Reid looked up at the mountain looming in front of him. Mount Iyla. The top of this great mountain held riches that he’d only dreamed of and never thought possible. He didn’t know if the tales about Mount Iyla were true but he had to try. His family could use the riches stored at the top of this mountain. Reid started climbing. It was an easy and quicker climb then he would have imagined. There were footholds and handholds dug into the side of it. When he pulled himself up onto the flat plateau at the top and stood, he froze at the sight before him. The stories had not done this place justice. Reid moved into the middle of the flat, smooth area, stepping over piles of jewels, gold, silver and everything imaginable. There was a cleared space in the middle of the treasure and Reid stood there gawking at it all. He didn’t even know where to start.
“Human,” a soft, lilting voice said from behind, causing him to turn quickly.
He stared at the tall, beautiful woman who stood at the edge of the ledge that would lead him back down to the ground below. Reid didn’t think she was a human woman as he stared at her smooth and unblemished teal skin, dark brown eyes, and glossy, shoulder length brunette hair. She wore a brown leather cloth around her waist and golden, spiral garments covered her areolas and nothing else. Gold, decorative bangles adorned her upper arm and forearm. Reid’s eyes ran down her strong, lean body and he wondered if he should fear for his life especially since she held a wicked weapon in her left hand. A snowy white owl with eyes the same color as the woman herself hovered by her side. A pendent hung around its neck, swaying as it flapped its wings to stay afloat. Reid watched as it finally settled on a high ledge to his left.
“Why have you come to Mount Iyla and climbed to my lair?” she asked, her melodic voice making him forget the weapon she held and her strange bird.
“I came for all of this,” Reid answered truthfully. “My family is struggling and just one piece of what you have would help us.”
The woman— or should he say goddess? —studied him for a long time. He tried not to fidget under her intense scrutiny.
“Very well,” she finally stated. “I will allow you to take one thing of your choosing. I do not mind what it is you decide on. It can be as big or small as you want it to be. It can be gold, a diamond, a pearl or whatever you desire. But it must only be one piece, human.”
Reid did not understand why she was confining him to only taking one of her treasures. This mountaintop was filled with every type of jewel and gold and silver imaginable. She did not need all of this and she should have offered him more than one piece. Reid turned away from her and scanned the riches in front of him. He walked to a pile directly in his line of sight and picked up a chunk of gold the size of his fist. An emerald that would fit in the palm of his hand rested right beside it and he could not resist. He picked it up when he picked up the gold and slipped it into his pocket. He turned back to the goddess who was watching him with a cool expression on her beautiful face. She’s moved away from the edge so that he can make his way back down the to the ground.
She stood by her owl and when he walked past her, she attacked him. She slammed him onto the ground hard, the treasure dug painfully under his back as she loomed over him, seeming larger than when she stood at the edge of the plateau. He got a closer look at the odd-looking dagger in her hand that came to a dangerous point that would allow her to stab it into his skull without any resistance. She held it near his eye and held him down. The decorative base glowed green as the sun hit the emerald at the right angle. The owl fluttered around their heads, its eyes glowing blue and the pendant swinging wildly around its neck.
“I was willing to let you take a piece of my riches when that is not something I do very often,” she said, still in her soft, lilting voice. “You betrayed my generosity with your greed. All you humans are the same.”
Her eyes started glowing a molten golden color. He started to panic as his right foot melted away. No. His body was dissolving into gold, adding to the pile on the mountaintop. He watched in horror as the lower half of his body flowed onto the pile of gold by the edge that could lead him back down and away from this nightmare.
Reid jerked awake, sitting up in bed. The dark room offered no comfort as he touched his legs, making sure they were still there. It took far too long for his breathing and frantic heart to return to normal. It was just a dream, he kept chanting to himself. He decided that he needed a drink and there was no way he was going back to sleep. He climbed out of bed and after a trip to the bathroom, made his way to his study. The Old God’s Text sat on his desk. After making himself a scotch with ice he walked over to the text and opened it to a random passage. He skimmed the page he’d turned to and his blood turned cold.
“Traveler,” Iyla, the Goddess of Fortune, said in a soft, lilting voice.
Iyla’s teal skin was smooth and unblemished, her dark brown eyes flashed, and her glossy shoulder-length hair swayed gently in the breeze. She wore a brown leather cloth around her waist and golden, spiral garments covered her areolas and nothing else. Gold, decorative bangles adorned her upper arm and forearm. The human looked fearful as he gazed at the beauty in front of him.
“Why have you come to Mount Iyla and climbed to my lair?”
The glass of scotch slipped from his fingers, hitting the edge of the glass, before resting on the plush carpet. The scotch soaked into the light material but Reid did not pay any attention to it. He’d dreamed about something he’d never read before. He’d dreamed exact words that a goddess and some random man had said to one another. He finished the short passage and his world seemed to be dissolving like his limbs had in his dream.
Art by: Chase Henson
Story written by: Teralyn Mitchell