|Painting by Naser Ovissi|
On the isle of Trish there is a range of Red Mountains, not far from the dessert, wherein there lies an abundance of diamonds. The Terrisian diamond was very low in value because of its abundance. Many could be seen in ribbons on the cliff face, or in riverbeds, but many also lie deep in the Mountain’s belly and quite out of reach. The Terrisians took up the challenge to dig a mine shaft through the rock to find them.
Although the mine was successful, it was dangerous and the pitfalls seemed to outweigh the successes. The risky venture was brought to the attention of the Queen. Knowing she could not rectify the situation without participating first hand, Queen Iaxanathe replaced her orange and golden robes with workers coveralls. She set down her crown and donned a helmet.
Thus her journey under the mountain began.
As she approached the mouth of the cavern it groaned in exhaustion. The jaw of the mountain was tired of being propped open, already slouching and begging for sleep. His red shale beard was mashed against his cliff face, and his peak was dozing and nodding forward.
“Mountain.” She called, “Why do you suffer?”
But the mountain could not reply, having many Terrisian miners inside his mouth and throat and down in his belly.
Ixanathe took in a deep breath, ready to begin a day of hard labour. She did not consider herself above such menial tasks, in fact she participated in these sorts of ventures often to earn her keep and understand her peoples’ needs. Today she would welcome the work to gain strength; of body and of sympathy.
The foreman was delegating a number of tools of which she chose the pick axe. Heaving it over her shoulder she followed the workers down a steep black slope. She entered the mountain’s mouth as he moaned in pain. She touched his bones to give him comfort. She felt the hot air blowing through his wind pipe, making her balance unsteady. She began to work.
The axe was heavy. The air was stuffy. It was dark and difficult to see. After an hour of striking the red rock her muscles were screaming and burning.
“That is enough!” her shoulders cried, “We are torn. We are no longer building strength. We are only building pain.”
“Hush.” She replied, “It has only been an hour. I have eight more hours to work.”
“We will not last that long.” They whimpered and she knew they were right.
She began to cough from the dust.
“We need oxygen!” her lungs cried, “We are no longer cleansing your blood. We are asphyxiating.”
“Hush.” She replied, but she knew they were right.
Her whole body was crying to her, but she could not stop.
Suddenly the foreman stopped her.
“You are not a regular worker here.” He said
“No, I am not.” She answered
His eyes widened as he realized who she was.
“Forgive me my queen, I did not recognize you.”
“Of course.” She stated and turned to her work once again.
“Wait!” he called, “You should not be doing this work!”
She stopped, “Why not?”
“Well, because it is dangerous.” He said.
“I already know that it is dangerous. I am here to assess the level of danger.”
“Well, it is also difficult.”
“I already know it is difficult. I am here to see asses the level of difficulty.”
She tried to proceed again, but the foreman held her axe.
“The mine is not fit for a queen.” He stated
“If the mine is not fit for a queen,” she declared, “then it is fit for no one.”
The foreman did not have an answer.
When the Mountain could finally speak his peak straight and tall again, he turned to Ixanathe and thanked her. “Men and women were not meant to journey beneath me.”
“And so we shall not.” She answered, “For although a diamond is a precious treasure, a human’s life and well being are worth far more.”
“What about our jobs?” The foreman asked
“I have need of you elsewhere.”
Ixanathe proclaimed the Red Mountains a wildlife sanctuary and employed the workers as conversationalists. Due to the closing of the mine the Terrisian diamond went up in rarity and value. At the end of her journey Ixanathe learned that protecting her people also meant protecting the land on which they lived. She also learned that a human’s health should never be disregarded in the search for wealth.