Matsuo Shin and The Eyes of the Oracle
Matsuo Shin and The Eyes of the Oracle is story 6 of the continuing adventures of Matsuo Shin.
Arriving in Athens, Matsuo soon met with his old friend at a local restaurant. Sir Reginald Maximus showed him an ancient scroll which he had bought from a local at considerable cost. While he'd translated some of it, he had a harder time getting the full story from it. Before he could translate it, Matsuo became aware that they were being watched by a group of men. Leaving the cafe, he and Sir Reginald were trailed by the men, but managed to lose them in a back ally. They retreated to a hotel and began translation on the scroll. They learned that there was "great treasure, watched over by a daughter of the ancients and hidden where sleep and death lay side by side." Puzzled by this, the two decided to investigate the next morning. The next day, however, Reginald and Matsuo were woken up at gunpoint. While Matsuo was more than willing to try to defeat then gunmen, Sir Reginald favored learning what they wanted.
Guided to a nearby restaurant, the two were introduced to Allan Harrison, a fellow archeologist. Harrison had heard of Matsuo's discovery of Karas' tomb, as well as a few other rumors, and had had them watched. He also told them that the treasure mentioned in the scroll was a pair of objects known as the Eyes of the Oracle, rumored to give a person the ability to see into the future. He offered to partner up with Matsuo and Reginald and help them with their search. However, Matsuo doesn't trust him and asks where he got the information. While Harrison at first avoided the question, he later admitted that he "persuaded" the local seller to tell him and tries to forcefully convince them of the benefits of the partnership. In response, Matsuo kicks the table onto Harrison while Reginald deals with the two gunmen. The two then hijack a nearby taxi, resulting in a high speed chase between them and the gunmen. Matsuo and Reginald get away when the other car crashed into a store front.
At the National Library of Greece, Matsuo was able to find a likely location of the Eyes of the Oracle somewhere in the Panetoliko Mountain range. Luckily, Reginald was able to call on an old friend from his army days who knew the area. Meeting the man outside the city, Reginald introduced Matsuo to Aeton Papanosto, a former soldier in the Greek army. Papanosto agreed to help them find the mountain, as well as beating Harrison to the location. As they left, however, they were not aware that Harrion had been listening to the whole conversation via a hidden bug.
Arriving in the city of Prousos, Matsuo came to the conclusion that the mountain they were specifically looking for was mythically said to be the resting place of the Greek gods Hypnos and Thanos, sleep and death specifically. While Aeton was busy with hiking equipment, Matsuo and Reginald had a chance to talk. Reginald was concerned that Matsuo seemed to be living in the past, even dressing like someone out of his time, but Matsuo made little response. He then asked Reginald how he could afford to come out to Greece, and Reginald said that his knighthood was not simply due to exemplary military service.
Before the conversation can continue, Aeton arrived with the equipment, stating that they had better start on their way. Matsuo suddenly sensed that they were being spied on, and asked Aeton if there was a way to the range where they wouldn't be noticed. When Aeton wondered about this, Reginald told him that Matsuo had a gift for that sort of thing. Aeton reluctantly agreed, and they set out to the mountains from a different direction.
Arriving in the mountains, Matsuo was able to pinpoint from the map and some knowledge gleaned from a local that the place they're looking for is one of the higher peaks. However, before they could get far, they were ambushed by a group of locals paid by Harrison. While they managed to fight them off, Matsuo feared that the delay would cost them their advantage. As night drew near, the group made camp, with Aeton taking first watch. Matsuo wondered why people would be willing to kill to see the future, to which Reginald responded that some people are simply impatient for things and want to know what will happen without needing to experience it.
The next morning, they finally reached the peak, and after much searching, discovered a hidden cave. Finding it, they discovered that it went ever deeper into the Earth. When the passage opened after a long time, they discovered a lake and a gigantic temple, entirely intact. Matsuo stopped, thinking he saw movement, but Aeton convinced him to continue. When they entered the center chamber or worship, they were stunned to see a once lavish room, in the center of it a huge statue of Athena. While Reginald wondered why there would be a temple of Athena in a mountain sacred to Death and Sleep, Matsuo was more interested in the smaller, life size stone figure of a girl kneeling before Athena.
Examining the extremely life-like figure, he saw a pair of metal bracelets on its wrists. Carefully touching them, he realized that there seemed to be a spark of life within it. Attempting to probe deeper with his powers, he was astonished to see the statue turn to flesh and blood. When she was able to get to her feet, he discovered that she has been there since ancient times, and that her name was Cora. The last thing she remembered was praying to Athena, and seeing eyes on the head of Medusa which resides on the goddess' shield, Aegis.
Looking over the statue, Matsuo suddenly realized it was set with jewels, including the eyes--the Eyes of the Oracle! It's at that moment that guns were cocked behind them. Turning, Matsuo and Reginald came face to face with Harrison and his men. Reginald attempted to pull out his own gun, but Aeton told him to drop it. Aeton was actually their adversary, and Harrison was simply working for him. Aeton wanted the Eyes so that he could use them for his country.
When Cora protested the presence of weapons in the temple, Harrison made to shoot her, but Reginald pushed her aside and took the shot in the arm. While Cora tried to help him, Aeton made his way to climb the statue. Harrison claimed that after they get the eyes, he would take Cora as well as "there is nothing better then a living exhibit!" Hearing this, Matsuo used his powers to send a loose stone crashing into one of the men, causing his gun to go off, winging Allan. Using the distraction, Reginald managed to grab his gun and shoot down the other men, forcing Harrison to retreat.
Matsuo then spotted Aeton climbing the statue, and went up after him. Nearly reaching the head of the statue, Aeton tried to reach for the jewels, but Matsuo grabbed his arm. The two fought, trying to dislodge each other from the statue. Matsuo finally got the upper hand, kicking Aeton in the head, causing him to tumble down the side of the statue. Managing to grab onto the statue's shield with one hand to stop his fall, Aeton pulled a gun out from his coat and aimed at Matsuo. The man's gaze, however, caught on the face of Medusa on the shield and as he watched in horror, the Gorgon's eyes open, staring at him with a malevolent light. Aeton screamed once and suddenly turned to stone, his fingers breaking off and his petrified body crashing to the floor, where it shattered into a million pieces. Matsuo then saw Cora back on the floor, praying to the goddess, and he realized that some power--whether or not it was Athena, had answered her.
Looking back at the jewels, Matsuo was momentarily tempted to take them, but decided against it, wanting to learn about the future in his own way: by living it. Climbing down, Matsuo offered to take Cora back with him to Japan, to which she accepted, leaving the temple for the first time. Reginald decided to return with Matsuo as well, wanting a part in his continuing endeavors. As they left the temple, Matsuo mused on having lost a treasure, but having gained a true part of history in the process.