Made using "old fashioned" cut and paste, black poster board on white. text and tint added with Microsoft paint. Feel welcome to complete it. I've never seen any one try. The Start is at the Cradle of Birth and the goal is The Garden of the Green Eye. More about this maze is explained in the lengthly summary below.
To Fascinate a King
Near the end of the nineteenth century*, the nation of Carthin had reached the peak of its influence. The king of Carthin, Hugh Balla, was growing older, and as he saw it there was not a suitable monument to his rule. He wished to have a grand structure to bear his name for all time so that future generations would remember him. The king was fond of puzzles, and quite good at them, so he chose a labyrinth.
He gathered the finest artists and architects from his kingdom and laid out his monumental plan over a feast in his palace‘s Great Hall. He explained that he wanted the maze to contain grand gardens where galas and ceremonies could be held for the nobles of Carthin. Above all, he wanted the labyrinth to be a challenge, even to him, because he would be the first to conquer it.
The scale of the undertaking frightened off most of the artisans who already had more work than they could hope for due to Carthin’s prosperity. A stone mason named Van Horlin, however, was eager to shoulder the task. He was the head of his own chapter in the small city of Tall Water. At his disposal was an army of master masons, artists and designers loyal exclusively to him. He had more than enough men to do the job quickly, and (more importantly to him) independently.
He told the king that his maze would be built with, besides stone, the fabrics of existence. Its passages would be like the twist and turns of life. Horlin impressed the king immediately with his quick wit and demeanor. They talked into the night, long after less interested guest were dismissed, and Horlin quickly found himself in the king’s favor. He was given an unlimited line of credit to complete the maze, and he did so in less than a decade.
On the day of the labyrinth’s christening, it was the king's honor to be the first to enter. Hundreds gathered at the maze’s entrance to cheer on the king as he and his heritor and son, Eustis, set out together to defeat the maze. They were followed closely by the royal guard and a band of servants carrying refreshments.
Balla and his son found the Garden of Gold nearly right away. They scoffed at the lack of challenge. When they continued on, they unexpectedly found themselves back at the entrance to the labyrinth. The crowd snickered at the king, but Balla shrugged it off with a good-humored laugh at himself, saying that Van Horlin had outdone himself. He then disappeared through another passage, followed by applause from the crowd. His group meandered through the maze while hour after hour passed. Finally, after the sun had long set and the party could barely hold themselves up, Hugh Balla and his son emerged from the labyrinth on the far end. There he was met by Van Horlin and handful of his masons.
Van Horlin revealed to the king that the labyrinth was a test of virtue. He explained to the king what it meant that he had first visited the Garden of Gold; the path was a hollow pursuit of wealth. He then told the king the reason he had passed through the maze without visiting even one more garden was because after finding himself back at the beginning, he chose a path to Death’s Door. He had chosen the path of Illness, specifically.
The king was infuriated. He had never asked for such foolishness. The king had Horlin and his master stone masons immediately arrested. The following day, he had them hanged.
Less than a year later, the king died of a lung illness. Eustis, taking up his father’s rule, swore the labyrinth would never bear his family’s name. So the people of Carthin, who eventually overthrew the heir, named it Horlin Maze.
A Brief History
Horlin Maze is a warren, both physically and historically. A mere fraction of its history is explained here.
Van Horlin was very clever in his conception of the maze, starting with the chosen site for its construction. It was built on tableland with no nearby hills, making it impossible to study from the outside. The outer wall, spanning twenty-five feet high, was built first so to obscure its construction.
Horlin himself only oversaw the construction of the primary paths leading to the various gardens. He left the many diversions to his chief master masons with separate crews so that no one man or crew would become familiar with the entire maze. The crews (consisting of a master stone mason, masons, artists, topiarists and laborers) were not allowed out of their designated areas. This turned out not to be a problem, because each crew became competitive and secretive over their own construction. .
Horlin also forbade any use of a blueprint or even carrying paper by the men. The most contributing factor to the lay of Horlin Maze being kept secret, though, was the stone mason’s covenant of secrecy. Coupling this with disinterest due to Carthin’s crumbling empire and war ravaged lands in the following century, the maze became a forgotten novelty left to looters and vagabonds. Concerns over how to defeat it went the way of the nation itself; forgotten.
Ghost stories surfaced, as they always do concerning dormant places. Tales of a phantom Van Horlin chasing the frightened apparition of King Balla through the corridors of the maze was a fireside favorite. Accounts of people never returning after entering the maze, some true but with rational explanations, fueled the fires of mysterious legend. The maze became a fear to children, a dare and a lark to teenagers, and a pain to adults; especially if they had children or teenagers. Little was done with the maze aside from trying to keep people out of it.
In the twenty-fifth century, the Bearmen of the Calamoot Mountains took stewardship of Horlin Maze and vigorously reclaimed it from its dilapidated state. It became the initial proving ground for young hopefuls that wished to become bearhunters; sovereign protectors of life and liberty.
Garden of the Green Eye(Hulland)-Guardian: Sword Bearer
Garden of the Sun-Guardian: Light Bearer
Garden of the Moon-Guardian: Wolf
Fire Garden (Mercury)-Guardian: Firebrand
Garden of Beauty (Venus)-Guardian: Cup Bearer
Wrath Garden(Mars)-Guardian: Wrath Bearer
Garden of Ages (Jupiter)-Guardian: Behemoth
Garden of Gold (Saturn)-Guardian: Ring Bearer
Garden of Thorn (Uranus)-Guardian: Spear Bearer
Garden of Water Garden (Neptune)-Guardian: Water Bearer
Shadow (Pluto)-Guardian: Shadow
Points of Interest
The Cradle of Birth-The entrance to Horlin Maze (located at the bottom of the diagram)
The Paths (chosen from The Cradle of Birth)
Two paths lead to frivolity: Avoidance and Apathy
Two paths lead to the just glory of enlightenment: Benevolence and Wisdom
Two paths lead to pursuits of greed: Power and Material
Four paths lead to death: Illness, Injury, Deterioration and Choice
The final exit (located at the top of the diagram)
There are a total of eleven gardens, each watched over by a guardian entity (represented by an effigy) that is in some way connected to the theme of its garden.
The area near the bottom of the maze (divided from the larger part by a thick wall) is known as Childhood. Bearmen children are not allowed beyond this section until they have reach the age of eleven, or are testing to become bearhunters.
The area consisting of curved lines in the top-right corner is known as Dementia.
The dotted mass in the center-left of the maze is known as The Forest of Thorn.
The four circular rooms below the Wrath Garden house effigies of the fore bringers of wrath.
Maze of Metaphor
Horlin Maze is intended to be an allegory for life. The pathways are unmarked, but if attention is paid one knows where one is headed. The paths of frivolity and greed do not go far and are easy to come back from and begin anew. The paths of Benevolence and Wisdom are entwined from the beginning. They are long and difficult, but satisfying, and they lead to grand places. The paths of death are also long and difficult, but enlightenment lies in life; not in death. It should be noted that if one reaches the ultimate goal of Horlin Maze they exit through what is known as The Steward’s Door, which is unmarked on this diagram. It is a false wall that opens to the pathways of death so that the triumphant may leave the maze. This is the source of a common bearhunter saying, “May you find the Steward‘s Door,” meaning: “May you find a good death.” The only other option of exit is to follow the path back to the Cradle of Birth, but this is akin to having never tried at all; undoing what has been done.
Scholars and fools alike have attempted to make sense and prophesies from Horlin Maze, the most popular being that of the Bearmen Stewards. After the maze’s restoration, the stewards opened it to the public and (for a nominal fee) offer an evaluation of the paths one chooses in the tradition of the Van Horlin fable. For some, the reactions are similar to those of Balla. For others, learning from their mistakes in the maze provides inspiration to correct those in their lives.
There are swindlers who have tried to turn a profit by selling maps of the maze. The problem is, there are many different maps and all claim authenticity; an unintended metaphor pertinent to life.
Diagram shown is approx. 1in./ 50ft.
*dates according to The Bearman’s Almanac
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual names, people, places, or events is entirely coincidental and unintended.
Written by John Morrison. Illustrated by David Mishra © 2009