Compressed under violet, grey, and black sky,
I stand atop this solitary stone fortress
that grips to the mountain.

The peak emerges slightly above
the lively, biting shadows,
shaped into mechanical fog covering,
filling the invisible base of the alp
and billowing like binding claws stretched
around the rest of the world.

Beneath my feet, a chess board resides.
The dancing torch flames perform
their ritual on the squares
of crimson and dead black.

I stand as a lone king
facing an absent enemy.

I chance the frontlines for ghosts
of the yet-to-be.

No brothers in arms take their places.
They, too, are phantoms feeding fear.

My turn is yet to come,
in this specter massacre reflected
only by scaling shadows named for Mt. Iago,
warping earth and ash as it rises.

I make my first move,
and my last,
as the mountain collapses,
darkness clawing me


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