Quest: Adventuring the Minotaur Edition

A day in the life of teenage treasure hunters.

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     Warjamm and Redekko landed in the grasslands of Ireland hours ago and they already seemed lost in the sea of green. Spring was coming, yet winter still blew small breaths of frigid wind.
      Redd shivered, his black short sleeved shirt and khaki cargo shorts didn’t give much protection from the wind. He looked to Warr, his red eyes blazing with irritation, “Why are we here again?”
      Warr toyed with his green army hat. Unlike Redd, he came prepared for the weather. With a light gray sweatshirt and charcoal jeans, Warr hardly felt the chill on his brown skin as he checked his phone. “According to the text Mel sent,” he said, “McCambridge wants us to find a cave system somewhere around here and get something called The Bull’s Heart.”
      “There’s no record of a cave system here!” Redd exclaimed, pointing to the vast expanse of grass, “I looked up everything about this place; history, geography, weather patterns, satellite maps, even newspapers!” He shivered and pulled his gray beanie lower over his red hair, “Do you know how cold this place gets, this close to the North Pole? Hella cold!”
      Warr shrugged and started walking. He agreed with Redd, the assignment seemed a bit senseless. Then again, ever since he and his friend joined the Treasure Hunting Guild, they’ve had nothing but odd jobs around the world. “Let’s get going,” he said, “maybe we’ll fall into a hole somewhere and find it.”
      “What do you mean ‘fall into a hole’?” Redd exploded. He broke into a run and made a path to random spots in the plain, “Maybe it’s here, or here, or maybe over here!” Redd made his way to Warr and stamped his foot, “I’m telling you dude, we’re looking for a cave that doesn’t…”
      A sound of splitting earth cut Redd off as the ground beneath the boys began to crumble. Warr reached out to Redd before they fell, but a cloud of dirt erupted from the chasm, consuming Redd and blinding Warr. With a cry, he fell into the hole, the feeling of a floating stomach assailing him during his descent. Finally, Warr landed on his back, the air abandoning his lungs from the impact.
      “God-dang,” Warr gasped, fighting to get into a sitting position, “that was sudden.” He stood and groaned, the large bruise on his backside didn’t agree to sudden movement. He looked around the cavern he had landed in. Thanks to the overcast sky and the cloud of debris, there wasn’t much light in the area to see. “Redd!” Warr shouted hoarsely, “Bro! Where are you?!”
      Just then, Warr started to panic. What if Redd was trapped somewhere under the rubble? What if he were suffocating? Or if he was already…
      Warr shook his head, I don’t have time for this, he thought, he has to be alive. “Redd, come on!” he shouted, shoveling rocks to and fro, “I know you’re alive! At least you better be!” He grabbed a large piece of rubble and flung it to his side.
     A pale hand shot from the debris and latched onto Warr’s leg. He cried in surprised and nearly kicked the limb away before a peeved voice sounded underneath the rock pile; “The probability of that hole being there was .03%”
     Warr grinned and grabbed Redd’s arm, “Shut up and thank God you’re alive, Super Genius.”
     Redd stood slowly, shaking the pebbles out of the two red locks of hair that hung on either side of his face. He gaze around the cavern, “So is this the place?”
     Warr shrugged. He couldn’t begin to guess if it was indeed the place. He narrowed his eyes in thought. He couldn’t explain it, but it felt right to be in the cavern. Warr felt as if they were going the right direction, he just didn’t know why.
     After he mentally chalked the feeling up as instinct, Warr snapped out of his ponderous state to see Redd smirking at him. “Well, what do we do now, O Fearless Leader?”
     Warr frowned as he gave their surroundings a closer look. There. Bellow them. A small light flickered in the distance amid the shadows. It seemed that the boys landed atop a slope that lead to a spacious tunnel below.
     Warr pointed towards the flickering light, “Let’s go that way. I hope you still have those weird Ironman gauntlet-bracelet things, cause I don’t have a weapon on me.”
     Redd rolled his eyes and tapped at the metallic purple bands around his wrists, “They’re called Arm Cannons. Come on, I went over this when I made them in Japan. True, they look like Ironman gauntlets when they expand. But, when my left arm transforms into its cannon mode, it collects dark matter particles and…”
     Warr waved his hands in surrender, a bemused look on his face, “English, please?”
     Redd adjusted the strap on his red satchel, a habit he developed for when he was irritated, “My left arm turns into the blaster off of Megaman and I can shoot great balls of darkness.”
     Warr laughed as he carefully made his way down the slope of rubble, “See? Was that so hard?”

     Redd didn’t reply. Being a genius was stressful enough, but being a genius around a sarcastic friend was even more unbearable. He looked at the compass the hung from Warr’s side. He had the same compass hanging from his belt. The compass was an amazing feat of technology, so it came as a surprise when McCambridge gave them out to the group when they joined the Guild. Redd had tinkered with it plenty of times to know that the tech it took to make it shouldn’t even exist. It was the perfect adventurer’s tool; GPS, maps, flashlight, phone, camera, holographic features, even an A.I.
     Redd sighed as slid down the slope along-side Warr. Most of those features were useless underground. At best, it was a fancy flashlight with a childish personality. And I rather not wake him up if we can help it, Redd thought ruefully.
     Warr and Redd reached the bottom of the slope and walked towards the flaming torch. The tunnel was enormous, an elephant could easily walk through it. An ancient skeleton clad in rusted armor sat beneath the torch. The bones that weren’t covered were cracked and decayed, cobwebs covered the gaping jaw of the skull.
     Warr spotted the rusted sword in the skeleton’s hand. “Ah sweet!” Warr exclaimed, wresting the sword away, “Yea buddy! Now we’re talking!” He swung it a few times and grinned at Redd, “Looks like we don’t need you Ironman Cannon.”
      “Arm Cannon.” Redd corrected, pressing a small button on his bracelets. The bracelets blew apart and hovered in the air, separating into plates. Those plates came together around his arms, clinking against each other like rattling chains. After the brief show, Redd pointed at the palm of his gauntlet, “See? No glowing palms. Not like Ironman gauntlets.”
     Warr rolled his eyes and set his sword on his shoulder, “Whatever, same difference. It looks like Ironman gauntlets, so…” He trailed of, staring deep into the tunnel. Something was making the walls of the tunnel shake. He cocked his head, focusing. He heard something thundering its way towards them.He took a stance, holding the ancient blade with two hands, “I haven’t done this kind of thing since Japan.”
     The plates on Redd left arm separated and came together in the shape of a cannon barrel. He pointed his cannon towards the approaching sound, “Fighting in a virtual reality doesn’t count as combat experience.”
     Warr didn’t reply as the thundering sound came closer. It sounded as if some large beast was charging at them. His widened and his guard dropped as the creature emerged from the shadows.
     Of all the creatures Warr and Redd have encountered in their adventures, a towering Minotaur was the last thing they expected. Its fur was matted with sweat, its blood shot eyes flicked between Warr and Redd. The massive horns on its head gleamed in the fire light as it bent down to catch the scent of the two intruders.
     Warr and Redd froze, not wanting to startle the strange bipedal beast. The Minotaur snorted, scraping a hooved foot against the dirt floor as it angled its horns in Warr’s direction. Warr angled the point of his sword towards the creature’s stomach. “Shoot its eye.”  He muttered to Redd.
     Redd stared at his friend with wide eyes, “What?!”
     The Minotaur bellowed, making the ground buckle as it dashed towards the boys with ungodly speed. Redd shouted at Warr, “Warjamm, don’t you dare! Don’t…”
     It was too late, Warr was already charging at the beast. Time seemed to slow as Warr leaned to his left, the sharp point of the Minotaur’s horn grazed his cheek. “Now!” he cried as loud as he could.
     A sound akin to thunder rang in Warr’s ears as a ball of purple flame struck the Minotaur’s right eye. The beast roared with agony and instinctively moved to left as to avoid another attack, giving Warr the opening he needed. He ducked under the creature’s boulder like fist and cried as he rammed his sword into the beast’s stomach. Blood splashed onto Warr’s hands and he cringed at the wet sound of insides being severed.
     Because of the Minotaur’s momentum, the blade managed to piece its way to the creature’s spine. Warr released the sword and rolled behind the Minotaur as it roared and fell to its side.
     Warr patted himself up and down, making sure he was alive and he had his precious hat. Redd, on the other hand, was making sure the Minotaur was dead. He poked at its body with his shoe, then ran over to Warr’s side. “We need to get out of here.” He said urgently, pulling Warr to his feet.
     “Why?” Warr laughed, brushing off his pants, “You shot its face and I stabbed its gut. It has to be dead.”
     Redd flexed his arm, making his cannon transform back into a gauntlet around his arm. He gave Warr an impatient look, “Warr, it’s a Minotaur. I’m pretty sure a rusted sword can’t take down a legend.”
     Warr fiddled with the dog tags around his neck, feeling irritated at Redd for making him seem stupid. “Prove it then.” He snapped.
     An odd moan echoed throughout the tunnel. The boys turned to see the Minotaur struggling to rise. Warr’s jaw fell and Redd cracked a satisfied smile as the beast’s head turned and fixed them with a vengeful glare.
     Warr didn’t waste time admitting he was wrong. He simply grabbed Redd’s arm and ran. The tunnel twisted, turned, and, in many cases, splintered off in different directions. It was as if Warr and Redd were caught in an underground maze. Warr grinned as that thought crossed his mind, that would surely explain the Minotaur.
     A roar erupted in the tunnel the boys turned into. It wasn’t the same bellow of the Minotaur they defeated. It was deeper, stronger, and it chilled the boys to the bone. They backtracked to their previous junction and went right instead of left.
     As they ran, Warr muttered, "Bessie.”
     “What?” Redd asked.
     Warr smiled with childish glee, “The Minotaur we tried to kill? I think it’s a girl, so I’m calling it Bessie.”
     Redd wore a bemused face, “Great. Now, when it kills you, I’ll have the privilege of telling Sapphire and Melody that you died fighting a Minotaur named Bessie.” He frowned and added, “Assuming I don’t get killed.”
     Warr rolled his eyes, “Don’t be pessimistic. What are the odds that Bessie would kill us right now?”
     Redd looked at the cave ceiling in thought, then said; “78%”
     Warr’s eyebrows shot skyward, “Oh.”
     The boys rounded a corner and they both cried out in surprise as they were blinded by a bright light. Warr blinked and shook his head, trying his best clear his vision. Once he could see, his jaw dropped and patted at Redd’s shoulder, “Redd look.”
     Redd rubbed his eyes and gasped, “Whoa.”
     “Gold.”
     “Yeah.”
     “That’s a lot of gold.”
     “Yeah it is.”
     Warr and Redd stood at the foot of a literal mountain of gold. Finally, after hours of traversing twisting tunnels and murderous Minotaurs, the adventuring duo now stood in a giant, torch-lit, underground cavern lined with gold.
     Coins, chests, necklaces, and jewels. Weapons, scrolls, armor, and thrones. The boys stood in awe in front of the three behemoth mounds of glittering treasure, pondering how they were going find what they were looking for.
Redd looked to Warr and grinned, “Should’ve brought bigger bags.”
     Despite himself, Warr got serious. He unbuckled the strap of his bag and set the backpack on the ground with taking his eyes away from the gold. “Ok Redd,” Warr ordered, “Cover the entrance for me. After I find the Bull’s Heart, we’ll take some extra and leave.”
     Redd scooped several handfuls of golden coins into his satchel and activated his arm cannon, “Hurry up. That Minotaur’s on its way.”
     “Which one?” Warr asked, climbing up the first mound of gold, “Bessie?”
     Redd sighed, “Isn’t that the only Minotaur we know?”
     “Whatever.” Warr laughed. He quickly scrambled to the top, grabbed his high-tech compass, and tapped the blue screen. It beeped and a small image of a boy floated in front of Warr.
     “Hey Warr.” The holographic boy greeted, shaking his messy hair away from his face.
     “Cori,” Warr greeted as he hopped down from the mountain of treasure, “I need you to do something for me.”
     Cori giggled, “You can’t remember what the Bull’s Heart looks like?”
     Warr stopped and frowned at the smirking A.I, “What makes you say that?”
     “Cause Melody gave me picture of it and told me to show it to you when you need it.” Cori stated with a cheeky smile.
     Warr rolled his eyes, “Just show me the picture of it already! We don’t have a lot of time!”
     “Ok fine.” Cori sighed. The holographic boy disappeared and was replaced by an image of a small golden pendent with the image of a bull’s head etched into the front. Warr glanced at the image and casted about, fearing that his time was dangerously close to ending.
     Cori chose this moment to reappear and smirk at Warr’s mounting frustration, “Do you want me to scan for the Bull’s Heart? Or did you suddenly gain X-ray powers?”
     Warr turned to Cori and grinned, “So it is in a chest somewhere!”
     “Actually,” Cori stated, pointing at one of the giant mounds, “It’s in the huge chest behind that mound.”
     The thunderous sound that accompanied Redd’s cannon raided the air, making Warr flinch. Redd’s voice overshadowed the roar of his weapon, “Hurry up! Bessie’s almost here!”
     Warr glared at Cori, “Did you already know where it was before we got in here?”
     Cori gave his famous cheeky smile, “Yup!”
     Warr heaved an explosive sigh and dashed around the gold mountain. The chest that stood in front of him was a head taller and several bodies wider. There didn’t seem to be a lock anywhere on the chest, which prompted Warr to muscle open the heavy lid. He had to worm his fingers under the lid and jump on his toes in order to open the thing. Warr grabbed the edge of the chest and heaved himself onto it. After that, he promptly let himself fall into chest, stand, and shout; “Redd! Get over here!”
     A few agonizing seconds later, Redd sped around the pile of gold and stopped at the chest. “Oh my God!” Redd exclaimed, “That thing is huge!”
     Warr glowered at him, this wasn’t the time for insane appreciation. “Just jump in already!” he shouted.
     Redd raised a quizzical eyebrow, “Don’t you know the probability of that thing you’re in is a…”
     “Chest!” Warr bellowed, catching a sweaty musk in the air, “Now!”
     Redd threw their bags in the chest and jumped. He grabbed onto the edge and tried to climb into the chest, but his shoes couldn’t find any purchase as they scratched against the polished wood. Warr grabbed Redd’s shirt, hauled him into the chest, and pulled the chest’s lid with such force, it slammed against the edge.
     Redd straightened himself and frowned at the piece of treasure in Warr’s hand, “That’s the Bull’s Heart? We busted our butts for a dumb pendent?”
     Warr looked from the Bull’s Heart to Redd and back at the pendent, “Seems like it.”
     Before Redd could make a withering comment about their assignment, the boys froze in terror as a roar echoed throughout the cavern. Massive footsteps punctuated the approach of the Minotaur the boys dubbed “Bessie”.
     The Minotaur paused and sniffed at the chest. Warr couldn’t breathe, he thought it would track their scent. He prayed that Bessie would assume that its prey had probably died somewhere, since it couldn’t see them. Warr watched for the keyhole as Bessie performed the Minotaur equivalent of a shrug, like two boulders rising and falling. After that, it charged out of the cavern with another roar.
     Warr finally decided that he could breathe again. He leaned against the wall of the chest and laughed breathlessly, “Man, we almost died.” He wiped away the sweat on his brow and looked at Redd, “After this, I’m taking as much gold as I…”
     Whatever Warr was going to say died in his throat as he finally took stock of Redd’s horrified face. “What’s wrong?” he whispered.
     Redd shakily handed Warr his gold packed bag and lightly patted the chest floor, “Feel that?”
     Warr strapped on his bag, shoved the Bull’s heart in a side pocket, and followed Redd’s example. He flinched in disgust as hand touched what felt like a giant tongue. His eyes widened as a thought struck his head. He took the compass that hung from his belt in his hand and pressed a button. The face of the compass lit up suddenly, becoming a small flashlight. Warr angled the light to the wall behind him and glanced. Razor sharp fangs lined the wall. Blood stained yet gleaming, the fangs sinister appearance confirmed Warr’s hunch.
     Redd looked to Warr and gave a sad sigh, “I tried to tell you. The odds of this happening was 53%”
     Warr rose to a crouch and placed his hands on the roof of the lid, instructing Redd to do the same. As Redd got into position, Warr growled, “Redd, right now, I hate you as much as I hate Mimics.”
     At that moment, the duo burst from the creature’s mouth and scrambled for the exit. The Mimic opened the eyes that were on the lid and stood on the legs that were crossed on the floor. With the blood-curdling screech of a dying bird, the Mimic opened its maw and gave chase to the fright-stricken boys.
     As they ran, Redd shouted, “You think we lost it?”
     Warr didn’t bother to check, “Maybe.”
     Redd looked to Warr and smiled, “Want to get some more gold?”
     The Mimic’s screeched again, the horrid sound seemed agonizingly close. “Nope,” Warr said, “I’m good.”
     They dashed through the maze of tunnels, desperately trying to escape their new foe while avoiding Bessie. Warr turned his head and managed to glimpse a small opening in the cave wall. He stopped, grabbed Redd by his shirt, and flung into the small cave. Redd protested for a moment, “What are you…”
     Warr slapped his hand over Redd’s mouth as the Mimic appeared next to the hole they came in. Its eye looked around the tunnel and it chirped like an average bird, a feat that made Warr’s head spin.
     Finally, the Mimic stiffly walked away, like a wary raven. Warr released a sigh of relief. They were in the clear for now. He took his hand away from Redd and Redd quickly rubbed his mouth. He glared at Warr, “You forgot about the Minotaur blood on your hand?”
     Warr wiped his hand on the cave wall and rose to his feet, “Sorry.” The cave was lit by two torches that sat parallel to each other on opposite walls. In the center, a stone statue was kneeling and held up a sword as if it were an offering.
     Warr peered closer at the statue. Whoever the statue was supposed to represent, they seemed be one heck of a swordsman. A wide variety of swords and daggers were craved into his belt. Warr knelt and looked towards the foot of the statue. He found worn down markings that could have been letters. He took his compass and pressed a button. “Cori,” he called, “Can you scan these marks and see if they make some sort of transcription?”
     The A.I. didn’t appear, but spoke through a speaker under the compass, “Yeah, sure, give me a sec.”
     Warr grinned as he pointed the face of the compass towards the markings. A blue beam shot from the compass and traced the marks. “Living the Sci-Fi and Fantasy dream.” He muttered in awe.
     Redd didn’t hear him, since he was gazing at the sword. The blade was wide and curved, like a Persian scimitar, while the cross piece was a simple golden trapezoid. The leather bound hilt seemed long enough for two hands and the small dark emerald orb attached to the bottom looked out of place compared to rest of the sword’s drab appearance.
     “What do you think, Warr?” He asked, “Think it might be some magic blade?”
     Warr smiled, “If it’s not booby trapped, I’m thinking about taking it.”
     A joke popped into Redd’s head and he flashed Warr a sly grin, “Ten bucks the marks on the statue say, ‘It’s dangerous to go alone; take this.’”
     The compass in Warr’s hand beeped and he beamed at Redd, “I got that reference and you owe me ten bucks.”
     “What does it say?” Redd asked, leaning over Warr’s shoulder to see.
     Warr narrowed his eyes in confusion, “It just says, ‘Toledo’”
     Redd frowned, “Like Spain?”
     Warr shook his head and stood to his feet. He looked at the statue again, understanding dawning on him, “I think this guy’s name is Toledo.”
     “Cause of all the swords.” Redd pondered, scratching his head, “It makes sense. But why does it look like his offering that sword? What makes it special?”
     “A lot, actually.” Cori said through the compass speaker, “I went ahead and did a scan on the sword. The metal composition in the blade is amazing, a good amount of the elements in it aren’t even on the periodic table.”
     “That’s all I need.” Warr said as he took the sword and the black sheath under it. He slid the sheath in the belt loop next to his compass and performed a few test swings with his new sword, “It’s a beauty. Light and strong.” He looked at the statue and back to the sword, “I think I’ll name you Toledo, in honor of the awesome swordsman that statue represents.”
     Redd rolled his eyes as he activated his arm cannon, “Before you start kissing the thing, we need to go. I think Bessie or some other Minotaur is coming this way.”
     “What makes you say that?” Warr asked, sheathing Toledo.
     Redd gave him a flat stare, “Since I can hear something stomping its way here, I’d say it’s a 98% chance it’s a freaking Minotaur.”
     Warr raised his hands in mock surrender, “Ok, ok. I get it. We got the pendent, a good amount of gold, and my awesome new sword. We’ve had enough dungeon crawling for today.”
     Redd nodded and silently snuck out of the cave. Before Warr followed him, he took one more look at the statue and asked, “Did you take a picture of it Cori?”
     “Yup,” Cori whispered on the speaker, “Do you think it has something to with the rumors about the nation of Toledo?”
     Warr frowned at the mention of the nation, “It’s nothing but rumors. Toledo the nation isn’t real.”
     “Atlantis shouldn’t be real,” Cori snapped, “But that changed as soon as you and the others went on that boat ride right?”
     “Right.” Warr muttered, rumors aren’t always false, he thought. He would talk to McCambridge about it, he decided. Assuming he survived the rest of the day.

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