Wendell and the Dragon's Heart

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Chapter 31

Wendell hurried quickly that day and the next, and all the miserable uncertainty that followed him for so long gave way at times to a bright vision of hope. Just suppose that someone was with him, and had helped him along the whole way! It was a thought he clung to with desperation as he passed through small, winding corridors, towering high with grey stone.

Sometimes one of the large birds would circle him, high above the walls, and he would have to run from one wall to the next to keep out of sight. But then they would be gone.

Wendell tried asking for directions, but there was no answer... still he never passed the same place twice, as far as he could remember.

In the loneliness of grey stones and distant sky, the memory of the painting was always a fading ache in his mind, and sometimes he almost found himself asking Karen where he was, as if she could hear him, and wondering what he would say if he suddenly found her somewhere past the next corner.

Still he wandered and fled for a wasted eternity. The path turned a bit, and then suddenly opened up wider. A long, thin courtyard sat ahead, looking greater and more impressive than anywhere else.

It was walled in with large grey stones like the rest of the maze, although these were smoother and better shaped. There was nothing else to show what this place was here for, no traces of banners or decorations, or even a pillar.

For some reason Wendell knew this had been an important meeting hall once, he didn’t know why. There was something in the look of the stones, a kind of feeling or nobleness that he couldn’t begin to understand.

Wendell found himself walking more carefully here. As if he himself was now royalty, simply by being in the ruins of what had once been.

Looking at a far end, there was a giant, ancient brass plate hung up for all to see. Two enormous doorways awaited, one at the left wall, and the other at the right wall.

That’s strange, he thought. Who would put up a message in the middle of this maze, where no one would possibly ever read it? Going quickly up to it now, he reached up to brush off some of the rust and read carefully.

“Traveler, you came this far,

no longer knowing where you are.

It matters not, how you came,

just find your way back out again!

’Look from the sky for the way you should go,

then look to the sky, and the way you will always know.’ “

Well, I should check where the doorways lead to, and then come back, he thought eagerly. It was simple enough.

He took the left path, and immediately it was a dead end. Wendell turned and went back. Well, of course he should take the right path then! It was the only way. Quickly he hurried back past the hanging plate and went along... it was a dead end as well!

How could he look down from the sky? If both ways went nowhere, then why did some ancient ruler decide to put up this plaque in the first place? How...?

Wendell smothered the need to be exasperated. Whenever there was a riddle before, it had an answer. He just needed to wait, listen, and be reasonable. Right.

Maybe he could ride one of the giant birds! But the birds may not even have been around, when this plaque was first bright and new. Who knows how long it has been.

Even so, he waited and waited for one of them. Finally, he heard the bloodthirsty wails again, but wisely decided to find another way.

The walls weren’t that smooth, but after a bit of tussling with the hard stones and a few nasty falls, he gave up trying to climb them.

Look from the sky... it was probably something obvious and stupid as usual. He just had to do it. Okay, fine. I’ll look from the sky, you old ancient rulers! Why not?

Wendell laughed at the idiocy of the thought. He closed his eyes. So I’m up in the sky... there’s me! Heh heh... and a long, wide corridor, and two dead ends on either side, turning back and.... well... I’m standing in a huge arrow! It must point the way! But once I leave this hall, how can I even know where to go?

“Look to the sky, and the way you will always know...” he read again.

He looked up right above the metal plate, and there was a high, far away mountain peak sticking up above the wall, marking the direction. He just needed to keep it in sight, and he would know which turns to take!

Feeling very trembly and excited, he went back down the corridor, and tried to pace himself as he went through the labyrinth again, always checking the mountaintop for which way to go.

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