Thais of Athens

Thaïs pt. II

II. Prostitute 

I limped down the path.

Athena! How my head swam. Too many blows. The bruise about my eye left throbbed. My body ached. How it ached! Especially there; down there, where he had

It was not supposed to be this way. He had come with a beautiful smile and easy tongue. He had chosen me over the other girls, saying I was the most beautiful. I could see the jealousy in the girls’ eyes as I threw my cloak on.

Our business is usually done in the house, but he had paid extra to take me somewhere private. A decrepit cottage out of town. Where no one can hear you scream.

My stomach turned. I left the path, and retched.

Standing up, I saw far below a boat – a trireme – sail into Piraeus’ harbour. I wished myself onto it, and to a new life; somewhere, anywhere away from men. The gods did not hear me.

I wiped my split lip. Blood mixed with the white lead that was my make up stroked my hand. I wondered what I had done wrong; how had I displeased him? Yes, he was my first client, but the girls had given me much good advice and I had lain with a slave to get practice. What had I done wrong? Confused, I cried. I cried, and did not stop crying until night fall.

Night. Stars glittered overhead but the world was bathed in darkness. I shivered in the cold. The rags that he had been kind enough to leave me were no protection were they in pristine condition, and he had forced me to leave without my cloak.

All was quiet as I stood up to resume my journey back to – what? I had broken a house rule by not returning this afternoon. I would certainly be fined, maybe expelled.
“But look at me, sir,” I murmured, “It was not my fault!”

I lifted myself up; faintness over came me, and I fell forward. I did not move.
“Hades take my future,” I said, “for this day he has stolen my past.”
“You don’t believe that,” a voice – female – replied, “if a bandit came and raped you or took a knife to you, you would fight back. Even if it was just a scratch for his stab, you would give him something to remember you by.”

I pushed myself up on my arms and looked round. A lady, flanked by two slaves, sat on a tree trunk a few feet away.
“Thaïs of Athens,” she said, “you have led me on a merry chase these last few weeks, but finally I have found you.”
“Who are you?” She smiled, smugly.
“Today I am Aphrodite taking pity on you; tomorrow maybe I shall be Hera commanding you, or Aspasia teaching you, or no one saying goodbye to you. I hope, however, that you will let me be Aspasia.”

She walked towards me, knelt down, and offered her hand. I took it, and she took me.

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Thaïs Pt. I

1. The Pact.

My father knelt down beside me. Balancing himself on his haunches, he scooped up a handful of dirt from the garden path. He felt it within his grip with a strange satisfaction, as if it were money. On a moment, however, he opened his fingers. All was quiet; all was still: the world had paused, as if it was unsure how to respond to this simple act. Then, Boreas replied. He blew the dirt from my father’s hand in a small cloud and sowed it upon the path and the grass on which I sat. I shivered at the feel of his cold breath upon my bare arms.
“Thaïs,” my father said, patiently, “This is how the world is. We build, and we think that our works will be eternal, but against the power of the wind, they are nothing. If we are fortunate, we will die before the wind shows us this. I have not been fortunate.”
“I hate the wind.” I said. “I curse it.”
“Shh,” father said, “Be careful what you say.”
“But you do not believe in the gods,” I replied, accusingly.
“Maybe that is why we are having this conversation.”

Once upon a time there was a king; he was a powerful man, and he lived in a palace of fire. He did not eat, nor did he drink; he fought many wars. If he was injured, he simply returned to his palace, and wrapped himself in flame, and it healed him. The fire would make him stronger, invincible. This was the first story that my father ever told me. I remembered it now because I wanted to be that king’s queen. I wanted to share in his strength; to share in his power. How I wanted to be powerful!

Powerful. Powerful, so that I had the power to save my father’s business. Powerful, so that I had the power to take revenge on the men who ruined him. Powerful, so that I had the power to bring wealth, honour, and safety to myself. If anyone had told me that it was possible to gain that power by walking into a real fire, I would have done so. I dreamed of doing so; in my waking hours I put my hand as close to the fire of our hearth as I could before the heat drove me away. On the day we lost our home, before the hearth was extinguished, I made a pact with the fire; I promised that if it helped me win back what my father had lost, I would worship it. I cut the palm of my left hand. As blood seeped out, I took a twig. I lit it, and extinguished the flame in my cut hand. The pain! But now I was the fire’s blood sister. I would make my father rich again.

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Thaïs’ Flame Emporium

Welcome to my new shop! Here, you will find a wide variety of goods all with a common theme – fire. I have loved fire ever since I was a girl and want to share that love with you all in practical fashion. Please feel free to browse and experiment. My shop manager Amyntas will be very happy to help you with any enquiries or if you set fire to anything by accident.

Thaïs of Athens

Shop Patron: Alexander III Son of Philip (so don’t even think of stealing anything!)
Resident God: Prometheus

Products

Beeswax candles (small) 10dr.

Beeswax candles (large) 20dr.
Bonfire 50dr.
Firewood* 15dr.

Flint 1dr.
Five days notice is required for the purchase of this item

Hearth 250dr.
Includes installation
Lamps (small) 5dr.
Lamps (large) 8dr.
Naphtha 45dr.
Sold by the cup; a licence is required to purchase this item

Pitch 20dr.

Sold by the cup; a licence is required to purchase this item
Scented candles 15dr.
Sold in a variety of colours, idea for that special woman (wife, hetaira etc) in your life!
Torch (small) 5dr.
Torch (large) 20dr.
Good for long journeys through dark places
* Locally sourced

Opening Hours
The Flame Emporium is open from dawn to desk every day. I reserve the right to close the shop early during times of civil unrest or enemy attack upon Babylon (or the camp if it is under attack).

Fire. Mmmm.

We Are Hiring!
Please submit all applications on papyri to Amyntas giving your name, age (if known), and reason for wanting the job.
* Foragers for Firewood. Join an exciting new business and see the world as you hand pick the driest, firmest and most burnable wood from the countryside
* Candle / Lamp makers. Everyone wants to make a difference. How would you like to see your craftsmanship in the homes of the most powerful Macedonians?
* Trained Bonfire Starters. By trained I mean TRAINED. The first man who applied for this job was not and was last seen in the middle of the practice bonfire burning to death after thinking that was how you start a bonfire.
* Naphtha supplier. Must be willing to make regular trips to the naphtha fields. Bodyguards supplied. If you are attacked by fire, though, watch out! Regular pay + danger money given.
* Tent makers. For our new, exciting line of hearth-inclusive tents that will make smoking out the tent a thing of the past.

We Take Fire Seriously
Fire is not for fools! Here at my emporium, we want you to enjoy our fire related products responsibly. To that end, we will be holding regular classes to show you how to use them properly. Even while drunk. For more information, please speak to Amyntas.

Licences
Due to the dangerous nature of these items – especially after a night drinking in the Pella Wine Tent – licences are required to buy pitch and naphtha. Licences may only be brought from senior officer. The cost of said licence is negotiable depending on your relationship with him and his state of inebriation when you make your request.
Beware: Don’t get him too drunk as we need a valid signature AND WILL CHECK IT.

Ideas?
Do you have any ideas for what we might sell in the future? If so, please feel free to let either me or Amyntas know. Please be advised, however, that we do not and will never sell ear wax candles as that would be vile. I am amazed by the number of men who insist on suggesting it to me.

Ideas that I would be open to…

  • Persian rugs with images of fire on them.
  • Flame inspired jewellery.
  • Fire breathers (please, please, please!)
  • Scrolls telling the story of Prometheus (if you know of any that do so from his point-of-view then let me know – I will pay you good money for them)

Coming Soon
Fire Parties! Do you love fire as much as I do? Then why not come to my group? We will meet in my quarters every week and discuss fire in all its wonderful aspects. Nothing is beyond discussion whether it be fire from personal experience, in legend, religion etc. AND we don’t even need to discuss fire. Flame, smouldering (literal and figurative, ladies!), embers etc are also valid subjects.

Refunds
No, we don’t give refunds. Think about it.

Compensation
Thaïs’ Flame Emporium accepts no liability for the misuse of any of its products particularly when the victim has been drinking. You buy all our products at your own risk! If you respect fire, it will respect you. Remember that lesson and all will be well.

Should you accidentally set fire to anything, the following may be useful:
DO Throw sand or water over the fire
DO run out of the tent / house if the fire is out of control
DO remember to take your family / livestock with you
DON’T try to put the fire out by urinating over it
DON’T try to put the fire out with nearest barrel of wine
DON’T make your wife put out the fire while you run. This is COWARDLY.

A Kind Notice
Theft is not tolerated. Offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and king’s whim. This means hands may be chopped off and bodies impaled, people, so don’t do it!

Categories: Thais of Athens | Leave a comment

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