It was cold up north, far colder than my village was. The Sun was hidden behind the thickest clouds I had ever experienced, thankfully no rain or snow though. It was surprising how quickly I arrived – it was as if I climbed onto my donkey, fell asleep and woke up at my destination. The mountain was close enough to touch, I would be at the base shortly.
As I ascended the mountain a snake poked his head from his cave and hissed and yelled at me. This snake had to have been a ‘Python Of The North.’ I read about these and thought them only a myth, it was huge! Easily 20 feet long and as wide as a beach ball they grew this size to keep warm. A snake any smaller would certainly freeze to death or be breakfast for the Phoenix’s that flew above.
I instinctively unleashed the daisy chain of my rope dart and came within inches of his slithering tongue. I didn’t want to hit him, mind you, the mountain was in fact his home and I was the intruder. The snake backed up a bit but coiled ready to pounce. I relaxed and raised my hands in a ‘I don’t want to fight you’ posture. The snake didn’t advance any further but he did hold his ground. The snake began to speak to me and it sounded as a mixture of snake hisses and… French?
I assumed he was asking me my business and continued a long slow hiss at me. Because I do not speak snake or French, I gestured, pantomimed and flailed my arms in an attempt to demonstrate that I was both a friend and also not someone to trifle with. The snake continued hissing as he slowly backed into his cave.
I continued climbing and when at the top noticed a door with calligraphy written over the entrance way. This must be it. Peeking through a window it was evident the monk wasn’t home.
Locked. The door to the monks cave was locked. Now what? Do I break into the home of the most venerable monk of the north? Yes. But how?
Looking around the ground there were some rocks and branches. Smash a window? Nah. Use a twig to pick the lock? Eh. The twig would certainly break in the lock I supposed. Lying under some rock and rubble was a dull dagger. “Perhaps, I can slide this under the window and ‘jimmy’ it up,” I thought. I frantically started to try and lift the window.
As I began to do this a cat (it had to be the monks cat) stared at me through the window. Like most cats, she didn’t help me. We caught eyes for a moment and a calmness fell over me. I stopped the frantic nature of my approach, closed my eyes, took a breath and in one gingerly movement lifted the window. I stuck my hand in and around to unlock the door.
Once inside, I dropped my bags and noticed a waterfall inside his cave off to the right with a raging fire next to it. I figured a warm hot shower was in order and promptly decided to take one. The monk had the finest soaps of the northern land, many items I had never seen before with aromas that made my nose happy.
Finishing up in the waterfall, it had been a whole day since I had eaten anything and my stomach was letting me know this.
Hungry, I scurried around for any morsel of food and located a large chest. Inside the chest was ice, plenty of beer and no food. This must be why the monk is not overweight, excellent at Kung Fu and always jovial, however, dammit.
The monk arrived home at about this time. He hurried himself into his cave, smile as wide as the mountain he lived on and greeted me most graciously bowing and shaking my hand, bowing and shaking my hand, bowing and shaking my hand…and a hug.
“Come in, come in,” he said, northern accent in tow, as he invited me into his kitchen. The monk prided himself on being a great host, knew I had a long journey and quickly and expertly made me some green tea. As we drank the tea the monk began talking, “I used to live on another mountain, but my cave was much closer to the ground. There was a Dragon that lived above me and kept me awake all night!” He continued, “ Whether it was the sound of footsteps, his flames or the screams of a village princess he stole… the Dragon never shut up! I don’t think he ever slept so neither did I!” I stared at him blankly.
The monk continued, “I decided that the next cave I lived in would be high atop the mountain. This way if a Dragon lives on the mountain too they won’t keep me awake at night with all of their thunderous footsteps.” Thinking back of the snake that greeted me I understood the monks plithe. It must be hard living with these creatures. Personally, the only thing I have to deal with back home are muggles and they are relatively harmless and extremely easy to ignore.
We finished our bowl of tea and the monk, smile on his face, looked at me, stood up and gestured that I follow him. We walked through his cave and into what was the monks study and lab. It was the typical lab of a genius: papers everywhere, machines I was unfamiliar with and odds and ends parts that made no sense.
“I use this to make the gold,” the monk stated. Excited to watch, I smiled but said nothing.
To Be Continued…