Dark ones. Strange ones. None of them fit together. None of it mattered anymore. Mathias was alone in a world he did not know. He was lonely in a place where isolation seemed a given, and he had lost a child that was lost himself. Mathias counted each uncertain step he took. Each step was getting him closer to Mouse. The sand on the path was still dark, but it was beginning to shimmer.
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With each step he took, Mathias could see more of it. He could also see there was a turn in the path. There was a source of light up ahead of him. He started moving faster through the turn, but he remained cautious.
There was a large boulder just off the path. Mathias stayed low and ran to it.
It provided him cover to spy on the scene taking place just beyond him. There was what appeared to be an inn or tavern at the side of the road. The light came from two brass lanterns hanging on long poles set on either side of the small path leading to its door. The door was open, and a man was standing beside a carriage that had stopped in front of the establishment. The small, burly man wore a long, filthy apron. His rolled up sleeves exposed his big muscular arms. He wore loose-fitting work pants, and his work boots were unlaced. The man ran his thick fingers through his unkempt red hair.
He was desperately trying to improve his appearance for the occupant of the carriage. He wiped his hands, front and back, on the apron and gingerly reached out with his right hand, palm up. A hand reached out in return from the carriage window. The burly man bowed. He then went to the back of the carriage and began to turn a heavily tarnished key set into the rear of the coach. A ratcheting sound could be heard with each turn.
The man knocked twice on the roof, and the carriage lurched forward. Mathias was fascinated by the conveyance. Its dainty size was more for a child than it was for an adult. It was obvious that it had once been a beautiful piece of craftsmanship that was no longer cared for.
But the thing that was most curious about the carriage was that it had no driver and no horses. It had the classic shape of a covered horse drawn carriage, but it moved entirely under its own power. It was a very well designed, very sophisticated mechanical toy. The large windup toy travelled to the end of the road where a jumble of trees and branches and roots blocked any further passage.
The plaything did not stop. It travelled right into the blockade. It seemed to melt right through it.
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The innkeeper stood and watched this happen. Once the carriage was gone, he counted each coin, one by one, one hand to the other. Convinced he had not been cheated, he pocketed the bounty and with a noticeable limp, stepped back into the inn. Having no other choice, Mathias walked towards the small structure.
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Its construction was sound, but its haphazard collection of construction materials gave it an unbalanced appearance. Woods of various sizes and shapes blended with stones of various weights and colors. Brick and mortar framed the door and windows, and large lumbering logs created a tall, imposing roof. When Mathias arrived at the door, he found his only clue to the name of this establishment. The rope was tied on either end to a fractured plank of wood. Carved and burned into the plank was the image of a house on one side and what Mathias believed to be a representation of the castle in the sky on the other.
A series of lines connected the two structures, and at their center was a large X.
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The castle in the sky was his destination. The small house was the village he had come from. The lines were the road he was walking on, and the mark at its center was where he stood. Anyone traveling in either direction would find this spot the middle of their journey. Mathias tried peeking through the two large windows at the front of the inn. There was faint light coming from within, but the decorative etched glass provided no view.
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Not knowing what to expect, he slowly pushed the door open and took one step over the threshold. This dark fantasy adventure full of mysteries, riddles, and secrets is the story of Mathias Bootmaker, a young man searching for the better parts of himself. A maze inside a labyrinth. It reads like an adventure. It plays like a thriller. Fields Jr. Edward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.
He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off — Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.
He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well. The Castle in the Sky has a long history and many names. It has a past, a present and a future all at once. Designed by one man, drafted by a dozen, and executed by thousands, at its birth it was an idea so radical that some thought it would topple over on top of them.
Applying all their craftsmanship and the inventive designs of Elias Darke, the villagers labored to build what they first called the Castle on the Rock. They put their hopes and dreams into their work and imbued their construction with a special energy all its own. The castle compound consisted of three distinctively separate sections that all worked together to make a whole. The Exchange was built for commerce and equity. It was the working machinery of their world. Trading and lending houses were put side by side with guilds and societies, and merchant and business concerns.
It managed the goods of the people. It fueled the practical side of their hopes and dreams. The Institute was a place of learning. Great minds would gather with young and old alike to teach in classrooms and lecture halls.
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