Theseus dreamed of one day meeting his father, the revered King Aegeus. When that opportunity presents itself, he intends to prove his worthiness, but soon his journey ushers in unexpected distractions. But one such distraction may turn out to be a blessing in disguise… if he’s willing to open his heart and give his all to have her in his life.
Princess Ariadne never asked for this life, but in her world, her father unapologetically dictates her every move, including who she will marry. But when he sends her to meet her new bridegroom, his direct orders place her in danger.
Theseus never imagined that his journey would include rescuing a beautiful princess from a savage attack. With their lives thrown off balance, he and Ari tempt fate and continue on to Athens together. Along the way, they develop feelings neither thought possible, but with so many obstacles against them and no guarantees that their relationship can succeed, is their budding romance doomed for failure or far worse?
“Theseus, you’re covered in blood! Are you hurt?” His mother’s voice rose in surprise from the kitchen counter where she still clenched her paring knife.
“No, mother. It’s not my blood.” Theseus reassured her while stepping further into the house. “I’m fine. I had to wrestle a lion from trying to snack on two of the village children.”
“Oh…” She blinked. In another minute she’ll be back to normal, and talking about food.
“They’re fine. I dropped them off by their parents.” He went to the vase with water to cleanse his hands. “Their mom was late, and I stayed until she arrived, which made me late for dinner.”
The air tinged with her sudden change of mood. She always waved off his deeds as superficial adventures. Could she have realized he was ready? Her stare enflamed his hope.
Theseus understood he had a destiny, beyond his small village. Was it time?
His mother had been raised a King’s daughter, and his father ruled Athens. The glorious city-state grew in trading power, and outshone the military might of Sparta. Despite this knowledge, Theseus had never left the white buildings and blue ocean of his sea side fishing town. After learning his bloodline four years ago, his mother hadn’t let him pursue it.
“What’s on your mind?” he asked his mother.
“I think you know, my dearest boy.”
Adrenaline and excitement pumped in his body. Adventure hung in the air. Containing his glee to be free, he said, “Mother, leaving won’t change me, and if you need me…”
His mother depended on him to help her with the daily chores. At age fifteen, he had dug up a heavy dark rock marked with symbols of a sword and a shield carved in white. The rock had laid on top of a pair of ancient sandals in the sand not far from his home. It was the night he had caught a wild wolf scrounging around and had shot an arrow from his bow to protect his mother. Before falling asleep that night she had told him of his parentage. Since then, he’d been on physical notice of his heritage. It had become an obsession for him to find out why he was kept hidden, while his father remained a powerful king.
His mother’s refused for him to leave, always with the excuse he found out too young. The rejection hurt. Two years later when he turned seventeen, he accepted he hadn’t been ready to handle the large responsibilities that lay before him. The clock ticked much slower for the next year.
“You’re a man now, Theseus. I can’t keep you here anymore. It’s time you go to your father in Athens.”
Seeing a tear in his mother’s eye, he felt her pain at the loss of his leaving. But at the same time, the world tilted for Theseus, and his heart raced. He hugged his mother. His feet ached to experience the road and fresh air in his lungs of the journey. Finally, it was time.
He had her permission which meant no ill will would drift on the wind hitting his back during his travels. He’d meet his father, the King of Athens. Going meant he had passed their test; they thought he was ready. He was a man now. Good.
King Aegeus of Athens had a reputation of being fair and honorable, but the man had never once visited his son. If Theseus were King he would make sure to visit his son, spending time with him, and teaching him all about the importance of being a king.
His mother fussed with a cloth to cleanse his face. With unshed tears in her eyes, she asked, “Why didn’t you wash before coming to dinner?”
Taking her hands in his, he met her eyes, “You’re a stickler for being on time when it comes to hot food.”
“Maybe I’m wrong. Are you ready to leave me?” She sounded half hopeful, half sad.
“You claim my father is a great man, good husband and wonderful king, yet I’ve never met him.” He smiled down at her. “If you spoke the truth, it’s time for me to meet him.”
She closed her eyes. “I never lied. He’s everything I said. Finish your dinner before you pack.”
A few hours later, Theseus picked up a packed bag holding the rock embedded with his father’s insignia and the shoes to prove his identity. Now he had nothing to hold him back.
At the doorway, his mother stood staunch and sad for him. Every day for his entire life he had envisioned Athens bathed in light calling him towards it, the city of his birth, but now when he had her permission, he argued with her to stay out of obligation for her. “You or grandfather might need my help.”
“We are strong and capable. You need not worry about us.” She wiped his clean face, thinking she must see some spot. He had bathed off the blood of the wild lion he had killed while protecting two children in town earlier in the day. His understanding clubbed him on the back of the head and he hugged her. She hugged him back before she finished, “King Aegeus is a wise, strong man and has let us live here in peace, Theseus. But now you must go to him and take your rightful place. I’ve hired a ship to take you to him.”
In the distance he saw the green mountain with the white snow-covered top beckoning him to climb and start his journey towards Athens on the main road. The ship would avoid land and he’d arrive in a day or less. The road possessed a freedom he needed to experience, where he would forged his identity.
When he was fifteen and learned King Aegeus was his father, his feet pointed towards the road, needing to run and discover answers to a million questions. He dreamed of the open road and the possible adventures he’d encounter when he had discovered his heritage. No, he had dreamed of seeing the world long before the moment, but now he had a purpose.
Who was he? Theseus, son of Aegeus, King of Athens. His feet itched to run free, and learn what type of man he was sired from.
His childhood training learning to fight from the Centaur, Spartans, and heroes now made sense to him, if he was to protect one of the biggest trading centers of the known world.
His mother pulled back from his hug, and she reached for his bag. Theseus needed to tell her. The ship would be fast, but it would not fulfill his dream. Fast meant no epic adventure, no adrenaline rush. He liked the thrill of adventure. He needed his father to hear the name Theseus before he ever stepped foot into Athens. Aegeus, his father, had an undeniable reputation for being a great king. Outside of his village, no one had ever heard of Theseus. At least on the road, he’d earn a reputation for being fair, honest and strong. He’d never been to Athens and knew nothing of ruling, but a king’s son should prove himself worthy of being a noble. He sucked in his breathe, and held steady to his bag.
“No, I will go on land.” Theseus said to his mother. He planned his walk, with the possibility of facing danger along the way. “It’s what I want.”
“The ship will be faster.” his mother argued. “Athenian ships are the best made ships known to man.”
“The road presents less danger, Mother.” He kissed her on the cheek. She’d never believe him, but he really didn’t want her to worry. “I will come back for you once I’m settled in my father’s household.”
“I expect grandchildren,” she smiled.
“Mother, don’t.” He wasn’t ready to think about getting himself a wife. Not yet. Her beliefs had nothing to do with his sense of travel.
“You’re going out in the world, Theseus, where women of strength and character are found.”
“Unlike the prophesies you believe, I don’t. No one has to die for me to meet a woman. They crawl in from the window.”
“I said a woman of strength and character, not someone I’ll chase away with a broom.” She laughed, though he knew she was serious.
He nodded with respect, then stared hard at his mother for a moment. Would this be the last time he saw her? His mother believed in the predictions of death encircling the meeting of this prophesized mystery woman. “Mom, life would be different if you looked more logically. The oracle that told you to raise me here, instead of Athens with my father, you should have never believed everything the oracle had to say. The gods do not roam the land, despite all those stories.”
“I gave up my love for your father so you can find your own true love. Don’t hesitate. If you find her, keep her.”
“Mother, you shouldn’t have, and I’m not going in search of whoever she might be.” He focused on the mountain in the distance for a second, turning back to her one more time. “Everything will be fine.”
His father had cheated on his mother, most likely. Her hiding away in a ‘white houses with blue roofs’ sea side town had never made much sense to him if his father ruled the kingdom. He’d ask his father every question he could. If he didn’t like the answers, Theseus would refuse the crown.
“Good luck, Theseus. Take care, my son.”
Twenty minutes later, he walked to the base of the mountain and looked up. The clean, green cypress trees covered his view, and Theseus broke into a run. His sandals digging into the dirt on this climb began his journey now. He’d make his way to Athens on his own. The salty smell of the fresh sea air in Greece wafted in his lungs. He traversed the mountain on the first day, seeing the snow white tip of the top, before he reached a valley. The tall green grass and trees decorated the bottom before he saw another mountain. The hills of Greece were legendary, but he’d rather see what might be around the next corner.
He’d meet many travelers on the way, and as he held his sword, he wished to find the journey of a lifetime.