First Lines: The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains: A Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of All Kinds, written by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Eddie Campbell, is a lovely edition of the story first published in the Stories anthology. As such, I read it before.

Two men, one small and one large, walk through Scotland towards the Black Mountains on the Misty Isle (which is also called the Winged Isle), to find a cave. A cave where gold is to be found, or so men say. They find the cave. And, perhaps, also truth.

We were a mile from the place when I said, “The island. You asked if it would be there. Surely, an island is there, or it is not there.”

Calum hesitated. He seemed to be weighing his words, and then he said, “The Misty Isle is not as other places. And the mist that surrounds it is not like other mists.”

We walked down a path worn by hundreds of years of sheep and deer and few enough men.

He said, “They also call it the Winged Isle. Some say it is because the island, if seen from above, would look like butterfly wings. And I do not know the truth of it.” Then, “‘And what is truth?’ said jesting Pilate.”

It is harder coming down than it is going up.

I thought about it. “Sometimes I think that truth is a place. In my mind, it is like a city: there can be a hundred roads, a thousand paths, that will all take you, eventually, to the same place. It does not matter where you come from. If you walk toward the truth, you will reach it, whatever path you take.”

Calum MacInnes looked down at me and said nothing. Then, “You are wrong. The truth is a cave in the black mountains. There is one way there, and one only, and that way is treacherous and hard, and if you choose the wrong path you will die alone, on the mountainside.”

Book read
Neil Gaiman — The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains (illustrated by Eddie Campbell)
First line
You ask me if I can forgive myself?