I was working on the plans for the new Intelligence Agency when there came a knock on my office door.
“Sir?” said Delia, my new receptionist, “there is someone here with a delivery for you.”
“Please, come in, come in,” I said as I stared at the desk full of papers and spreadsheets.
The door opened and Delia entered with a woman who looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place where I knew her from.
“Sir,” said Delia again, “this is Bruna. She has something for you and insisted she must deliver it directly to your hands.”
I tilted my head a bit as I looked at her. “Bruna, Bruna, of course you work with my Aunt Hestia.” She smiled and nodded. I remembered her as an easygoing woman who smiled often but spoke little.
“Yes, Lord Dinlas,” she replied, then offered a dark box and added, “this is for you. From your Aunt. She said you would know what it is and its purpose.”
I took the box from her and set it on the desk. When I opened the lid, I saw three vials, each with a wolf’s head stopper. There was a note which I picked up, but didn’t read as I stopped to inhale. The wooden box was blackened by charring, but the inside was filled with the unmistakable heady aroma of ambrosia. I paused for a moment as I inhaled the scent and held it in my nose, before finally exhaling. Aunt Hestia had been making this batch for over one hundred years and it smelled amazing. I have sailed a ship that was guided to safety by the Lighthouse at Alexandria, I have stood before the Colossus at Rhodes, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and that of Artemis in Ephesus. I have plucked fruit from within the Hanging Gardens, stood at the base of the Great Pyramids and finally wandered the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. None of those are as wondrous as ambrosia, fermented, distilled, and decanted by Aunt Hestia. I looked up at Delia and Bruna and smiled.
“Thank you both. I will take care of this from here. Delia, has Eleni arrived yet?”
Delia answered, “I don’t believe so, Sir. Should I send her up when she does?”
“Yes, please. Thank you both again.” The two women exited the room and left me alone with my Calli and Ao.
I know I’ve explained this before, but I suppose it does bear repeating. Calligenia and Aode (not the muse, but named after her) were lovers of mine thousands of years ago. They are sisters and were cursed into the form of wolves largely because of my doing. They live, ageless, with me, but can never be with me. I renamed them Hate and Jealousy, hubris, I suppose, but now I had taken to calling them by their true names. To make things even more complicated, they began being able to switch from their wolf forms to human forms within the last several hundred years. I took it as a sign the curse was becoming unstable after all these years. If it were to unravel, then they would most likely grow old and die in a short time.
In addition to all that, several months ago, the difference between ageless and immortal was hammered home to me when Jealousy (Aode) was shot and almost died. The ageless part of the curse kept them from getting older, but it didn’t protect them from death in any other way. Aunt Hestia was kind enough to provide me with three vials of her precious ambrosia and two of them were for my girls, Calli and Ao.
“Calli. Ao.” I called them where they lie under my desk. They both sprang to their feet at once and pressed in around me. “I have something for you both. I, uh, I still sometimes feel foolish talking to you, since I’m not always sure how much you understand. But I need you two to understand that you mean everything to me and I no longer think I could bear to be apart from you.”
Both girls whined and pressed their heads against my legs as I rubbed their heads. Calli let out a yip.
“They think like wolves, but I swear they can understand me.”
I continued, “When you were shot several months ago, Ao, I knew what I had to do. Aunt Hestia has given me these vials of ambrosia. I want to protect you, to know you will be as safe as possible and out of harm’s way.”
Both girls nuzzled me again and nipped playfully at my hands.
“I need you to change into human form and drink these. Will you do that for me? It’s ambrosia.” Both girls shimmered, and appeared in their human forms, the same way they looked all those thousands of years ago when they were cursed. Olive complected, raven haired beauties. They appeared sporting their favorite attire, little black dresses. Once in their human form, they looked at me expectantly and Calli pulled her lips back in a bit of a snarl. I chuckled at her and handed them each a vial. They both held the vials with two hands and I unstoppered each carefully, so as to not spill a drop of the precious elixir. Once unstoppered, they each tipped back their vials and drained them in several pulls. I watched closely. I wasn’t sure I knew what to expect, but nothing outward happened. They set the vials down and after several minutes, changed back to wolf form and settled on the floor.
“Aunt Hestia’s note said they may be full of energy, apparently not,” I thought.
I went back to my desk, and it wasn’t long before there was another knock on the door and Eleni poked her head inside.
“Delia said you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Eleni, please come in.” She entered and I gestured to one of my chairs so she sat down.
“Is everything okay?” she asked. “You’re acting strange. Are you going to fire me?”
I shook my head and said, “No, Eleni, I am not going to fire you. In fact, far from it.”
“Oh Zeus, you’re not going to try and get romantic again, are you?”
I raised one eyebrow and said, “Again? When did I try to get romantic before?”
She pursed her lips and replied, “You know when. I like you a lot, Dinlas, I don’t want to ruin that.”
“Eleni, I like you a lot as well. I have brought you here to offer you a gift.” I lifted the last wolf’s head vial out of the charred box and held it up to her to see.
“What is that?” she asked as she leaned forward.
“Before I answer that, I want to thank you again for what you did at Samhain for me. Without your help, I would’ve surely perished. Whether intended or not, your actions bonded us together in a way I cannot wholly put into words.”
Eleni looked down and blushed. “Dinlas, I just did what anyone would do. My actions were simply a reflection of my friendship with you. I am sorry, in many ways I have felt ashamed, about spying on you. You have always been good to me, as you are with everyone who works here. They say God of Hate, but honestly I have never really seen it.”
I felt myself well up at her words, but I pushed the emotions back down and replied, “You helped preserve for me my eternal life. You cared for me and helped me recover. And you now continue to serve me and prove an invaluable friend.”
Eleni sat quiet and watched as I held up the last vial from Aunt Hestia. “This is ambrosia. It was prepared by my Aunt Hestia and it is the key to immortal life. I offer it to you. You’ve earned it.”
Eleni reached out, took the vial, and peered into it. “Dinlas I…I don’t know what to say. I must admit it is intriguing, but I’m not sure I have the mental fortitude to live forever. It seems like a daunting task.”
“I have no doubt you will do fine, Eleni. You’re smart, level-headed, and most importantly, you know who you are. Your sense of self is unshakeable. I will admit living forever is not easy. You will say a lot of good-byes, witness crazy amounts of change, and may sometimes be bored for centuries on end. But I think you would be good at it and I think you could make positive changes for mortals. What do you say?”
Eleni looked between me and the vial several times, then suddenly popped the lid and downed the entire contents in one pull. It was as if she wanted to drink it before she rationalized herself out of it. She set the empty vial on the desk and I smiled at her.
“There, its done,” she said after a moment.
“Welcome,” I said as I leaned over and hugged her, “welcome to the ranks of the immortal.”