Extralude I

Theseus and the Minotaur

This piece is set late episode four. While Dante is trying to decide whether Avalon is real or not, Phoenix Rogan has sent her friends to investigate its true purpose. Theseus, a former solider in the Torsten militia, has signed up to take part in the Sultan’s gladiatorial games, and is scoping out the competition…

A simple piece of investigation, Theseus reminded himself, that’s all it was. It was no different to all those times Rogan asked him to check in with his old commanding officer to verify claims of some monster or another breaching the defensive line and harassing a farm or two.

Only, this time, Theseus wasn’t going to speak with his old commanding officer. He was going to sit down and chat with the monster itself.

In his three years of experience in the Torsten militia, Theseus had never met a monster that could talk. Since signing up to the coliseum, however, all that had changed. And now it was about to get even weirder.

He lifted his hand and rapped his knuckles on the metal door. A moment later, it creaked open, just enough for him to glimpse a beady yellow eye, no bigger than a marble, looking down at him from a leather face.

“Heeey, you’re that new guy, right?” Its voice was deep, guttural, other words that the girls would know but Theseus did not. “Come on in, man.”

The door rolled open along its metal tracks, revealing the beast in all its muscular glory. Were Theseus a writer, like Annie, he might have said it was “built like an ox”. Literally. It had the horns and everything. Were he reporting this to his old commanding officer, he would have called it a “minotaur”. Also literally. The term was meant to describe any large, bipedal creature that resembled a human save for certain key, animalistic traits — hooves, antlers, horns etcetera — but, in this case, it was very much a man crossed with a bull. No doubt the girls would find this coincidence hilarious. Theseus did not.

“It was Theseus, right?” it said as he entered its lair. “Nice name for a gig like this. Simple, but symbolic. I like it. Not many mazes around here, though. Well, other than level seven, but they don’t make a show out of that. Here, take a seat.” It plucked one from the shelf as a child might handle a toy and sat it down near a table. Or maybe it was a footstall. It was difficult to tell when the room was designed with a five-metre tall man-bull in mind.

Theseus sat down. The chair rattled with the monster’s footsteps. “Cheers,” he said, trying not to blush at how small his own voice sounded. What was that play again? Alan in Slumberland? Alex? Well, whatever it was, it felt like that.

“Coffee?” asked his host. “Not natural, sorry. Could never make a good cup with hands like these. Besides, it never quite tasted right after the transition, you know? Nothing does. But enough about me, what about you? I heard you skipped the dirt leagues no trouble. You a fighter by trade? Merc?”

Theseus wasn’t one for acting. “I spent a couple of years with a militia group. Nothing major, just helping keep the peace.”

It’s a good job he hasn’t got to worry about the colour of his sails!