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Saturday, April 07, 2012

WIP Snippet: "Great is the History of the Many-Skilled Artistes"

Folks following me on Twitter will know that I have been working on a short story entitled "Great is the History of the Many-Skilled Artistes" (a working title).  The story was inspired by one of my graduate school classes this semester.  I'm still working on it, and expect it to be completed next month (once finals are done and over with).

The following is the first of four sections in the story.  Do let me know what you think in the comments!

Here goes:

I.  Tears in the Womb of Unture
“Never trust the snake who wears another man’s clothes.
They are prone to theft and death follows them at the tail.”
--Avaganze Proverb, from The Thirty-third Book of Unturekamo, Date Unknown
 The man in the bowl hat wanted to eat their mythology, he said.  Nothing could have shocked the Avaganze more, since their mythology was everything to them.  They had cultivated it for generations, built their culture around it with stunning clarity.  They believed they were gifted by Unture, Queen of the Divine Realm, to live among the stars singular and alone. 
But then the bowl hat man had come, stepping huge footprints onto their tiny world, demanding a sacrifice like Unture herself.  But he was not Unture.  He could not be.  No.  Unture’s breasts hung low on her chest, because they were full of milk for the children of the universe, and her hips always swayed to an unknown rhythm in the sky.  And yet the bowler hat man had arrived and eaten away those few myths the Avaganze had let drift in the wind, including the divine nature of their existence.  Already, they were hurting. 
The bowl hat man smiled, licking his pearly teeth with a pink tongue glistening in the blazing afternoon sun.  His blue eyes struck dissonant notes in the air as he stared at the collective before him.  He dusted off his black waistcoat and the pleats of his black pants; he did not clean the tan-brown mess from his shoes, as if aware that to do so would be pointless.  His blonde hair fluttered in the wind, shining like gold beneath a brow drenched in sparkling sweat, jettisoning off a sagging frog chin.  His face bore the mark of a thousand ages, but the scars had long since healed, living his skin the color of lilies. 
He spoke again with his authoritarian voice, pulling from the gut and pushing tooth-filled words into the air, which swam down among the little people before him and nibbled at their heels:  “You will feed me your myths, or your children will have no history.” 
They were so much tinier than the bowl hat man, but only because he had consumed so much already.  His gut protruded from his fine clothes, exposing the hairy, jiggling blob beneath.  Yet his slovenly appearance gave way to gentility in the shiny bracelets and trinkets that adorned his neck, wrists, and belt.  
The little people gathered their strength, and finally Rohirre—which in the tongue of Avaganze meant “speaker of convincing words”—stepped forward. 
“How are you called?” he said, peering several feet up into the hungry eyes of the bowler hat man, who licked his lips and giggled from his belly.  A little butterfly fluttered from his belly button, nibbling at the air with its curled protrusion before dispersing in the wind as ashes. 
“Ah, so the Avaganze speak, with such fine, simple words.”  He sucked his teeth effect.  “You may call me Mogron.”  An audible hiss filled the air as the Avaganze reeled away.  “Yes, I like that name.  It rests well on the tongue, does it not?  Oh, and how strongly it translates.  ‘He Who Plagues Unture’s Feet.’  How wonderful you have become.  How creative!  Oh, I will feast well here.  I will feast well indeed.” 
“What compels Mogron to our shores?” 
Mogron bowed low, bringing his eyes level with Rohirre’s, some three feet from the ground; Rohirre was the tallest of his kind with a projecting voice—he had earned his name.  “I have come to eat.  Your mythology compels me.  It demands eating, for the many in the sky who I serve.” 
The Avaganze hissed again, some even cursing. 
Rohirre stiffened, his jaw set against emotion, but revealing the fear lingering in his heart.  “The Ongrorre sent you to us?” 
Mogron laughed.  His voice vibrated in the sand beneath his feet.  “Is that what you call the sky beings?  Dwellers in the City?  Oh, how fascinating!”  He licked his lips, tasting the air with a long, pink tongue covered in warts the size of Rohirre’s fingertips.  “I will eat well here.” 
“You will go now, Mogron.  You will go back to the Ongrorre and tell them that you may not eat here.” 
“And why would I do that, little one?” 
“Because the lands of the Avaganze are for the Avaganze, to be tilled by the Avaganze, to be the haven for the bodies of the Avaganze.  You are not Avaganze.  You are one of the Ongrorre.  Unture’s bane.  Unture’s torturer.  And you belong in Ongrorre.  Now go.”  
Rohirre lifted his chin, proud of his accomplishment, proud of waves of emotion emanating from the dozens of Avaganze standing behind him.  He did not glance back, but he could see them in the back of his mind holding hands tight, faces determined and strong.  Once more, he had fulfilled his namesake. 
Mogron brought himself to his full height, sucking in a deep breath.  And then he laughed, not unkindly.  His belly jiggled, the hairs standing on end with excitement.  The pearly whites in his mouth glistened with spittle as the roar of joy spilled from his gut, emitting serpentine wisps of air that slithered through the air and around the feet of the Avaganze. 
Then Mogron lifted his right arm, pointing a finger in such a way that only an elder would to a child, and in one great cry of pain, Rohirre disintegrated into dust.  Mogron sniffed Rohirre into his lungs, licking his tongue against his lips.  A chuckle built up in his gut.  The Avaganze cried in silence, too shocked to speak out against the great beast before them.  Tears fell from their dark faces, rolling down to their feet until the earth beneath them became mud. 
“Now you will bring me your stories.  For I am hungry.” 
Somewhere in the crowd the lone voice of a baby cried out.
And there you have it.

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