The Summit of Helgafjell
by R.T. Allenson
His muscles ached as he pulled himself up the steep crag, higher towards the peak of the mountain. No rope, no harness, just bruised hands and the weight of the world against him.
The cold winds battered his aching body, billowing with force and anger – perhaps they knew his misdeed or perhaps it was fate but whatever was the reason, he thought only of reaching the summit of Helgafjell. His sword dangled on the side of his belt, hitting his leg as he climbed upwards. It was a nuisance to him, a hindrance to his climb, but the blade was as much part of his journey now as it was his body and to separate even a mere tooth from him now on the way to the tip of Helgafjell would spell disaster for him.
His heart felt heavy each moment he felt closer to the summit for it had tasted blood that day – his sword which sang noisily as they climbed and though there was justification for his actions, he vowed then that it would never again spill nor drink the blood of the innocent. In his mind and in his anguished heart, this climb is doom-driven, but hope lay at the summit and perhaps a chance at redemption was at hand.
This he thought as his suffering hands painted cold rock with sanguine dew and he climbed even more desperately now as the wind continued howling curses and whispers with the voice the of the dead. And he thought again that if the fall wont take him, the caress of the wind that carried memories would surely do.
“Vengeance.” the cold wind cried as it struck his face. He pressed onwards, caring little for the voices in his head. His vision blurred and once again he saw the boy standing before him, his eyes pleading and mournful. He knew what would follow but out of fear and desperation, he neither heeded the warnings nor cared for the repercussions. The boy cried aloud and he stopped, turned to him and swung the ill-gotten blade – it sang through the air like a howling wind and fell silent as it buried itself in warm flesh.
And as the boy fell dead, his blood trickling from the sword and into the ground, he swore he heard the earth herself whisper “Vengeance.”
His sword rattled noisily, the sheath finally giving way and with the push of the wind the pale blade cut at his flesh deeply, rousing him from his distant reverie. A cold sting rushed through him like a poison and he felt the shadow of death bite at his heels. This was all he needed – fear and excitation and with one last pull, he threw himself up once more scrambling aimlessly upwards until he finally reached the top of the mountain. His body lay cold and spent but he felt warm hands carrying him upwards. The distant bellow of the great hunting horn filled the summit and with a sigh, he closed his eyes as the veil of darkness overtook him, ushering him into the realm of ceaseless slumber.
His pursuers found the sword and his arrow-ridden body sprawled out in a forgotten alcove in the hinterlands; he eluded them for three days until finally succumbing to his wounds. They buried the ceremonial blade where they found it – having tasted mortal blood, it would draw things from beyond that would bring misfortune to the village. And, as they carried off his body, they found his hands strangely bloodied and bruised, but his face awash with an expression of contentment.