The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors (halfshellvenus) wrote,
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus

Idol Survivor: "The Warrior's Tomb"

The Warrior's Tomb
idol survivor | individual immunity #7 | 614 words
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The maze was a myth—
a mere dungeon,
whose only monster
was the merciless
passage of time.

Chained to the wall,
head heavy with dream torpor
and the ghosts
of abandoned hopes,
Theseus was but a shell,
the hollow wreck that remained
of the Athenian prince
he had been so long ago.

He struggled to recall
the quest he'd chosen
all those years long past,
strained and grasped
at the timeworn threads
of its meaning, all fallen
to the fate of forgetting
and being, himself, forgotten.

Then he wrestled forth
the ragged words of legend,
Athens' tribute to Crete
the annual blood-price paid
to keep the curse
of pestilence and famine
from ravaging her lands.

Theseus had vowed
to become her savior,
that no future sons or daughters
should be given forth to die.

He had thought himself
clever, posing among
the handsome youths
sent to slake
the hunger of the beast
birthed by Minos's Queen.
But the King had seen
the truth of him, known
Aegeus's son as surely
as his own lost prince.
Minos rejoiced at having
the chance at last
to wreak his bitter measure
of revenge.

Treachery had conquered
Theseus's armor of hubris
long before the battle
had even begun.

He'd been thrown into prison
(how many seasons had it been?)
and never learned the fate
of the other tributes.
Perhaps they toiled
in the fields of the King,
or in the bedrooms
of his subjects.
Theseus alone
languished within the walls
of the dank rooms
that held him captive
to Minos's wrath
for all eternity.

The King's daughter, Ariadne
(a strange and beautiful girl),
had pitied him once,
sewn a golden garment
to help keep the cold away.
Rats had climbed the length of it,
chewing and unraveling it
to steal for their nests.
The few sad threads
now glinting against the dirt
were all that remained
of the kindness she'd once shown.

He should have wooed her
better, promising the moon
or even marriage
in the hope of enticing her
to aid in his escape.
But he was already tired
then, already broken
by his first failure
(and beginning to wonder
if it would also be his last).

He had not foreseen
the grim reality destroying him now:
the truth had deserted him—
the gods forsaken him—
for Crete had never held anything
but the promise of his undoing.

The Minotaur, too, was a lie,
unless the brute who lashed him—
bullheaded and cruel,
mighty as an ox—was more
than the keeper
of King Minos's foes.

A beardless boy
when the tale of Crete ensnared him,
Theseus was old and weary now,
no part of him left
that still hoped
or wanted to survive.
The meat of him remained,
though scant and sinewed.
The years had devoured
only the youth
of the ruined man
now crumbling
beneath the cobwebs
of this bricked-in, skyless Hell.

But Ariadne returned
one fevered night,
her rose-colored robes
and lustrous hair
a shining sun
that beamed through his soul
and into the depths
of his very bones.

"Is it you?" Theseus asked.
She spoke not a word,
simply unlocking
and then opening
the rusted doors
that barred his escape
from that wretched cell.

Overcome with relief,
he rose up like a boy,
his movements as light
and wondrously free
as the warrior-athlete
he once had been.
He trailed after her, through
the passages and doorways
of the King's dungeon,
following the golden thread
of her as she floated along.

Then he came at last
to the world outside,
so beautiful he hardly noticed
the extent of his escape
as he left
the prisons of his cell
and earthly body
there behind him.


--/--

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**Some notes on this entry:

Most people are familiar with the Minotaur of Greek myth, the monstrous half-man/half-bull who lived at the center of the labyrinth King Minos built to contain him on the island of Crete . The Minotaur fed off of the maidens and young men who were sacrificed in tribute to him each year, until he was slain by Theseus, a heroic warrior who then escaped the maze by traveling backwards following the line of thread he had unwound on the way in. The ball of thread was given to him by the King's daughter, Ariadne, who had fallen in love with him.

Other details of the myth are usually forgotten. The young men and women were sent by King Aegeus of Athens (possibly to lift a curse of starvation and disease) in recompense for King Minos's son having been murdered in Athens. Aegeus's own son, Theseus, went to Crete posing as of one of the male tributes one year, so that he might kill the Minotaur and end the sacrifices forever. In return for Ariadne's help (and betrayal of her half-brother and her country), Theseus promised to take her back to Athens with him and marry her. He began the return journey to Athens with her at his side, but stopped at the isle of Naxos and abandoned her there.

In some versions of the myth, Theseus leaves Crete with Ariadne and her sister Phaedra, and makes Phaedra his queen instead. But there is no version in which he fully keeps his promise to Ariadne.

This poem twists the story into an entirely new direction. What if King Minos, still furious over the death of his son, had invented the tale of the Minotaur and the needed sacrifices in the hope of eventually luring Aegeus's arrogant, boastful, monster-slaying son to his doom?


Tags: my_fic, original_fiction, poem, real lj idol
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