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BRENNER'S BONES



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Sinopse

Most people think they would know a dragon if they saw one. That's what expatriate American, Andy Alytis thought, before his need for a resident's visa compelled him to set out for the Greek island of Hypata. Hypata, he learns, is an obscure island in the Aegean, with a dark history of corsair kingdoms, ancient gate-ways to Hades, and dragon-infested, inland mountains. For the practical minded Andy, his interest in going there is strictly to collect and old debt from his long-lost German friend and trepanning afficianado, Brenner. After a catch-as-catch-can trip, bumming rides, by land and sea, Andy finally reaches his destination and discovers that Brenner now lives in an old Venetian country house filled with bones. Previously a much sought after stone worker, Brenner has developed a bizarre obsession with collecting the mortal remains of animals. The redeeming feature of his obsession is that, by island standards, he makes a good living reassembling skeletons that he sells to biological supply houses in northern Europe. Nevertheless, Andy's hope for a quick in-and-out on the money, falls through. He reluctantly agrees to lay over on Hypata, and work with Brenner to finance the next leg of the visa quest. For the first few days of their reunion, Brenner regales Andy with peasant food, expensive intoxicants, and a place to pass out. On one of those first evenings, Brenner and Andy are visited by a local who passes around a jug of raki, and tells the boys a tale of how he was crippled and scarred twenty years before by a demonic mule; a creature that his father had captured in the mountains, and his grandfather had sworn was a dragon. Only later, in the wake of the mule's mayhem, and his son's maiming, does the father give up his hopes of selling the beast, and takes it into the mountains to leave it, chained up to die... Over several days of partying with Brenner, Andy gradually gets use to the notion of assisting his German friend in boiling down road-kill and other dead animals for their bones. However, no sooner does Andy reconcile himself to that work, than Brenner comes back from the island's main village with a job offer from the local priest. The Papas offers not only to pay the lads to dig up an anonymous grave in the cemetery; but throws in the bones as well. It is there that Andy draws the line, and where the two entrepreneurs have words that threaten to end the friendship. After a cooling-off period, and in the spirit of compromise, Andy finally proposes to Brenner that in lieu of an exhumation, they trek into the mountains and bring back the bones of the mule they've been told about by the crippled islander. It proves a fatal compromise; a trek into the realm of a wild and ancient darkness, where Andy learns, first-hand, that dragons are indeed shape-shifters...

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