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    Before Gluskab of the Abenaki made the world safe for humans,
    the Monts–mountain-like children of the creator and Gaia–walked and talked like men. Despite being mystical children of ancient spirits, I reckon they got lonely like men, too, because they got together often to play a game called Ranges. Standing hand-in-hand, teams competed in casting the biggest shadows. Yes, it was painfully boring, but hockey wouldn't be invented for millennia, and they didn't have cable–so it was popular. So popular that its inventors, Birki and his brother Jaya, were rewarded a kingdom to share.

  1. The Great Coronation Confrontation

    Monts from everywhere came for the brothers' coronation. A Ranges tournament was to be held, followed by a feast of fresh Catamount (no stir fry jokes, it's an important plot point). Now, as is often the case when bands of ancient, elemental creatures get together–you know how it is–they had too much wine, and a dispute broke out about Ranges official rules. Himy (the tallest Mont) argued that biggest shadow meant highest, while Andy's team (from far south) argued it meant longest. For an official ruling, they took it to the game's inventors, the soon-to-be brother kings.

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  2. Jaya, being taller, confidently answered "higher" just as his older brother answered "longer." A mildly embarrassing contradiction, that started a calm discussion, as each pointed out how the other had misunderstood a fairly obvious rule. The discussion quickly escalated, because if one thing that's true of Monts, it's that you can't move them. You can go over, around–even through them–but you'll never move them. So neither brother would budge from his position, and the argument raged on until most of the guests, bored, went home to wait on the official ruling. And the coronation was put on hold.

  1. The Cat's Divide

    Now the wise–many say handsome–Catamount saw a way off the menu and spoke, "You Monts aren't aware, but I am a master of gamesmanship", which was true. "Let's settle this with a King Contest. Both of you create a crown. One will, undoubtedly, be more magnificent and its wearer will be king and decide the rules. If, somehow, you can't agree on a winning crown, I volunteer to judge. With no dog in this fight, I'm impartial." An odd choice of words, since dogs hadn't been created yet, but the rest made sense. So they went with it.

  1. The brothers stormed off to create their throne-winning crowns. But as Birki walked, he cooled off. Being right about a stupid game wasn't worth losing his brother. Why not play with two sets of rules? Set up two leagues? And then, at the end of a season, the champions of both leagues could square off in a seven-game series, alternating rules. No one could ever argue with that, could they? Just call it the Gaia Series. Problem solved. And it would have been, had his path back not taken him past the clever–dare we say brilliant–Catamount.

  1. After hearing Birki's plan, the Catamount shook his nearly perfect head while crafting another ingenious way out of being dinner. "Birki," he said, "your brother's name, Jaya, means victory. Yours means birch wood. The younger Monts are naive and think winning is his birthright. Those young, green Monts will line up behind Jaya. So if you bring up this idea, they're gonna laugh. You have to take victory and make it a part of you. It's the only way." Hearing that, a dejected Birki fled to the edge of the kingdom to think, and the handsome Catamount lived another day.

  1. A Clash of Crowns

    The Day of Crowns came. Jaya presented first. Taller, he could just reach the clouds and had pulled one from the sky, covering it with white crystals that fell down his back. The Monts cheered, unknowingly supporting the Catamount's clever ruse. You can't blame them. He had a cloud resting on his head. It's impressive.

  1. An angry Birki then presented a crown made of every tree in the forest, vast and beautiful. But before anyone could react, he put it on and yelled, "This forest is my crown! It is called Victory. And no Mont can take Victory from me!"

  1. Now Jaya, too, was enraged. And a scuffle broke out that threatened to destroy the whole kingdom, until the voice of the Catamount–silky might describe it best–calmed them. "Fellas, you agreed that if you couldn't pick a winner, I would be The Judge. Now, I'm surprised as anyone, but this appears to be the case. It will be hard, both are beautiful, but I will bear the burden. Perhaps if you untie me and I can walk a bit, the decision will be easier." Blinded by the need to win, the brothers let their coronation feast stroll off.

  1. "I'll go North" the Catamount said over his shoulder. "You two wait here." And he disappeared. The brothers, still angry, went to opposite sides of the Kingdom. Birki to the East, sat with Victory forest at his side. Jaya to the west with the Green Monts, frightened of Birki, falling in behind him. There they sat. Too stubborn and proud to speak to one another, until time turned them to stone. Forever apart, the story of the Monts–mountains, as people call them–was forgotten and only their names remained. And the Catamount was never seen in the Kingdom again.

  2. Jay Peak Resort, 830 Jay Peak Village Road, Jay, VT
    Burke Mountain, 223 Sherburne Lodge Road, East Burke, VT
  1. Back To Reality

    A lot of time has passed since then. So much to watch. First there were lizards (side note, the claymation guys got their movement right, that jurassic movie was way too smooth). Anyway, next came furry elephants. Then men, who sort of remembered the brothers, crossed the ice. Then other men, who didn't remember at all, crossed the water. They put sticks on their feet in winter and slid down mountains. Then other stuff happened. Coca-Cola was invented–refreshing. Boring stuff happened. Then, snowboards. More stuff. Blah, blah, blah. Stoked became an adjective. The internet. Then it was 2012.

  1. Be it guilt or boredom–or a bet with a jaguar that he could repair the fractured kingdom before the Mayan calendar expired–the Catamount decided it was time. Speaking to important people through dreams, he retold the brothers' story. Through them, he set the stage for you to mend the rift. Unite them in your mind, man. See Burke and Jay Peak not as separate mountains, but as one great big kingdom. Of course, logic tells you this story never happened, and you can ignore the Catamount. But first ask yourself, can anyone say for sure that it didn't?

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