Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nightmare Fuel, Day 27. Dragonbones

For this one I ignored what the picture looked like and instead used the one in my head.

The ones in my head are always much prettier.
 Chas Redmond on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution license.

by L Czhorat Suskin

Some say that the bones were the remains of a gargantuan beast caught by the island's mightiest fisherman.

Some say that the great beast was not captured, but crawled out of the sea to die, that the elements flensed its bones clean of meat or that the long-ago villagers devoured it.

Some say that the bones were always there, long before people. That the dragon - for they are the bones of a dragon - were leftover from the making of the world.

Some say many things, even secret things. That it is the dragonbones that bring good fishing and pleasant weather. That isn't what matters. What does is that the bones have been there as long as anyone could remember. That arches of its ribs, taller than a house, bent upward to the great spine, forming a sort of tunnel. That even on the calmest day, a steady breeze blew through the archways. Some say that this breeze was the breath of the very island. Each year at Midwinter the villagers would gather for the dragonbone festival. The bravest and strongest would walk through the archway and against the wind, which would increase in power to a gale capable of speeding the fastest ships.

No things remain the same forever, and the people of the dragonbones one day learned that they had a ruler, a man who'd won control of the island in some dispute with another who did not own it. The ruler sent envoys and surveyors and, eventually, governors to each of his new islands, where one of them found the dragonbones and their mysterious wind.

Now the ruler was and enlightened man, believing in knowledge over all else. Enlightened men seek to take the world apart, to see its inner workings. That is one thing which elightenment is. So came more surveyors, scientists, astrologers (an enlightened man leaves no avenue unexplored) and all their entourages, followers, hangers-on.

They studied the dragonbones, they measured the breath of the island.

After a months' time they reluctantly told the leader they'd learned nothing. The fault was not, they told him, entirely theirs. To properly study a thing requires laboratories with bright artificial lamps, powerful microscopes, the various arcane tools of the scientists' mystery. A sandy beach populated with bare-breasted native women  was simply not the place for undistracted, uninterrupted science.

The bones were taken.

The ruler was an enlightened man. He wanted science, wanted to learn, but wouldn't leave the islanders without their dragonbone festival. A new set of plaster-cast bones arrived, weeks before the midwinter festival.

On the island's coldest night, their bravest and strongest walked through the plaster archways, against a mysterious wind.

Some say that the plaster bones have always been there, long before people to make them.

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