Bacchus watched Furina--patron goddess of thieves--study the little ornate box with a powerful magnifying glass. She popped her chewing gum and let out a low whistle.
“This isn’t your run of the mill magical object. Where the hell did you get it? —On second thought, don’t tell me,” the Goddess of Thieves said.
“And you’re sure this one is Arianna’s?” Bacchus asked.
“Yup, her name is engraved in really tiny ancient Greek letters on the bottom. The other one has no name on the bottom and something inside it is saying the most obscene things. You don’t hear that?”
“No. Can you open hers?”
“I won’t guarantee that I can, but I’ll take a crack at it.”
She reached into her bag and pulled out a hammer that looked suspiciously like that of a certain Norse god.
“Please, don’t smash it open. I need to be able to close it and lock it again.”
“Ha,” Furina barked. “You don’t make things easy for a gal.”
She continued to chew her gum furiously.
“May I offer you a lager? Lambic? Boilermaker?” Bacchus asked.
Furina shook off the question. Her fingers tapped out esoteric rhythms and calculations.
“You said this thing is made of hope?” she asked.
“So I’m told.”
The brilliance of inspiration sparked in her golden eyes. She pulled a dark orb about the size of a peach from her satchel, slammed it against the wall, then shook it. Pure luminescence bathed the room in a blinding white glow. Furina pushed the orb through the wall of the box and examined it again under the magnifying glass.
“I got you now, you tricky little box,” she said.
Bacchus hovered over Furina’s shoulder. “What’d you find?”
“You see that pinpoint of light. That’s the keyhole.” A wistful smile stole over her cupid’s bow lips. “I don’t suppose you have the freakin’ key.”
“That would be a big no on that one.”
“Why am I not surprised? You have a needle of Athena?”
“Where would I get a Phoenix feather in South Beach?”
“Okay, how about a satyr hair?”
“That I’m sure I can lay my hands on.”
He headed down the hall of the condo, passing the room in which Arianna still slumbered, Bacchus gave into the urge to peek in on her. Though her chest rose and fell with even measure, he couldn’t help but be concerned. She was going on day two of this comatose state, but Pan had assured him she was alive and well, just deeply sedated, cradled in the beauty of warm, peaceful dreams. With any luck, she’d be free of all of life’s suffering when Pan administered the antidote to the draught.
From the shower drain, Bacchus plucked the makeshift passkey Furina had requested. Once equipped with the hair, she picked the lock with ease. A miniature keyboard, identical to the one he’d seen at the Hall of Earthly Gifts appeared.
“You gotta be friggin’ kidding me.” Furina grimaced. “And let me guess, you’ve no clue as to the combination.”
“You’re guess is correct,” Bacchus said.
Though she affected an annoyed demeanor, a twinkle in her eye told Bacchus the Goddess of Thieves enjoyed the challenge presented by the box.
She pulled a golden snail shell from her supplies and pushed it into her ear. Working methodically she tapped each one of the keys while she held the box close to her cheek.
“We’re in luck. The keys control tumblers. Give me a little while and I’ll crack the combo for you. You have something to write with?” Furina asked.
Bacchus refilled his stein and returned with a notepad and pen for his accomplice.
“So once I enter the combination, what’s the third obstacle?”
“And how did you know there’s a third obstacle?” Bacchus asked.
“It’s a divine object. Of course the obstacles will come in a group of three. It’s not going to explode or shrivel my genitalia or anything like that, will it?”
“No, nothing like that. It’ll ask you a riddle and I think I have the answer, unless the riddle’s different from the box I saw opened.”
“And if I get the answer wrong?”
“That I can’t say. I don’t think anything will happen, but maybe we shouldn’t assume shriveled genitals are out of the question.”
“Thanks for the heads up.”
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.”