A bit late today, but here it is! Enjoy!
I made the climb to the Pillars of Balia for the first time. The moon was full, casting its blue glow across the light dusting of snow that signaled the new season. I hadn’t needed my lantern, but I carried it anyway. Father said it showed a lack of faith, but I refused to be unprepared. I knew that I would not impress him no matter my success this night for he had made the journey when he was nearly ten years younger than I am. He often expressed his disappointment in my weak constitution at that same age.
I had been busy with studies. Not being of good health for hunting and other sport as my brothers were, I had to pursue differing avenues to make my living. Father was never pleased with me, but for some reason, I still felt the need to prove myself to him. These many years later I was making this trip as a grown man. It wasn’t so common these days, but when Father was a boy, it was a true rite of passage for the youth. Men and women alike were made on these slopes. It had honestly been a bit easier than I expected.
I reached the peak in just under six hours. Any adult of good fitness would have likely been able to make it in half that time, but even with my lameness, it had merely been time consuming. As the rite had become largely ceremonial in recent years, an easy path had been carved to the top. I was unimpressed by the importance this supposed hallowed ground had been given until I reached the summit. The Pillars could be seen from the base of the mountain below, but their size and beauty was impossible to understand from there.
Four great pillars representing the Four Houses of Balia Bet-Ral. Each one carved of a different stone from each of those lands. It would have taken the Old Ones ages to haul them here and move them to the summit. Each one stood at least as tall as eight men and they were as big around as giant oaks. I marveled for a moment at each one and sparked my lantern to get a better look at the intricate work. They were covered in their entirety with passages of scripture from the Nine Books and atop each one had been carved a crown in the fashion of the kings of the Houses.
I could feel the might of our ancestors in this place. The unity they had once shared before the seas swallowed up the House of Rii and the great desert winds blasted the House of Telli into rubble. Now the two remaining Houses were at each other’s throats. Each blaming the other for the fall of the Lost Two. I sat in the center of the pillars and extinguished my light. The Valley of Gales stretched out before me. With the help of the moon’s light, I could see all the way to the Sarro Mountains.
I thought upon the words of the Nine Books and felt sadness that our once unified continent had become something so pale, weak, and quarrelsome. I recited the Oaths of the Windborn aloud twelve times and cleared my mind for meditation. Just before I was to close my eyes, something across the valley caught my eye. It seemed as if the Sarro Mountains were moving. I was sure the light of the moon played tricks on me and rubbed my eyes. Straining to see all those miles away, I could make out shapes. Giants.
The giants were moving. When giants moved, it meant war. Perhaps this would be what unified our two houses.