Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Legend of The Maze Part IV: The Maze

PART FOUR: THE MAZE


Jessica heard screams from the bonfire.
She turned quickly, spilling her cider.
Beyond the houses she could see the glow of the blaze.
A thick swath of bats hovered over it.
Jessica gasped at the sight.
Hiking her skirt, she broke into a run.
There was a flash and she heard an explosion.
The glow beyond the houses flared brightly, then grew dim.
A thunderous roar rippled through the air
and suddenly the shadows around her came alive.
They swirled and stretched and sprang up from the ground,
surrounding her on all sides.
Dumbfounded and blind, she stopped,
entombed in darkness.
 
A wave of fear washed over her.
Her arms went numb and her head light.
She dropped the cider cup she still carried.
It made a soft clinking noise as it struck the ground.
The wind moved gently through the dark passages,
buckling the walls around her.
They made a noise like dry leaves being crushed.
Jessica realized then that it was not the walls making the sound,
but something further up the corridor, towards the bonfire.
Something was moving about in the darkness.
She could hear its heavy breathing now as it came closer.
Spreading her arms outward,
 she stepped backwards and to one side,
her desperate fingers reaching for purchase.
She felt the smooth coolness of one of the walls
and stood flat against it.
The shuffling thing came closer.
Her eyes ached from trying to see in the blackness,
but she had become aware of a dim green light
emanating from somewhere further down the corridor.
She stood stock still as the creature moved closer.
She could see its movement now.
She held her breath, sweat dripped from her forehead.
It stopped right in front of her, looking around.
It was Thom.
 
His face was wrought with terror,
his eyes wide and darting.
So relieved she was to see him
that all their disagreements washed away
and she reached out to touch his shoulder.
He whirled around then, yelling,
plunging the knife he wielded deep into her chest.
Jessica screamed and coughed up blood,
falling against Thom as her chest poured.
He pulled his knife free and fled deeper into the darkness.
 
Thom moved quickly now,
fearful of what new terror might lurk before him.
He could hear children crying back towards the bonfire.
In the distance, someone began singing.
The lonely voice trailed off,
lost in some other portion of the maze.
The silence left in its wake chilled him.
He stopped and tried to cut one of the walls with his knife.
He was unsure of what had attacked him before,
but he was determined to find his way out of this trap.
He could not puncture the walls.
He tried to dig beneath it, but to no avail.
 
Behind him, there was a scream...
then silence.
He moved again, almost running,
turning corners blindly as he came to them.
He heard sobbing behind him again,
softly at first, but growing louder.
Some one cried out then,
"MURDER!"
"MURDER!!!"
He recognized the voice.
It was Richard.
The knife slipped from his hand.
His heart was pounding in his ears.
He ran again, slamming into one of the walls.
He placed his hands flat against it and followed the wall,
moving blindly almost at a run.
He saw light ahead, and rushed toward it.
 
Thom stepped into the clearing.
The few townsfolk present stared at him as if he were a ghost.
Their faces harshly accusing
in the dim orange of the dying bonfire.
Richard stood to one side, his face gaunt and stricken.
He carried Jessica's limp body.
She was pale and covered in blood.
Her chest sliced open.
He laid her gently at her father's feet,
and turned to face Thom.
 
Thom stared, dumbstruck,
at the body of his beloved
and touched his chest absently.
He looked at the wetness on his fingers
as if it were someone else's hand before him.
His head nodded slowly side to side,
the last of his vain denial slipping.
Richard gave him a severe look,
and spoke,
"We followed the stranger as he left Valleydown...
Only intending to scare him away,
but there was a struggle...
and he-"  Richard swallowed hard,
tears welling up in his eyes.
"He had grabbed a scythe.
When Harold and Thom wrested it from him,
he was stabbed with it...
through the chest...
We hid the body beneath the wood of the bonfire
to burn away any guilt,
but it found us here on this night of revelry.
Now in this darkness,
this fair flower has been cut down by fear,
and all our hands are washed in blood.
To protect myself,
I abided the secret of this jealously,
and let this night of terror unfold.
I cannot undo this abomination good people,
but I can set you free..."
Richard turned to the darkness
and raised up his bloodied hands.
 
"HEAR ME SPIRIT!
I CALL YOU BY NAME!
I HAVE MET YOUR TERMS
AND I CLAIM THIS SHAME.
I CALL YOU STRANGER JACK
AND IN SUMMONS UNTO THEE,
I NAME YOUR PLACE OF DEATH
AND POINT TO KILLERS THREE.
FEARFUL HAROLD,
JEALOUS THOMAS,
AND ME.
'TWAS BY THE ROADSIDE
AND TO THE SOUTH OF TOWN
BY A WAGON NEAR THE RIVER
WHERE WE DRAGGED YOU DOWN."


The bonfire blazed then,
spitting up smoke and sparks.
From out of the haze the spirit came,
his dreadful pumpkin head glowing.
He walked up to Richard and gently
brushed the man's face with his skeletal hand.
Richard visibly shook, but said nothing.
The spirit turned to Thom then
and gestured with his scythe.
Thom screamed and howled as the shadowy walls of the maze
spread like bat wings and enfolded him.
There was a flash of fire and green,
and he was gone.
The spirit turned towards the crowd then,
and they separated themselves from Harold.
He broke into a run,
desperate to escape.
The spirit turned and pointed his scythe once more.
A bolt of flame shot across the clearing and engulfed Harold.
He writhed and screamed,
finally falling into the ashes of the bonfire.
 
The spirit turned finally to Richard,
whose face had gone white as bone.
It approached him slowly,
and spread its cloak about him.
Richard made no sound
but stared deeply into the eyes of the spirit.
The spirit stepped away.
Richard's hair was now white,
and his skin wrinkled and spotted.
The spirit nodded to him
stepping over Harold's corpse and into the bonfire.
It waved its scythe in an arc
and the shadow walls of the maze
were swallowed into darkness once more.

"PEOPLE OF VALLEYDOWN...
MY TIME WITH YOU IS DONE.
EXPECT NO REPROACH FROM ME FURTHER,
BUT INSTEAD HEED MY WARNING:
 
EACH YEAR, HENCEFORTH,
SHOULD THE NEED PRESENT,
THIS LABYRINTH WILL GROW
FROM SHADOWS HELL SENT.
ON ALL HALLOW'S EVE
IN SOME FAR COUNTRY OR TOWN
THE PLAYERS WILL REINACT
THE LEGEND OF VALLEYDOWN.
FINDING IN THEIR OWN DARKNESS,
JUDGMENT OR PENITENCE
OR SWEET RELEASE FROM COIL AND TOIL
WILL BE THEIR ONLY SENTENCE.
AS ALWAYS THERE ARE THOSE
LEFT TO TELL THE TALE.
SUCH IS YOUR BURDEN, VALLEYDOWN,
WHILST I RETURN TO HELL."
 
He raised his cloak, and the bonfire blazed one last time,
and he was gone.   
Richard fell to his knees and wept.

Thus ends
THE LEGEND OF THE MAZE.
The first image is the poster side of the flyer for the 2001 party.  The other side was lots of directions and party rules and not nearly exciting enough to share.  :-P  This is one of the images that was lost to the hunger of Zip disks.  I recently discovered I had a physical copy of the flyer and scanned this image from that.  It isn't as crisp as the original would have been, but it is at least present and viewable.  

I drew all the Jack and the trees and scanned all the parts into Photoshop.  I layered them and made it all into the foggy forest of fear you see here.  I wish I still had that crazy font I used, but I was working on a PC at the time and now that I have switched to Mac...I haven't found a Mac version of the font.  :-(

{Pen & Ink manipulated in Photoshop}

The second image is the drawing I did for the 2002 flyer.  I did the typesetting for that flyer as well, but could not find the file for it.  It looks much better without any text anyway.  :-)  I can't remember why Jack is without his scythe in this one.  Perhaps a Freudian symbol (or lack of one) of the group disillusionment with the Maze parties.  Also I just realized his pumpkin head is missing its characteristic flame.  The dying of the fire...but everything has its season.  Also the revelation of Jacks ribs showing from beneath his robes.  That is the first we've seen of his body except for his arms.  His cloak has gone all tattered...I guess that's what you get for living under a graveyard.  :-P

{Pen & Ink}

The last bit at the end there was Jack's face from the Maze website.   I tweaked it a little for this, giving it the red overcast that is has here.  Before, the background was completely black, but when I previewed it here, it dropped into nothingness, so I gave it the red to give a bit more 'punch'.

{Pen & Ink manipulated in Photoshop}

There is more Maze Art in my previous posts:

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Legend of The Maze Part III: The Curse On All Hallow's Eve

PART THREE: THE CURSE ON ALL HALLOW'S EVE

 
Jessica rose early that day,
Wearing her favorite dancing dress
and a sprig of goldenrod in her hair.
She traipsed about the town,
smiling and humming softly to herself.
Around noon, she stopped by Paul St. John's shoppe
and bought a candied apple
then walked to one of the outer pastures to enjoy it.
She leaned against the fence there
and watched several clouds
as they made their languid paths across the sky.
She finished half the apple and fed the rest to a horse that had joined her.
He chewed happily until the entire fruit was gone,
And then proceeded to eat the stick.
She laughed, but kept her eyes on the road leading from town.
The day was half over and she had not seen any sign of Jack.
She sat down in the wheat grass beside the fence
letting her worrisome thoughts evaporate into the clouds.
She traced the edge of the valley with her gaze,
following it to the river at the edge of the fields.
A soft breeze began blowing as she returned to stare at the road.
Soon her heavy lids began to dance and flutter,
and as the sun passed its zenith,
Jessica fell into slumber.
 
She awoke with a start.
The light was far dimmer than midday,
and the breeze had turned cold and unfriendly.
The sun had moved to the valley's edge,
casting long finger like shadows across the town.
The horse that had guarded her sleep was gone,
And in the distance the bonfire was already burning.
 
Jessica gasped and leapt to her feet,
breaking immediately into a run.
She arrived at the bonfire breathless and anxious,
 just as the first dance was about to begin.
As the fiddler uttered the first wheedle of a song,
she eyed the crowd for Jack.
Not finding him, she looked instead for her father,
whom she found carousing with several of the other town elders,
but no sign of Jack.
Between her run to the revelry and the heat of the bonfire,
Her throat had become quite parched.
She moved to get a cider,
hoping to find Jack near the edibles.
Just then Thom appeared by her side.
He approached meekly and smiled softly at her.
Quite a change from the raging animal she had seen just yesterday.
"Hello Thom." she said coldly.
"Hello Jess.  Mayhap I can ask the next dance of ye?" he grinned dumbly.
"Perhaps..." she said, turning to grab a cider.
Still smiling, Thom leaned in towards her.
Jessica stared at him as if were about to bite her.
"PERHAPS...you should try to treat the man
whose bed ye are to share a bit more kindly,  missy."
She pushed him away and, grabbing a cider,
Rushed away from the bonfire.
Thom scowled as he watched her walk away.
The bonfire was indeed hot this evening,
And he was roasting beneath his dress clothes.
He turned to follow Jessica,
but just then there was a commotion near the bonfire.
 
Black feathers of smoke were pouring out of the bottom of the blaze
and the flames had turned a deep violet.
A column of flame shot up from the fire
And there was a cold rush of air
as the entire blaze turned to smoke.
Thom began backing away from the bonfire.
The smoke became a black smudge
against the dim remains of sunset.
The cloud swirled and twisted.
As the crowd watched, it burst into hundreds of bats.
The revelers began screaming as the tiny creatures swooped down,
their leathery wings swatting and smacking at everyone's heads.
Thom turned and ran, disappearing in the chaos.
 
Just then the bonfire exploded in a burst of sparks and embers.
As the smoke cleared, the bats moved away.
Where the bonfire had been, now stood a tall dark figure.
He wore a tattered black cloak,
and wielded a thick menacing scythe.
He was surrounded by a strange green glow,
and his head was adorned with a large jack-o-lantern,
carved in a horrible skull like visage.
He surveyed the fearful townsfolk with his glowing stare
as he stepped from the embers and into the crowd.
 
"BEHOLD!!!" He roared,
raising his skeleton arms to the sky.
As the townsfolk watched in horror,
the long shadows of sunset  stood up from the ground,
reaching upward with black tendril fingers.
There was a rustling of  Autumn leaves,
As the shadows became solid leathery walls
surrounding them and the entire town.
Contained in that space,
they had naught to look to but their captor.
He turned, fixing them with his hellish gaze.

"BEHOLD!" He roared again,
"BEHOLD-GOOD PEOPLE OF VALLEYDOWN!
BEHOLD-MURDER AND DARKNESS IN YOUR QUIET TOWN!
SIX QUICK HANDS DID HOLD ME DOWN!
ONE SHARP BLADE TO PIERCE, THEN KILL, THEN DROWN!
'TWAS WHAT CAME AFTER, THOUGH, THAT SET THE STONE
TO BRING YOU THUS MY MENACING TONE!
A REAPER'S STAFF AND A BODY LAY
AMIDST THESE FLAMES, BUT BURNED AWAY!
AND NOW WE ALL ARE TRAPPED WITHIN
DOOMED TO HELL BY HIDDEN SIN."
 
He arced the scythe over his neck
and slammed its hilt against the ground.
"I TELL YOU THIS AND SAY NO MORE,
BUT OFFER THUS INSTEAD...A DOOR.
 
BRING TO ME THESE KILLERS THREE,
BEFORE THE CROW OF COCK AND DAWN.
LEST THIS OFFERED DOOR SHOULD LOCK,
AND THE MAW OF HELL BEGIN TO YAWN.
THIS LABYRINTH BECOME THEN
YOUR ETERNAL DWELLING
WITH NO REGARD TO SOBBING,
SCREAMS, OR YELLING.
NO BARGAIN HERE OR PLEA WILL IMPLORE,
JUST ONE KEY AND NOTHING MORE.
 
WHO THE KILLER?
WHERE THE MURDER?
ONLY THIS AND NOTHING MORE."
 
And with that,
The glow inside his head turned to violent orange flame,
Exploding his pumpkin head outward
and catching his robes alight.
His headless body danced about,
waving the deadly scythe to and fro
and dropping bits of its burning robes as it twirled.
It  leapt back into the remains of the bonfire,
and kicking up smoke and ash,
clawed its way back underneath.
 
The townsfolk stared in disbelief,
his last words echoing through the thick night air.
The sun slipped just beyond the horizon then,
and Valleydown was swallowed by the night.

To Be Continued...

The first image here is an early rendition of Jack.  Much more Scarecrow than daemonic revenant in this version.  althought he is scary, there is a playful element.  In the second piece he is much more malicious.  I believe this piece was actually done before we began throwing the maze parties.  Sadly in my slackness, I did not write the date on the back so I have no idea what year I created it, but I do know it was around that same time period.  Jack later traded in his pitchfork for the scythe we see him with in the other pieces.  Much more dramatic...and daemonic spirits do love their drama!

{Pen & Ink}

The second image of Jack used here is from a previous post, but I could not resist using it again here for effect.  :-)  I wanted his cloak to be somewhere between bat wings and giant leaves, as if he were a dark green man / scarecrow / reaper combination.  More on the evolution of Jack...next week.  :-)

{Pen and Ink, Prismacolor, manipulated in Photoshop}

The Scythe study was done because I realized after my first drawing of Jack, that I knew ZIP about Scythes.  So in an attempt to make up for that initial drawing of a curved blade on a stick, I did some research and did the study you see here.  I just had a very frustrating fearful moment where I thought I had posted this already...I just did a quick scan and couldn't find it anywhere.  If it is somewhere in all this I apologize for the repeat.

{Pen & Ink}



More Maze History and Art: