People didn’t come back from the mountain.
At least, that’s what the town told tourists. It wasn’t a lie, per say, but it wasn’t the complete truth. People came back from Mt. Ebott. They came back disappointed, or injured, lured by false claims of adventures that ended in unstable rock faces, and impossible geographical oddities.
Once upon a time, it had been a source of tourism. But as the years went by, the town grew prosperous and the mountain grew dangerous, and there was no reason for it anymore. The people closest to the mountain didn’t need to rely on the strange formation to fund their town. So now, people didn’t come back from the mountain, because no one went.
Which meant, no one would go looking for you. And that was exactly what you wanted.
Getting up the mountain, surprisingly enough, is the easy part.
The hard part is, figuring out exactly what to do with yourself when you get there.
After some hesitation, you decide to explore. Even if Mt. Ebott wasn’t the extreme tourist draw the people in town had hoped it would be, it still had to be more interesting than the streets, right?
Strange things happened on Mt. Ebott. There was a myth that, a long time ago, strange creatures lived all around it. They varied in size and shape, and they carried books that gave them magical powers. The myth continued, that the people living nearby banded together, and drove them into the heart of the mountain itself, where they could hurt no one.
It was a child’s myth, though. You’re too old to believe it. So when you find yourself at the mouth of a shallow cave, looking in at a stone pedestal that just barely sits in the shadows, you tell yourself it’s not scary.
People come back from Mt. Ebott, right? So, there can’t actually be anything here.
You approach the pedestal slowly, taking in the other characteristics of the cave. There’s not much to speak about - it’s simply a shallow hole in the rock, a gentle curve inward with a mostly flat floor.
The only thing out of place is the stand, and the book that sits closed atop it.
It’s taller than you, and you have to stand on tiptoe to see it, but you don’t touch it. Not yet. The book itself is unharmed, despite being left open to the elements.
…does that mean someone has been here recently?
A moment of panic strikes you, because if someone has been here recently, it stands to reason that they’ll be back sooner rather than later, and you haven’t exactly done anything to cover your tracks. You don’t want to be found.
You’re still standing on your tiptoes when the panic hits, and as you pull away, your hand hits the book, knocking it to the ground with a sound that is deafening after so much stillness in the forests. You wince, hands half covering your ears, before opening one eye nervously.
The book sits open on the ground. It’s flipped open almost to the middle, and on the page is a single image.
It’s not an image. You look more closely, scooting over and plopping yourself down next to the book, peering down at it.
The picture is moving, in a way pictures in books ought not to move.
The myth of Mt. Ebott echos in your mind again. Without thinking, you lift a hand to trace the image. Your fingers touch the page.
There is the sensation of falling, and a strange sound echoes in your ears. You close your eyes.
And when you open them again, you are not where you were.
perhaps, the end has not yet been written…