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The Garden of Despair
King Mazeonis lived with his two children in the countryside of Lassi. His son, Levedis, had always been jealous of his younger sister, Lavinthia, who graced the people with her elegant charm and weaved incredibly intricate patterns for garments and textiles. The king would often bring her alongside him on trips and boast about her skills to everyone he met. He never had much to say about Levedis, whom he shared a strained relationship with. Levedis became increasingly spiteful towards his younger sister after feeling resentment towards his father who clearly favored her. Levedis would torment Lavinthia by leaving carcasses of animals from his hunts to bleed over her works, or he would drop mice and spiders into her baths. Lavinthia would hide her tears from their father as she wanted to prevent him from receiving cruel punishments from the king.
One day, the king invited Lavinthia for a private brunch. He had a table set up in the middle of his vast land between the castle and the river bend. The king told her that he was to embark on a year long sail around the world and wanted to leave his treasures and gold with her in case something were to happen to him. He said that he did not trust Levedis, so he thought of a clever way to hide the treasure. He took out rolls of fabric and laid them out on the table in front. They were pieces woven by Lavinthia that he had collected over the years. He pointed with his finger to the center of each piece. They all had a similar pattern of symmetrically broken lines and pathways that led from the outer perimeter into an empty narrow space in the middle. The king asked Lavinthia to weave her most complicated design in a similar style, except to make it almost impossible to navigate through to the center. He explained his plan to have workers bring it to life as a gigantic garden to hide the treasure in the middle. It was to be called, ‘The Garden of Wealth’, and only they and his most trusted advisor and artificer, Tomasi, would know of its purpose.
Months went by and Lavinthia completed her most intricate design. She felt certain that only she knew how to get to the center and back out. Lavinthia shared the piece with her father, and for several hours, he traced his finger through the spaces from the perimeters and kept getting trapped. Greatly pleased, he ran to give the design to Tomasi to commence construction immediately.
From his own tower, Levedis watched for weeks as dozens of gardeners worked in the distant fields. He was told that his father wanted to build the largest garden in all of The Lands, but he remained skeptical.
One afternoon, the young man made his way out to the open fields where thousands of tall bushes had already been planted while thousands more awaited their turn. He started asking the workers questions until Tomasi asked him to leave upon the king’s orders for his own safety. At first, Levedis refused as he felt he was being lied to, until he finally relented, retreating back to his chambers.
That same afternoon, he snuck back into the fields where the tall bush walls had grown to be one-thousand feet wide. He found an old gardener sitting down, far from everyone else, biting into his half eaten apple. Levedis peered around to see if anyone was watching and slowly crept up behind him to place his dagger around his throat. He threatened to kill the old man if he did not tell the truth about the purpose of the garden. Choking on bits of apple, the old man confessed that the garden was being built to hide something and that he knew nothing else. He started sobbing like a child and begged for mercy. Displeased with what Levedis heard, he silenced the gardener by slashing his throat until his head hung freely in his fist by threads of grey hair. Levedis tossed the head to the side and wiped his bloodied fingers on the soiled garment of the headless body while picking up the half eaten apple to take a bite. He then walked back towards the castle and tossed the core of the apple, as he did the same with the head.
Tomasi heard a noise and saw Levedis in the near distance singing a famous song written for the worship of the gods. Their eyes met as Levedis cast an evil grin while continuing to walk and sing until he disappeared into the distance. Tomasi ran to where Levedis was walking from and found the decapitated gardener. He started to weep after realizing it was his old and dear friend Boris, but he did not alert the king. Instead, he dug deeper into Boris’s already dug hole and placed his head and body inside. As he dropped the body in, a fresh apple rolled out of the pocket of Boris’s garment. He topped the hole with soil and leveled it to as it was before. Tomasi wiped his tears and walked back towards the rest of the gardeners. He thanked them for working so hard to meet the king’s fast approaching deadline and continued digging alongside them.
One year later, the garden was complete. The king walked through it with Lavinthia and found his massive chest of treasure in the middle. They successfully walked back out, and satisfied, he then departed on his year long sail. Levedis, Lavinthia, and his advisors vowed to watch his throne until his return. That same night, as Lavinthia was preparing for bed, Levedis barged into her room. He demanded a tour through the garden as he saw her take their father alone that morning. Lavinthia was terrified and explained it was too dark to see at night. Levedis ripped a thick lit candle from its mount on the wall and pulled out his dagger, threatening to kill her if she did not take him.
Lavinthia whimpered all the way through the castle grounds to the far out entrance of the garden as her brother held his concealed dagger to her back. Levedis peered into the gaping hole between the colossal wall of bushes and felt like he was staring into a black abyss. He shined the candlelight while still holding the dagger to Lavinthia and signaled her to proceed forward. With each step forward, a blanket of darkness swept from behind them. The great wall of bushes appeared to have no limit in height as they continued walking through them.
Several hours had passed and Levedis grew more impatient by the minute. He repeatedly shoved his sister into the ground only to pull her back up by the hair until they finally reached the center. A large wooden chest with the stamp of the king sat alone, barely illuminated by the melting candle and moonlight. He spat at his sister and yelled of her betrayal, giving a final blow to her head, knocking her unconscious to the ground. He went up to the chest with shaky legs and gleaming eyes but found it to be locked. He stabbed away at the lock with his dagger but the iron shackles did not budge. He began to panic as he got on the ground and shook his sister profusely, but she was not waking up. After a few minutes, he realized that she was dead.
He fell into complete despair and attempted to retrace his steps back to the entrance. The candle lived its last remaining moments as a taunting gust of wind blew it out. He screamed in agony all through the night until his vocal cords tore. By morning, only his breath was audible, preventing any groundskeeper from hearing his plea. Days and nights passed until the young prince suffered a slow death from dehydration.
Tomasi knew that something had occurred as he had not seen Levedis or Lavinthia around the castle grounds since their father had left. As the artificer of the garden, he knew his way to the center of the maze. On the brink of sunset, when the grounds were quiet, he made his way through to the middle and found the corpse of Lavinthia. He knew what her brother had done and did not bother to search for his body. Tomasi returned with his most trusted workers and pulled her body and the chest out of the garden. He immediately set sail on a vessel with the treasure to alert the king at his first stop on his tour—the Island of Mount Volos.