the giant on the hill
Published by MJ on Mar 19, 2022
It's no secret that the tundra of Sapphira is riddled with the supernatural and mysterious. Snickering and teleporting snow sprites disappear with a cackle and cloud of glitter, playing tag with their friends. Wailing ice banshees pound at frozen lakes, screaming for their drowned love from a past life. Flashing frost koi glide through icy waters, their silvery scales glinting in the light of the harsh sun. The noble nine-tailed foxes stare down travelers over their pointed nose from their perch on the hills, knowing that they won't emerge the same from their voyage.
However, all these creatures, despite their cold majesty and ancient grace, fail to measure up to the Melancholy King of Tempest Ridge.
Through the ice and snow and burning winds, when one climbs up the steepest slopes to the peak of the mountains - it is there one will find the skeletal giants known as etorgs.
They've been there as long as life itself, grandmothers passing their legend down to their kin surrounding campfires. Occasionally these tales inspire a child to journey to find an etorg, ask for wisdom and guidance from the immortal soul, but just as the nine-tailed foxes had predicted, these children come back shaken and ripped away from their childish innocence and joy.
Unlike what their elders had told them during bedtime stories and family gatherings, there is no colony of etorgs atop of Tempest Ridge. There is no thriving population of these mammoth creatures. There's only one. There has only ever been one.
The etorg watches with sad, hollow eyes as civilizations rise and fall, stand by as generations are born and perish all too soon. The etorg has seen a millennia of tragedy, but their heart continues refusing to grow cold and uncaring.
They are nameless, for nobody has ever considered giving them one. They are friendless, for nobody has ever thought of the mighty creature as one who would crave companionship. They are miserable, for they have watched thousands upon thousands of sins and death and their heart foolishly chooses to remain hopeful within their skeletal chest.
There's a reason the etorg is called the Melancholy King.
Many of the creatures have attempted to please the etorg. Sprites tug at their billowing white scarf with a challenge of tag springing off their sharp tongues. Ice banshees attempt to serenade the King with their piercing songs. The koi swim in synchronized circles at the King's feet trying to amuse them, but all the etorg can do is stare at the cluster of villages beneath Tempest Ridge.
Even from miles away, the etorg can hear the unstifled sobs of a mother who just lost her child.
Ah, Death. The etorg would think, laying atop of the fresh powdery snow. Why do you come for everyone but me?
The sun sets, the moon rises. People die, people mourn. Death comes, Death goes.
The etorg remains atop of the mountain.
Their eyes close, tired of watching the villages. There's an annual festival occurring, with fireworks and music much too loud for their ears. A savory smell wafts up the mountain, one that makes their long-decayed stomach phantom growl. Every year, during the little human festival, the etorg gets the impossible urge to eat - to fill their forever hollow stomach. Irritation flashes in their mind, once again cursing Death for torturing them with life.
The festival continues on, this night feeling longer than the last. The sun is halfway down the horizon, the west side of Tempest Ridge still swathed in that golden light. The village, the small thing, down on the east side has decided to light lanterns. It's a regular sight. The fascination in human culture has long since extinguished in the etorg's mind. They've seen the festival a thousand times, they'll see it a thousand more.
It's times like these the etorg wishes they could sleep. Oh, to fall unconscious and avoid being a primary witness in every human affair. What would it be like to sleep? The etorg asks themselves, empty eyes sweeping the developing night sky.
It would be peaceful, they conclude after dwelling for a few moments.
The gentle crack and boom of an exploding firework coats the sky in soft pink and yellow.