Indri's Fire Picture

The lemurling tribes who hunt in the vast green canopies, and ride the enormous dragonflies that come to perch at the volcano's edge, like a good party and a good story as much as anybody. And when the millipedes have been handed around and licked and everybody's pleasantly inebriated, they tell the story of how the indri stole fire from the gods.

It was in the time before time when the Indri, greatest of the lemurs, climbed a thorn tree to heaven. His fur was as white as cloud and silk, and he was very proud of it, and his tail was twice as long as the ringtail's, much to the ringtail's disgust. Indri's eyes were the blue of a very hot flame, and possibly it was this similarity that led him to climb the thorn tree, to the hearth of the sun, where the gods kept fire.

The lengthy travails that Indri went through, in that land where the stormclouds take the form of great grey fossas, and the lightning is a nest of twining serpents, will not be recounted here, because I haven't had enough millipede to tell it and you probably haven't had enough to make it amusing--except maybe you, yes, you, over there in the corner giggling. Cut him off, he's had enough--So Indri came at last, past the enormous frog who stores all the rains of the world in his belly, to the hearth of the sun, and found it unguarded. (And why not? Nobody else would be stupid enough to climb a thorn tree to heaven. Heaven's a bloody dangerous place. Indri was very brave, but nobody's ever called him bright.)

It was the depth of the rainy season, and the fire was low and banked at the back of the hearth, so Indri had to crawl halfway into it to reach back to the flame. He caught it up, quick quick quick, into a shell, and crawled back out and hurried away.

But as he was passing in front of the great frog (who eyed him suspiciously, but didn't dare open his mouth to say anything, lest the rains escape and the rainy season end prematurely) Indri caught sight of himself in the puddle at the frog's feet. To his horror, his beautiful white fur, of which he was so proud, was slicked and stained with soot. His face and hands were completely black, and a blanket of charcoal gray fell across his back and shoulders. Indri wailed in horror. (The frog, it must be said, snickered with its mouth closed.)

Now, the wail of a distressed lemur in heaven attracts entirely the wrong kind of attention, and one of the great grey nimbus fossas pricked up its ears and was flowing across the sky in a heartbeat, which we will take as proof that one should save bewailing one's vanity until after one is clear of any giant supernatural predators that may be lurking in the vicinity. That's the only moral you're getting out of this story, kids, so enjoy it. Indri did the only sensible thing when a monsterous cat-mongoose made of lightning and boiling cloud comes after you, and bolted.

Under normal circumstances, Indri being the greatest of lemurs as I think I mentioned, he would have gotten away clean. But he was carrying the stolen fire, still in its shell, and he didn't dare drop it, because while the gods might leave fire unguarded once, you can bet he wasn't going to get a second chance at this. Many of the gods are no brighter than Indri, and some of them are a lot less so, but even they can recognize the obvious when it steals fire under their nose. So Indri's flight was hampered by having to protect the fire, and the cloud fossa was barely a leap behind him when he made it back to his thorn tree.

Indri dove down the tree, head first, with the fire clutched in his frantic paws...and halted.

He halted because there was a very large paw made of cloud on his beautiful tail. It is not written what Indri thought at this juncture, but I suspect "Oh, crap," might be a fair guess. Indri wailed again, and the fossa started to haul him up by the tail, and really, at that point there was only one thing left to do. And Indri always was brave, if not very bright, so he hauled himself around and bit his magnificent tail off under the fossa's paw, and fell down the thorn-tree from heaven holding the fire in his paws.

And so today, all the many descendants of Indri are marked forever by the soot from the hearth of the gods, and they all have short little stubs of a tail (which, it must be said, makes the ringtails unbearably smug.) And all of Indri's children have the most mournful voices imaginable, because although they're very proud of the great hero Indri, and they are forever the keepers of the sacred fire, they have never stopped wailing for the loss of their tails.

Hey, it keeps me amused! (Man, that description ran longer than usual...) Anyway, more scribble and ink! Worked big this time, at 12.75 x 19. May have to re-photograph it, though--there's a lot of subtle blue that didn't scan, alas. Decided to paint an indri, largest of the lemurs, because A) nobody ever does and B) I was on a lemur kick anyway. Thinking about lemurs with fire just led me off mythologizing. You know how it goes.

Anyway! Original is for sale, prints are available for $10 and $20 plus shipping, for the lemur lover on your list. Send a note for pricing on the original, or to order prints, or visit [link]
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