Part One: A Crime in the CourtOver the years, I found many surprising facets to my gift. One of these discoveries was that the degree of my Touch controlled the transmutation process. A firm grasp of my hand and the change happened almost instantly. But the light brush of a fingertip could slow the resulting process to a snail's pace.
I also found that different substances underwent the change in different ways. For example, a light Touch on the rind of a melon caused first the rind to change, then the pulp and finally the seeds. All in all, the process could take minutes if my Touch was applied lightly enough.
I made quite a show of this discovery. In court I would don a special pair of my silken gloves. These gloves had a tiny hole cut in one fingertip -- a hole so small that just the barest piece of my flesh could emerge from the golden gap. Once these gloves were properly fitted, I would summon an attendant with a basket of eggs. With a flourish, I would lightly grab an egg and display it to the surrounding crowd. Then, as they watched the shell turn to gold, I would crack the egg and pour the still liquid contents into a cooking pan. This would always bring applause from my people. And often applause would turn to cheers if my cook could quickly fashion an omelet before the hen's gold turned to the real thing.
You may think I digress with this trifling tale, but it's relevance will all too soon be clear. For now I turn to the story of Lyssa.
Lyssa was the daughter of one of my noblemen, Aetes. Barely 19 years of age, she was a beautiful girl, tall and thin, with long, dark hair and eyelashes that could catch a man's attention from across a canyon. Her bright smile and warm manner attested to a heart as beautiful as the body that contained it. She was a favorite of mine in court as a girl and we remained close as she grew to adulthood. She spent many a day with me and I was always careful to keep on my gloves, since our relationship was that of dear friends and an occasional touch of familiarity was inevitable. At times I would entertain her with my Touch. But while others often laughed and squealed at my auric antics, she often looked on in silent awe. We never discussed it, but I was sure that she was captivated by the power given to me.
One day as I strode to my throne, I stopped thunderstruck with shock. My beloved Anteia was gone! I quickly summoned my guard and questioned them under pain of transmutation. All said they had seen nothing unusual the night before, just the comings and goings of the members of the court and servants. I dispatched my men to search my entire kingdom. The statue must be found!
The search continued for days with no results. Then, one morning, as I sat glumly on my throne, a messenger on horseback thundered up to the palace. Anteia had been found! And to my shock, her golden body was discovered concealed at the house of one of my most trusted friends, Aetes, the father of the lovely Lyssa! It seems he was so taken with Anteia's raw beauty, that his passion overwhelmed him. He hired men to conceal her under a pile of linens one night and deliver her to his castle. When my guards broke in to discover her there, Aetes did not even notice their noisy entrance, so enamored with her beauty was he.
My guards brought Aetes to me in chains. His head hung low with shame and he could not look at me. My head was low too, for I had decreed that anyone caught disturbing the resting place of any of my statues faced transmutation himself. And for Aetes, this was very bad news indeed. It seems that Bacchus's cruel sense of humor had once again shown itself. For you see while my Touch gave women the ultimate thrill of sexual pleasure, it caused quite the opposite effect in men. Any man Touched by me would undergo unimaginable agony until the process was complete. This was the fate staring at my old friend.
As Aetes came to me, I knew not what to say. I could not invalidate my own degree. Yet, I could not subject my friend to this torment. I asked him if he could suggest an alternative punishment. He shook his head slowly. Nodding, I took off my glove and reached toward him. As my finger neared his tear-stained cheek, a cry pealed out from the back of the court. It was Lyssa. "Midas!" she cried. "Wait! I have an alternative." Relieved, but also anxious over what Lyssa could mean, I retreated to my antechamber to hear the girl's plan.
Lyssa could not look me in the eyes either, but she began to speak haltingly. "Please do not condemn my father to an agonizing death. He could avoid his passion no more than I can avoid mine." She looked up at me with pleading eyes that held yet another emotion. "Dear Midas, take me instead," she blurted in a strained whisper.
"What?..." I didn't understand.
"Please give me your Touch."
"But, Lyssa, why? Why do you crave it?"
"Midas, can't you see? I'm in love with you. Yet I know I can't have you as long as the Queen lives. Still this may be the way I find my bliss."
I still didn't understand what she was trying to say. Looking in my eyes, she saw this.
"Midas, my love, don't you see? I want you to make love to me. And in the throes of our passion, bestow your gift upon me. In this way, we both get what we want. I get a night with the man I love, and you can carry out the proscribed sentence for the theft of your statue."
I was speechless. Yes, I understood the passion Lyssa felt for me. And yes, I wanted to return that feeling. The fact that she was willing to give her life for her father endeared her to me even more.
I looked in her eyes and in that moment we both knew we had an agreement. The liaison was to happen the very next night.
Part Two: A Magical EveningAs I prepared to meet Lyssa, I had an idea. If I were to use my special glove and take care with my Touch, this could be a very magical night indeed. But I decided to keep my plan from the girl, all the more to enhance her experience.
She arrived more radiant than I had ever seen her. You could see in her eyes that this was a night she had anticipated for some time. Her long brown hair was delicately combed, her skin perfumed, her nails buffed. She was a woman meeting her lover for a first and final rendezvous.
We didn't speak, just drank in each other with our eyes. As we moved to the bed, I slipped on the special glove with the pinprick hole in the fingertip. Lyssa's ecstasy would come slowly tonight.
As she slipped out of her gown, her skin glowed with its own light. So radiant was she that I almost feared that I had touched her accidentally. We kissed and caressed and whispered as lovers do. She was enraptured by the experience and savored it totally. After what seemed like hours of intimate embrace, she took my face in her hands, pulled it up to hers and said softly, "It's time."
I nodded and climbed on top of her. She reached out to me and as I entered her, she moaned, low and sweet, the cry of great anticipation realized. As we rode in rhythm, her eyes looked up to me longingly. She craved the Touch and I could deny her no longer. But she had no idea the experience I had in store for her.
With my gloved hand, I reached for her face. She accelerated the motion of our lovemaking in anticipation. But at the last moment, before my finger reached her face, I moved it aside and ever so lightly brushed her hair.
We both gasped, Lyssa in pleasure and me in delight, as I watched her long dark hair turn to lustrous gold. But only her hair! My plan was working. The lightest touch through my special gloves had caused only her hair to change. And not just the hair on her head, but all the fine hairs on her body! Her skin glistened in a thousand places as her sparkling hairs caught the candlelight. Her golden eyelashes flashing fire as she stared at me in amazement.
Lyssa had anticipated a full transformation, but instead felt a tremendous surge of pleasure as her hair transmuted. She increased the pace of her pumping as I did mine. She moaned from a deep place inside of her and grunted one word, "More."
I obliged. I next reached for one of her hands. But instead of grasping her skin, I reached instead for one of her long slender nails. Again the lightest Touch from my gloved hand and her nails turned to golden daggers which she plunged into my back to keep our motion accelerating. She squealed in pleasure and once again grunted, "More."
This next Touch was going to be the most difficult. As I had once done with an onion, I was going to attempt so light a Touch to her skin as to change only one layer to gold while her internal being remained flesh. I slowed my pumping to steady my hand. She slowed with me, having difficulty in her pleasure-induced haze understanding what I was going to do next. With the greatest care and infinitesimal precision, I let one cell of my finger touch one cell of the silken skin of her breast.
I thought I had touched too firmly because she immediately stopped moving and gasped. I watched as the circle of gold spread slowly from her nipple, encompassing her chest, her stomach, legs and finally her gorgeous face. But to my utmost delight, as soon as the transformation was complete Lyssa gasped for air, howled with pleasure and began pumping like she never had before. I could still feel the warm flesh of her womanhood around me and I knew my plan had worked to perfection.
But I also knew that we had little time left. For as slow as the process had been up to now, there was very little left of my beloved left to transmute. The cumulative effect of my three Touches would slowly work on her entire body until she became solid gold. I redoubled my effort to please her.
It soon became apparent that she could not keep up with my thrusting. As layer after layer of her skin began to harden her movements slowed. She was having a very difficult time keeping in rhythm with me as her body solidified, but it was obvious she was nearing a pinnacle of ecstasy. As her movements became stiff and jerky she too realized the end was near. She grasped my face once again in her now golden hands and pulled it to hers. Her teeth were already gold and a golden tint covered her tongue and eyes. Through darkening vision, she gazed into my eyes and struggled to speak. "My beloved, you have given me the greatest gift." She could barely move her mouth now and she breathed her words with scarcely a whisper. "Your face shall be frozen forever in my eyes and your name shall be ever on my lips."
With that she became solid gold and spoke no more. I looked down at her golden body and pulled myself free from the hard mound that was once her womanhood. A tear dropped from my face and ran quickly down the smooth surface of her breast.
"My love, it is you who have bestowed a gift upon me. The gift of your eternal beauty and the memory of this night."
I exiled Aetes the next day, telling my subjects that in my mercy I could not touch him. But I warned all that future transgressors would feel my wrath, literally.
To this day, the statue of Lyssa has been seen by no one. It remains
in my private chamber, off limits to all, even the Queen. I spend many
nights there. Most people think I spend those nights alone.
Read "The Touch" by ASL