T H I R T Y - S E V E N
I jinxed myself before we even began.
It was a far cry from being easy.
So far, in fact, that I probably owed my father an apology for being a little shit when I was younger and learning how to shift.
Oh how that man had the patience of a saint.
“Look...“I trailed off, not really sure how to address the minotaur.
“Asterius” he muttered out “Name is Asterius.”
“Asterius” I murmured softly “Pretty name.”
“Grandfather” He grunted out “Mother named me after grandfather.”
“You speak pretty good English for a bea...” he shot me a look and I gave him a sheepish smile “A minotaur.”
“Althaia taught me.”
“And who is Althaia?” I asked, confused “Is she another Minotaur?”
He shook his huge bull head “She not like me.”
“Then who was she?”
“She was...friend” he said quietly “Before beast took over and...”
He shuttered and I’m pretty sure I knew where he was going with his story.
The beast took over and killed her.
“Is that why you want to control that side of you?” I asked.
“I made promise to her...” he said “On her last day here. I made promise.”
“Okay” I puffed out a breath “Let’s try this again.”
He closed his eyes and I murmured softly “Imagine your happy place.”
“No have one” he said “Been here since I was a Calf.”
My heart, as weird as it sounded, panged for him and his situation.
He was a monster, sure, but he was also half human. I would be lying if I said we weren’t similar in some aspects.
We were both beasts trapped in our own Labyrinth.
While mine wasn’t physical like his, it still existed nonetheless.
“Well...Imagine your time with Althaia” I said quickly when his face screwed up in pain “Imagine the day she taught you what you know now.”
His expression quickly changed into a more serene one.
“Now whenever you feel you feel the beast creeping up, think of your happy place. The one place where the beast isn’t present. Think about the peace this happy place brings you. The Beast feeds on our emotions. The angrier we are or the more stressed out we become, our rein on the beasts become thinner and fragile.”
“That’s all?” he said softly “I only control the beast? I cannot rid of him?”
I shook my head, giving him a sad smile “The beasts are part of us no matter how hard we want to deny it sometimes. We are apart of them as much as they are apart of us.”
The walls, which were quiet up until now, rumbled all around us.
I looked up at the shaking cave and a small pebble hit me on the forehead.
“Ow!” I muttered rubbing at the spot “Stupid rock.”
Asterius cracked a smile “You’re one of the funnier wolves I’ve met in my lifetime.”
“Really?” I grumbled “You stumble across a lot of wolves down here?”
“Not many” He admitted “But this one wolf, as soon as he stopped being afraid of me, was really funny.”
His head tilted to the side “You remind me of him.”
“Oh yeah?” I said, “How so?”
“You were both wolves.” He grinned, or tried too if his big bull head was capable of it.
I snorted “That’s it?”
“And you have his sense of humor” he squinted at me “You kind of smell like him too.”
I looked at him in horror “I smell like a dead guy?”
“Was that not right thing to say?”
“No!” I laughed, sniffing myself discreetly “No girl wants to hear that they smell like a dead guy.”
“But you smell better” he insisted “More meatier.”
I gasped, taking a large step away from him.
He guffawed out a beasty laugh “I kidding.”
“Not funny” I glared at him “Especially since you kidnapped me.”
“I did not kidnap you.”
“Oh really?” I raised an eyebrow “Then what do you call stealing me against my will from a loved one?”
“I saved you.”
“The caves have a way of changing people” he said “Once trapped inside, they become different than who they were on the outside.”
“Does that mean...I’ll change?” I questioned “Or Zephyr?”
He shrugged “I do not know.”
“If you didn’t know, then why did you save me?”
He was quiet for a few minutes.
“You...remind me of...her.”
My eyes softened as I took in his defeated expression.
“I’m sorry.” I said softly.
“Not your fault.”
“Asterius...” I took his large hoof in mine and he sucked in a breath “Why have you not left this place yet?”
“The man that created this place practiced sorcery” he said “The only way to leave is to possess a special thread blessed by the man. That thread is enchanted on the entrance and exit. You can enter but I can’t leave.”
“So how do I take it off?”
“It’s blood magic” he said “Only he can remove it.”
I threw my hands up in exasperation “Blood magic? This again?!”
“You experienced before?” he asked “Blood magic?”
I nodded “Some asshole used it on me to make me think my Mate died.”
He tilted his head at my profanity like he never heard the word before.
Which, I’m guessing, that he hasn’t.
There was another rumble but unlike last time, this time it knocked me off of my feet.
Asterius stood strong but his head snapped to the now opening in the wall.
He grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and pushed me towards a different opening in the cave wall.
Before I even had a chance to see what was happening behind us, he was urging me toward the exit.
“Go” he roared at me “Go now!”
I tried to turn but his big hand gripped my neck harder “LEAVE!”
“What is it?” I asked “Is it Zephyr?”
He shook his head and then suddenly his eyes flashed grey.
His shook his head again and then they went back to their normal brown.
“You leave now” he said, his voice gruffer then before “It is that time again.”
“The Labyrinth Games” he said, gripping his head, muttering to himself “Every year they start earlier and earlier.”
“What the hell are those?”
“The people of Athens and Crete send best warriors inside Labyrinth to kill me” he said, his eyes shifting again “The beast kills to protect us. That’s why I need to control him. When they come...I just...can’t stop.”
“Why should you?” I asked “It seems like the beast is right to protect you.”
“I..just can’t...” he shook his head “Not this time. I promised Althaia.”
“Her brother” he said “He part of game this year. He wants revenge for Althaia.”
“How do you know her brother is here?”
“She warned me” he said grimly “Before she...passed... she warned me that he was too stubborn to forgive.”
“But if you explained what happened” I said and he continued to drag me through the maze “If you explained she was your friend and loved you, I think he would...”
“I do not blame him” Asterius said quietly “His revenge is warranted.”
“You didn’t mean it” I said vehemently “The Beast took over, you...”
“The Beast killed her” he said “But that didn’t stop me from thinking about those thoughts when the beast wasn’t present.”
I sucked in a sharp breath.
“Do not try to heroize me Serenity” he have me a sad smile “I do not deserve it.”
“I don’t mean to do that” I shook my head “But those thoughts you were experiencing were the beasts. Not solely yours. I know this because the beast is never not present. They lurk in our minds, just waiting for a chance to escape.”
I pulled him to a stop and faced him.
“As much as we hate to admit it Asterius, they are apart of us. We were born with them but that doesn’t mean they define us. Yes, it sucks that we aren’t normal but being normal is worse that being a monster or having a beast. Being normal means that they’re just better at hiding their monsters than us.”
“That’s a nice sentiment” he gave me a little push and suddenly, I was standing on...fresh grass? “But unlike your beast, mine cannot be controlled like I hoped.”
I tried to re-enter the cave but an invisible force was keeping me out.
“I will get the Prince to you before Theseus comes to slay me” He gave me a sad smile “This is my promise to you. For helping me.”
“Asterius” I pleaded, banging my fist against the invisible force “We can figure something out. This is why I’m here. To help.”
“You must go now” He nodded towards the sky “The Blood Moon fast approaches. We monsters tend to get more blood thirsty during this time.”
With those final words, he turned his back on me and the opening turned to the cave wall once again.
“Asterius” I dropped my forehead against the dirt wall “You stubborn bull.”
“Who goes there?!” A voice shouted from behind me “Show yourself beast!”
“Turn around!” The harsh voice said “Slowly! I want to see your hands Beast!”
I turned slowly and my green eyes clashed with those almost identical to my own.
The person, who visibly froze at my appearance, gazed at me with horror in his green eyes.
“It’s nice to finally meet you in person and not through family photos” I gave a weak smile “Uncle Ethan.”