Dark Bends and Dead Ends

Story A Day September 2015

Day 3: Prompt: Your character is lost in a maze with the instructions to find a very important document or treasure hidden in its center. Or perhaps the character has lost this important thing, and must find it before the wrong person does. Added bonus points if they must battle a minotaur, dragon or fearsome magical villain.

At cliff’s edge, the gusts of wind were furious in their assault against that which stood upon the land. Little grew there, yet the grasses were a lush green, with the dark gray faces of stone peeking through. Scattered here and there were low granite walls, moss covered on the north side. It was a lonely place, yet it suited the purpose of one whose life was kindred to desolation. Her long blue dress swirled around her legs, as her lengthy flame colored tresses whipped around her shoulders. Her deep green eyes seemed to search the vast ocean beyond. She did not, however, see out, but, rather within.

The words of La Curandera played over and over in her mind. Going to see the healer was a last resort. The melancholy which had overtaken her heart only grew deeper, as if it was an endless abyss. It was on a trip beyond her town that she found the elder woman, during a celebration that was foreign to her own culture. The very name caused her to depart the carriage which carried her toward an asylum, recommended by the woman who ran her parent’s estate. The trip paused for all the passengers to partake of food, and allow the horses to rest.

She wandered aimlessly through the town square, turning down small cobblestone lanes as they appeared, and found herself staring at a spectacle, where folks were dressed in the dark colors of mourning. Candles decorated tables which lined a small courtyard. A cloth banner was stretched across a fountain in the center of the festivities, with ghoulish figures painted upon the material, surrounding a phrase she did not know. “Dia de los Muertos.”

The tables were like shrines, with pictures, and some fruit, and small pumpkins and orange and black flowers. The scene seemed more like a dream. The scent of burning herbs wafted upon the air. Slowly walking past these miniature tabernacles, for a moment, she felt the heaviness lift. She felt oddly drawn to the strange costumes and the ironic celebratory feel to what she understood inwardly was, if not a funeral, at the very least, a memorial to lost loved ones.

Standing before an older woman, wisps of smoke drifting up from smoldering herbs, her mind drank in the sights. “You have lost something,” the woman said.

This was the moment when she knew someone understood what so many others could not. The woman was not specifically kindly in appearance. Her demeanor, in fact, was a bit coarse. Here was someone who did not make pretense of feeling sorry, only stated a fact she saw in the stranger who stood before her.

The words felt more right than she had been able to tell of her own state of being. It was automatic that she dropped her gaze, as if out of resepct, though it was, in truth, a gesture of shame, but for something which she could not say.

“It is not lost,” the elder said, matter of factly.

They looked at each other again, the woman maintaining an aire of assurance, and the younger searching the strangly twinkling eyes for mockery.

“Can you help me?”

The Elder looked into her eyes, holding the gaze for several long seconds. She nodded. “Return here at the end of this night’s festivities.” She paused momentarily. “Now go.” The older woman turned her attention to her own table.

Slipping into the mingling crowd, the young woman found a spot to sit by the fountain and looked into the water.

A great gust of wind swept in from the ocean, and her thoughts returned to the present. It was not more than one month hence, and she had learned what was at the crux of her current circumstance. As well, she learned what she must do. There was an arduous journey ahead, leading her places that would be terrifying, and the twists and turns would test her beyond anything she had been through before.

She knew, to find what was lost, would mean entering a Labyrinth.

To Be Continued