Iashi From The Moutain

Pasture lands sloped out long and wide in front of Iashi. The grass at his knees was brown and brittle. But down and away in the basin, it grew tall and green. As Iashi watched, wind swept in from the East and pushed the blades down into troughs and crests like waves. He breathed in deep.

The air was hot. It felt like it was burning his nostrils and lungs. The heat released the scents of dry grass, metallic stone, dirt, and the pungent aroma of goats. The whole world steamed as though baked in an oven. Iashi’s bare back sweat under a setting sun that colored the fields a mellow, amber hue.

Iashi hung his hands down from a stick resting on his shoulders. One more deep breath, and he was ready to continue. He turned, and began to climb again. His goats were a good distance ahead of him now. They knew their way home, and needed no encouragement from the boy and his sharpened stick. He followed behind and swung absently at the grass.

Just ahead, the goats passed over the brow of the hill. After their bleating and the noise of their hooves, Iashi was left with only the sound of the wind blowing through the grass. He put his head down and plodded on. His mind fixed upon the idea of putting one foot ahead of the other.

The sound of goat hooves came back again, sudden and rushing. His eyes looked up in surprise. Iashi waved his arms and shouted, but he could not turn them back. They were frightened. Iashi had to fight to stay on his feet as they pushed past him. The whole herd went back down into the valley.

Iashi turned to watch them go, wishing silently for them to stop. Eventually, he turned back to look at the hilltop. He expected to see some kind of predator, or even bandits. But, there was no sign of what had frightened the goats. Iashi knew that chasing them would only make things worse. They were still moving as a herd, better to let them calm down on their own and collect them later. He climbed to the top to investigate.

Once there, Iashi stood in raw amazement. The tint of the sunset painted the scene below him an even more vibrant red. He could see his town a short way down on the other side of hill. From this distance, people looked like little moving specks of color. They were all moving toward him. Gusts of wind occasionally blew the sound of their panic up to where Iashi stood.

Above the town, the Wyrm circled. It wound it’s length around and coiled back on itself, very slowly descending. The people of the town would never get away in time if the Wyrm turned its fire and fury upon them. Iashi could escape though. He could get back down the hill with his goats and hide until it was safe to return.

But, he knew there would be nothing to return to. His father had told him of the Wyrm’s last attack. The Wyrm razed the town completely before it turned and chased the people scattered about the hillside. Those who survived had rebuilt their lives and their town from nothing.

Iashi’s heart raced in horror. He knew his family was among the crowd that moved to escape their calamity, but there was nothing he could do to help them. His house was going to be burned, and he was powerless to stop it. The Wyrm could not be turned away or appeased. The only thing that anyone could do was run away until the Wyrm decided to return to where it came from.

Something in Iashi told him that he would not run and hide. This thought scared him more than all others, and finally broke him out of the shock that froze him in place. The stick fell from his hand and Iashi ran. He plunged down the hill with abandon. He was going down to the town, and he did not understand why.

Ignoring the twisting switchback, Iashi ran recklessly down the steep slope in great jumps and strides. His arms wheeled around in an attempt to keep his balance. Once or twice, he fell and rolled. He regained his feet each time and continued down without slowing.

He was suddenly running past the people who were fleeing from the town. Nobody took notice of him as he pushed and sped past against the tide. The Wyrm was in the town, smashing and burning the wood and hay structures. Iashi could see that it was too late. There would be almost nothing left by the time he actually got into the town. He ran on unabated.

Iashi did not want to be a hero. He had no secret plan for driving the Wyrm off. He had no motive, reason, or hope at all in entering the town. Iashi was completely aware that what he was doing was foolish, and he was terrified. He would not turn around.

He could feel the heat of the fires above even the oppressive heat of the fading day. He was passing the first, outward lying houses. The Wyrm was in the center of town. Every building beyond Wyrm was already burning, and a good portion of the rest of town was being engulfed as well. Great torrents of flame licked out of the Wyrm’s mouth and scorched buildings down to the earth. Iashi ran straight on.

As he neared the town square, it got even hotter. The heat coming off of the Wyrm was somehow greater than fire itself. Iashi’s skin was turning red like when he fell asleep in the sunshine. Smoke stung his eyes. The Wyrm was directly in front of him now, and it yet had taken no notice of him. Iashi stopped and bent to pick up a rock twice the size of his own fist.

The Wyrm suddenly turned its massive, red head and looked at Iashi. Yellow reptile eyes bore down upon him. Iashi took quick shallow breaths. He couldn’t get enough air. His skin begin to blister as the Wyrm simply stared. Iashi cocked his arm back and threw the rock with all his might.

The Wyrm recoiled as the rocked bounced off the tip of it’s nose. It had been nothing more than a surprise and an annoyance. Iashi didn’t know what he had expected, but disappointment and despair filled his heart. The Wyrm reared up on it’s hind legs, towering far above what had been the tallest buildings in town. It’s wings stretched out and encompassed the town square in their span. The Wyrm’s tail swept back and forth, knocking down buildings effortlessly with it’s girth. Iashi quailed, but he did not cower.

Back to the earth, the impact of the Wyrm’s claws made the ground shake. It’s head dropped low and threatening. Mouth gaped, heat scorched, and eyes dared. Iashi faced the certainty of his own death with a straight face. He stooped, never taking his eyes off the Wyrm’s menacing teeth, and felt around in the dirt until he found another rock. It was smaller than the first, but he stood up gripping it in his hand.

“GO AWAY!” he threw again. The Wyrm did not flinch back as before, it swept forward. Iashi was knocked back through the air, the bones in his chest splintering. He fell with the Wyrm poised over him. His lungs pulled and pulled, struggling to get air and finding only blood. The Wyrm looked down on him, it’s head leaning over close. Iashi locked eyes with it, gripped a handful of dirt and pebbles in his fist, and flung them feebly into it’s face.

Iashi’s family knew nothing of his defiance. They stood among the shocked crowd. The Wyrm was leaving, and parts of their town yet stood. It’s wings beat the air noisily, carrying it off toward the horizon. The people did not understand why they had been spared the vicious hunt. Their town had been largely destroyed, but not completely. A generation would grow old together for the first time in known history. A jubilant cheer broke out all across the hillside.

The boy saw the beast leave. After that, his vision clouded over. The crackle of flames reached his ears, but Iashi noticed the air cool immediately. The sound of the cheer also came to him, and he was content. He knew that what he had somehow driven off the creature. In his last moments, the thought occurred to him that his actions had not accomplished a thing. Fist, arm, and rock had not conquered the Wyrm, it had been his heart.

Inspired by

Boy With A Coin by Iron and Wine

The song, not the video. But the video is pretty cool too.

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