Inside the air was heavy with a thick foreign musk; smoke crawled along walls and the ceiling, it gave the appearance that everything was moving. At times the smoke was so thick it became hard to see as Cliff led his guests through the dark, eerily lit passageways of his abode. The walls were decorated with a variety of strange objects, souvenirs that Cliff had collected in his previous journeys abroad.
Cliff was a handsome young man and appeared to be significantly younger than his old university friend - Iknonov - the years had been kind to him. He had thick dark hair and astonishingly blue eyes. His bone structure was sharp and keen yet there was something just a little soft about his features that made him appear more mischievous, a cheeky character trait.
Smoke rushed through the door into a bright airy space as Cliff held open the door for his guests. "After you..." Cliff gestured to Cornelia with a coy smile.
"Thank you." Cornelia narrowed her eyes at him and passed by. Ikonov followed shortly behind her.
The room was a small glass half-dome, pressed neatly at the back of the large white house. The windows overlooked Cliff's exotic looking garden - plants, flowers and trees blossomed in a shrewd attempt to block out the ever expanding Parisian skyline, which was something of an eyesore as it grew to become more industrial.
"You're earlier than I had expected Harold, my butler won't be here for another hour or so, perhaps I can interest you in a drink? Will Tea do? I don't think it's quite late enough for any other kind of poison yet, eh?" Cliff nudged Ikonov gently with a friendly fist. Ikonov looked far from impressed, and Cornelia looked less so.
"Tea will do fine, thank you." Cornelia smiled falsely.
Cliff left the room for a few minutes whilst Cornelia and Ikonov exchanged awkward glances. On his return Cliff carried a fancy looking tray that held a collection of posh looking blue and white china. "Only the best for my guests." He smiled "Straight from Cathay." he gestured to the tea.
"Let us get down to business." Ikonov begun "Our destination is Crete, a fairly relaxed island in the Mediterranean, yet, there is more in store than just beaches. Cornelia, we are here to collect Mr. Cornwall, he is to come with us on our journey, I do hope that this won't be an issue." He spoke firmly to the both of them. Cliff looked sheepish. Cornelia pursed her lips. "Now Cliff, I believe you have some information on how to get into this Labyrinth at Knossos?"
"Ah yes, I've done some research, spoken to a great deal of historians and theologists from the area and they are all set on the idea that Theseus left the Labyrinth locked. He took the key from the Labyrinth and kept it so no one else could be lost in it."
"Do you know where he took it?"
"Theologists will tell you he traded it with Hades for his life, but historians will tell you that it lays at the bottom of the Aegean, wherever his body lay." Cliff shrugged.
"So you're not entirely sure?"
"Can't be certain really. Though the first story seems a little far fetched to me, as interesting as theology is, I find it hard to believe in such mythical folklore."
"So we must go to the bottom of the sea?"
"From what I hear, that might be the best place for us. I've heard you have upset some very dangerous pirates. I suggest we head south to the coast, there I have an invention you won't believe." He smiled, leaning back in his chair and lighting an impressive looking pipe.
"What might that be?" Ikonov's interest was piqued, he leaned in closer to Cliff.
"It's called a Nautilus..."