The scream returned Knox to his reality, his body full and present, cutting into the moist rock. His eyes turned to slits now rolled wide in their sockets as he gradually found the mountain still below him, his backpack by the rock where he’d left it. The illusion had passed, a cloud of pale green smog shaking off of him like dust. How he held to the cadaverous, grey rock he couldn’t tell. His mouth dribbled with bubbling saliva which he spat. Nausea threatened to flip his world again and Knox breathed in and out the cold air to cease the vomiting sensation burning in his throat. His lungs hurt. His skin, his nails, joints, muscles, bones, they all hurt miserably but he was alive.
The fall had been a lie. A dream, a hallucination, a play of the Gods, but a lie and Knox had believed it and had given himself over to it accepting sweet death like a fool. Adrenaline fueled and angered, Knox regained control over his weary limbs and gave one last push of his snapping joints to lift his heavy body onto the flat ridge.
The green glow wasn’t there. It wasn’t anywhere. Knox laid his head against the cold stone and sobbed like he hadn’t done since he was on that bridge. Every inch of him shook as he seized the moment of receiving near death and escaping it.
A swift and brutal gust of wind crushed upon Knox, pressures of air pushing him hard down against the wet and mossy earth. His ears flooded with whoops and whistles, white noise in high volume; the blizzard deafened him fully. He closed his eyes, sheltered his ears and lay curled on the ridge, praying to not be swept away into the merciless pit below. But he wasn’t. He had no resistance, just a sudden, monstrous draw which made him heavy, and somehow he knew that if he were to jump down now the wind wouldn’t let him. Knox could feel the mountain shifting, altering itself. Not the same, not anymore. Hooves clacked against the rock and the smell of blood and wet fir hit him again; it was the scent of sacrifices in numerous centuries.
Then came silence, a sharp intake of breath that Knox took as he beckoned himself to look, to witness. He came towards him, the one whose name was unknown, for he was not praised, nor was he believed in, in this century or the last, but that now formed with understandable letters in Knox’s head – the Goyar Heddagh.
“A mocked goat-god”, sang the voices of the mountain.
“The hermit Spirit of the Mountain”, the winds added. He was a see through figure, a world of blur as if he was not quite there yet; a translucent image gaining solidity with each hooved step. The moldy grey stone of An Tellach seemed to give the Goyar his structure as it was sucked from the exterior and into him, sculpting the beast. Knox wished he could see him real and the Goyar’s ghostly appearance shook off whatever spectral qualities it had making Knox gasp in awe. He was a majestic creature.
Knox was stunned by his height; towering above any man Knox knew, the Goyar carried himself with pride, a strong and violent one. A greenish, ghoulish glow danced on the tips of his sharpened horns twisted to the sides of his furry head like a crown to his being. His fur was a ruined brown coated in dust, but two gold ring bracelets circled his strong upper arms – the entirety of his body, Knox observed, was covered in scars and wounds some of which were bright and lightly oozed pink pus, and those Knox knew were the gifts of his many lives in this and the other world, when in neither he was Godlike truly, but suffered equally. One of these wounds was perhaps Knox’s doing and he stifled a cry for the creature.
His two malevolent green eyes now squinted and fixed on Knox. His hooves dragged rocks, scratching at the essence of this continuum. Knox held his breath as the meeting was epochal – a god, unrecognized by others and bound to stay a spirit of the heights stood before a human, left by many and remembered by few.
“You found me, you” Knox whispered, his voice tremulous. The man on the bridge had warned him Gods would come for him to tear at his soul, but this creature, this horrendous beast was now his judge; it had stalked him from afar and it had drawn him to Scotland to kill him.
To be continued…