The chill hit me as soon as we stepped out onto the summit. I shivered and drove my hands deeper into the pockets of my fleece coat, but the lambent monk, wearing only a cotton robe, seemed not to notice. He led me forward to a pile of rocks and gestured at them with a glowing hand. I looked at him, and he gestured again, so I walked up to them. That seemed to satisfy him, as he turned away and disappeared back inside the tunnel that we'd walked through.
The rocks, I realised, were roughly piled like a chair. Somewhere to sit while I waited for the sun to come up; perhaps they had a lot of people wanting to see the sunrise from here. I had a few hours before sunrise though, and the mountain top was too cold just to sit out.
I walked back to the tunnel and was unpleasantly surprised. The mouth of the tunnel was now blocked with a rock twice my height. I tried pushing it anyway, but it didn't even wobble. I was clearly out on the mountain top for the rest of the night. Even if it meant dying of exposure.
I sat on the rocks in the hope I'd be slightly less exposed there. I'd come here to see the sunrise from the top of Mount Eschaton which was supposed to be a transcendent experience. So far I'd encountered lambent monks, which I'd put down to a symbiotic skin fungus, and now I'd been shut out on an exposed summit at night for several hours. This was not the transcendent experience I'd been hoping for.
The rocks were uncomfortable, but no more so than anywhere else on the small, flat summit, so I stayed sitting there. Above me the moon slowly sank down towards the horizon, and the stars began to fade as the sky began to lighten. Finally the first rays of sunlight broached the horizon and streaked across the sky.
All around me the air seemed to explode with light, like tiny, tiny fireworks going off. Little sparkles made mazy trails as they cascaded down over me, and a sudden warmth spread throughout my body. Muscles that were cold and stiff, unwilling to move, suddenly pulsed again with blood and euphoria started somewhere at my lowest chakra and surged upwards. As the sun crept ever higher over the horizon I felt more alive that I'd ever been before.
A grating of rock on rock made me turn my head, and I looked down to see the lambent monk who had brought me up here coming out of the tunnel. Then I realised that I was looking down on him, and looked down at myself. I was glowing, and floating six feet above the rock chair.
The monk approached, and held out his hand, and I unfolded my legs and stepped down from the thin air back to the solid ground. My glow continued unabated, and as he led me back into the tunnel inside the mountain, I wondered how I was going to explain this when I got back home.