“The path is narrowing” said Adam. He was right. The path had never been wide, and the dense forest opened to clearings along the way. But there had been no clearing since the morning passed and the sun warmed the cold ground bringing about a thick fog that lingered in the trees. Now the fog gave way to a thickness in the air as humidity bore down on them like a pressure building. They moved ahead, pushing branches out of their way, more than once a branch whipped back out of control striking a face.
This was far from the placid forest they had envisioned. The foliage of the tree cover hid the thick and densely dark interior. Their aching legs labored to move one foot in front of the other. At times ankle-deep mud caused slips and falls to their already torn and sore legs. Exhaustion grew with every hard-fought step, there could be no rest here, the mud was everywhere, they pressed on.
Ujor’s keen eyes and experience led the way, his mind working to conceal the concern in his face and his own exhaustion. Ujor had been a sorcerer for as long as anybody living in the kingdom had known. None in the kingdom knew how long he had been before that. Ujor, like many others, had seen better times in the kingdom.
When the kingdom fell under the dark rule of king Eralis and his queen Paovenon, Ujor fled to the country side. Being ruthlessly hounded by the king’s servants out for his head, Ujor knew what kind of evil lived in the forest. Plenty of times he had narrowly escaped the king’s clutches by his cunning and wit. Ever resourceful, Ujor was a blessing for Adam and his crew.
Ujor understood better than all of them the importance of freeing Rebekka’s daughter and delivering the Minotaur to the kingdom. While Adam knew only of the good life he would lead once he had accomplished his duty, it was Ujor who knew the true secret of the Minotaur. Above all else, the Minotaur must enter the king’s castle and take his rightful place.
The Minotaur suffered least walking here in the forest. He had no means of speaking with anybody, but he communicated with Sarah in a way unknown to the others. It was as if she and the Minotaur had been connected and their thoughts were as one. She could feel his feelings and understood his needs. The two of them had grown close along the path.
Sarah knew there were things even the Minotaur didn’t understand. As they grew closer in their bond she approached near the center of the Minotaur’s pain, but she could not see it completely. It was a dark place and she sometimes felt frightened by it, making it harder to understand how the Minotaur could bear it alone.
She felt the pain of his imprisonment and his sad, lonely existence there in the Labyrinth. It was his sadness and the pain that struck her. She did not feel anger in the Minotaur, but instead a feeling of a hurt child whose mother had left him alone in a cold and dark place, confused, unloved, and alone. The feeling crushed on her heart so much some times she could not resist to reach out, touching the Minotaur, stroking his face gently. She could see the soothing in his eyes, she could feel the love she gave him shared back by him.
Sara also felt the anger of Seth, and how he focused it on Adam. She knew full well if she had not stopped him that night by the campfire he would have killed Adam. It was exceptionally clear to Sarah that Seth had few good feelings towards Adam.
The problem was fast becoming that Seth’s anger was coupling with a growing strength seemingly by the hour. He alone seemed to bear up against any of the hardship the trail had to offer. He shrugged off the pain and labor of walking through the thickness. His eyes burned with a young man’s strong confidence. And so it should be, he was all of that and more.
Seth weaponized every item he put into his hands, and executed that weapons lethal force with as much ease as he shown in creating it. Rocks became projectiles exploding on impact with their target, thick branches, missiles that flew straight and penetrated anything in their path leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
His body too had been transforming. Muscles rippled across his chest and arms with a trunk so strong he was able to move any object that landed before him. Seth was simply a very powerful warrior. This much was apparent to all.
But behind the power, Sarah saw in his eyes the sense of directionless wonder. The continual questioning of why it had been him chosen to be here, at this time, in this place. Like any confused young man, Seth had little control over his outburst and anger. Many times Sarah had taken the time to settle his mind with soothing thoughts, even as this work tired her more.
But Sarah had a strength that was not measured in physical ability. Sarah had a purpose and a fire that burned deep in her heart. An unexplained reckoning that she had been put here for a reason. And though she didn’t completely understand it herself, she knew that she was being prepared for something greater. She knew they all were. She also knew it was in her to see that all of them directed their powers towards the darkness and not each other. In this dark place, and in whatever dark places waited for them, Sarah knew they must all help one another. That was the only way they would survive. It was the only way she would realize the reason she was here. She felt that.
Adam remained as innocent and dedicated as he had always been. Though filled with fear and uncertainty he knew it was he that set this whole journey on its way, and if he were the one to give up, the rest would lose faith not only in him, but in themselves. Adam knew he must remain strong even though his body ached and his mind most often was filled with fear. Adam had to rise above all these feelings and doubts and carry on. To be the decision maker of the group. Even if Ujor seemed to take the lead, everybody knew it was Adam who decided the fate of the journey. One misstep, one thought out-of-place, and the whole thing would come crashing down.
Adam had to hover above it all, an observer calling the shots, not a participant feeling the pain, no matter what his body or brain told him other wise.
Ujor knew all of this of course. Ujor knew what needed to happen, though he still was not sure if Adam, Seth, and Sarah were the chosen. He knew the Minotaur was the key, but he knew also if these three could not deliver him as expected, the Minotaur would simply be killed. Once that happened, the kingdom would forever be ruled by darkness. This was the concern that lined Ujor’s face, not the trials of the journey.
Ujor knew that Seth, Adam, Sarah, Minotaur walked in the forest of King Emota, the young king who had taken the throne by slicing his father’s throat in his sleep. Ujor knows that Emota’s Sorcerer Getyora conspires to have Emota killed and restore the kingdom to natural rule, the rule of the Minotaur, the half sibling of Emota.
It was when Poseidon made the covenant with Emota’s father, Caradoc to secure territory across the great sea, that the kingdom began to descend into darkness. Poseidon had made the deal that the child of Poseidon and Arsinoe the queen, would rule the kingdom once Carodoc died. Carodoc, righteous but none the less eager to expand the throne, obviously agreed.
But when Carodoc returned, the child of Poseidon, the Minotuar, was ugly to both Caradoc and Arsinoe. So ugly that they had the kingdom’s architect Daedulus design a Labrynth to jail the Minotaur till the end of time. Then the King and the Queen had a child of their own, Emota.
Emota and Arsinoe in time ruled the kingdom after the they made a pact to rule as mother and son. Arsinoe had Emota kill her king. The Minotaur had to be kept secret from the kingdom so he could not take his rightful place as heir to the throne, the deal Posdeidon had made with the king. Emota killed the king himself while the king slept, drawing a sharp blade though the king’s sleeping throat.
Poseidon saw, but could not intervene because the other gods would not allow it. They were angered at the birth of the Minotaur demigod. But Ujor and Rebekka being priest and priestess of god Poseidon, had known of the Minotaur’s plight and the evil ways of Emota and Arsinoe.
Ujor and Rebekka also knew that the Minotaur, the half boy half bull creature would remain so only until he met the proper queen for himself, that queen, would be a woman from a far land. Together they would rule the kingdom justly, freeing the subjects and returning dignity to all. They would start a new reign where people would live not under the rule of tyranny, but in harmony with all that surround them. The earth and the animals.
Once the Minotaur takes his proper place all the forest creatures will be separated like the wheat from the chaff. Only the pure of heart would remain, the evil ones would be banished to hell till the end of time.
This was all to begin with the journey of a humble scribe. A journey where he must prove himself worthy of the title scribe.
Ujor knew that all.