As Maya and Hari wondered on their next course of action outside the old lady’s place, the door opened again.
“Oh, my dears, I wanted to give you a last piece of advice. Fortune favours the bold, or so they say. In this case, Fortuna can bless your endeavors with success. The temple of Fortuna Equestris is a good start.”
“Where is it?”
“The right question my dears is when is it. It’s was in Rome, near the Theatre of Pompey. You need to travel to before 21 AD as it was destroyed in a fire that year, pray at her altar for blessings and advice on how to retrieve the apples. But be careful, that was a very different time period.”
Maya sighed and pressed Hari’s hand before turning the Symantak again. Hari waved a thankful goodbye to the old lady.
When both of them opened their eyes after the shift in their surroundings, they found themselves standing in the front of huge marble colonnade lit in intervals by fire torches which lent to an atmosphere of strange shadows and an eerie silence. A hooded figure in a robe was walking briskly a few feet ahead. The place seemed empty otherwise.
Maya whispered to Hari – “I deliberately chose to come at midnight when there will be no one around but now that we see that guy there, let’s follow him. He is going into the temple.”
Maya put a finger to her lips to signal Hari and holding his hand started to follow the man (?) at a safe distance keeping well away from the light of the fire torches. After a few minutes, it was clear the man was moving into the sacred sanctum of the temple. Maya and Hari hid behind one of the pillars while the man threw his hood back and moved in front of the huge statue of a goddess with a gubernaculum (ship’s rudder) and a cornucopia (horn of plenty).
“O Goddess, for thy favour in the battle of Hispania, my grandfather , Quintus Fulvius Flaccus built you this temple. I now come to you in my hour of need. My shop has burnt down and my son is struck down with black plague. I come to you for your blessings to protect me from this misfortune.”
Maya glared at him as he continued to shake with silent laughter as the man left.
Confirming indeed that the man has left, Maya now left the shadows and stood in front of the goddess and prayed to her for victory in her quest.
As she re opened her eyes after her prayer, she found a cookie sitting in the altar. Unsure of whether this was already in place, she approached the altar and broke open the cookie meaning to devour one half to drive away her mild hunger pangs and offer the other half to Hari.
She was thus surprised when she found a piece of paper with a few sentences written on it with an immaculate hand.
“Your quest will succeed on account of your prayers to me. Yet, for the disrespect shown at my altar, you will undergo more trials before you succeed. The apples you seek are in the Garden of Hersperides which is guarded. Seek Hebe’s help to retrieve it.”
Maya stared at the message in shock and numbly passed it to Hari who looked back at her in horror after reading the message.
“Maya, I am sorry. It just felt funny to see such a huge man offering a helpless prayer.”
Maya’s sighs seemed endless as she grabbed Hari’s hand and concentrated on reaching the Garden of Hersperides.”
(1) You can read more about Fortuna here for background. Fortuna is known as Tyche in Greek Mythology.
(2) There is another greek goddess associated with fortune known as “Felicitas” who is not featured in my novella. Whereas Felicitas is always portrayed as a positive influence, Fortuna may award a person either good or bad luck or both as she seems to have done for Maya and Hari.
(3) You can do some background reading about Quintus Fulvius Flaccus who built Fortuna’s temple referred to in this chapter here.
(4) You can also read sample chapters of “Maya & the Mind Mystics”, my earlier published work featuring Maya and Hari here.