Inside her chamber Ariadne sank down on to one of the floor cushions and gave a dejected sigh. Max took a deep breath. He had no other option but to try and talk to her. He hoped to goodness she wasn’t going to do that “girl thing” of screaming when she heard him talking, like Varna had done back in Atlantis the first time he’d spoken to her.
‘Ariadne,’ he began quietly. Her eyes snapped open and she scanned the room trying to see who had spoken. So far so good, thought Max. No screaming yet. ‘I’ve come to get the key,’ he continued in a slightly louder voice. ‘We’ve got to help the others get out of the labyrinth.’
‘Aaargh!’ screamed Ariadne as she realised the words had come from Max’s mouth.
I thought it was too much to hope for, groaned Max inwardly. ‘For goodness sake keep the noise down,’ he said. ‘Do you want the guards to come in here?’
Too late. The door opened and both men rushed in, brandishing their spears.
‘What’s the problem, your Highness?’ asked one of them.
Ariadne stared from Max to the two soldiers and back again. She blinked and swallowed hard, unsure of how to answer.
‘Um, er, no problem,’ she replied haltingly. ‘I ... I just caught sight of a ... a ... an enormous spider … over there.’ She gestured vaguely towards a far corner of the room. ‘But it seems to have gone now, so I don’t need you. You may leave.’ She waved an arm to dismiss them.
The guards looked doubtful, trying to spot what she’d been pointing at but, once they were satisfied Ariadne was all right, they shrugged their shoulders and left the room to resume their posts.
Ariadne stared fearfully at Max, her eyes wide open with shock.
‘Yes, I can talk,’ he said in a brisk, matter-of-fact voice. ‘It’s nothing to be afraid of and it’s a good job I can. This is all a bit of a mess and someone’s got to sort everything out. So please don’t waste time getting in a state.’
Ariadne couldn’t believe her ears. Who did he think he was speaking to a royal princess like that? She shook herself, glaring at him with a haughty expression on her face and was on the point of giving him a good telling-off for being so forward.
‘How dare you …’ she began. Then she remembered this was a cat - a cat – who was talking to her and she snapped her mouth shut again.
‘And before you think about ticking me off for addressing a princess in such a manner, I’ll have you know I’m not just some common moggy who’s been dragged in off the street. I have a distinguished pedigree and may well be of royal descent myself,’ he concluded with a sniff.
By this time Ariadne’s eyes were almost out on stalks. Not only could he speak, but he seemed to be able to read her mind as well. Unable to think of a suitable reply she said nothing. Besides, she still couldn’t quite bring herself to have a conversation with a cat, however noble he might be.
‘Come on, Ariadne,’ said Max, tutting with impatience. ‘We haven’t got all day. Their lives are in danger down in that labyrinth and we’ve got to do something.’
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish