The Nine of Pentacles
Gathering the Crops
"Hold, sir, and please state your business," said Helen in her usual cautious manner. Jim found this somewhat amusing and decided he would have some fun with his beloved Amazon.
"I intend to abduct Medea," stated Jim with a deliberately serious look upon his face.
Helen stood silent for a moment, finding it very difficult to believe that she had just heard such a threat from this bizarre man.
"Excuse me, sir, but apparently you are quite mad and, as a result, I have little patience for your idiotic games. I'll pretend I did not here you, spare your life, and I'll let you be on your way, " stated Helen confidently.
"Excuse me, Helen, but I intend not only to abduct Medea, but you as well," said Jim in fluent Venetian.
"Who are you? Do I know you?," asked Helen, apparently baffled. As she spoke, she brandished her weapon which refused to cooperate.
"Put that away. It will do me no harm to me as long as I have the controls," said Jim with a cocky attitude.
"Jim, is that you? You look so, so different."
"Yes, it's me with a new face so that the Argonauts and Medea do not recognize me."
"I was not aware that Medea knew what you looked like," replied Helen.
"Medea and I enjoyed each other's company in the Pleasure Dome shortly before I left Artemis," said Jim.
"I understand, but that does not explain your new appearance," countered Helen.
"I intend to return to Greece with the Argonauts. Medea is coming with and I would like you to join us as well. You shall be my companion while Medea accompanies Jason. I trust you have met Castor and Pollux?"
"Yes, unimpressive little men they are, but of what concern are they to me?" asked Helen with her usual attitude.
"After we reach Greece, they shall accompany you to Sparta to meet your future husband-king."
"Do you know Menelaus?"
"Yes. Medea will think that you and her will be high priestesses of Greece and each of you shall rule as queens of Greece."
"Grecian queens? How enchanting! What of our king's then?"
"There will be no need for either of you to have sexual relations with these kings, because we know that would be fatal for them. Instead, keep them happy by permitting them extra-marital relations. Their public will never know the difference and will naturally assume that your king is pleasuring himself with you as well as the concubines," said Jim. "This is not unusual for these times as you should be well aware of. There has been many Amazon queens to this day, but not one of them has had a sexual relationship with their king without killing him," continued Jim.
"Yes, but I hardly relish belonging to any human man. You know as well as I, that I'm not inclined to take directions from any man," replied Helen.
"True, but Helen, you must realize that if you are to play Helen of Troy, you must go to Sparta and stay there until I come for you."
Helen smiled. Once again, it dawned on her that Jim was being level with her. Certainly, if she wanted to be the face that launched a thousand ships, she would have to play out the role. "Well, Jim, I hope you understand that I shall certainly have no love for my new husband and I shall be waiting impatiently for my Paris. You won't disappoint me now, will you?"
"Such a silly question, Helen. Tell me, when have I ever disappointed you? Did you not accompany me to this time so that you could enjoy your role as Helen of Troy?"
"Forgive me for doubting you, Jim. I shall do as you say."
"I knew you would, my beloved. From now on, call me Theseus. That's the name I must go by, for now."
Jim switched his vox unit back on so that he could once again speak the local language. "I would like to seek entrance to join my friends, the Argonauts." Helen complied and let Jim enter onto palace grounds.
Jim was wearing his belt and easily managed to bribe himself into the palace banquet hall where he found Jason engaged in a conversation discussing affairs with the king and Medea. Jim sampled the wine and discovered it to be laced with ambrosia. Circe's spells on Medea were working as well. She seemed to be unable to take her eyes away from Jason. She even failed to give Jim a second look when he paid his respect to her and the king. They assumed him to be an Argonaut while the Argonauts assumed him to be a local.
It was not long before Jim was able to gain Jason's ear. "I've a message for you from Hercules," said Jim to Jason. Jason's interest was instantly aroused by this newcomer.
"What news do you have from Hercules, and who are you?" asked Jason.
I am his friend, Theseus, and like you I am of royal blood. Hercules told me that you would give me a ride."
"He did, did he? Did he also tell you that he abandoned us and we do not feel obliged to honor his wishes? I have not mentioned the fleece to Aetes yet, and I am not so certain that he will give it to me just from my asking. Hercules promised us the fleece, but it doesn't seem that he is going to do a single thing to help us. I fear if I mention this to Aetes, he will murder the lot of us, if he can. I smell nothing but a fight coming on and we'll be lucky to get away with our lives. How do I know that your are not a spy sent by Aetes to inform on us?"
"You have no alternative but to accept my help, Jason. Hercules thought well enough of you to send me to assist you and he thinks well enough of me to trust me to assist you."
"You don't look very capable, sir. Looks can be deceiving, though. If you are to help us then, what advice do you have for me?"
"Don't be afraid of Aetes. Medea is in love with you and will help you," said Jim.
"I find that hard to believe, but she has been very charming to me in spite of her father's behavior."
"Do you like her?" asked Jim.
"Like is too mild a word. I couldn't help but think of what a wonderful queen she would make for me. I find it disturbing that you have noticed her affection for me. I sense trouble from her brother who also seems to have more than a casual interest in her."
"They have different mothers Jason, and the king but thinks that she is his daughter. She is in fact not, and moreover is betrothed to that brother of hers which is so jealous of you."
"Do you mean that Medea is betrothed to her very own brother?"
"You didn't listen. They are not truly related and family marriages are not that uncommon in this culture."
"It is a bit like that in my homeland, but we generally marry no one closer than our cousins, and definitely no one outside our community."
"Well, bear in mind that they think somewhat similar here, and will be outraged when you leave with both Medea and the fleece," stated Jim.
"Hold on just a minute, sir. First you ask me to give you a ride to Greece and now you are telling me to take Medea as well. Sir, you are rather presumptuous."
"Don't call me sir, my name is Theseus. Medea will not give you the fleece unless you promise to take her along on the journey."
"Hogwash, sir! I do not know where you are from. I still believe you are a spy sent by Aetes to inform on us. I have no interest in Medea, and with regard to the fabled fleece, even if it exists, we will return home without it. Perhaps Aetes will take our oath of friendship more seriously then. Hercules abandoned us and now we dare not challenge our the kindness of our host."
"Challenge him for the fleece, coward!" Jim stood up against Jason to challenge him, "else I shall personally lead your Argonauts home with the fleece and we will leave you behind in dishonor."
Jason did not take kindly to this challenge and immediately reached for his sword to silence this nuisance of a challenger, The other Argonauts were now congregated around Jason to offer up defense to their captain. Helen immediately disarmed all the Argonauts using her magic, leaving only Theseus armed. This only stalled their attack on Theseus leaving him free to brandish a few more words to say.
"We will take the fleece back as Hercules intended. Why do you think that only the bravest of Greece were chosen for this mission? At least ask Aetes for the fleece. Dare him to throw to us a challenge for the fleece. I assure you all,. we have the power to meet any challenge he presents to us. Besides what do you have to lose? At this very moment, Aetes is plotting to kill us all in spite of any offer of friendship. Medea loves you Jason, and Aetes is rapidly realizing that, and for that reason alone he shall attempt to kill us all."
"I don't believe you."
"Don't believe me then, but when you find that I am speaking truly, remember that I can help you get the fleece and leave safely. Without my help you are doomed. If you need me, let Helen know."
Jim signaled for Helen. She and the rest of the Amazons escorted Jim away from the banquet hall. Helen assured Aetes that Jim was a troublemaker and she was ejecting him from the hall. Jim acted accordingly as he was escorted out.
Jason was not fooled. He easily sensed the intense affection that Helen had for Theseus as they left. Theseus had asked not only passage for himself, but also for Helen as well. He glanced at Medea. She had not missed any of the action and her eyes were focused on Jason. She smiled at him as she caught his eye. There could be no mistake. She beckoned for him to come to her. She had been watching Theseus with much interest, but Helen immediately signaled her claim on him when she used her power for his defense. Helen's kiss for Theseus did not go unnoticed either. It seemed that the invulnerable Helen was succumbing to mortal charm.
Medea knew at that moment what had been discussed and sensed that Qblh was, as usual, correct.
Medea knew Aetes would be infuriated if she obeyed Qblh, yet Qblh did seem to offer more than Aetes could even dream of. Aetes thought he owned the fleece, because Medea had given it to him to secure her own authority in Colchis. It was more of an alliance than anything else. The false public image did matter to Aetes. Even though he knew the fleece belonged to Medea, he did not keep that knowledge public. As long as Medea held royal authority, it did not matter to her. Each was using the other. Medea had her secrets as well, and she certainly did not wish certain information ever to be public knowledge, such as the fact that she was not human. She had successfully masqueraded herself as Aetes's daughter and the fleece supposedly was a gift from her mother to her "father", king Aetes. Whether or not Aetes actually believed Medea was actually his daughter can be a matter of opinion. He had to act as though she was his daughter in order to secure ownership of the fleece. Some could ascertain he was a little insincere in any true love he may have demonstrated towards his "daughter" , Medea.
Medea had already gained wind of Aetes' intended alliance with Babylon. The intention of the new alliance would be to secure a trade route between Colchis and Babylon at the expense of Hittite territory. The Hittites were loyal to the Amazons and openly worshipped the goddess. The Amazons controlled the Hittite empire as a result.
Catching Jason's eye, she considered him to have some potential, and perhaps it may be not such a bad idea to take the fleece from Aetes after all. She signaled fro Jason to come to her. The palace guards recognized Medea's gesture and went towards Jason to escort him to her.
Aetes already had some brief words with the Argonauts and was clearly suspicious concerning their intentions. Medea also signaled to Aetes that she wished to hear in his presence what the Argonauts had to say. She already knew.
Jason soon found himself standing before Aetes and Medea. The rest of the fearless crew stood attentively within earshot. Smiling at Jason, she beckoned him to speak.