Almost an hour later Furina uttered a cry of victory, “Sonofabitch, I’m just too damn good. Get your ass over here before I put in the last letter of the combo.”
Bacchus hurried over to watch her depress the final key.
“The combination spells ‘Ariadne,’” she said.
“That’s ‘Arianna’ in Greek.”
“Oh, I guess that does make sense then.”
An ethereal voice came from the small box, “What can consume a man and not have had its fill? What grows larger when you feed it and when it is starved larger still? What drives a man to great lengths, but never reaches a destination? What rapids flow, what hurricane blows, what fire rages without cessation? The contented man knows nothing of me. What am I?”
With eyes wide, Furina gave an exaggerated shrug. Bacchus took the pad of paper from her and scribbled down as much of the riddle as he could remember. He read the words over and over again. Something nagged at the back of his mind, but what?
“Please tell me your first guess,” the box said.
For lack of a better answer, Bacchus replied, “Jagermeister?”
“Your first guess is incorrect.”
Bacchus grabbed at his testicles, relieved to find them and his shaft intact.
“What can consume a man and not have had its fill? What grows larger when you feed it and when it is starved larger still? What drives a man to great lengths, but never reaches a destination? What rapids flow, what hurricane blows, what fire rages without cessation? The contented man knows nothing of me. What am I?” the box repeated.
Contented man, contented man, contented…the words rolled around the former god’s brain. If one is contented one doesn’t want for anything—Bacchus snapped his fingers. “Desire.”
The box sprang open into a smaller scale replica of the golden lotus inside the original box.
Furina snickered. “You know that kinda looks like—”
“I know, right?”
“Well, my work here is done.”
“Thank you so much.” Bacchus picked up the flower. “Now, how do I close the infernal thing?”
“I couldn’t tell you. I just crack ‘em, I don’t close ‘em.” Furina turned to pack up her things.
“How may I repay you?”
The goddess shouldered her bag of tools. “We can settle up once you get yourself back to your rightful place in the cosmos. Just trot that fine ass down to the Underworld and look me up.”
She winked at him and laid a hard slap on his firm buttocks.
“You know I’m more than happy to oblige.” Bacchus arched an eyebrow.
The Goddess of Thieves turned to leave, but stopped, then faced him again. “Oh and I don’t recommend opening the other one. There’s something really foul inside it.”
“Not to worry. The only thing I plan to do with that one is return it to its rightful owner.”
“Good deal,” she said, then disappeared without even rustling the drapes.