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Lady on The Mountain


By SchmalzPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 23 min read

A towering woman dressed in a fiery red robe, the only one of anybody in attendance wearing red emerged from the side of the stairs and as she ascended began to speak solemnly, “A poem; from the ancients.

Since mindfulness, lies in all things,

Let this be the grounding of one's being,

For one to speak a true mind,

To bring forth true knowledge

And that it is shared, serves all being,

Just as laws made explicit

Uphold the city in virtue

For those who only share in negation

Share in nothingness all the same.”

She continued as her voice grew ever more sternly, “I want to begin with a tale that we don’t normally share. The legend of the lady on the mountain.” The crowd erupted from side to side in inebriating cheers. The ever anxious crowd grumbled about to hear the saga that a large number had never heard at all. Many hushes and whisperings were apparent in the crowd.

“The legend of the woman who lived beyond the dead desert of the East. There she went far beyond the never ending sand plain and there layed a lonely mountain with no name. No ordinary mountain though, for its treachery and beauty went far higher than the peaks that surround Otium. Its highest peak was 35,000 feet in elevation! The foothills were no hills at all really. Jagged and splintering rocks covered by the blood stains of time that would strike fear in any climber's heart. Then a dense and dark forest was layered on top of the treacherous foothills. This dark timber kept the ground at night 24 hours a day. One would find many obstacles of fallen trees, prickly long vines, and near inability to see. Finally if one conquered all of this there would be a steep, snowy, and foggy climb the rest of the way to the top.

And it was upon this astonishing mountain that she mastered the art and cultivated secrets of the grain. From such she’d declared to herself mastery over life itself. To her she not only cultivated the seeds in the ground but the seeds of her soul. Learning the seasons and taking lessons from dusk and dawn.

It was on the peaks of this unknown mountain that the lady of the grain rested in solitude throughout the harshness of winter cold and snow. On the second highest peak there was a plateau and she built a lonely cabin there next to the first hot spring anyone had ever come to find. And there she would watch the colors of the winter sky reflect upon the snow. She’d see every shade of blue, every speckle of pink and purple, the ease of orange shining on the icicles of her cabin in the mornings. The blank canvas of the world that was her plateau. But in her heart she began to realize that only then had she begun to understand how one sees.

And so time went on and so did she. Wandering to new altitudes and seasons she was learning what it meant to really be alone. So through her journeys the lady developed a peculiar sense of beauty to the inner melancholy of her solitude. One day came and another went she decided eventually to descend from her peak and journeyed far to the place of wheat fields and communities.

She continued on into the darkness of night never slowing or thinking of stopping. Following nothing but a scent trickling into her nose, how long she would go was unknown. Eventually her legs began to tremble and so she found a place to rest. After a while of sitting her head raised and gazed out upon the moon. A deep sense of yearning overcame her whole being. How could something so devoid of life shine so bright? Her mind was transfixed. Every line, every crater, as if she’d discovered the essence of reflecting light. The silent stillness of the moment sunk in. Her breath slowed to a near standstill.

A hum. Whispering up through the wind. It was growing louder, pulsating in the direction of the mysterious woman. Gaining momentum the wind began to moan, a fierce aeolian wind was sweeping all around her! The misty thin fog had formed and began whirling around in easy circles. Struck by her own anguish she’d turned her focus away from the moon and to her surroundings. Soon her eyes were fixated on a roundabout piece of marble protruding from the ground. She turned! Another piece of marble that didn’t look quite the same. Suddenly it dawned on her that it was in the shape of a skull. She’d wandered too far. It was a graveyard! As her eyes in a panic searched the ground there were more and more skulls as if they were coming out of the ground. So many young, so many lives cut short, and so many lives that had never been lived at all. She fell to despair for a moment but never faltered. She was overtaken by them but not in fright. She was inspired, she saw all of those who’d surpassed her, but she wasn’t finished with life, not yet anyways! Some of these graves were far older than time as she had come to know. But the lady from the highest peaks knew enough to know it was precisely the depth of night she needed to understand. However amongst these skulls of the dead she was invigorated with life and felt herself superior to it!

She came to a stillness, perfect in posture. Her eyes fixed on a single strain of wheat grass poking out from the mouth of some diminished skull. Drawn once more by something that seemed so devoid of life yet possessing some sort of effervescent draw. Slowly she moved one leg and the other with a burning desire of possessing this spellbinding piece of wheat as it was unlike any she’d seen before. But the ghostly mist began to spread across the grave into perfect harmony with the moans of wind. She stopped, so close to the wheat but seemed further than before! She stopped in fear of the curse of death.

Her heart was pumping and sweat began to run down her face. Her eyes observed the turns and twirls of the fog and through her bones. She swept into a dance! Her arms straightened out directly from her shoulders, palms facing up to the heavens she swung into an exhilarating pirouette as her garb fanned up above her knees in illusory unison! The twirls continued on while her hips were swinging out to her sides in a rapid spin of their own. She raised and crossed her right arm to her left shoulder as the twirling came to a subtle close. Then the right leg followed behind the left as she rhythmically bounced in this fashion to the left and her left arm straightened in front, palm facing up to the sky. Her eyes flickered, she’d met the moon with her eyes once more but this time as a distant friend with an exuberant longing! As if she was the very one singing the song of the wind, in step and in tune, she’d come to an abrupt stop. She rocked her hips back and then forward. Raised high on the tips of her left toes and right leg stretched out parallel to the ground she twirled with all the vitality left in her soul! The lady was in a fanatic spin mesmerized by the sight of the moon. Round and round she carried on freed from all rhythm or cadence her right leg rose up above her head then like the wind swept towards the ground. And she sprung up towards the moon in a vivacious twist unfettering the restraints of the golden robe which was now falling opposite of this most sublime attempt of pure exaltation and loss of gravity and grain. In all her levity to the moon she went, consumed by the soul of the power of the night. And her eyes peered far beyond the night.

A bright orange sun began to creep its way back around creating another morning of beautiful skies. Not a cloud was to be seen. The chill of a cool autumn breeze lightly glided up the naked body of a lady lying on the cold hard ground. Her eyes opened in a fright! Bewildered and unsure of where she was, her head swiveled to find three strains of wheat gathering the morning dew, sending a calmness to her being. Then turning back to her left she noticed the hot spring of her mountain peak and rolled over into it for a soak.

In an absolute daze the lady of the mountain couldn’t recollect how much time had passed or what had happened. Eyes gazing at the three new strains of wheat through the smoke of the hot spring. One had a slight shade of purple, one shaded of black, and the last was a shinier bage of regular wheat. She was now certain of two things. That night was the epoch of her life and proved that love and death were the way of life. The other, that she would dedicate herself to sharing this new found cultivation of the grain and of love. A new love, one greater than anything she’d known before. Resolved of sharing this with those who should dare to know, it was also time for a great rest as her body had never ached so. So for the rest of the day she soaked in the hot spring and meditated.

The next day she decided once more to descend from her mountain peak. She journeyed long and hard until she found the wheat fields of civilization again. One by one a group of thirteen women were chosen to learn the secrets of the grain and the ceremonies all the same. So the lady of the mountain took this group of thirteen of the best women she could find back up to her mountain. Training them day and night for many years to also become initiates in the secrets of the grain. Learning each step of a dance that would lead them to a brighter day. It was now up to them to be disciples of the grain and find suitors who deserved to be initiates of the way. For if this tradition dies, all humans will die with it, the lady would emphasize. But for all of you it is now in your hands as protectors of the secrets of the way to spread the light. And so the lady guided them down from the mountain and sent them in pairs in every direction, except for one, one had to travel alone. For it must be this way the lady would be quick to reassure. Run along now she shouted! And so all of the women ran and the lady of the mountain disappeared from then on.”

The crowd sat in silence. A mass of twenty priestesses that were kneeling at the staircase rose to their feet and formed a perfect line in unison directly in front and across the staircase. The woman in the red robe picked up a large golden chalice from the table directly behind her and left to fill each of the other priestesses' goblets now held in front of their breasts. Leaf retook the stage on the top of the staircase as a seven string lyre lightly echoed a song of gratitude across the island. “Now let us end the ceremony tonight in great reflection upon the magic of the meteor shower above. And may those of you who have been initiated come and receive the power of the mysteries. To those great many of you who are not initiated may you stare up into the infinite and reflect upon your place in the world” Leaf finished with a strong and confident tone.

Lorenzo was shocked to see Daisy get up from next to him to head up towards the priestesses. He never knew Daisy had been initiated. She’d turned and gave Enzo a wink and continued up to the stage. Another friend Lorenzo’s named Merisi was also headed up. Merisi was a very masculine looking man who’d chosen to pursue the art of painting, but still sometimes would join in on sword training and hunts. Lorenzo immediately saddened laid back in the grass staring back up at the stars.

The drums began to rumble back in, the lyres lightness of the wind, the horns of cornets followed in, and groups of people began to dance. Enzo, wise to have listened to Leafhopper's advice, stayed laying in the field staring up at the meteor shower. Enticed by the splendor of the night sky and its wanderlust. The brilliance of the milky way above and the fiery rocks shooting out across. It was a shame he wasn’t much of a painter he’d thought. For he could imagine a painting that he was incapable of ever completing with the certainty of his doubt across all endeavors he’d had up to that point. As if he had seen something about it that was remarkably unique about the cosmos but could never share it with anyone else, he was shrouded in the fear of inability. Then he thought of Daisy and how much joy she must’ve been having out dancing with the other initiates. A slight smile emerged on his now relaxed state, his eyes unyielding, finally came to a close.

III The Hunt

The all encapsulating dark of the night lingered on. The clouds filled the sky above to only let the moon be the sole source of light. The fact that dawn was yet to rise was no matter for those chosen by Palomino to be in his hunting society and Enzo laid down behind a collection of different shrubs. A near perfect circle of dense evergreen trees were behind and all around him. In front there was a circular opening in the midst of all the dark timber with a clear blue watering hole at its center.

Enzo wasn’t asleep but his eyes were resting while he used a sagebrush to lay his head on. The coldness of the Autumn ground seeped through his hunting jacket made from an elk hide he’d procured three months prior. He hated it when he was forced to hunt alone as he could easily imagine how much more fun the others must’ve been having in their organized hunt. He wondered why so often Palomino had chosen him to hunt in solitude. But oddly enough he was beginning to find this occasion one of the most relaxing as he could hardly recollect a time of such stillness before and his mind began to rest his social anxieties like never before. Palomino had often tried to coach him in the art of boredom for so many years and perhaps this was his first breakthrough he’d imagined. And with such a mind he thought it may be best to rest more before dawn.

A rush. Enzo’s shut eyes flashed open. Some unknown sense from his back directed his eyes towards what seemed to be a towering shadow in the dark. The muscles throughout his body tightened. Each individual hair reflexively stood as if being brushed by a light feather. His eyes widened and brows sprung up. Every worry in the mind came to the forefront. “Mind if I join you?” A calm, low, and easily recognizable voice inquired. “Pal… Palomino” Enzo whispered. “That would be what they call me,” he responded. “Please… Please sit, I had no idea that you’d be joining me” Enzo said, still flustered from the sight of him in the dark. How was he able to come upon me without making a noise, the young hero wondered. Palomino easily searched around until he found a rock that he deemed suitable to sit on and sat upon as if he’d discovered the most comfortable chair in the world. Then he rotated his head 180 degrees in each direction, seeming like he could penetrate the darkness with sight alone. Lowering his head and raising it again a grin of complete content came over his face. Reaching down for his long tobacco pipe carved and painted by himself and smoked it. As he was doing so his eyes honed in on young Enzo who’d he thought was beginning to shape into a fine young man. Enzo once more felt his hair stand up and chills run down his spine as Palomino’s calm voice reached out like a helping hand, “How’s your studying going?” Enzo searching for anything in his mind to say only could blurt out, “Studying?... The hunt hasn’t even started yet.” A slight look of disappointment came over Palomino’s face. “Have you found the two mutually exclusive? The hunt has always started and never ends.” Palomino’s voice now turned with a menacing tone that penetrated into Enzo’s mind.

“I… I guess so” Enzo replied, not really sure what to make of what Palomino was saying to him.

“Have you been practicing the bow?”


“How so?”

“Shooting at grasshoppers everyday”

“Good… And our range?”


“How far away from that watering hole that you so wisely chose are we?”

“How did you know I was planning on hunting the water?”

“It is a bit obvious isn’t it?” Palomino playfully winked. “And how far away from the water are we?”

“Fifty yards.”

“And you’re sure.”


“And you’ve been practicing everyday?”


A shy and awkward smile emerged on Palomino’s face as he nodded. “Do you smell it?” Palomino asked. “Smell wha” and before he finished Palomino interrupted, “Get ready and listen to your nose.” Enzo nodded and began to move back to his position behind the shrubbery and as such Palomino quibbed at him one more time. “Oh and Enzo… Remember to stay light and keep an easy mind.” Enzo turned, picked up his bow, and sat behind the shrubs. A low and terrifying growl vibrated across the silent forest floor. Then erupting into a high pitch ghostly screeching neigh that echoed throughout the forest lay before them! Then Enzo heard a reply coming from directly behind him. His head flashed in a turn to find that Palomino was responding to the elk's bugle. “Did you forget I speak to the elk?” Palomino chuckled in a hushed voice. It had been a few years since Enzo had been able to hunt with Palomino and in that time had forgotten just how skillful his leader was across domains. But in that time the screeching came to a halt and silence resumed as they both worried the elk may have caught their scent.

As time continued on boredom once more grabbed hold of Enzo’s mind as the early morning fog was beginning to clear and the dew was setting in. It was still far too dark to know what he’d be shooting at. His mind drifted far to the glory of the stars he’d gazed upon the night before and the rise of so many different emotions that had come over him. What was out there? And where was his place in this world in which he was put? His legs trembled at the thought. The priestesses' story of the lady on the mountain ran through his mind. What was her relationship to the moon? Why a graveyard? The light and earthy tones of morning dew began to trickle into his nose and his heart began to slow. Enzo’s thoughts shifted rapidly back to Palomino. Nothing short of complete admiration filled his mind as it so often does to those who’ve yet to feel their own regard amongst others. What do the stars have written for my name he pondered. Nothing quite like Palomino the naive young man discerned. Perhaps nothing much at all, the thought continued… Or maybe the whole world! A path to be a great warrior and earn his place as an adult to be accepted into Otium! His mind wandered down the vast avenues of life as he knew he and his friends would soon be sent away from Otium to find their places in the world as they were all in their twenties now. A slight breeze came bristling through the foothills and the titillating draft ran up his body. Immediately turning Enzo’s thoughts to Daisy the night before. His mind went on and on daydreaming about her smile and playful touch as he watched her run away to participate in the dancing of the initiates. So caught up in his own thoughts Enzo didn’t even notice the bright red breaking of dawn that was glowing across the mountainside. He was by all means transfixed in thought.

Palomino remained seated behind on the same rock he’d so carefully picked out. Hardly moving at all he’d embodied the quiet stillness of a sloth. His eyes focused on Enzo and all of their surroundings, never once letting a thought into his head that wasn’t related to what he was observing. His brows were locked with the eyes of a hawk. Keenly noticing every sway of grass, each direction the breeze was blowing the branches, and every color of the evercoming sunrise. Every movement he made was with full awareness of where and what his body was doing. The sound of the morning and the look of nightfall he often mentioned to others were the greatest parts of the day. He watched the bluebird drifting up and around the trees listening intently to the soft nasally morning song that he’d thought packed a decent amount of force and a smile rose from cheek to cheek as he listened intently:

Tew peu tew

peu tew peu tew tink,

Peu tink peu tew

Tew peu tew

Peu ti peu ti, the chirping continued on. It’s never the same Palomino chuckled lightly to himself. A song of the sunrise just for me he’d thought.

A twig snapped. Enzo launched out of his reverie and focused his eyes directly on the treeline that was opposite from where he’d been sitting. Crack, snap, crack. The crackles kept coming in. A heavy breath sounded through the clearing. Something was crashing into the trees as the sounds continued to get louder. Enzo’s mind was in a flush. His arms quivered. The sounds got closer again. Snap! SNAP! Enzo’s breath quickened and hairs stood up. Clunk… Clunk. He was sure that whatever it was, was moving out of the forest towards the clearing. Enzo’s eyes caught sight of a large round and black animal emerging out with the sunrise! His heart thumped, feet tightened, arms twitched, but his eyes focused intently on the tree line. A bear! He’d thought as he prepared for any possibility. The snapping and breaking and breathing sounds fell back to silence. Enzo’s body loosened. His breath began to slow. The black was nothing more than a shadow.A dar brown head popped out, antlers wider and longer than any he’d seen before. It must’ve been a 6X6 he thought. A golden brown coat glimmering in the light of the sunrise. The moment was serene. This was the perfect elk Enzo’s mind excited. The bull was grazing in the morning sun and despite the abrupt nature of its arrival seemed to be lollygagging about now. Inching its way toward the watering hole snatching as much grass and offerings from the tips of branches that could fit in its mouth. Enzo was enamored. Eyes widened. His heart once more thrust into rapid beats. Sweat began to drip from his face. Goosebumps ran through his entire being. Pff Pff Pff his breath fastened. But his eyes still fixated on the elk and the serenity of what might as well have been a dream. The blood rushed through his vein as he hastily moved to prepare his bow. His arm had smacked the shrub in front of him. The elk's head quickly turned gazing directly at Enzo. Staring straight into each other as warriors looking to defeat the other by the penetration of their eyes alone. Enzo worried that he was about to lose his opportunity because the elk wasn’t close enough yet for a shot. Then lowering its head once more to the grass the bull continued towards the water. How lucky am I Enzo thought as he pondered the many times he’d spooked his prey away.

Enzo locked onto the elk and watched it wander its way finally towards the watering hole. His blood was rushing through the brain. Time had disappeared. Everything was moving faster than ever before and simultaneously in slow motion. The young man couldn’t get a grip over his own mind. He tried slowing his breath to get a hold of the shakes that overwhelmed the body. He reached for his arrow while his heart nearly was thumping out of his chest. Arrow nocked into place of the recurve bow Palomino had helped him create years ago when he was initiated into the Jaeger hunting society. The bow moved endlessly shifting in every direction though Enzo was beginning to regain control over his breath. His eyes fixed right above the elk's front leg. One more breath he thought. Huuhh… Phlew! He released. In a second he watched the arrow hit but couldn’t tell where. The elk bolted. Crashing through the forest. Snapping and thumping into every tree along the way. Enzo watched as his eyes grew ever wider. His arms were stuck in place and legs had turned to stone. “Did you hit your mark?” Palomino asked ever so calmly, bringing Enzo out of his stunned state of being. “I.. I.. I had to” Enzo said with a strange sort of confidence. “Well we better wait a few minutes before we go looking. No use spooking him off further in case he’s only wounded” Palomino rightly pointed out.

The complete silence of the forest ensued. All birds had flown away and nothing was louder than one's thoughts. Enzo’s mind was torturing itself with critical self review. He’d never missed his mark before. He was haunted by the thought of taking an improper shot. Had he not stayed true to his code as a hunter? His mind was cursed, but was reassured by Palomino who was still sitting upon the rock he’d chosen earlier. “Well… Shall we begin our tracking?” Palomino said it as more of a statement than a question. Enzo nodded in agreement. Both immediately noticed the blood stains as they closed in on the watering hole. Enzo followed in step behind Palomino who he knew was the best hunter and tracker that Otium had to offer. They followed the blood trail down into the forest. Snapped branches were lying all over the floor and the blood drops had turned into pools indicating Enzo’s shot wasn’t as bad as he’d imagined. They continued on their tracking down for a few hundred more yards before Palomino stopped. Motioning Palomino forward Palomino pointed to a low hanging branch from an aspen. Enzo upon seeing the fresh blood dripping became overwhelmed with excitement and worry as his eyes continued to follow Palomino’s pointer finger to a place they assumed the elk had bedded. A grouping of evergreen and aspens that had the largest pool of blood they had come across seeping around it. The indication was the elk at the very least was seriously wounded. A slight golden brown hump protruded out from the shady grove. Palomino searched the forest floor locating a three foot branch that made for a perfect walking stick and handed it to Enzo, whispering, “Remember to approach slowly and give the elk a hard jab before getting too close.” Enzo nodded, grabbing the stick and creeping his way one step at a time towards the grove. He saw what appeared to him to be the lifeless body of the elk. Thank the heavens he thought reassured that he’d hit his mark. Now within feet of the elk Enzo’s own excitement overtook his body and he leapt into the middle of the grove thrusting the branch into the elk's side as if it were a spear. His eyes flashed. The elk's head leapt from the ground. One ounce of fight left. Enzo jumped to the side. The antler caught his leg still. “AHHHHHHHHHH” Enzo let out a blistering scream that echoed across the whole mountainside. The bull’s head dropped, surrendering to its fate, thumping once more into the trees surrounding.


About the Creator


Welcome to my page! I am a writer whose interests are vast and believes in the art of the word. In my writing you will find Non-Fiction, Fiction, and poetry in pursuit of the value of language.

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