The Cliff Hopper and the Mountain Goat
The Cliff Hopper and the Mountain Goat is a cautionary tale on the limitations of magic, pitting the common Cliff Hopper against the mythical Mountain Goat in a race to the mountain's summit.
The Cliff Hopper and the Mountain Goat relates the conversations between a young, arrogant Cliff Hopper and an elderly Mountain Goat. The cliff hopper begins by ridiculing the goat for her lack of magical aptitude, forced to rely upon her own locomotion while the cliff hopper easily blinks from ledge to ledge. The goat politely responds by complimenting the cliff hopper on his species' mastery of the teleportation magic, and their innate magical ability to instantaneously jump to any location within line of sight and reasonable range. This strokes the cliff hopper's ego, leading to a long bragging exposition on the superiority of the cliff hoppers over the humble mountain goats and their lack of magical attunement in any form. The goat responds back with a challenge: a race to climb to the top of the local mountain. The cliff hopper readily agrees with a confident swagger, and the race is on. The mountain goat begins her steady surefooted climb to the top of the mountain, with the cliff hopper periodically blinking just ahead of her to taunt her slow progress and her frequent stops to graze on the mountain's sweetgrass on the way. He slings insults her way in his confidence to win the race. "Another break time?" "Use up all your energy on that last rock, did you?" "Plan to reach the summit sometime this week?" The goat pays him no mind, continuing with her steady pace, grazing as she climbs. After a full day of climbing the sun is beginning to set over the peaks. The top of the mountain is in sight, and it is time for the cliff hopper to blink to the top and claim his victory, but something is wrong. He spent all his magical energy teleporting around the mountain and has no Imperium left to reach the summit. Intent on beating the mountain goat in spite of this he begins to climb but his feet have trouble finding their purchase against the tough mountain face and he stumbled backwards, sliding along the surface pebbles. The goat meanwhile continues her leisurely grazing climb, tops the summit, and begins her way down the mountain again leaving the cliff hopper to spend the night cold and alone.
Variations & Mutation
Some variations to the story show the cliff hopper reaching the summit first and gloating at his victory, only to be left behind by the mountain goat as he has no Imperium left to travel back down the mountain. Other versions show the cliff hopper failing to summit due to a lack of line of sight, either due to the rock face itself or the dark of the night, forcing the cliff hopper to recognize the mountain goat as the victor due to her lack of magical limitations. All variations emphasize the limitations of the cliff hopper's reliance solely on magic.