Flash Fiction: Misty Mountain

Written for a group on Facebook. The photo prompt was a mountain rising out of the mist with a man standing in front of it.

**

The mountain reared up through the mist like a ghost. He stopped to look on it, not with the excited eyes he’d expected when he left his home months ago, but with a gaze wearied from hungry nights and drizzling days. How long had it been since he’d seen the sun? And yet he slogged on, working closer and closer to his goal. Now, at last it was in sight.

He stood, staring at the mountain, and the mountain stared back with its ageless face, daring him to continue, to reach the cave near the summit, to conquer the beast within. And that’s why was there. Not to steal its horde, but to take its life, to prove his bravery, for such was the quest set for him to prove his worth. If the deed didn’t impress the princess, nothing would.

But now that he stood, facing down the strength of the summit, his certainty began to fade. Did he really want to impress the princess? Why? He didn’t love her – he didn’t even know her. He’d spoken ten words to her at the suitors’ banquet and she had only nodded to him. Already this journey had cost him money, time, and the life of his horse, and for what? To impress a woman he didn’t know so that she would consent to be his wife? Why did he care? It wasn’t as if she’d inherit the throne. As for titles, As the eldest he had one of his own, a small castle of his own. Sure, it wasn’t as luxurious as the royal palace, but did it need to be?

And it wasn’t just title and land he had, but for that matter there was a woman he knew – one with laughing blue eyes and red lips. A woman named Celina who would not want him to hurt a dragon who had done nothing to him; had harmed no one for fifty years or more. Between them, they had spoken enough to fill volumes, had laughed, had loved. If he were to choose a wife, she would be his choice.

So what was he doing there?

He was there because he was raised to be there, told from birth that he would participate in the suitors’ banquet, that he would be assigned a quest, that he should try to win the princess because…because…

Because that was what all the young lords did.

But, truth be told, he didn’t want to marry her, didn’t want to slay the dragon. What he really wanted was to go home, eat real food, bathe in a tub, and sleep in his bed. Then he wanted to wake, and ask Celina to marry him, and damn the royals and their contest.

His father would be mad, and his mother…but they’d get over it when they saw the first grandbaby. He could deal with their anger until then.

He hitched his pack up his back, and straightened his spine. He met the imaginary eyes of the mountain, of the beast within, and gave a nod of respect. Then he turned on his heel and headed home.

About Joleene Naylor

An independent author, freelance artist, and photographer for fun who loves anime, music, and writing. Check out my vampire series Amaranthine at http://JoleeneNaylor.com or drop me a line at Joleene@JoleeneNaylor.com

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