Blood Mountain


Countless people on both sides (and neither side!) of the war had died. Urissa’s one true shot at happiness, Abe Sir, died as a damned fool and thus started this whole damned thing, claiming her life and that of the Bumgiles. Harry Augustina, Big Laura, and Moon Tat were dead as well. Geryman was at the helm of an army of loyal fighters and a crumbling economic empire, but he nevertheless felt completely alone. Carenf and Gelndan’s closest allies were also either dead (Mariano) or unwilling to fight (Tayli and Janifer). They too had many supporters, but he wondered if they might be feeling the same sense of isolation.

At sunrise Geryman stepped into his buggy and began to rumble southeast toward Mount Rainier. This would be settled away from the city, overlooking the city. One of them would return back down the mountain to begin to rebuild. No one else needed to die.

The buggy traveled as far as the road would allow. He stepped out, hiked a short distance to the nearest open field where he knew he was expected. Once there he forced a wry smirk and spoke:

(Geryman) A lot has happened that led us to this place
(Glendan) You carry several extra years in your face
(Ge) This war has taken a lot from me; I’m tired
(Gl) Everything you inspired; is this what you desired?
(Carenf) It was not entirely his fault, it’s bigger than us
(Ge) Only you could know, you’re the only one I can trust
Because you will never, ever rest
Until you have brought me to my death

Neither Glendan nor Carenf replied. What else needed to be said? Glendan was facing his family’s demons – literally facing his family’s demon. But the fight was not his. He was to be a spectator. He stepped aside. Carenf and Geryman stepped forward. This was the latest and greatest in the epic struggle that had played out – albeit not always so dramatically as this – in every generation throughout known and unknown history.

The fight was so furious and fast, so terrible and terrific, so malicious and marvelous that words are inadequate. Bones broke, muscles tore, blood spewed. And yet the best was drawn out from the inner recesses of each combatant. An ability to heal their own wounds was discovered. They became whole again, and the battle was reincarnated. As the battle raged, vivid visions of visages flashed before their eyes. Images of the past, yes, but also cryptic glimpses of the future. Their successors in the war. Explosion, evaporation, eradication, extermination…regeneration.

Without knowing what happened, Geryman found himself pinning Carenf to the ground, left hand wrapped around her jugular while the other hand rose up wielding a branch that would be plunged through her skull. She was done, he had won. It was then that Geryman heard the gasps of his brother, crumpled on the ground, dying. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the two champions had been healing themselves at his expense during their fight. Geryman needed to help him. He was about to…

…As quickly as Geryman had wound up on top of Carenf, she had reversed the maneuver and found herself holding the branch above him like a guillotine. As the downward thrust began, she too heard a gasp. Not that of her husband, but of her lover’s brother. The branch-turned-spike broke through Geryman’s skin, his body, plunging deep into the mountain.

On the mountain, naked, snow extracts
Pressed to skin, it retreats to water
That which is hot can prevail, as can cold
It is degree that determines the slaughter

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