Chapter 6. Write a Novel Challenge.
“My question for you is…I’m the path to perdition. Gravest of all, keep that in mind. The root of all things evil, first in line. I bring heaven down to its knee and to the demon inside, I fill with glee. Niobe’s tears run through my vein, I’m difficult to give up but even harder to rein. Keep me dear and I’ll bless you with the sweet stench of ruin, set me free, that’s the solution…”
Each word enunciated seemed tainted with a sliver of mystique and every time he opened his mouth it was as if he was trying to contain a smug smile. His whole body radiated a hostile, unsettling energy, it swiveled around him like a tornado and possessed his very being so there was nothing left other than an abyss of darkness.
He continued, “So Dear Neina, should you wish to passeth, leave me behind as I’m but only…a seventh. What am I?”
His eyes squinted for a moment, studying the sight in front of him before explaining that she had 5 minutes. 5 minutes. Neina was capable of doing A LOT of things in just 5 minutes but solving a riddle was not one of them. She stared right back at him, right into the soulless holes of his eyes, trying to compare herself to this Herculean-like creature and attempting to not look terrified. She was, though. Icy terror shot through her veins. Her delicate fingers were shaking terribly and all she could hear at that moment was the sound of her beating heart. Her eyes frantically searched her surroundings, trying to fathom the situation she was in but every time she told herself to calm down, it seemed to get worse; body and mind were not cooperating.
She sat on the cold marble floor in front of the fiend and took a few teetering breaths before wading into an ocean of thoughts, trying to decode this puzzle. How hard could it really be? After all, it was just a riddle…a riddle. A question or phrase which requires ingenuity and problem-solving skills to unravel. After a few painful seconds of putting a worthy, but hasty, plan together she decided to extrapolate each key line and analyze it carefully. Yes, the process would be quite tedious, especially since she only had 5 minutes, maybe less, but it was the most efficient way.
Path to perdition…. Gravest of all……..The root of all things evil, first in line.
First in line? What could that mean? Perdition. The eternal damnation faced by a sinful, vile person after death. Neina struggled, to say the least, in trying to paint the full picture. Her fingers tapped against the surface beneath and her eyebrows were furrowed. She bit the pinkness of her lower lip, holding it hostage between her teeth until she solved this cryptic message.
…bring heaven down to its knee and to the demon inside, I fill with glee.
Demon? Where can you find it, humans? Do we all have it? Thoughts whizzed back and forth in her head, trying to comprehend the information told to her. Whatever this was, supposedly, fed the demon within… us?
Niobe’s tears run through my vein.
Niobe…a distant memory in some Greek myth, but she wasn’t able to catch the clue in her hand. Niobe, Niobe…The name caused immense frustration as she tried to remember, it seemed just there and yet still, somehow out of reach…
Ok…think Neina… she thought to herself. ‘Niobe’ might be the key to solving the conundrum. Who was she? Some sort of Greek character…who had many children. But what happened? The story didn’t end well. It was eating her brain inside out and her life depended on it. Two gods… They punished her for something…lost her kids…she showed off?
Why did it tie in with the riddle? What was the relation? Neina raided her brain, pocketing bits of information, searching for the clues in the bits of myth…
Time raced ahead, faster than she was used to. She could feel the callous gaze of the beady-eyed monster now beginning to sense a hint of victory, another soul for the taking.
Neina shook her head, lost in the working out of what the solution was. Precious time ticked by and she knew every second counted. She couldn’t waste time digressing from what was important.
I am, but only, a seventh.
A seventh what? Or was it a ‘seventh’? She let out an exasperated sigh and pressed the palms of her sweaty hands together. It’s part of seven things…seven what though? And how does it relate to Niobe…or perdition…?
I’m difficult to give up but even harder to rein. Keep me dear and I’ll bless you with the sweet stench of ruin…
Set me free, that’s the solution…
Difficult to give up but…harder to contain? She desperately tried to connect the dots, her respiratory system was obviously not on her side as it decided to increase her pace of breathing to a laborious pant. The solution was to give it up…to set it free, let it go…or it could, potentially, be the cause of destruction.
Harder to give up…heaven to its knee…set me free, that’s the solution…I fill the demon with glee…Niobe’s tears…she was proud of something…? nearly impossible to rein…let it go, give it up. Seven…seventh, one out of the seven…
Death loomed over her; it was probably just a few seconds away. The grim reality of failure dawned as Neina’s life flashed before her eyes and she was, for a brief moment, taken back to happier times. All her achievements, everything she was proud of…all of it came down to these last few moments. This was a chance at a new life and she may not even make it past the start…. and then, as if destiny chose otherwise, Neina froze. Could it really be that simple? It just made sense all of a sudden, a perfect fit for every clue.
She raised her head, stared into the monster’s face and said, “Are you Pride?”
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©Dallas Museum of Art. Niobe. Jacques Louis David. 1772.
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