My offering is an excerpt from my retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Labyrinth, told from Ariadne's perspective. Theseus has just arrived in Crete with the other tributes from Athens, and Ariadne as high priestess has called him to an audience. I hope you enjoy it!
Ariadne sent the rest of the slaves away and rose, smoothing the tiered skirt over her hips. The fabric glittered with gold and silver threads, finely woven into cresting waves, leaping with dolphins. Scallop shells of deep blue marked the hem. Fitting that she would meet the son of Poseidon dressed in the sea.
She poured two cups of wine with her own hands, pleased to see they did not tremble. At last she raised her eyes to the Athenian. He stood still as stone, his hands tied together before him. Even bound, she saw Poseidon’s grace in the lines of his body, and a confidence that made her wonder if he could free himself any time he wished. When her eyes reached the golden collar fitted to his neck, her face flushed and her nails bit into her palms.
She unlatched the collar, flinging it from him before fumbling with the ropes. She tore at the knots, careless of her nails. Freed, he caught her by the wrists, his long fingers circling both in one hand. She raised her eyes to his, understanding too late her error. If Poseidon sought to punish Crete, the god had no reason to spare her.
His blue eyes filled her vision, an ocean dappled by sunlight and gulls laughing in the water. The sound of waves crashing against the shore whispered in her ears. How could Minos have doubted the name of his father?
“You called me here to free me?”
She stared at him a moment longer, unable to look away from his face. “A son of Poseidon should not be chained like a slave.”
His eyes narrowed and his gaze swept over her, lingering on her chest before rising again to her face. “But a prince of Athens should share the fate of his people. I am promised to the Labyrinth and the Minotaur within.”
“You’ll kill him.”
He let her go abruptly, throwing her from him, but she did not trip or stumble. The Goddess left her with at least that much dignity. He seemed to know the room in one glance, moving to the balcony that opened out over the maze.
She let him look his fill, watching the way the muscles of his back and shoulders tensed beneath the bronze skin. His right hand closed as if it wrapped around a sword and a strangled noise escaped her throat. How many times had she seen Asterion make the same gesture, begging for death?
Theseus turned, his forehead creased. He opened his hand, jerking it behind his back as if she had caught him trying to steal bread from the kitchen before a meal. She stepped forward, taking his hand in hers and gently closing his fingers around the missing hilt.
“You must kill him,” she said, staring at his hand. “Please.”
With a finger beneath her chin, he raised her face to his, catching her eyes, searching them. No gulls sported in the waves of that ocean’s gaze now, but the whisper of the seashore came to her again. Water driven against the land, determined to wash it away with every stroke. As Crete would be washed away by the will of the gods.
“Even if I do.” He spoke so softly she almost did not hear him. “Even if I defeat the Minotaur, I will still be lost to the Labyrinth.”
She released his hand and stepped back. “I can show you the way out.”
He shook his head, his hand falling limp to his side. “You betray your people to help me.”
“I serve the gods,” she said. “As you do.”
“I will need a sword.”
“You will have it.”
He clenched his fist, turning back to the maze. Dusk had settled over the palace, turning the sky purple and framing him in the glow of the setting sun. It would be an honorable death for her brother, to be killed by Poseidon’s own blood. An honorable death, to make up for all that Asterion had suffered in the Labyrinth. A final blessing from the gods.
“So be it,” Theseus said.
Ariadne let out a breath she had not realized she was holding.
For you, Asterion. For everything Minos has done to you. For every insult he has shown us both. For you, I will help Theseus destroy us.
Outside, the Minotaur howled and the great walls of the Labyrinth groaned in response.