River Flowing Up the Mountain

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Prompt: Write a 1.2K - 1.5K one-shot about an OC who travels back in time and changes the reality of the canon character(s) in the fandom of your choice.

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This is all a dream, Zana kept telling herself. Just a dream, it doesn't have any substance.

She told herself when she stubbed her toe - this pain isn't real. An illusion.

When she made dinner. Just a fantasy.

When she was lying awake in her bed, Galen's arm slung around her, his warmth a steady glow against her back. Only foam on the waves. When I wake up, it'll be gone. It'll never have happened.

And she couldn't fight back the tears then, in the darkness, no matter how often she told herself these things, no matter how she tried to steel herself for this reality to fade and wink out like a dream.

If she succeeded, she would be all alone.

But if she failed, her friends would continue to suffer, and to break under the yoke of her people. She saw it in the dulling of their eyes, in the flashes of desperate rage. One of these days, they would do something suicidal. Something to save their dignity, if not their lives.

She couldn't put it off any longer.

She left while Galen was away, visiting a farmer at the far end of the valley whose cow had fallen ill. She purposefully didn't look back after she had closed the door behind her. She saddled Tala and let the mare run almost all the way up to the mountain.

Maybe she was deluding herself, Zana thought as she climbed the last stretch of the rocky path on foot. That old woman who perched in the fir under the mountain top had probably never been a priestess of the Mothers. And no matter what the villagers whispered to one another, she probably didn't have any magical powers, either.

Zana was just here to make sure for herself.

"A scrap of their fur, Mother, as you requested," she murmured after she had climbed up to the platform. The old Chimpanzee stayed on that tiny woven nest day in and day out. Word had it that she never ate; that the birds brought her sustenance - or the Mothers themselves.

Superstitious folk. Zana reverently laid down the locks she had cut from the humans in the dead of the night - one dark, one golden.

The old woman leaned forward and swiped them up with one quick motion. "Are you certain that you want to turn the river around, Daughter?"

"I am certain," Zana whispered.

"In that lost time, Ape was not yet the ruler of the world," the priestess murmured. "Your body will stay here, by my side, and only your spirit will travel back the winding road of time. You will wake up in the body of a human, Daughter - are you strong enough to bear that fate?"

"I am," Zana said. "I do not feel repulsed by humans."

"Owning one and being one are two very different things," the old Chimp said in the same low murmur. "As you will find out. Lay your head in my lap, Daughter. You will travel far, far away..."

She tossed the locks of Alan and Peet into the wind, and the wind rose and carried them away, plucked at Zana as if she was nothing, nothing but a feather, and whirled her up into the sky...

*

She woke up feeling all wrong.

Zana kept her eyes squeezed shut as she took stock of her new body to determine what, exactly felt wrong - she wasn't quite ready yet to have a look at that long-lost world of Man.

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