Stone and ice grapple. Cracked chert litters the expanse before him.

His cadaverous vessel
entwined by rich saffron,
stark against a cloudless cerulean above.

Sitting down,
bones tremble,
pebbles crackle,
mountain cooled air smelling of bruised pine and old ice finds new patches of skin to taunt.

Behind, an ancient hollow reluctantly shelters butter lamps in burnished metal,
oily tendrils of pitch swirl and blacken indiscriminately.

A vulture loops lower.
Not yet.
Once more becomes a speck in the sky.

Beads click,
guttural chants spill and roll away.
Promises unfurl.