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When I walk up the spiral stairs to Helen’s rooms – taking each long, sharp-cut stone step slowly in order not to wake her so that for a few brief moments I can watch her sleep – I find she is already awake. Naked, she stands outlined in the tall arched window, watching the sun rise to softly caress the many spires and crenellations of this most beloved of cities. In the slight wind coming off the sea, on which I can detect the scents of fire and rot and burnt meat corrupting the clean smell of salt, the gold drapes swell and gutter like candle-flames, and flare around Helen without quite daring to touch her.
Helen has not yet noticed my presence, and as always I feel my eyes drawn to her as if to a lodestone. She makes whatever room she enters smaller – no, small, simply by commanding the attention of every person in it. Even noble Hector is not entirely immune. This morning the sun lines her olive skin with soft golden edges, its rays are captured in the artful, artless locks of her night-black hair, its gaze feasts on her breasts and loins.
I am enraptured by the smooth curve of her spine, and the soft, slender flesh that curves in taut inverted bows to either side, the view alternately obscured and revealed by the tidal motion of her long hair. I am entranced by the lush curve of the backs of her breasts, protruding ever so delicately into the blessed space between the flawless arches of her back and the delicate musculature of her slender arms. The tiniest bump of her crooked elbow seems to call for hours of attention from my lips. Disregarding the possibility of self-immolation, I allow myself a fleeting glimpse at the perfect spheres of her buttocks, which swell close together with all the terrible majesty of the rocks between Scylla and Charybdis, that my friend and master will soon face.
The seamless, perfectly symmetrical curves that flow from Helen’s shoulders down her flanks and curve into those magnificent orbs continue flawlessly along her shapely, gamine thighs and calves, to finally reach apotheosis in her feet and toes. She is perfection, in even the most minuscule element. Men and women both have been brought to their knees in lust after a mere flash of cuticle. Her smooth skin has no blemish – no moles, no small, faint childhood scars, not a single freckle has dared form even under the sun’s lustful glare. There is not even the slightest variation in tone, not the merest hint of slackness or sag, though Helen has had two children – and one not an easy birth – and doesn’t hide from the sky like some of the other great women of this city.
In ten years, Helen has only grown more beautiful, and the tongues of the town, both gossips and the close-mouthed alike, have only wagged ever more fiercely. Last night, even in the kitchens of our own house, one of the guards, his beard running with beer foam and thick hunks of pork clotting his teeth, had looked around carefully and then whispered – loud enough for the whole room to hear, mind – “I hear no man can last more than one stroke in her cunny.”
The men in the room had sat in awed silence for perhaps a minute; the women struggling to stifle their giggles. Finally, Appolonia, a dressmaker with more eyes than teeth, revered more as a great lay than a great beauty, called out in a loud cackling voice: “Aye, Trocha, but you barely lasted one stroke with me last night!”
That set all the women off, which only encouraged Appolonia – “Am I right girls? These days, a man with a half-decent cock who can manage to keep rhythm for a couple of strokes is worth hanging on to!” – and sent Trocha reeling red-faced from the kitchen.
In actuality, only one man had known Helen in that way since she had come from her home to this city, and while he certainly didn’t last long in his visits to her, rumour had it that Paris didn’t last long with any woman. He was known as the great charging stallion – all heavy thrust and forceful strokes, and spent quickly.
Helen’s arms arched up in benediction to the topless towers of Ilium, and the shifting muscles of her back swept into a different, yet equally beautiful, configuration. She turned to me and I knew instantly that she had been aware of my presence since the moment I had crossed the threshold. One thing people forget about Helen is that beneath the perfection of skin and bone lay a mind equally rarefied – true beauty is, after all, a holistic quality, and this is the true difference between a beautiful woman and a merely pretty one.
She was not without her faults. She was undeniably selfish, and a dreadful mother – though what noblewoman wasn’t? – and she could be thoughtless of her effect on other people’s lives. The number of marriages she had damaged, merely by laying her hand on a man’s arm, almost equalled the pyres that burned daily outside the city’s walls. She was, however, almost preternaturally astute, even in such traditionally masculine pursuits as politics and war.
Then she turned towards me, and once more elmadağ escort the world seemed to shrink to the size of her face. A ballista could have shattered the tower around us, and I would not have noticed. Yet this morning, like every morning, the same thought passed almost involuntarily through my head. A thousand ships? I’d have demanded a thousand times that number. I wondered how Menelaus refrained from throwing himself against the great Scaean gates until they shattered with the force of his lust. I wondered how he had settled for gathering just the greatest army the world had ever known, and not forcibly conscripting every Greek citizen.
There are no words beautiful enough to describe the perfection of Helen’s face. The delicate eyebrows, slender black lines sculpted exactly to mesh the supple slope of her forehead with the great stars of her eyes. The eyes, themselves, huge and liquid, a thin moat of milk white containing a boiling brown that was at once kind and heart-bursting with sensual fire. Her inky pupils, which sparkle with wit and humour. The delicate slope of her nose, ending in a brief hop before the rosy grandeur of her full lips and the occasional pink flash of her slender, sharp tongue from between the ivory palisade of her teeth. The easy symmetry of her chin, made to be cupped by forefinger and thumb as you held her face up to smother in kisses. Even now, I can tell that the greatest poets will strive for millennia of millennia and still language will be unworthy of describing the curve of only one of her eyelashes. No – even the merest curl of one of the hairs on her loins will be beauty beyond the talents of the gods to equal in any form.
I have seen flames coil like golden serpents around the gleaming towers of the greatest city ever built by man, and watched in awe as they flailed at the stars, as if the death of the Universe was all that would slake their fury. I have seen my children fall from the womb and open their eyes and bawl in shock at the wonders of our world. I have stood on the tallest mountain in our land and, all alone on a perfectly cloudless night, have gazed for hours at the slow, eternal wheeling of the stars and wondered if perhaps there is a planet, equal in stature if not similar to our own, around which each one of these stars spin. And I know that were all that placed on one side of a scale, it would shoot skywards at the merest breath of Helen’s on the other side.
Without even seeing Helen, for ten years men have risked – and lost – life and limb and balls and stem, and not one, if given the choice, would have it any other way.
“Time for your bath, my lady,” I say, keeping my voice as soft and innocent as I can. If anything, this only becomes harder each morning.
“Oh, Hermaphra,” Helen says in her voice, which rings as clear and delicate as the soft chiming of crystal bells. “You must be so bored of caring for me each morning. Can you not once let another servant take your duties? Spend the morning curled next to a warm lover, or better – in a hot bath of your own?”
I smile as much as I dare, and some familiarity in her voice leads me to reply. “There is not a man or woman in Ilium, from the lowliest beggar to King Priam himself, that wouldn’t trade the world for one morning being me.”
Helen laughs, and anyone unfortunate enough to have heard it will now be fatally in love with her until they walk either blissfully in the Elysian Fields, or cold and alone in grey Hades. “I suspect Andromache would not agree with you. But come, it is a beautiful morning, and Paris will want me at least once before he meets Menelaus.”
At mid-morning, Paris and Menelaus were due to fight. It was, supposedly, to be one the great acts of Aristeia and, theoretically at least, could provide in one last death the conclusion to this endless war. In reality even the lowest of Ilium’s citizens knew that Paris was such an indifferent warrior that if he were to actually fight Menelaus, the older man would kill him in moments. What would happen was that Paris would take a couple of dents to his armour then run to Hector for protection. And Ilium would fall back within it’s great walls and the Greeks would retreat to their barricades, and both would be venally united in their desire to see Hector and Achilles fight instead. Even Cassandra – even Athena – would be unable to foretell the outcome of that battle.
As always, the other servants had finished filling the bath and left the wash room carrying their long train of urns just the moment before Helen entered. She slid into the water gracefully, and I watched the slow, easy rocking of the faint ripples against the marble. Helen moaned, and I was instantly aroused, already knowing what would happen next today.
For a few minutes, Helen lay perfectly still, her eyes closed, her body relaxed by the hot water, a nimbus of steam glowing around her. Her breasts were large – not as colossal or crude as a peasant’s breasts, esenyurt escort like Appolonia’s for example, but rather full and soft and as perfectly round and pale as a young moon. Her nipples perched on them daintily, like tiny pink pearls, and were surrounded by a circle of lighter pink a couple of finger-widths wide. Now a light rose blush warmed the tops of her breasts, perhaps in anticipation of her third husband’s visit, perhaps at the sensuous touch of the water. Her tiny nipples hardened almost imperceptibly – only my experience allowed me to detect their arousal.
Her left eye opened and looked at me, her lips curving in a smile. She nodded, and I dipped the sponge in the water. Sponges were a luxury now – the one supply the people of Ilium seemed not to have in greater abundance than their besiegers did. I started by running the sponge in long single strokes along her limbs. When I began serving Helen, after the disappearance of her first maid, I had been excessively gentle, and she had told me off. She liked to feel the roughness of the sponge; she didn’t like to be pampered like a yearling babe.
Again, Helen moaned, and had I less restraint I would have climaxed at the sensuality of that sound. Involuntarily, she rested one perfect hand on my rougher forearm, and my suspicion that this was going to be one of our special mornings was confirmed.
I washed her back next, letting the sponge circle over muscle groups and spiral down towards the delicate swell of her buttocks. Then she leaned back, and I began to sponge her breasts. Even through the sponge they felt magnificent. I washed the underside first, though caressed would be a more honest description. I continued this for an eternity, pausing only to remoisten the sponge, then I ran the sponge up the narrow cleft between her breasts and then slowly traced it down over one of her breasts. Helen’s eyes met mine, and for an instant I wondered if I had misread this morning’s signals. Then she spoke, low and throaty, “You’re invaluable Hermaphra. You seem to read my mind.”
I continued to pleasure her breasts for some minutes before I began my assault on her more intimate regions. I let the sponge slowly follow the contours of her soft torso, then scraped it in rough fast strokes over her upper thighs while my eyes devoured her cunt. Like almost all women, at least all wealthy women, the only hair on Helen was that on her head. I did not have the pleasure of shaving her – that blessing went to one of her body servants.
Helen’s cunt was as cursedly perfect as the rest of her. The outer lips were the exact shade of the rest of her body, tidy, tight and symmetrical. I parted them with my fingers and, all thought of the sponge forgotten, let my free hand play with her breasts. The inside of her cunt was the most beautiful pink, and my tongue rushed to taste it.
In long laps, I soaked up the sweet taste of Helen, and she urged me on with her graceful cries of pleasure. When I applied my tongue to the hard little nubbin that dwelt there, and entered her with my fingers, she began to gasp. Almost immediately, I felt her body tense under my hands. The water in the bath rocked sharply and some spilled out onto the tiles and soaked my tunic where I had gathered it to relieve the pressure on my knees. I let my ministrations slowly diminish, until I was merely slowly swirling one finger around the nipple of her left breast.
“Oh, Hermaphra,” Helen said quietly, “why don’t any men know about that little bud in the centre of our roses?”
“I’m sure some do,” I replied.
“Have you ever met a man who touched you there?” Helen asked, and there was just the hint of slyness in her voice.
“No,” I told her, completely truthful. “But as Appolonia says, we live in hope.”
“Ah, Appolonia,” smiled Helen. “If even half the whispered stories the servants think I don’t hear are true, this war should be fought over the right to her affections.”
As I said, Helen was not without her flaws, and I absorbed this last thoughtless remark silently. Then she surprised me. Her beautiful face became, without a single wrinkle forming or even any noticeable change in gaze of visage, unutterably sad and thoughtful, and almost beneath even my exceptional hearing, I heard her repeat “hope” questioningly.
“Come, Hermaphra. Paris will be here soon, and our little diversion has not helped me get ready,” she told me with excessive formality.
We returned to her bedroom. Once dry, I rubbed honey into Helen’s skin to moisturise it. Then I spread the rose-petal infused olive oil over her body, perfuming her skin and making it glimmer. Helen didn’t require the white lead as some ladies did, but I did mix some charcoal with olive oil in a mortar and use it lightly to shadow her eyes, and dab a little redding on her lips. Of course, Helen needed none of these embellishments, but she liked to show Paris that even after ten years her passion for him had etiler anal yapan escort not dimmed. Whether this was true or not was another matter, but given the hardships of the past decade, a little show of affection was perhaps essential for morale.
Paris walked in just as I was leaving. He was naked, his cock already turgid with anticipation – how many husbands are still so hungry for their wives after ten years? Much has been said about Paris’s cock. Some claimed that, in order to snare Helen, it must be bigger than a bull’s. Others, perhaps jealously, claimed that it was tiny and that Helen had been drawn to his beauty – not the masculine counterpart of her own, but nonetheless prodigious. In truth, Paris’s cock was utterly average in every way. Helen had nothing to complain about, but also nothing to boast about with the other ladies, and having heard some of their more private conversations, they did talk about such things. Hector, Andromache proudly reported, was extremely well endowed. But then Andromache had never forgiven Helen for the danger in which the latter had put the former’s beloved husband.
In any case, as I exited the room, Paris was entering Helen, each thrust made with furious force, accompanied by a loud growling grunt. In turn, Helen moaned softly. I noticed that her moans now were different from those she had made under the touch of my fingers and tongue.
It was my intention to tell only the parts of this story that I have personally witnessed, and those with complete truthfulness, but I find that already I have lied, albeit mainly by omission rather than commission. Paris may be a quick and rough lover, but he is not the only man to touch Helen’s sacred flesh.
Allow me to properly introduce myself – I am Polymachus, friend of Odysseus, former Myrmidon and presently a failed murderer. My stint as maid to Helen of Ilium began when crafty Odysseus, longing for his Penelope, ordered me over the walls of Ilium to kill the woman whose marital problems had changed the structure of power in the Greek isles.
Getting over the walls was easy, for one man at least. I circled the city to the side opposite the Greek camps, put an arrow through a sentry’s eye, then climbed the walls. I dropped the sentry in a cesspool in a slum area then followed the map Odysseus’s spies had provided to Helen’s house.
The guards were lax, but numerous, so I climbed to the roof of the house nearest Helen’s, then jumped across to her balcony. I drew my dagger, the blade dulled by oil so that it wouldn’t catch the moonlight, and stepped carefully into her bedchamber. She lay naked on the bed, asleep alone and bathing in the moonbeams. I knew immediately that I would never be able to kill her. I approached her bed and carefully touched her cheek, which was as smooth and soft as a ripe peach. Then I left, just as stealthily as I had entered.
There will never be another city to rival Ilium. Only in the final hours of the night do the streets calm at all, and even then the taverns and brothels still spill their light onto the streets and ring with the sounds of carousal and sex. With dawn, the traders set up their stalls, and the wide streets fill with people, all so acclimatised to the impossibly tall buildings that they don’t even look up. My first few days, wandering Ilium and carefully discovering the composition of Helen’s staff and the routines of the house, I developed a crick in my neck and I nearly lost my purse to a thief, whose hand I grabbed at the last possible moment. I decided that with my youthful appearance I could, with careful preparation each day, pass for a woman – though a spectacularly ugly woman – and that this would give me the easiest access to Helen. The guards, one of whom it was my initial intent to replace, never saw her. So, I set out to become one of Helen’s maids.
It was in a tavern that I finally ran into the woman who had my job before me. She was being plied with drinks by every man in the bar, and every person there hung on the clumsy words she used to describe her mistress’s body. I forced my way into the inner circle through the judicious use of my elbows and knees and stared with an entirely artificial hunger at the woman.
She was a plump, uncomely woman, almost completely round, with huge round breasts and enormous hips. At some time her nose had been broken and poorly set, and her lips wriggled like satiated leeches as she talked. Drink spilled down her front and sprayed her listeners as she never stopped talking. Then she noticed me staring at her. Her monologue slowed as she inspected me.
I, due to my rigorous Myrmidon’s training, had a better body than any of her other admirers, slender and quick, and well muscled. I was younger too, and much more handsome. She looked questioningly at me, and in response, I licked my upper lip quickly and grabbed at my crotch. To the protests of the rest of the crowd she said that she had to get back, and left. I followed her out, and searched the streets for her, wondering where she had gone, fearing she had sensed my real intentions.
From a nearby alley I heard a low whistle. I walked in carefully, my eyes slowly getting accustomed to the dark until I could see the gigantic shape of the woman. Then she pressed me against the wall.
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