A Tale of Giants
Sit and listen, small giants,
for the endtimes have found us,
and I’ve one final story to tell.
The First Cycle
The first cycle began with a deep freeze the likes of which had never been witnessed by the giants. The Tribe of the Forge kept to their forges and the Monks Tribe kept to their hatchery, tending to their many fish and keeping an especially watchful eye over the male muskellunge, who had already begun to dwarf his tankmates. No giant cast a line into Monksville that entire cycle, nor did they float their boats. The Res’ needed time to settle out, so decreed the shamans, and so it would settle in peace.
Little did the giants know, the new lake settled over the winter and life was already thriving. No hierarchy of being was established among the lakebreathers, so they lived well and did as they pleased. The waters teemed with trout, pike, walleye, shinies, bass of mouth small- and large-, and provided plenty enough baitfish to feed both lakebreathers small enough to need them and the crustaceans who dwelled in the lake’s shallower waters, those crawdads who once made their burrows along the Wanaque River, the old guard. There were no territories, all lakebreathers swam where the current took them, and any who wished to swim north into the Wanaque River or fling themselves south through the spillover gap of the beavers’ dam? So be it, and more power to them.
This carefree lifestyle was enjoyed by landwalking denizens as well, though they all more or less recognized the giants as the local apex species. Not many denizens colonized the valley before the flood, but those who did fled deep into the surrounding forests. The brushdwellers kept themselves hidden, the few lakewalkers all evolved and thrived, and the squirrels and ‘munkies found a home around the Wanaque River feeder point back behind The Basin. The larger mammals kept to the mountains, the untamed herds of whitetails traveling between them and the few predators residing amongst the peaks. The black bear is Monksville’s only permanent large predator (the cougar often wanders and disappears for seasons on end) and so he is treated with a certain respect by most of the mammals smaller than he, but he does not demand it. He is a gentle titan if not provoked, though the giants claim his coat is where the very starpool got its blackness, and his claws poked the holes through which the stars do shine.
The wingflappers, however, did have something of a power struggle – the Birds of Lake held roost over all the Southern Expanse, and the Birds of Prey held perch over the Northern Leg and The Basin, which included a hearty swampland known as The Submerged Jungle. This was fine for the Birds of Lake, they steered clear aside from a single goose flock which roosted in The Basin, but for the Birds of Prey it was problematic. There was the osprey, the pair eagles, the owl, and a massive flock of vultures; the vultures more or less made the rules, as their flock was the largest by far, and their leader, The Vultress, had long established a religion of sorts with foundations in their scavenging; there was also the gullflock who had defected, who had cast away their Lakehood and sworn their allegiance to Prey. The gulls were the dayguard of The Submerged Jungle, the de facto castle of the Birds of Prey’s kingdom; the bats, under an arrangement similar yet less stringent to that of the gulls because they are not birds, guarded the night. The trespassing goose flock was chased from their nest in The Basin many times, likely just as often as the gulls (and the osprey, by occasion) were chased from The Southern Expanse. Tensions were thick amongst the wingflappers of Monksville, but no blood was ever shed; sometimes a feather or two was lost outside of molting season, but that is no grave injustice. All birds, both of Lake and of Prey, filled their bellies that cycle; something of a power struggle was surely aloft in the air, surely, but wings flapped through it regardless.
The first cycle after the filling of the Monksville Res’ was undoubtedly the most prosperous cycle the denizens had ever lived through, but splendor is impermanence, as all beings of Earth are sorely ‘ware, and with every dawn that follows the night, an even colder dusk looms on the tailwinds of the coming day.
This has been the eighth subchapter of the first chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~