Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogfest: Retold!

Sarah of The Wit and Wisdom is hosting today's blogfest in honor of her Blogiversary! The challenge was to retell a myth/legend/fairy tale, which I'll admit is kind of one of my favorite things to do. Head over to her blog and check out the other participants!

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.


  1. Soooo good! I have to admit, after I came up with my blogfest, I totally thought about you! Thanks so much for sharing this--I think you wrote it very well!

    :P Can I brag that I got to read the whole thing?

  2. hahaha. of course you can :) I'm glad you liked it twice :P Sorry I didn't come up with something you hadn't read yet :( NEXT TIME!

  3. Way cool Amalia. Your characters have such depth to them. I'm engaged immediately by every one of your scenes.

    Hurry and publish this so Sarah isn't the only one bragging (lol)


  4. I'm not familiar with the original tale, but I found your retelling enjoyable. :)

  5. Hi,

    Wonderful prose and story-telling at its best! Just loved it. ;)


  6. Lovely writing. Rich and colourful. I, too, am not completely familiar with the story, but it didn't matter.

  7. I TOTALLY LOVE ARIADNE! As I have said before, BRILLIANT stuff!

  8. Extraordinary. I was drawn in immediately even though I'm familiar with the myth and have an idea of what happens. It's not the story but how it's told that matters.

  9. I. Love. This. You're a brilliant writer. I can't wait to get caught up on life because I have stories to beg from you!!

  10. Donna: Thank you! This short story was kind of a side project related to Helen, but I'm REALLY pleased with how it turned out.

    Lovy: If you follow the blog I guarantee you'll learn the story eventually :) But I went over the myth in this post when I discussed The Hunger Games, if you're interested in learning more!

    it has spoilers for the first Hunger Games book below the myth, just so you know!

    Vicky: Thank you so much! I'm going to start submitting it to magazine so hopefully more will be available someday :)

    Francine: Thanks! I tried to comment on your blog but for some reason it wouldn't let me :(

    Wendy: Thank you! As I said to Lovy, you can find a summary of the Theseus myth at the above link, if you're interested! :)

    Mia: Awww shucks :) <3 I'm so glad!

    VR: Yay! Thank you! I think that Ariadne gets marginalized a lot, and certainly the Minotaur is presented so often just as some terrible monster with no actual life of his own. A shame, really! Thanks again :)

  11. Di! you snuck in while I was responding. Thanks!! But you never have to BEG! I am honored and happy to let you read and to read for you! :)

  12. Amalia... I lovvvvvvvvvvvve your writing! So descriptive. So evocative. So engaging. One day I hope I can write as well as you!

    I didn't have time to put anything together for the Fest, But I loved yours.

  13. That is one of the kindest compliments I have ever received. Thank you, Christopher!!

  14. This is wonderful - the marine imagery is so evocative but the stand out aspect for me is the sibling relationship & Ariadne's personality. Really fascinating take on that (I wrote a microfiction on Ariadne watching the Minotaur being born). Even just naming him makes him more a brother and less a monster. Marvellous!

    1. I loved your microfic about the birth of the Minotaur! I agree about the naming -- once I learned he HAD a name, the wheels just started spinning. It made him so much more human and real.


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