Iolcus, Greece -- "Aand a young man with but one sandal!" the announcer announced as yet another attendee from the countryside entered the courtyard that had been decorated for the festivities. One sandal? King Pelias, seated at the dias, said to himself, as he examined the newcomer. He looked about the right age to fit the prophecy. Pelias frowned.
"Why does that man come wearing only one sandal?" he asked an aid
"I don't know sire" the aid foolishly responded,
"Well find out!" Pelias angrily admonished him, adding as an afterthought as the aid began to turn away "but don't tell him I asked." He strummed his fingers irritably on the table, barely paying attention to his wife and courtiers around him.
"It seems sire, he lost it helping an old woman cross the river Anaurus, which is currently in flood." The attendant reported upon his return. Pelias frowned and picked at his food.
"That's silly" Pelias said grumpily. "Why doesn't he take it off?"
"Sire?" asked the attendant, as if this sentiment required some action. Pelias disgustedly waved him away.
His mood didn't improve as the youth won the wrestling competition, and the foot race, and the swim race... and all the other competitions. It was like he couldn't be beaten. No one knew where he had come from, some whispered that he had been raised by the centaur Chiron himself. Finally with the games over, there was no avoiding talking to the young man.
The young man stood before the dias in his simple tunic as all the gathered crowd watched how the king would congratulate this unexpected champion. The youth had a serious, almost defiant expression on his face. Pelias, eating grapes languidely, bestowed upon him the minimum of congratulations he felt were due.
"Tell me, young man, you have bested all the other young men gathered here today, I wonder, what would you do if you were confronted by the man destined to be your downfall?" he asked.
The young man thought a moment and then responded "I would tell him to retrieve the golden fleece they say is guarded by a dragon in Colchis"
The king raised an eyebrow. "A thing probably you yourself couldn't even do!"
"Oh, I could" responded the youth. The impertinence! But Pelias saw he had him now!
"Well then! I command you to bring me the golden fleece!" declared Pelias with a triumphant grin.
"I shall." responded Jason, with a confidence that unsettled the king a bit even in his triumph.
Jason and the Argonauts is a tale known to just about everyone but modern retellings seem to exist almost exclusively as oversimplified children's tales. There doesn't appear to be a serious modern prose retelling of it (the original is a bit tedious to follow), so I've had a hankering to work on it for awhile.