*Back to me now*
Towering in stoic silence over all the scattered throngs fussing around in commerce and war, never purely decorative, mountains taunt characters and readers alike with beckoning razor-edged paths that wind away from all guarantees of normalcy, up and around the very curtain closing them off from the unknown.
Exemption from worldly snares suddenly permeates a cutting breeze when one ventures high enough, hearing the bustling noise of all below abruptly fade in a deafening quiet that leaves only a pulsing, unrestrained awareness, as felt by my protagonist in this short scene:
"Morlen looked down on the highest peaks as Roftome defied repellant winds, carving their own undisputed domain above winter’s heavy shroud, where all was blue, and warm.
Every tree or hill in whose shelter he’d ever lain knew nothing of such open altitude, with each given ray drunk pure from its source, undiluted by cloud or flake.
Filling his hands with the rising breath of all mortals inhabiting the earth below, he for one fleeting second counted himself apart from them, invulnerable to dust or decay."
A recurring motif in my novel, like in many epic fantasies, mountains surround my characters' world, some offering open havens for wild, immense creatures where men venture at their own risk, and others where men would never dare go, because those who went before them were never seen again.
But the forbidden, daunting path is always the most interesting...
And the proverbial climb, while coming in many different forms, is essential to any character's growth. My story's hero treads those mountains deep in darkness, too, tearing his skin over burning cold rock that drains the life directly from him while sinister, ancient voices whisper to him from the shadows.
Every painstaking ascent elevates his consciousness, revealing a scheme of bright and terrible forces between which he must find a thriving balance, or be crushed.
And he learns, being one of the few to brave the un-mapped trails on both ends of the spectrum, and come back... no one ever comes back the same.