Razor Mountain — Chapter 7.5

Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.

The bald hill that God-Speaker had set as their target turned out to be larger than it had looked from a distance, but it was a very long, gradual slope. They came across no more rivers, only shallow streams that could easily be jumped or crossed with stepping stones.

Finds-the-Trail and Far-Seeing still walked together, as they always did, well away from God-Speaker. Unusually, they barely spoke. Braves-the-Storm walked by God-Speaker’s side, also saying very little, but that was more expected.

As they finally approached the top of the bald hill, Braves-the-Storm sighed deeply and said, “You did a good thing, saving him.”

God-Speaker looked over at the older man’s rough and weathered face. He stared ahead.

“I didn’t think. I just did it.”

“You acted like a leader,” Braves-the-Storm said, “but I worry that it will only make things worse.”

God-Speaker frowned. “Why would it make things worse?”

Braves-the-Storm sighed. “Think about how he must feel. He is a young man, a hunter who has always been fast and strong. His spear flies straight. He catches his prey.”

“All the things I am not,” God-Speaker said, almost to himself.

“I know things have been hard for you,” Braves-the-Storm said. “I have watched you for many years.”

God-Speaker felt a sting at the corner of his eyes, and a tightening in his chest. Just to hear this from Braves-the-Storm felt like it opened up something inside him.

Braves-the-Storm pursed his lips. “He has not felt that feeling before. The taste of it will be bitter. We should hope that he learns from it. But to him, who sees himself as the lynx or the lion, it may feel like being outwitted by the rabbit. He may not appreciate what you did for him.”

God-Speaker blinked. He had been so lost in his own thoughts that he had never even considered this. It showed the old man’s wisdom that he could see through the eyes of other men.

“You are a good leader,” God-Speaker said.

Braves-the-Storm shook his head. “I told you already, I am too old. I may not have it in me to climb another mountain.”

With those words, they reached the flat, bare top of the hill. It stood guard over a valley between two snowy peaks. Between them, the people could see far into the distance. Beyond the valley were a few smaller peaks, and beyond those was a huge swath of ice, glowing a deep blue in the sunlight where it shone through snowy patches.

They could also see beyond the ice. Stretching to the horizon was a wide land, green with grass and dotted with trees and lakes. The sun shone down warmly on those distant fields.

But off to the right, nearly hidden behind closer peaks, was a mountain. It had a jagged, uneven peak, as though it had been split. Its sides were streaked with black. Black smoke rose from that shattered peak, rising and mingling with gray clouds that squatted over it in the otherwise clear sky.

“That is a place of evil spirits,” God-Speaker said. But then he looked beyond it again, to that wide open land, free of ice and snow.

“That is the way we must go.”

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