Thirty-One

"Well, I did it," said Brian as he burst into Spot's royal chamber the next morning. "I found a Greek scroll in the royal library about the Minotaur. I spent all night translating it."

"Ah, human, just in time," said Mimbleshaw. "You may listen as I brief Its Majesty Spot on the Minotaur."

"What?" said Brian. "But, but I stayed up all night. Translated the scroll. From ancient Greek. Taught myself a whole new language."

"Yes, yes, human," said Mimbleshaw. "That is very clever of you. Now dry your sniveling. As if we have all day.

"I can barely contain the laughter," said Spot. "From how precious Monsieur le Brian becomes over the reading and the boring."

"Submitted for your consideration," said Mimbleshaw. "Thousands of years ago lived King Jay, of the island of Buchanan, in the Gatsbian Sea. The king held barbecues in honor of the Ocean, on whose favor the island depended. The Sun decided to play a trick and cast a spell from his chariot to turn a cow of the king pure white and to make it magic and powerful. The king's herdsmen told him the Ocean instead had trusted him with the white cow for the next barbecue.

"King Jay, however, was struck by the beauty of the cow's purity. He named the cow Daisy. He ordered his herdsmen to bring the sacred cow to his palace. But they refused out of fear of the Ocean's anger. King Jay then asked his herdsmen to pardon him for his foolish demand.

"None the less, King Jay neglected his kingdom, and his many wives, to sit and gaze at the perfect beauty that was Daisy. He devised a plan to trick the Ocean. He invited King Potasseus from the island of Bananaca to build him a maze to keep the beautiful cow. When the maze was ready, King Jay painted white another cow with which to fool the Ocean.

"Before King Jay could take the cow into the maze and escape forever, however, his herdsmen stopped him with news of yet another blessing. Outside of the city walls they found a giant cow idol. King Jay was so honored by this new blessing from the Ocean, he forgot his plan to escape with Daisy. He saw that the Ocean went so far as to place the idol on wheels. His herdsmen could not refuse his order to wheel the cow into the city walls.

"That night, King Jay went to sleep with both the glory of the cow idol and the beautiful Daisy he loved so much. The next day his cow idol was found instead with doors beneath it open. More devastating than the delivery of anything incendiary or ballistic was the empty space where would be the idol's heart. For gone, also, was Daisy.

"What happened was that wily King Potasseus built the cow idol to return unnoticed to the city. He then stole Daisy and sailed away with her to have many adventures. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

"The herdsman of Buchanan held the barbecue with the white washed cow anyway, none the wiser. But so distraught was he over his lost Daisy, King Jay in his grief turned into a bull-headed man. He retreated into the complex and endless maze, which extends even to this very island. And from where he has stalked every King of the World as he pleased ever since. The end."

"That isn't the story why there's a Minotaur," said Brian. "What is wrong with you?"

"If you want to suggest I distorted the truth to some ridiculously outrageous degree," said Mimbleshaw, "I suppose all I can do is agree. That is what you get for spending the night translating some ancient scroll you found. Now you heard it for yourself. No one can stand a know-it-all."

"Monkey," said Brian. "Is all of your world made of lies?"

"Listen, human," said Mimbleshaw, "We are humble castle dwellers. Castle dwellers have as much freedom as we can make up our own rules. Maze dwellers such as the Minotaur have as much freedom as they can instead scheme and connive around the rules for where they are. They will work relentlessly for the downfall of a king. No Manchego king lured to his maze ever returns."

"Wait," said Brian. "So the Minotaur is why Tuffy ran away?"

"Oh, perhaps," said Mimbleshaw. "Did I not say a crown attracts dissent and cruelty? Pleasures too depraved to deny by taboo may be hidden in plain sight by any old lie if it keeps the public happy and lazy. So cruelty is most often enjoyed and tolerated where the elite have the leverage to call cruelty something other than what it is. So who can say which promise to devastate him drove Tuffy to flee? Regardless, human, call me monkey again, and you will only have yourself to blame if witches struggle over your wishbone at a picnic."

As he had barged into the queen try-outs, the Minotaur burst into Spot's royal chamber, and left another card and package.

"Now it says, 'T minus 2,'" said Brian.

"Our luck appears to have changed for the better, human," said Mimbleshaw. "All he seems to care is to challenge you this time."

"What makes you say that?" said Brian. "Because he left us a banana?"

"Well, the banana obviously refers to you," said Mimbleshaw.

"Refers to me?" said Brian. "What makes you think it isn't for you?"

"Look again," said Spot, "A doodle of the beard face defiles the banana."

"Quite," said Mimbleshaw. "They are the two prosaic tastes that taste mediocre together."