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A clay tablet revealing a prisoner’s last shred of hope.
One must snuff the flames of those around him to realize his will. A prisoner must be kept shackled to fulfill his mission.
And yet, some embers have a second life, revealed when the layer of soot flies away to reveal a still red heart.
This tablet bears no ornaments.
The tablet reads:
Spring arrived, but winter persisted in the hybrid’s heart.
His breath grew shorter and a cough took root in his lungs,
still I pulled him from his bedroll everyday to learn warcraft
so he may release father from his accursed existence.
A fire simmered on my lungs and I too grew short of breath,
although mine was not of malaise; it was my despair.
Despite my want for silence, the hybrid did speak between our matches.
“When the day comes for my redeemer to liberate me, how will he know
to turn left three times after the patio with the bull-leaping mural?
Will the gods bless his mind with the eyesight of a hawk flying above?
Will Hera send snakes to guide him down to the shrine I protect?
Perhaps my savior will follow the same footsteps as thee,
first seeking the house of my birth to learn of the labyrinth’s heart.”
I motioned for us to restart our combat, but he did not budge.
I proceeded then to speak the honeyed words he so wished to hear.
“Whatever you will, whatever you wish, for such a pious youth
I know the gods shall realize your request; for few are those
with their ichor flowing through his veins and with such a loyal disposition.
Upon the completion of our ritual, when my father’s thread is ruptured,
surely they will send Nike herself to guide a redeemer to thee.”
“The ritual, indeed,” mumbled the fiend and I noticed again the cracking of embers.
“Iron-willed Tithonus, would you hear my plea? There is one wish
my heart yearns for. When you leave Daedalus’ home
would you return to my birthplace and tell my family a secret?
Tell them the labyrinth’s pathways yield gently if one lays behind
a strand of wool yarn as they brave it.
With this knowledge my savior will surely find his way
to the heart where I await him.
Although, if too would you listen to my shameful confession,
as soon as the wish for my redeemer’s arrival took hold so did
a silly idea I cannot shake. In my dreams I see myself leaving
Daedalus’ home, seeing for myself the fields of crocuses
and the sea’s foamy water, the same from which my progenitor came.
My heart race when I think of a redeemer’s arrival,
but painfully so, as if somehow I am meant to avert the idea.
For the first time in all these years, my friend, I wish
to abandon my post and leave this labyrinth.
Mount Aegaeon’s caves would provide me safe haven,
there are many unknown glades in this island
where I could find comfort, and perhaps I could barter what little I have
in exchange for safe passage across the sea to lands unknown.
Tell me, Tithonus, is this idea not shameful and rotten?
To abandon my duty to the gods, leave these crimson walls
at this very instant. Merely saying so quickens my heart.
And as cowardly as I know it is, tonight I believe I could and should do it.
Tell me, friend, should I? Abandon duty and grasp
this cowardly salvation with my own two hands?”
That night the basin’s flame died for the first time since my arrival winters before.
My father awoke at midnight and called my name, amidst his fog of senility he asked
“Who is this sobbing young man I hear, and why are his pleas so desperate?
Son, where are we and what cursed fate fell on this boy
for his wails to inspire such sorrow in me?
Is there not a thing we can do to grant him comfort?”
And to father I sad “Nay, vanquish the memory from your mind, father,
the hybrid shall soon fulfill his duty and peace will come to thee.”
A price must be paid to do what is right, all men know.
To bring death unto a defenseless, willing victim leave a stain on
one’s soul, an indelible weight like the one which crushes Atlas.
The hybrid bore the weight of my father’s end and I of his.
A man must be ready to lead others unto death to do what is right.
I know this old wisdom, and yet why can I not contain my racing heart?
How much wood must I lay under his pyre to atone for my impiety?
Topics[edit | edit source]
- Hera's Snakes - The snake is one of the animals associated with Hera. The reptiles are seen directly involved with the goddess in the story of Heracles and indirectly Tiresias' tale.
- Asterion is most likely referencing the way Hera sent to kill baby Heracles. Both in the hero's and the minotaur's case, her snakes would assist (or attempt to) end a demigod's life.
- Mount Aegaeon - A mount in Crete bearing the Psychro Cave. In that cave, the Titan Rhea hid the new-born Zeus from Kronos until he was old enough to face his father.
- Ichor - The vital liquid of immortal beings, similar in function to mortals' blood. Through many forms, ichor is shown to be noxious to mortals.
- Nike - The winged goddess of victory. Through her blessings, she assisted the Olympians in their war against the Titans.