By: Jerome Brooke

Astarte the Divine, was one of the last of her race. Her kind had seeded many worlds with life, and had come to have power like unto the gods. By the arts they had earned, they were able to transit worlds, realms, time and planes of reality.

Hymns, Introduction, p. 3.

* * *

Divine Lady, I present you with this dispatch, and report that I have obeyed your command. Victory to you! By Order of Diogenas, Imperial Legate.

Imperial Annals, XX, p. 4539.

* * *

"Diogenas, I command you to ride to Dark Forest. The ruler of the Land of the Two Rivers has forbid the holy rites. Seek out those who are oppressed, and bring them hence," commanded Astarte the Divine.

"I shall find those who worship in the manner loved by the gods, Holy One!" I - the favorite of the Goddess - did promise.

"Ride out presently, dear one, to succor those who once roamed freely in the recesses of the wilds. I will await your return - tarry not on your way," the Lady did say unto me.

I gave my salute to the Divine Lady, and left her on her presence. I forthwith went to the courtyard of her palace, to find that the Royal Chariot did lie ready. I mounted the chariot, and signaled the charioteer to go forth. The shieldmaiden, with a glad heart, drove her team of four forward.

We sped forth, thru the Imperial City, and into the gardens outside the walls. As we rode, a blue myst rose, carried hence by the gale. Soon, all before my eyes was obscured, by the myst called forth by Astarte, in her power.

As the myst faded before me, we were in a strange land, one that I had never before dreamed. A dark forest rose before us, of twisted trees and low shrubs. As we drew near, I could hear the calls of songbirds, lost in the trees.

We stopped upon the banks of a rapid stream, strewn with rocks. As I slaked my thirst with the water from the stream, I did hear voices approach. I soon did espy a large band of women, coming towards me.

As the skyclad maids of the wilds came into the clearing, I could see that they did grasp strips of flesh, dripping blood.

"Who art thou?" I did ask of them.

"We are the Maenads, of the wilds of these parts. We praise in our songs Astarte, and all that are divine," one of the women sang out.

"I am an emissary of Astarte the Divine. You are commanded to follow me into the myst. You will dwell in the foothills near the Imperial City, and may there seek out your prey, and find such pleasure as ye may."

"Our fate is now that of exile. We are glad that you give us refuge, pretty lad," so spake the leader of the band.

The women then turned to the nearby water, to refresh themselves. I found the women alluring, with their dark hair and deep olive skin. I cast aside my tunic of white, and joined them in the swift current.

The women of the Mysteries soon found occasion to play, and sought my caress. On the rocks along the banks, they did me surround, a prisoner of wild passion.

At last, I was able to return to my chariot, embellished with gold and emeralds. I took a flute, given to me by one of the brazen band. I sounded a tune, as the charioteer traced the path to return.

The music aroused great passion in the women, and caused all to dance in wild abandon. The Maenads followed me thru the groves, with wild cries. We drove into the myst sent by the Divine Lady, into the garden land of home, and the low hills nearby.

Soon, the women of the band a line of beasts with brave antlers did see. With joy they did gave chase, as was their wont and pleasure.

Thus, the foothills became a land where hunters dared only if brave. Their fate, if seen, was either death like that of the beasts of the wilds, of to be used to give pleasure in the arms of the women.

The End

About the Author

Jerome Brooke was born in Evansville, Indiana. He now lives in the Kingdom of Siam. He has written our Lady of Silk and many other books. His work has been published in numerous journals, including Indigo, MelBrake Press blog, First Literary Review, Penny Ante, Conceit, Inquisition, and Mirror Dance.
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