‘Where am I?’
‘We are in the Labyrinth of Clouds. The beasts that were chasing you cannot enter here. Do not be fooled though, you are far from safe. You must be on your guard at all times’.
‘That’s far from reassuring.’ I muttered.
‘A smart mouth will get you precisely nowhere.’ The raven snapped back. ‘And don’t bother trying to remember the path, for the way will have changed if you ever return.’
‘Remember, don’t remember. I wish you dream folk would make up your minds!’
‘It’s not our minds that are the problem. That attitude of yours is hardly ideal. Now hush your tongue. If we are to make safe passage through here, I can’t do it looking like this’ With a shake of her feathers the white raven became a sky blue owl, her emerald eyes remained as piercing as ever.
‘Well I’m sure that has made all the difference!’
‘Again with the attitude! I don’t have to help you. You’re not my universe.’
I looked around me. The swirling mists confused the landscape. In the distance, dead ends became paths and seemingly obvious passageways became inpenetrable foliage. I knew that if I set out alone I’d be lost in seconds. I looked into her green eyes, ‘I guess I have no choice but to trust you. Can I at least know your name?’
The weight of her stare was uncomfortable but I forced myself to hold her gaze. Fear and fatigue were making me want to scramble for any semblance of control and if scoring petty points satisfied that urge then so be it.
After what seemed like an age she replied, ‘Many names have I had in the past and countless more before my time is through but the most helpful one for you is Queen Mab. Your Majesty will suffice.’
‘Oh well how gracious of you!’ I laughed, but inside my mind was racing. That name had resonated somewhere, I just couldn’t quite place why I recognised it.
‘You have precisely three seconds before I fly off and leave you to find your own way out. So swallow your pride and start walking’.
The curtness in her voice left no room for argument and I sensed that it would be unwise to test her patience any further. With an apprehensive heart and an owl on my shoulder, I began my journey into the Labyrinth of Clouds.