“Trial by Love”
And so Hades helped engineer the situation we now see, both for personal amusement and as a favour to… Well, we’ll get to that. Right now, it’s time for the last lock, the trial of love, and who better for it than Ariadne, famed for her love to Theseus?
As it turns out, almost anyone. A small chamber beside the vault slides open.
ARIADNE: “And what is my trial?”
Her contempt is thick as Oedipus plugs in to analyse it. He lets out a short laugh.
OEDIPUS: “To open the door, one of our number must prove a love stronger than life, and sacrifice themselves without hesitation, reluctance or fear.” There is silence, save for Ulysses’ slow laughter.
ARIADNE: “I have to die?”
OEDIPUS: “Quite. I’m sure your fee will be paid to Theseus, who you love so unreservedly.”
Of course, Ariadne had no intention of dying, nor any feeling for Theseus except hate. Alas, no-one had known what the trial of love entailed, and she’d been playing the spurned lover so long she had believed herself up to whatever it might have been. But this?
Theseus, as it turns out, was just a sap Ariadne had been using to try and regain the societal standing her family had quickly lost when it was revealed her parents had created the Minotaur: a beast that had stalked the City since its founding, plucking the still-living brains from its victims for the Acheron. Ariadne had given Theseus the deactivation codes, in the hope that their marriage would regain some of what had been lost, but Theseus took the credit and publicly jilted her.
No, she couldn’t die yet, not when the Ulysses job paid so well. She had a dynasty to rebuild.