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Five More Fall

 
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The Art of Conflict

It was raining. Not just ordinary rain but the horizontal type where the wind just drives it into your face and your eyes sting with the salty grittiness of it. I’d given up trying to pull my cloak tighter hours ago; I was already soaked through anyway. Besides the rain was warmer than the sodden fabric. The path bent around the mountain, hairpin and highly exposed. Well, it was exposed and the drop was so far that I couldn’t see where I’d land.

2013 MAR Conflict - last rain by ~HagonI stopped and stared down at the mist rising up. The hot trees were catching the deluge and turning it back to the skies. Nothing moved of its own accord, just swept along with the excess water and the tropical gusts. I pushed off starting to take the turn but the sudden movement was just too much for the sodden soil. I felt it move too late to act. Sharp bits of stone and plant and God knows what else dug into the beds under my nails as I clutched desperate to get a grip on something.

Instead, something got a grip on me. I felt tendons in my shoulder rip as my weight forced downwards against the solid hand that now held my wrist. I peered up, all but blind for the rain.

“Fear not,” came a voice impossibly soft yet somehow not drowned out by the racket from the inclement weather. “I will save you, for a price.”

“A price? How am I supposed to pay a price right now?” I cried. My stomach turned somersaults as I tried not to think of the fresh air below me. Beside me water flowed as freely as any waterfall. “OK. Name it.”

“Stop climbing,” she said. Plain and simple like it wouldn’t matter a jot. I slipped through her hand slightly and my mind focused on the space below.

“I’ll stop,” I said, knowing that this was Mount Publication, that this was all I hoped and dreamed about. She pulled and pulled and soon I was back on firm ground. I looked around and saw that I was alone. I scrambled into a crevice in the rock, curled up and slept.

Dawn broke and the storm had passed. I crept from the cave and saw the rut in the edge of the road where I had fallen, yet just one set of tracks were there. Surely only mine.

Her words rang in my mind and I couldn’t be sure. Had she been there at all? If she hadn’t I could press on, safe in the knowledge that all was well. But what if she had. In this life stranger things happened often.

I stared up the mountain. Streams still trickled and the path was slippery. I could go back to the village, get dry, change into some fresh clothes, maybe start again. Or I could just hope for the best, head up the mountain and face my fears.

A breeze brushed my cheek and along with it a whisper. “The price,” she said. “Will you pay?”

An Inn Across The Mountains by JonHodgsonI spun around, not a soul was near. I looked up and down and all around.

Nothing.

“And what if I don’t pay?” I yelled at the mountain.

“Then someone else will,” she replied.

And as the sun peeped over the top of the mountain it dawned on me. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one!) Anyway, I realised, what I had here was conflict. The one thing that had been missing in my tale so far.

I’ve merrily wandered on, not a care in the world, trudged through fields and valleys, struggled up paths…so why would anyone be bothered if I made it or not.

Frodo had no end of conflict. Cadellin Silverbrow did too. Nothing is more compelling than a troubled mind, especially one with a purpose. I pulled out my notebook and flicked through. Indeed it was a smooth tale with not a lot of trouble going on.

So what to do?

I trudged back to the Inn for a rewrite. Mount Publication would still be there when my book was ready, though perhaps next time I would check the weather before starting out.

Title image by Hagon.

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