter what that outcome might be.

“Would you allow me to help you with your research, Vincent?”

Vincent and Catherine had done research together before, late at night using the public library’s microfiche system. He was always amazed by the depth of Catherine’s ability to do research. There was a logical bent to her mind and she could delve into facts and figures with almost computational precision, not only finding facts, but tying them together. She quite simply had a head for detail and making her partner to his inquiries was a welcome idea. He knew instinctively that, together, they were about to take his curiosity as to the meaning of the enigmatic biblical passage to a whole different level.

“Of course,” he said enthusiastically. “I would be happy to have your help.”

*****

To Vincent’s complete astonishment, Father was less than delighted upon learning of Vincent’s fascination with the suggestive bible passage. “Utter nonsense I tell you. You’re reading something into the passage because you want it to be there,” he said in a heated tone.

“How can you say that, Father? The passage is quite clear. Two lion-like men of Moab! And the passage then goes on to mention an actual lion." Vincent was getting a bit frustrated with Father’s obstinacy.

“I’m sure it’s some kind of metaphor. Probably to describe warriors. Perhaps warriors who dressed in lion garb as a symbol of strength."

Vincent was about to reply with a curt rejoinder, but then paused to consider. This was not like Father. Even if he disagreed strongly with any theory of Vincent’s, he would usually listen calmly before making his counterpoint. No, something wasn’t right here, and Vincent thought he knew what it was.

Father did not like engaging in theoretical discussions regarding Vincent’s origins. He’d always been like that. So much so that Vincent had learned over the years to stifle his own curiosity and avoid the topic altogether.

But now he pressed the older man. “Why, Father? Why does this topic bother you? Is there something you’re not telling me? I’m a big boy now. Whatever it is, I can take it."

“I just think that something as remote as an obscure passage in the Bible is of no relevance at all. If there were lion-like men, where are they now? Where have they been hiding all these centuries? No, I’m sure your origins are from a much more modern time."

Father instantly knew he’d said too much, had opened a Pandora’s box with that statement.

Sure enough, Vincent jumped all over it.

“Modern times? Please explain what you mean by that, Father."

Vincent had neatly backed Father into a corner, as he often did in their games of chess.

“I just meant that as a former research physician, I tend to think in terms of medical research – of genetics, and of how there are unethical practitioners out there who are not above experimentation. I’ve often wondered if you might be the product of such an experiment, no doubt clandestine in nature. Somehow you not only managed to survive, but to defy logic."

“You think I was grown in a lab or something?”

“Not exactly, but perhaps you were a product of some kind of genetic manipulation that resulted in a hybrid embryo brought to term. When you were born, the mother realized you would be subjected to a lifetime of experiments – or worse."

“So she abandoned me near St. Vincent’s hospital?”

“Yes. Think on it, Vincent. It was the coldest night of the year, and you were so small, wrapped in rags. Who would abandon an infant under such conditions unless the situation was dire? If Anna hadn’t found you when she did and brought you Below, you’d have died. The mother probably tore her own clothing to try and keep you warm, having once escaped from whatever horrific secret lab she’d been held at. They probably hunted her down and killed her and might have killed or recaptured you too if not for the fact you’d been rescued and brought Below."

“But why? What do you suppose was the purpose of this so-called genetic manipulation?”

“Who knows? Perhaps they thought to breed the perfect soldier, someone who has superior strength. Someone who can see in the dark, and who comes equipped with his own weapons in the form of claws and fangs. Someone who would kill to protect those he is loyal to."

Vincent knew he couldn’t deny Father’s logic on that point. He had, in fact, killed to protect his tunnel family, and he had killed to protect Catherine. As for the rest, he just didn’t know. He supposed it was possible, but he also knew that Father had a deep mistrust of governmental bodies.

Father’s theory was a lot to digest.

Vincent wondered what Catherine would make of it?

*****

“He said what?” Catherine cried hotly.

Vincent repeated it all again, even though he knew Catherine had heard him perfectly well the first time.

“But it’s such a cloak and dagger theory, and he hasn’t got a shred of proof."

“True, Catherine, but what he does have – did have for many years –is me, living right down there in the tunnels. A visible reminder every day that somehow I came into being."

“I know, Vincent, but I find it hard to believe you were some sort of lab experiment or that you were part of some sort of secret, super-soldier breeding program. It just seems so science-fiction to me.

“Be that as it may, Father’s theory is within the realm of possibility, but let us set his theory aside for the moment as only one possible explanation and proceed with my original inquiry into the lion-like men of Moab."

“Yes, of course,” she replied softly, all the indignation gone out of her. “I was thinking a visit to Mr. Smythe’s bookshop in the village might be a good place to start. He has a lot of reference material and several out of print books that might be useful."

“That’s a very good idea. Perhaps we should also plan one of our nocturnal visits to the microfiche machine at the public library as well,” he suggested.

“I have what might be an even better idea, Vincent! I’ve seriously been thinking about purchasing a personal computer to keep up with my charity work, but computers can be a powerful tool for research too, especially now with the internet available! I looked at a couple of them at the big computer superstore. It’s amazing what they can do. We could set one up in the library downstairs or in the office on the fourth floor."

“Truly, technology seems to be moving by leaps and bounds, Catherine."

“Yes, and we need the right tools for this research project, Vincent. Why don’t I go to Mr. Smythe’s tomorrow? I’ll bring back any books I can find that look promising. I’ll go to the computer store tomorrow as well, and I think by week’s end, we’ll have the best system money can buy. I think I may even be able to write the purchase off on my taxes since I’ll be using the computer for my foundation work!”

*****

Catherine was as good as her word. Better than her word, because she ended up buying two computers, along with all the peripherals and printers. One to go in the fourth-floor office where she did most of her work with her charitable foundations and one to go in the second floor library. The computer superstore personnel had even come and set everything up for her.

She didn’t score quite as fabulously at Mr. Smythe’s bookshop, but still managed to come away with several books that she hoped would be of interest.

Vincent, meanwhile, had gone back to the world Below for a few days, where he was needed to help with cleanup after recent heavy rains had caused water seepage from Above into some of the lower chambers. He had sent a note that morning via Kipper to say the seepage problem had been resolved, that he was free for the evening and would be happy to join her for dinner.

Catherine heard him call out from the basement as he came through the utility door. “Catherine, I’m here."

She leaned over the stair railing. "Up here, Vincent. I’ve made some wontons, and I’m just about to throw a bunch of veggies into the wok for stir-fry. Hope you like Chinese."

“Sounds wonderful,” he said, as he took the stairs two at a time, his mouth watering. One of the things he had learned about Catherine, once he had started visiting her on a regular basis, was that she was an excellent cook, and she truly seemed to enjoy the culinary arts. They sat down to enjoy their repast.

“That was absolutely epic,” he declared after they had finished eating.

“Epic?” She chortled.

“A word I picked up from Jamie. In this context, she would say it means fantastic or awesome."

“Ah, glad to know my cooking is epic."

By this time, they had loaded the dishwasher and were now sitting in the living room.

“So, what did your visit to Mr. Smythe’s shop glean?” Vincent asked.

“I’m afraid I could not find anything further about the lion-like men of Moab, Vincent, but I did find references to two Egyptian deities with lion faces: Sehkmet and Maahes."

“Oh?”

“Yes, do you remember my Bastet costume from Halloween?”

“How could I forget? You looked so beautiful in that costume, Catherine."

“Thank you, Vincent." She blushed, but went on. “Anyway, it turns out Bastet was not the only Egyptian deity with feline features. While Bastet is depicted as being very cat-like, the goddess Sehkmet is depicted with a definite lion’s face, and so was a male deity named Maahes. Here, have a look."

Catherine opened two volumes where she had marked illustrations.

 

“Apparently, statues of Sehkmet and Maahes have been found throughout Egypt."

Vincent examined the pages she had marked. “Truly they are represented with a human body and a lion’s head! Remarkable."

“Yes, and according to what little I’ve read so far, she was a warrior goddess, but also a protector. The sun disk and Uraeus symbol over her head represents royalty. Her name means powerful one."

“Protector,” murmured Vincent almost more to himself than aloud, but Catherine did not miss the wonder in his voice.

“Yes,” said Catherine. “Remind you of anyone?”

Vincent quirked his eyebrow at her, but there was a suggestion of a smile.

“The name Maahes means, He who is true beside her, and he, too, was apparently a warrior and protector god. It would seem that lion-people were much revered in Egypt, Vincent, unlike the lion-like men of Moab who were slain!”

“Worshipped as deities, in fact,” he quipped. “Wait till Father gets wind of that!” He laughed as only Vincent could laugh, with a bit of a rumble in his throat.

“Would you mind if I take the books below for study, Catherine?”

“Not at all. Keep them as long as you like. Meanwhile, would you like to see the new computer and get familiarized?”

“Lead the way,” he said enthusiastically.

*****

Vincent spent the next few days in the world Below, voraciously reading everything that Catherine had found at Mr. Smythe’s bookshop regarding the lion-headed deities Sehkmet and Maahes. He also found among his own collection of books several volumes exploring the entire Egyptian pantheon of gods, most of whom were depicted with animal heads of one kind or another. The god Thoth, for example, had the head of an ibis, while the god Anubis had the head of a jackal.

Vincent couldn’t help wondering if all these differently depicted deities were simply the Egyptian’s way of giving their gods attributes similar to the animals they represented. Or perhaps each differing animal symbolically represented a tribal affiliation, much like modern sports teams. Rams, Tigers, Eagles, and so on.

He didn’t want to disappoint Catherine, who was being so helpful, but he felt like Egyptian lore, while certainly interesting, did not hold the same intrigue as the enigmatic bible passage.

He began putting all the many books away and stacking Catherine’s pile neatly for return to her when he spotted another book lying on his table – the volume of Tennyson Catherine had given him months earlier.

Vincent opened the treasured volume and began to read a random line. Out flew the web and floated wide; the mirror cracked from side to side; the doom has come upon me, cried the Lady Shalott.”

“You read that so beautifully,” came a voice from behind him. Vincent whirled to find Kristopher Gentian, still wearing his Mets ball cap, standing there.

“You gave me quite a start, Kristopher. I was just thinking about you."

“I know, and I can’t resist your voice when you read Tennyson from my old book,” said the feisty spirit. “Speaking of books, what a pile! Mostly about Egypt, I see. You’re researching something with Catherine, aren’t you? She was in the shop the other day, but she looked preoccupied, so I left her alone."

Vincent told Kristopher all about the Bible passage and of how the idea of lion-like men had sparked his imagination. “Catherine is helping me with research,” he said.

“Oh, can I help too?” Kristopher said eagerly. “Please, please, please?”

Vincent chuckled. “Well, I have to warn you, I was just about to give up on the Egyptian material, but I haven’t told Catherine yet. I feel like it’s a dead end."

“Oh, I agree. It is. You should stick with the Bible." Kristopher was nodding up and down.

“What do you mean?” asked Vincent.

“Well, when I was young, I spent many an hour in Sunday school. I would rather have been out playing baseball or drawing, but mom insisted. Strangely, some of those Sunday school lessons stuck. You should look at Chronicles 12:8 and Ezekial 38:13.

*****

It was rare for Catherine to be the one feeling strong emotions coming through the bond. It was usually the other way around, but she knew without a doubt that Vincent was in a deep state of excitement and that he was coming through the tunnels toward the basement of her house.

She walked down the stairs to that level and stood waiting, knowing he’d be there at any moment. She opened the utility door near the water heater just as he came into view.

“Catherine, you knew I was coming?”

“Yes, I felt it through our bond. Something has you highly charged emotionally, doesn’t it?”

“Indeed yes. I had a visit from our ghost friend, Kristopher!” He leaned into Catherine, hugging her and kissing the top of her head. They took the elevator to living room level.

“Kristopher? How interesting,” she remarked.

“Yes! He says hi, by the way." They sat down, Vincent in the large wing chair that he favored and Catherine on the sofa.

“Did his appearance have anything to do with our research?”

“Not at first. He said he was drawn to my voice, as I was reading part of a Tennyson poem from the book you gave me.

“Well, you do have the most mesmerizing voice, Vincent. I am not a ghost, but your voice draws me in as well. Still, I get the feeling his visitation is not what has you so excited. What is it?”

“Kristopher, as it turns out, paid very close attention in Sunday school as a young boy. He mentioned two more passages from the Bible that I am very excited about. May I read them to you?”

“Of course."

“The first is from Chronicles 12:8:

And of the Gadites, there separated themselves unto David into the hold of the wilderness, men of might, men of war fit for battle that could handle shield and buckler and whose faces were like the faces of lions and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains."

Catherine gasped. “Lion-like men again, Vincent! In another Bible passage. This is remarkable. Two completely different biblical references to men with lion faces and plainly evident that the passage is not referring to animals."

“Ah, but it gets even better, Catherine. Let me read the passage from Ezekial 38:13:

Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all their lion-like cubs shall say to you, have you come to take spoil? Have you gathered your hosts to take the prey? To carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great spoil?”

“Oh, my God, Vincent. Lion-like cubs. This passage is talking about children!”

“Yes. Children! Lion-like children, Catherine. I admit my heart turned in somersaults when I read this piece. Bless Kristopher and his diligent duty to Sunday school. I would never have guessed there were further passages in the Bible beyond the one I found quite by accident the other day, especially a passage that not only mentions lion-like cubs, but states that the parents of those cubs were merchants. People of business."

“I am as stunned as you are, Vincent, but there is something else here. Something I seem to recall from somewhere." Her brows knit together and Vincent knew she was straining to make logical correlations in her brain. It was her gift. “Tarshish. Something about Tarshish."

“It has to be a place,” he said. “The passage says merchants of Tarshish."

“That’s it!” It was Catherine’s turn to be excited, because ideas were coming at a furious rate. “Tartessos! Tarshish is Tartessos, if I am not mistaken. I am almost sure that the Tarshish of the bible is the very same as the ancient city of Tartessos, once located at the mouth of the Guadalquiver river in Spain, but today the area is covered in an alluvial mud plain. I remember reading about Tartessos in college. Most importantly, Vincent, it would fit the Bible passage, because, if I remember correctly, the region where Tartessos was located is reputed to be rich in mineral wealth, silver, gold, and tin. Tin was very important in ancient times because it was used to make bronze. They don’t call it the bronze age for nothing. Great spoils indeed!”

“Your mind works in amazing ways, Catherine. You gleaned all that from hearing the name of an old forgotten city? Truly, you are gifted in this way."

Catherine blushed, but was pleased by his praise. “I sort of paid attention in school too, Vincent. And right now, my mind is going off on a tangent, because I just thought of something else."

“I am exceedingly attentive,” he assured her.

"Well, here again, we can check my facts, but I think the root word of Guadalquiver is Gad. There is another city in Spain not far from the legendary Tartessos known today as Cadiz. I passed through there when I was in Europe years ago. Cadiz was also once known by another name  – Gades, pronounced identically with Cadiz except with more of a G sound. The Gadites, Vincent! It fits the other Bible passage! I’ll bet you anything the lion-like men of Moab and the Gadites are one and the same. As we know, the region of Moab is in Israel. The lion-like men from Gades, and most likely Tartessos too, were merchants as the Bible indicates and probably travelled to Moab in ancient times to trade in precious metals, but were perhaps persecuted in Israel, hence the other Bible passage about two of them being slain. So, let’s suppose that as a race, they left such a hostile land and returned to the region of their origin, Gades, or home of the Gadites, in southern Spain.

“Catherine, you are amazing! This just keeps getting better and better."

“Thank you, Vincent, but we are still faced with the ultimate question. Where did they go? Why are there no lion-like men now, except for you?”

“We most definitely need to do more research,” he agreed. “Would you mind if I stayed tonight, Catherine? I’d like to use the new computer to do some more research tomorrow."

“Of course you can. I was going to suggest it myself. I really think we’re on to something.

*****

Vincent turned out to be a natural on the computer, although he had a small amount of difficulty at first manipulating the keys. His claws kept getting in the way, and the clicking noise they made when tapping the keys annoyed him. With some practice, however, he was able to modify his keystrokes by holding his hands nearly flat while typing, pressing the keys with the pads of his fingers. Luckily, Catherine had chosen computers that came with decent sized keyboards.

It didn’t take him long to find the parameters for key word searches and the first word he typed in was Tartessos. Catherine had sparked his imagination with her quick mind and her knowledge of geographical places, both past and present. She must have done more than pay attention in school. She must have absorbed her history and geography books by osmosis! Either that or she had photographic memory. Probably a little bit of both, he mused. And it certainly helped that she was brilliant! His heart swelled with pride.

A list of websites popped up on the screen, but something on the list caught his eye. Tartessos and the Atlantis connection.

Atlantis?

As in lost continent?

He clicked on the link.

Vincent was surprised to learn that many modern researchers not only considered that the lost island continent was real, but were of the opinion that both Tartessos and Cadiz were once part of the greater Atlantean empire. Some even considered that Tartessos was Atlantis! Most of these researchers also included the Canary Islands and the Azores, believing that these volcanic islands in the Atlantic were simply the tips of mountains peeking above the sea that were once part of a great range of mountains along the spine of the now vanished continent.

Most historians began their Atlantean studies, Vincent learned, with the original writings of the Greek philosopher Plato, who in his famous dialogues spoke of Atlantis in great detail as a Kingdom ruled by Poseidon. Further, that Poseidon portioned out pieces of that empire among his sons.

According to Plato, the easternmost area of the now lost continent, nearest the pillars of Hercules, or as the region is known today, Gibraltar, was given to the second oldest son of Poseidon, whose name, coincidentally, was Gades. Over time, Gades became Cadiz, which, of course, still exists to this day on the very edge of a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.

Vincent also noticed that there was a link to a picture. He clicked on it.

The illustration was what appeared to be a Tartessian warrior with a shield on a piece of ceramic pottery, but if one looked very carefully at the face of this warrior, it seemed as if a lion’s face was superimposed on top of a man’s face. A lion-like man!

Could this be a depiction of a Gadite warrior? Vincent stared at the suggestive illustration.

*****

Catherine pulled into the garage after a morning of shopping. She clicked the remote and the garage door closed behind her, but she noticed the elevator light on and knew Vincent must have heard her pull into the garage. He was on his way down. The elevator doors whooshed open and he stepped out.

“You’re just in time to help me with all these bags,” she said. “Did you have any success on the research this morning?”

“Indeed I did, Catherine. I can hardly wait to show you."

Vincent hoisted most of the bags and the two of them got back into the elevator and rode up to kitchen level. Once everything was put away, they sat down in the living room and Vincent handed Catherine several pages that he had printed, including the pictures he’d come across.

He sat quietly while she read through the material. Finally she looked up with a look of complete astonishment on her face.

“When I said we were on to something, Vincent, I had no idea just how incredible that something would be. Perhaps we’ve found your origins at last!”

“And perhaps we now know why there are no others like me. Atlantis was destroyed, as Plato says, in a terrible deluge sinking beneath the waves in a single day and night. Only remnants of that long ago civilization survived, and the survivors forgot over time that they were once part of a mighty empire."

“Yes. Atlantean researchers find bits and pieces to remind us of what once was, trying to piece it all together, but, alas, so much of it has vanished that mainstream science seems to relegate it all to legend. But, Vincent, this still doesn’t explain you all these many years after Atlantis sunk."

“I think I may have an idea about that, Catherine. I found another article while I was waiting for you to return. The article claimed that the Atlantean people shared many ideas and beliefs with the Egyptians, including the practice of mummifying their dead. Mummies have been found in the caves of Tenerife, a volcanic island in the Canary Islands, and pyramids have also been found on those islands. The Canaries, as well as the Azores, were once believed to be part of the Atlantean culture. What if one or more of those mummies was a Gadite, Catherine? A lion man. What if viable DNA was extracted from a mummy by the very unscrupulous scientists Father spoke of?”

“Oh, my God, Vincent! Then Father’s theory could hold merit after all. Somehow, if a secretive research team was able to extract viable DNA from those mummies it might have been possible to recreate your species, although, as we have guessed, their motives for doing so were undoubtedly not altruistic."

*****

Vincent and Catherine were sitting with Father in his study having tea. They had spent the last couple of hours bringing Father up to speed on where their research had led them and of how they had come full circle in a way that combined all that they had gleaned, but also incorporated Father’s ideas as well.

And Father, being a reasonable man, admitted that there may have been something to the biblical references after all– that his own ideas in conjunction with theirs made some sense.

“Of course, you two realize there is no way to prove any of this,” Father said quietly.

“Perhaps not, but it does give one food for thought,” said Vincent. “To speculate that my ancestors might have been both a race of merchants and fierce warriors with roots in a fabled kingdom gives me a sense of wonder. Indeed, just thinking that I might have ancestors at all brings a sense of belonging, though there are none left today."

*****

Much later, in Vincent’s chamber, he and Catherine lay quietly, locked in each other’s arms. “Vincent,” she murmured. “Are you awake?”

“Barely,” he admitted. He was purring contentedly.

“There is something I keep thinking about."

“What’s that, Catherine?” he whispered, stroking her hair absentmindedly.

“I keep thinking about that passage in Ezekial. You know, Sheba and Dedan and all their lion-like cubs."

“Yes. What about the passage?”

“Would it make you happy if you discovered you were no longer a species of one, Vincent?”

Vincent sat bolt upright! “Do you mean– Are you–” he stammered.

“I think so. At least, I’m late!”

He gathered Catherine into his arms, rocking back and forth with her, kissing her over and over. “Is it true? Is it possible?” was all he could think of to say.

“I think we’re going to find out very soon,” she said with a smile.