This Weeks Prompt:11. Odd nocturnal ritual. Beasts dance and march to musick.
The Resulting Story: The Parade
This is a bit more of a corpse than the last few, and thus requires a little less explanation and a little more stitching. The first is what such displays resemble, in folklore. The role of odd nightly rituals has in the tradition of the West at least, belong to witches. Walpugisnacht, or the Witch night, is the most famous of the strange music and bestial rites at night. It is featured prominently in Faust, where it prevents the titular character from achieving his redemption. And then there is the Call of Cthulhu, by our good Mr. Lovecraft, who’s second act discusses a nightly ritual of witches. And lastly, in that Lovecraft vein, there is Shub-Niggurath, who has many beast associations as the Goat with a Thousand Young. Her followers engage in nightly and bestial ritual often, occasionally giving rise to terrible beasts of earth and sky.
The beasts here, however, preform uniquely human behaviors. The dance and march to music, in a way reminisce to a parade. A surreal scene to say the least, one that blurs the line between man and best. And there’s an animal for that. The ape.
In medieval times, and since, the ape has been recognized as something between man and animal. It looks, and acts, like both at times and earns an unsettling place in our hearts that way. There is a dichotomy embodied in the ape, of animal passion and human rationality. Which way it falls depends greatly on the story. Certainly, such a parade would be an interesting scene.
But would it make a story? The ritual it seems, assuming it has human participants, is either invited to or stumbled upon. If invited, we must ask by who and for what purpose? To be in some way a victim? No, this to me seems cliche. To be invited as a sort of initiation, into some strange mystery cult? That is more plausible.
If stumbling upon, it becomes a bizarre story. The protagonist finds the scene, is perhaps drawn in, and is left confused at its end (Assuming the participants don’t descend on him). Perhaps afterwords he sees the people again, or the animals, and recalls the night. Perhaps when beasts and men dance, the two become hard to tell apart, and he fears the wolf and the man with the wolfish mask as well.
Who is another manner entirely. We could return to an old corpse, the servant of the Caliphate. He has already shown an interest in strange customs and practices. An anthropological mind would probably examine such a rite, especially in newly earned lands.
Or, we could go the route of a new protagonist. We could go far into Britain, where witches might lurk with faery creates. The region has several Lovecraftian locales, with Berkely castle holding a terrible toad, and the Severn Valley having its strange nature. There is an entrenched legacy of Mr. Lovecraft here, and this could be mind.
Which do you think would be better? A return to a older protagonist, another round for the bureaucrat, or a new face from the far off isle?
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