by Zenia Dehaven

The stylus bled black rivers in its wake as it danced across the papyrus. Its wielder’s eyebrows knitted together in a furrow, like a peasant girl’s wretched attempt at sewing. Huffing, the man sat back. The nubs of the wicker chair’s legs squeaked against the stone floor. He inhaled, breathing in the soft musk of night and old parchment, and rested his palm on the drawing. His pointed finger landed on an inky mark like a ship dropping anchor. The torchlight burned crimson and gold behind his eyelids, but the man ignored it. The study vanished like a drop of blood in a pool. He stood in a bleak corridor. The ceiling above his head stretched so high it might have brushed the base of Mount Olympus itself. The man raced down the hallways, counting his turns, retreating when he met a dead end. Left, right, left, left, dead end, back, right. His gaze was sharper than a hawk’s as he searched for a sliver of daylight that heralded his escape from the underground labyrinth. Then, sooner than he would have liked, he found it. There was a bronze door at the end of a long corridor, its edges shimmering with the promise of sunlight.

Daedalus opened his eyes and sighed, burying his face in his wrinkled hands.

Not good enough.

He scratched his beard and hurled the scroll aside, where it amalgamated with its brethren of bastard sketches beside his desk. He ran a hand through his mop of gray curls, untangling some of the knots with the crooks of his fingers. His chair groaned as he rose, pacing back and forth in his study that was barely larger than a weapon cupboard. The room was windowless, but he didn’t mind. His walls were overrun with sketches of his inventions, so windows would have been an inconvenience, with their natural light washing out the parchment ink. Some of the scrolls displayed grand ships with furling sails and majestic figureheads of sirens and goddesses and kings at their prow, inspiring her crew and driving terror into the hearts of her enemies. Daedalus chuckled at one sheet he had forgotten about, plucking it off the wall. His son had scribbled soldiers onto the ship’s deck, each equipped with an impressively large sword, ax, or bow. Every soldier’s smile expanded beyond the lines of their misshapen faces. Thankfully, Daedalus had shown this idea to the shipbuilder prior to his son’s creative additions.

He pinned the drawing back on with the others, noticing an older sketch of a weapon that King Minos had requested. “Requested” wasn’t quite the right word, as Daedalus would have had his head separated from his shoulders if he had refused. He had forged an ax so sharp that it cleaved through chainmail like butter. After fastening the blade onto a body that perfectly counterbalanced its weight, he delivered it to the king. He remembered kneeling on the cold floor before the king of Crete’s throne, his aging knees barking in protest. His eyes were locked downward, his strong arms held the ax high above his head in offering. Though he wasn’t privy to Minos’s reaction, he heard the onlookers gasp at the expert craft of the ax, and he stifled a smile. Minos deemed the weapon worthy of his kingliness and named it “Thunderclap” in honor of his godly sire, Zeus.

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Author Bio

Zenia is an MFA student in the Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing program. They primarily write fantasy with the goal to incorporate diverse characters from historically underrepresented groups. When they’re not writing, they enjoy group exercise classes, drawing, and playing video games. They live in the DC area with their family and two dogs.
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