Wendell and the Dragon's Heart

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Chapter 29

Wendell stood and looked down from a hill. It was hard for him to comprehend anything he saw. A huge, unending labyrinth stretched out far below - stone walls twisting and sneaking around deviously, defying his eyes to make any sense out of it. They went on endlessly for ages, a mindless ancient trap.

He tried fervently in his mind to follow a path somewhere, again and again, but there were too many ways, too many winding turns, too much to remember, that he couldn’t hold it in. It was like the green hedge maze was just a child’s joke, made only to taunt those who found the true maze.

A wind brushed past his ears, first this way and then that, making all the grass tumble and flow about. There was no noise here, except the wind. Wendell knew he was terribly, utterly alone here, where no one had ever been since unknown times.

Of course, he would need to go down and find an entrance somewhere. He only knew that once he was inside, there would be no finding the way back again.

He stood and stared into the distance now at the intricate pathways, trying to think of any way he could get through it, some way to climb the walls perhaps!! But there were so many walls, that it might be quicker to just walk. Think, Wendell!

But as usual, no one was there to tell him anything, and no thoughts were found by his searching mind. If only he still had the wolf here at least, that good faithful wolf!! The wolf had been a good friend to him, a good guide, even though he thought it was an enemy. Wendell felt a meager comfort at the memory, at least.

If only he had such a friend now! It would make all the anxiety and desperation less, even if they didn’t know how to do anything either.

Do anything, do something, do everything... the words were familiar, and Wendell wondered where he had heard them before. They sounded so important for some reason.

“I always succeed at whatever I do.”

It was the riddle, perhaps, that Garim had spoken so long ago... what was the rest of it? But the words sent a shiver through Wendell nonetheless. He had passed through so much already, and he didn’t even know how!

Maybe the... riddle’s answer had helped him somehow! Whatever it was called. It gave Wendell a strange feeling, to think perhaps he hadn’t been alone all the time; but even so, that nameless one did absolutely nothing to show they were listening, or could hear his puzzled thoughts about them.

If only they would show up, say something, give him a sign to let him know!! It was maddening. But if they didn’t show themselves, why were they even bothering to help at all? What purpose could it serve? How could he believe in what he didn’t even feel?

The wind swirled about Wendell now, but then died down, an ordinary breeze as always. In the stories, the heroes always succeeded, but Wendell couldn’t remember now how they did it. It was like a hazy memory as the labyrinth sat before him, never shifting.

Finally, he made his way down the hill, trying not to fall over and roll as it became steeper and steeper. Then the ground all began to level out, and the walls were higher and closer. He stepped across some more rocky ground, and walked between one of several high arches in the outermost wall that he could see, and the corridor stretched on for a long, long ways before turning. Wendell looked up at the bright green hill, and then stared into the unyielding stones. He tried very hard not to remember how the maze had looked from up there. The path led now ahead, and then left and right...

There were some small scraggly trees growing along the way sometimes, with apples and lemons, and Wendell gratefully cut into the juicy flesh with his dagger. At least he wouldn’t have to be concerned about starving away!!

The obvious problem of finding a way through hung around him always, a deadly veil. If he kept walking and walking, like he had in the smaller maze, he really would go around in circles this time, and there was no willow tree, no blue monster to tell riddles here.

He still thought sometimes of Garim’s own riddle and what it might mean, just as on the night when he had first heard it. There was something about a wall, and a fire that couldn’t go out, and a child finding something...

He didn’t know whether anyone was there with him, or anything. But even so he still caught himself saying something to them every now and then, rambling on about what he was planning, and about why they didn’t reveal anything now that he needed it most.

Left, straight, left, right, around, straight, right, left. The paths made no sense. He could tell that he was getting somewhere, but not in the least where that somewhere might be. Finally, it was night, and he collapsed against a wall and lay asleep.

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