Journey to the City of Minos

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Everyone followed Brystagg to the top of the dais and stood before the statue bearing my name.

I let out a goofy grin. I mean, come on, the statue was a statement of godly cool. There was no way I would not feel both conceited and humbled.

"Something you want to share with us?" Lyra asked with a raised brow.

"Oh, um, well. Someone must've thought Famine was cool when they made this, right?" I said as I patted the namesake statue, feeling noteworthy.

"I doubt it." She blatantly shot me down.

"Brutal!" I sulked.

My stomach let out a nasty growl that echoed around the room; I hugged my noisy gut.

"I haven't eaten since whenever." I groaned.

Buru surprised me when he stepped before me, holding out a bundle of cheese cloth he had pulled out of his pocket.

I soon realised it was enclosing a piece of heaven. Tears of joy spilled from my eyes at the savoury, blissful aroma of fried tofu.

"Here yah go." He handed over the blessed morsel.

I gingerly untied the cheese cloth and imagined stars twinkling around the untouched piece of ganmodoki.

"Buddha bless this beautiful being!" I beamed and devoured the morsel with grateful bites.

"Thank you for the food!" I licked my lips with heartfelt gratitude and bowed at the end.

"The kid's got manners." Buru chuckled as he took back his cheese cloth.

I relished the warm pats his generous hand gave my head, and thought I saw Brystagg's mouth twitch with a smile.

"Done?" Lyra scowled.

I nodded, feeling satisfied enough to take on the world.

Lyra unfolded her old gold fan with a sigh and assumed a moment of focus. She held the fan before her mouth and muttered a passage from the Sacred Word.

My eyes widen with awe. The sparrows on her fan guards came to life. Their dainty gold bodies flew formations around the room; changing course whenever Lyra swept her fan, back and forth, with elegant movements. Their tail feathers trailed a generous stream of gold dust to shower the room with starlight.

I flinched and clung to Colin's side when the star pattern on the floor ignited with white fire and caused the eyes of the snake statues to burn white. The statues became animated and moved about their pedestals to create a figure eight shape.

"Yip!" I yelped when I felt my butt cheek sore from a firm pinch.

I pushed Colin off me and met his blameless expression with a snarl.

"Famine, pay attention!" Death shouted.

I shook off the ringing effects from my ears and did as he had instructed. I saw that the stardust had called images to every part of the tourmaline walls.

The sparrows flew into one of the walls. We found ourselves trailing their flight through a maze of a sparkling gold city without moving off the dais.

"Ooh!" I gasped at the wonder of gold and tourmaline paved streets crowded with other bull-men and women going about their business.

The sparrows' flight moved us further along the streets, past square gold brick buildings that sparkled magnificently. Grand white marble and silver lined ribbed-columns stood as tall sentries along the street corners. I gazed up to an aqua blue and white streaked sky. How something so wondrous could exist underground was beyond my comprehension.

Lyra swept her fan back and forth, so the sparrows moved us to an enormous gold building in the middle of a mosaic center at the heart of the maze city.

The birds flew circles around the building's triangular roof that was supported by evenly spaced white marble-silver columns. We moved towards a domed archway entrance at the start of a square courtyard, which was illuminated by burning kettle drums forming rows on either side of the grounds.

Our travels ended at the entrance's threshold. Lyra muttered a passage of the Sacred Word to recall the sparrows back to her fan and their dormant state within the fan guards.

I breathed in musky odours, and a powerful aroma of iron, sandalwood and sage lingering among the milling bull-people donned in fine robes of white or of a commoner's attire. They walked about their own busy around the courtyard near the building directly opposite the archway, and up and down shining gold steps, which led onto the building's wide glittering porch and the double entrance beyond.

I glanced up to the high eaves and fascia of the building, and read strange hieroglyphs moving about the wide fascia.

"Here lies the Temple of Mithras, City of Minos." Death translated for me.

"Mithras? Minos?" I whispered.

"Minos be meh home city forged within the labyrinth," Buru answered for me. "Mithras be our divine god."

I noticed expressions of sadness and longing in his eyes.

"Is something wrong Buru?" I asked and gently gripped his arm.

"Nay. Just been long time since meh seen home." Buru sighed.

"Thank you for your directions Buru. We'll take our leave now," Brystagg said and gestured for me to follow his lead.

I turned to Buru with questions. "You're not coming?"

"He can't." Brystagg answered for him. "He was exiled."

"Exiled?" I found it hard to believe that good-natured Buru would face a crime that would forbid him entry into his home city.

"It be okay Famine. It be meh fate." Buru kindly reassured me.

"Don't stray from Sire's side. Meh not be like other minotaurs who dine on flesh of man," he warned me.

"May the gods shine favourably on yah." He sent me off with a pat to my back for safe journeys. "Meh be waiting for yah here."

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