Off The Cretan Track chapter 10

Off The Cretan Track chapter 10

A Chapter by Repgreece

Nick has an ingenious idea


Sal swigged the second aspirin down with a gulp of orange juice and rested her head on the bar.

"Hey! No time for that," Nick said, digging her in the ribs and making her sit bolt upright on her stool. "You can't still be tired surely!"

She nodded guiltily.

"Oh, so you'll be too tired to hear about the adventure I had planned for us then."

"Adventure?" Her eyes widened with curiosity.

"Yes. But you'd be too tired for that," he repeated.

She grabbed his arm and looked up at him beseechingly. "Tell me about the adventure Nick, please."

"Well...if you can stay awake for long enough."

She nodded enthusiastically.

"Okay. We're going to enter a competition...well, sort of a competition anyway...or something like a quest."

Sal looked across at Ruth then who had overheard the tail end of the conversation and was approaching them with interest.

"Wow! A quest. That sounds like a real adventure!" Sal said, half with excitement and half wondering if Nick was pulling her leg.

"You don't believe me do you? Well, let me explain more," he said, settling on a bar stool and motioning for Ruth to move closer. "What do any of you two know about the Minotaur?"

Sal looked perplexed but Ruth stepped up to reply.

"He was a beast in Greek mythology wasn't he? Half man, half bull," she replied with a self-satisfied smile.

"That's right. Well done Ruth. And what is the connection between Crete and the Minotaur?" he challenged.

She thought for a moment and then her face broke out into a smile. "I've got it! The Palace of Knossos in Heraklion. Isn't that supposed to be where the Minotaur's Maze was?"

"Right first time." He looked impressed. "Know anything more about the myth?"

Ruth shook her head.

"I admit, I never listened to a thing in history lessons," Sal laughed.

"Well, you'd better listen carefully now because it just might help us with our quest."

Both Ruth and Sal looked fascinated.

"It all began in ancient Crete when king Minos was fighting for control of the island with his brothers. He turned to the gods for guidance and asked Poseidon..."

"Greek god of the sea!" Sal shouted out proudly.

"Yes, well done Sal... anyway, he asked Poseidon to send him a sign that he was the right person to rule and the god sent him a white bull."

Sal pulled a face. "I wouldn't have been very impressed with a white bull. I mean, if he was a god and all that, then he should have sent him an army of a trillion Hercules type men to smash the opposition to smithereens!"

"Well, he didn't Sal. And it seems that King Minos was very impressed with the bull because he was supposed to sacrifice it in the name of Poseidon but he kept it instead."

"Oops, not a good idea to go upsetting the gods. Don't tell me, he ended up with a lightening bolt in his back," Ruth chuckled.

Nick sighed. "Are you going to let me finish this story or not?"

"Sorry," Ruth said sheepishly.

"Anyway, you were right, Poseidon wasn't very pleased with Minos and so he made the King's wife fall madly in love with the bull."

Sal frowned. "Weird."

"Pasifae, that was her name, ordered the architect who later designed the Minotaur's Maze to make her a wooden cow..."

"Hmm, I don't like the sound of this," Ruth declared.

"Yeah... so, she climbs into the cow and...well, gets randy with the bull," he finished quickly.

"Eeeww!" both Sal and Ruth cringed.

"Anyway, the result of that was the half bull, half man beast called the Minotaur. When it grew up it became wild and ferocious and so that is why the king asked the architect Daedalos to build the labyrinth, or maze, to contain it in. Now the next part of the story has a few different versions, but basically, the Athenians killed king Minos's son and so Crete went to war with Athens and won. Minos then demanded that the Athenians sent seven youths and seven maidens every nine years to be the Minotaur's lunch, so to speak. Well eventually the Athenians got fed up with sending all their youths and maidens to be eaten by the Minotaur, and so they sent the hero Theseus to kill it instead. Luckily for Theseus, when he got there, the king's daughter Ariadne fell in love with him..."

Ahh," Sal sighed.

Nick laughed at her. "...she gave him a ball of thread which he tied to one end of the labyrinth so that he didn't get lost and he could find his way back. As you can guess, he killed the Minotaur and rescued all the other Athenians along the way."

"Hurray for Theseus!" Sal cheered.

"Great story Nick, but what has all this got to do with your 'quest?'" Ruth asked.

"Well, some historic evidence suggests that Theseus killed the Minotaur with a sword, however, historians now believe different," he explained.

"Hold on a minute," Ruth interjected, "you're talking as if this really happened. I for one have never seen any half men, half bull beasts anywhere on the island since I've been here!"

Sal chuckled. "I don't know, have you seen some of the men that go into Mardis Gras on a Saturday night?"

Nick rolled his eyes. "Of course it's not true but, the Greeks now want definite proof that the Palace Of Knossos was in fact the place where the myth originated from. At present, they have found no actual evidence in the palace itself to substantiate the claims, however they did find a huge fresco depicting a massive bull and there was also other evidence found with bull images on it. This fresco shows a man grasping onto the horns of the bull and leaping over it, either as some kind of bullfighting activity or as a religious ritual. Many people think that the bull in this picture is an image of the Minotaur, although it doesn't have the upper body of a man. In all, it seems as though the people of the palace actually did take part in bull wrestling and that this myth perhaps sprung up from one incident when a bull got loose, rampaging the palace and triggering off an appeal for its slaughter. One man captured and killed it and bingo, before they knew it the gossip had spread and everyone was told that Mr Joe Blogs, who nobody had ever heard of before, was the famous hero from legend and that he'd killed a ferocious beast which was half man, half bull."

"Ooh, the little liars! See what gossip can do?" Sal said, turning to Ruth.

"Still no more enlightened about this quest," Ruth sighed.

"Right, well, as I said earlier, historians now believe that Theseus, or Joe Blogs, didn't kill the Minotaur with a sword but with a double headed axe. Many images of double headed axes have been found in the palace and they apparently symbolised the king of the gods, Zeus himself. Evidence has now come to light to show that for some obscure reason the double headed axe which Theseus supposedly killed the Minotaur with, was hidden away some four thousand years ago, but still remains on the island somewhere to this very day." Ruth and Sal looked amazed. "We're going to find it!" Nick finished triumphantly.

"We are?" Sal gasped.

"Yes we are. We're going to find it because the carvings on the axe hold all the answers to the whole myth and will prove that the Minotaur's maze really is in the Palace of Knossos here on the island of Crete!"

"Wow! We'll be famous!" Sal exclaimed.

"Not only that, but we'll also get the reward money they're giving out to the people who find the axe first. The tourist board thinks that they can make a big thing out of this and that the publicity will flood the island with tourists all flocking to see the Minotaur's maze," he informed them.

"And that'll be good for me," Ruth added, "Especially when you're in here signing autographs for tourists!"

"Great, so all we need to do now is scour the entire island from top to bottom. Nick, did I happen to mention that we both have to be back for work at the weekend?"

"Well, I didn't plan on finding the axe today Sal. Big things happen with small steps," he said, waving a finger at her. "But, I just so happen to know where our first step will take us."

"Where?" Sal and Ruth asked at once.

"Matala," he announced.

"Matala?" Ruth frowned. "But that's miles away from Knossos."

"Yeah well, I figured that they'd already had a quick look around the palace for the axe before they set up this competition," he said sarcastically.

Ruth had to acknowledge his point. "Why Matala then?"

"Where is Matala?" Sal asked.

"It's in the south of the island, about seventy kilometres from Heraklion. But what interests me about Matala is that on the beach there is a series of caves carved into the cliffside, these caves were used as a Roman cemetery. Well, I was doing a bit of research on the Internet just now, and I noticed an article about the double headed axes and how when the Romans occupied the island they took many of these axes and kept them, believing that they would be a source of great strength and power. Also, since the axes were a symbol of the god Zeus, the Romans kind of thought that they would get in his good books by possessing them. Anyway, that reminded me of this Roman cemetery I've heard about in Matala. I mean the Romans were buried with these type of things, weren't they?"

"I suppose so," Ruth nodded.

"Well then, looks like we're going to Matala Sal."

"Looks like we are!" she grinned.

"I pick my new bike up in about an hour, will that give you enough time to get ready?" he asked Sal.

"Bike? We're going on your bike?" Sal looked shocked and a little uncertain.

"Sure, why not?" he replied.

"Well, I've never really been on a bike before. I mean, I've grabbed a lift across town on the back of a moped but that's about it," she said anxiously.

"You'll be fine Sal, I'll look after you. I've been riding a motorbike for years," he reassured her.

"Matala is a long way on a bike Nick, and you'll have to go across the mountains for part of the way too. It's quite remote up there," Ruth warned him.

"Well, we'll just have to go prepared then. It should take us about five hours but we can stop on the way and have a look around one of the little villages," he replied.

Sal looked at her watch. "Nick, we won't make it back here before dark if it's a five hour journey."

"I know, I thought about that, but then I figured that we could maybe stay the night in Matala and make our way back here tomorrow. It's not as if we have anything to rush back for, and Matala is supposed to be great in the evening. A lovely little place on the beach with cocktail bars and palm trees et cetera."

"Well... we could I suppose," Sal said, warming to the idea. "It would be almost like a mini holiday."

"Exactly. So are we going then Sal?" he asked expectantly.

"Let's do it!" she exclaimed jumping off her stool. "I'll have to pack some supplies for the journey though, you know drinks and snacks in case we need sustenance on the way. Oh and sun tan lotion..."

"And bring your bikini, the sea there is supposed to be great for swimming," Nick added.

"Yippee!" Sal cheered, jumping up and down with excitement and throwing herself into Nick's arms, "we're going on a quest!"

Nick laughed and looked astounded for a minute by Sal's enthusiasm. Then he closed his eyes briefly and put his head next to hers, holding her tightly and looking up to Ruth with a longing expression in his eyes. Ruth winked at him.

© 2011 Repgreece

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WEll i leanred something new today concerning greek mythology! ^^ LOl, I think ruth knows that nick likes sal now! can't wait to see wat their quest is going to be like!

Posted 10 Years Ago

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Added on July 9, 2011
Last Updated on July 9, 2011

Off The Cretan Track