I tread on the frozen bones of every faceless hero who has come before me. I can feel their cold anguish kiss my face as the wind bites into my flesh. All around me is a desolate wasteland of unfriendly turmoil, a land crafted from snow and ice and rock. With each step the burden of my armour weighs down upon me, I feel my body tremble, and I watch in vain as the sky caresses my sword, her merciless blue fingers daring to shatter the fragile steel into tiny pieces of glass.
Days of perilous travel up this godforsaken mountain have brought me to my knees – within a foot of loose snow I linger. And yet here I remain, upon the hoarfrost of Rehgir’s Peak, where scores of the bravest of men have dared to challenge her, only to return as ghosts, lost spirits, apparitions of this beautifully dangerous place.
One might mistake their song for the livid howling of the wind, but I know better, in this glowing white void. I can feel their eyes upon me, and I greet them with every courtesy. As cold wisps of snow pass graciously over the mountainside I acknowledge their noble sacrifice. Alas, I must continue.
When I close my eyes I know not that I exist without the high screaming of the wind. My body is numb from the cold, my black frostbitten fingers feel nothing but fatigue. Clouds of breath steam from my mouth and my stomach groans and churns, begging for food. My lungs burn as I inhale the icy air. By now, I am stumbling through the snow.
My frozen eyes glaze over the immense white mountain range before me – a kindly reminder of how small and insignificant I really am. I find these snow tipped mounts to be perfectly serene, an aurora of tranquil orange light beaming over them as the sun soars ever higher. I extend my arms and let its soft warming touch fill me with some kind of courage. In the rise of this new day I find the will to go on.
With the final remains of what my life cares to offer I climb atop the summit of this colossal stone tower. At last I see the world below me, and with blue lips I smile at how small it has become. But my task is not yet done. All around me is a sight from some other world. I stand in an unreal temple of glass and crystal, crafted from shades of azure and sapphires of indigo – a substance so radically pure that it speaks tales of magic and sorcery. I feel as though this profound and beautiful place may be my tomb.
I continue through the temple, listening as each step echoes through the artificial twilight. The howling wind and the fury of the mountain are gone now, and I feel safe, for a time. Twice my trembling knees nearly falter on the smooth footing that I cross. I realise that I am in a chamber of sorts, a small passageway to a dark and unknown place. The twilight slowly dissipates as I draw ever closer to my true goal.
As the chamber opens up into a grand and foreboding cavern I know that it is time. I draw my sword and enter. It is dark – too dark to see – but I know that she is here. I feel her presence, her lingering eyes watching me from the abyss. I feel the warmth of her fiery breath fill the cavern, and stand in awe of the ghostly wisps of steam that rise up from the rock. She is here. I call out to her. “Face me, you coward!”
And then she opens her menacing reptilian eyes and groans in ample annoyance. I step back and gasp – frozen by her boundless power. Her magnificent eyes possess the raging fire of a thousand suns, streaked in the centre by a dark and eternal abyss. Within those terrifying eyes I see my life and my death in one consubstantial moment. Never had I felt so small. Never had I felt so insignificant.
Part of my soul wants to tear itself apart and forsake this futile existence. With weary arms I raise my sword. If I am to die it will be here among every brave soul who came before me. With weary arms I raise my sword, and march willingly into my infernal and fiery end.