Benji’s Fun Fact Story Corner #72
Krane leant back in his chair once again, and it squeaked in protest. His brow was shiny and his breaths were deep and full.
“You’ve never mentioned your brother before?” Inquired the climber in a tone as polite as he could muster.
“Aye. There’s a reason for that. You see, I vouched we should stay here, look after the boy! But he had always dreamed of building a cabin in the woods for him to live in. A wonderful dream, and I would live with him in a similar house.” Krane now leaned back, looking towards the ceiling with a certain glint in his eye as he was transported deep into his mind.
“The boy however, he was encapsulated the first time he lay his eyes on one of those moving statues.” He chuckled at that, it sounded like distant thunder.
“I couldn’t bear to rip him away from that, so we split up. For there are no trees that grow as tall as Torin needs here lad.” The glint was gone from his eye, and he looked sad, but still wore a warm smile.
The Climber was saddened by this tale. A lost brother, the last of their race. The boy abandoned in the snow mirrored another story he had heard, that sent shivers down his spine that gripped at each individual vertebrate. At least he was long gone.
Krane began once again, looking up out of the window.
“Now now! It’s almost time for you to be tested by the ruler here. You must pass his test to be allowed access to the next stage of the mountain, but don’t worry from what I’ve heard it’s reasonably simple. Simple enough for you that is!” He guffawed and slapped his back with a huge meaty hand. The wind was forcefully knocked out of his lungs as quickly as if he had drawn a breath. He spluttered and choked as he also began to laugh at the small jest. When he finally had oxygen in his lungs he asked which way he would have to travel, and it was quite simple. It was in a straight line to the Center Square. From there it would be the large marble building that was facing the large fountain in the middle of the city. Apparently there was another wall of names as well which he was looking forward to seeing, and signing.
He decided to leave the golem behind, for he would not need it on this excursion out into the city. As he pulled it out his bag he noticed an extra detail, to cover the private parts there was a small stone loincloth. It seemed the Smith wasn’t about to construct a statue of David. The Climber chuckled at his own joke until he realized there was no one else around to appreciate it. The golem simply stared at him whilst he went through this roller coaster of emotions, puzzled. He left it some of those lightly rose colored crystals in case it got hungry. In truth, he had no idea what he was doing in the slightest, but he was deciding to roll with the punches and hopefully not come back to find a pile of rubble when was back.
The walk was strange when he was not wearing his trusty leather rucksack. His shoulders felt strangely freed and light. As he walked to the center of the city he was greeted by men in thick woolen coats and women in form fitting dresses made of fine silks. He gave the small wave from time to time, a curt hello at most as he strode ever closer to the marble office. He began to panic when he saw how close it was to noon, and he hurried onward. Suddenly he emerged from the relative claustrophobia of the alleys, and emerged into the “Town Square” so to speak. It was grand, cobbled streets giving way to mosaic and proper tiled pathways. Important looking building faced inwards, all guarded by agile looking golems with fierce gazes and thick, club like arms, ready to ‘Emancipate’ anyone who tried to take something without asking. No building looked as important or regal as the Mayor’s building however. Guarded by no less than 10 of the finest looking golems he had seen, with what looked like slits for blades to slide out along the ‘Forearms’ of the stone men. He had no doubt the metal would be fine enough to slice through flesh and bone alike with ease. There was a booth near the large doors, which were made of deep rich mahogany. The first wooden objects he had seen in his stay here at the Overhang. The women who was in the booth was small, and had a face akin to a fox. She looked up at him as he approached. He wasn’t even to stutter before she began to speak in a lazy and slightly annoyed tone.
“Are you here to take the test? Follow the red carpet.” she drawled, and went back to writing something in her notebook. The sound of pen scratching paper echoed in his ears as the doors were pushed open, and closed behind him.
The corridors seemed to twist and turn in every direction. Sometimes he felt as if he would double back on his pre-existing path, but always he would turn just before his got there. Finally, he reached another set of double doors. This time they were made of thick granite, and guarded by only two golems. The atmosphere of this place was creeping him out, and the screech of stone grinding against stone was no help to his jumpy nerves. What awaited him inside however was in stark contrast to the cold halls of the Mayor’s house. The inside of the room was furnished with leather arm chairs and stone tables. The decoration of the walls made it look like something his grandmother would have lived in. The cozy fireplace had no pictures on its mantle, but instead had a pair of charcoal black antlers mounted to the wall. The man who sat in one of the two large leather armchairs was thin and spindly, akin to a broom. His hair was naturally spiky and was a light brown, adding to the image of a old broom. Perhaps the most strange thing was the giant pit at the end of the room. Right after the lip of the hole the visibility dropped so that all you could see was an inky black. The man stood up when he noticed him.
“Hello there! I am the mayor of this town, sit down, sit down! I insist. Now I’m sure you’ve heard of this ‘Test’ and how ‘Hard it is’ but do not worry! I’m sure you’ll do just fine.” His smile was warm and welcoming, and the Climber felt compelled to sit down, and so he did.
“I’m going to ask you some questions now. So, did you pass through the Checkpoint lower down?”
The Climber hesitated, and there was a glint in the older looking man’s eyes.
“Yes.” He uttered after clear hesitation.
“Ah! So, could you explain why we haven’t had communication in about two years then?”
“If you don’t mind I’d prefer not to sir. You can ask the next man that comes up, because that’s a little fresh still.” The Climber said whilst looking the man directly in the eyes.
The man smiled again, his eyes glinting once more.
“Ok, I’ll accept that.” He said in an understanding tone. His hands moving in a shrugging motion.
“Well, that’s all I really wanted to know.” The man stood up and beckoned for him to do the same. The mayor turned away from him and faced the wall.
“Now we can get to the fun part.” He spun around quick as a flash, knife in hand and smile shining in the flickering light of the fireplace.
The Climber spun out of the way, instincts kicking in.
“CAN YOU REALLY CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN BOY?!” The old man roared. Surprisingly agile for his age as he danced around the Climber, jabbing and slashing at his defenses.
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT DANGERS AWAIT YOU UP THERE? Let me tell you something boy! A snippet of information if you will! The place up there is populated with monsters, not the kind you’re accustomed to. The human kind. There are people there that would eat your eyes while you’re still lucid! So far they’ve killed every single poor man and woman I’ve sent up there! I can’t any more, do you understand! Relent or you will die here, at my hands.” He whispered the last bit, relenting for only a moment, but it was a feint. As the Climber moved in to punch the man in the jaw, the knife whistled through the air and found its mark on his shoulder. Opening up a wound that was left by the claws of a Yarl bear. The Climber snarled at the man, and then began to shout back.
“Let me go, stop this! If what you say is true then what is stopping them from coming down here! If they are as bad as you say there is nothing you can do if they come to kill you all, you’ll ALL DIE!” When he was focused on the shouting match however, he was left open.
The man swept his feet out from under him.
He stumbled backwards, and his feet felt no solid ground beneath them.
And then the push on his chest sent him careening backwards, arms pinwheeling as he lost his balance and was consumed by the inky black of the pit.
The last words of the Mayor were sent down with him, and he watches as the face faded into darkness, the teeth white and reflecting the light.
“Well, we’re not dead yet.”
End of Benji’s Fun Fact Story Corner #72
End of Chapter Three.