Perseus' heart slammed in his chest as he approached the
great bronze doors. Already he could hear the noise of
the King's feast: the clatter of plates and goblets, the
guttural laughter of the guests, the sounds of flutes,
drums and harps. Any minute now, Phineas, Perseus thought,
any minute now I will have my revenge. In his right hand
he carried the razor-sharp sword that had slain Medusa.
In his left he bore the monster's severed head. Perseus
smiled at the irony. King Phineas had sent him on a fatal
quest, knowing Medusa would destroy him. But the Gods
had favoured him and he, Perseus, had killed the monster.
Soon he would use its hideous stare against the man who
had plotted his death.
By Alan Gibbons
The boy warrior eased open the blood soaked bag that contained
Medusa's head. The creature was dead but her hair, made
of living snakes, crawled with life. The serpents slithered
around Perseus’ wrist. The eyes were alive too,
alive and waiting to chill the blood of any who met their
gaze. Perseus sucked in a deep breath and set his shoulder
against the bronze doors. With a low groan, they yawned
open. Immediately, three of the King's bodyguards spotted
him and strode forward to oppose him. Perseus was ready
for them. Thrusting his left hand into the writhing, twisting
nest of vipers, Perseus pulled Medusa's head from the
"Behold!" Perseus yelled. "This is the
monster that lived at the ends of the Earth. Look upon
A gasp of horror rolled around the banqueting hall. The
three warriors were the first to succumb to Medusa's stare.
Their skin crackled and stiffened. Their faces became
rigid and grey. The fists that gripped swords, shields
and spears turned to stone. The grotesque transformation
continued until all three had become statues fixed in
a moment of terror.
The metamorphosis of the palace guards into statues provoked
panic. Dozens of guests screamed and raced for the exits.
Some stumbled and fell, only to be trampled by those immediately
behind them. Others glimpsed Medusa’s nightmarish
eyes and were themselves turned to stone. This added to
the mayhem. Tables crashed to the floor. Wine gushed onto
the stone tiles. In desperation, some of those closest
to King Phineas attacked Perseus, shielding their eyes
with their hands. Perseus cut them down with his gleaming
sword. One man tumbled to the floor, a slash of scarlet
across his scalp. Another slammed into an upturned table,
his lifeless eyes gazing up at the ceiling.
Having repulsed his attackers, Perseus swept the room
with a fierce gaze, looking for the man who had tried
to send him to his death. Perseus' anger was all the stronger
because the King had dared to propose marriage to the
boy's mother. He tightened his grip on the hilt of his
sword and marched through the carnage he had created.
In his blood rage, Perseus roared a challenge.
"I will spare anyone who shows me where to find the
King," he roared.
His voice echoed round the room.
"Show me!" Perseus cried. "Do it, or I
will slaughter every last soul in this hall."
Finally one wretched, sobbing courtier pointed across
the hall to an open door. Perseus saw the golden-crowned
King fleeing into the heart of the palace. Grim determination
was etched on the boy's features. He didn't hurry. He
knew it was only a matter of time before he discovered
Phineas cowering in some recess. He was about to have