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The Maze was named after king Mazeonis who inherited Tomasi, advisor and artificer to the king, with gold and treasure to last for generations. Tomasi purchased the entire southeastern island of Volos after the king’s departure. He deeply admired the lush botanical gardens and desired to build what would eventually become the final commemoration for king Mazeonis and the greatest garden in all of The Lands. It garnered many titles including ‘The Isle of Maze’, ‘The Garden of the Gods’, and most widely used, ‘The Maze’.
It was deceivingly beautiful and elegant, which had many finalists undermining its brutal reality. It consisted of an awesome stretch of lush trees, marshes, swamps, meadows, and massive hedges along confusing paths which the finalists had to make their way through to the opposite side to win. The density and height of the trees mixed with the cloudy atmosphere made it especially difficult to spot the sun. It took Tomasi the rest of his latter life to complete the project as he constantly reshaped, replanted, and appropriated the architecture of the natural landscapes to mold the idea from his mind.
He added more to the island than taking away since he wanted to preserve the habitats and structures that had been in place for thousands of years. Some paths stretched to be a hundred meters wide, while others required to sidestep through. Hundreds of paths led to nothing and needed hours or days to retrace steps back. Large mystical swamps would surprisingly appear and had to be crossed. A mixture of piranhas and other predatory creatures inhabited the murky waters, creating a daring obstacle for the finalists. Rare beams of sun shined through the jungle forest canopy onto the moss infested trees below, emitting just enough light to illuminate the greenery to life. One path in particular was home to a breeding ground of diverse serpents which lived on the top branches of trees. They often dangled by their coiled tails in complete camouflage to drop onto victims for a feeding frenzy. Deer were often prayed on as they started to overpopulate the island and became decimated in specific regions of the island. Many natural spring beds floated on the surfaces which Tomasi made sure to trace the paths along, which were distinctly mapped and methodically planned out. Anyone who strayed away from the paths or attempted to find shortcuts led themselves into extremely dangerous situations, resulting in terrible suffering or death. It was a daunting ending for the finalists as many became trapped and never escaped. It proved to be the ultimate test to determine the capacity of the individuals intelligence, physique, and will to survive.
Tomasi died of old age only weeks after its completion and had gifted the island back to the people of Volos. A massive bronze statue of Tomasi was erected at the front entrance of the The Maze beside the docking port and shore. A marble plaque was carved with writing below which read:
Life is but a series of paths to lose one’s self to find One’s Self.
The rules of The Maze were simple: Finalists would enter from the port entry and exit from the opposite side to win. A coin toss determined which of the two finalists went first, as the second finalist followed in the next morning to allow an entire sunrise of separation. The Maze was not a race, nor were they timed. Both finalists were able to win and become watchmen as long as they made it out. If neither were found at the exit point after ten sunsets, they would be presumed dead and the tournaments continued on.
Anthea won the coin toss and prepared to enter The Maze as the first ever woman to reach the finals of the watchman tournament. Her thin physique and graceful movement strongly contrasted her male contender, Pantheos, who was tall and built. They became heavily popular with their youthfulness and beauty to the people, especially within the younger crowds, who anxiously awaited the fate of both finalists. The pair occasionally saw each other during the qualifying competitions but rarely spoke to one another. Although romantic gestures were subtly exchanged, they were both fiercely motivated by one goal only—to become the next watchman.
Anthea walked under the legs of the giant statue of Tomasi to keep with the tradition of good luck and fortune while hundreds cheered and applauded from the raised stands on the sides. Pantheos stood in silence while butterflies consumed his stomach as he watched her hair bounce with each step striding forward towards the looming entrance. She glanced behind to look at him and unearthed a hidden smile. He tried to keep a straight face but cracked a grin and watched her turn around to disappear into the greenery. Pantheos quickly retreated his smile and swallowed a great pain down his throat, then began the countdown for his turn to follow.