Weekend off, though with my current productivity, I might need to rectify that this upcoming weekend.
Still, ‘Fickle’ continues, light and throwaway as it is!
‘Fickle’ Part 3
Great Dragon Grillig
I got my name from the Dutch. They called me ‘Grillig’, for my actions dealing with the French, British, and Norwegians. As they saw it, my intervention on behalf of the French, against the British, while also inadvertently helping all of Norway was somewhat… fickle.
I suppose I should just be glad the translation didn’t stick on ‘whimsical’ as the tale spread, because I don’t think I could handle being called ‘Whimsy’ for the rest of my life. I’m not fond of Fickle either, mind, but apparently, you can’t be a god with phenomenal world-changing powers and just be called ‘John’.
Personally, I consider that to be part of what is wrong with humanity.
It wasn’t long before I had periodic visitors showing up on my shores. The visitors tended to be the most desperate and lost of humanities’ remnants, but the requests were usually uniform. Stop whatever bad thing was happening to the group they were with, usually with violence.
Sometimes the problem was animals, or something as simple as starvation, but the requested answer was usually ‘kill x thing to solve y problem’. On charitable days, I like to think men asked for the wholesale slaughter of herds of wild boar simply because they didn’t know I could simply close the massive rift stopping them from heading into the lush forest that got thrust a mile into the sky, but most days I’m more… dour… than that.
Not least of which because I never get a week off.
After visitor ten, I was already trying to stop things from continuing.
I widened the small river on my island, added some rapids. The mud and rock I had to cut through turned the water red, so I put up a sign calling it ‘Blood River’ to put people off… it didn’t work.
I steepened the sides of the Spire and sharpened the rocks one would have to climb to get to my lair to stop people ringing my doorbell… it didn’t work.
I planted giant vines and stinging plants on the lower level, added sharks and giant creatures to the bay, predators to the beach… none of it worked.
Humanity is poxy persistent.
I have an entire flourishing ecosystem, self-sustaining, to keep people out… and they have dubbed it a ‘paradise’ just because the food web works here. I can’t win.
And they keep putting up bloody shrines whenever they emerge from the mist, faster than I can tear the damn things down!
Apparently, that makes me ‘Fickle’ too.
Have I mentioned I hate people?
Then Gemma turned up.
Who, in all the annals of history and the great stories of mankind’s heyday, names a concubine Gemma?
She did go on to make the valid point that she hadn’t been born to be a concubine, nor chose it at any point… she’d wanted to be a hairdresser. But still. If you are a tribe wanting to appease or impress your deity of the day with a gift of the flesh, what kind of mad wisdom must you be operating under to settle on the woman in your camp named Gemma for the role?
Between you and me, I was somewhat delighted when I found out she wasn’t called ‘Barbarella’ or something. If she could get away with still being Gemma, maybe I could finally convince the world my name is John and be left to my books and painting… it has yet to take hold, of course.
Still, she lives with me now and is about ninety percent of the reason I have a horde on my doorstep cheering my ‘name’, so I suppose I better explain how she got here.
It was about a year after the Norway thing, give or take a month or two. I’d spent that year bolstering my island in a vain effort to be left alone after I realized my intervention in the affairs of men had bitten me in the ass. I was also learning, fast, that for all I’d been dubbed ‘Fickle’ by the world, humanity is nothing if not contrary.
The more I pushed them away, the more of them turned up on the beach, certain that the adversity simply meant I would only cater to the most deserving. And by ‘deserving’, they clearly meant ‘insane enough to overcome all these hurdles’.
The irony was not lost on me that everything I had wrought to be forgotten and left in peace only made me more worshiped, and the legends about me and what I stood for more warped and inaccurate.
So it was I ended up as a dragon-god to the various Germanic tribes after the story of Norway spread. Clearly, the old world lived on in some of these people, as echoes of the old tales wormed their way into the local devotions. Part Firedrake and part Lindworm, somehow one tribe also got the story all mixed up with a very old tale about a seven-headed serpent who ate maidens. After that, I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone brought a woman to my abode.
The tribe was settled in the ruins of what had once been the city of Chemnitz. Looking through the old journals that survived the end times, Chemnitz has always had an interesting history, from when it was known as ‘Karl-Marx-Stadt’, up to its position as a Free State of Saxony. Before the fall when the Spire split, it had been a large manufacturing city with pleasant arable land outside its borders and plenty of shopping centers full of overseas brands.
Since the split, though, it would be fair to say those left roaming the hollow and empty streets lost a lot of their cosmopolitan sensibilities and love for the international community.
Like everywhere else in the world, as minds broke alongside the rest of reality, the people of Chemnitz joined that unique sensibility that seems to take hold in every apocalypse story and formed a localized cult around the specialty of their area.
In some ways, it’s a shame to see little castle Rabenstein so vastly altered in service to the cult of machinery, but impressive at the same time.
Vast smoky plumes hang over the place far worse than my dragon-fire ever caused, and the sound of hammers on anvils is nigh constant. Most importantly, some of the old factories still work and a few people have retained just enough knowledge of electronics to run some of the automated plant lines periodically. Chemnitz now prides itself on being one of the very few places in Europe able to churn out some form of automated chariots, though they are a far cry from the sleek German cars and efficiency of the old world. At least for now.
The problem with running a steelworks and chariot-factory in post-apocalyptica is a simple one: supply. While the first few years proved no major problem as there was an entire city to scavenge for metal and parts, the supply naturally dwindles. No more are there trains and trucks bringing in freshly milled steel from across the world, there isn’t even a trade line to in-country mines anymore, and that’s before we discuss the matter of the raw fuels to power the plant.
Needless to say, the understanding on solar power is somewhat lost to time, and the few panels that didn’t shatter when the Spire broke were quickly salvaged for use in making chariots, not more power.
When supply is vastly outstripped by demand, violence isn’t far behind. Chemnitz has known riots in its time for all manner of thoughts and ideals, but by the time I got involved, the place had already unified into rioting across the country picking on other groups, rather than in fighting. There are some great stories of the terrible wagons roaming the countryside for metal and parts from all this, but they traded in flesh too. Value is where you find it, and some people will give up metal for people, or people for metal. Flesh can be a currency, as it always has been.
I became part of this story when the Chemnitz Saxons hit a brick wall in the form of Bremen. Another industrial city, pre-break, it was as well fortified and capable as Chemnitz itself… and with more resources within its walls. Bremen used to be a port city, and the tankers in port the day the world ended still held cargo, steadily being worked through by the locals in much the same was Chemnitz had worked through its own.
When one man has what another man wants, either some serious trade negotiations are about to go down, or a fight. Guess which one it was. And guess which one brought the Chemnitz Saxons to my island, determined to get the Great Dragon Grillig to help them?