The mountain was relentless and unforgiving with its height. From afar, it was majestic, even beautiful. But here, slowly scaling one of its sheer cliff walls, Caedius knows the stone giant is not his friend. One slip of the hand, a weak or missed swing of his ice pick, or a gust of wind was all that it would take for him to fall to his death.
But greater odds and giants have been defied before.
Caedius feels the fatigue set in his muscles, but he knows he’s stronger than when he arrived here. He’s almost completed his fourth day navigating this mountains paths and edges, with the icy cliffside the last obstacle between him and rest. The sun has already begun setting, leaving the cliff face in shadow. Fortunately, however, it is not snowing.
It’s a tedious task. His travel pack is on the ground below, and he hangs by a rudimentary harness. He inserts the spiked attachments of crude iron rings into the ice wall, as neither he or the hammer of the same make are strong enough to penetrate the rock. He only hopes the depth of the rivets and the strength of his makeshift climbing rope is such that they can support his weight.
Even if I do fall, he thought to himself, at least it saves me a fuckin’ world of trouble.
He does not know why he labours so fervently to return to a world that has left him behind. Perhaps it is out of spite, or a faded sense of responsibility. Either way, the reason is unclear to him. He just knows that there is a fire that burns within his chest.
Maybe it is because of his dreams of the black haired woman. He does not know who she is. She has blue in her hair, her touch is cold, and her body is familiar to him. Could his heart have belonged to her before this? He pauses in his ascent, his breathing heavy, and limbs weak.
He is not sure if he is the same person she remembers. Suddenly, there is an ache in his chest. He knows he is merely a ghost to her now. He wonders if he actually has perished, and this is his afterlife: an eternal return doomed to fail.
But the stars, distant and cold, have not lied to him yet.