The priestess gestured for Marcellus and Arius to follow her to the cella, the main enclosed room, where worshippers were praying to the statue of the helmeted Minerva. On the top of the statue’s hand was the winged goddess of victory, Victoria.
The priestess sprinkled oil on a candle next to the statue and turned to Marcellus. “What do you seek from Minerva?”
“I want to know the meaning of the helmeted woman in my dreams,” Marcellus answered.
The priestess walked to a table on which several bowls of various solutions and herbal powders has been set. She poured solutions from two different jars into a brass cup and mixed in an assortment of powders. After preparing the mixture, she raised a goblet toward the statue, chanting incomprehensible words, then handed the vessel to Marcellus.
“Drink this,” she instructed. “It will induce sleep. The helmeted woman you seek will reveal who she is in your vision.”
Marcellus stared at the various sized particles skimming on what looked like oil in the goblet. “What’s in this drink?”
“Powders of saupe fish scales, blue lotus, and opium. Just enough for you to connect with the goddess while you dream,” the priestess said.
“What if the woman does not appear in my dream?” asked Marcellus, becoming uneasy about ingesting such powerful drugs.
The priestess shut her eyelids. “I feel her essence all around you. She has a strong god who protects and empowers her.” She opened her eyes and lifted the vessel to his mouth. “Drink all of this. The effects will be rapid. You must stay in the temple tonight in case there are ill effects. Will your friend stay with you?”
Marcellus nodded and sipped the foul-tasting mixture that smelled like fish and burped. He took a deep breath and drained the goblet. He gagged, barely able to hold the contents down. Shortly, the effects of the drink made his vision blur. He could barely discern the door opening in the chamber. His head spun so wildly that he collapsed in Arius’s arms. He felt his feet drag on the floor until his head hit a soft cushion.
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