Saturday, June 17, 2017

Riches of the World


“The legends say that deep through the cracks of this mountain, pass the tunnels and caves, lies a massive mountain of gold”.
“Really Uncle?” the child piped up.
“Sage never believed legends. They are only myths and stories”, his uncle patted the child’s head, and then they parted away from the crack of the mountain.
That was a memory from a very long time ago. Sage glanced behind then looked in front. Now the only way forward was through the cracks of the mountain. It was only a matter of time before people from his village caught up and dealt down justice on him.
So he ran through. The wall on both sides was nothing but jutting jags of mud and rocks. There was enough space for a person to walk through. The path was winding all about. Sage never knew if it would end but he had to keep walking forward. The villagers would never catch him here because they dare not walk through the cracks of the mountain.
The afternoon turned to evening and the lights slowly began to recede from the mountain crack. A chill wind passed through and Sage quickened his page. The mountain path took him to an entrance inside the mountain wall. Above the wall was written, “Only those who seek their fortune may enter.” Sage did not pay much attention to it. I have to get out of here as soon as possible. Even though the villages would not follow him, he did not want to get stuck here. The tunnel was a straight path so all Sage did was march forward. His bag was beginning to feel heavy, but he didn’t mind it. The bag contained a bloody knife, a skin bottle of water and a heavy pouch containing the most important items for Sage – granules of gold.
Finally the tunnel ended and Sage was in a cave. He took a drink of water and continued on his way. Sage was just thinking, it’s not my fault. Damn those villagers, Gren, Ben, Ankit, damn them. All I wanted was a little bit more.
Uncle said that the mountain of gold does not exist but this path must lead somewhere.
A painting on the cave wall grabbed his attention. He held the torch in the front, the painting was of stick figures, it glittered and shined, and it seemed to be telling a tale. Sage did not have the time to linger. The reason no villager would enter the mountain crack was because all who go in search of the mountain of gold never return. Sage wished to believe that they were alive somewhere, they must be.
Through the winding path of the cave, he went down and then up. Sage’s thoughts drifted to Jharna. He didn’t mean to hurt her, but he had to get the granules of gold and she wouldn’t let him. His knife was still stained with her blood.
In the distance, he saw light pouring in. Sage felt excitement and relief. He reached the end, he just knew it. There was last painting in the cave. A large golden stick figure and besides that a golden mountain, underneath it was written – Midas. He didn’t know what to make of that. He was rushing to the exit and he then stepped out of the cave. Moonlight spread across the sky and he saw it.
It can’t be true.
A tsunami of thoughts hit him. The legends were true.
I found it, I’m rich, after this I can have everything I ever wanted. Damn the village.
With renewed vigour, he sprinted to the mountain of gold. The mountain rose high in the air, moonlight glinted off it. It was a solid triangular mass of gold. The prosperity of Sage’s village depended on the granules of gold that came down from the river. Everyone scoured through the river to find the granules of gold and the gold was collect together for the prosperity of the village. Sage decided that he deserved a little more, especially since he collected the most granule, but the elders refused him. That’s why he did what he did. Jharna didn’t give him the gold he deserved, which he worked hard to find!
Even though the mountain was 200 meters away, not for a moment did his sprinting slow down. A river appeared in his path and he did not stop. He dived into the river and swam across. Sage fought against the mighty river, he lost the bag and the gold he had rightfully taken. It did not matter, there was so much more gold to be had at the mountain.
When he crossed the river, things became weird. Animals, trees and human statues all stood across the land - frozen golden statues! A single gold statue would make Sage a rich man, but he had eyes only for the mountain. It was of vast riches. He reached the base of the mountain and there sat an old man on a grand golden chair.
“You seek the riches of this mountain?” the old man asked.
Sage was heaving in air and recovering his strength from the sprint.
Sage did not reply. He was walking towards the mountain. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A block of hard, metallic gold – the riches of the world.
“I will grant you riches of the world, just answer my riddle”, the old man said, but Sage had already passed him. He did not care for this strange old man and his riddle. All the old man had to do was reach out and touch Sage.
A hardness spread through his hand, then he couldn’t walk. Sage looked at his arm, and then he felt horror. A golden colour was spreading across his arm.

“My riddle is this”, the old man said, “What will you do with the riches of the world?”
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