|The Chronicles of Fone Bone Oathbreaker
Author: D. G. D. Davidson PM
Being an alternate world sequel depicting the Second Bonewar, the rise of the new Locust, and the fall of the House of Harvestar.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Adventure - Chapters: 9 - Words: 76,747 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 08-17-08 - Published: 03-30-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4166208
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Chronicles of Fone Bone Oathbreaker
D. G. D. Davidson
SPOILER ALERT: This is a "sequel" to BONE by Jeff Smith, or might be if BONE had ended a little differently. It assumes reader knowledge of all of BONE through Book 9, Crown of Horns.
CREDITS: For elements of the BONE universe, I referred to the One Volume Edition of BONE, © 2005 by Jeff Smith, as well as the black-and-white nine-volume series, which has different dialogue in some scenes. Both editions of the series are from Cartoon Books. For some visual descriptions, I referred to the four colorized volumes (Out from Boneville, The Great Cow Race, Eyes of the Storm, and The Dragonslayer) available at the time of writing from Scholastic's Graphix Imprint with full color by Steve Hamaker. I borrowed some place names and the names of some creatures and objects from Stupid, Stupid Rat-tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero, written by Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Jeff Smith (with an additional story written by Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Stan Sakai), available from Cartoon Books. I borrowed one name from, and occasionally made vague allusions to, Rose, written by Jeff Smith, illustrated by Charles Vess, lettered by Steve Hamaker, and available from Cartoon Books. I do not consider my uses of these latter two works to be spoilers, but read at your own risk. The name Floyd Bone and his occupation as barber came from a previous version of the official BONE website. I have taken the liberty of naming a few unnamed characters in BONE to ease the narrative flow.
I have quoted several works. Some are credited. Those that are not are public domain and include the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, John Dryden's translation of Virgil's Ænid, Alexander Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad, William Shakespeare's As You Like It, and Edmund Spencer's Faerie Queene.
--D. G. D.
Chapter 1: The Dragon's Stair and After
Alas, that Passion should profane,
Ev'n then, that morning of the earth!
That, sadder still, the fatal stain
Should fall on hearts of heavenly byrth--
And oh, that stain so dark should fall
From Woman's love, most sad of all!
--Thomas Moore, "The Loves of the Angels"
An infinite number of worlds swim around each other like froth in a swirled glass. Some worlds are so dissimilar that their differences are obvious, but some are so similar they could never be told apart. Some worlds their inhabitants call the best of all possible worlds.
There are many of those.
This is not one of them.
The story of this world begins where the story of another ended. It begins with a hay cart rolling into the hot dust of a wide desert.
There were figures in the cart. One was a large, muscled creature, the soft violet tint of his fur offsetting the burning red of his eyes and the fierce sharpness of his razor-like claws. The other two figures were pale white, their slick skin exuding sweat. Smiley Bone, as was his wont, thought only of dreams and shadows and bright colors as he lolled his tongue, tasting the sharp sting of the meandering, wind-borne sands. Phoney Bone, always calculating even when he wished he weren't, was considering the long journey before them. They had food aplenty--bland, hard food--but water might be a problem. The rat creature could drink half his weight in a day, as could the cows. Phoney figured they would need to slaughter the cows within a week and strike out on foot. The rat creature could feed off the raw meat and the bones might be able to cook some of it to relieve the monotony of endless bread-thingies. Smiley, Phoney knew, would not be pleased, but Phoney was not interested in pacifying his innocent and emotional cousin.
Phoney was interested in survival.
Phoney sighed. He had been sighing since they first set out on the return journey to Boneville. He had barely had the strength to help keep the cart upright as they forded the river. He had shot accusatory glances at Fone Bone, but Fone had looked away and found reason to be near Thorn and gaze at her pleasant features rather than at the disappointed countenances of his cousins.
Phoney cursed under his breath. His anger toward Fone Bone moved aside, replaced by another consideration of his cold logic: they were in the middle of the desert and had forgotten shelter and sun hats, and pale bone skin was prone to burning. Phoney hadn't thought of that before. Before, all he'd thought about was getting away with Atheia's treasure, but the treasure, too, was gone, replaced by crate after crate of hard, stale rations. In his mind, Phoney could see Fone Bone nestled against Thorn as he rode back to Atheia in victory, the city's treasure in tow. Right that moment, Phoney envied Fone Bone, though he never had before, because Fone Bone was rich and Phoney had only twenty gold pieces.
Fone Bone, who never had more than a few dollars in his life.
Fone Bone, who wasted every precious penny on his stupid books.
Fone Bone, who mooched off Phoney just like Smiley did, but pretended he was so much more respectable than either Phoney or Smiley.
Fone Bone, that bastard.
That thought brought a twinge of guilt. Fone Bone actually was a bastard, though Phoney didn't think he knew. None of the cousins knew much about their parents, who had died, along with a hundred and fifty other bones, in the tragic Custard Pie Incident. Only Phoney was old enough to remember, and only he had spent the painstaking hours researching in the courthouse to learn all he could about their family. As he sat in the stuffy records office in the middle of summer with the sweat trickling from his forehead, he resolved to become wealthy and build an orphanage so other children wouldn't have to suffer as he and his cousins did.
Fone Bone, always the self-righteous one, complained when Phoney finally did build an orphanage on that hazardous waste site. Fone Bone both protested the construction and helped Phoney escape alive when Fone's own campaign led to a lynch mob. Phoney never entirely forgave him for that.
Phoney looked out ahead. The desert stretched to the shimmering horizon. It was going to be a long trip.
As the cart faded into the sands across Deren Gard on its long journey to Boneville, Fone Bone stood on the rock beside Thorn and waved, and waved, and waved. Even after the shine of Bartleby's eyes had long since disappeared, he still stood and gazed after his cousins. Though he knew this moment would be sad, he never expected to feel exactly what he did feel.
As his cousins and their rat creature friend disappeared, Fone Bone felt something in his heart shrink, then shrivel, and then break. He felt, more certainly than he ever had before, that he did not belong in the Valley.
But when he looked up at the woman standing next to him, that feeling was easy to suppress.
Thorn, too, was still waving. As she was not looking at him, Fone Bone stole a moment to admire her. Gone was the cute, pert, slightly chubby girl he first fell for at the Hot Springs. This Thorn was lean, even skinny, and well muscled with a body wrought by hardship and battle. She bore many small scars across her limbs from the beating she and Bone had both endured, and as she smiled into the distance, her crystal tooth glinted palely, but Fone Bone found her lovelier than he had when they first met. Even the scars fascinated him; after all, bone skin doesn't scar.
She looked down at him and grinned. Before, Bone might have looked away and blushed, but now these two were used to gazing at one another.
"I'm glad you stayed, Fone Bone," Thorn said.
"So am I," Bone whispered.
She took his hand and turned. Gran'ma Ben was waiting for them. Ted and the Dragon, in a hurry to return to Atheia, had already left. Together with Gran'ma, Thorn and Bone walked back through the pass toward the Valley where the trees and flowers were now budding. Fone Bone's heart thumped. It was spring.
Bone felt a twinge in his stomach urging him to get one last glimpse of the Dragon's Stair and the desert where his cousins had gone.
He resisted it.
The long ride to Atheia gave Fone Bone time to think. He and Thorn, oddly enough, had little to talk about on the trip. His mind drifted back to the last three months when he and Thorn and Phoney and Smiley and Gran'ma all wintered at the farmhouse. That was a time of music, of laughter, and of fun, when the rat creatures and Atheia and the return trip to Boneville all seemed so distant, and Fone Bone didn't have to think about who he loved more--that was how Phoney put it--his cousins, or "his girl."
He decided, in the end, that it was his girl.
Even though she had never exactly acknowledged herself as his girl.
He thought back to that one peculiar night when everything was not laughter and fun. Thorn was in bed and seemed to be moping. Fone Bone stuck his head in the door and asked, "Okay if I intrude?"
"Come in, Bone," she answered. "I was hoping to talk to you." Her soft voice tickled Fone Bone's auditory membranes. He slipped in the door, leaving it open a crack for decency's sake, and a warm lump settled in his middle. Was it time, then? Was she, at last, going to tell him how she felt?
It was cold in the room and Bone's breath blew like a ghost through the sharp air. He sat on the edge of her bed, careful not to touch her, but she reached out from under the blanket and laid a hand on top of his. Her fingers were chilled, and as always, he was surprised at how rough her hands were. Human skin, even Thorn's, was coarse compared to a bone's. Calluses from years of farm work had formed on her palms, at the bases of her fingers, and in the spaces between each knuckle. Although Fone Bone had worked that same farm, calluses never did, and never could, form. He had needed gloves to prevent the inevitable blisters, so Miz 'Possum had generously made them with four fingers on each hand.
"I've wanted to talk to you, Fone Bone," Thorn mumbled. Her voice sounded almost plaintive.
"Okay," Bone said.
"I'm scared," Thorn whispered. She shifted and her blanket rustled. "I've lived on a farm my whole life, Fone Bone." She shifted again and her grip on Bone's hand tightened. "I don't know how to be a queen. It seemed so nice at the ceremony, like a little fairy tale ending. But it's not ended, is it?"
"You'll do okay," Bone said, returning her squeeze. "I mean, you're the Veni-yan-cari. My fairy princess." He smiled in the dark. It had become a joke between them.
"Fairy queen," she corrected.
"Ooh, Faerie Queene," he mused. "I should have brought that along with Moby Dick." That thought gave him a sudden pang of longing for Boneville.
Thorn sighed, but then chuckled. "I don't think I even want to know. But still...I'm afraid."
"It's okay," he said.
"Are you sure? I'll make so many stupid mistakes."
"It's okay," he said again. "The people will respect you. And th' Dragon'll help."
"Will you?" she asked.
"Will I what?"
"Will you help?"
A shadowy silence lay across the bed. Bone sat there holding her hand until his own fingers were cold. "Of course," he said at last.
Her hand loosened and slipped back under the blanket. "Will you...sit there...until I fall asleep?" she asked.
"Yes," he whispered. He breathed out, releasing a white cloud that faded in the air.
Thorn quieted, and all Bone could hear were his own heart and the steady, soft gasp of Thorn's breathing. In time, her breath grew even and low. He considered turning to look at her as she slumbered, and that thought opened a hungry hollow in his middle. He didn't look at her. Instead, as silently as he could, Fone Bone slipped from the room, shut the door, and crept downstairs to warm his chilled fingers and footpads by the fire.
On the road to Atheia, Fone Bone looked at Thorn again. The last time they traveled this road, they kept a blanket across their laps to keep warm, but spring was bright and sunny and now there was no need. When they rounded Flint Ridge, Gran'ma halted the cows and gazed from the cart across the plain to the great city on the edge of the cliff.
"We're home," Gran'ma said.
Next: Back to Boneville