I figured my best bet for finding anything useful for survival was to turn back around to go up over the mountain, where I knew at one point was the closest town. There would most certainly be some water caught in the hollowed rocks after the recent storms. The thought of the distance’s necessity caused my head to throb even worse. I knew the rock faces of the mountain continued up for miles, then dropped off into various valleys in between them, which made even a manageable looking distance take much longer than anticipated.
Righting myself east and beginning the trek back up, I regretted not having taken more time in this life to train myself to scale this old mountain face with the grace of agility I used to watch her leap eagerly ahead with, always beckoning me to climb just a little higher-but I usually preferred to watch and in stillness savor the serene solitude of our hiding place. I had already spent so much time out in these summits that I both loved and loathed their heights. At one point in the journey of my consciousness I had thought that If there really was heaven or any semblance of it in this world- that that time, that place and presence was it- or as close as I was ever going to be. I foolishly fantasized that some measurable form of peace could be found there in what couldn’t possibly last. Born of naivety, I thought that I had finally found a resting place- somewhere safe,understood,and additionally: in the sight of familiar eyes. Yet the present always falls away into a lost past and a different life brings different dreams- or nightmares from the recesses of our intimate fears.
I had advanced back up and over a couple of the ascents and in the thinning fog was able to catch sight of a thin plume of smoke off to the North, less than a mile off. It would take me out of my way, but the chance of resting and refueling somewhere soon was tempting enough to chance the detour. I knew I could always try killing something for food, but in my recollection there really weren’t many animals out here, I was a shitty Hunter,and foolishly enough always felt some measure of guilt over it. I had done some awful things, but could never bring myself to harm one of the only things that seemed undeserving of suffering. Yet the verocity of the catabolic pain had grown enough to overwhelm any of my hypocritical convictions.
Tracing along an interstice of the mountain gained me some time in light of my rapidly diminishing strength and I stood off from the smoke’s source-which had dissipated shortly after its appearance. I was pleasantly disoriented to see the appearance of some lofty pine trees-being rather out of sorts for the immediate area. They were multiplying, dotted amidst the viridescent ferns, as I drew nearer. It almost seemed that the terrain was steadily shifting as I went, into that of some place alarmingly unfamiliar and inexplicably eerie. I peered from behind the cover of a broad fern to distinguish what appeared to be a fairly well-established camp.
It was an unmistakably circular- shaped setup, with what I counted to be twelve chairs near the middle, arranged in another sizeable circle.
There were all sorts of people walking about, each remarkably uninvolved in as much as acknowledging those whom they were ploddingly passing by in monotonous repetition. Most of them were dressed in what appeared to be olden robes and untimely attire of predominantly velvet reds, Black, and white with much fewer of various yellows, green, blue, and purple. upon further examination what appeared to be twelve chairs were actually all tree stumps that had been cut down in their place, each inhabited by a person of uncannily straight posture. Most of those going about were walking in a clockwise direction, and those sitting on the “chairs” were each engrossed in some unknown task of apparent urgency, moving their hands about as to emulate counting, typing, folding, or other mechanical motion of a speculatedly task-related nature. A couple of the twelve sat motionless and equally straight-backed, simply holding their hands over their eyes, remaining unnaturally still as though dead.
The dying fire in the middle of the chairs was now barely even flickering amidst the ashes, and though night was falling, no one paid mind to its kindling. There was a circular hut behind the ring of people, made up of straw and branches, with a deep purple curtain as a doorway at its front.