The Thing On the Mountain
It sat cross legged and naked, hunched at the edge of the cliff praying to the new sun. A skeletal creature, his skin was charred and sloughing off. One ear was a blob of melted flesh, the other was half gone. One eyelid had dissolved, leaving a milky, unblinking eye staring off into eternity. A few wispy strands of white hair still clung to the base of the skull where skin could be found.
The thing had once been a man, hundreds of years ago, but now he was something else. It had been the time of true magic when he lived. When the lands had vibrated with power and sorcerers could create mountains or destroy cities with a flick of the wrist and a single ancient word. Before the Green Grace had been drained. Back when She still loved all those who walked her lands.
He had watched as men greedily used her lands and her power for their own selfish gain. Taking her gift of magic and using it kill one another and destroy creatures great and small.
The thing on the mountain was still a man when the magic was suddenly gone. Where once it had flowed out of every living tree and stream, now, no words could make it yield its strength. No gesture could light a candle, much less burn a city. Magic did not belong in the hands of man, and her Grace had reached this understanding much too late.
Magic is a drug; it is euphoria. The gentle hand of Omnipotence comes and brushes gently at your cheek. Just a taste, but that is all it takes. A glimpse, a feeling, a whisper. Not even Green Tar could produce such a high. And Man would not let it go.
The scholars became desperate. Searching through the histories, trying to find what had happened. Their claim was for science. It was for the advancement of man that magic was necessary. They did not realize they were just junkies, desperate for their next fix. They prayed earnestly to the Green Grace not knowing that it was her that had taken their magic from them.
The thing on the mountain had been there when they discovered the runes. An 'amplifier' they called it, but that's not what it was. It was a lash. Runes were used to rip the magic from the earth. To force the land to yield its succor. To flay the Green Grace of her flesh and her vitality. But humans were ignorant of their sins, lost to the sorcery. All of this he had seen, participated in. Another squalling child desperate for his mother's teat.
He was still a junky, but no longer a man.
There was a rune beneath him. Permanent markings into Her flesh. He had scorched them into the land with fire, and then salted the earth in geometrical shapes in the high grass. The runes protected him, and gave him life. He had not known truth of this history when he sat upon this cliff, no. That he had learned when he probed. For years he had dug into the lands, carving out his niche, suckling at Her power. Clawing at Her flesh.
When he had learned enough to know better it was too late to stop. Her Grace had been poisoned to her very soul. The scars of man had burned into her heart and she had become a twisted creature of hate. She was too weak to drive off her torturers. He had looked on her only once. A frightening visage of hate and pain that chilled him to his core. The way humans still prayed to her might be comical if it weren't so pathetic.
He could not stop his digging though, and so he found others. Her Grace was not the only god. The Titan, he had found next. The Stone God. His power was immense but he had not been so weak as her Grace. Drawing magic from him was like, well…squeezing water from a stone. And so he dug deeper, sending tendrils through the stone. He found others, the god, Ruin, was hatred manifest, he was death, disease, war, and famine.
Magreddon was next. The Angry One. A burning god imprisoned by Titan. His fires melted at his stone prison, he burned fiercer than dragon fires. Magreddon lacked control. He boiled with power and so the thing on the mountain had drawn from him. He still remembered the first time…the pleasure and the pain.
The magic had seared him, it had turned his heart into smoking coals. His flesh had ignited, bubbling and crackling like a meat on a spit. He had screamed and burned. He remembered the smell. Like sweet pork. It made his mouth water and his stomach queasy. He remembered the kiss of Ruin. The sweet release of pain and the knowledge that all was to end. Surrounding all the pain though was the magic. Power beyond anything he had ever felt. If previous use of magic had been a loving caress from Omnipotence, this was everything else. He was taking Omnipotence's maidenhood. He was fucking the gods and it was beautiful.
When his husk had awoken, he knew that he was no longer human. Later, he learned to use Magreddon in small doses, but he had lost himself. It was all he had ever wanted, and all he ever feared. Freedom from death. The difference between life and living is only subtle to those who have both. All he had was the magic.
'But the new sun.' He reminded himself. 'The answer is there.'
It had first appeared many years ago, but he doubted any of the humans knew about it then. A tiny black dot that followed the sun in the sky like a small child. But it was stronger than the sun. He had felt it first. It pulsed in his charcoal heart.
It took twenty and six years before the new sun could truly be seen by the naked eye. Now it was one fifth the size of the old sun. Still following the path of its elder, but it was closer. It had to be closer because of the power it gave off. He had tried to grab at Aerus, the Sun God once, but the power was weak and old. As if it had travelled too far. Greyfall was the name given to the younger one. And his magic was still vibrant when it reached the old cliff face.
But the thing on the mountain was not the only one that yearned for Greyfall. He had felt her desperation. The Green Grace burned for this new god, and her lust was grotesque.
The wind swept around him, a breath against his face. "I will have him." Her voice rasped. "And man will learn the truth of it's folly. Starting with you, creature."