Played by Kjetta
"No man is a mountain."
Old men and their wisdom. That's what they told him when he started at the monastery of the Crouching Lemur, tucked away in the Skull Crags. He was tired of run-ins with the law, of sitting in some damp dungeon catching his death of cold over a bar fight or conning his way out of the shame of poverty. His self-exile brought him to the monastery, to his sensei, to the aches and pains and bruises and cuts and the cold burn of mountain air in his lungs. There, he could be great, and as sure as the sun cast the shadows of his home over one half of the island in the morning, and another in the evening, he was also sure of his capability to be a journeyman and earn his leave from the monastery.
“No man is a mountain,” said his sensei, denying him the privilege he demanded. Determined, he made himself like unto the Crags, swallowing his cold anger and his hot tears, building from calf to thigh to abdomen to pectoral to bicep, tricep, and trapezius, until he stood as tall and as broad as the hills, casting his own shadow from dawn to dusk. No longer the molehill crushed beneath the other men’s feet, he towered, and with a boastful challenge dared his sensei to repeat the mantra.
“No man is a mountain,” said his sensei, and bid his pupil leave the Crouching Lemur. But he was now a mountain of a man, and would not be moved. Not one, nor two, nor ten men could unroot him from the earth, and so they shut him out of every house, to weather the elements alone. And he cried to them that he would, his voice the thunder of the peaks; the sun baked his skin brown in the summer, and in the fall, the winds and the rain did their best to erode him before winter’s snows weighed him down, drifting to adorn his shoulders, a cold and icy mantle.
“I am a mountain,” he rumbled when spring came and he remained, all others – masters, fellows, apprentices – dwarfed beneath him, leaving their places behind to come and stare up at his majesty. Warm with pride, he basked in the glow for but a moment, when a greater shadow fell upon him, and he turned to see him for the first time.
The Spine of the World held him upright as the Starespires of Tethyr, splitting the sun and its sky in twain with his Orsraun bulk. He was not a man. Hands of granite, voice of gravel, arms like the Sunrise chain of Thay and the Sunset strip west of Cormyr, the Scimitar Spires of the Aunaroch gleaming from the Giant’s Belt of Durpar around his Galena in Vaasa waist. Smoldering eyes, Peaks of Flame from the dark jungles of Chult, gleamed above a nose that rose as Mount Thulbane over the Bay of Chessenta, staring down the bridge of the Thesk until, at last, the thick Dragonsjaw of Aglarond fell to reveal the Small Teeth of Amn, grimacing over the cleft chin, the Cloven Mountains south of the Shining Plain. No words were necessary. The East and West Walls of Halruua ground as the mountain took one step forward. In that moment, it was as though this mountain, this man, this mountain of a man did not move – Toril itself shifted beneath his step. In every way he was unchanging, solid and firm, timeless, eternal, and passive.
He was Al’Tustra.
“No man is a mountain,” he said to the silent Al’Tustra, whose broad, flat hand brought him to his knees, finally understanding, finally moved. “But some mountains are men.”
(Thanks to Yossarin <3)