The WarBoys need new myths to believe in, after Immortan Joe is dead and torn apart. That's how it begins.
The Wives (now the Five Sisters, even though only four of them live still) begin while Furiosa is still unconscious, recovering. The first night back, they park the Gigahorse on the lift and lower it down the cliff face. The WarBoys cling to rock faces and swarm out of crevices to mingle with the Wretched (Later, they will become the Fury Men and Greenkeepers, but for now they are freshly free of Immortan Joe and are still WarBoys and Wretched.) It takes a while for the crowd to settle, but the Sisters are patient. They wait until there is silence.
It is the Dag who speaks first:
“Tonight,” She cries out, voice louder than any of them have heard, but there is strength in her lungs and her hands that she is only just discovering. “Tonight, we tell the tale of Angharad the Splendid, who fought and lived and died, and lives again in this telling.”
And they do. They pass the tale among the four of them, in the way of people who have learned every nook and cranny of each other. The Dag begins the tale, beginning with what she knew of Angharad's childhood: beautiful, smart, brave and caged. Capable tells of their time together in Joe's vault: Angharad had cut her own face to mar her beauty, and cared for each of the Sisters as much as she could. Toast tells about the birth of the truth: They Are Not Things, and the plan to run far away to freedom. And quiet fearful Cheedo tells of her death: brave unto the last, strong and beautiful and free.
They finish the tale after two long hours, with the people settled together around them. Their voices grow hoarse, but they finish together:
“So lived and died Angharad the Splendid, and she lived again tonight, in the telling of her tale.”
It is a good first night.
The next day they send parties of scavengers out along the fury road, and envoys to the Bullet Farm and Gazztown. It will be twelve days before the remains of the war parties make it around the mountains, and they need to be ready. If they are smart and lucky, they will not need to fight the returning WarBoys: they will return and become part of the Citadel again. If they are unlucky, they will need to be prepared for a long siege, and have alliances with Gazztown and the Farm to support them.
Furiosa wakes, just briefly, and wakes again, for longer. The Sisters have the door of the Vault torn down, and send it away to be melted. Some of it will be made into armor for them, and an arm for Furiosa, gleaming and bright as befits rulers. The rest will be turned into spades and shovels and plows.
When sun begins to set, they stand in the Gigahorse again. There is a bottle of water to soothe their throats. Capable steps forward alone, and her sisters stand behind her, united.
“Tonight, I tell the tale of Nux the WarBoy, who fought and lived and died, and lives again in this telling.”
She tells the story well, with feeling, and the gathered crowd responds to her, laughing when the time is right and growing silent at others. At the end, as she speaks of the Rig overturning and Nux's shining death, the WarBoys raise fingers to point towards her, Witnessing the death of their brother.
There is no Valhalla for Nux or any of the rest of them, with no Immortan Joe to await them, but there is something strong in the air anyways, when Nux's telling is done. He lived. He died. He lived again, and will live for as long as the tale is told. They will tell his tale for a long, long time.
The days after that are filled with work. It's not easy, overturning a regime. Gazztown is ready for change, and the WarBoys want to please the Sisters even more than they wanted to please Immortan Joe. The Bullet Farm takes more delicate handling, and the Wretched need more help than the Five Sisters know how to give. But they make it work. They did not come so far to fail now.
The nights are filled with stories. The Sisters tell some: Toast had a brother who had died years ago, and she told his story. The Dag tells the tale of the Keeper of the Seeds, which causes several dozen of the Wretched and three WarBoys to come to her and ask to help grow green things. The Vuvalini tell tales of their own: The Valkarie's death is Witnessed, and the Green Place of the Many Mothers is mourned. But the stories are not sad ones: they are lives lived, and lived well, and they share them with love. They have become the keepers of a thousand motherless children, and they send them to sleep each night with heroes to dream of.
On the eighth day, a Wretched named Task comes to Cheedo. She has a tale that needs telling, she says, and Cheedo tells the others. That night, Task the Wretched tells the story of Threethumb, who journeyed out into the desert to find water for his daughter, and returned with a jug full only to die of dehydration. He'd carried the water four days across sun and sand, and not swallowed a drop.
Task's story opens a floodgate. The WarBoys come forwards in droves with tales of glory; the Wretched bring stories of persistence; the Milking Mothers offer little moments of kindness. The Five Sisters set up a lottery, and each night a name is called, and a tale shared.
They live, they die. They live again, as long as their tales are told.
It helps. There is hope, and plenty of water, and work to be done. The combination motivates a slowly rotting people towards new vitality. There is a chance for even the least of them to speak as an equal, and for their short hard lives to be remembered.
When the war parties return, they are thirsty, hungry and tired. They were not prepared for so long a trip, so when Furiosa (healed enough and stubborn enough for this) drives out to meet them in the Gigahorse, there's only a minimum of hassle. There's a great deal of yelling from the WarBoy side, up until Furiosa punches their ad hoc leader square in the face. Instead of provoking them, it douses the tempers of the weary WarBoys, who'd mostly been running on adrenaline. They follow her in a long dusty column back to the Citadel, where Cheedo and Capable see that they're taken care of. Most of the WarBoys take to the Sister's particular brand of practical care the same way they do to the fresh cool water. The rest grumble a bit, but settle in anyways.
It's good beginning.
The envoys from Gazztown and the Bullet Farm come back, with representatives from the cities to make sure things are carried out correctly. They observe the new tradition of tale-telling with interest, and Cheedo offers them the next night to tell stories of their own. The Bullet Farm boy tells a story about the accidental discovery of the sulfur mine. It's a funny story, with a hero who stumbles into good fortune as rapidly as bad, and the crowd eats it up. The man from Gazztown's story is more serious, but it ends well, and leaves a pleasant mood in the air. Both of the representatives seem proud and honored to have been offered the chance to speak. It becomes a tradition of it's own: travelers and visitors always get offered a night to tell a tale.
The crops begin to grow. The WarBoys have become Fury Men, and they trail after Furiosa (Jeneral now, Jeneral Furiosa of the Fury Road) like she's made of chrome. The Dag and her Greenkeepers have taken stretches of dusty earth and nurtured life out of it, and as quickly as the plants sprout Cheedo finds medicinal uses for them. It takes doing, but she starts making progress against the damages left by the Organic Mechanic's carelessness. Capable has settled into the Blackthumb shops, and is taking the salvaged remains of three war parties and turning them into guzzoline-fueled tributes to the Holy Vieaite. Squadrons of grease-smeared workers lend expertise to her vision, and she handles them with the same gentleness she treated Nux with, and they love her for it. Toast takes the Milking Mothers. No one really expected that, but the Mothers were tired of sitting about like idle cattle, and desperately wanted to learn skills to be useful with. Toast the Knowing came with knitting needles and looms, torn clothing and faulty wiring. The Mother's hands were soft, but they were willing to learn. Many of them were overjoyed to be reunited with the children that had been taken from them, and were happy to have tasks they could take with them as they learned how to be mothers of actual kids. All of the sisters listened to their people, even when they were not being spoken to directly, and they hear the names on their lips: Angharad. Nux. Keeper of the Seeds. Valkarie.
They were not forgotten.
Slowly, the Citadel flourished. It was easy, sometimes, but usually it wasn't. Their road warrior had said it best: “It'll be a hard day, but at least that way we'll be able to... together... come across some kind of redemption.” It was a lot of hard days. But they were together. And maybe they were redeeming each other.
Furiosa didn't step onto the Gigahorse for the evening taletelling for one hundred days. When she finally did, the people went quieter than the Five Sisters had ever seen them. Her back was straight and her chin lifted as she said, “Tonight, I tell the tale of Mad Max the Road Warrior, who fought and bled and may still ride, and lives here tonight in this telling.”
It wasn't a long tale. Max had been a mystery to all of them, but Furiosa had understood him best. Much of that understanding was beyond words, and the tale she told left much of his mystery to him. The Fury Men and the Greenkeepers remembered him as the man who'd driven the Gigahorse and delivered Immortan Joe's corpse to them, and eagerly lapped up details of the enigmatic figure who'd vanished where anyone else would have stayed for glory. They couldn't have hoped for a better hero than a strange warrior who appeared out of the desert, fought beside an Imperator, and vanished in the middle of his triumph. It was the first and last tale Furiosa ever told the people of the Citadel.
Life continued. The Fury Men died young, as the half-life or border patrols took them, and the Dag buried their bodies in her gardens. Their stories were told by their brothers, those who died in battle and in sleep alike, and remembered by the people. Travelers came and left, bringing tales of their own. Trade routes were established and new roads pounded into the wasteland sand. A strange man in a gyro-copter from the distant Gold Coast appeared, looking for a specific medicinal herb that they were rumored to have. His taletelling was of the defeat of Lord Humongous, and the strange mad road warrior that killed him. There's something familiar in the story, and it wasn't until the end when he named the road warrior as Max that Furiosa realized what. His story of the Citadel's beloved hero was taken so well that he stayed for three nights, following Lord Humongous's death with Max's bout in the Thunderdome, and an even older story of Max and the Night Rider. She sent him back to the Coast with the herbs, and a new story about mad Max.
As time passed, they all grew together, stronger and stranger than anyone had dreamed. The Citadel thrummed with life, vines sprouting from every crack and crevice and children playing beneath them. Life was hard, still, but there was redemption in the work they did, and it was worth every drop of sweat and blood they shed. It would never be easy.
But it would be good, and that was enough.