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The Blind Harper Of Kriti Pt 2: The Road To Knossos

“I don’t care who you are,” frowned the gate keeper, “The Port of Argos is closed by order of the Steward of Cybele. Come back tomorrow!”

“Our engagement is tonight,” Dionysus repeated, “By order of Great Lady Cydippe. We’re playing at the temple, man, by official request.”

“No entry,” he said again.

It had been five years since they hit the road. Since then they had played hundreds of concerts in scores of cities and towns, yet they were broke, eating like paupers and one show away from financial ruin.

“Do we stay?” Dionysus asked the harper, “We have a gig in Iolcos the week after next. King Acastus will put us up, I’m sure.”

“Don’t tell me we’re broke,” Prosus moaned.

“I never do,” said Dionysus, “It doesn’t change the fact.”

“Bread for dinner again, boys,” muttered Polydeuces.

He was an Argonaut, a boxer, a killer of kings and the best drummer in Iolcos, except that he hadn’t been paid in a month. For someone with a fortune buried in Kriti he lived like a tramp. They all did.

At first Minos tried to coax Ariadne back home. When she refused he started sending money. When she continued to refuse he stopped.

She was almost eighteen and a great singer, everyone said so, even the critics, so who cared if she was the Princess of Kriti. She didn’t. Mostly it got her into trouble.

She didn’t understand why her father wanted her home. Kriti was universally sneered at as Hyperion’s dump. Helios had acquired property near Grapes In A Bed and built a home for wayward clerics. The worst of the worst were sent there to live.

As the harper was debating with Dionysus Ariadne glimpsed the queen. Cydippe could no longer wait for her party to start so she’d come to the gate herself. She couldn’t believe they were waiting on the dock, refusing to disembark.

“What is the matter with you people?” she railed, coming at them with her scepter, “Don’t I pay you enough? Lapraxus, pay them in silver.”

Dionysus accepted the coins and then he graciously returned Lapraxus’ bow.

“The balance will be paid upon the completion of your contract,” said the mind reader.

The Great Lady left, and with her Lapraxus. Dionysus put a silver coin into the gate keeper’s hands. It was the price for working it out. As the gate keeper had promised he didn’t regret it.

“What just happened?” the harper asked.

“I’ll tell you later,” his manager told him, “Right after I pay Orpheus.”

“Go pay Orpheus. Pay everybody. Doesn’t anyone play for art anymore?”

It was an old gripe but they needed Orpheus. He was the feather in their cap. He freed Prosus from his role as leader of the orchestra, and their fortunes increased as people paid to see the two best harpers in the world duel it out.

That night was no exception. Differences dissolved and the music took over.

Ariadne came out first. She whispered in her sultry low voice and just barely touched her drum. She twisted across the stage with her long legs peeking from her Phrygian dress. It bared her belly and pushed her famous breasts into the sky.

In some ways it was the most important three minutes of the show. It was her job to read the audience. When she returned to the wings she would tell the harper what kind of performance would go over that night.

There was always the harp duel, and the suite from the Song of Cybele, which was his biggest work, and The Price of Love would get sung, but the rest of the show was undecided until Ariadne made her choice. That night the crowd wanted bump and grind so she rarely left the stage.

She was not pretty. Her face was plain but she painted it well, and her long red hair betrayed a fiery homeliness. She was handsomely beautiful in a way that made pretty look plain. She had a voice like a siren and a body to slay a Sarmatian. She was the smartest person anyone had met, except for Daedalus, and she wrote the words to the songs she sang. She was Princess Ariadne and she was the star of the show.

Backstage, no one noticed when Dionysus and Orpheus left the room.

“You tell me now, two weeks before our biggest gig in years?” railed their manager, “You’re playing with the Blind Harper of Kriti. There is no better offer!”

“This is no kind of life,” Orpheus told him, “We’ve been on the road for five years. I haven’t seen my son in months. Acastus wants a royal orchestra. He asked me to direct it and I said yes.”

“When? And what kind of man would keep a secret like this?” shouted Dionysus.

“I’ll do Iolcos,” promised Orpheus, “and there isn’t another show until the Games for Pelias so don’t get mad. I offered it to Prosus but he turned me down. I can’t be the director and the court composer. Maybe you can change his mind.”

Dionysus was stunned, and a considerable amount of wind was taken from his sails. Prosus hadn’t told him any of this.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he promised, wondering what role he might play in the employ of King Acastus.

Almost as soon as they got to Iolcos he found out.

“I need a theater manager,” offered the king, “and I want you to be that manager.”

They’d reached Iolcos the day before, a week early for a sold out performance at the Temple Hall which was the biggest room in the city.

Iolcos was festooned with banners declaring itself the arts capital of the world. Big portraits of the beaming King of Iolcos, a bull horn in his hand, or a discus, or whatever, were the hit of the city. Iolcons had never had an artist for a king.

Much had changed in five years. Circe no longer ruled the east and Cydippe fought a ever more wearying battle to hold onto the west. Three of the Great Ladies were under lock and key: Queens Arete of Phaecia, Jocasta of Thebes and Creusa of Ionia. Circe was exiled to Aeaea, her island home.

The purge had made the Steward of Cybele the most powerful person in the east and his take over of Argos was just a heartbeat away, but the temple was in decline. Recent years had seen a drop in attendance and offerings weren’t half the value of a decade before. Some even debated the very existence of Cybele, but Helios Hyperion was too smart to engage in that argument.

He did stop saying Cybele helps those who help themselves. It was a euphemism for graft anyway so he gave the riches away. His generosity was real so his popularity soared. Cybele had plenty of gold but her people did not.

It was a strange time to be an Iolcon. The two most powerful men in the city had their sisters under lock and key. Both insisted the other was in error over theological issues but they had a good relationship. It was so good that Helios never mentioned the debt Acastus owed to the temple: it was Circe who crowned his father after dethroning his half-brother Aeson.

Now it was Circe who was dethroned and Helios who ruled the temple because he had found it necessary to tell the Great Ladies of her condition; her recurrent panic attacks and her night terrors, and he appeared to be genuinely upset that it had to be done. He ruled for his sister by order of the Counsel and he consulted them more often than Circe had. On the other hand he’d arrested three of them so criticism was mute.

So it was that Acastus, King of Iolcos, and Helios Hyperion, the Steward of Cybele, came to be like peas in a pod; suspicious, envious, but ultimately respectful of one another, and bound together by fate. It was a soup that had simmered for a good long time.

The evening of the performance came under balmy skies.

Ariadne danced on stage in a shoulder baring silk gown that fell in drapes to her feet. She held a glass of red wine and she sang to it, her smoky voice smoldering in the low notes.

She held on to one by letting it slowly fade before subduing the next with a ferocious attack. She put the glass to her face and saw her audience in it’s rosy tint. She danced across the stage as if they were lovers, but in the end she drowned her sorrow by drinking all of it.

She bowed with a flourish to a standing ovation and danced off the stage.

“More of the same, Uncle Prosus,” she said, “They want a hot set!”

Offstage, Ariadne started a beat on her tar. Stage lights came up to show the harper seated at an immense, five octave pedal harp.

He plucked four strings, depressed a pedal and the four notes bent as one. He played a flourish to the beat and a pair of piper’s danced on stage. After a short little tune Ariadne strolled in from the back, contorted herself like a Sumerian death dancer and trembled from her head to her feet.

Beating her tar on a hip she used her free hand to caress her uncle’s head as she sang.

“Love is like an olive tree, a gnarled and twisted tragedy, what is left for you and me, when all around us dies, how does love survive?”

“If it was a Sycamore, with eyes that see from shore to shore, heaven must become a bore, if there is nothing left to know, then how can our love grow?”

“Were it like the solid oak, a worthy promise wisely spoke, a hotter fire could not be stoked, by a wise and noble tree, within the heart of me.”

“Would the love that grows inside, like lofty pines grow to the skies, I would know the soul that flies, from out the heart of you, and you would know me too.

“How I wish that you and I, entwined forever could not die, I’d set my wings upon the sky, and catch the loving wind, and bring you here within.”

“But love is like an olive tree, it twists and turns so savagely, it’s bitter fruit is happily consumed with cheese and wine, after blanching it in brine.”

As Ariadne danced seductively off stage the lime light shone right through her sheer fringed dress leaving nothing to the imagination.

“By the gods, girl, I’ve never heard you sing it like that!” grinned Dionysus.

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, baby,” she answered with a wink, “help me get changed.”

It felt a little awkward, but why not, he thought to himself.

Off came her sheer fringed dress and then her sheer wrap and her pumps and then she was stark naked in front of him.

“Come on, uncle, give me the robe. Not that one,” she laughed, “The red one.”

Dionysus was looking right at it. It was right in front of him but all he could see were Ariadne’s perfect melon sized breasts. Somehow, he managed to give her the garment.

After pulling it over her head it only reached halfway to her knees.

“Is that all you’re going to wear?”

“Did I ever tell you you’re not really my uncle?” she told him, “Forget the shoes. I’m doing this barefoot tonight.”

The blind harper and Orpheus were halfway through their first harp duel of the night. Polydeuces was laying down a deadly groove and the pipers were piping ever more madly in accompaniment to the dueling harpers. They finished on one quick note as Dionysus cut the lights, and then one light lit the stage as Ariadne strode out to the sound of her tar.

With each fourth beat she skipped high into the air, stretching her long legs as if she were walking to the sky. Through the fabric and the light she let them see every inch of her body; her smooth legs, shaved and oiled in the Iolcon fashion, her famous hips swaying to the beat and her breasts bouncing as a young woman’s will, all to their raucous delight. With the last beat she turned and faced them, kicking as high she’d ever kicked, and for a long second she looked to be absolutely naked with all of the exhibition that implies.

After a cold stop the band struck up The Bride’s Broken Husband.

“There was a bride, a lovely bride, on her wedding night.”

“There was a man, a lonely man, who thought he’d reach his height.”

“But it wasn’t to be no, no.”

“He couldn’t get up and go, no, no.”

“So what is a bride to know about that?”

“What can she do when her husband falls flat?”

“If the roar of a lion or the purr of a cat,”

“Can’t raise a hackle or two, what’s a bride to do?”

“There was a girl, a serving girl, at the inn that night.”

“There was a bride, a lonely bride, she was a lovely sight.”

“And the bride she was bare, whoa-ooa.”

“Her husband in disrepair, ooa-whoa.”

“And the serving girl there if you know what I mean.”

“She might have been shy but she wasn’t all green.”

“Some think it racy some think it obscene.”

“And it finally did the trick, to her husband’s broken…”

“And the bride she was bare, whoa, ooa…”

The reprise of the second chorus began a furious dance showcasing her high kicks and steps. It started out fast and got faster as the band rode on Polydeuces’ lightning quick beat.

Ariadne threw her tar into the arbor and caught it on time like a master. Glistening with sweat and oil, inflaming passions no goddess of the night would dare to awaken, she was all that Cybele could have hoped for.

The band stopped as one and then the roar of applause rose from the Temple Hall.

Dionysus was waiting to help her with the next change.

“What do you mean I’m not really your uncle?”

“You’d have to ask Cybele,” she replied.

He handed her a beaker and she drank greedily.

“For the next one take the lights to half,” she told him, “Help me with this.”

She handed him a jar of black body paint.

“Rub it all over me,” she said, removing her robe.

“You’re going out there in nothing but body paint?”

“That’s the price of love,” she told him, “Just keep the lights low. Come on, we don’t have much time. Don’t be shy. I’ll get my front. You get my back.”

There was no time to warn the orchestra but they were used to Ariadne’s ad libs.

With the lights at half she bounded on stage like a wild child. She was black from head to toe except for lines of gold that traced her arms, her legs, her torso, her face and her breasts. Her palms were painted with gold, and her lips, brows and nipples too.

“Did I hear you say, you could pay the price of love?” she sang, “How do I know it? How will you show it?”

“Never comes the day, when you have paid the price of love.”

“You’ll always owe it. Take seed and sow it.”

“What are you worth big man?”

“Open my heart put gold in my hand.”

“Tell me you love me like you understand.”

“You gotta play it, slay it, pay it, that’s the price of love.”

She danced in the half-light, beating her tar with her golden palms.

The harper couldn’t see her but he heard her come dancing by.

A true professional, Polydeuces didn’t drop a beat when he saw her gorgeously naked body feet from his face.

King Acastus and Queen Atalanta watched from the royal box and were loving every second of it. The Steward of Cybele and his handsome wife watched with them.

“What you think, my lady?” asked Helios.

“I think the young princess knows not what fires she ignites,” answered the queen.

“You would care to have her in our bed this night?” pondered the king.

“Only if you were to vacate the same, my lord,” she replied.

Their laughter was muted by a golden girl demanding worth from her man.

“Did you come to play, can you pay the price of love.”

“There is no waiting. No hesitating.”

“You can go, you can stay, but you will pay the price of love.”

“You cannot flout it. You best not doubt it.”

“Give me your red gold, daddy.”

“Give me a push and I’ll give you a shove.”

“Tell me you love me like heaven above.”

“You gotta play it, slay it, pay it, that’s the price of love.”

“That’s the price of love…”

“That’s the price of love…”

Ariadne crouched low as the band faded behind her, before crawling offstage, gilded, and naked as the day she was born.

At this point the show had to be stopped because she got a standing ovation.

“You’re not going out there like that!” barked Dionysus.

“I already have,” she giggled, “Keep the lights low.”

She writhed on stage to the beat of the applause, she bowed in the half-light, she did a high kick and then danced like a fairy offstage.

“Dion, get this off me!” she yelled because the roar was so loud.

She held her arms high, a towel in her hands to wipe off the gold paint, as Dionysus left no part of her untouched.

The applause did not stop. It kept growing the longer it took Dionysus to wipe her clean. When she was bare he oiled her skin and then she donned the thinnest of cotton skirts. Around her breasts she wrapped a long gold scarf.

As the orchestra finished a medley of dances at breakneck speed Ariadne’s long legs carried her into the limelight.

“You think you know me, well I could show you a thing or two.”

“There’s what you don’t see, and there’s that which I want you to.”

“The more you know me, the more there is to know.”

“And deep inside me, are places you can’t go.”

“Secrets are for keeping and sharing is for weeping.”

“So don’t ask and I might tell.”

“There ain’t no bottom to my well.

Helios was enthralled.

“She writes all her own songs, you know,” he whispered to the king.

As if to honor their conversation, she danced a slow dance with Polydeuces to a harp and flute serenade. They danced together, near and apart, and when you thought they might kiss Ariadne wrenched herself free of her lover.

“I was a princess, with castles in my eyes.”

“I’m a seductress, alone in my bed I lie.”

“You’re such a pretty thing, we love to hear you sing.”

“So take this golden ring, a bride at our wedding.”

“Secrets aren’t for saying and pipers are for paying.”

“So don’t ask and I might tell.”

“There ain’t no bottom to my well.”

As the song ended Dionysus threw the tar. Ariadne caught it and began a ferociously complicated pattern for Polydeuces to improvise. It was rehearsed, but seemed spontaneous, as the choreography alone should have informed an attentive viewer.

They danced and drummed, she with her huge tar and he with a dumbek as Dionysus stowed the pedal harp. Stage hands put two small harps in it’s place as the dance got wilder. With timing honed by five years of touring Prosus and Orpheus took their places at the harps as Polydeuces and Ariadne beat each other’s drums to an uproarious finish. Everyone knew what was coming next. The two best harpers in the world were going to face off.

Backstage, Polydeuces had words for Ariadne.

“When you came out stark naked I nearly lost it. Tell somebody next time.”

“Would you have let me do it?” she asked him.

“No!”

“Then don’t complain,” she replied.

“Did you know she was going to do that?” he asked Dionysus.

“Not until the last minute and there was no time to argue,” he replied.

“There’s no time now,” reminded Ariadne, “Who’s got my pipes?”

Dionysus handed her a pair of quill like flutes that looked a lot like panpipes.

Orpheus and the blind harper had started what promised to be an epic duel. Maybe they knew it was the last time or maybe it was the roar of the crowd, but they challenged each other with virtuoso playing and dazzling displays of the harper’s art. Their statements and replies became point and counterpoint, each phrase more complex than the last. Out of the harmony came a majestic melody built from the phrases they’d bandied back and forth.

It was Ariadne’s part to fashion a tune from the crescendos they played, but this time was different; the harpers had spurred each other to heights not reached before; the wealth of melody made her job much harder. Backstage, the crew were as quiet as they could be while Ariadne wrote her next piece of music.

Before the applause died she had her tune. Coaxing a mellifluous tone from her shrill little instrument, she danced on stage like a wood nymph, calling to the birds with the melody the harpers had taught her.

Two real trees were rolled on stage.

Tweet, tweet, she played. Tweet, tweety-tweet, two pipers replied as they jumped from the branches and the three of them danced like elves on the first day of spring.

With a mighty pounding on the bombo, and by the movement of a block of granite on it’s wheeled dolly, an impressive storm was created. Harp flourishes fell like rain as dancers scurried to the shelter of the trees.

A second drum crescendo accompanied by the rolling rock was timed to the addition of flash powder in the limelights. Thunder and lightning filled the stage. Ariadne and the pipers cowered under the trees as thousands of white flower petals fell from the arbor.

“Castor, be ready,” she whispered, “Catch me as I fall.”

The last and loudest roll on the drum ended with an even brighter flash of light.

Ariadne fell dramatically into Castor’s arms. As the lights dimmed she took a sack of flour from between her breasts, broke it and wiped it all over herself. When the lights came back up she looked creepily like a corpse.

“I have one wish,” she sang, “One night to wish it.”

“I wish you were lying here with me.”

“One night each year my wish will come true.”

“I haunt my dear, he haunts me too.”

“We were in love, so much alive.”

“There was no one could come between.”

“Two hearts may beat, in time repeating.”

“When one heart dies two hearts stop beating.”

“And so my friends, here be my witness.”

“Love will not end when life is done.”

“The seed we sow is never-endless.”

“And love will lie in death’s caress.”

Silence met Ariadne’s dead fall. It looked to everyone but Castor like she might have been hurt. She rose in the dark, rubbing her shoulder.

Backstage, she couldn’t get the flour off fast enough.

“Gods, I need a bath,” she said, stripping off her clothes, “Dion, wipe me down. Mm that feels good. Stop, I still have to sing, and hand me my sticks before you get oil on them.”

Dionysus did as he was told as slowly as time would allow.

“Have you heard that last one before?” asked Helios.

“Today at rehearsal,” whispered the king, “It was to be done with the pipers but they couldn’t get it right.”

“I think it’s more effective as a solo, don’t you?” Helios whispered back.

“Quite,” answered the king, “I hear she wrote it on the docks at Argos while waiting for Queen Cydippe.”

“One could write an entire play waiting for Queen Cydippe,” laughed the Steward of Cybele.

Then all eyes were on The Blind Harper of Kriti. For the music lovers in the audience their moment had arrived as old king Prosus of Antallis plucked the first notes of the suite from his epic masterwork, the Song of Cybele.

Very subtly a wave of sound washed over the hall. One harp with it’s varied nuances was a contrast to the furious music of the preceding forty minutes. Alone with only his harp old king Prosus was in his element, as if he’d drawn them all into his living room and to each he was giving a private performance.

The ebb and flow of the glissandi became the first theme; the king’s theme, solid and confidant, even martial as the harper played a stately melody on his great pedal harp.

The stately march was followed by a whimsical second theme; Cybele’s theme, fluid and light, but harboring a dissonance within it’s arpeggios.

As the harper played the second theme Ariadne played the martial rhythm of the first on her drum. Slowly, regally, dressed head to toe in robes of the Goddess Cybele she made her way across the lip of the stage.

With a kick and a roll she danced away from her suitors so not to upstage the harper. As Prosus finished Cybele’s theme they played a retard. With her back to the audience Ariadne sang in a high, round voice, perfectly suited to the air.

“Ah ah ah ah ah ah ahhhhhhhhh,” she sang, her voice fading into the echo of the hall, “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ahhhhhhhhh .”

The granite block was again rolled backstage, more slowly this time, to gain the effect of the sea, as Castor, also backstage, played the melody on his loud little flute.

“What is this I see before me, the wakeful waters do not sleep.”

“The king will come, the gods are lonely, I hear his song come from the deep.”

Polydeuces beat a battle on his drum as the pipers danced into view. They finished a tune to the harper’s accompaniment, and as they danced off the harper plucked rhythmically on his bass strings.

Ariadne picked up the beat, softly at first, and as the harper added notes to his barrage she played as loudly as his dynamics would allow. Skipping in time while wearing the robes made her look like she was walking in place. She kept it up as she inched ever close to stage right and the waiting arms of Dionysus.

Prosus began the king’s lament. For the first time that night he sang in his beautiful baritone, a sound which did not seem to belong to his twisted and ruined face.

“Once I was a king, but now my kingdom is under the waves.”

“A sad lament I sing, for a hallowed land at the end of days.”

“To whom do I address this sad refrain?”

“In the moment of loss can hope remain?”

“If only to express and to explain a final, perfect mystery.”

“Ah-ah-ah-ahhhhhhhhh,” sang Ariadne, the ghost of a goddess keening in the wings, “Ah-ah-ahhhhh, ah-ah-ahhhhh, Ah-ah-ahhhhh.”

A flute and harp improvisation followed, which in turn became a storm at sea, which ended with the wordless and dirge-like Sleeping Selene.

Helios Hyperions rose to his feet and cheered.

“Fabulous!” he declared, “Old king Prosus acquits himself masterfully, I say,” and he was all grins.

Acastus and Atalanta were whooping and carrying on like the Argonauts they were. More than a few in the audience shed a tear for the blind harper who’d lost his kingdom, but who had found a world of respect.

“We hope to contract him to play the entire work at the Games for Pelias,” said King Acastus, still clapping for the harper.

“I’ll keep my mouth shut so as not to jinx it,” promised Helios. As the great pedal harp was taken off stage the audience sat back down in their seats.

“How do you top that?” wondered the steward.

Princess Ariadne, still garbed as the Goddess of the Earth, walked on stage with her uncle Prosus on her arm. They bowed together and then the orchestra came out as well.

“Thank you very much,” said Ariadne, “Thank you all. Uncle Prosus wants you all to know that he will perform the Song of Cybele in it’s entirety at the Games for King Pelias, right here in Iolcos, later this year. Thank you very much for coming.”

The audience, still standing and pounding their feet, watched them leave the stage.

“I guess they’re not going to try to top it,” replied the king, though no ushers were coming around to light the lamps.

As he was thinking it a drum roll started softly and grew as loud as Polydeuces could play. It was punctuated by an orchestral punch that shook the lighting in the hall.

A playful tune followed that many recognized as a fast version of the winter dirge When The Harvest Is All Eaten And The Spring Is Still Not Nigh.

Ariadne twirled like a child. As the the music became complex she added a drama to her steps that suggested the child growing up.

The tune abruptly changed to the popular When I Was A Maiden I Was Happy As A Flower In A Garden, But Now That I Am Married Happy Flowers Are The Cause Of My Distress, or Happy Flowers as it was commonly called.

Those waiting to see Ariadne get naked again were disappointed, though they were treated to the sight of a glistening woman, shaved and oiled, performing the Sumerian Death Dance. When it was over she fell to the stage like a martyr but the roar of the crowd quickly brought her back up.

“Thank you, everybody!” she shouted, “See you again at the games! Goodnight!”

“My compliments to the king,” said Helios, “The games for your father are shaping up to be quite an event.”

“Yes, it was a happy way to find out,” agreed Acastus.

Queen Atalanta rose and waved to the crowd.

The next day King Acastus arrived early at the rehearsal hall. The band was packing up but they were taking their time doing it.

“Dionysus,” said the king, “I must compliment you on a well rehearsed show. I can’t remember a time I’ve seen a show like that when there wasn’t at least one disaster.”

“It’s a good crew,” replied their manager, “and the band; they don’t get any better.”

“That’s why I want to hire all of you,” offered the king, “As I said, I need a theater manager. It pays a room, but you don’t have to live there, a soft stipend, which means you can spend what you need, the king’s board and six gold a month.”

Dionysus almost couldn’t believe it. It was it a nobleman’s share.

“Agreed!” he said quickly.

“On one condition,” added Acastus, “Sign the harper. Then we can do business.”

The king slapped him on the back and went on his way leaving Dionysus to wonder who he really wanted. Was it the harper, or himself, but the thought of all that money pushed doubt right out of his mind.

“Traitor!” shouted Prosus, “How dare you betray me like this?”

It wasn’t going well.

“This isn’t betrayal,” he said, “Orpheus wants you to compose for the court.”

“Baahh!” scoffed the harper, “What do I care what Orpheus wants?”

“Because he cares what you want,” Dionysus replied, “We all do, but no one knows what it is. You haven’t sat in one place for more than two weeks since we left Kriti. Why won’t you settle down?”

“Who says I won’t?” he squawked.

“It makes no difference to me, but I hate to see you alone,” replied Dionysus, “I’ll get the job whether you sign or not. Acastus is like that. Did you know he holds King Prosus in the highest esteem?”

“He does?” replied the harper.

“Why don’t you stick around and find out?” asked Dionysus.

“On one condition,” offered Prosus, “Whatever you stage stars Ariadne!”

When he told her about it she wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know, Uncle Prosus,” she said, “The stuff I do, it goes over in the bars, you know, bump and grind and all that, and it worked once in the Temple Hall, but it won’t go over a second time. There’s not much you can do after you get naked.”

“You can’t sing without showing a little leg?” he chided, “You’re Princess Ariadne! They’ll pay to hear you fart!”

“That’s the problem, Uncle Prosus. It’s not about music anymore. It’s about what am I gonna do next. I’m tired of it,” she complained, “I didn’t know how to tell you but last night was my last show. That’s why I did what I did.”

Prosus felt like he’d been hit with a dead fish.

“When did you decide this?” he asked her.

“Sitting on the dock at Argos,” she said, “Sitting in the heat so the gate keeper could get rich fleecing his queen.”

“What will you do?” he asked at last, because her mind was made up.

“I’m going home for awhile,” she told him, “I’ll be back for the games. Then we can have a reunion.”

“So you’re not quitting for good,” he said, perking up a bit.

“I just need a vacation, Uncle Prosus, “Think of it like that and write me something new to sing at the games.”