“Awake, Arise, or be forever
John Milton, Paradise Lost
At first, mummy was unrelenting.
“It’s febuary, for pity’s sake!,” she cried, “It’s the coldest time of the year. And there are shepherds on the wash plane, lonely and angry…what would they do to a lovely creature like you? And Lara, what if it snows?”
“Mother,” Lara knelt before her, “I will hardly climb at all today, but I need to start to try.”
Mummy started to cry. Lara embraced her. “I know it upsets you,” she whispered.
“Upsets me? I shan’t be able to settle all day!” Mummy was crying, but she was powerless to do anything.
So Lara reached down and took her mother’s hands in her’s. Quite suddenly, and softly, mummy felt a beautiful warmth spread from her daughter’s hands into her arms, and all round her body, resting at her heart. She felt calmed immediately. In wonder did she look up into Lara’s radiant face and smiled.
“I promise I will come back safely, mother.” Said she.
Mummy smiled, and nodded. She reached up and held a lock of Lara’s long silky dark waves. She tucked it behind her ear. “Of course, princess. Oh, but you must keep warm-here! Take my cashmere shawl.” And with that, Karì and Lara set off towards the wash plane where the mountains sat, watching. Mountains see all.
They walked through the wind and the icy bright morning, and then Lara found herself standing before the mountains once more.
“This one here’s the tallest, princess,” said Daddy, patting the side of the grey rock Titan affectionately. “I dare say he will lead up to the sky. I heard a story a couple of years ago, that one shepherd boy tried to climb up this mountain and almost got to the summit.”
Lara cast her droplets of blood to the sky.
“Do you want me to wait with you, or do you want to try climbing by yourself?” asked Daddy.
“I must try alone, please father,” Lara replied.
Karì nodded. “Alright, ‘prinssessa.’ I know you don’t need to eat, but…well. I’ll just leave some lunch at the bottom on this rock here; just in case you suddenly decide to…” he did not finish. With that, he was gone.
When he had disappeared over the plane, Lara breathed the mountains into her. At last, said the mountains. At last you have come to us, daughter. But I warn you, this shall bring you pain.
Lara reached forward and grasped a black piece of rock. She lifted her fair foot-now clad by mummy in a soft silk slipper-and tried to raise herself up off the ground. No sooner was she standing upon the rock shelf, Abiel came to her in her mind. On seeing his face so clearly, she cried out, lost her footing, and hit the ground.
She stayed there a moment, weeping. Then she stumbled up and tried once more, and fell.
The next day she was only able to stand on the first ledge of the mountain before Abiel returned to her and she was dashed to the ground once more.
Stay away, said Abiel, stay away, my sweetest one. You are loved here and needed as a daughter. You are too weak to reach the top.
That may be true, said she, but still I will try.
Days turned to weeks. Winter turned to summer, and then, to winter once more. Lara climbed each day, and each day she climbed higher than the day before.
She was a citizen of the jewelled city, and they do not hunger and thirst. They do not have to stay in their own bodies, because they do not have bodies as those on the lower plane do. She did not even need to breathe, but even so Lara breathed the mountains into her mind each day; air, water, cold wet grey rock. Sleeping Titans.
When she went higher than she had climbed the day before-found a new ledge, set foot on another rockshelf- Abiel would always come to her. “Dear one,” he would say, or “your scars have opened,” or “Jehovah. I am Jehovah.” And she would lose her footing and fall.
When she hit the ground, the pain was indescribable. She wept, or howled in anguish, or lay there, numb. But then she would rise and drift home, only to return the next day, her eyes blazing.
For a full earth-turn,