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Article:I Have Reached The Mountaintop

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He had reached the mountaintop.

Finally, after so long, so many nights awake, so many nights spent pondering the doubters, the most vocal of whom lived inside his own mind.

He had reached the mountaintop.

He stood there, surveying all that he had accomplished. His cohorts in battle, smiling. His mentor, ready for the embrace that only the victorious truly share in the moment of vanquishing. His bride, beautiful, at his side, his daughters glowing with pride and admiration.

He had reached the mountaintop.

He thought of his first life, long before tragedy had struck. It had seemed so easy then, so effortless. "This is how life will be," he told himself then. He was still a young man, so he could believe it for a time. Back then, he could believe his fellow warrior would be by his side always, that small differences would not splinter the bond they had forged in the fire of competition. Back then, before everything changed.

He had reached the mountaintop.

He thought of his warrior's betrayal, his mentor's abandonment, his imprisonment in chains and manacles. He thought of the Delilah who had led him there, enticing him with her charms and ways. But that was so long ago. Before he had struck out on his own, enduring and overcoming the strength of many menacing warriors. He thought he would be satisfied when the imprisonment was over, when the battles raged again.

He had reached the mountaintop.

He thought of the years spent wandering in the desert. The years during which he did not know what he would become, the years when he was not sure his people would ever arrive in the Promised Land. When he thought, like Moses, he would have to die before he saw them reach the destination.

He had reached the mountaintop.

He thought of the tribe that had decimated his children during the last harvest. He thought of the loss. The humiliation. But all of that was gone now. The sorrow had turned to jubilation, the tears of pain had become weeping cries of joy.

He had reached the mountaintop.

And he thought of the Great King of years past. He remembered hearing the tales of his feats as a boy, wanting to become the greatest warrior of them all, just like the Great King had been many moons ago. In his mind's eye, he could still picture the Great King, defiant in victory, unbowed by any challenger. Many times he had tried to recreate the Great King's accomplishment, his crowning moment, with nothing but failure to show for it. But this time, he thought, things would be different. He looked around: All of the Great King's counselors were there, surrounding him in the wake of the mighty victory. His spiritual adviser was the same that had touched the soul of the Great King in his own youth. The citizens lauded him and called him the rightful heir to the throne. His moment was now the Great King's moment, and the Great King's his. Now they would always be connected. They would always stand side by side at this pinnacle of achievement.

He had reached the mountaintop.

But as he stood, taking in this historic moment, he felt the Great King's spirit leave him. The powerful, wizened adviser, so tall and majestic just seconds before, withered and became an old man, selfish and headstrong as an ass. He tried to embrace him, but the old man pushed him away and began looting the enemy's cadavers for gaudy trinkets and worthless trifles. His wife's tears of joy turned back into sorrow, the same tears she had shed on the day he betrayed her for the handmaiden in a moment of unthinking passion. He looked at his daughters and saw not pride in his feats, but shame. His brothers in arms did not celebrate him; they mocked him. The mighty enemy he had defeated became a band of children who belonged in a nursery, not on the battlefield. His triumph had turned into meaningless slaughter.

He looked skyward and shouted to the Great King, "Why have you forsaken me?"

There was no answer.

He could not understand this. All of his planning -- nay, scheming -- for so many seasons under the hot summer sun and freezing winter sleet had been for this moment. He had even managed to re-assemble the principals of the Great King's final battle of glory. This was to be his coronation! People would have to recognize him as the heir apparent to the Great King! How dare they make a mockery of his ascension to the throne! How could this have happened to him??!!!

He had reached the mountaintop.

Why did it feel so empty?

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