The Great Mountain
The Great Mountain.
The Northern Mountain range in the land of Northhurst was once said to be infested with dragons. Many magnificent tales and ballads were written about the great heroes who bravely faced the fire breathing monsters in an effort to bring peace to the villages located at the base of the mountains.
Now the ballads and stories are all that remain of those days. For over five hundred years dragons have been considered extinct. The villages have lived so long in peace and quiet that the great tales have faded into nothing more than legends told to children at bedtime. The only things people worry about these days are the constant growing rate of taxes. Ever since King Farran came to the throne, everything in the kingdom has gone from bad to worse. As the saying goes, two things you can be certain of, long winters and high taxes. Most villagers are wise enough to keep quiet about the hardships; one wrong word could be your last!
And yet, if anyone has the time to turn from everyday problems and gaze at the Great Mountain, he will have reason to wonder if perhaps the legends of dragons are more than mere stories of days gone by. Mystery surrounds the Great Mountain as it rises high into the sky, majestic and strong. All the other mountains in the mountain range are a mere backdrop, compared to this one glorious figure or rock, covered in a cloak of evergreens.
It is with this very mountain that our story begins.
At the base of the mountain, divided only by a dirt road, stood a little greenhouse, surrounded by a matching green fence. It was a small house, two stories, no more than three bedrooms, a kitchen that also served as a dining room, and a terrace. The roof was brown and the windows painted white. By the house were a garden, a hen house, and small stables, housing two horses and four goats.
Walking down the dirt road, merrily swinging a basket filled with wildflowers was a young girl dressed in a light brown blouse and a dark green sundress. Her nut-brown hair, gathered in a braid, was uncovered and the summer sun had made bleached patches in it. Her almond eyes darted merrily here and there, drinking in the feast that summer set before her. The child was small, but sturdy, and filled with an air of carefree joy.
Sofia, for that, is the name of the happy girl, looked at the little greenhouse with a smile of tender care. This was her home and she lived here with her father and brother. Once, a long time ago, there had been a mother, but she went to stay in the land the lies beyond the rainbow when Sofia had been very little, and Sofia hardly remembered her. There had also been a grandmother, but two years ago, when Sofia was eight, the grandmother had also passed away. So now it was just Father, Lynwood, and herself.
Father, whom everyone else called Lyndon, was a woodsman by trade and worked in the forests that surrounded their home. Sometimes Lynwood would help Father work, at other times Lynwood and Sofia would work in the vegetable garden behind the house. They would also do the housework, milk the goats, gather the eggs and everyone took turns cooking. Having no mother or grandmother and a father who spends most of his days off in the woods left Sofia a carefree little creature, a child of the mountains, who is as untamed as they are.
Turning lightly on her dancing feet Sofia unlatched the gate to their property and stepped inside.
“Sofia!” a voice sounded from behind the house.
“Over here!” Sofia answered.
“Where the blazers have you been young lady?”
“Out in the fields picking wild flowers.”
“Why do you bother to pick those things anyway?” The owner of the voice, a youth of thirteen, walked out from behind the house.
“What, I can’t?” Sofia got on the defensive.
“They are just useless and don’t do anyone any good.”
“They do me a lot of good!” She stomped her foot indignantly. “I put them in my room and look at them and feel happy.”
“Then they wither and die and you throw them out.”
“Ah, but that means I get to go and pick new ones! Half the joy really comes from gathering the flowers. They will die out in the fields someday too; everyone knows flowers never last very long.”
“You still waste a lot of time!” The boy taunted.
“Really, Lynwood, I don’t see why you have a problem with me and the flowers. It’s not like I make you go and pick them and I don’t put them in your room. Why do you have to bother me about it?”
Lynwood only shrugged his shoulders. “Will you fetch supper or shall I have to do it again?”
“Again?“Sofia’s dark little eyebrows knit together in annoyance. “Allow me to remind you, Lyn, you have not cooked supper for the past four days!”
“How many times do I have to tell you, do NOT call me Lyn?!” Lynwood glared at his sister. “It makes me feel like a girl!”
“What shall I call you? Lynwood is far too long. Perhaps I could call you Woody?”
“Oh, so now I’ve gone from girl to tree! Honestly, Sofia, the things you come up with!” The sarcasm was strong in Lynwood’s voice as he rolled his eyes before placing them cynically on his sister. Sofia looked down and bit her lip.
“I’ll fetch supper; I have nothing better to do at the moment anyway.”
With that she turned and walked into the house. The bounce was gone from her step and the hand that had been swinging the basket so merrily now hung limply at her side. Even the flowers seemed to droop downward. It was always this way. Lynwood was a good boy, but he had a tongue sharper than father’s axe; a tongue that always had something smart and cutting to say, and he never missed an opportunity to put down his sister. Often Sofia could answer back, but his rude words still hurt.
Lynwood had been left standing alone on the front porch, contemplating on whether or not to go and apologize to Sofia; he really hadn’t meant to offend her. After a moment’s hesitation, he thought the better of it. After all, it was really her fault for calling him Lyn again. He had told her time again not to call him that and she just kept on doing it. At ten years old, Sofia was a smart girl, why couldn’t she remember something so simple? Lynwood shrugged his shoulders; he didn’t think he would ever be able to understand the mind of girls. They were complicated and very difficult creatures, almost like goats. You had to treat them with a weird sort of respect and never push them if they didn’t want to go anywhere, or you might end up getting kicked.
Lynwood was a rough and rugged boy, who stood fairly tall in height, with broad shoulders and strong arms. His light hair was longish and had a bad habit of getting into his green eyes; eyes that thirsted for adventure. Like Sofia he was a child of the mountains, born and raised among them. He had grown up here, he loved it here, and yet at times it seemed something was lacking. He couldn’t really put his finger on it; perhaps it was the idleness of his secluded life. They lived some distance from the town and rarely went there. Father was a good friend, but they weren’t able to spend much time together because Lynwood often had to stay behind and keep an eye on Sofia. Lynwood often wondered if the life of a woodsman was really the life for him. He wanted to be a hero, to do great deeds, travel on dangerous quests, defeat terrible foes, fight dragons, and save damsels in distress.
Sadly, none of those things were really possible. There were no deeds to be done, except the daily chores, no quests that required traveling, and there was a terrible shortage of damsels in distress! As for dragons, they had long, long become extinct. So he was stuck here, with his father and sister, meant to do little humble chores, and baby-sit.
But deep, deep in his mind, he dreamed and yearned for the day when he would be able to ride to the rescue, save the day, and maybe even save the world!