The summit of the Slumbering Mountain was the highest region in the realm of Raylor, the closest step to the stars beyond the welkins. The peak was usually cold and windy, blanketed by snow, with a clear sky. An aura of lights complimented the night sky, and the heavenly bodies shined in the darkness. The mount provided a clear view of the Valley of Winter to the south and the Forbidden Desert to the north, which was believed to lead to the Abode of the Gods. The mountain represented strength and glory, and it was heralded as the protector of the realm. Thus, men climbed to its summit to stare into the dark-abyss beyond the firmaments, to the stars beyond, and to contemplate on the nature of their existence.
The Slumbering Mountain was usually peacefully, but peace is a brittle affair.
The winds howled like wolves on the hunt as they blustered through the woolen cloak of a man who hid his identity under the hood of his cloak. He was tall and slender with nothing abnormal about him at first sight. When the man raised his hand towards the heavens, a shroud of mist permeated the air as the skies darkened and the firmaments wroth with anger. With a wave of the wrist, a blinding flash ensued as the lightning crackled from the heaven to slash at the mountain.
“Why are you disturbing me?” a voice emanated from the depths of the mountain.
“I was heading north into the desert, to chase after the Goddess of Life, but you are a rather interesting specimen, full of magic, full of life.”
“So, then you are the one who killed the goddess of Order,” the mountain angrily rumbled. “I heard your kind was terrifying, men of steam and steal that descend from the heaven in chariot burning with fire. But you look like an ordinary man? No, you cannot be Him, the false god the dragon warns me about. Perhaps you are a foolish human puppet, loyal to the usurpers. They have no power here. Leave my sight, and tell your gods to return to the star from whence they came, or else you will die in vain.”
“Why do you not show yourself to me, kill me. Are you prohibited from harming men? A simple warning will not dissuade me from my purpose.”
“No,” the voice said. “I am compassionate and merciful towards men and women, regardless of their intentions, because my advantages are clear. If I cannot dissuade you from staying, I will simply ignore you. Have your master come to face me himself.”
“Is it true you have a heart hidden deep beneath the earth? Is it magical? Capable of making a man a god?”
The voice did not answer.
“Your silence insults me.” the man cast a bolt of lightning to keep the mountain’s attention. “Is your heart magical?”
“Why are you here? Do you believe you can become a god by claiming the heart of one?”
“Are you a god?” the man asked with a cynical smile on his face. “Your power pales in comparison to one. However, I am not interested in becoming a god. You are merely an obstacle that needs to be removed, a necessary sacrifice needed to summon the Eater of Realms, but perhaps, I am interesting in testing the magic behind your heart.” He raised his hand towards the sky, and lightning crashed from the firmaments. All noise faded, with only a mere hum ringing in their ears. Lightning struck in a rapid succession, with each strike growing bolder than the last. The air around him cracked as the lightning slashed at the surface, sending rocky debris strong enough to topple small trees off the summit of the mountain.
“Are you trying to intimidate me with such a pitiful display of power?” the voice said.
“Pitiful? I am the one who is being merciful. If you forfeit your life to me, I will make your death painless,” the man said, conjuring a powerful bolt of lightning that whitened the heaven.
“Foolish human,” the voice barely managed to say before erupting into a violent laughter that shook the mountain. “You think you can kill me? You are an insignificant gnat in my presence. Do you know what I am, little man?”
“You are the mountain. I know whom it is I challenge.”
“And you’re not afraid?”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Siegfried. I am my Lord’s Emissary of Death, the hand that executes his judgement.”
“Emissary of Death,” the Mountain’s laughter grew louder. “You are a pretentious little man. Leave now before I cast my judgment upon you!” The Mountain caused the earth to violently shake beneath the man’s feet, hoping he could cause the man to stumble. “You shall not pass beyond these heights.”
The abruptly winds stopped.
“Are you deaf? I told you to –” A bolt of lightning that split the earth upon impact interrupted the Mountain. Is he mad? What type of man can stand before me and not tremble? “I recognize that you are not an ordinary man. You have an unusual master over the winds, but you are still an ordinary man.”
“Show yourself to me, you cowardly mountain,” Siegfried said angrily, casting another bolt of lightning from the heavens.
“Cowardly!” the Mountain said.
The rocky surface beneath Siegfried’s feet turned and shifted until it gathered into a small mound, from which a pair of eyes revealed themselves, and as they looked upon Seigfried with disdain, they examined his sleek and pale skin. He tried looking under the hood to sees the man’s eyes, but all he saw was an emotionless expression. However, a flash of lightning revealed the man’s face and eyes for a brief moment, and they horrified him. He looked human, but his flesh glossed in the light. It was abnormal, artificial, and his eyes were unusually large for a man. They were entirely dark with no depths to them. He is soulless, not a man, but a horrible thing, the mountain shivered, realizing he was in the presence of the things who had killed the goddess of Order. The more he looked, the more discomfort he felt. He is the false god the dragon warmed me about.
Siegfried smile, knowing the Mountain had caught a glimpse of his face. “You have chosen to reveal your eyes to me, but it is not enough. I cannot kill you unless you show your heart to me.”
The mountain chuckled to mask his concerns. “You are a pretentious spirit.”
“Silence,” Siegfried said. “Stop hiding behind your words and face me.” He cast a flurry of lightning that struck the eyes until the earth split open.
“I have been patient. I have been mericul, but you refuse to heed my warning and chase death!”
The whole Mountain began to rumble as it depressed deep into the earth to create a deep crater. Siegfried stoditly stood as he sunk deeper and deeper into the crater and watched as the earth and rocks around him gathered to warp into a shape he could not describe. He raised his head towards the heavens as he watched the Mountain transformed into a terrifying colossal anthropoid.
“Do you see now? Do you see what I am?”
At first the earth and rock sculpted into a monstrous head with enormous empty eyes and a hollow mouth from which fumes steamed. The Mountain fashioned for himself a torso and thereafter summoned giant boulders on top of each other to create arms which were disproportionately longer to the rest of his body. When his transformation was complete, he reached to the earth and ripped a patch of land to set it atop his head like a crown.
“I know what you are. You do not terrify me.”
“Insolence. You will be punished for the goddess’ death,” the Mountain said, “and I will show you fear and despair.”
From the base of the Mountain molten gold seeped from the furnaces of the earth. The gold fashioned itself into a monstrous quadruped. The metallic beast had a huge head and two large disproportionate limbs, with one being longer than the other. This disproportion forced the atrocity to heavily rest its weight on its fore feet, creating a protruding slouch on its back. The hollow beast had eyes like its creator, and it too spouted fumes from its mouth.
As it charged with a sporadic gate, it threw its weight unto its forefeet, pounding the surface hard with it knuckles, and then using them to violently propel itself forward. The beast also used the power of its legs to jump great distances and moved with a striking agility for its size.
Siegfried, however, was unfazed by the beast’s hellish appearance as it advanced through the terrain. He patiently waited for its attack. When the beast finally reach him, it cocked an arm and with a heavy swing it hammered down unto Siegfried, but its efforts were for naught.
Siegfried reached for a buckle hidden by his cloak and unsheathed Judgment from its scabbard. The divine weapon was white with a black leather lacing. The blade gleamed white throughout with a black leather lacing. Within the fuller the phrase, l’intelligenza governerà, was inscribed, and a dark stone set within the pommel. Raising the blade overheard, he commanded his blade to release a dark aura, which shielded him from the beast’s attack.
The beast pounded, alternating betwixt its left and right arms. It thrashed about in its rage. The beast threw all its body weight onto Siegfried, but the aura repelled the creature’s attacks. The beast roared, and had it not been for the barrier, the steam from its breath would have seared his face.
“This is pitiful, really,” Siegfried said thrusting his blade into the beast’s abdomen and watching it melt into a lifeless pool of gold.
The Mountain attempted to reanimate the gold with his power once again, but his power had no effect. “What type of sorcery is this,” The Mountain groaned in disbelief. “Rise,” he commanded the gold. When he realized he had no more power over the gold, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He then fully erected himself to towering over Siegfried. “I am a proud mountain,” his voice trembled. “I have watched this realm for a thousand year. I have see threats rise and fall. I have known love and cruelty. My heart had been broken, but you will not cause my heart anymore unrest. I will not be intimidated by you.” His voice cracked the air as it was carried across the land. The Mountain ripped a large boulder made of rock and earth, and he launched the boulder towards Siegfried, but it was to no avail. The barrier split the boulder, sending its fragment harmlessly tumbling to the ground.
“Are you afraid,” Siegfried cynically said.
The Mountain pummeled Siegfried’s barrier until he grew tired and his confidence began to dwindle. The wide-enraged expression in his eyes softened, and his gaze found itself deeply staring at the earth in melancholy. My magic is useless. My strength. Why? What is this thing I have standing before? He killed a god. A goddess! The mother of everything. Will I experience death once more? If he could have cried, he would have wept in that moment, but tears were a distant memory to him — from when he was a human. “What good will my heart bring you? It’s ancient and full of grief. It is a human heart, no different from the heart of any man in this realm,” the mountain softly said.
“The notion of birth has always fascinated by Lord. To him, birth is akin to magical. Therefore, the belief a heart can give life to a god-like being peaks his curiosity. You are a curiosity, and I am curious about how the magic in your heart manifests itself.”
“Who is your Lord?”
“I can hear you heart beating in your chest.”
“How can you hear my heart?”
“I can see everything, hear everything. It is time for you to die.”
“No. It is time for you to die,” the Mountain said. “I have underestimated your strength long enough. I will not be intimidated by a thing like you.” He smashed his fists into the ground, splitting the earth apart. He then reached deep into the furnaces of the earth and withdrew a giant sword burning with magma. He firmly gripped the sword. “Die!” The mountain flung his sword with all his weight behind it.
The Mountain inhaled deeply. He then swing his blade, and to his surprise he managed to break through the barrier. Upon seeing the shield vanish, the Mountain’s heart began to flutter in excitement. The fleeting moment of hope cause his heart to glow red inside of his chest. He devilishly smile as he struck once again, but to his disheartening despair, his blade shattered when it when clashed against Judgement’s the true edge.
“No!” the Mountain wailed. What now. He… he’s inhumanly strong. Trembling in fear, he pounded against the second barrier Siegfried had cast to protect himself. The earth trembled, sending massive shock waves across the land. With each blow, more powerful than the last, the openings in the earth increased.
When Siegfried grew tired of the Mountain’s attacks, he slashed at the fist smashing against his shield. He first cut down the right arm as it fell onto his blade and watched as it fell lifeless, becoming nothing more than rocks. He then cut down the left.
“The dragon will not forgive you,” the Mountain said. “As long as the goddess is protected by the dragon, she is beyond your reach.” He tried to call upon the rocks to rebuild himself, but his magic had no effect once against. My hands. His blade nullifies my magic. I should have known.
“You are heralded as a deity, but you are merely a curse cast onto these rocks. Death does not rival me. It defines the laws of nature and man as king. I will slay the dragon just I have slain you.” Siegfried hurled his saber at the Mountain with all his might. His blade soared through the air like a bolt of lightning. On impact, it perforated the mountain’s chest and ripped through to the other end. The Mountain wailed in pain.
“Prahma, deliver me from this pain,” the Mountain spoke his last words.
Siegfried stood stoically as he overlooked the barren wasteland of sand that laid before him. He thought the goddess was within his reach, but when he took a step forward, a dark gnat-like creature landed on his hand. He raised his hand to eye level and observed as its antenna smelled the surface of his skin. The insect knew it smelled something familiar, despite how unfamiliar it sensed. Its antenna methodically smelled him, angsing to burrow itself into the skin, but it could not sense the particular smell it looked for. “What’s this?” Siegfried grabbed the insect by the thorax. “It’s an insect-like nanonite,” he said, as he watched it flared its mandibles in defense. “This is how the virus is delivered.” He smashed the insect between his finger to expose the venom it carried in its abdomen. “You can run into the desert with this as your defense, but I will make her regret running.”
The Mountain’s plight fatally wounded the realm, for a mountain cannot act with such tenacity without shifting the terrain around it to catastrophic ends. The friction the Slumber Mountain had exerted against the earth caused the lands to crack, and the sheer strength behind his blows produced cataclysmic seismic waves that ripped the earth apart. The valleys cracked like frail slab of glass, creating fissures that scarred the earth and extended beyond sight. The mountains crumbled like mounds of sand, and the sea surged like a raging titan to swallow the earth. The deaths were insurmountable in the wake of the destruction.
Continue reading, Song of Arayia – Broken Valley (Edited)