On the Mountain of Madness
August 8, 2011
The going was rough. I considered myself to be in damn good shape, but as I climbed above 10,000 feet, my breath came in gasps. I had managed to find ways up the mountain, which were safer that the sheer cliff faces, but these still left me scrambling up steep areas covered with loose rocks. One wrong step and I’d be having a much faster descent.
My fingers were quickly worn raw and my legs felt like they were filled with lead, but I still pushed on. I couldn’t let my friends down. That was the important thing, but these days I was so pissed off that I would have probably killed these screwballs on principle. Damn Glooms.
I had perhaps made it halfway of the rocky peek of the mountain when I felt more than saw something move near me. I was glad I paid attention for that was the only warning I got. Six glowing grey shapes were circling me, getting into position. I only had seconds before the ragged birds of prey started to dive bomb me.
Their wing spans must have been nearly six feet and their talons were the size of my fingers. I could tell because they were inches away from my face trying to claw out my eyes. Yet, instead of attacking in a swarm, they were taking turns dive bombing me and then returning to the circling position until they could get their next chance.
That they were some type of corrupted owl was not hard to perceive. Their large red eyes burned hate at me each time they attacked. So far I had just been using my arms and stray rocks to keep the bird things at bay, but my hands and face were already criss-crossed with spider webs of gashes and seeping wounds.
My hammer would be too awkward, so I grabbed up my new hand axe. The first one exploded in a storm of feathers. The others drew back hissing as their glowing red eyes glared at me.
“Come on you pukes! Is it not any fun now that you know I can fight back?”
They came two at a time now. I dropped another, but the second scored a long scratch along the side of my neck. Two more dropped at me and I lanced forward taking out my third bird, but its partner slammed into me. I lost my balance and fell forward onto the loose stones. At once, I started to slide down the side of the mountain. Forty feet below me was a cliff that would mean my doom, if I couldn’t stop myself in time.
As I continued to slide to my destruction, the darkened owls crawled at my back and head. With a growl I hooked my axe on a rock, but it pulled away from the ground. My axe was scrapping over the rocks and slowing me down. I let a dagger fill my left hand and I stabbed it into a section of earth. It held long enough for my axe to anchor me and for a moment I just breathed.
But it’s hard to relax with owls crawling at your flesh. So I rolled over onto my back with a shout and literally axed one. Another came at me and I batted him featherless.
The last turned to escape, but I let my dagger fly. It took him in the wing. He tried to stay airborne, but after fifteen seconds plummeted to its death half a mile below. “Good, for once my enemy won’t be warned.” I gasped out, but then saved my breath from climbing.
I still had a long way to go.