A Strenuous Affair – The Monksville Chronicles (2/124)

I
A Tale of Giants

Sit and listen, small giants,
for the endtimes have found us,
and I’ve one final story to tell.


A Strenuous Affair

The small giants follow their wrangler to the caravan like goslings behind a mother goose. The schoolhouse sways and creaks as they leave, as if the structure knows they’ll not be returning, and the last one to leave (our interrupter, shockingly enough) doesn’t bother to pull the door closed behind him. The old schoolhouse is the last building left standing down here in the wildlands; all the rest were torn down and converted into the second wagon earlier in the day, and whatever lumber wasn’t wagonized was loaded into the wagons to be chopped into firewood once the tribe has resettled in the valley up the mountain. The same fate will meet the schoolhouse in due time, but not yet. For now, the tribe of giants has a journey to make.

Arduous doesn’t quite do justice to their voyage. The stronger of the giants have to push the wagons along the beaches of the Wanaque because the forest is too healthy to accommodate their wide loads, which isn’t half as bad as it sounds. A strenuous affair, yes – one of the pushers compares the task to rolling a slain whitetail with a belly full of their fresh crops to the butcher’s hut, which raises a hearty laugh from the rest – but free of the mosquitoes and other buzzing nuisances all too prevalent hardly fifteen feet over from them on the other side of the wall of trees. The Universe finds balance though, as it does in all things; the walkers in the forest can simply step over the numerous rocks which poke out of the Earth in their path, while the wagoneers have to hump their hauls over each and every chock to insert itself under the wooden wheels of the wagons. Thankfully none of these wheels break, though splinters do pierce many palms.

Sweat stains the trail of footprints left in the sand behind the wagoneers. They join the rest of their tribe at the foot of the waterfall by shineset and are met by the delighted squeals of small giants frolicking in the splash pool, rejoicing in a refreshing spray of cold mist after a long, hard day’s walk. A moment is spared to admire the giggling faces of the children at play as the great shine throws its last rays of molten scarlet to dance across the surface of the busy lagoon… then, half the tribe gets bored of watching the waterworks and starts collecting tinder to build up a fire.

The tribe sleeps soundly under the starpool and goes blissfully undisturbed by the woodland denizens lurking in the shadows of their camp, though lurk there they do, with snooping noses and starving eyes that glow an eerie yellow-green in the dim moonlight. One such pair holds the gaze of the interrupter through the night, for he rarely slept even when he had a hut to sleep in. The eyes only blink away when the great shine peeks over the horizon early in the dawn. The small giant brings the eyes up to the wrangler, but she tells him not to worry. “‘Twas just a curious whitetail, little one. Nothing to fear.”

The tribe is ambushed by the cougar halfway up the mountain. No giants are claimed and they chase the beast off easily enough, but one of the wagoneer teams lose hold on their load and it rolls down to where the tribe camped out the previous night. A squad of scouts elect to stay back and lend their assistance to make up for lost time; with the help, the exhausted wagoneers crest the hill by high noon.

Beyond them sprawls the crescent moon valley.


This has been the second subchapter of the first chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:

The Monksville Chronicles

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~

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