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April 2007

April 2007: Travel

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    Vector Art in Flash
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  • Fiction: The Path

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  • The Path
    by Alexander Cresswell

    "As you walk through the underworld you will see many things. Shades of those who had not the courage to choose their path, harpies that seek the flesh of the living to devour, things that I cannot name, and things that I will not, for they come when called. Do not fear them, for courage is as armour in these realms and to give in to fear would be your execution.

    "Always, as you travel the twisted paths, though they may pass across deadly acid swamps or along perilous ledges which offer the only foothold for miles up or down, you will hear footsteps following you on the trail. Though you will see no one if you turn, occasionally you may glimpse a feeling shadow from the corner of you eye. Do not be fooled, They do not follow you. They wait.

    "The hazards of this realm are many, and all the rules that you knew in life have changed. There are those who would seek to use your ignorance to turn you away from your path, deceive you into forgetting the way and let you wander for eternity in this bleak realm, or devour you. Whispers to tempt you off the road, sounds of people and places you have left behind you, promises of immortality and a return to life, all these will assail you as you journey. Do not heed them. They are but illusions, and you must keep your feet to the path you have chosen. Many fail in this, and are lost.

    "If you survive the path there, and do not fall to some petty hazard along the way, you will come to a pair of great gates, set into a cliff that reaches up to the clouds. That gateway is terrifying to behold, for to pass through it is to accept, to embrace death and to leave all the mortal world behind. Do not turn away, do not falter, but step towards the gates and watch as they open to receive you.

    "As you pass through them there is always a sudden quickening in the air around you. Before this, though you can clearly feel Their attention upon you, it is languid, like a cat watching a mouse after a meal. Once you have passed the first of their traps, however, they begin the hunt.

    "Beyond the gate there is a stone corridor. The walls are carved with strange pictures that seem to shift and writhe, only settling when you focus on them. Behind you, you can hear sounds, the cries of people you have known in pain. Ignore these traps as you have the other glamours you have faced on your journey.

    "At one point fire pours through a crack in the rock walls. This is terrifying, the sudden roar of flames and the heat on your face. It is a convincing illusion, but an illusion none the less. Do not walk away from it, for there are no other paths, but step into it. They seek to turn you away from your destiny, but They will not. The flames do not burn unless you let them.

    "Past this obstacle there is the maze. Clear sight is the key here, for in truth it is not the twisted tangle of bridges you will see at first, stretching out through this huge cavern. They would be an insurmountable obstacle, I think, if they existed. They are, in fact, one huge bridge that arcs across this mighty cavern, leading to a balcony on the other side. This bridge shoots straight as an arrow from the tunnel mouth, so ignore what you see, close your eyes if it helps, and walk boldly forwards.

    "Once you have crossed the maze you will eventually reach two doors. One is made of ruby-studded, red gold, extending an aura of heat. Behind it you can hear the crackle of flames, just at the edge of perception so you can't tell if you are imagining it. The other is made of silver, studded with sapphires. It has an aura of cold, but not the deadly cold of the arctic wastes. Rather, it is a gentle, soothing cool aura, like the taste of mint.

    "Between the doors stand a set of scales, and by them is a dark figure, wrapped in a grey shroud. It is Anubis of Egyptian legend. In one clawed hand he holds your heart, preparing to weigh it against not a feather as the stories say, but a vessel of holy water, the tears of divinity. Step forward, and accept whatever judgement he gives to you. But don't walk away, or They will have you."

    ,

    Alexander Cresswell is a student in Oxford, England, studying History, English, and Physics. He is an avid writer and intends to make career of it. This is one of a series of angel stories he has written.
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