If you listen for it, you can hear the old mountain howling from miles away. A trick of the wind, they call it — as the wind slides between mountain crevasses and gullies, the stones wail like a bone flute. At the height of winter, the mountain is a force unto itself. Snow and biting wind roll down along the mountainside. Only the bravest venture out to pay their respects during those lonely hours. Some never return, but respect must be paid, all the same.
The natives say the mountain is a tomb, a place where one forgotten god smote another into the unforgiving earth. They say that mound of rock and rubble grew up out of the cratered stone as that broken god gasped his dying breath. They believe, perhaps, that those gods are merely resting — that someday, the mountain will break apart and that ancient immortal will rise up to claim vengeance.
I do not know if such a thing is true, but I do know: In the kinder seasons, the mountain does not howl. Instead, it sings. In spring, the snow melt saturates the hardened ground, giving way to wild iris, fireweed, and purple monkshood. I have seen wolves and bears stalk the tall grass for deer and moose while wild birds flit upon the whispering wind. All the while, the snowcapped peak turns a watchful eye on the world below until it sends the cold winds back down the mountain to reap its tithe.
It is a fitting cycle, I think, for the tomb of a god.