In that Blue Shadow of a Mountain

He wanted to kill him. He wanted to at least once a day when the snow was either thin or thick around them and the needle trees stunk like some preserved chemical.

The man underestimated him.

He was shaped like a human, but he was a beast. He was tall, bulky, and walked on two feet like all the other dominant species on their little cursed island. He hair was covered in blue fur. It was tangled up and often times matted with spots of dried blood. The man was only happy when he killed, so the ape accepted his bestial nature to its very core. He didn’t know why the man was so happy to murder. He slew everyone who trespassed on his island. He killed the green men living in the dark caves with torches. They were called Ills. He killed them for sport. He knew the name for them, because the man had used it before. He had a name too. The man had given him one.

It was Blue.

Only a few in his life got names, so Blue felt a little honored that the man gave him one. He never knew the man’s name though, not that he could ask. His ape tongue was so unwieldy, it barely captured any of the emotions going through Blue’s head. Only anger and rage were elaborated within the guttural sounds of his voice. Those feelings were always easy to communicate, especially with what Blue and the man did. They would protect every snowflake, every bluff, every tree branch, and every stone of this island.

Blue didn’t know why.

They’d run from edge to edge of it. The man wasn’t just human, but something else. He was small compared to Blue, but faster and cleverer. He wore black armor and carried a long sword that never seemed to dull, no matter how many corpses were piled over the snow. There was so much killing, enough to last a thousand years. Blue wasn’t a man-eater by nature, but the man made him this way. He let Blue drink blood to intimidate larger foes. Blue didn’t like the taste of human blood. It was too sweet, and far too close to his own.

At night the man would rarely sleep, but when he did it would be without a fire. He’d be buried beneath the always falling snow, next to a large tree, in the shadow of the mountains where the Ills lived. Blue would watch him curled in the fur. The man had killed Blue’s father exploring the mountains years ago. He knew where to stab his father, to penetrate his hide, which could morph a thousand arrows into toothpicks. Thousands of years ago, the top hunters of this empty world would come to this cursed island to hunt the apes.

Then it came. It fell from the stars and was hidden in the Diamond Town.

The man’s sword was part of it.

During the few nights the man slept during the week, he’d snore like a bruised child against the roots of the tree. Blue would hear whispers coming from the sword, which leaned against the tree like a stalk of metal. They would be dark voices, from unnatural worlds and times, like the blade was heavy with some sort of phantom world. The man was haunted, not just by his occupation of the Guardian, but the weight of the weapon itself. Something was living inside that sword. It talked all night to him as he slept. He’d cuddle into himself, beneath the cloak of fur he peeled off Blue’s father.

Did he want to be a father? Is that why he had it?

Blue was jealous about the tree. The man touched it. He only beat Blue. He only tortured Blue. However, he could just casually lean against the frosty earth and roots. There was a part to him that was gentle and relaxed. Why couldn’t Blue get that? Why couldn’t he show this side to himself? There is a man living in the woods named Haukter, who he spared years ago when his family invaded the island. He was a child. He couldn’t bring himself to kill a child with his devil sword. Now, in the woods when Haukter hunts us or we see him, the man trembles with rage.

He doesn’t say anything. He just shakes.

Blue couldn’t be mad at the man long, for he saved the ape’s life countless times in battle. Also, at night, the man would cry in his sleep. He would mumble things between falling snow and frosty fur. He would whisper, argue, and weep against some spectral horror in his dreams. It had to be the sword speaking to him. The night wouldn’t move during these episodes. Even the snow would want to stop drifting down. If it could reverse its descent, location, and gravity, it would. The natural world knew the man and sword were built of a hidden hell. It was forged with the secrets on this cursed island.

Despite the haunted blade and mysterious pool with words hidden on the rocks the man would read when he thought he was alone. Despite the ritual in the Diamond Town and the Shingles tilting against the earth like dead giants. Despite the man pretending that Blue didn’t see this hellish killing field for what it was and wasn’t. Blue could see the man wanted to be good despite his dark role.

There were some nights when the blade wouldn’t speak to the man. They were few and far between, but they’d happen. The man would still whimper, shake, and sob against the cold.

Blue knew the man would never in his life have a good dream.

The story is from the same universe as my novel Beware the Ills. Here you get the perspective of Blue, perhaps the most memorable character from the book.