“Where is the olive tree? How can we find it?”
The book continued to speak on as if it had been undisturbed –
“Go to the Kifissos river in Athens. The Naiad(river goddess) of the river will be able to help you. You should first shake her out of her stupor though.”
Hari let out a small scream as the book disintegrated to dust suddenly.
Maya looked at Hari. Hari shrugged.
“There is only one thing to do. We aren’t getting any younger thinking about it.”
“Fine, lets do it.”
Both of them stood on a dry river bank when they opened their eyes.
“Aren’t the Naiad/river goddess supposed to be alive only if the river hasn’t dried up? This is only a river bed, there is no river. Are we still in 1910?”
“Yes, dumbo. I think the Kifissos now runs underground. We just have to walk along the river bed until we find a place where there is still running water.”
After a trek of what seemed like many miles over a rocky pathway, Maya and Hari finally found a overhanging rock which glistened with water. As they came closer, they realised the rock was at the entrance of a small rocky cave. As they entered the cave and moved deeper, the sunlight seemed distant and the cave darker. When they finally entered the grotto where the downward sloping cave had led them to, they found themselves in the presence of an underground lake which seemed to be running into small rivulets to join a larger stream.
“Is this the place, Maya?”
“Sure, looks like it. Now, let me meditate and see if I can invoke the Naiad.”
The waiting wearied Hari and yet he steadfastly stayed close to Maya as she continued her meditations. Eventually, Maya opened her eyes and let out a small grunt of frustration.
“I don’t know what its but its like there is nobody here. No godly presence anyway. What do we do?”
“Why don’t you ask the Symantak?”
Maya struck by Hari’s suggestion immediately closed her eyes with her hands softly gripping the gem. The response was spontaneous.
“Hari, we are in the right place. According to the Symantak, the Naiad is in a state of stupor having had no contact with the gods or humans for many centuries. We can’t shake her out of the stupor by mere prayers. We need to give her a offering.”
“An offering? What sort of offering?”
“The naiads are the protectors of young girls. They also adore boys in the cusp of manhood. We need to make a blood offering together to wake her.”
“Blood offering?” queried a scared Hari.
“Don’t worry. It’s just a little cut. Here.”
As droplets of blood fell on the water, Maya and Hari watched mesmerized as the drops floated down undiluted to almost the bottom of the lake. As they hit the bottom, the lake shimmered a brilliant shade of blue before a dazzling beauty (unclothed! and long haired) rose in front of them. Hari gazed at her like a man out of his wits.
Maya cleared her throat a few times. When that had no effect on Hari, she addressed the Naiad herself.
“Goddess, thank you for showing yourself to us. We…” Maya stopped in the middle of her speech as the Naiad smiled and held up her hand to indicate silence.
“Thank you children, for awakening me. It has been long since I spoke to anyone. I know of your quest. I can give you the olives you seek for but you need to give me something in return.”
“What is that?”
“This boy here. I would love to have a companion for a few days. It has been so long since I had one.”
“No way, lady! I am not abandoning my friend. Back off.”
“Then you will never get what you came for.”
As the Naiad and Maya engaged in a epic battle of stares, Hari stepped forward and laid a gentle hand on Maya.
“Goddess, I agree to your wish on one condition.”
(1) Never heard of Naiads? Here is some background material.
(2) Last but not the least, you can read more of Maya and Hari’s original background here in the sample chapters for my earlier publication, Maya & the Mind Mystics.