A special elixir
The moment I step from the building and out into the dry, dazzling world, I behold a sea of olives undulating before me. It is a breath-taking panorama which stretches far as the eye can see. I could never grow weary of such a vista and I remain still for a few moments, breathing in the warm, sweet aura of tranquillity, giving thanks for the grace of the gods which brought me here to live my days.
Anyone who has been here understands that Holy Mount Parnassus is the closest place to Elysium on Earth. From it springs the fountain of all arts and poets, artists and musicians – devoted lovers of the Muses – all pay testament to the prophetic mouth of God that wields power and influence here.
The Sphinx which guards both the entrance to our temple and mysteries of the world is made of a warm-coloured stone. It blazes in the sun like fire and I incline my head as I walk past it down the gleaming marble steps, still surrounded by the monumental dedications of various cities.
It is not long before I have entered the walled kitchen yard, where I immediately see one of the Tetrarch’s slaves giving water to a package mule that is tethered to a small fig tree, already unburdened of the offerings he bore. My heart leaps for joy, breaking at once my serenity of mind and implacable demeanour. I am happy to see this faithful beast, for not only do I have quite some affection for the animal, but his owner is of the greatest interest to me as well.
His image appears at the front of my mind. Like rays of sun flooding into the Temple’s cool interior, it casts deep shadows into hidden places. The Tetrarch is the eldest son of the ageing Tagos of Thessaly, a great aristocrat of Greece. His tribe, the Aleudae of Larissa, was founder of the Amphictyonic League, one of the most powerful military forces in the world.
Now that Thessaly is the chief protector of Delphi, its surest and strongest ally, the Tetrarch – as leader of the cavalry – commands more respect than almost any other man who comes here. No other living man commands as much of my own respect as he does, except perhaps Cleisthenes of Sicyon.
The Tetrarch conducts much of his official business at the sanctuary, as do the governments of other city states, for all men come here to learn the secrets of Gods. There are also those who wish to meet with their muse, or listen to the poets, musicians, philosophers and other great men of this world share their inspiration.
I take a few moments to pet the placid animal, which is dozing peacefully in the dappled shade. His velvety-soft muzzle tickles my palm and he bows his head for me to scratch his dusty forelock at its peak. The warmth of the sun penetrates to my bones and for a moment I feel relaxed and carefree, as any other 19 year old girl on a halcyon summer’s day.
I do not intend to linger long, however, as my reason for being here is to prepare a special elixir for Timocrates, which will be used to facilitate his nightly travels through Psyche’s realm. Timocrates is a Saint of Delphi – one of the Thracids – and he has been my teacher and guardian for as long as I can remember. He is a highly learned man who is devoted to my education and well-being. I count myself fortunate it was him and not another the Gods decreed must raise me, for he has permitted me a degree of freedom that stricter Saints would not tolerate. I understand the value of this privilege and ensure the fruits of my mind are known to him alone amongst men, together with my lovely and graceful sisters, who are my dearest friends.
As the slave returns to wash the mule’s dust-caked flanks I make my way into the kitchen and examine a bundle of ingredients that were gathered on the seventh day of the moon. They are laid on top of a solid Myrtle-tree table, a gift to the sanctuary from Corinthian priests of Aphrodite. It is from these ingredients that I shall concoct the special elixir for my Earthly guardian.
Working steadily and also rather quickly, for it is a task I know well, I clean the plants and divide them into proportions, then place them together in a copper cauldron. I am vigilant about obtaining precise measurements for the preparation of such mixtures is a very exacting science.