Mountains to Climb

“You’ve grown.”

Looking out over the hills, the towering trees, the things that were falling prey to the heavy breeze, I knew he was right.

I’d grown.

How many years had I vowed to never climb this mountain? Claiming that I would never dare try to scale these massive hills? Declaring that this life wasn’t for me?

So many.

Too many.

Half of my childhood, I’d rejected the idea. Dismissed it completely. And, when I grew and finally knew I’d have to eventually leave those flat plains for this mountain, I’d rejected it completely. Claiming that those plains were fine, that that was all I needed to know. All I needed to have. All I could learn was at my fingertips, I thought. All I needed was already sitting in front of me. I didn’t need to leave, I convinced myself.

For years, I thought that it was true. That there was nothing out here that my hometown didn’t already have. Nothing to be gained away from those plains, nothing new or out of the ordinary to behold beyond its grasp.

But that was before. That was the old me.

The foolish me.

The arrogant me.

The ignorant me.

The me that rejected mountains and heights and soaring.

That was before I knew what it was like.

What it was like to climb. Continue reading “Mountains to Climb”

Gentle Darkness, Soft Light

The ghost breathes. A wind that chills me. Turns the temperature down.

Relieves me.

Ha.

And here I was, wandering about clueless.

Thinking that I was alone. Continue reading “Gentle Darkness, Soft Light”

This Valley

I remember being on the mountain. Seeing the hills below. The way they rolled on, coated with trees. Grass peeking out beneath the trellises of tickling winds. The way everything seemed serene down there. Peaceful. Calm.

I remember being on the mountain with you standing next to me. Proud to show me the view below. You weren’t like the other one. That one was proud because he thought it was better up here. Thought the snow and wind and height gave him something. And, to an extent, he wasn’t wrong.

But.

Unlike you, he didn’t understand what it was the mountain was giving him.

What it was that made this place so special. So glorious. He didn’t understand.

The mountain gave him nothing but a view.

The world, as it is. As it was.

And down there, watching the people move their flocks in the valley, it gave him the greatest gift of all.

A picture of what will be. Continue reading “This Valley”

Mourning Stones Do Not Mourn Alone

I wasn’t sure whose grave I found that day. When I traveled up, into the mountains. When I stumbled upon that clearing, yellowing in the wake of fall. When I found that tombstone, carved, but unmarked. I’m not sure whose grave I found that day. Not at all.

All I knew was:

When I saw it, I was drawn.

And, as I drew closer, I could feel it more clearly.

And, as I felt it more and more, it weighed heavily on my heart.

I felt sad that day. A new mourner to stand in front of the unmarked grave. A new sadness to throw at the foot of the stone.

As I stood there, feeling it—that thick, heavy weight that came with loss, that came from poking around a hole that could never be filled—I was suddenly struck. Filled with determination.

I would be a proper mourner for this stone. For this sorrow I felt. Even if it meant mourning alone.

I was going to come back with flowers.

I was.

The very next day, in fact.

And when I came back, I was still unsure of whose grave it was. But, I was glad that I came.

Because I was not the only visitor that day. Continue reading “Mourning Stones Do Not Mourn Alone”

Grim Light

I have wandered. For my whole life, in fact. First through the mountains, then down the river, and now, I’m here. In the dip of the valley. Huddled between two mountains. The night greets me as it always does—as it always has. With silence and shadow. Places to run, to hide.

I never meant to come out of that darkness. To step into the beam of light.

But…

She was hurt.

The small thing without fur.

On a cold night, she shivered against the itchy, dead grass. Life spilling from some spot on her body. The mountain cat still lingering nearby, frightened, though it’d done so much damage. Though it had fought—and won—against such a small, frail thing.

Silly cats.

Always so skittish.

I offered to take the small thing from him, and he quickly gave me permission. Gave me his thanks. Ran off, back into the higher parts of the mountain. Where the pinkish things didn’t often tread.

I never meant to step into the light.

Never.

But that night, because of that foolish scaredy cat, and this dying little furless thing…

I did.

And it seems to have shaken me to my core. Brought me from the shadows into a place where light can touch. Where things are not what I’ve thought. A place of reality, and yet, it feels like an illusion.

A place with flesh-things. Continue reading “Grim Light”

Paladins, Oath Keepers

Oath.

A solemn promise. Something you yearn for. Run toward. A goal. An aspiration.

Something you won’t lose.

Something you won’t break.

Purpose.

That’s what an oath is.

You can feel it pulling at your spine. Down your back. In the very edges of your mind, it’s there. Constantly. A heartbeat within your body, your mind, your soul.

An oath is not something meant to be broken.

I know that.

They know that.

This oath is not something I intend to ignore.

This oath is something I will keep.

Even if it means my life. Continue reading “Paladins, Oath Keepers”

Marching Clocks

I was not thrilled when I was referred to the Clock Maker.

Not because he had a reputation for being strange—though he certainly did—and not because it meant climbing a mountain to reach the clock tower.

I wasn’t thrilled to see the Clock Maker because I wasn’t sure. Not at all.

And I knew that, if I spoke with the Clock Maker, I would be.

After all these years, I’d know just what time meant to me.

Could there be anything scarier? Continue reading “Marching Clocks”

Fire in the Snow

Crunching.

It was the only sound in this white wilderness. The only sound the snow allowed, and only because the snow could not stop it.

Crunching.

The sound of boots against snow.

Coming closer.

And when I turned to find the source, I found it.

I found him.

There are many kings in this world, and I’ve seen most of them.

But none compared to him. Continue reading “Fire in the Snow”

Dragon’s Might

What’s stronger?

I don’t know how to describe the question. How it takes shape in my mind. All I know is that it envelopes. Folds over and over and over, creating the ridges of my mind. Turning endlessly.

What’s stronger?

I’ve seen things man.

Seen things.

I’ve seen waves crashing against rocks. I’ve seen bullets hitting walls. I’ve seen fists hitting flesh.

I’ve seen things that are strong.

And I’ve seen things that are stronger.

Bulls fighting cars. Men fighting women. Evil battling against good.

I’ve seen them.

I’ve seen them all.

And when I see these things, I collect them in my mind. Mark them down. Car beats bull. Good beats evil. Mom beats angry, teenage-angst behavior of son. The winners are clear, and concise, and each one is not strong because they are full of muscle or full of anger or full of pride.

They’re strong because…

…well…

I don’t know.

Guess that’s why the question exists.

Am I right? Continue reading “Dragon’s Might”

The Last of the Dragons

I’ve never thought about it before.

What makes something last?

What makes something the last?

Probably, I’d never thought about it before because I’d never had to. Plus, it’s just a strange question in general. I mean, the last of what? Right? What’s the question even supposed to mean?

The last.

It was the last thing on my mind.

Until I met the last.

The last dragon. Continue reading “The Last of the Dragons”