"Lay Down My Bones" is a short story by Alyssa Wong published in the anthology Folk & Fairy Tales of Azeroth. It is illustrated by Lindsey Burcar. The story tells of Hava and Siy, two young vulpera who were tasked by their caravan to follow the Wailing Bone to Elder Rivu's resting place.
The story open in media res from the perspective of Hava, a young vulpera just a year shy of adulthood, unable to sleep. He slips past his parents and five siblings leaving his caravan and going into the caravan of Elder Kulen to look at the Wailing Bone, while hearing an incessant dripping sound. On the bone is inscribed a poem in a script few vulpera can read but all could recite:
- Wander, roam; bring me home,
- Down paths at my behest;
- Among the stones, lay down my bones,
- So I, at last, may rest.
Upon grabbing the bone, he heard a voice say, "NO REST. NEVER REST." He then proceeded to take the bone without touching it, wrapping it in cloth.
The story then jumps to the events leading up to the opening of the story. Elder Rivu explains that the vulpera were born of the magic of the desert, and how the desert calls to the vulpera upon death to a specific location by following the Wailing Bone in order to help their spirits pass the veil. The bone indicates the location has been reached because the vulpera tasked with holding the bone can hear its cries, whether it takes just a day or weeks.
The story returns to where it previously left off, Hava having stolen the bone and brought both halves to his cousin Siy. Siy makes the mistake of grabbing the bone, where he become paralyzed until Hava knocks him down. Siy begins to vomit more water than he could have possibly drank, as well as small fishes, pebbles, silt, and a long continuous thread of river grass enough to circle Hava many times over that Hava was forced to pull from Siy's mouth. They remark the incessant dripping is driving them insane, and how they're unable to sleep due to nightmares of drowning and the rotten corpse of Elder Rivu chasing them down.
The story jumps to the past again. Elder Rivu had just died and had no family, so Siy and Hava were tasked with the leading the caravan with the bone. Due to frustration and exhaustion after many weeks of wandering, and Elder Rivu's corpse rotting, Siy suggested to instead toss the corpse into a river that had sprung up due to a flash flood. Hava agreed to this plan. Upon Elder Rivu's body touching the water, the bone screamed in a piercing tone, and cracked in half. When they returned to their caravan, their family sighed in relief due to not having to wander any more.
The story jumps back to the present. Hava is pretending the bone is whispering to him to lead Siy to the river. Hava strikes Siy over the head, and then proceeds to choke him with the bone to hold him under the water, drowning him. He asks the bone if its satisfied now, but the bone laughs. Suddenly, the bloated corpse of Elder Rivu grabs his ankles and pulls him underwater as the bone burned in his paws. The bone explains that he had guided his caravan for generations, thousands of vulpera following the cries of the bone, but Hava had abandoned his elder and left him in a river where his body will never know rest. Siy's body then grabs Hava as well, dragging Hava into the depths with Rivu.
A year later, Hava's bones washed upon the shores of the canyon, along with Siy's. Elder Kulen took Hava's bone and inscribed the poem upon it, becoming the caravan's new Wailing Bone. The story ends with the lesson, "shirking your duty always has consequences" and "a caravan always needs a Wailing Bone".
- The use of a bone or bones to divine locations or the future is a common practice in antiquity, such as Chinese oracle bones.
- A vengeful ghost after an improper burial (or no burial) is a common mythological trope.