|Almost out of breath, Betsy Logan emerges from the water to find herself in a dark room deep beneath the earth.|
|Shortly afterwards, her boyfriend, Spencer climbs out of the dive well, and they ponder the strange room together.|
|“The plaque reads, ‘Beware the curse of Sisyphus,’” Spencer says. “This seems to be the only way onward, though. You stay here while I explore the next room.”|
|Betsy waits patiently by the door. She finally hears her boyfriend call out from the floor above, “There’s a giant boulder blocking my way out of here!”|
|As Spencer finishes his sentence, Betsy sees the door lock in front of her. “I’m afraid we’re both trapped.”|
|Twinbrook, two months prior|
|“Dad, you’ve been asking me what I’d like for a college graduation gift, and I think I’d like to spend the summer in Greece with some friends of mine. Do grandma and grandpa still own their home on the island of Simlos?”|
|Betsy looks in her father’s eyes hoping not to stir up painful memories of his brother’s kidnapping. “Please don’t be sad, daddy. We can look into other living arrangements.”|
|“Were there ever any leads on what happened to uncle Luke?”|
|“The kidnappers demanded a hefty ransom knowing dad was a wealthy businessman. We did everything they asked of us, but the kidnappers eventually stopped contacting us. And we never saw Luke again.”|
Betsy and Pete leave for Simlos five days later.
“We’ll miss you Betsy,” says Jackson, the ghost of her great-great grandfather.
“I’ll miss you you, too,” Betsy replies, “and I will call and email often.”
She turns to Carter, her other father, and says, “I love you dad.”
Carter responds with a smile, “I love you, too, Betsy. I’ll be sure to send you some cookies to take your mind off of those rough days relaxing by the pool.”
|Betsy and her father finally arrive in Simlos. Betsy is astounded by the beauty of her surroundings. She approaches the front door with a mix of excitement and hesitation.|
“What do you think?” Pete asks.
“I love it here. Thank you so much for everything,” Betsy replies.
“There’s plenty of room here for you and your friends--four bedrooms and seven bathrooms total. Let me show you around outside.”
|“This is a small church. Many families on the island have their own private chapels.”|
|“These are the ruins of the Oracle of Simlos,” Pete continues. “Mother devoted her career to the study of these ruins. Of course her pursuits came to a standstill when Luke was kidnapped.”|
Betsy and Pete spend the next couple of days upgrading all of the appliances. “I’m going to start with the top two floors,” Betsy insists.
“I’ll get to work on the bottom two floors,” Pete agrees.
|“Hi, I’m Page, and this is my boyfriend, Jason.”|
“And finally, Silas and Tanner,” Betsy says. “They’ve been together since freshman year.”
“Very nice to meet you, sir. You and your husband have been great role models for us,” Tanner and Silas share with Pete.
“I suppose I should be going now,” Pete sadly states as he gives Betsy a farewell embrace.
“I’m going to miss you. I love you very much,” Betsy replies.
|“We are going to have the best summer ever,” Jason tells his friends. “I don’t know about you, but I’m spending all day relaxing by the pool tomorrow.”|
|Before bed, Betsy visits the bedroom of her father and lost uncle, Luke. She imagines them at play and shudders to think of the horror that tore them apart.|
|She remembers the best gift she ever received as a child, and she places a monarch butterfly on the boys’ dresser.|
|Over the next several weeks, the group spends their days relaxing by the pool and grilling on the porch. Silas finds a book written by Betsy’s grandmother, and he reads voraciously by the pool day by day.|
|“I have been reading a book by your grandmother, the great Lillian Chase,” Silas tells Betsy. “She tells a fascinating history of this island. Simlos was once a thriving and vibrant city in the ancient Greek civilization.”|
|Silas continues, “The Oracle of Simlos was the main attraction. People from all over the Greek empire made pilgrimages to seek guidance from the Oracle. Numerous temples to the Greek gods were built around the Oracle.”|
|“Maybe we should call in a crew of bulldozers to dig up this place,” Jason jokes. “I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask the Oracle.”|
|Page and Tanner sit down to eat. “Perhaps there’s an easier way,” Page interjects. “Lillian was certainly onto something, and it was only a great family tragedy which prevented her from making the ultimate discovery.”|
|Tanner adds, “Most of the work has already been done by Mrs. Chase. Why don’t we begin searching for clues in the morning?”|
|“Agreed,” Spencer replies. “I’m worn out after a busy day of sunbathing! I’m off to bed.”|
|The next morning, everyone meets for breakfast to discuss the upcoming day.|
|“I suggest we split into three groups. Tanner and Silas can search the house for clues. Page and Jason can explore the chapel. Spencer and I will search the surrounding premises.”|
|“Let’s agree to meet back here in six hours.”|
|“The Chase family incorporated this ancient Greek bath into their home,” Silas explains. “Let’s see if we can find anything interesting here.”|
“I couldn’t find a thing,” Tanner says.
“Nor could I,” Silas replies with disappointment.
“Why don’t we try the nectar cellar,” Tanner suggests.
|“What an incredible collection of nectar!” Silas exclaims.|
|“Hey, I found a hidden switch in the corner.” Tanner activates a secret door that opens before them.|
|“Amazing! Let’s see where this leads.”|
|“This plaque says, ‘Temple of Poseidon,’” Tanner reads. “I wonder how we can get in?”|
|“We may need this torch,” Silas says as he unsuccessfully attempts to wriggle a torch from the wall. The torch lever, however, unlocks the temple entrance.|
|“Another hidden switch!”|
|“Look, Tanner! You’ve revealed a hidden floor panel. I’m going to try to activate it.”|
|As Silas steps on the panel, a staircase appears before him.|
|“I should have expected the Temple of Poseidon would involve water.”|
|“It’s a water maze,” Tanner suggests.|
|“Be careful to avoid those steam traps. Maybe we can find a way to deactivate them,” Silas calls out from behind.|
|“Let’s see if this works,” Tanner states as he disables the trap in front of him with another hidden switch.|
|“Look! It’s a stone in the shape of a star. I wonder if this is one of the keystones I read about.”|
|“Poseidon, himself! He hasn’t had visitors for thousands of years.”|
Tanner and Silas progress to the next room. Tanner reads the plaque on the wall, “To enter the Temple of Dionysus, make an offering of his true love.”
“That has to be nectar!” Silas exclaims. “Let’s see if that works.”
|“That didn’t work. I think we’ve hit a roadblock. Besides, we should probably reconvene with the rest of the group.”|
|“This chapel is tiny,” Jason says. “Let’s hope we can find something of interest here.”|
|“These torches are interesting,” Page calls out. “This one seems to move like a lever.”|
|A hidden staircase appears and leads into the chapel undercroft.|
|“My Greek is terrible, but I believe this plaque reads ‘To enter the Temple of Hephaestus, one must have the grip of Prometheus,’” Jason says.|
|“Prometheus brought fire to mortals,” Page reasons. “Maybe this torch is another lever.”|
|Another hidden staircase appears, and Page and Jason venture deeper into the Temple of Hephaestus.|
|“How are we going to get past these flames?”|
|“Hey! I found a hidden door!”|
|“I’ll grab this amethyst gem, and you check out that hole in the wall,” Page states with excitement.|
|A switch reveals a hidden floorplate, and Page steps on the plate to deactivate the fire traps blocking their passage.|
|“I’ve found another hidden door!”|
|“Looks like a dead end, but at least we can grab these magnificent gems,” Jason says.|
|“Not necessarily a dead end,” Page replies as she finds a switch to reveal another hidden staircase.|
“This plaque reads, ‘Temple of Artemis,’” Jason says, “but it looks like we need a moon-shaped keystone.”
“Artemis was the goddess of the moon, after all,” Page adds.
|"Well, we don’t have the keystone, and we should probably get back to the others to report what we’ve found,” Jason states.|
“I’ve tried to dig around here, but I keep hitting solid rock,” Spencer says with frustration.
“Let’s look elsewhere,” Betsy says. “We have much left to explore.”
|“I wonder if this well could provide passage into the buried temples below,” Betsy suggests.|
|“I’ll dive in and explore the depths to see if I can find any clues.”|
|Minutes pass without Spencer resurfacing. Betsy begins to worry.|
|Spencer finally emerges with a look of excitement.|
|“There’s a tunnel down there leading to one of the ancient temples! Let’s go together and explore!”|
|Betsy and Spencer emerge in a very ancient-looking room.|
“Aha! It says we’re at the Temple of Aphrodite,” Spencer exclaims.
“But we need a heart-shaped keystone to get in,” Betsy replies. “I think I remember such a stone on display in the artifact case upstairs. Let’s see if it fits.”
|“It certainly looks like a good fit,” Betsy says hopefully. They grab the stone and return to the temple entrance.|
|“A perfect fit,” Spencer laughs as the door unlocks before them.|
|“This place is magical.” The heart-shaped petals falling at the feet of Aphrodite’s statue leave Betsy mesmerized.|
|“I’ll grab these gems if you want to explore the rest of the temple,” Spencer suggests.|
“This chest has another keystone! This one is shaped like a moon.”
“That’s great, Betsy,” Spencer calls out from behind.
|“Hey! This switch in the wall revealed a hidden floor panel!”|
|Betsy steps onto the panel to open a hidden door leading to the next room.|
|“This plaque says, ‘To enter the Temple of Apollo, offer a bar of gold,’” Betsy reads. “Where are we going to find a bar of gold?”|
|“I remember a bar of gold on the chapel alter,” Spencer says, “but I’m going to search this chest first. Aha! I found lots of precious metals in here, including a bar of gold!”|
|Betsy and Spencer find themselves in a tiny room with a sun on the wall. “I know Apollo was the sun god, but this room seems kind of small to be a temple for such a revered god,” Spencer says.|
|“Maybe there’s another hidden passage,” Betsy says as she jiggles a torch on the wall to reveal a hidden staircase.|
|“What a beautiful temple,” Betsy says. “And look! It’s Apollo’s lyre.”|
|“Maybe one of these torches is another secret lever,” Spencer says as he reveals a hidden hole in the floor.|
|“Amazing!” Betsy exclaims. “Each of these rooms is a puzzle for us to solve.” She finds a switch to reveal another hidden floor panel.|
|Spencer steps onto the panel to open a hidden door in the corner.|
Spencer reads the plaque in the next room, “’Temple of Athena,’ but we need a star-shaped keystone.”
“And our six hours are up. We should meet up with the others to tell them what we’ve found.”
|“We found a moon-shaped keystone in the Temple of Aphrodite just below the well in the courtyard,” Betsy explains. “We forged ahead into the Temple of Apollo, but we need a star-shaped keystone to enter the Temple of Athena.”|
|“We can help you out there,” Silas says. “We found a hidden entrance to the Temple of Poseidon in the nectar cellar. There we found a star-shaped keystone.”|
|Tanner adds, “We made it to the Temple of Dionysus, but we needed an offering of his ‘true love.’ We tried a bottle of nectar, but that didn’t work.”|
|“You’re a genius, Page!” Silas exclaims. “I say we celebrate our adventures in the spa.”|
|“Do you think it’s safe to press on?” Jason asks the group.|
|“We could call in for help, but I say we explore a bit more before the city steamrolls this beautiful place and tourists swarm upon us.”|
|“Excellent point,” Tanner says. “We should see what more we can find tomorrow. I have a feeling we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.”|
|“Let’s see if Page is right,” Silas says as he places an amethyst stone on the pedestal. The door unlocks before them.|
“These bottles of nectar are thousands of years old!” Tanner exclaims.
“And look at these massive vats of nectar,” Silas adds.
“Betsy reported that such wells may have hidden tunnels into other parts of the ruins,” Tanner says.
“I’ll dive in and explore,” Silas claims enthusiastically.
|Silas searches the first two wells and finds treasure but no tunnel.|
|“Third time’s a charm?” Silas asks as he climbs into the last well.|
|“There’s a tunnel down there! Let’s see where it leads.”|
|“What is this? Blood?” Tanner asks revolted by the red well from which he emerges.|
|“It’s only fitting,” Silas explains. “We’re at the Temple of Ares, the god of war. We need to offer a stone the color of blood.”|
|“Thankfully, Page and Jason found this ruby in the Temple of Hephaestus,” Tanner says as he places a ruby on the pedestal to unlock the door.|
|“This must be some sort of ancient irrigation system below us,” Silas says.|
|With the next step, Silas sets off two fire traps blocking passage over the bridges. “I think we may be able to jump through the traps if we are soaked in water,” Silas reports, embarrassed that he set off the traps.|
|“Very well, I’ll look for another way across while you swim around in that grotesque well.”|
|Tanner finds a torch lever to reveal a hidden floor panel.|
|Silas returns just as Tanner disables the traps.|
|“Hey, at least you look great soaking wet.”|
|Across the bridges, Tanner and Silas approach the statue of Ares. Ares appears to direct his gaze at a hole in the opposing wall.|
|Silas finds a switch in the hole to reveal a hidden staircase.|
|Silas and Tanner find themselves at the Temple of Demeter in need of a butterfly offering to proceed. “Betsy left a butterfly on the dresser in the boys’ room,” Silas suggests.|
|They hurriedly backtrack into the house to claim the butterfly, and the offering unlocks the temple doors. “I think we should return the butterfly when we’re done,” Tanner says. “Betsy left it there for sentimental reasons.”|
“Demeter was the goddess of the harvest,” Silas reports.
“That explains the wheelbarrow, but I wonder what we should do next,” Tanner replies.
|Silas finds a torch lever to reveal a hidden floor switch.|
|Tanner steps on the switch to open a hidden door. As soon as he steps off, though, the door closes and locks.|
|“I think these statues may be of use here,” Tanner says as he maneuvers one of the statues over the floor switch. The door stays open.|
“More treasure!” Silas exclaims.
“It’s getting pretty late,” Tanner adds. “I think we should grab the butterfly and head back up to find the others.”
|Meanwhile, Page and Jason are below the chapel at the Temple of Artemis. Page inserts the moon-shaped keystone into the panel to open the door.|
“That’s a fine statue of Artemis,” Jason says, “but we’re going to have to get past these dart traps.
“There must be a way to disable them,” Page responds as she searches the small space around them.
|“Here’s a hidden door!” Page exclaims.|
|Inside the next room, they find a torch lever to disable the traps.|
|“It’s like an ancient forest in here,” Page says as they explore the temple.|
|“Hey, I found a hole in the corner here,” Jason announces, “but I’m blocked by more dart traps.”|
|Page disables the dart traps with another torch lever.|
|As Jason searches the corner hole for clues, he finds a hidden switch that reveals a staircase.|
“Wow! The Temple of Zeus!” Jason exclaims.
“But how are we going to find a ‘large rock from the sky’ as an offering?” Page questions.
“Space rocks are actually not that uncommon,” Jason suggests. “There are several just outside among the plants.”
“Here’s one near the front door.”
“Wonderful!” Page says excitedly. “Let’s get into that temple now.”
|Page places the large space rock on the pedestal to unlock the temple door.|
|“Ah, lightning traps,” Page sighs. “How appropriate for a storm deity.”|
|Jason finds a hole switch in the ground to reveal a hidden floor panel.|
|Page uses the floor panel to disable the traps.|
|“I can’t see any clues on the far side of the room,” Jason says as they approach the disabled traps.|
|Just as they step over the traps, a hidden door swings open before them. A large axe hangs on the wall.|
|“Amazing!” Page exclaims as she wields the axe. “The double-headed axe, also known as a ‘labrys’ or ‘pelekys’ to the Greeks, was wielded by Zeus to invoke thunderstorms!”|
|“It was also a holy symbol to the Minoan civilization and appears frequently among the maze-like ruins of Crete at the Palace of Knossos. That may be where the term ‘labyrinth’ evolved since Knossos was the site of the Minotaur’s maze.”|
|“Brilliant, Page!” Jason exclaims. “We should tell the others.”|
|Elsewhere, Betsy and Spencer return to the Temple of Athena. Betsy places the star-shaped keystone into the panel to unlock the door.|
“Athena was the goddess of wisdom,” Spencer says. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that we stand before some sort of ancient chess board.”
“But where do we move the pieces?” Betsy asks as she examines the statues.
|Spencer searches a hole in the ground and finds a switch to reveal a hidden floor panel on the game board.|
|“Perfect!” Betsy shouts from across the room. “I’ll pull this statue onto the panel for our first move.”|
|As the statue moves over the panel, a new panel appears on the board.|
|Spencer pushes another statue onto the next panel, and yet another hidden panel appears on the board. Betsy and Spencer continue to activate each new panel ultimately revealing a hidden door across the room.|
|“We should see what’s underneath all of this rubble.”|
|Once the rubble is cleared, Betsy searches a hole in the floor to activate another switch and reveal another hidden room.|
|Spencer pulls a torch along the wall of the next room opening a door into the main temple.|
|“What a magnificent statue of Athena!” Betsy exclaims.|
|“Hey! I found another switch.” A door swings open across the temple.|
|“’The Temple of Hades,’” Betsy reads. “We need to use the soulpeace gem from the Temple of Hephaestus to unlock the door.”|
|“Uh oh,” Spencer shudders, “the door just locked behind us. I guess we must press on and explore this well.”|
|Betsy and Spencer emerge at the entrance to Sisyphus’ curse.|
|Spencer becomes trapped in the next room, a boulder blocking his way out and the door locked behind him.|
|“I’m going to get you out of there,” Betsy shouts. “I know there must be a way.”|
|Betsy finds a torch lever opening a hidden door into another room.|
|Fire blocks Betsy’s way forward across the bridge in the next room.|
|Luckily, she finds a hidden floor panel to disable the fire trap.|
|She rushes across the bridge pausing briefly at the mischievous god before her. She then races up the stairs and storms into the next room.|
“I’m here on the other side, Spencer. I’m going to find help to get you out.”
“Be careful, Betsy,” he replies from behind the boulder. “I found some dried food to hold me over for quite awhile.”
|Betsy pushes statues onto another series of floor panels to access the next room.|
|“I’m coming back for you,” Betsy shouts before she plunges into the well.|
|Betsy swims through the tunnel and emerges in another room. She hears the sound of waves crashing above and knows she must be nearing the end. Fireflies glow around her, and she stands before a magnificent statue. “This must be the Oracle of Simlos!”|
|She searches a nearby hole in the wall, flips a hidden switch, and opens a door into the next room.|
|Betsy climbs the staircase and finds herself at the Oracle ruins. “I’ve got to find the others!”|
|“Spencer is trapped!” Betsy cries, her hands trembling. “We need to rescue him from behind a giant boulder.”|
|“Jason and I found a magical axe in the Temple of Zeus. Let’s try that on the boulder.”|
|The crowd rushes to the Temple of Hades to rescue Spencer. “Stand back, Spencer, I’m going to get rid of this boulder!” Betsy shouts as she wields the magical axe.|
|“He’s gone!” Betsy cries as she searches the empty room.|
|“I’m right here, Betsy,” Spencer shouts as he approaches the group from the other side of the room.|
|“Where did you go? I was so worried,” Betsy says as she embraces her boyfriend at last.|
|“I found a hidden switch in the corner to unlock the door! I searched for you all in the house, but everyone was gone. I figured you had returned here to try to free me.”|
|“Let’s check out the Oracle!”|
|The crowd gathers around the Oracle of Simlos. “It’s incredible,” says Silas.|
|Betsy stays behind as everyone else returns to the house. She directs a question to the Oracle, “Could you tell me what ever happened to my uncle, Luke?”|
|Betsy stands in silence for several minutes with no answer. “I suppose that’s why they call it a ‘myth.’”|
|Betsy returns to the kitchen. “You’ve got mail,” Page reports. Betsy opens a mysterious envelope with no return address.|
|“It’s signed ‘The Oracle.’”|
|Betsy immediately calls her father and grandparents to share the news. Together, they plan a trip to France to find Luke.|
|Betsy and her friends throw a party to celebrate a wonderful vacation and adventure. “Thank you so much for spending your summers with me here in Greece,” Betsy tells Jason and Page. “I’m really going to miss you.”|
|“You guys are amazing,” Betsy tells Tanner and Silas. “I’m so glad I got to share this summer with you both.”|
|“I love you, and I’m going to miss you,” Spencer says as he looks into Betsy’s eyes. “But I’m looking forward to seeing you again in just a few weeks. Mom is counting on you to help out with the Labor Day festivities.”|
|Betsy, Pete, and her grandparents finally make the voyage to France to visit Luke. They find him tending the garden at the nectary. “Luke,” Lillian cries.|
|Luke stands up recalling vividly, if not his real name, the voice of his mother from his very distant past.|
|“I’m your mother, Luke, and this is your family. I’m so glad you’re alive!”|
|“I remember you,” Luke assures her. “And you, father.”|
“And you, Pete. This must be your daughter,” Luke continues.
“I’m Betsy, your niece. It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
|The family returns to Simlos. “Welcome home, Luke. This is where you were born, and this is where I did my work on the Oracle of Simlos. Betsy was so brilliant and brave to discover what I could never find.”|
|“I had the help of some very good friends.”|
|“This is your old bedroom, Luke,” Betsy says as she shows him around the house.|
|Luke looks over at the butterfly with curiosity. “Would you believe me if I told you a monarch butterfly has been flying through my bedroom window over the past couple of weeks?”|
|“Each night it lands on my dresser, stays for awhile, and then flies away.”|
|Betsy and Luke decide to take the butterfly outside and release it into the sunset.|