Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 30

The entry this week for my Serial Setting for Ubiquity adds another entry point into the lives of the residents of the mysterious Windlet Islands. The Serial Settings series of posts is intended to provide usable setting material for busy GMs. Series 1 is for those looking to run Daring Tales of Adventure or Hollow Earth Expedition.

30) The Bonfire, Windlet Settlement, Greater Windlet Island

No one is entirely sure when the tradition of the Sunday night Bonfire started, but records and recollections indicate that it was a part of community life on the island from the time of the second expedition. Intended to properly survey the islands and bring back detailed reports, the expedition was as lucky as the first to escape with their lives, but in so doing, also escaped with knowledge of how survival on the islands might be made possible, and numerous samples of natural and not-so-natural wonders which could persuade a man to make such an attempt.

Originally, the men assigned to explore the islands would retreat to the beaches at night and ring themselves in fire with a ‘fire watch’ set to ensure no decrease in the flames while the exhausted and battered explorer’s slept. The men of the fire watch spent the days on the expedition’s vessels, away from harm, and protected the men of the expedition while they slept. This cadre of men eventually formed the backbone of the fence guards.

Now, the Bonfire is a weekly affair held on Sunday nights, includes music, local art and cuisine, and has taken on a more festive air. Anyone with an interest in the life of the community attends, and most newcomers and visitors are drawn by the dancing, the flames, and the curious sight of the droves of people heading down the beach away from the settlement and into the darkness carrying pitch torches and picnic lunches.

Held roughly 500 metres from the last cluster of coastline homes and the tiny dock that many of the traditional fishermen have built to collect and dry their catch, the site of the Bonfire is a pale white curve of soft sand under tall trees whose lower branches and underlying shrubbery have been cleared away, and which has had a second smaller retaining fence installed to increase safety. An extra guard stands watch while the locals enjoy the soft nights under the stars beside the giant bonfires.

Usual Suspects: Copernicus

The most regular attendee of the Bonfire is a black and white mutt of perhaps two or three years of age who has grown into the name Copernicus. Calling no one master, but faithfully greeting each guest to the Bonfire as though it were his own special party, the dog often seeks out the tired, saddened, or lost and prances about idiotically, goading them to dance, to laugh, and to run in the waves. His face, mainly black, but marked with expressive white eyebrows, laughs and mocks sad faces, teasing out smiles from even the most dour people.

Thought to feed on vermin around town, but often given scraps and cared for by the locals, the dog has refused to enter any one family’s life as a companion. Still, at night as he stares into the fire, or gazes out across the waves, it is as if he is waiting for someone to come.

Rumours: heard primarily among the children of the islands

  • Copernicus loves to eat snakes
  • Copernicus saved a baby from one of the deadly green spiders of the island and nearly died from its venom
  • His body is scarred and his fur hides the traces of awful injuries, but few get the chance to pet him
  • He swam ashore one day, but no other signs of a wreck were ever found
  • Many fence guards claim he has saved them from snakes or other perils late at night when they were struggling to stay awake
  • He howls and covers his head with his paws when bad singers sing
  • He sleeps under the docks
  • He used to have a collar made of a finely braided leather, but it is gone now

Truths:

Soon!

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