Argonautica Retold: The Origin of Argo Force
Author’s Note: Today, I have a special treat for all of you. This is the story of Jason and the Argonauts. Jason would eventually become one of the first Founders of Argo Force, and this is the story of how he got there. For now, this story will stand on its own, but I may revisit and write a more complete version in the future. But for now, get a taste for my version of Jason and the Argonauts.
As the sun rose, Jason laid eyes on the city he was destined to rule. It was Iolcus, known for its mighty mariners and skilled tradesmen. Many years ago, Jason’s father had turned the city into one of the most prosperous ports in all of Greece. It was a sight to behold. Jason had walked for days to reach it. Not long ago he had discovered the truth from his mentor Chiron. Jason was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus. However, Aeson’s brother, Pelias, had killed the King and took power for himself. Jason had never met either his father or uncle. Chiron was the only father he had ever known. But upon hearing the story, Jason couldn’t help but feel the overwhelming desire to return. Now Jason was back, or nearly so, ready to take back the kingdom from his corrupt uncle.
Many would see this as an arrogant quest. Indeed, Chiron warned Jason against such rash action. After all, Pelias held an entire city. Jason was one man, or a rash boy as Chiron would often remind him. But Jason was a hero, trained by the best! And anyone looking at him wouldn’t argue either. Jason was built like one of the gods. He stood a head taller than anyone he met. Well-toned muscles defined his broad chest. Dark hair hung in beautiful curls around his bronze face, a face that caused all eligible maidens to look twice when he passed by. Even in his ragged, worn robes, he still managed to earn the stares of others traveling on the road. Some even mistook him for the mighty Hercules. The truth was, Jason was no hero, not yet. Instead, he had ambitions with skill to match. He was going to take back his city for starters, then everyone throughout Greece would know his name.
As Jason continued walking through the rolling hills, it wasn’t long before he arrived at the river, Anauros. The river was one of the last barriers between Jason and the city. He was eager to get a move on. His goals were just around the corner, and he could almost taste it. Soon he would be there, he would throw open the doors to his father’s palace, and confront his murderous uncle to the surprise of everyone there. He would challenge his uncle to a duel, they would fight, and Jason would win to glorious cheers from the onlookers! For about the hundredth time, Jason took a moment to revel in the glamor of his plans.
Then he noticed an old woman standing near the river, watching him closely.
The woman’s hair was nearly pure white and hung down to her shoulders. Her wrinkles told of a life full of laughter. Her clothes looked like they had once been white, but were now ragged and grayed with age. Despite this, the clothes seemed clean and well cared for. But what struck Jason most about the woman were her eyes— a piercing blue that seemed wise, far wiser than even this woman’s age would allow.
“Good morning,” he said cheerfully.
“Good morning,” she replied with a slight smile.
When she didn’t say more, he smiled and kept walking towards what looked like the most shallow portion of the river.
“I wonder,” said the old woman, “if you wouldn’t mind carrying me across. My strength is not what it once was, and I’m afraid the current would simply wash me away.”
Jason hesitated. He honestly didn’t want to bother carrying the old woman across. He was tired too and needed all of his strength when he confronted his uncle. But he quickly realized that was out of the question. The old woman obviously couldn’t cross by herself, and this road was not frequently traveled. If Jason didn’t carry her, she would likely have to wait for hours, maybe days.
Jason smiled his most dazzling smile and said in his booming voice, “Of course madam, a true hero is always ready to help those in need!”
The woman looked amused, then she smiled gratefully. “Thank you, I’ve been waiting here for hours and you’re the first one to help.”
Jason knelt to let her climb onto his back. He was surprised at how light she felt. Once he became firmly balanced he stepped into the river with the old woman hanging onto his back. This wasn’t going to be a problem at all, Jason thought with relief. She hardly weighed a thing.
As he moved to the opposite bank, the cold water crept up Jason’s thighs, then his torso. Soon he was chest-deep in the running water, fighting to keep from being swept away. The old woman maintained a strong grip and…was she growing heavier?
Indeed, Jason slowly had to fight the flow of water increasingly as they progressed. And the woman seemed to weigh more and more with each second. Soon they were up to their necks in water, and Jason tilted his head backward to breathe. This wasn’t at all like he imagined it. He expected a much easier task than this. His feet sank into the soft mud of the river bed and it clung to him like small demons trying to suck him under. But Jason would not stop. He fixed his eyes on the opposite bank and focused on placing one step in front of the other. His muscles screamed at the combined exertion of carrying the now-very-heavy woman while fighting the current and sinking mud.
Finally, they began to rise. Jason’s chest emerged, then his legs. Finally, his feet left the water completely. They were safe on the other side. Panting, he helped the old woman down, then took a moment to sit and recover his strength. He looked down at his feet and realized that one of his sandals was missing. He groaned. So much for his fantasies of entering the city in style. In this condition, no one would distinguish between him and the lowliest of beggars. He took a moment to glare at the old woman who had caused him all this trouble. But as he looked around, he could not find her anywhere. He stood up suddenly, looking in every direction. Had she somehow drowned in the river? No, she had definitely made it to dry ground.
After spending another moment looking for her, to no avail, he set off once again towards the city, taking care not to step on any sharp rocks with his bare foot. As he walked, a thought occurred to him. He had heard tales of gods and goddesses favoring heroes and visiting them in strange ways. Chiron had told him stories of heroes like Hercules, who had multiple encounters with gods…in disguise. Could that old women be one of the gods?
This thought did a lot to cheer Jason up as he approached the city. Maybe he had a better chance of succeeding than he thought. With a goddess on his side, how could he fail?
It took him another hour to reach the city. By the time he arrived, he looked a mess. His one bare foot, despite his efforts, had small cuts from the sharp rocks on the trail. His skin and clothing was caked with mud from the river that had dried. It now broke off in large, crumbling pieces. And to top it all off, his hair lacked its usual luster. What a morning.
Some merchants and townspeople stared at him as he entered the city marketplace, but most just ignored him. They were used to seeing strange things in a city this busy. People came and went, and everyone minded their own business. Most kept their heads down, not wanting to make a scene. Jason understood why. He had heard of his uncle Pelias and the way that he handled even the slightest whisper of rebellion. Put a toe out of line, do anything to disrupt business at the docks, or say a word against the so-called “king,” and you simply disappeared.
Jason thought about announcing himself to these citizens but thought better of it. In his current state, he’d be a laughing stock. He’d take a moment to clean up, then confront his uncle in the castle. The massive structure sat upon a large hill that overlooked the whole city, with a clear view of the dock. As Jason moved toward the ocean, he marveled at its size. Truly, his father had been a wonderful ruler if he built a city like this.
The bronze hero arrived at the dock, sat down on the pier, and began washing his face and torso with the salt water. It wasn’t much, but he could remove the mud and sand at least. Ships sat on either side of him, and their crew carried large parcels to and from the deck. It was a strange sensation to see so many people going about their business without a backward glance at Jason, not knowing that he was the son of Aeson their former king, the one who had turned this city into a thriving port. Despite the crowd of people, Jason felt momentarily alone. He hadn’t spoken to anyone since he arrived. In fact, he hadn’t spoken to anyone at all in about two days, other than the old woman at the river.
He remained so lost in thought as he washed, that he didn’t notice someone approaching.
“You look like you have traveled a long way,” came a voice behind Jason. He mentally chided himself for not hearing the man approach and turned to look. The voice came from a man in his early thirties with dark skin and a wise look in his eyes. He dressed in simple robes, but clean, and he carried a lute in one arm. Jason rose to greet the man.
“I have,” he responded, “about two months on foot.”
“What brings you here?” asked the man, “you don’t look like a merchant or a sea captain. You have the look of someone with a noble purpose.”
Jason smiled, “Well you could say that I suppose.”
“My name is Orpheus,” the man offered his hand, “I just arrived here from Egypt.”
Jason grasped the outstretched hand, impressed and slightly embarrassed for implying that his journey had been long. “I’ve never even imagined traveling that far.”
“It’s not as far as you would think, especially by boat. In a good ship, distances seem to shrink.”
“I imagine they would. Are you here for long?”
Orpheus looked unsure how to respond. “I’m staying here for now. I’m a musician by trade.” He indicated his lyre, “I travel where I’m needed, and right now I feel like I’m needed here.”
Jason nodded, “Well I wish you the best of luck.”
“My thanks. Perhaps we’ll see each other again?”
“It would be an honor,” Jason inclined his head in respect. He didn’t know much about this man, but something about him was amiable. He had a way of putting you at ease.
Orpheus looked like he was about to leave when he spotted Jason’s feet, and the single sandal he kept on his right foot.
“You have only one sandal,” he said. Something about his tone seemed strange, like a lost sandal meant more than simple inconvenience.
“Hmmm? Oh yeah, I lost it in the river Anauros before I arrived. I’ll need to find another soon. I don’t suppose you’ve met any good cobblers since you docked?”
“Sorry,” Orpheus shook his head. “Well, Jason, I hope we meet again.”
They grasped hands again then said their farewells. Now that Jason had washed off the excess dirt, he was as ready as he could be to visit the castle. His uncle had no idea he was coming. As he ascended the hill towards the castle, his grand fantasies overwhelmed him again. He could just see the king sitting on his throne as he threw open the doors, and announced himself the rightful king of Iolcus. He imagined the look on his uncle’s face as he realized his impending doom.
He hadn’t climbed the hill for long before he reached a stone gate that connected to the castle wall. He might have walked right into it, lost in thought as he was, if it weren’t for the guards who stood on raised platforms on either side of the gate.
“What business do you have?” barked one of the guards.
Jason looked up and smiled. “I’m here to see Pelias.”
The guard looked almost offended, “You will refer to him as King, and you look in no condition to enter these grounds. Leave now, or we will shoot you.
Jason observed a handful of archers on the stone gate. He sighed, this was not at all how he envisioned his entrance. He quickly assessed his options. He couldn’t fight his way in. The archers would take him out in seconds if he tried. He couldn’t scale the castle wall; it was too steep. It looked like his only choice was to talk his way in.
“Listen, guys, I don’t want any trouble. I just came here to discuss a few things with the King. We’re…um…related, and I thought he might—“
Suddenly the composure of the lead guard changed. His face fell and he looked panicky.
“You…you’re only wearing one sandal.”
“Uh…yeah,” replied Jason. What was the big deal with his sandal?
The lead guard spoke with another in hushed tones. Then the second guard climbed down from the wall and ran inside the castle. Jason’s spirits lifted. Maybe he would make some progress after all!
He waited a few moments until he returned with a well-dressed man who reminded Jason a lot of—wait. Was that his uncle? As the man approached, Jason knew it must be. He wore a small circlet of gold on his head. His robes, though not nearly as pompous as Jason imagined his uncle dressing in, were still clean and trimmed with gold. Pelias approached, his eyes fixated on Jason’s feet. When he saw the single sandal, he looked at Jason’s face. Something he saw there seemed to frighten the man. His face paled and his hands began to tremble. Jason grinned, this was more like it.
“ Who are you?” Pelias asked.
“I am Jason, son of Aeson, your brother. I am here to claim what is rightfully mine.”
Pelias hesitated, but a resolve grew on his face, replacing his more fearful complexion. He laughed. It was not the reaction Jason had expected.
“My boy, you can’t possibly expect us to believe every street urchin who passes by claiming to be royalty.”
But the king’s words meant little. Already, the guards were muttering among themselves. The oldest of them, who could remember King Aeson, saw the likeness in Jason’s face. Chiron had often told Jason that he was the express image of his father. Pelias heard the muttering and glanced at the guards. Contempt and annoyance etched his face but quickly changed to a false delight.
“But, I will say you look the spitting image of Aeson. Come inside, away from the rabble and we’ll talk.”
Jason tensed. “I will speak before your court.”
Pelias met his eyes, and Jason saw hatred there. The king knew ordering his guards to kill Jason would only make him look guilty. Yet allowing him to address the court would only solidify Jason’s claims. Pelias had no other choice. He smiled again.
“Of course, I’m just glad you have returned to us safely.” He motioned for the guards to open the gate, which they did. Jason entered casually, trying to convey a feeling of familiarity with the premises, a feeling of ownership. His uncle led him into the throne room. The throne overlooked the wide chamber, and chairs sat alongside two rows of pillars that spread throughout the space. Jason assumed these were for the king’s council or other onlookers. A single light illuminated the room from an opening in the ceiling, but otherwise the chamber appeared bleak and solitary. There were no ornamentations on the walls of the chamber, no candles to light its dark corners. The room sat mostly empty, though two men, one older and one younger, occupied one corner. The older man looked up and his eyes widened when he saw Jason. No doubt, the man had known Jason’s father and noticed the resemblance.
Pelias motioned the young man forward, then whispered something in his ear. The boy ran to do the king’s bidding.
“I’ve just sent for the remaining council.” he said and sat down on the throne.
Jason felt some disdain seeing his uncle in the throne but honestly didn’t know what to do at the moment. The man had sent for the council, and Jason needed to win them over before he could take the throne for himself. He had no army to take the throne in any other fashion. He stood in silence for a time. When his uncle didn’t offer him a seat, he decided to take one that lined the inner pillars and sat closest to the throne. A voice cut through the stillness, a gentle voice.
“Who has come to visit us, Pelias.” The voice belonged to a middle-aged woman. She had long, curled locks of deep-brown hair that was starting to gray. Her body was strong, but her face looked old and worn, like she had suffered ill favor with the gods. Jason stared at the newcomer. Her hair, her eyes, the way the corners of her mouth moved when she talked: this woman must be a close relative. She caught his gaze and froze, her mouth hanging slightly open.
“My dear!” Pelias leapt to his feet, “I told the lad not to bother you today since I know how tired you’ve been lately.
Jason’s brows furrowed. The woman appeared to be Pelias’ wife, though given her resemblance to Jason they must be related. Was the sick villain guilty of incest as well? Though perhaps he had married someone related to Jason’s mother. Yes, that had to be it. The women must be Jason’s blood aunt or something. Jason glanced to the side; a few old men began trickling into the chamber.
“He didn’t,” the woman replied, not taking her eyes off Jason, “I overheard him talking to Basilius. He said you had called a special meeting of the council.”
“Oh, nothing for you to bother yourself with,” Pelias answered, who seemed to be trying desperately to get the women’s attention so she would stop looking at Jason, “Just another delusional boy who claims to be the son of Aeson. I thought he bore a passing resemblance to your former husband, but certainly not enough to back up any claims he has to the—”
But both Jason and the women were no longer listening. Jason stared at her. Pelias had just named her as the former wife of king Aeson. That would make her… Comprehension dawned on his face. The woman saw it, and tears welled in her eyes. She let out a soft sob and ran to Jason. There was no doubt in either of their minds now. Mother and son embraced for the first time in nearly eighteen years. Jason felt tears come to his own eyes. He had never dreamed that his mother, Alcimede, would still be alive, assuming her dead with her husband. But here she was, hugging him back. It was more than Jason knew how to take in. The embrace lasted for what felt like a wondrous eternity, until Pelias cleared his throat.
“Like I said, we can’t really know he’s actually a son of Aeson. So I really see no point in—”
Jason’s anger resurfaced. This man—this dog—had murdered his father. He had taken everything that most children take for granted as they grow into adulthood: a home, a family. And now he learned that the villain had taken his mother as well. Was there no end to the man’s shame? He wheeled on his uncle, and the man recoiled at the burning hatred in Jason’s eyes.
“I am Jason, son of Aeson. I am the rightful king of this land. When I was a child, my mother gave me into the care of Chiron, mentor of heroes, to save me from the wretched villainy of the man who murdered my father and would have done the same to me.”
More council members had entered the throne room and watched intently. Servants were also drawn into the room by Jason’s increasingly raised voice. Pelias glanced around, totally unsure of what to do. Jason’s mother, who at first had seemed overjoyed at Jason’s words, was now lost in thought, brow furrowed.
“Chiron trained me as he has trained countless heroes before him: Achilles, Hercules, Theseus. And now I have returned to take revenge on the man who took everything away from me,” Jason turned to address the onlookers, “that man, is my father’s brother: Pelias, the so-called king of Iolcus.”
There were gasps from the audience, but not many. It appeared that, while Pelias’ betrayal had remained a secret to most, many on the council suspected as much. Jason’s chest was heaving. He had rehearsed those words since the beginning of his travels, and it had felt so good to say them. Alcimede’s face was now etched with concern as she looked between the king and her son. Indeed, everyone looked at the king to judge his reaction.
Pelias sat on his throne, his face made of stone. His eyes bored into Jason, lips curled in a sneer. Jason met his eyes, unflinching. Finally, Jason’s murderous uncle spoke, and a soft smile curved the edges of his lips. The smile unnerved Jason. Clearly, his uncle had more tricks up his sleeve.
“I know nothing of this plot you speak of. You may indeed be the long-lost son of my dear, departed brother. I do not know. But I certainly did not kill him, and besides, no one in the city would believe you even if I did. Who would believe a bedraggled youth who has never before set foot in this city over the word of their king.”
Pelias glanced at Alcimede as he said this, and she bowed her head. Jason’s anger spiked again. What had this man done to his mother?
The king continued, “But I am a generous king. After the sudden passing of my brother, I reluctantly took the grand responsibility of ruling this land.” Jason scoffed, but the king didn’t seem to hear, “And I will gladly relinquish my reign to my oldest nephew, assuming that is what you are. However, we must determine your competency and your divine right to rule.”
Members of the council, who had been watching from the sidelines, suddenly began muttering to themselves. Jason’s mother brought her hands to her mouth and looked more worried than ever. Jason, however, remained undisturbed.
“What do you propose,” he said.
Pelias smiled for the first time since they had entered the throne room, “A test. To see if you are fit to rule a kingdom such as this. Should the gods favor you, I will step down willingly, and you can take my place. If not—well, I suspect you will never return.”
Jason felt a flash of impatience. He shouldn’t have to take any tests. He was the rightful king, and everyone knew that. Though glancing around the room, he wasn’t so sure. The council looked to him expectantly. He would have to win them over if he had any hope of ruling without opposition. Jason realized how stupid he had been. Of course, it wasn’t going to be as easy as he hoped. People weren’t going to just let some unproven boy take the throne, no matter his lineage. His uncle likely wanted to use this test as a way to rid himself of his nephew. Instead, he had just given Jason exactly what he needed.
“Name your challenge!” Jason bellowed for everyone to hear.
Pelias smiled again, “You must travel east, to Colchis, and bring me back the Golden Fleece. Do this, and you will bring prosperity to the land, and prove yourself the rightful king.”
“And you will step down?” Jason asked.
“Without hesitation,” responded Pelias.
“Then I accept.”
The mutters increased around the room. Everyone had heard of the Golden Fleece, a mystical artifact that provides healing to whomever wears it, and prosperity to the land around it. Members of the council looked almost excited. They probably hadn’t witnessed anything this interesting in years. Only Alcimede looked downfallen. No doubt she was thinking of all the other rumors that surrounded the Golden Fleece, that it was guarded by a sleepless dragon, and remained in the possession of King Aeetes, a man who would do all in his power to keep would-be thieves from taking the Fleece. And that was only if Jason could arrive. The sea was full of deadly threats to any ship who dared sail from Iolcus to Colchis.
Jason wasn’t bothered by the tales. Most were probably exaggerations anyway. The king gave him permission to leave, and he did so with his mother close behind. They eventually reached the gate and Jason paused as he saw a large group of people from the city gathered outside of the gate. The guards didn’t seem to mind, since most of them joined the crowds in staring at Jason. No doubt one of the servants had left to tell everyone what was happening. The noise of the crowd greatly increased as he grew closer. Jason turned back to his mother who stood behind him.
“Mother, I’m so sorry I have to leave like this.”
She pursed her lips, “Eighteen years ago I had to let you go to save your life. I had hoped you would one day return, but now that you have, I’m losing you again.”
“And I will return again,” Jason tried to comfort her.
“Do you have any idea how many ‘heroes’ have died trying to take the Golden Fleece?” she said, “Even if you make it to Colchis, the king is not just going to give it up without a fight! You’d have a better chance of defeating your uncle’s armies single-handed.”
“That is why I won’t go alone,” said Jason, “I’ll need a ship and messengers to visit every corner of Greece. They’ll call for heroes to join me, and they will come. I’m sure few would pass on this chance to take the Golden Fleece itself. I know some of these people, and they won’t back down from a chance for glory like this.”
His mother looked unconvinced but let the matter drop. She knew she wasn’t going to convince him. She held the tears back as they embraced once more. Jason turned back to the crowd at the gate. Many of them were pointing at Jason’s feet. He frowned and turned back to his mother.
“Why is everyone so interested in my one missing sandal,” he asked.
His mother smiled knowingly and explained, “After your uncle took over the rule of the city, he did everything he could to ensure no one would rise up against him. He assassinated most who opposed him, and anyone else who could potentially lay claim to the throne. I was pregnant with you at the time, and he would have killed you as soon as you were born. But I had my midwives take you away before he could do anything. They pretended you were still-born. Until today, we were the only ones who knew the truth.”
Jason nodded, “And what does that have to do with my sandal.”
Alcimede’s eyes twinkled, “Even after killing his competition, Pelias was paranoid about losing his rule. He paid a special visit to the Oracle.”
Jason leaned in. He’d heard about the Oracle that provided those who approached it with answers to questions about their future. He had never thought to go there himself, despite the temptation to know one’s future, but he was eager to hear what his uncle had learned there.
His mother continued, “The Oracle assured him that his rule was secured, but that he should beware of a man who would one day appear with only one sandal. I had no idea that man would be you, my son.” She beamed at him, pride evident on her face.
The news greatly increased Jason’s mood, “Well then you have nothing to worry about,” he said, “It sounds like I’m destined to take the kingdom.”
“Don’t put so much faith in fate,” his mother replied, “the Oracle never speaks plainly, so we mustn’t assume anything.”
“I know, mother,” it felt so good to say those words. Jason gave her one last embrace, “I’ll be careful. You will see me again, I promise.” He turned and marched towards the gate. The guards let him pass and he waded into the crowd of people. Most gave him space as he moved forward, keeping their distance, respecting him. It felt good.
It wasn’t long before he had reached the docks again. The crowds were following behind, eager to observe but careful not to get too close.
Suddenly, Jason felt a stab of panic. The full weight of his quest bore down on him. He was going to need a ship, a capable crew, and he had no earthly idea where he would come by them. He looked up and down the harbor. He could potentially hire one of these ships, but most were traders and would not want to deviate from their trade routes, even if Jason could pay them, which he couldn’t because he had no money. That was the biggest issue. He had no money to buy or hire a ship. He sat down, trying to work out a solution in his head. A nearby voice spoke up.
“Looks like you got someone’s attention,” Jason turned to see Orpheus, the man he had spoken to earlier, idly polishing his lyre.
“That was the plan,” Jason responded.
“People are already spreading the story,” Orpheus continued, “A young boy came from the castle shouting it at the top of his lungs just a moment ago. The lost son of King Aeson sent on a mission to claim the Golden Fleece. It’s quite a tale.”
“I suppose you think I’m crazy.”
“On the contrary, I want to join you.”
Jason locked eyes with the man. “You what?”
“When we talked earlier, I knew there was something special about you. I don’t know if it was just my intuition or the gods trying to tell me something. I think I can be of help.”
“Thank you,” said Jason, “But—and please don’t be offended by this—you’re only a musician. I’m going to need the best heroes in Greece to pull this off.”
Orpheus laughed, “I think you’d be surprised at the effect my music can have on others.”
Jason shrugged and peered into the endless sea, “Oh well, I guess I’ll take all the help I can get. I don’t suppose your music could magically conjure up a ship to use?”
“No, I think not.”
“Oh well, worth a shot right?”
“But I might know someone who can help.”
Jason turned back to look at Orpheus. “Tell me.”
“A friend of mine, goes by the name of Argus. He just finished building a ship here.”
When Jason glanced at the nearby ships docked, Orpheus shook his head, “It’s not at this dock. Argus kept it nearby, but far enough away to not attract attention.”
Jason nodded eagerly, “Can I meet him.”
Orpheus nodded, “I will take you to him.”
Orpheus led Jason to the edge of the city, and then beyond. When the road turned inland, Orpheus left the road and they proceeded across the rocky shore. Jason glanced around, trying to find this elusive ship, wondering how far away it was.
“Why did this Argus not dock with the rest of the ships?” he called ahead of him, “why go through all the trouble?”
“This ship is special,” Orpheus replied, “He claims Athena herself commissioned him to build it”
Athena! Jason thought. Was she secretly helping Jason? Could she have been the old woman Jason had carried across the river earlier that same day? Jason didn’t really picture Athena as the type to disguise herself as an old woman. She was supposed to be a warrior, the goddess of wisdom and strategy.
Orpheus continued, “Argus didn’t want King Pelias to know about it, just in case the King would try to claim it for himself.”
“He is prone to such things,” said Jason. He was starting to tire now; the busy day was taking its toll. Not to mention the sun was slowly dropping. Jason wondered how much longer they had to go. They rounded another corner and Jason froze.
There, stood the most magnificent vessel Jason had ever seen. The mast stood straight in the center of a polished wooden frame. A majestic bow almost seemed to stare as they approached. When they drew near, Jason could see the stern of the ship was shaped like a dragon’s tail. The hull was smoother than any ship Jason had ever seen, and air-tight.
“Hail, Argus,” Orpheus said. Jason tore his eyes away from the ship and was surprised to see a man standing right next to them. Jason hadn’t even noticed. He was too entranced by the…art of a ship. The man was taller even than Jason, and his big arms were folded across a gigantic chest. An unkempt beard hung from his face; he looked like a wild man. Jason instantly made a note not to get on his bad side.
“Why are you here, Orpheus.” Argus replied in a voice like rocks, “I told you not to bring anyone here.”
“You did, and I apologize for going against your wishes.” Orpheus said politely, “But I think I may have the reason why Athena tasked you with building this ship.”
Argus’s eyes squinted at Jason. “This welp.” Jason frowned, but said nothing.
“Yes, you see this is Jason, the son of Aeson, rightful king of Iolcus.”
Argus looked at Jason again, interest dawning his face. Jason cleared his throat. “Er, hello. Your ship…it’s incredible. Did you build it all by yourself? That would have taken years!”
Argus smiled for the first time, “Nah. I had help, but from no one you would believe. Best craftsmen in the world, that lot. I did my fair share though, even with a goddess guiding me.”
Jason took a step forward, “So you really have seen Athena!”
“Er, yeah…something like that. It’s a bit hard to explain.”
“What did she say?”
“Said I needed to build a ship, one that would take part in a grand adventure. So I…uh..did,” he said awkwardly. Despite his imposing size, he seemed rather unused to conversation.
“Just like that?” Jason asked.
“Well yeah,” said Argus, “I mean, it’s not like you’d say no to people like that. She set me up with the resources I needed, and told me I would know when it was time to give it up.” He looked Jason up and down. “But if Orpheus vouches for you…”
“Wait!” Jason, “You’re just going to give me this ship! We don’t even know each other, and I have no way to pay you.”
Argus barked a laugh, “Course I’m not going to give it to you. I’m coming too. Got to keep an eye on her,” he beamed at the ship.
Jason grinned, “The more the merrier!” He turned again to take in the beautiful woodwork sitting in the bay. This was it! This was how he would take the Golden Fleece and return it to his uncle. Heroes would flock when they heard about the majesty of this divine workmanship. Without looking back at Argus, he asked, “What’s her name?”
“I call her, the Argo,” replied Argus.
And the sun set gently on the bay.