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The Story of the Greedy Settler
This story and the stories to come are the history (or mythology) of the strange peoples that lurk in the dark places of Tasmania. The aborigines know them as spirits, though it may be more appropriate to call them monsters. One story that takes place in Tasmania is about the dolerite towers on or by the coasts of this lovely island.
This happened in the late 1870s, when gold was discovered in Tasmania. There was this one young man named John and like many of the cruel settlers, he pretended to pay attention in church, idolized gold and hated the island’s native inhabitants. One day, John and his fellow evildoers chased some aborigines in the forest and were about to shoot them.
But the strongest native man stood in front of his family and shouted, “Wait! Stop! Is THIS what you want?”
The settlers were shocked. It was surprising enough that this native man spoke perfect English, but he also took out what looked like a piece of hammered gold.
Now John had some form of decency. He thought of sparing these aborigines in return for the gold. But first, he had to know where it came from. “Where did you get that?”
The aboriginal man said, “If you promise you will spare us, we will show you where I got this.”
John shook a little with eagerness. “Fine.”
“Wait a second,” a bulky man with a red beard said, “What if that’s the only gold they have?”
John gave him a cold stare. “And who said you’re the leader?”
The man shut his mouth. The settlers lowered their guns and followed the aborigines through the forest. The group headed west, toward a grandiose mountain range. The journey was taking so long, the sky began to darken, and as the sky turned black, John saw what looked like the Northern Lights swaying and dancing on the peaks. The aborigines stopped.
John’s murderous temper flared. “Okay. Why are we stopping?”
The aboriginal man turned around. His eyes were wide with terror. “Because this is as far as we natives go. There are dangerous spirits in this part, and the one you’re looking for is Murrambukanya. She is covered with gold and-”
A small man jumped up and pointed his gun. “We didn’t come to hear stories! We came for-”
“Shut up and back off!” John yelled to his comrade. To the aborigine, he said, “Where does this… whoever live?”
The aboriginal man pointed. “You see that peak at the center, the one higher than the others? That’s where you are to go.”
John grunted and shoved the aborigine out of his way. The settlers headed toward the mountain, grumbling about how thick the vegetation was. John figured there was a vein of gold ore that the aborigines considered sacred, thus explaining the story about a gold spirit.
The mountain seemed to stretch up as the settlers approached it. This didn’t faze the men anyhow. They thought the mountain simply looked bigger, and they began to climb its rocky side. As they ventured upward, the aurora at the top intensified in light, and they began to hear a noise like snapping fingers.
The small man lit his lantern and said, “Um, I think we should go home.”
John turned on him. “Well we’re not stopping until we figure out where the gold is.”
The small man grunted. “Hmph.”
And they kept on climbing.
John was the first to come to the mountain’s peak. He could barely believe what he was seeing.
Down by the mountainside was a sprawling city twinkling with many lights.
“I’ve never seen a settlement like this!” one of John’s friends squealed.
John stopped them before they could hurry down the mountain. “Who knows if the people down there are friendly or not.”
The red-bearded man said, “Aw, be reasonable, John. They’re probably British, like us.”
John rubbed his finger on the gun’s barrel. “You never know.”
So the settlers sneaked down the mountain. The slope on this side was more gentle, so they got to the farmlands at the edge of the city pretty quickly. The men found themselves at the edge of a field full of sagg plants, all arranged in neat rows. John never knew of a civilized society that grew Tasmanian plants as food, but this may mean he accidentally discovered a new civilization. Not only that, but John saw that the buildings were made of a white material he had never seen in Tasmania.
Then John dreamed of the riches that may come as a result of this discovery. “Come on. Let’s go see what the people look like.”
And so the settlers trotted through the field, not caring that they were ruining someone’s garden. They passed by a house made from tabby stone.
John’s little friend looked to a window. “I hear whispering. Someone might be seeing us.”
John heard whispering, too, but he didn’t know where it was coming from. “That’s just the wind. Don’t let it bother you.”
The settlers kept going, and saw that many people were out. The city was filled with that many lights. The city was surrounded by a brick road. John and the others hid in bottlebrush bushes next to the road. John snuck a peek at a stranger passing close to the bush and gasped.
The man was in a black outfit. He was short and stout. He wore a British-looking hat to go with his outfit. He had a long, brown tail with white spots and the head of a spotted cat.
And you thought he was human, didn’t you?
This creature was not the only oddball here. John was horrified to see that the city was filled with monsters. Some were tall and wore flowing robes. Others were small and had glowing tails, like fireflies the size of cats. Still more were like that quoll-man.
John was about to run when he saw her. She was a humanoid with a feline head, faceted like a gemstone. The areas that weren’t covered by her white dress shone like gold. She also had a face like obsidian and arms like marble.
John had an idea. “Murrambukanya!”
The beautiful creature turned in his direction.
John tried again. “Murrambukanya!”
In that moment, their eyes locked. The monster’s piercing, golden eyes felt numbing to look at. An uncanny sense of calm overtook John. His hands loosened so much they dropped his gun. John slowly got up and stumbled out of the bush. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that his friends were doing the same thing. He didn’t care that the other monsters were screaming in native Tasmanian. All he cared about was getting closer to those eyes.
Then he was seized by one of the tall creatures and all went black.
When John woke up, he was on his knees, at a beach of some sort, and bound with scratchy rope. His friends were trying to scream through the gags that bound their mouths shut. John had a cloth covering his mouth too. A strong hand gripped his right shoulder. John looked up to see one of the tall creatures. The monster’s huge feline eyes seemed to burn with rage.
There was a crunching of sand. John looked down to see a quoll-man walking alongside the crashing waves. He wore a nobleman’s suit, but no hat.
The quoll-man stopped and turned to face John. “Well, well. If it isn’t John the Terrible.”
The monsters behind John and his friends burst into laughter. John struggled against the ropes. The monster behind John kicked him, and John fell in the sand. The same hand that nearly crushed John’s shoulder picked him up, and set him down on his knees.
An evil smirk played on the quoll-man’s lips. “I have been watching you, boy. And I have to say, I’m very disappointed in you. You think that as long as you sit in that church, everyone will think you’re a good man and will accept your actions.” The quoll-man took a step closer, “But you are really a horrible person. You’re nothing but a spiritual charlatan. Killing unsuspecting aborigines, pursuing riches, and deliberately ignoring your God’s standards!”
The quoll-man snapped his fingers and he disappeared in a puff of orange smoke.
“Get up,” a harsh female voice commanded.
John felt his legs obey the command, even though he wasn’t telling his legs to do so. One of his friends made a worried groan. They were rising against their will too.
“Now run into the sea,” the harsh voice commanded.
And John and the other settlers found themselves galloping into the cold sea, their precious leather boots being soaked by the salty waves. Then the water reached their knees, then their waists. John felt like he was freezing. He couldn’t turn to glare at the jeering creatures.
The same voice that enslaved the settlers’ bodies cried, “Now turn into stone!”
John felt a heavy, numbing feeling creeping up from his feet. Then something pulled his legs together. John heard several of his men screaming. He turned to see their waists turn rigid and gray. He looked down and saw that his body was turning into a pillar of stone!
John wanted to see who was doing this to him. He still couldn’t turn his head around. “You can’t do this to me! I belong to-”
The voice taunted, “Who do you belong to, so that they may save you?”
John’s chest was encased in stone. The heavy feeling was sinking into the center of John’s chest. “I belong to-” and his head was encased in stone. The new rock formations stretched up, growing into massive pillars. You can’t even remotely tell that they were once men.
Yes, fake Christians did and do exist, and we know for certain that John was one of them.