A mountain so great it takes a year to travel from base to summit
A sun so powerful it drives you into madness if you look at it
An ascent so vital it determines the fate of the world
A summit so precious it holds the key to the divine
The world of the great Mountain is unstable. Giant pillars erupt from the surface and yawning chasms form unpredictably underfoot. Since the Maelir first stood on its slopes in the distant past, they have sought to still its anger and control its power. Each year, twin brothers are chosen to make a perilous journey to the summit. If they survive they will be witness to Zenith, and the secrets will be revealed to them.
When Atreu and Teyth embark on their Ascent, their Talismans lead them onto conflicting paths that will ultimately set brother against brother. And this time the Ascent itself is in peril as unknown forces that have long craved the power of Zenith will stop at nothing to make it their own even if it means destroying the very thing that sustains all life the Mountain itself.
Metheus walked over to the fissure and beckoned Atreu to follow.
‘Stop there,’ commanded the old man. ‘Do not get too close.’ Metheus was a step away from the fissure. ‘Now, watch and believe.’
He approached the large crack, and Atreu stared as the old man closed his eyes and bent his head over into the steam. Atreu could just make out his lined features which were softened by the haze. Metheus was inhaling deeply. He then slowly stepped back from the fissure, his eyes still closed. Bending his neck back, he exhaled towards the ceiling.
A cloud issued from Metheus’ mouth and floated upwards. As it floated it took the form of a small boy. And as soon as the image was complete, it changed. Now it was a serpent writhing with life. And then a fish. And a leafless tree. And a geyer with wings beating gracefully. And then something with long teeth dripping with blood. And then a woman. And finally an old man, fading as the image struck the webbing on the ceiling of the cave.
The air was shrouded in silence as Atreu slowly bowed his head and looked at the ground.
‘This is my art,’ said the ancient voice.
Atreu lifted his head and looked Metheus in the eyes. ‘I … I didn’t know,’ he stammered.
‘Come here,’ said Metheus. Atreu walked towards him, the old man put his hand on his shoulder and they both sat down. ‘You see, Atreu, it is in your breath that all answers are found. I have not devoted my life to nothing. You take what the Mountain offers you, and you create so that it belongs to both of you. Inhale, exhale. They belong together, you see.’
Atreu nodded. He was suddenly very aware of his own breathing.
Buy the Books of Ascension:
Dirk Strasser has written over 30 books for major publishers in Australia and is an Active Member of the SFWA. He has won multiple Australian Publisher Association Awards, a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement, and has been short-listed for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards a number of times. His short story, “The Doppelgänger Effect”, appeared in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology, Dreaming Down Under. His acclaimed fantasy series The Books of Ascension – including Zenith and Equinox – was originally published by Pan Macmillan in Australia and by Heyne Verlag in Germany and has been re-published by the Macmillan Momentum imprint, this time including the “lost” third book. His fiction has been translated into a number of languages. His short stories include “The Jesus Particle“ in Cosmos magazine, “Stories of the Sand” in Realms of Fantasy, and “The Vigilant” in Fantasy magazine. His most recent sale was “The Mandelbrot Bet” to the 2014 Tor anthology Carbide Tipped Pens, edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. He founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-published and co-edited Aurealis magazine for over 20 years.
Connect with the Author: