I’ve been walking for hours.
Following the curves and contours of the stone walls.
I half expect to turn around and see some beast following me. Some bastard son of queen and god trapped in here with me.
I know I can turn around at any time, retrace my steps back to the beginning. There is always that choice – but, I’m being asked to go to the middle.
I can hear his song echoing along the corridors now.
The words escape my comprehension, but the meaning is clear.
It’s angry, dangerous, lonely.
The song of someone who has kept his own company for too long.
The walls are covered in crude paintings. Ravens, wolves, monsters, mermaids.
Scenes of battles and worship.
Butterflies flitter about.
Paw prints in the dust.
The corridor opens onto a giant cavern.
In the middle sits an old man, drawing patterns on the floor, humming to himself.
His eyes catch me and he holds out his hand, beckoning, pleading, expecting a gift.
On the walls around him are picture after picture of the sun.
Immaculate marble sculptures of sun gods and goddesses, stained glass windows lit up by candles.
In the middle of the room is an old double-headed ax.
He places a plate of food in front of it and pulls me over.
Do you recognize this? This symbol?
It’s an ax. With two blades. You don’t see it much these days.
Was used for cutting crops, made it very easy…back and forth back and forth…
It’s also a butterfly.
And the symbol you now use for infinity.
It’s all the same.
It’s this labyrinth, this maze. Life, death, the paths of the sun and the moon.
It all goes back and forth…back and forth…
He holds out his hand again. I offer him what little change I have in my pocket but he waves it away.
He points to a door at the far side of the cavern then reaches his hand out again.
Above the door is an image of the sun in eclipse.
I shake my head.
Sometimes, when confronted by symbols, you can surprise yourself how easily you understand them.
I shake my head again and turn away, heading back to the corridor I entered from.
He starts his song again. Slow and sad, booming in the giant room.
I leave him, following the paw prints on the floor, running my fingers over the paintings on the walls, noticing for the first time that the paint is wet.
I know it will take hours to reach the exit.
I wish I brought food.
I think about the ax. About the butterfly and infinity.
I may be retracing my steps, heading back, but I’ve come full circle.
Back and forth…back and forth.