My kingdom, my kingdom. My kingdom for a horse. For less, when the thought really demanded considering, much less. Much less for much worse, a swap. A bloody bargain now at its brutal crescendo. The drawing together of dark machinations embodied there in his hands.
All the red strings, all the finger prints and spatters of deepest, sweetest burgundy, found in the folds of a manila envelope tea-stained with time.
A crinkled finger slips under the edge and with little persuasion the flap of paper peals back to reveal a small square of unfortunate fiber. He considers the note carefully with eyes grey and tired. Eyes left sore and dry by the icy mountain air.
The note unfolds in his hands and they begin to shake in the still of the broken crags. Bellow him, bellow the clouds that hug tightly to the hard glassy faces of black rock, the wind calls out in grand sweeping overtures. Up here, a light whistle rings on through the smoky atmosphere.
He carefully reads the two words on the note again and again, taking in the hateful slashes of lettering, the vicious scratches of tails and flicks, yet the careful, tender manner used to alleviate the pain of ages. He looks out at a vast expanse of firm white and considers the long walk across the cloud tops. An illusion of support. A fantasy of more, something tangible in the world of the beyond. An entropic phantasm punctuated by the gnarled canines of mountains that start as much more far below.
The cane stands up defiantly between piles of crumbling rocks as he turns to face the setting-sun. Peach warmth drips across the cloud tops on the horizon pushing the day out. The old man relaxes his old fingers and the wind picks the envelope out of his hands softly. On an invisible current the letter bobs up, sailing out across the sea of purest white, then flutters sharply to lie amidst the blank canvas of above.
Two words. Again and again before his eyes, in his mind, a memory and a reminder. What was past is present and always shall be. The old man looks down at his hands, shaking in the cold and they lie still. Following the letter, the old man steps forward, out to the sun.