When last we left our heroes: Kenneth, Lord Marston, made a deal with ghost pirate Dexy LaRue. In return for passage to Crete, the Society would assist them in their cursed quest. Meanwhile, in London, someone had an unusual interest in Victor Terranove…
The next morning, Sir Charles Rutledge Brown, walking stick in hand and earth beneath his feet, crested a small hillock and suddenly the beauty of Knossos was all before him. He stopped walking to take in the vision of architecture ruined millenia before his very birth.
“Takes one’s breath away, doesn’t it?” Kenneth, Lord Marston, said. Sir Charles hadn’t even noticed him approach, stand next to him, take out a cigarette, smoke it, check his pocketwatch, wave at Sir Charles a few times, then finally poke the scientist with one finger.
“Y-yes!” Sir Charles stammered, “We’re almost there.”
“Looks like Knossos didn’t hold up so well,” Lord Marston remarked sarcastically.
Never one to notice a bon mot, Sir Charles turned to the young lord and began to explain things instead.
“Actually,” he said, “these are only the ruins of the most recent Palace at Knossos. Over the course of Minoan history, there were several palaces built over the exact same site!”
Mrs. Chatterton was the next to join them on the hill, and there was a longer moment of greeting between their two hands than Sir Charles would either have noticed nor understood the significance thereof. If the beauty of the sun rising over Crete wasn’t enough, one needs only compare it to the sheep-rank cave of a man eating giant or the mildewy wood of a ship trod by the dead. Still, every moment passes, and sooner or later Sir Charles’ exposition comes back into focus.
“That’s, ah, part of why the Daedalian Labyrinth was so hard to find,” the scientist continued. “There are so many different ruins around Knossos that locating the original palace of King Minos is like finding a needle in a–”
“Haystack?” Mrs. Chatterton asked.
“No,” Sir Charles said to her like she had a cat on her head. “A needle would actually be rather easy to find in a haystack, what with electromagnetics being what they are these days. Completely different base materials, a significant disparity in weight and tensile properties… I was going to say that it would be like finding a needle in a pile of needles.”
Mrs. Chatterton almost said something, but stopped. After a second thought, she almost said it again, but Sir Charles looked like he was just waiting for the challenge. Finally she couldn’t take it any longer. “Wouldn’t that b–” she started.
“A pile of other needles,” Sir Charles clarified coldly. Lord Marston had to stifle a laugh.
“Pointless metaphors aside,” Colonel Durant said, walking by the three with a handful of darts in one hand and his rifle resting in the crook of the other, “can we just get on with finding the damn entrance to this place?”
Sir Charles, who had jumped when Durant appeared out of nowhere (which he hadn’t), regained his sure footing and pointed one finger at an undescript stone column sticking out of the ground at an angle about thirty feet away from where they stood.
“The entrance? Oh, it’s right there,” he said.
Colonel Durant stepped up next to the scientist, whom he had at least a half a foot over on. Squinting beneath his heavy white eyebrows, the hunter scanned the horizon but despite the chubby finger (or perhaps because of it) he couldn’t see anything like a Labyrinth or its entrance.
“Where?” he growled.
“There!” Sir Charles insisted, poking the finger again in the exact same useless direction.
Colonel Durant, in keeping with his life-long vow never to kill again, instead tried asking for clarification. “That’s not an entrance,” he said. “That’s not even a wall.”
“Aha!” Sir Charles said, turning the pointing finger upright into a gesture of articulation. “The architect Daedalus wanted to keep the location of the Labyrinth a secret, the better to protect his king’s bestial son…”
“Oh dear Lord,” Cassandra whispered to Lord Marston. “Another history lesson?”
“Hush,” he replied. “One out of every five sentences is actually really useful!”
“…essentially he hid the Labyrinth below the castle, but the entrance to it was described in Mr. Benedict’s journals as a submerged Doric column two miles from the site of the original palace. Unfortunately–and this was the point I was attempting to make earlier–as a result of later construction, that starting location is uncertain.”
Colonel Durant had walked up to the white column of Sir Charles’ digital identification. It looked no different from any other Knossic detritus save a particularly heavy growth of moss on the surface of the column base.
“If it’s so dashed uncertain, then how do you know this is the right stone?” Durant demanded.
Stepping up next to the hunter, Sir Charles compared a pinch of moss in his fingers to the growth on the column. The colors were similar but not the same.
“Mister Benedict marked it, of course,” he said, and with one hand, brushed away the moss. Beneath it, hastily carved lines highlighted by foetid soil formed the coat of arms of the British Society For Cryptozoological Research.
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.