This is part 2 of the Flying Pig Tales stories. It works as a standalone, but it meant to be read with Part 1. If you like this, please subscribe. I’ll be posting more every Friday AND I will be posting stories with explanations of all the hidden references in the story. If you catch any, shoot me an email and Ill recognize you in the post!
The tinkling of chimes and cloud glitter annoyed Ambrosia more than normal. Rather than lowering slowly to the ground, she impatiently plopped on the floor. Waving the glitter cloud away like a swarm of gnats, the godmother dropped her satchel and finished stuffing the skirt inside before unceremoniously snapping it shut.
She had been out on thousands of godmother missions and had never failed to fix whatever she’d been sent to fix. A perfect record, ruined because she’d lost her temper with Druzella. Still, that poodle was too terrible to help for any reason. There was no undoing it now, so there was no point wasting time worrying about it. Really, her biggest concern at this point was explaining herself to godmother command. It was one thing to break a few rules, but it was quite another to toss a client aside because you didn’t like them. There was a real chance she’d be demoted or stuck at a desk or in some sort of punishment duty. Some godmothers spent their entire careers working their way up to the serving clients directly. If she lost this job, it was unlikely she’d ever work her way back to it.
Ambrosia picked up her satchel and scanned her surroundings. The stone walls and floors of the hallway she’d materialized into were gray, but clean. The hall extended in front and behind her as far as she could see, which wasn’t far. Small lamps hung along the walls every ten feet. It wasn’t enough light to read by, but it was enough to walk safely.
“For once missing my target helped me out.” She was in no mood to put on the godmother song and dance show for another client. She desperately needed a day off, but that wasn’t happening soon. The break she’d get wandering around this place would have to do.
She walked down the strange hall, choosing to go forward, though she couldn’t see a difference in either direction. She breathed a deep, tired sigh. Cool, damp air loosened the muscles in her chest a little. Her anger began dissipating as she unclenched her jaw and tried to relax. She felt her curly, fairy godmother hairstyle begin to frizz up. “Great,” she thought to herself. “Now I’ll be just as much of a mess outside as I feel inside.”
Minutes passed and the hall just kept going. “There aren’t any turns or any openings or anything, it just goes on and on,” she complained. Trudging on for another half hour, she began wondering if the magic that was supposed to guide her to her next client was broken or something. She also began wondering who would build a place like this. It seemed pointless.
“Maybe things aren’t as they seem,” she muttered. Dropping her satchel and snapping it open, the godmother searched the contents, reaching so deep inside that her entire arm up to her shoulder into the bag. Frustrated, she finally upended the bag. A vigorous shake produced dozens of small objects that clattered to the floor, scattering in all directions. Tossing the satchel aside, Ambrosia began crawling around on the floor, probing the debris.
“Where are you?” she asked the darkness. One item after another was examined and tossed aside. “Oh! You’ll be useful,” the godmother exclaimed upon finding a small bag filled with pixie dust. Opening the sack, she pinched some of the powder between her fingers and sprinkled it to the floor, watching the carefully as it drifted diagonally, rather than straight down.
“Ha! That’s it!” she shouted, her voice echoing down the hall. The godmother judged the direction of the breeze that carried her dust sideways. Righting her satchel, she began tossing the odds and ends back inside. The godmother couldn’t help wondering what sort of place this was. Finishing up, she snatched the satchel and walked in the direction the breeze had come from.
The wall looked solid, but air was definitely moving through it. Squinting, she couldn’t figure out how it was possible. “There must be some sort of trick to the whole thing,” she thought. Reaching a tentative hand toward the wall, the godmother was shocked when her hand passed right through solid stone. Yanking her arm back, as though she’d been burned, Ambrosia looked back and forth down the hall and wondered how many of these doorways she’s passed already. It must be some kind of magic illusion.
“Well, I’m here now,” she thought, after briefly considering a search of the area for other doorways. Taking a deep breath, the godmother stepped through the wall.
On the other side she found another hall, though shorter. A “T” intersection sat a few dozen feet from where Ambrosia stood. Walking to the end, she chose the right hand turn, only to find herself in another hall which split off in still more directions. She made a quick succession of turns, lefts and rights at random.
“A labyrinth,” the godmother sighed to herself. “But what kind of labyrinth?” Hopefully it wasn’t the kind that’s full of goblins, she thought. Goblins aren’t tough to deal with, but they are a nuisance. “What sort of client am I looking for?” She’d once helped a young woman rescue her baby brother after he’d been kidnapped by goblins. That had been fun, but the smell was nearly unbearable. Goblins are filthy creatures. It was unlikely that this was a goblin maze. It was too clean. That left few possibilities. The only choice left was to search the place and find her client.
She spent the next several hours wandering down corridors, taking random turns. Ambrosia wished she’d learned a spell to solved these things. She recalled thinking the same thing last time she wandered around a labyrinth. She did her best to remember which twists and turns she’d already taken, but quickly lost track.
Inspiration struck as she complained for the hundredth time that every new hallway looked identical to the last. Digging around in her bag, she found a ball a twine, which she tied to one of the lamps. Another hour of walking revealed that she’d been crossing her own path over and over. She even passed the spot where she’d tied the twine in the first place. If it hadn’t been for the twine, she’d never have known that she was going in circles. Every hall looked the same as the last. That is, until she came across a drawing on the wall.
The masterfully drawn picture of a mountain range, with the tallest peak disappearing into the clouds above, was obviously the home of the Mountain King. She’d seen it countless times before and knew it as soon as she saw it. The picture was drawn at dawn, a kaleidoscope of color filled the sky overhead.
“How did that get there?” she wondered. She studied the picture carefully before continuing on down the hall. Before long, she passed another drawing. This one was of a small boy fighting a giant. Frozen in mid-swing, the boy was throwing a stone at the armored giant with a sling. Moving on, she passed drawings more and more frequently, until the walls were covered in a mural that would make the most masterful artists jealous. The mural extended on and on, covering every surface. She recognized more than a few depictions as scenes from the history of the kingdoms. Others were strange to her.
A noise echoing from somewhere in the darkness froze her in her footsteps. Hours of silence, suddenly interrupted by an unknown creature snorting in the unknown twists and turns of the labyrinth rocked her to the core. Ambrosia’s hand found her wand instantly. The silence resumed and left her waiting in the darkness for something else to happen. After several tense moments she began moving more cautiously, straining her ears at the silence.
Encountering the doorway shocked the godmother. It seemed out of place in the labyrinth. Every inch of the 10 foot door was covered in drawings, identical in style to the surrounding corridors. It had no window or knocker, only a single pull ring.
The godmother waved her wand over the surface the door, with particular attention paid to the hinges. Confident she’d quieted the door as much as possible, she leaned against it, finding that it gave way easily. She inched the door open, fearful that she’d attract the attention of whatever might live on the other side. The godmother peaked through the crack, spying a behemoth on the far side of the room with his back turned to the door. The monster looked as though it needed all 10 feet of the doorway to get in and out. It stood on two legs, like most creatures, but that was where the similarities between the monster and ordinary creatures ended. Spotting the horns jutting from the beast’s head sent a shock of realization through the godmother. She knew exactly what sort of labyrinth she’d stumbled into. That was a minotaur. The was a minotaur’s labyrinth. Icy tendrils snaked up her back, as she fought down the urge to run. Raising her right foot to back away, she began planning her escape. Ambrosia briefly considered snapping her fingers and leaving altogether, but whoever she was here to help wouldn’t stand a chance against this monster.
“Don’t bother running. Just come in and talk to me,” a voice full of gravel said. “You’re not the first one to show up in my labyrinth. I’ve been here for thousands of years. The Mountain King himself put me here to guard his Labyrinth not too long after he gave animals speech. I know every inch of this place and I’ve caught intruders fast and smarter than you. Come in and talk to me.”
Ambrosia considered the words for a moment, realizing that she wasn’t likely to outpace the minotaur for long. Pushing the door open wide and stepping inside, she hoped the godmothers would get the opportunity to demote her for messing up Druzella’s case.
The minotaur turned to face the godmother, revealing the shaggy head of a bull. He wore plate armor, though it didn’t seem necessary. Ambrosia couldn’t imagine anyone standing a chance of even landing a solid blow in a fair fight against such a large beast.
“Are you here to get to the king’s garden?” the minotaur asked flatly.
“The what?” Ambrosia asked, suddenly confused.
“The garden of the Mountain King. He closed it off when the vassal fruit was stolen. I’ve been here ever since. Are you here trying to get into the garden? What are you trying to steal? Do you understand what happened last time someone stole from the garden?” the minotaur asked pointedly. “The Mountain King cursed the fruit. Coming under the king’s curse is a fate worse than dying.”
“You’ve been here all that time? Have you been alone?” Ambrosia asked, ignoring the minotaur’s questions.
“Yes. I’ve been here, alone, all this time. The place has powerful magic that has kept me alive all these years. Don’t change the subject. What’s your business here?” the minotaur asked, growing visibly irritated.
“It must have been pretty lonely. And boring,” the godmother responded. “As for my business here, I am not here for any garden. In fact, I had no idea that this place was around anymore. I’m a fairy godmother. The home office decides where to send me. I wouldn’t have chosen to come here. Besides I haven’t found my client yet. Though, I can’t imagine where they’ be in this place. They’re probably lost.”
“Two intruders?” the minotaur responded, raising his furry eyebrows. “I better get moving and find the other one. Whoever it is will never find their way to the middle of the labyrinth. They’re more than likely going to wind up starving to death or falling into a pit or something.”
“Are you going to kill them when you find then?” the godmother asked, hoping the answer would be ‘no.’ She wasn’t certain what she’d do if she had to defend some silly adventurer against the wrath of a minotaur.
“I hardly ever have to kill anyone. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at this job. Mostly I talk them out of staying any longer than they have to. Otherwise, it’s not hard to scare them into leaving.”
Ambrosia felt a flood of relief wash over her, though she wondered a bit at the unusual character of the minotaur. “Are you going now? Do you mind if I tag along?” the godmother asked, hoping she wouldn’t have to comb the maze looking for her client.
“Sure, I guess that couldn’t hurt,” the minotaur answered, surprised by the request. Most creatures ran at him weapons drawn or from him weapons dropped. “I will confess that you are the first person I’ve talked to in as long as I can remember. I mean, I’ve talked to people. I just haven’t talked to anyone who didn’t come here planning to kill or sneak past me. It tends to mess up the conversation a little bit.”
“I can see how that’d be the case,” the godmother answered, bemused.
“Well, let’s get to this,” the minotaur sighed as he gathered his shield and put a formidable double bladed axe through a pair of loops across his back. Ambrosia couldn’t help but notice that the axe had been decorated with scenes of violence, probably to scare the courage out of uninvited guests.
“My name is ‘Ambrosia,’ by the way. What’s yours?” the godmother chirped, suddenly remembering to smile as she spoke. For the first time in years, the smile wasn’t forced.
“What?” the minotaur responded, looking sideways at the godmother.
“I said that my name is ‘Ambrosia’ and I asked yours,” she responded, still cheerful.
“Oh. Sorry. I think I’ve forgotten how to talk to people,” the minotaur responded sheepishly. “My name is Argos.”
“Nice to meet you Argos. I guess you should lead the way, seeing as I have no idea where I’m going.”
Argos strode to the door, his feet padding quietly as he went. The godmother noticed that the minotaur had hooves, rather than feet. That made sense because he was part bull. Still, she marveled at how silently the guardian of the labyrinth moved.
“Did you draw all of this?” Ambrosia asked.
“Yes. Who else would have?” the minotaur responded.
“I guess that makes sense. They’re lovely. You’re quite talented. You could go anywhere in the kingdoms and paint for a living. This must have taken you years,” the fairy mooned, genuinely impressed.
“Can’t. Gotta stay here. The garden has to have a guardian,” the minotaur responded. His tone was curt, making it clear that he wasn’t happy about his station. “And it did take me years. Three thousand years or something like that. I stopped counting time a while ago. I suppose I’ll keep painting until time ends.”
The pair strolled through the maze and discussed the pictures as they passed them. She asked all sorts of questions about his time in the maze. For the first time in as long as she could remember, Ambrosia enjoyed a conversation with another creature that had nothing to do with godmothering or fixing their problems. Argos seemed to enjoy the conversation as well, though it was hard to say for certain.
“Is there some kind of spell that keeps you here?” she asked, genuinely wondering if the minotaur stayed put purely out of a sense of duty.
“I wouldn’t leave and I can’t. This is too important and serving my king is my life.”
“Do you know how the spell works?” the godmother asked.
“As long as the labyrinth is here, it must be guarded. I can’t even step outside forever,” Argos answered.
“That’s sad,” Ambrosia mused. “All this talent and you’re stuck here in the dark, where no one can see it.”
“Don’t worry. He won’t be stuck down here forever!” a voice shouted from the darkness, surprising the pair. Though Argos was a master at stalking intruders in the labyrinth, he’d allowed himself to get distracted for the first time in millennia. A knight in armor so shiny it could have been chrome plated stepped from the dark. “Don’t worry maiden. I’ll kill this monster and save you.” He continued in a voice so gallant that it sounded rehearsed and silly.
Ambrosia sized up the knight. He was an uncommonly handsome lynx, with flowing blond hair, and a broad smile that revealed pointy teeth. In one hand he held a sword and in the other he held Ambrosia’s twine. He had followed her path right to the minotaur. Suddenly she felt a little ill at the thought that her actions had betrayed Argos.
“What’s your business here? Why have you come to—” Argos began, only to be cut off by a terse godmother.
“I am NOT a maiden in distress and I don’t need saving,” she spat. Her day had been going badly before she showed up in the maze and now that she was face to face with the foolish knight who had come to this place willingly, she was going to have her say. “I’m a fairy godmother. Probably your fairy godmother. What are you doing in this labyrinth? I’ve been wandering around in the dark for hours looking for you. What sort of business do you have in this place?”
“I am here to find the center of the maze. I’ve been wandering for weeks. There’s a tree there that grows golden apples. I have sworn to my love that I would slay this beast and bring her a golden apple to prove myself worthy of her love,” the knight answered, still using his “hero” voice.
“Are you kidding me?” the godmother groused. “You’re here to win the love of some woman? I can’t believe you. What kind of relationship are you likely to build with a woman who only agreed to be involved with you because you killed a minotaur and brought her a golden apple?! Have you tried talking to her? Or maybe bringing her flowers or serenading her or writing a love poem or something? What in the kingdoms made you think this was the way to a woman’s heart? And do you even know what’s at the center of this labyrinth? It’s the garden of the Mountain King. Anything you take from here will be cursed. Your ‘love’ would be dead, or worse, if she took just one bite. Why can’t you knights think with your heads for just once?” Ambrosia’s voice rose steadily as she badgered the knight. By the time she finished she was shouting, her voice echoed up and down the corridors.
The passage fell silent as the minotaur and the knight stared awkwardly at the bristling godmother. Finally, the minotaur spoke up: “Uh, yeah. What she just said.” The edges of his bull lips raised in a smile briefly, but quickly resumed his usual angry glare.
“I’m not good at poems,” he stammered. “And I can’t sing too good. I’m only good at being a knight. I think girls like that kind of thing.” The knight’s voice trailed off as he finished his sentence.
He pondered the exchange for a moment before an idea seemed to come to his mind. “Wait, if you’re MY fairy godmother, then you have to do what I say! That’s a relief. I wasn’t sure how I was going to kill this monster on my own. But, together we can easily slay this monster.”
Ambrosia’s mouth fell open and she stared dumbly at the knight. “You want me to kill Argos?” she finally managed to sputter.
“No. I want you to kill that monster,” the night responded confidently. “In fact, I command you: Kill that animal.”
Ambrosia turned purple and began shaking.
“Now you’re in for it monster. She’s ramping up her magic,” the knight announced with more than a little excitement leaking into his words.
A broad, toothy smile finally returned to the godmother’s face. It wasn’t a cheerful smile. Rather, it was maniacal. Seizing on an idea, she began: “You want to see the center of the labyrinth and get the monster out of here?”
“Yes! I knew you’d see it my way. Now get him! Destroy the minotaur, then you can show me to this garden,” the knight replied confidently.
“Destroy him? I’d sooner destroy a stained glass window than an artist like him. I think I have an different solution,” she replied, through the angry smile.
“Artist? Different solution?” the knight replied, confusion in his voice and on his face.
The fairy godmother rose into the air, a cloud of glitter surrounding her. With the tinkling of chimes she waved her wand at the knight. Much to his surprise, he began to grow taller. At the same time he swelled, so much so that his armor peeled from his body as he grew out of it. At the same time hair sprouted all over his head and face, along with horns. The tinkling of chimes intensified into an angry jangling. Within moments he had become a minotaur. The shocked knight stumbled backward and watched in horror as his body changed. When his feet became hooves he stumbled unsure of how to walk without toes. Turning, the knight fled, stumbling into the dark.
“Hey! Don’t forget! Your job is to guard the garden in the center of the labyrinth,” the godmother shouted at the fleeing knight before bursting into laughter.
The minotaur stood, staring at Ambrosia. He had watched the exchange silently, unsure of what to do. Now, he was even more uncertain. “What now?” he asked, voice shaking.
“Come along. It’s time to leave,” the godmother responded, taking Argos by the hand.
“Leave? What about the labyrinth?” the minotaur responded, staring awkwardly at the godmother’s hand holding his. He had never been touched by another creature in any setting other than combat.
“Sir whats-his-name is guarding it now. You’ve done this job long enough. It’s time to move on.”
“Move on? Out there?” Argos’ voice quavered, still staring their clasped hands. “I can’t leave.”
“Don’t be bull headed,” the fairy responded with a twinkle in her eye. “He’ll figure it out. I’m sure it’ll be ages before another hero shows up to rob the garden. He has plenty of times to learn the ropes. Besides, who taught you to do this job?”
“No-one. I just sort of figured it out.”
“Well, there you have it.”
“Won’t your spell wear off?” Argos asked. “I thought godmother magic was temporary.”
“Usually, but I think it’ll stick here. The labyrinth needs a guard. If you couldn’t walk out the front door, then he won’t be able to become a knight again,” the godmother replied confidently.
Argos stood, his eyes fixed on Ambrosia and shaking a little. Finally, he shook his head and the godmother waved her wand. The pair popped out of the maze altogether.
The knight did eventually learn how to defend the labyrinth. He is still there to this day.