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Fortune

A 19th century reproduction

Once, long ago, when the world was still a mystery and man had just barely begun to conquer nature, there were creatures.

Of course, back then we were stronger. Hard work was more valuable than scamming your peers of all their worth. We had people that could lay these beasts to rest.

Anyway, there was a lowly child from a small little farming village. The village was prosperous enough, though the empire taxed them so. It lay beneath a mountain, a mountain said to be cursed. There were frequent deaths and other horrendous crimes against the empire often associated with this mountain. They feared whatever lurked atop this mountain.

The majority believed there to be a camp of bandits in such a place, though they never seemed to come down from the mountain, only taking the lives of souls that wander through the mountain pass. The mountain took its toll on the surrounding area, however, through fear.

It was quite often a topic of concern on the villager's part, but no formal action was made by the village elders.

Life continued and the boy gained age, and with it responsibility. He was somewhat shunned in that he was an orphan, but he was still able to get a job in the fields, as all boys his age did.

Once, however, something quite out of the ordinary occurred in this small village. Gypsies were traveling through the mountain pass, and stopped by the village.

The boy was fascinated and went to their colorful tents to observe their tricks and learn his destiny.

It read as follows on a playing card bestowed to the boy:

"The mountain

retreat

holds a formidable

foe.

To avoid your

defeat

strike hard

the first blow.

From a distance

is seen

the start of

despair;

Beyond the ravine

hides a beast

in his lair."

(Forgive the format, I kept the fortune word for word.)

The boy grew, unwelcome by society. The wealth of the realm was growing weaker. Plague ravaged, raiders assaulted and shook the very core of his culture.

Beasts awoke.

The boy had barely grown to a man when several cattle were found torn. The village elders immediately began searching for a brave souls to perform a nearly impossible task. The task was only to be told when they had found their volunteer.

In the young man, they had found their volunteer.

The task was much more than impossible. It would take a demigod at the least, stated the elders.

Nonetheless, the young man accepted. He was to reach the summit of the mountain, find the lair, and slay the beast. The only thing the man was given was a small dagger, no bigger than his forearm.

He first crossed the ravine separating the village from the mountain. This was the only easy part of his journey, as there was a bridge that was relatively in working order.

The ice was treacherous and the snow deceitful, though he trudged onward, this being only the first day he had no thoughts of turning back. On the first night of his ascension, his camp was frozen over by freezing rain, and his makeshift tent and quite a few supplies were abandoned the following morning.

The second day's climb was twice as steep as the first, and nearly three times more dangerous due to the weather of the previous night. That night he slept in a small alcove, huddled close to his dagger and what supplies remained, silently awaiting day.

The third day he fell many, many times, nearly every fall being a near-death experience. His will was iron, however, and would not bend to an icy rock protruding from the ground. He broke a finger or two on his left hand, but gained much ground. This was the third night, nearly at the top of the mountain. He stayed awake yet again. The wind was his only friend besides the dagger that night.

The fourth and final day, he climbed the mountain to the summit and collapsed. The man was still, for what seemed hours. Though his task was not yet complete.

The man had triumphed over the mountain, and doubted this beast could be quite as dangerous as the hike to it.

An entrance was found not very far from the summit, and he climbed in. The smell was nearly toxic and overbearing. The cave was darker than any moonless night, and he could feel it.

He could feel the darkness and sinister demeanor of this cave. It was nearly tangible, in fact.

He swallowed, silencing his voice of reason, and continued.

Every step took him further into the cave. Every step shattered more and more of his already frail sanity.

He may have been hallucinating, but he saw things in this cave. Things no human was ever meant to see. The fall of empires, the secrets of life and death, emotion as an object, though...

He also learned how none of this mattered. Reality warped around him and dimensions seemed to converge. He most certainly did not feel alone in this cave, however. Our hero shuddered and fell to his knees, overwhelmed.

He knew what this demon was, though it was pitch black in the cave. And currently, his very soul was being affected by the creature. It was building and building. Preparing to strike a horrible blow.

Fear is such a horrific beast.

Our hero thrust the blade into the demon with a bloodcurdling moan filling the cave and echoing off the walls. The moan was a horrible cry that would shatter any normal human's ears. The hero was changed into something by this roar... something all can imagine, though none can truly describe. He was barely human, if that helps. A corporeal manifestation of an emotion.

The "hero" climbed out of the cave, heart still beating heavily. He shuddered at the overbearing sound of the wind. He went back to the summit to rest, a frightening trail of red liquid following. Here he found a woman equally terrifying, who stated that she could give him one wish of three for his troubles.

The woman gave the hero the options of omnipotence, omniscience, or invincibility.

He wanted only to live, now that he had succeeded in his quest. He only wanted to live.

Now our "hero" preys on the weak. Instilling his emotion in any and all who allow him to do so.

Thank you for reading my little story. I know I'll see you all again soon enough...

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