Revisiting Shunder Bon Thon

About 18 months ago I wrote a short piece of exposition describing a magical workshop.  Shunder Bon Thon, ‘the mighty workshop of Shunder’, drew much of its inspiration from the dilapidated Santa Fe Railway shops in Topeka, Kansas where my Grandfather retired from upholstery before I was born.

This past week the workshop idea returned to mind from no discernable direction so I went searching for what I’d written about Shunder.  I’d not tagged it ‘come back’ but my recollection was enough that I found it near the top of my first search for ‘building’.  Obviously my thinking is to extend what I’ve written as well as to return to writing (each day).  The piece was not what I recalled.

This week Shunder’s glassy and rhythmic shop segments glittered in one angle of the sun and disappeared to near invisibility in another.  These high flown atria curled past mere arches to near full circles flaring out from the base in the mountainside then straightening to vertical at the shop floor level and finally ending over the top of the arc back in the mountain’s ragged slope.  The windows’ scaffold inside as unobvious as a dragon’s bones inside her skin of sparkling scales.  The armor, weapons, jewelry, vehicles, siege engines, and other charms crafted here made boys into men, men into warlords, warlords into kings, and then committed regicide upon them.  This week’s Shunder possessed an elegant nature.

What I’d written originally no longer influenced the world as much as it was influence by the world.  The mountainside caved in the northern segments of the shop where magic sails were woven.  Hundreds of years of rock fall smashed opaque windows here and there along the spine exposing the verdigrised and torn metal holding her up.  But the furnaces still smoked and the hammers still rang out.  Journeymen and acolytes still imbued their works with ancient chants.  Masters still incanted names not heard outside Sunder’s protective womb.

Ultimately I’ve been off looking for conflict.  I’ve imagine it dressed up fancy for a night on the town and me a dull humorless boy unable to charm it well.  But lately I’ve found conflict can be as unadorned as “If you want this, you’ll do that.”.  The plain difference between having a thing and having more—or less—of that thing.  The tension between now and once was.

Day 362

Day 106: The Mighty Workshop of Shunder

Shunder Bon Thon translates to ‘the mighty workshop of Shunder’.  The main building–which is not what draws first attention–follows the curve of the hillside like a fat dilapidated snake.  Apparently no one new how to excavate or build up and down the slope because it meanders along the contour cantilevered in some places on stilts in others.  Sometimes the lumpy thing even loops out from the hillside altogether to create little grottos or atriums.  From the right angle, one that you can only reach from another hillside a mile to the south, the entire mess grades perfectly level.

Of course it was built in sections over many years, but always with the same local trees and same practical style.  A local could tell you ten maybe twelve sections of construction history.  Travelers are lucky to guess correctly two sections deep.

At night the multicolored windows light with a surprising pattern you wouldn’t expect from an otherwise arrhythmic structure.  But even those panes are susceptible to the vagaries of materials availability. The regular six pane pattern might be four or five deep red and one or two red-orange.  Some sextets will be entirely clear with a single out of place blue or green or lavender pane.  Others alternate two glass, two painted over, and two glass again.  If you want to focus on the main building you must see it at night, because during the day your attention just can’t get past the monstrous hoops circling the building.

Shunder Bon Thon is encircled in a horizontal column of twenty-three copper hoops.

These cyclopean rings rise as high as a wren ever needs to fly and measure maybe a large woodshed wide.  No one knows who made them or how they remain erect.  All of them are partially buried in the hillside, but a few not as much as you’d like.  Number seventeen exposes it’s entire inner surface and worries even the oldest of the locals.  But even their outrageous size draws less attention than the reality that all twenty-three align perfectly along a single axis.  The workshop winds in and out following the hillside, but the hoops never veer from perfect.

Word count: 362