- Eric W. Brown
- Travis Stebbins
- Malcolm Pugh
- Shauna Davis
- Matt Sutphin
- Doug Mesich
- Jonny Aune
- Matt Brown
- Will Carter
- Mike Low
The Mountain has always stood, looking over the land. It has been the Creator, the Destroyer, provided, and punished, but the Land was always grateful. A great Kingdom once thrived here, but now, darkness. The Mountain sleeps, and has done so for centuries…
The sky is a dark and empty blue. The moon is a crescent. Mysterious creatures writhe about, black and nebulous at the foot of the Mountain where the poison water creeps silently towards the Door. Its smell is sweet and terrible and reeks of Death. With this pungent tide comes a wind–a chilling wind that moves swiftly and silently. It whips over the rocks to the Forest and back. At the edge of the Forest a cyclone is formed, greedily tearing from the Earth centuries-old trees whose bows are heard snapping amidst the roar of the Beast. Frightened Creatures seek sanctuary beneath the rocks, shrieking in ancient tongues as the storm of dust and sand reaches upward toward the ominous swirl of black clouds that envelope the sky. The sky reaches down toward the tempest, as the neck of an hour glass. Then suddenly, a great bolt of lightning shoots down the axis of the cyclone to the ground, and inferno rages up toward the sky! A blinding whiteness is cast over the Mountain. The spirits of Creatures not yet having found cover flee with a squeal as their former host is turned to coal, then ember, then ash…
All is silent and dark once more. In the faintest glow It can almost be seen. Is this the mountain? No. Where once was a pillar of fire and ash raging in a furious cyclone now stands the Fulgurite. Then suddenly, a stunning flash of ultraviolet, and in the afterglow, a shower of shining dust. A luminous rain of sky-forged glass falls gently as the first snow of the first winter and comes to rest on the bare shoulders of the Hero. He rises from a crouch and stands: indomitable as the mountain before him, and naked as the sky above. He walks north, bare feet falling on scorched earth. It seems as if no force in the Land could impede his steady march towards the towering bulk of the Mountain.
Time passes, no sun and no moon to judge the progression of the day, days, weeks. He walks, until he came to the sloping foot of the mountain, and stands before the Door. The ancient Door is covered in dust and shrouded in twisted rock, the closed eye of a sleeping giant. The Hero approaches. He raises a hesitant hand and with his finger tips lightly brushes away the soot, revealing a rich metallic glow. He steps back, mouth slightly agape. He resets himself, and with right and authority places his right hand, fingers spread, against the surface of the Door. The Hero’s hand glows red and he warmth consumes him in the frigid wasteland. He closes his eyes and the fingers of his right hand curl into a fist. He opens his eyes to find his fist grasping air where once stood the Door. A darkness is revealed. An inky pitch, beyond which seems an infinite void. Only the Sound escapes… a high and whirling peal… a distant bell ringing in the depths of what once was the Mountain. It is of no consequence to the Hero, he pays it no mind. It is only sound. And so he walks again, straight into that blackest of blacks. An eternity of darkness. And then a glint, a glow, growing and growing until…
Yellow light fills the cavern. All around the Hero, treasure, armor, weapons. Vestiges of the Ones for whom the Hero now lives. He walks slowly through the center of the cave, past spear and shield, past bow and arrow, past sword and rapier, then he stops. At his feet lay a suit of armor. The breast plate bears an inscription in an unknown language. Still, it is strangely alluring. The Hero dons the armor, and as he examines the gauntlet on his right hand, the cavern about him begins to spin. A swift wind whips through his hair, but is he not in a cave? He feels himself being lifted from his feet, and before him appears a woman, silver and diaphanous. The wind carries her voice to the Hero’s ear. She is repeating a single word in a mysterious unfamiliar language, but he understands: The Hammer. The woman fades away. The roar of the wind becomes deafening. The Hero allows his eyes to close and drifts away, the woman’s words ringing in his head. The Hammer, The Hammer…
When he awakens, he finds himself on the floor of the grotto, confused by his dream. His vision is blurry as he pulls himself up onto his feet. He scans the cavern, the yellow glow replaced by a colder light. He knows he has not yet regained sight, for in the furthest reach of the cavern a mysterious form glimmers in the dark. Intrigued, he investigates the strange spectacle. As he approaches, he remembers the voice from his dream… The Hammer… and then there it was…
Suspended above the dirt and emitting beams of silver light, a massive Hammer whose head is forged from the heaviest metal and whose handle is carved from the hardest wood. As the Hero reaches for the Hammer he hears the woman’s voice again. He understands he is meant to wield the Hammer’s holy power.
The Hero emerges from the Mountain, armor-clad and bearing the Magic Hammer, looking out across the land, considering especially the remains of the Fulgurite. As he looks on the gray and disused landscape, a sense of purpose fills him. He must rebuild the kingdom that once thrived under the Ones over whom He now reigns.
With a mighty arm, he raises the Hammer. At the Hammer’s apex, the world around him seems to stand still. The wind not blowing. The black water not crashing on the rocks. The Hero takes one final view of the world around him, not that he may remember, but that he may never forget.
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