Chapter 6:

SIX – The Endless Maze.

The Girl With A Secret

The girl was blinded by the darkness. It was swallowing her. But she knew that she was not allowed to falter. It was not her burden. It was someone else’s she was carrying in her heart. All of their feelings and pasts. She was not allowed to let go of it. The girl had gotten used to it, a long time ago. She had promised to protect it. Walls kept appearing and disappearing. The girl pressed her body against one of them. She was being forced to move around. Staying in one place was too dangerous. Her shaky hands kept hold of the black whistle and her trembling lips kept blowing it. The girl knew in her heart that she was strong enough. She would not let it go to waste. The effort and the path made for her. The girl took deep breaths and calmed herself down. The maze was endless.

“It’s not easy carrying it, is it?”

A raspy voice echoed through the darkness. The voice felt far yet close to the girl.

“Everyone’s selfish wishes and evil intentions. You have no idea how precious that gem is that you are carrying in your heart.”

The girl walked through the darkness. Unafraid of what was laying in front of her. She had only one goal.

“Wars, murders, betrayals and more. All of it is embedded in the magical gem; the philosophers’ stone. It made wishes of dishonest and vicious people come true for many, many years. But why is it that it doesn’t fulfil the wishes of good and honest people. Tell me. Why?”

The girl was being pulled down to her knees. The darkness became heavier and heavier. She could not bear it for much longer.

“All I wanted was for it to cure my ill, bedridden wife. I kept it safe from the immoral world but in the end, it betrayed me. Everyone betrayed me.”

“That is not true. Maki never betrayed you.”

“Shut up! What do you know!”

The voice was enraged. The wall moved in closer. The air was getting thin. The girl managed to stand up, but her legs were unstable. Her heart felt restless, but it was also brave. The maze continued.

“I taught Maki everything that I knew. I treated him like a son. Him who had no family nor home. My wife and I took him in. But all he wanted was to have the gem for himself. He stole it from me. He killed my wife!”

“No, he did not! He saved you from being consumed by hatred. He didn’t want your heart to be tainted. Maki didn’t want to lose you, so he took everything upon himself.”

“Lies! You are lying!”

Tears were falling down the girl’s cheeks.

“I am not. The gem was exhausted. It had turned dim and murky. It couldn’t have saved your wife, but you kept trying to use it. Force it to work. It was made to do good, but it was always pushed to do bad. It had reached its end. Everyone forgot that it was made out of an innocent girl’s heart. Her wish.”

The walls had entrapped the girl. There was no exit. No escape. The girl grabbed her chest. She was shaking.

“Maki saved you. He took the gem and wished for the curse to befall on him and not you, his master. You who was like a father to him. I saw the mark on his chest, but I had always known. He was the one who carried the gem before me. For all these years, he walked aimlessly. All alone. Rotting away. Falling more and more into a never-ending darkness.”

The voice refused to believe it. The man behind the voice finally made an appearance. It was an elderly, looking frail and very skinny. He had survived for only one intention. To revive his wife.

“You used the gem on yourself. To make yourself immortal.”

“I had to! I didn’t have a choice! I need to bring my wife back! If you don’t want to give it to me, I’ll take it from you!”

The elderly man disappeared, and the walls moved in closer and closer. The girl was being crushed by them. But her resolve to end everyone’s suffering was big. The gem in her heart started glowing. She was protected from the walls. A small, white light was coming from the darkness. The girl walked towards it. The room she entered was a secret garden. It belonged to the girl who made the magical stone. She used to live in this castle. It had survived for centuries for this moment. A waterfall was running in the middle. Beautiful flowers in all shapes and shades, the girl had never seen before were blooming. The girl knew her journey had come to an end. Everything felt tranquil. The sky was light blue and the clouds white. Butterflies and birds were flying around. The grass felt soft to the girl’s touch who had sat down in front of the waterfall. The girl placed both of her hands on her chest. She could feel her heart beating. A bright light escaped, and the gem was born. It was the shape of a pearl but was sparkling in all sorts of different colours. It was not black anymore. The girl wondered how something so small could cause so much trouble.

A shadow was sneaking around her. The gem was slapped out of her hand and fell into the water. The elderly man laughed and jumped after it. The girl tried to grab it but to no avail. It was already in the hands of the elderly man. He came out of the water and walked over to the biggest tree. Underneath was a grave. It was his wife’s. He kneeled down and held out his hand as if he was showing the gem to his late wife. The girl had followed him. She was lost for words. Her heart was hurting, seeing the elderly man’s face in tears.

“Look, Cecily. I found it again. We can finally be together again. That is my only wish. To be together with you, forever.”

The elderly man’s body crumbled into pieces and vanished. The gem fell on the ground. The girl picked a red flower and placed in front of the grave. The elderly man whose name was Hugo had passed away in front of the girl. She thought how the wife had waited for her husband, patiently for so long. The girl picked up the gem. A rumbling sound was coming from the wall closest to her. A crack appeared and shortly after that, the boy and the others bursted through it. The girl explained what had happened after the boy had calmed down. He sat down in front of the grave. His sorrowful eyes were filled with tears. The boy said his last goodbye. He was determined to end the circle of suffering. Only one unanswered question remained for the girl and the boy. How could the gem be destroyed? The boy told the girl how he had tried to burn, crush and destroy it but nothing had worked. His magic was too weak. The sound of the water flowing was resonating within their bodies. It was constant. The secret garden was still and quiet. The fox and the toy were waiting for them at the exit, ready to leave the unsettling room. The girl and the boy knew that even if they buried it or let it sink to the bottom of the ocean, the gem would return. It would seek and find another holder.

“I tried to wish the gem had never existed in the first place. It did not work. I have a feeling that it has a consciousness. It does not want to disappear. But what if the person holding it would disappear with it. I am sure that way it will bring an end to it.”

The girl was holding the gem with both of her hands. Her grip became firmer.

“Hana, give the gem to me. I can’t let you take the responsibility for what I started. You have already done more than enough. You should leave with Todd and Mr Button. I don’t know what will happen after the gem is gone. The castle might disappear with it. You have to get somewhere safe.”

The girl did not say a word. The boy tried to convince her again, but she did not move. Both of them were sitting in front of the waterfall, facing each other. The girl put her head down. She was clenching the gem, refusing to let go. The boy heard a whisper coming from the girl. He could not make out what she was saying. A sense of urgency came over him and he grabbed the girl’s hands.

“Hana, don’t do it. I can’t lose you. I can’t lose another person who is precious to me. Please. Let me do it. It’s okay. I don’t have a family who is waiting for me. But you do. Don’t put everything on the line just to help a stranger. I have regretted the day I got you involved. I was weak. Please forgive me for my selfishness.”

The gem started glowing. The ground was shaking, and the walls started collapsing. The toy picked up the fox who kept howling.

“That’s not true. You have me. And you are no stranger to me. I know who you are. I know what you have been through. The gem told me everything. The dreams I was having were your dreams. You said that you don’t want to lose someone who is precious to you. Well, I don’t want to either. You have done more than enough as well. Don’t put all of the burden on yourself. Like you have done in the past.”

Tears were running down the girl’s face. Her cheeks were rose-coloured. One of her brown hair strands had fallen on her face. Her honey-coloured eyes were glistening. It was in that moment the boy came to a bittersweet realisation. The boy’s heart was torn into two pieces. His resolve faltered.

“Maki, do you remember when we first met?”