Content Warning: Sexual Content
I grinned at the young warrior of Troy standing before me. His muscles glistened from a recent workout, and beach sand dusted his bare chest, catching on the whorls of hair between his pectorals. He let his spear fall to the ground and dropped to his knees before me. “Lady Tyche,” he whispered, his voice a growl of masculine need and desire. He reached for me, his hands pausing before he could touch my thighs, and my body answered with a very human response.
“You have permission.” I grinned. Aggie worked far to the north, blessing fields and crops, delighting himself with young maidens seeking fertility of one kind or another. I spread my legs and nodded. He reached for the hem of my short dress, tied at the waist with a golden rope, from which hung my cornucopia.
His work roughened hands touched my thighs and I shuddered at the sensation as he slid them over my skin, closer to the heart of me. I bit my lip. And when he brought his mouth to me, I cried out. Blessing him and all of Troy with luck, but especially him.
The image faded and in the darkness, I cried out, pressing my fist to my mouth to stifle my sobs. I’d been stupid then, young and foolish, believing all this nonsense about the gods and how we ought to be worshiped. The priests brought their firstborn livestock, their first harvested grains and offered them to me. I came and accepted, distributing them then to the poor who offered little trinkets. Even children took corn husks and twisted them into shapes to give as offerings.
“Bless our house, Lady Tyche. My parents work too hard. My father is dying.” The voice of one young girl to whom I’d given the leg of a goat, haunted me. My small offerings meant little, not when I, as a goddess, had the power to burn down the systems that kept her hungry. She’d died of an illness the next summer.
The scene shifted once more, and I stood off to one side of the practice grounds, watching my Troy soldier battle. This day brought him a new opponent, a stronger, more muscled man who lusted only for battle. My soldier caught the spear with his own and shifted his weight to send the other man toppling. Something happened. In a blink of an eye, his opponent made some move that sent his spear slicing into my soldier’s leg. Red blood rushed down his muscled thigh to drip from his knee and pool into the sand.
I turned away in disgust. His potency on the battlefield was waning and no other caught my eye. The offerings had come less and less, and the priests turned their attention elsewhere.
“We have Lady Tyche’s favor,” the people said. “She will not betray us. For we give her the best grapes from our vineyards that her consort blesses. The best olives. The best of our firstborn beasts.” At one temple, the priest lied. I watched lamb after lamb being born, and a part of me lusted for the sacrifice, to watch the red blood stain the white wool. Then, a runt, young and sickly, came. It wouldn’t live, and yet that was what they gave me. That had been their offering to Lady Luck.
First my soldier and now this. I turned away in revulsion. How dare they treat me like this? How dare they feel they don’t have to offer me their best? Who gave their armies luck in battle? Who made their merchant fleets lucky enough to discover new markets and sail through the storms? Who blessed a young bride with luck so that her husband wouldn’t turn away? Good fortune and luck were my province and I touched everything in their miserable, pitiful, disgusting human lives.
The siege of their city was taking a toll. Prayers turned toward gods of war and gods of medicine, looking for miracles and instant health and victory, rather than using good fortune to get themselves out of the ordeal. My soldier grew older, eventually crossed into death during a battle. I found another, until he grew slow or succumbed to wounds. When I strode among them, these people who believed themselves to be independent, they turned from all the gods, not just me. They deserved whatever hell they received for their treachery.
Whispers of a plan on the other side floated to my ears. I went to them, these men undeterred from their mission. A great gift, one that would open the doors of Troy to their forces. I smiled. I liked it. But in this time of war, their offerings to me had gone dry. They spoke my name, wished Tyche’s blessings on people, but no fat lambs, no succulent roasted meats graced my altar. I gorged myself with nothing left over for the people. Back then, I believed I deserved the good fortune first, not the people. My belief was inexcusable.
I slid my hand into my cornucopia only to find it bare. It contained no gifts to give to these people, no tokens of good fortune. I released it and strode among their workmen building this gift. I saw the great wheels, the gilt and jeweled trappings. Now here, someone had wealth to spend. I vowed to find that person.
“Go away, woman. This is no place for you,” one of the workmen yelled.
“You will get hurt. Do you not see to the sick? Do you not cook our food?” another questioned.
“Maybe she warms our beds?” a third suggested with lewd laughter.
Trapped in this memory, I searched vainly to seek someone who would grant me an escape. I knew what was to come and I wished with all my powers to change it. But history and time were not my realms, and I would relive the utter depravity of my actions.
“Lady Tyche,” the young man said. His sooty lashes brushed his cheeks as he closed his eyes and bowed his head to me. “Pay them no attention. They are too coarse to see who you are.”
Finally, someone recognized me, my powers on full display. I cupped his cheek, the stubble brushing my palm telling me he was older than I first realized. When I tilted his head, the lines at the corners of his eyes told me this man had seen years and wars. I longed to soothe the pain I’d seen in his expression. “Tell me your name. What is your role?”
“My name does not matter. I am one of the soldiers to go into the belly of this thing. We’re told it’s to be a horse, but how that would get the citizens of Troy to open their doors, I do not know. Forgive me, Lady Tyche. I have no offerings for you. Our provisions are lean and grow more so the longer this siege wages.”
“Your heart is pure and good. Take me to your fellow soldiers, those who are to go inside. I believe your cause is not lost at all, and if all are as pious as you, then your success is guaranteed.”
“Of course, my lady. This way.” He led me to a long, low building where all fifty men were housed together. He opened the door to a single chamber where bedrolls lay along the walls and long tables ran down the center. A young page stood by the door, ready to run with messages.
“Tell the commanders that Lady Tyche is here. I need baths, hot baths, for all the men and myself. Herbs and flower petals for the water. Unguents for our skin. Tell them if they wish to win, they will bring it quickly and not leave a goddess waiting.”
“Yes, lady.” The lad raced out and I soon heard shouted orders.
“Lady Tyche.” Whispers of my name fell through the building and to a man, they dropped to their knees, heads bowed, hands clasped behind their backs in obedience.
I looked over them and smiled. It was good. Strong backs met my gaze. Arms and thighs corded with muscle. These men represented the best these people had to offer and I approved.
“Rise,” I ordered. “Rise and serve me.”
As one, the unit rose to its feet.
“Which one of you is your leader?” I demanded.
The men pointed to the one who’d led me there.
“Very good. When you have all bathed, you will serve me. And if you please me and only when I am satisfied, will you have your good fortune.” I pointed to six of the men. “You there. Move these tables to the corner. There will need to be a place for clean linens and a repast. I pointed to six more. “Make a large pile of blankets and bedding in the center of this room. I will not rut on the ground like a common animal.”
“Yes, my lady.” Their sharp voices rang in obedience.
“My lady,” their leader said, “there are fifty of us and we are warriors. We do not wish to hurt you and I fear my unit will overwhelm you.” He kept his head bowed.
I strode to him, hips swaying with each step. “Are you not men tempered by battle?” I asked. “Do you not know when to hold your blow and when to give it your all?” I touched his chin and tilted his head up so he looked at me directly. “I am a goddess. Do you not believe me capable of all that I say and do?”
“Of course, my lady.” His pupils dilated and his nostrils flared. “You are most capable, and I assure you, so too, are my men.”
Smoke and darkness pulled me from the vision. Oh, they were capable. Fifty days, one for each man, they worshipped my body until I could take no more. By that time, the gift was done, and my trial had only just begun.