Bone People

By Charles Ferguson, Dave Kristof and Ryan St.

In the windswept tundra of the icy north, there is an outcropping of bare rock the Bone People hold sacred. They call it The Mammoth’s Tusk, and it is the only solid ground in the permafrost for hundreds of miles. Here, in a yurt of mammoth skin and bone, “in the belly of their god,” they hold their religious ceremonies …

Sons of the Mammoth! Hear me! Hear me and return! Return to this sweat lodge, return to your bodies! Come back now from the Dreamlands of the Mammoth Lord!

Good, you awaken. Quickly, before the visions fade, speak them, that I may interpret! You … and you … good, now you … yes, and you too …

These visions are good, the Mammoth Lord favors you. Each of you will live many summers and grow strong. You and you will be hunters; you, a great fisher of the river at Summerhome, and you, a great tracker …

Gather your skins, and lace them tightly against the cold. You are now Men! Join the others tending the dung fire outside, but speak not of your visions.

And you three … still lost in your visions?

Sons of the Mammoth! Return! Return now to your bodies, to this sweat lodge! Come back now from the Dreamlands of the Mammoth Lord!

Speak your visions that I may interpret … hhhmmmm … both of you? You are called, it seems, to be the guardians of another’s quest, a noble calling!

And you, calm yourself! Fear not the telling of your vision … breathe deeply and begin … A land of fire and burning flesh? Ancient bloodied mammoths, beaten by strangely garbed men? Again I say, calm yourself …

This is not a vision to fear, but a gift of the Mammoth Lord himself! The quest shall be yours!

You saw not demon lands, but the Southlands, where snow is rare, and men worship not the Mammoth Lord, but their own strange "Living Gods." He sends you to protect His other children for a time … they are not the great mammoths we know, but their smaller, hairless brothers. That is why they appeared ancient and grey-skinned … The Southlanders call them “elephants,” and paint them gaudy colors and ride them to war!

These elephants will recognize you as an emissary of the Mammoth Lord, and do your bidding; thus you will spare them beatings from the Southlanders as they are trained for their tasks. You will live there until the Mammoth Lord calls you to return to us and take your place as a shaman.

Go now, and prepare yourselves. Wear your best skins, and your best weapons, and take the best ivory beads you have made, for the Southlanders hold them dearly. Speak no word outside, but begin your journey tonight.