Foxdel Forest diversion
Harry and Gary land with a splat on the floor of the cave, just as Barry had done many hours before.
“What do you know about this place?” asked Gary.
“I have only had time to find some of the clues for navigating this desert land. My World of Warcraft friends told me that there will always be signs along the way, and to be ready to decipher them. Everything is not as complex as it appears to be. Just follow your instincts.”
Looks like someone has been here before us! Look at those footprints in the sand! About size 7 with the distinctive whorls and symbols of Barry’s Nike Zoom Rivals.
They followed the footprints to the stone table and walked its perimeter scanning the remaining objects for clues. On the far side of the table’s edge was a series of symbols etched into the stone. The symbols were ancient runes and reminded Harry of those she had seen on the standing stones in the World of Warcraft. “These are clues!”. Racking her brains, she peered at the symbols and counted 25 of them.
“Which one was it for Gateway and which one for Signals?”
She ran her fingers over the runes and stopped at number 3. “This looks familiar”. She continued to explore the runes and stopped again at number 21. “This too looks familiar”.
“Can you see one of these symbols anywhere else in this cave, Dad?” She drew her two runes in the sand for Gary to see.
Harry walked to each of the four corridors leading from the cave and looked above each entrance.
“Looks like number 21 over this entrance!” as he reached the corridor immediately in front of the table.
“What does number 21 mean?”
“Number 21 is Thurisaz and means Gateway. Thurisaz represents the warrior that combines consciousness and wisdom with matters requiring force.”
“Looks like number 3 over this entrance!” as he reached the corridor to the right of the last one.
“What does number 3 mean?”
“Number 3 is Ansuz and means Signals. It is a signal to explore the depths and foundations of life.”
“I reckon Barry might have taken this one” as he looked down to see that the footprints stopped right in front of a weathered carpet with a distinctive green thread woven throughout.
“Okay, let’s trust your instinct here Dad and go with this choice.” Harry joined and Gary and together they stepped onto the green carpet. Instantly the carpet began to vibrate and rose from the sandy floor. Wobbling a little, the two fell to their knees in amazement as the carpet took off down the corridor.
They emerged into a Forest clearing and it was dusk. On the ground at the entrance to this cave were the remains of animal bones scattered loosely about. They heard a high-pitched howling in the distance and shivered in the cool air.
“This is not the Desert of Dreams”, said Harry. “I think we should go back and take the other tunnel”.
Just as they were about to step onto the carpet again, a large black wolf emerged from the trees nearby and began to stalk them. His head was held low and his eyes were narrowed and gleaming yellow in the fading light. His teeth were bared and once again he emitted another howl. A pack of grey wolves appeared behind them and circled the pair menacingly.
To their amazement, the black wolf, the leader of the pack, stood up straight on his hind legs and began to change shape. A black caped man with wild eyes and long shaggy hair, stood before them and said:
“You have entered the cave of the Foxdel Wolf and must pay the price, nothing is free here!”
He let out a high-pitched cackling laugh, like the howl of a wolf, and gathered his cape around his body.
“What do you want from the Foxdel Forest Wolves?” he asked.
“We are looking for my daughter! She has wandered off to the Desert of Dreams and we need directions to find her”, said Gary Arry. He was not scared of this wolf man, but he was cautious and spoke plainly and honestly. “She is the smallest member of my pack, and she needs help.”
“There is a price for that information! We will give you directions. But first, one of you must find your way into the Metal Maze, find the Chalice of Courage, and make your way out again before the moon rises in the east. If you bring me the Chalice in one hour, I will give you the directions you need. If you cannot find your way back, the other one will join the pack!”
Harry and Gary went into a huddle and whispered to each other: “Which one of us should go? Which one of us should stay?”
“I believe I should be the one to go”, said Gary. “Trust your instincts! You Told Me! This was my choice and I should be the one to get us out of this.”
Harry nodded but was not sure of her fate. “Just hold onto your courage! I can do this.”
The wolf man then lead Gary deeper into the Forest and with a flourish of his cape, revealed the entrance to the Metal Maze. A sheer cliff face of rock and two huge iron gates shut out everyone from the maze; everyone, except for those who understood.
“Wait for the sirens to blast three times. You will then have a moment of opportunity to enter the maze,” said the wolf man.
“Beware the ‘maze raiders’. You had better take this axe with you for protection. The maze will change when you hear the sirens again. Nothing is as it seems. Bring me back the chalice and your daughter will be saved.”
Gary waited at the entrance and looked up at the imposing gigantic gates. He scanned the images embossed on the metal panels displayed on each gate. The left panel showed an aerial view of the maze and the right panel showed an image of the chalice on top of a golden turret embedded in a carved table. He carefully memorised the pattern of the pathways to the centre of the maze and listened for the sirens. He remembered seeing a table and a turret just like this one in his favourite game app, ‘Room’.
The sirens sounded and on the third siren, the gates cracked open just enough for a person to slide through. Gary squeezed through holding his axe in his right hand. He had to turn his head to pass through the opening and as he did that he caught a glimpse of Harry being led away by the wolfman, back to the cave.
“Oh my God”, said Gary, as he passed into the maze. Before him, looming large and heavy before him were row upon row of angled metal walls. The light shone through the gaps and caused shadows of even more walls. “I just have to focus on the aerial view of the map of the maze and I can navigate to the centre.”
He started off by running straight ahead to what seemed like the end of the shadows. He turned right and trotting now at a slower pace he counted 21 paces and then turned left. He navigated like this for about 15 minutes, turning right and left according to his memorized map.
Suddenly three sirens blasted the air and all the walls pivoted on their hinges causing the shadows to change. He looked up and saw something white and ghostly floating above the walls and to his left. He turned and walked towards the apparitions and wondered how an axe would be useful if these were the Maze Raiders the wolfman warned him about. The axe head began to glow an iridescent green colour, the closer he moved toward the ghostly beings, and symbols appeared on the shaft. He peered carefully ahead and saw a small doorway half hidden in the shadows of the angled walls. Striding forward and watching above his head for any signs of the apparitions, he reached the doorway. Using the head of the axe he pushed the door open and walked in.
He was in a small stone chamber; dimly lit by an eerie glow from an ornate wooden table in the centre of the room. He walked toward the table and saw the same symbols as those on the axe shaft, illuminated on the metal edges of the table. In the centre of the table was a golden metal tower with a handle at the top. The tower was in three layers each with moulded edgings, steel pillars on each corner and panels at the top.
As he walked the perimeter of the table he could see that one steel pillar was missing. Gary remembered this tower from Room 3 and reached up to twist the handle at the top to reveal a double panel in the top layer. He used two hands to move the pieces of the double panel to the left and right simultaneously and he heard a click. He moved quickly to look at the rear of the tower and could see that a latch had opened and inside was a steel pillar. He grabbed the pillar and walked back to the side of the tower where there was a space for it to go. He placed it into the hole and slid it along a metal track about 60 centimetres long. A loud click sounded and the entire top of the tower rose several centimetres and a golden light emanated from within the cavity.
Inside the cavity was a small golden chalice.
“This must be the Chalice of Courage” he said and breathed a sigh of relief. He reached into the cavity and removed the chalice. This triggered some other mechanism on the tower and the whole thing began to collapse and fold inwards. Finally, the whole table top opened up and a huge globe appeared, emerging from the table with a clanking and metallic clicking noise. He spun the globe and saw that it was a map of Literal Literary Land and the Desert of Dreams was showing quite clearly close to the Cave of the Foxdel Forest Wolf.
He took out his iPhone and took a digital image of this segment of the globe and then turned to exit the chamber. The Sirens blared again three times and he looked at his watch. He had just 10 minutes to navigate back through the maze and exit through the iron gates.
Once outside the chamber the metal walls had changed again and, now that he was facing the other way, he became disoriented. The axe head had stopped glowing but the symbols were still shining. Now he could see those same symbols etched into gigantic circular plaques on some of the metal walls. He followed his instincts again and stepped forward to search for the symbol closest to the axe head. He figured that now that he was on the return journey the order of the symbols on the axe shaft would show him the right order and how to find his way out. He was right!
Within 8 minutes he had reached the gigantic metal gates, but they were shut. Puffing and panting from his exertion he suddenly panicked thinking that he had lost. But no, he just needed to wait. He waited patiently for the sound of the sirens again; and just 2 minutes later he heard the sirens and saw the gates open a crack. He stuffed the axe and the chalice into his jacket pockets and once more squeezed through to exit the maze.
Gary fell onto his knees as he emerged through the gates and looked up to see the wolfman standing right in front of him!
“Aha you have successfully navigated the maze, but no chalice do I see.”
Gary reached into his pocket, grabbed the chalice, and held it out to the wolfman. “I have succeeded in finding the chalice and now I want my daughter back”.
Harry came running out of the cave as soon as she heard her father’s voice. She ran to her Dad and he wrapped his arms around her. The wolfman grabbed the chalice out of Gary’s hands and then let out a loud howl as he changed back into his wolf form.
Harry cried out: “Oh NO! We still need him to tell us how to find the Desert of Dreams! Now we will never find Barry and the Ring of Destiny.” She was sobbing now.
“Whissshtt! Stop your blethering. Have a little faith in your father! I know the way to the Desert!”