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"The Mountains of the Sun " - excerpt

The Mountains of the Sun
A Mythical Tale of Human Potential
by Martin Lass copyright 2010


EXCERPT

Chapter One

When the Three are fused in the Fire,
And the Seven become Eight in the Pyre,
Then the Eight shall live as the One,
Coming Home to the Mountains of the Sun.


—The Book of Kristar,
Year 233 after Cataclysm

* * *

Gaean awoke with a start.

It was still dark outside, but the eastern sky was just beginning to lighten, slowly turning from black to midnight blue to emerald green.

In a dream, Gaean had been running and running, across the fields, through the forests, over rugged hills, and through deep valleys. He had felt the exhilaration of pushing his young and muscular body to the limit, his body rejoicing right down to the bones, the muscle-burn and aching joints a welcome reminder of being alive.

But then, as he came into a clearing, a voice had come out of nowhere, clear and commanding, saying, “Stop!” Gaean was so startled that he did stop, dead in his tracks. Although he couldn’t tell which direction the voice had come from, he instinctively turned around to see if somebody was behind him. But there was nobody in sight.

“Who’s there?” he called out, his voice carried across the clearing by the wind. No answer. After a moment, he began slowly walking across the clearing, sensing the tall grasses against his naked legs and against his trailing hands. He sensed the wind against his face and hot sun atop his head. He flexed and stretched his muscles, preparing to recommence his run, but, as he launched forward, the voice came again, “Stop!” And then, a little less commanding, but still insistent, “Slow…”

Gaean was less startled this time, but more perplexed. “Who are you? Where are you?” But there was only the sound of the wind in the grasses. The young man walked slowly now while turning in all directions, looking, searching, questioning. He became aware of his body again, this time sensing the blood pulsing in his veins, the sweat trickling down his face, and his body’s reassuring weight against the Earth.

Soon, though, that familiar restless feeling returned—that familiar itch in his bones, that impulse to run, seeking the exhilaration, but, at the same time, propelled by… was it fear, perhaps? Gaean didn’t have the time or inclination to figure this out, though, and, with an involuntary shudder, he leapt into flight again, reaching the other side of the clearing within a minute.

But when he reached the edge of the clearing where glade met forest, now in full flight, it was as though he slammed into a solid wall when the voice almost shouted, “NO!!”

And that was when he awoke.

In the growing morning light, Gaean jumped up to start his day, shaking off the disturbing dream and the uncomfortable feelings it had brought up. He preferred not to think about it, but rather to get moving now, the movement itself giving him a sense of direction and purpose. His job awaited him; he was a construction worker for the town’s main building company.

But the uneasy feelings continued in the background, despite his best efforts to push them away. Something was different this morning. From deep within, a wish was emerging from his very bones—a wish for a new and different adventure.

But what was this new adventure? In what direction did it lie? And what was it‘s purpose? Gaean found himself thinking, Where am I going? He realized that he didn’t have a clue, at least not yet. He only had the irresistible impulse to begin—to step into the unknown, despite any discomfort this might bring.


Chapter Two

Hydria loved the markets, not because of the richness and abundance of the crafts and fresh produce, but because of the people. As she weaved in and out of the crowds, it was like swimming in a river of brightly colored fish. Each person she passed and even brushed against, like a fish in the river, left a kind of a wake—a wake of feelings, like currents in the waters, each with a different intensity, a different temperature, and a different direction, pushing and pulling this way and that.

Hydria allowed the currents to move her like a fallen leaf in shallow waters. Although she didn’t know most of the people in the market, in some sense she felt that she did know them—that she could feel them and by feeling alone, know their innermost secrets.

She particularly liked the markets in the early morning, because people still carried with them the remnants of the dreams of the night before, like subtle perfumes, but of which the people themselves were mostly unaware.

On this morning, though, as she walked through the markets, something felt different from usual. Something was disturbing the currents of her feeling, as though a rogue predator had entered the peaceful waters. Was it outside of her? Or was it inside her? She shuddered, pushing it away.

But like a nagging thought, it wouldn’t so easily be silenced and the more she tried to push it away, the more insistent it became. The tension it created in her body dampened her ability to pick up the feelings of the people around her who, in turn, began to fade into a colorless wash.

No! Not this, she thought. She took a deep breath, trying to relax into herself again, to reconnect with the river of feelings in which she felt most comfortable, but this morning, it was not to be. A thought was emerging, and she couldn’t stop it: There’s more to life than this.

Hydria almost cried out, but stifled the cry as it was born. But she was unable to stifle the inexplicable longing that suddenly arose from deep within her. Why am I here? the longing asked her, wordlessly. Afraid that people might see the tears that were welling up in her eyes, she hurried toward the market’s exit.


Chapter Three

The morning was cool, fresh, and clear, and the air had a slight bite to it. Aerion took a deep breath as he walked, his slight-framed body exhibiting a lightness, a quickness, an alertness. He enjoyed his morning walks from the outskirts of town to the college where he taught, if only because it gave him the time and space to put his thoughts together, before everything became muddied by the growing hustle and bustle of the waking town.

Aerion’s greatest joy was witnessing children and young adults casting off the shackles of ignorance, superstition, the vagaries of feeling, and the weaknesses of the flesh to embrace the clarity and certainty of thought. In his mind, education was everything.

This morning, being somewhat of a respected figure in his field, Aerion was to give a lecture on the mythologies of the ancients, and even though he knew that these were all just stories made up by prehistoric peoples, he marveled at the depth, detail, and intricacy of these myths and at how through universal symbols they gave insights into the psyche of peoples past, present, and, yes, even future.

On the whole, with his vast store of knowledge, collected over years of dedicated study, Aerion felt that he held the keys to understanding things that the average person could not even conceive of. And that felt good, safe, and powerful.

This morning, though, as he walked and tried to put his thoughts together for the upcoming lecture, something was different, somehow out of place. As hard as he tried to maintain his train of thought, he kept getting distracted, his thoughts going off on tangents, into strange and wild imaginings, which, in turn, brought up uneasy and unwanted feelings.

It reminded him of his childhood years—years he had intentionally opted to forget… to lock away in a box and to throw away the key. A difficult and harsh upbringing, physically and emotionally, had left its mark, despite Aerion’s best efforts to purge his past.

As he walked, with a growing and uncontrollable turmoil brewing beneath his thoughts, a muscular young man, almost running, cut across Aerion’s path, obviously in a hurry to get somewhere. He had come out of nowhere it seemed, startling Aerion out of his uneasy reverie.

The muscular man didn’t stop, but hurtled onward, as though there was no tomorrow. He was obviously caught up in his own dreams, because, as he approached the marketplace, which was now directly ahead of him and Aerion, he ran straight into a young woman who was hurrying out of the market, knocking her to the ground.

Aerion gasped inadvertently, and he ran over to see if he could render some assistance. The woman was in tears, obviously distraught, and the muscular man was completely flustered, sputtering out apologies. Aerion and the other man helped the young woman up who, without so much as a thank you, turned to leave. But as she was about to head off, she turned back and, seemingly perplexed, she gazed for a moment with teary eyes at the two men, opening her mouth to speak, but before any words came out, she turned and rushed off, disappearing into the throng.

The muscular man, obviously embarrassed by the whole incident, muttered some thanks to Aerion, shook his hand with unexpected force, and, without waiting for a reply, hurried off on his unnamed errand.

Aerion was left standing alone outside the market. He turned slowly, heading back in the direction of his school. His thoughts were a mess now, though, thrown completely out of balance by the events that had just taken place.

But it wasn’t the chaos of his thoughts that took his attention and disturbed him the most; it was his hand, which was burning with a kind of electricity, still damp with the muscular man’s sweat; and it was image of the young woman and the inexplicable feeling that arose within him in the face of this image.

It was all too much to bear. Aerion struggled to bring order to his mind and to put these rogue sensations and feelings back in the box where they belonged. But even as he pushed these things into the darkness of his psyche, the pressure of newly released energy fought back, forming itself into a tangible force… into a tangible entity… into a tangible question, which Aerion now had neither the will nor strength to stop: Who am I?

It was a ridiculous question, of course! Of course he knew who he was! He had spent his entire life defining who he was, gaining accolade after accolade, filling this role and that, putting on the mantle of teacher and upright citizen of the town, and so on. How ridiculous to ask such a question!

Yet, in his growing turmoil of thought, feeling, and sensation, the question persisted. Somehow, somewhere, in some corner of his mind, Aerion knew that things would never be the same again. There were now cracks in his former world.