I stand on my balcony outside of my office at Mr. T’s Sweet and Sundae Shoppe, looking down at the traffic on Michigan Avenue. My mind is mulling over the gold runes on the mirrors that imprisoned us. Smoke emits from my pipe as I puff, whirling out into the air. Where had I seen a gold rune before? I chew on the pipe stem as I puff, letting my mind wander off.
At Zeus’s decree, the mirrors are at the warehouse still under lock and key with guards from the OA. I need to get close enough to examine them. I know this magick. I have experienced it before.
“Come now, Thanatos! Think! Think!” I scold myself.
Then it dawns on me, Corinth! Sisyphus! The box they had imprisoned me in had gold runes and magick similar to the mirrors. The inventor, Daedalus, the maker of the labyrinth, had gold rune magick etched into the wall, which only the gods could see. Then Ariadne’s thread to help Theseus was gold laced with rune magick. Then the fabled wings, which he lined with the same magick before his fool boy flew too close to the sun. Countless other inventions of his bore the same magicks. Why didn’t any of us recognize it before?
Daedalus, blessed by both Hephaestus and Athena, was then cursed with immortality by the witch Medea. You don’t go breaking a mentally unstable witch’s heart. He never really forgave me for reaping his son Icarus. I have always suspected that was the reasoning behind building the box that had imprisoned me in the long ago. I rapidly puff my pipe and furiously chew the stem. It’s a bad habit, I know. I need to get to those godsdamn mirrors. I need a closer look. The smoke trails me as I turn on my heel and enter my office. I pick up the phone and start making calls.
The next day I stand outside the warehouse sucking on a black peppermint as a guard checks my credentials before permitting me access. Everything checks out, and he ushers me to the door, passing by the other guards. They shiver in my presence and give me a nervous glance.
“I am not to be disturbed,” I instruct him as I enter.
A simple nod of his head is all I get in reply as the door shuts behind me. I remove my suit jacket and unfurl my wings as I approach the mirrors, one for each god who attended the function. I cautiously touch the gold frames, and the runes faintly light under my touch. I get a glimpse into the worlds they were sucked into, the lives they lived for a brief moment. I see the people who interacted with them wandering around lost, looking for the god who escaped their prison.
I finally come to my mirror, and in it, I see the one they call Mallory crying into her hands. I feel a pang in my chest for her. I am almost heartbroken at the sight. I feel a pull toward the mirror and quickly remove my hand. The pull stops, and I realize these are still dangerous magickal items. They can, if we gods are not careful, still ensnare us. They can not be allowed to remain whole. I summon my scythe to me.
I grip its handle as the song of the cosmos sings to me, the blade taking on its many colors. I raise it and begin to cut the mirrors down like foes on a battlefield. The sounds of exploding and shattering glass echo in the empty warehouse, clinking as it hits the floor and scatters. The heavy frames reverberate loudly as they hit the ground, cracking the concrete when it impacts, sending small fragments up into the air.
My task done, I put my suit jacket back on and tuck my scythe away. The glass pieces crunch under my boots as I walk to the door and push through. The guards are standing outside, looking uneasily at the building. I turn to the guard who had escorted me to the building earlier. He is the closest to the door and looks terrified.
“Ship every single fragment and piece to Propalyia at once!” I growl.
I don’t wait for a response, but I do see the guards hop to. I pull my scythe and make a rift to the God Complex and step through. There is someone in the legal department I need to talk to. I stride across the lobby to the elevator banks and take a car to the eleventh floor of the legal department. Demeter and Prometheus are both gone, but the one I need to speak to is here sitting at his desk going over paperwork. He freezes in place as he senses me and looks up as I take a seat directly in front of his desk.
“Hello, half-breed,” I greet him.
Theseus, the demigod, son of Poseidon, looks uncomfortable but meets my gaze. In his eyes, I see the spark of the warrior, the monster hunter. He sits back in his chair, attempting to act casual in my presence. He knows as I do, I can not reap him, that he is blessed with long life due to his parentage.
“Half-breed? Still calling us that after all these centuries? Haven’t moved on with the times, Than? Did my father send you to get me back out into the world and questing again?” Theseus says in a condescending tone.
“My apologies for the half-breed remark,” I begin.
“Don’t bother. Something as ancient as you are is unlikely to make any changes now. So what can I do for you then? Let’s be quick about it. I have to get back to work,” Theseus says.
“I must speak to the inventor. I require the location of the labyrinth entrance, and I know you are bound to it and know where it is located. Tell me, and I will depart,” I say.
“Karya, at the southern foothills of Mount Olympus, that is where you need to go. He sent me an invite to come to see all the new levels he has built into the place and a key. I believe you’ll need that to get in,” Theseus says.
“Key?” I ask.
Theseus nods slowly as he reaches into one of his desk draws and produces a rectangular wooden box. He places it on the desk and opens it. Sitting on a purple satin pillow is a metal skeleton key that takes up the entire length of the box.
“Take it and go. Please understand my wife, Hippolyta, and I will not be coming no matter what you have to say. She is happy working with Artemis at the parks, and I am happy here,” Theseus says.
I take the key with a nod of thanks and depart. I exit the OA, and I see him standing on the curb. He is trying hard to be inconspicuous in a black hoody with the hood pulled up and black sunglasses, but his blond beard and burly stature give him away. Polus, the Titan of the Axis, is waiting for me. I stroll to him as he nervously watches the building for other gods, security staff, and possible traps to ensnare him to send him back to Tartarus. I smile at him, trying to put him at ease as the black car pulls up to the curb behind him.
He watches without a word of greeting as I open the door and get into the black SUV. I look at him and wait for him to enter behind me. He gives the building one last glance, gets in, and slams the door. The car begins to drive toward Mount Olympus and Karya. Polus slowly begins to relax. As he takes off the sunglasses and pulls down his hood as he realizes the car is driverless, one of Haephestus’ inventions. I open the nearby fridge and remove a bottle of ambrosia. I grab two glasses and pour in a generous amount, then hand him a glass. He takes the glass as he nervously watches the traffic.
“I thought you said you were bored hunting rogue djinn in the Pacific Northwest,” I say as I sip from my glass.
“Yeah, the boys and I have caught at least a dozen that she let through under the radar. Thanks for the cosmic metal to close those rifts, by the way,” Polus says as he sips.
“But the nerves, Titan, what is with the nerves?” I ask.
“Gee, I don’t know, Than, it’s Greece where I am still a wanted fugitive,” Polus says with agitation.
“Yes, I can see where that is a problem. Poor planning on my part but you still agreed to come,” I counter.
“Yeah, well, once you told me the plan, I felt like I couldn’t let you go in without backup. I owe you for all you have done during and since the dragon incident,” Polus says.
“Still taking care of your people?” I ask, knowing the answer.
“They are my people indeed,” Polus says, finishing his drink and extending it to me for a refill.
I refill both glasses, and we drink in silence. We arrive at Karya and disembark the SUV. We march down a forest path to the foothills, walking along the rocky base of the hill until we find a keyhole that indicates the entrance to the labyrinth.
“You sure you can talk some sense into him?” Polus asks.
“No, but we need answers, and he is the only one I can think of who might have them,” I say as I pull the key out from my inside coat pocket.
“Can we trust him?” Polus asks.
“Not remotely,” I say, sticking the key into the hole.
“This is a really bad idea,” a man’s voice says from behind us.
We both turn to see Theseus standing there in a suit and long coat. On his hip is the sword of legends, the one he used to slay the Minotaur in the long ago. He seems surprised to see Polus, and I see the Titan tense for an attack.
“Titan?” Theseus asks, his hand slowly dropping to the hilt of his sword.
“An ally, a friend here to help. He is on our side,” I say.
Theseus nods and moves his hand away from the hilt. Polus nods back and relaxes his fists.
“I thought you said you weren’t coming,” I say.
“Well, it’s time to face some demons,” Theseus answers, closing the small distance between us.
I turn the key, and the ground begins to shake beneath our feet as the rock face rumbles back on its treads. The sound is deafening as small stones drop down and crash to the ground from above. I can not only feel the vibration through my feet but in the back of my teeth. A hollow banging noise indicates that the door has stopped, and the three of us enter into the dark maw of the cave’s mouth. The door slides close behind us and locks into place. We stand uneasy in the darkness, and lights turn on as a ventilator roars into life.
In front of us are two massive decrepit-looking green doors and a large, tacky red neon sign above them that reads The Labyrinth Welcomes You.
Polus opens one of the doors as it groans on its hinges, and we enter the maze to see the inventor.