A new story for you today folks!
Been working on this one the week past and meant to put it up earlier but time and circumstance did not allow – plus I have this annoying habit of often writing things out long-hang (the old fashioned way) first and then typing it into my computer an editing/tweaking as I go along.
This wastes some time as you can imagine, especially when you’re looking to do a story a week (or at least every fortnight). BUT, here it is, inspired by one of the weekly prompts over at InMon, something a little different that I hope you guys will enjoy.
“This is like manna from the heavens!” thought Saurak-8, as he half collapsed by the tiny pool of water and drank deep. A modest pond though it was, to him and his few remaining team-mates it was the most abundant source of the sweetest water any of them had ever tasted. Long and deep did they quaff of the life-giving water, causing the small body to shrink just a little.
Saurak-8 was an experienced and disciplined gatherer and tracker, his instinct giving him only brief respite, now calling for them to resume at the earliest possible. Thirst sated and briefly rested, they needed to press on toward the Desolate Mountain. That name was a strange conundrum to him though – lacking in all green and beautiful natural life, it was truly desolation, this rocky climb being the only approach to it’s singular entrance point to the interior. Several expeditions were made each generation from their hidden home-city – not all reached the other side and not all who reached the heart of it, returned.
Why all this effort and risk? Because in a difficult world, the mystery of the cavern was the answer – an enigma they had long debated, somehow the mountains’ desolation held a near endless bounty of resources within its gleaming rocky interior.
“Alright! Up you louts! We’ve had our break, now we need to double-time over that last crest before the Father Sun gets higher.” Saurak-8 bellowed as he rose to leave.
Grudgingly, but trusting his instinct and leadership, the troop began its march anew. Upward and onward they went, the terrain becoming easier soon after they made it to the top and then they were at the massive entrance of the gargantuan mountains’ base. The opening was many times more than the tallest of them and continued far into the distance on either side.
“By the Gods above and below!” said Beril-9, leaving any-one expecting more words, waiting.
“You could fit in every gathering party, all the people of Burlacka and the entire royal family comfortably through this opening!” Khadeer, a young scout, volunteered in the silence that followed.
Beraham-5 grunted derisively, , “If we get every able body up on one of these missions, we’d have enough to last us several generations instead of living hand to mouth – but no royal will ever go for it, let alone make the trip!” He was a grizzled old warrior who’d survived many battles with the terrible hard-shells and other beasts that roamed the land and was also, along with Saurak-8, one of a mere dozen who had made this journey before.
“Enough of this.” barked Saurak-8, “We’ve come a long way and are almost at our goal, but we’ve a hard task and a long road still ahead. Two of us have fallen behind already and we all may yet not make it home.” With that, he strode through the opening, half-looking back to say, “Talk then if you like! But keep it moving or I’ll personally see to it.”
And so the party pressed ever forward, none taking the respected veterans remarks angrily but feeling chastised. Their sacred duty to their people renewed their determination, even as they bantered on to keep their spirits up. Across the stone plains they travelled until they reached the cliffs that remained their final challenge before the prize.
Forsaking all rest and respite, they kept moving on up the sheer face of the stone wall. On and on they climbed, only briefly slowing as one lost his grip and fell, barely grabbing on again to continue the ascent. No matter what, the expedition was paramount – this was the gatherers sole creed, their only rule.
Finally after what seemed like forever, they reached the top. Stopping only briefly to look at the view, the group hurried after Saurak-8 and Beraham-5 who were already fast moving toward their target. Moments later, they all stood at the foot of the legendary Hollow Pillar. They had traversed all that hard terrain, made it past the roaming clouds of deadly and invisible gases and survived the climb here. On the return they would face it all again, those surviving that journey would be hailed as heroes. But for each one of them, just reaching here was a dream realised, a purpose fulfilled.
One by one they climbed up to the opening at it’s peak and each taking out what most they could carry, prepared in heart and mind to make the perilous journey home.
As they headed back to the plateaus’ edge soon after, Saurak-8 couldn’t help but look back. Long and hard did he gaze at the ancient monolith, the strange grooves and patterns carved into its surface and the magically unending bounty within that had been such a boon to them for so many generations. But he would likely never see this again, no one had ever lived long enough to make a third expedition.
And so, he turned away to focus on the journey ahead, his six legs carrying him swiftly along to where his companions had already begun their descent, the glittering crystals on their backs. Beginning his climb, Saurak-8 cast one last thought of thanks to the creators of that strange and magical font – to that hollow mountain of sugar hidden within.