Daedalus, Architect of the Labyrinth


Released on May 30, 2021



"Daedalus," the queen quietly said to me, "How would you get a bull to make love to a woman?"

Taken aback, I looked at Queen Pasiphae, the wife of King Minos of Crete, with a raised eyebrow, "I beg your pardon, my queen?"

The queen had shown up at my house in secret, only accompanied by, I assumed, her most trusted servants - and even they were instructed to wait outside the room.

Hesitantly, the queen began to explain, "You know of the beautiful, white bull that had appeared before Minos, yes?"

I nodded, "Of course, they say that Poseidon, himself, had sent it from the sea, as a sign of blessing for King Minos's ascension to the throne."

"Yes," the queen said, "and Minos was supposed to sacrifice it to honour Poseidon, but he ended up sacrificing a different bull instead."

"I remember," I said, "I had advised against this, but King Minos was determined to keep it, saying that it was too fine of a bull to be killed."

"Well...," the queen hesitated, "after having gazed at the bull for so long and for so often, I have come to agree with my husband."

"It is certainly a fine bull," I said, "If-"

"I'm in love!" the queen exclaimed.

Taken aback again, I paused for a moment, before saying, "I beg your pardon, my queen?"

"I'm in love with the bull," the queen explained, more quietly this time, "I yearn for it!"

"And..." I trailed off, not knowing what to say.

"And so I have come to you," the queen said, "Crete's most skilled craftsman, and perhaps its smartest person, to come up with a solution for me!"

"I've tried everything to get that bull's attention!" she said, "And yet, it seems to have no interest in me!"

"I-I see..." I stammered, as I tried to think of something.

The queen looked at me, expectantly.

"P-Perhaps a hollow cow?" I said.

"A hollow cow?" the queen asked.

"Yes, Your Majesty," I said, "a hollow cow made out of wood - one that you could climb inside of, so that the bull would think that it was mating with a cow..."

"While actually making love to me!" the queen said, excited.

"Y-Yes, Your Majesty," I said.

"Then I wish for you to construct this hollow cow," the queen said, "so that the bull and I can engage in a night of passion."

"B-But," I said, still stunned, "what about King Minos?"

"Well, certainly, he is my husband," the queen said, "And I wouldn't dream of betraying him."

"But, please, Daedalus," she continued, "I just need this one night, and then I can go back to being his faithful wife!"

For a moment, I could do nothing but stare at the queen.

If I refused, the queen could punish me for some made-up offence.

If I were to tell King Minos, the queen could deny it all, and accuse me of besmirching her good name - also leading to punishment for me.

Seeing no other choice, I acquiesced, "I-It shall be done, my queen."

The queen smiled, "Thank you, Daedalus."

"And, of course," she said, "you will keep this a secret?"

I nodded, "Yes, my queen."

"Good," she said.

I bowed as she left, leaving me to my work.

***

Nearly a year after her night of passion with the white bull, Queen Pasiphae gave birth to a son.

Named Asterion, after a past king of Crete, the boy first appeared as a normal, healthy baby.

King Minos loved the boy as he would a son, and, for a time, Asterion was indeed King Minos's son.

However, as the years past, the boy began to become something that wasn't fully human.

At first, it was just the bull horns that had started to grow on his head.

Soon, though, his whole head had started to become more bull-like, and he started to grow larger than most humans could.

The populace started to call him the Minotaur - Minos's bull. Rumours started to circulate that he was a monster of some sort.

Unable to deny it any longer, the queen confessed her deed - claiming that Poseidon had made her fall in love with the white bull, as a punishment for King Minos for keeping the bull instead of sacrificing it.

I was unsure of how much of that was true, but King Minos seemed to have believed it, even if only begrudgingly so.

Disgusted with Asterion, King Minos disowned him, and Asterion was no longer King Minos's son.

Instead, Asterion had become the Minotaur, and King Minos would treat him as such - as a monster bull.

After consulting with an oracle, King Minos had tasked me to design and build an edifice for confining the Minotaur.

"The Minotaur is a monster," he told me, "build me a prison to keep it in, so that the people of Crete will be safe."

Excited by the task, I designed the Labyrinth - a giant structure which would contain mazes upon mazes, one with such mind-bending passages that anyone trapped in it would get hopelessly lost forever.

In order to keep the full layout of the Labyrinth a secret, I meticulously separated the work between the different builders, so that it would be near-impossible for them to piece it all together.

As for how to stop the Minotaur from just sitting at the entrance, I would guide a food-carrying donkey into the middle of the edifice myself, and use my designs to guide me out of my own creation.

When the Minotaur got hungry, this food would then lure it deep into the maze.

To keep the Minotaur fed afterwards, we would, again, employ the simple solution of sending a food-carrying donkey into the Labyrinth - prodding it so that it would run into the maze.

Months later, the Labyrinth was finally completed.

As planned, I guided a food-carrying donkey into the centre of the Labyrinth, and left it behind.

After I had exited the maze, I turned around and stared at my creation.

I was proud - for even I, with my designs and maps, had found the Labyrinth to be a dizzying experience.

Even the calmest of minds would break under the heavy pressures of the maze's twists and turns.

"Is it ready?" a voiced asked me from behind.

I turned around - King Minos had been waiting for me.

I bowed and smiled proudly, "Yes, my king - the Labyrinth has been completed."

King Minos grinned, "Excellent."

He gestured to the soldiers, "Bring it here!"

The soldiers relayed the order.

Soon enough, a convoy of soldiers escorting the Minotaur started to approach the entrance of the Labyrinth.

At the sight of her son, Queen Pasiphae let out a gasp, but quickly covered her mouth.

I turned to look at the Minotaur.

By this time, Asterion's head had completely become like that of a bull's, and he had grown taller and larger than anyone.

Even though he was in shackles, the soldiers relentlessly dragged the Minotaur along, while pointing their spears at him.

When the Minotaur had arrived at the entrance, King Minos declared, "I condemn this monster to be confined in the Labyrinth! Send it in!"

With their spears still pointed at the monster, the soldiers unshackled the Minotaur.

"Go on," the soldiers yelled, "get in there, you monster!"

I glanced at Asterion's face.

To my surprise, instead of finding the face of a monster, what I saw was a sad boy - one who was resigned to his cruel fate.

The queen said nothing, but her distraught expression said it all.

One of the soldiers prodded the Minotaur's back with a spear.

Asterion yelled, and turned around - a hint of anger in his eyes.

The soldiers, undeterred, continue to prod at the Minotaur with their spears.

Afraid of the spears, Asterion stumbled into the Labyrinth.

"Seal the entrance!" King Minos commanded.

As the soldiers sealed entrance to the Labyrinth, Asterion could do nothing but stare at us with his sad eyes.

And that would be the last time that I would see Asterion alive.

***

"Curse you, Minos!" I yelled at the king.

"My apologies, Daedalus," the king said, "but I cannot let the secrets of the Labyrinth be shared."

"Hence," he said, gesturing to the room around us, "you and your son will have to stay here."

I angrily looked at King Minos and his soldiers, as I held my crying son in my arms.

The king had imprisoned us in a tower, all just to stop me from sharing what I knew about the Labyrinth, with my vows of secrecy falling on deaf ears.

"Don't worry, at the very least, you won't be bored," the king said, smugly, "I'll make certain that your talents and your skills will be put to good use."

Angrily, I said, "You have the gall to-"

"Lest you and young Icarus there be put to the death, of course," King Minos said, with an evil smirk on his face as he threatened me and my son.

Begrudgingly, I silently acquiesced.

"Good," the king said, "We shall leave you to get accustomed to your new home then."

With that, the king and his soldiers left us.

***

It was night, and I had finally gotten my son, Icarus, to sleep.

Hoping to get some fresh air, I walked over to the window, and looked out.

That's when I saw it.

My blood boiled, and I could feel the guilt and the fury raging inside me.

But, powerless, all I could do was fall to my knees and scream.

For you see, the tower overlooked the Labyrinth.



Commentary:
This is first part of the Daedalus trilogy.
When I found out that Daedalus was the architect of the Labyrinth, as well as Icarus's father, I knew that I would want to cover the major events of his life as part of this series!
I don't have much else to say for this one, since there are still plot threads to explore in the next two stories - so look forward to those!


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