"... the hero Theseus, having killed the Minotaur, was reunited with Princess Ariadne. They fled to his ship and sailed with the dawn, leaving turmoil behind them.
"The Gods were angry, especially mighty Poseidon, ruler of the waves. Theseus' ship was dashed this way and that, finally fetching up on the island of Naxos. When he could Theseus borrowed a ship from the King of Naxos, sailing to his native Athens and promising to return for Ariadne. In his haste he neglected to change his sail. His father, seeing the approaching ship, and seeing a black sail instead of a white one, flung himself from the heights in despair. With his death Theseus became King of Athens."
Caroline closed the book, looking at the little girls clustered around her in the common room. "It's time you should be going home," she said. "Story time is over."
"But what of Princess Ariadne?" one little girl asked, stubbornly refusing to move from her place on the floor. "He went back for her, didn't he?"
Caroline nodded, smiling. "Of course he did, and they lived happily ever after."
The little girl's eyes lit up and she sighed happily. After a moment she got up and fetched her coat. Her mother was waiting for her at the door. The little girl waved at Caroline as they headed into the late afternoon.
"And so we stagger through another day," Roxanne said as she began to pick blankets from the floor. During the day the Women's Co-op was a day care, and when her classes permitted, Roxanne helped out.
Caroline groaned as she stood. She had been sitting cross-legged on the floor and her knees popped and cracked as she straightened them. "I'm too young for my knees to be giving out on me," she said.
"What really happened with Theseus and Ariadne?" Roxanne asked. Cheryl had joined them by then and was folding and putting away the blankets while Roxanne swept.
"I don't remember." Caroline shook out a blanket, folded it and added it to the pile. "It's been so long since I took Greek Mythology that I don't remember. Why don't we..."
"... ask Kalliste?" Roxanne said. "Sure." She laughed. "I bet her version isn't the same as the one in the books."
"We won't know until we ask her." Cheryl paused, looking out the window. "Speaking of Kalliste, here she comes."
Kalliste Periakes was walking down the street, eating an apple and reading a magazine. Her dark hair floated in the air behind her as she unconsciously moved around the people on the sidewalk.
"Hi, Kalli," Roxanne called as Kalliste pushed through the front door. "What're you reading?"
"Something my friend Davatos wrote," Kalliste said. She took a final bite of the apple and pitched the core in the nearest trash can. "He's been tracking the earliest settlements in the Andaman Islands and is dating the first major migrations to..." Her voice wound down and she smiled sheepishly at the others. "Sorry."
Roxanne grabbed the magazine. "How many languages do you read?" she asked as she leafed through it. "And what's this written in?"
"Sanskrit," Kalliste said. She was a young looking woman of indeterminate age, with wide eyes, a small nose, and a generous mouth. Now she glanced around the room. "What's going on? Everyone is looking at me like they're expecting something."
"Caroline was reading the story of Theseus and Ariadne during story time today," Roxanne said. "Since you're from Greece, and you've had access to all of those archaeology libraries that most people aren't allowed in to, we thought you might know what really happened, not the fable she was reading."
"Nope," Kalliste said with a slight shake of her head. "Theseus ran off with Ariadne, they got away through trickery, he abandoned her on Naxos and he spent his whole life regretting that decision." She picked up her magazine and headed for the back room. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got my Intro to Archaeology papers to grade."
"That's not the version of the story that's in this picture book," Caroline said, holding up the book she'd been reading to the kids.
"Children's fables," Kalliste said. "What do you expect? They always have a happy ending."
"And I suppose yours doesn't," Caroline said. "I suppose the version you know is filled with the old gods and things like that."
Kalliste turned, looking at the other women in the room. "You're right, Caroline," she said at last, "the version I know is not something you put in books for young girls. Are you sure you want to hear it? It's not something I'd tell a young girl, there's nothing in it she could build her dreams on."
"We're all adults around here," Roxanne said. "I think we could handle it." She made herself comfortable on the floor as other members of the Co-op drifted in. Everyone loved hearing Kalliste's stories, especially the ones that retold other, more famous stories. "I always enjoy a good love story."
Kalliste gave her a bitter smile.
Did Theseus really think he could get away by sea? Against ships crewed by the Sea King's sailors? No Athenian born could match the sailors of K'ftiu, and sailing at night wouldn't work, the crews of M'Nos were more handy at sea than any Argive crew that ever left land. The sea belonged to we K'ftiu, Theseus knew it, and planned accordingly.
The legend says P'sudi shielded Theseus and his crew, enabling them to get away. But why would He abet stealing the Sea King's daughter, a priestess consecrated to Him? Few know it, but They do not work that way. They are powerful, but there are limits to Their power in our world. No, when They want work done like this they use mortals to do Their work.
I have been in Her service my entire life. I have done things at Their behest I have not understood, I have done things for Them that have been a joy and a pleasure, and I have done things for Them I understood all too well and found distasteful. But my opinions in Their affairs matter no more than the opinions of the hammer you pick up to drive a nail. I am the Lady's tool, Her instrument in our world. She relies upon me to do a good job, even if I sometimes do not care for the tasks She has given me.
She relies upon me to remember the little things, to caulk the seams as it were. It was not enough that I corrupted the guards around the House K'Nos, and it was not enough that I bribed the commander of the Night Watch to reassign the guards so ones more susceptible to drink were on duty that night. It was not enough that I arranged a liaison with a pretty girl for the guards watching over the Athenians. It was not enough I helped Ariadne tie yarn in the storage chambers below the House K'Nos so Theseus could find his way to her through that maze of passages to where Ariadne awaited him. Nor was it enough that when she was a little girl I had turned Ariadne's head with tales of romance and foreign adventure so she would lose her heart to Theseus when she first saw him. Those things were not enough to assure the task I performed for Her would succeed.