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Pointing Boy Statue - Maze Crossroads [Estate Grounds - EAST]

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Pointing Boy Statue

(Maze Crossroads)

The second of the two intersections that one must pass through in order to reach the heart of the labyrinth.  At the center of a four-way crossroad is a statue of a boy pointing.  He’s not necessarily pointing in the correct direction, though…

The other crossroad is: The Star Circle Intersection.

TOM-CAT: Kiana Beach Battle (3/3) - ☆Try Again - ★Powder Keg - Soft,soft - ★Stupid Little Tom-Cat - ★Miiya & Cat-Tom - ★Sparring - ☆The Great Tipsu Hunt! - Stolen Kiss - ☆Not Cheshire - Returning to Her - ★Baths & Comfort - ☆Wings, Tails, & Love - ☆Cave Storms - Climbing the Walls - ★1st Kiss - ★Makeouts & Memories -★Laughter & Kisses
DAETH: Breaking Callon - Pleasure w/Pain - Sensing Death - ★Kissing Fate 2/2 - Precariously Balanced Nature - At Long Last, Eddellyn - Precipice - Entering the Hedge Maze - ★The Minotaur & The Labyrinth - Into the Aegis - Button Pressing - Thunder & Honey
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Eddellyn Wynterleaf

[OOC: from Star Circle Intersection - Maze Crossroads [Estate Grounds - EAST]]




Wynterleaf mentally counted off the turns as they navigated further into the hedge maze, committing to memory the path to the exit and the way back to the mansion. The simple task of concentrating on remembering the maze was a welcome distraction from the slow simmer of resentment she felt at running into Daeth, here and now. She wasn't certain who she held responsible - be it the Fates, a trickster demon, or an ill-fated spirit - she only knew that someone was to blame. 

What was she to say to him? What could she say?

You were the one to leave first… 

There was a personal matter I had to see to… 

We each were on our own path…

I was afraid of the person I was becoming…

That last was closest to the truth, she had been afraid, but she wasn’t about to admit that aloud. Best to speak unemotionally, keep things simple, and get back on the task of finding her answers from the Syltamuls. 

Another left turn brought them to a second intersection, smaller and less elaborate than the last one, a statue situated in the center was posed with a hand extended pointing down one of the pathways. A misdirect or a clue to another exit?

Wynterleaf stopped long enough to rest her sword on the plinth so she could reach up and tug the mask from her face. The night air was refreshing against the skin that had been covered by the fabric and with her field of view no longer obscured by the mask, it allowed her to set a more scrutinizing look down each of the three paths but couldn’t discern anything of note. Taking up her sword again, she left the mask in its place on the stone, uncaring that it would mark her presence if found. The path in the opposite direction tempted her, the shadows deep and welcoming. She slid a glance in Daeth's direction and gripped her gear close. 

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The Bearer of the Mark 

and Sacrifice to none 

╺ ✽ ╸ 

Our parting was like a stalemate…. Neither of us won.  Neither of us lost.   And worst still…that unshakeable feeling that nothing was ever really finished. 

–  Ranata Suzuki

[OOC: Daeth from Star Circle Intersection] 



When Daeth had been held captive by Batur within the nexus at the very heart of the Great Founding Labyrinth, he’d existed in a perpetual cycle of violence, "death”, and rebirth.  In that place, dying–truly dying–had been nothing but a flight of fancy, little more than a child’s whimsical wishing upon a star.  By the end of it all, Daeth had forgotten how many times he’d bled out and “died”...

...only to wake up fully intact some time later, like time had been reset.

It was through this continuous, three-beat cycle of torment, pain, and not-death that Daeth, nolens volens, had become intimately acquainted with his captor.  He’d learned the texture of Batur’s character through the daily ritual of violence and spilled blood.  He’d discerned the Minotaur’s strengths and weaknesses through the nuance of his viciousness.  And it was deep in the center of that maze within the labyrinth’s beating heart (itself existing a step out of time with baseline reality), that Daeth was introduced to the boundless depths of Batur’s hatred, cruelty, and malignancy.

Batur had enjoyed torturing him daily for no other reason than he’d liked the way that Daeth’s screams had echoed off the blood-slicked walls.  He’d claimed it was like  listening to a Heavenly choral, and all he’d needed was a harp and a couple of trumpets to round out the chorus.  The Minotaur had been particularly gifted when it’d come to torture and had a kind of zeal for administrating agony–he didn’t often repeat torture methods, though he’d been staggeringly consistent about the level of hurt he liked to inflict.  He was sadistic for the plain thrill of it and had derived pleasure from the realization of his savagery.  

Most of the time, Batur was brutal and without mercy, rhyme, or reason–the daily torments Daeth endured had always been unequivocally vicious, expressly violent, and bluntly painful.  It was something that Daeth had quickly learned to accept, instead of wasting his energy and breath on pointless exhortations, promised threats, or threatening promises–which of course assumed that he, at any given moment, even had enough energy or breath left to spare on a trivial indulgence such as talkingFaexthere were–many–times when Daeth had lacked the actual physical means to even form words, let alone speak out loud. 

Pain had often robbed Daeth of his ability to speak.  Many times, he’d simply screamed himself hoarse–or was deep in the process of actively doing so–to spare the extra air on useless things, like words.  (Other times–worse times–Batur just ripped out his throat, tired of the noise.)  There were a great many reasons why Daeth had often lacked the capacity to speak, and they encompassed everything from copious blood loss (Byzantine patterns carved into his flesh–incised cuts over lacerations over punctures), to literally being unable to draw breath with his chest caved in and collapsed lungs (the straightforward, blunt agony of being bludgeoned by a heavy object until his bones were pulverized–crushed into dust).

╺ ✽ ╸ 

Daeth, however, had, has always had, and continues to have, an incredible fortitude for enduring physical pain.  He'd gradually adapted to the pain visited upon him, and over time the pain had slowly become bearable.  He began to scream less and less, despite the Minotaur’s increasingly brutal creativity.1  Eventually, Daeth stopped screaming altogether. 

That’s when everything had changed. 

That’s when Daeth had discovered how deep Batur’s cruelty had truly run, and where his real talent for fomenting torment, had truly lain.  Because Batur’s sadism went beyond the physical pain that could be caused through various applications of torture. 

Physical pain was temporary.  It would eventually fade, leaving nothing but its memory and a scar in its wake (and sometimes not even that).

Batur hadn’t wanted his victims to merely feel pain–he wanted them to suffer.  He wanted to wound  them spiritually.  He wanted to inflict mental anguish.  He wanted to inflict the type of emotional and cerebral agony that ensured their suffering would last long after someone had left his rack.

When Daeth stopped screaming, Batur had shifted his attention.  He began to target things that Daeth hadn't realized were so precious to him until they'd been taken: his memories.  Instead of breaking his body, Batur had focused on breaking Daeth’s mind. 

And it had nearly worked.

The Minotaur had delved deep into Daeth’s mind, sifting through his memories with all the casual indifference of someone thumbing through an old magazine, while sitting in their doctor's waiting room.  He’d dissected everything that made Daeth who he was, and had cleaved through his identity and memories with surgical precision.  He’d take away some memories, hold them, and then drip feed them back to him, always holding the threat of their total destruction over Daeth's head.  He had removed vital pieces of his identity in memories that'd shaped him, leaving only the barest traces of their essence in the empty spaces they'd once filled–just enough left behind for Daeth to know what was missing.  

Strangely, Daeth had thought that one of the worst psychological torments was when Batur would tell him stories–usually some sort of folktale, fairy tale, myth, or legend–and then bend reality around him while twisting his memories.  It would send Daeth into a hallucinogenic daze that had blended reality with fiction until they were functionally one in the same.  It’d been disorienting.  He hadn’t known what was real and what was fake; the stories the Minotaur told became his history, became his own memories…

…then Batur would snap Daeth back into the present, shove the memories back where they belonged, and leave Daeth unsteady and coming unraveled as he questioned his sanity. 

It hadn’t been torture so much as it'd been psychological warfare and gaslighting.  It’d made it so Daeth had scarcely dared to trust his own memories.  And still, Daeth could have and would have borne it all–both the physical and mental torture.  But then Batur had taken his memories of her. 

Batur made him forget her, and twisted what he did remember of her.  He’d dangled her memory in front of Daeth, tormenting him with the possibility of destroying every last one he had of her.  The most insidious and the cruelest torture, however, had been when Batur would ask Daeth what he'd do to have her back. He jeered, belittled, devalued, and taunted; he'd told Daeth that he was too weak and that he was an abomination who tainted every life he touched. He’d stated, in no uncertain terms, that she was better without him, and that he’d disrupted her life.  He’d sneered and said that she regretted every minute, nay, every last second, that they were together.

And then Batur would tell him a specific tale.2  It was a love story and a tragedy, all at once.  It was a story about loss and grief and the lengths someone would go to earn back the missing piece of their heart.  It was a tale about second chances…

…and it was a tale about one man’s sad, pathetic, failure.  Because in the story the man had been granted one chance–one amazing and miraculous chance–to bring his lost love back from the dead.  

And all he’d needed to do was not look back.

╺ ✽ ╸

The beginning of the story started, as these things usually do: with two people falling in love–in this case a man and a woman.  Of course, things don’t stay happy for long.  Tragedy struck, and the woman died after they’d taken only a handful of steps down the path of their new life together.  Heartbroken and overcome by grief, he’d been unable to accept that she was dead.   

The man had journeyed to the Underworld in search of his dead lover's soul.  In order to return her to the world of the living, the Lord of Underworld told him that he had to pass a test.  The test was simple: Walk from the Underworld without once looking back.  If he could make the journey without once glancing behind, he would be reunited with his lover on the surface. 

It sounded so easy.  Thus, the man began his tedious journey from the deep within the womb of the Underneath towards the exit - towards the light, towards the living.

As he walked the souls of the damned dogged his footsteps, shades and ghosts that plucked at the back of his shirt with fingers that had long forgotten the touch of skin.  They sang to him, lamenting their despair in ballads of mournful screams–a chorus of the damned that was hauntingly beautiful as their voices splashed against the walls.  There was something which begged to be listened to twined beneath their moans and sobs, a lullaby of such delicate sadness that resonated within the chambers of the mind and plucked at the heartstrings. Their breath was cold on his cheeks and fetid on his lips.  They stumbled in and out of his path drunkenly, lost children drawn to the beat of his mortal heart.  Every soul begged to be saved.  They grasped at him, fingers leaving unidentifiable smears on his clothing and skin.  Their scent infused his hair with the smell of rot and decay.  They pandered to him, twisted promises curled around dry tongues.   When that failed, they wheezed their threats.

The man was resolute, however.  He kept moving forward, never once glancing back.  He kept his eyes ahead, fixated blindly on the exit he couldn't yet see.  Just beyond that, he'd be reunited with his beloved. 

Eventually the souls fell away and left him in silence.  The man continued walking.  Gradually, he became aware of another pair of footsteps echoing his every stride - softer and lighter, like the steps of a woman.  The footsteps paused when he paused, skipped when he skipped,  stumbled when he stumbled. 

The man's resolve began to waver; perhaps the faint echoes he heard were the footfalls of his beloved, following along behind him!  The echoing footsteps rustled against the walls, loud in his ears, as the ground began to slope upwards towards the surface of the world - towards freedom. 

Soon the exit was in sight.  A few more feet and the man would be clear of the Underworld and be united with the woman he loved.  However, at the very end, unable to ignore the possibility of his beloved right behind him, the man turned.

There was no one there.  And when he was finally free of the Underworld, he was greeted by the caress of the sun's fingers along his cheeks - and nothing else.  

He'd failed.

╺ ✽ ╸ 

It was easy to see why the Minotaur chose that story, and he’d manipulated Daeth’s mind and memories until the man’s failure in the tale was his failure.  He’d twisted his memories of Eddellyn so thoroughly that he’d thought he was the man in the story.   And each time Batur would bring him back from the edge of his sanity, banish the hallucinations and set reality to rights, it was like losing her all over again.  The wounds felt fresh.  The grief was all too real.  He must have loved her, lost her, and grieved for her dozens of times over. 

╺ ✽ ╸ 

After he’d regained all of his memories and stopped questioning his reality, Daeth had always wondered why, with the salvation of his love nearly within his grasp, the man had failed.  He couldn't understand the difficulty in simply not  turning back; not looking over his shoulder.   

He never understood - until right now.   

Because walking the moonlit pathways of the hedge maze with Eddellyn a few paces behind him, was an eerie parallel.  He’d blame the Fates, but he’s not so sure, because he can’t decide if this chance encounter with her is romance, comedy, or tragedy.  All three, probably.  

Either way, it took Daeth every iota of his will to keep from looking over his shoulder at Eddellyn walking behind him.   He fought to keep his steps casual and unhurried as he actively reminded himself not to look back  and make sure ensure  check to see if she was still following him.  It was difficult. So far, it’d taken much of his already depleted reserve of patience, to walk nearly the entire maze without saying more than a few words to her.  Daeth knew that  he wouldn’t be able to stem the tidal wave of words from slamming up his throat and crashing out into the cool night air, if he allowed himself to stop and look back at her before they reached his Aegis at the center of the maze. 

He felt things long suppressed–things that he was supposed to have forgotten–loosen from the base of his spine and begin to branch through him, awakening nodes of memory so intense that it made each nerve ending feel chafed and raw.  A sense of dread and stupidly pathetic hope had awakened in him, so poignant and so startling, that Daeth felt sick with the significance of it.  He'd worked so hard to sever what he'd felt for Eddellyn: he'd loved her at one point, and he'd loved her with every inch of himself that he'd had to give.  But Daeth had paid for that love in bruises which bloomed in a patchwork of black and blue over every soft spot on his body.  He'd paid for that love in scars and cuts; and in turn he'd been reimbursed with blood and pain so keen, he'd at times forgotten his own name. 

He had sweat Eddellyn from his pores, had bled the feel of her from his veins, and he’d filled the empty space that she’d left with hundreds of women, since then.  It’d been enough, if barely.  He’d moved on.  It’d been a trudge, but goddamnit–he’d finally closed up that jagged tear in his heart, even if the stitches were sloppy. 

To have all of that shaken with just one look from Eddellyn... 

Daeth felt fear and anger settle coldly on his tongue and spike sharply through his veins.  He couldn't do it.  He couldn't risk shaking the foundation of all he'd rebuilt; of all he'd had to build to protect his own sanity.  He just couldn't. 


Not now. 

It was simply too late.


It’s a lie.  

He knows it, and yet he keeps telling it to himself.  

He almost believed it this time.  

Almost. (Not really.)  

Maybe one day he’d believe it.  

Maybe one day he’d find that it was actually true. 

But not today.  


It was no matter; they would have a conversation and he’d let her say her piece.  He knew he shouldered a lot of the blame for their parting, but it didn’t make the anger taste  any less  bitter in his throat.  Even though he knew he couldn’t have let her walk away (again) without some sort of resolution, he felt equal parts apprehension, yearning, and hope rise in him.  He doesn’t know.  Maybe if they finally resolved  what had been left open-ended between them, he’d be able to fully close that door. 

He didn’t want to.

But when had he ever gotten what he wanted, really? He didn’t say anything to her as he turned down a hidden path that would shortly bring them right into the heart of the labyrinth.


[OOC: to the Heart of the Hedge Maze]

1 Have you ever seen the macaroni necklaces that children often make for their parents? Have you ever seen one made from the small bones of the hands and fingers? Have you ever had a necklace made out of your hand and finger bones? Daeth has.  He doesn’t recommend it.

2 In case it’s not obvious, the tale is that of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Orpheus’ failed walk out of the Underworld.  


TOM-CAT: Kiana Beach Battle (3/3) - ☆Try Again - ★Powder Keg - Soft,soft - ★Stupid Little Tom-Cat - ★Miiya & Cat-Tom - ★Sparring - ☆The Great Tipsu Hunt! - Stolen Kiss - ☆Not Cheshire - Returning to Her - ★Baths & Comfort - ☆Wings, Tails, & Love - ☆Cave Storms - Climbing the Walls - ★1st Kiss - ★Makeouts & Memories -★Laughter & Kisses
DAETH: Breaking Callon - Pleasure w/Pain - Sensing Death - ★Kissing Fate 2/2 - Precariously Balanced Nature - At Long Last, Eddellyn - Precipice - Entering the Hedge Maze - ★The Minotaur & The Labyrinth - Into the Aegis - Button Pressing - Thunder & Honey
RISQUÉ: Fun with Fisticuffs!
[Chatte]Enter Chatte - Chat w/Castor -Proposing the Race
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