Riccy and Uncle Daeda

Eblow was always excited when his uncle and cousin arrived.  They would hammer on the heavy wolf’s-head knocker like Thor in anger then push their way in as someone opened the door a crack.  Daeda would call “Halloooo!” in the deepest, loudest voice you could imagine while his son RIccy would get caught up in the jolliest of moods and howl “Yahooo!” at the top of his voice till it threatened to crack the stained glass windows.  If the hound was in its basket it would often raise its heads and join the cacophony with yowls in loud appreciation of the disarray and adrenaline that had burst into the large room.

Whatever the time of year Riccy would warm his hands in front of the old log fire.  If summer and only a twist of smoke and lick of flame from a single log he would grab a poker and stir the embers until shocks of yellow and gold shot skywards like gold leaf before it disappeared.  As it did this day.

Eblow stood beaming at the welcome visitors as they bear-hugged his mother and father in turn as they entered the room from different doorways.  RIccy was bright golden-haired, a thinner copy of his father.  Both had the same elongated noses that made them look like birds from certain angles, especially when their eyes glittered with hawk-like ferocity.  The fire in their eyes was a sure sign that a scheme was ‘afoot’.  One or both would pace and sit, scratch in the sand or drag out a tablet to work on, as restless as the Lethe or Styx until ideas were resolved or just scattered to the gods as fruitless schemes.

Riccy was a good fifteen years older than  Eblow,  a man now, a worthy citizen like his balding, grey haired father but still a great playmate in Riccy’s eyes.  Eblow was even now grabbed up and swung round in circles until his eyes watered and his head turned into the whirlpool to be placed carefully on the couch and ruthlessly tickled.

If Acolyte entered then he would be treated more sedately as the elder of the brothers, a slow and studied bow and salute from RIccy followed immediately with the production of an egg from behind the boy’s ear or prod at the tunic on his chest from which would come a wriggle and a chirrup and Riccy’s hand would slip into the fold at the shoulder and out would come a small bird, a linnet or a lark to be cupped carefully and released at the door.

The entrance of Anvil, the youngest of the siblings would solemnise the whole room and all turn to watch RIccy sit on his knees to be almost eye-level with the little girl as she walked over to him. She would always tidy his long, blonde locks, move them away from his eyes and kiss him on the cheek.  Then clap her hands and with a big smile turn and jump onto his back whilst he leaned forward onto his hands and moved on all fours, bucking and neighing like a horse or a bull until he collapsed from tiredness and sore knees.

Daeda was an architect, an engineer; “a designer of great things!”  He would boom cheerily at his guests or when visiting family, even in public if he had something to say but when working he would focus on the problem and, these days, tread carefully.

“How’s business?” Asked Medea, her hair waving briskly in the draughts wafted by the visitors’ entrance.

“Ah,” said Daeda and smiled round at the children still surrounding his son and his magic tricks.  Daeda then turned aside, easing her round with an arm around her shoulders so he would not be heard or even have his lips visible as he spoke.        “I have a job, a big job. Lots of planning and even more building to do.  Minos has given me another project.”

“What!” She exclaimed in response, pushing her voice down to an incredulous whisper on an elongated word.  She bent her head down, overshadowing the balding head and looked at him sternly, scarily.  “After all this time?  After that mess you got into last time?”  She managed to keep her voice low, just.

He became slightly defensive as he spoke, ” It wasn’t my fault, you know.  I was commissioned to build it, a life-size statue.  She said it was a gift, a sort of companion.  Anyway this is for MInos, her husband the king, not Pasiphae”

“You don’t build a companion for a gift from the gods! ” She hissed, her dreadlocks now insinuating towards him. “Especially when it should be a noble sacrifice,”

“I didnt think, I….I., well it was…..a secret.”    He closed his eyes, embarrassed. “Pasi said it would be a great gift, that she felt sad for the bull. Said it was lonely.”    After so many years he was still quite proud of his unique construction.  No one in the world could ever create such a creature as realistic in every way, as he out of wood and hide.  How was he to know:  Pasi had challenged him to build it for her.  He could never resist a challenge, especially from a Queen.  And it was beautifully made, with space inside for Pasi to lie, to be close to that blessed white bull.  He never noticed how passionate she was about it, that she had saved it from sacrifice.  That she had fallen in love with it!

Such a mistake he had made. Poseidon had given the bull to Minos. Poseidon was the one who was so angered, how was he, Daeda to know that?  that..and what happened, they said……

Daeda had pondered this time and again.  He had heard of the birth to Pasi.  Heard that she had brought the child into the world and kept it hidden.  Rumours had spread the city, the state, even the circle of the world and now he knew that Poseidon had produced a sacrifice of another sort.

“But I have to accept it. He’s the king!”

Medea leaned away from him, looking sternly with her unblinking eyes.  She sighed and he saw her relax a little.  He regained himself and his confidence:

“It’s to design a complex building, and build it.  I have no time at all to do it so RIccy will assist full time.  We can have any workers we need as long as we’re fast.   It’s just near Knossos.  A Grand Design of passages and halls and alleys.  A giant maze, that’s what he wants.  Roofed and no windows. ‘For the child to play in, and have visitors’, Minos said.  He said it must be safe and secure. A massive project! and I am the man to build it,”  he said, proudly emphasising the last words.

“It’s your penance to Poseidon”, she whispered it into his face.

However, Daeda’s confidence had returned, “Maybe it’s for the pleasure of the gods!”

“Daedalus,” she continued,”  It may not be this, this…… labyrinth, for which you will be remembered.”   Medea shook her head and the long locks wraithed around her head.

“Even better, ” he responded, regaining the volume with extra confidence, “Icarus”, he called to his son,  “we have great things to do.  We must hurry along.  Say goodbye.”

RIccy stopped playing with his cousins and joined his father at the great door.  Quick goodbyes and they hurried into the sunshine.  “Hurry Icarus, we must fly!”


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