Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Labyrinth of Eyasa

The Labyrinth of Eyasa is said to be "a palace composed of many palaces". Its great stone courtyards and pyramids are connected by long, numerous and winding passageways, so that no stranger can find his way either into any court nor out of it without a guide.

It is said to contain statues of all the gods, kings and demons of that land.

Some of the palaces are so made that the opening of a door makes a terrifying sound, like thunder.

It is built so that, even though its upper levels are open to the sky, all but its outermost halls are in total darkness, even during the day.

In ancient days the place was used for important ceremonies and meetings, but today the people of Eyasa loathe the Labyrinth. They will allow no one to be buried there, except for birds, which they place in brass urns. Thus no one is known to go there except in desperation; criminals, those fleeing arranged marriages, and so on.

The Labyrinth's exterior walls and passages are covered in painted curses, and show damage from sling stones and fire. It is said that the people resolved to destroy it once and for all, but that some people or things which lived inside kidnapped a local prince, and held them hostage until the place was let be. Others say that the Labyrinth is destroyed constantly, but regrows like a plant. Yet others say that some people still meet there secretly, and keep the place standing with their power.

The lower levels of the Labyrinth contain the tombs of the kings who had the place built, as well as those of sacred bulls, crocodiles and other animals. Passages from these levels lead to many underground palaces, including "a palace of mirrors, where dog-soldiers are reflected."

The name Labyrinth of Eyasa is not used by the locals. They call it simply Eyasa, having forgotten or never known who or what it was named for.

Some explorers of the Labyrinth report that they have found apparent exits to lands unknown. It is unclear whether these are other worlds, far countries, or large areas within the Labyrinth itself.

The explorer Taran Shud writes of one such area: "The sky was sickening, like a nightmare, with huge suns and moons filling every inch."

Another expedition found a land with a yellow sky, and a huge, broken highway in the sky stretching from one horizon to the other. The expedition, hailing from the Isle of the Fat Kings, believed that they were seeing the Royal Road of the Sun, broken by some unimaginable evil, fortelling the end of the world. Thus they arrived home wailing in despair, and soon died, and we know nothing more of the place.

The wandering barbarian Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Roland Rawhide says he found a land where all creatures were made of stone. The only intelligent species were gargoyles. Unlike those on The Roofs of Teleleli, they were alive and mobile during both day and night. They made sculptures and temples of meat, which was unliving and found in the ground as stone is in our world. The barbarian says he was only declared to be a living thing once he defeated the gargoyle's greatest warrior, Rocky Balboulder. He next met a race who resembled skeletons, who when they died 'decayed' into whole bodies. To them he seemed a walking corpse.

Prudence Gonterman found people mute, yet fair and friendly, and both natives and explorers were filled with joy to behold the lush land. However after a few days these explorers found green mould growing in their mouth and nostrils, and their breathing becoming ragged, and so they departed.

In another place the entire sky was a huge eye, and they feared to leave the Labyrinth for the plain, though it seemed a fair place, a veritable sea of grass, and purple mountains on the horizon.

Wandering further in the Labyrinth, she found herself in an overgrown jungle. There she found a great covered dome, which she eventually found a way into. Inside she found a group of people who, she records, called their city 'Paris', and their king 'Louis the 13th'!

She eventually led a new expedition back, and found the dome again. Or so she thought; for when they entered a second time, 'Paris' was gone, and in their place was a wasteland, roamed by Antipodean-accented gangs in automobiles who fought one another for fuel.

The reader would no doubt conclude that she had become lost, and found two separate domes. Yet she records her certainty that this was not so.

Some have speculated that the place is a museum or a zoo, and some unknown creatures have plucked examples from history, recreating their habitat as we would for pandas or baboons. Others suggest that the place was a park, and the inhabitants robots, where members of some unknown civilisation could visit recreations of various historical periods (one hopes, if so, that the wasteland represents a misunderstanding of history, some far past unknown to us, or at least a world other than our own). Perhaps the surrounding jungle indicates that the civilisation is gone, and the robots are unknowingly actors without an audience. Or perhaps thick jungle is the unknown observers' version of a pleasant lawn.

I find myself most taken with the idea of robots who believe themselves to be musketeers and ladies of old France. What, I wonder, would the robot Cardinal Richelieu make of the knowledge that he was no son of Adam? Would he despair that the crucifixion was not for him, or rejoice that he was free from Original Sin? Mayhap he would reason that if, as Plato has it, all matter is a pale reflection of an ideal form, then he was no more nor less an illusion than a man of flesh and blood.

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