They hold watch over The Beast.
It came from within The Gleam.
With his old wooden sled filled to the lip with tools for the catching of fish through ice, The Giant prepares to head north up a hillside once deemed treacherous. He stands under the hide awning of his cabin, the only awninged cabin in the entire Fishing Village, and calmly smokes a bundle of kinnikinnik rolled in a preserved leaf. He enjoys smoking during a blizzard almost as much as he enjoys smoking during a rainstorm – when water falls from the sky in any form, it’s best for smoke to rise.
Bundled in many layers of whitetail garb, one of the shamanfolk approaches, the cuffs of his pant legs soaked from trudging through the snow.
“Hai, high shaman,” The Giant says, nodding his head upwards. The shaman replies with an upwards nod.
“Hai, fishcatcher. I sense your sled is full – you mean to set out on the Wanaque?”
“Nay.” He tokes on his herbs and flicks the worm of ashes off the burning end. “I go north to Monksville, just as I do with every rise of the great shine. Do you care to join me today, Shinewatcher? Perhaps you may bless my venture and I’ll return with ample loot.”
The high shaman leaves the storm and ducks under the awning. “Why must you persist with the Monksville Res’, fishcatcher? It has been cycles on cycles since any catch was pulled from that deadzone of a lake. The fish swim freely in the Wanaque, why not make it easy on yourself?”
The Giant tokes his herbs again, deeply this time. He only exhales when the smoke begins to claw at his lungs. “Because, high shaman, such is my duty. I released two muskellunges into that lake many cycles ago, and since then I’ve only caught back one. And the one I caught…”
He trails off, lowering his gaze to the frozen dirt. He takes another toke and says no more.
“I remember it well. A fine meal it made.”
“‘Twas not meant to be a meal, high shaman. They were meant to hold a sacred balance, and I killed one of them. I need to find the other, to make sure it’s still alive. To make sure I’ve not done irreversible damage to this ecosystem with which we thrive or die.”
The high shaman nods his head slowly up and down whilst stroking his long, white beard, the hair tough and course like dried stalks of tall grass. “The one you caught was male, correct?”
The Giant lifts his eyes to meet the blind shaman’s, those cloudy aquamarine orbs, and nods in agreement.
“And the other was female, as spawning pairs must be. Perhaps the buck offed the doe, if you don’t mind my getting out with it.”
“Not at all, though I won’t accept it as truth.” The Giant tokes again then flicks the roach, his fingers scorched by the heat of the embers. The snow is piling up high in the village, the tracks the shaman made on his way over have already vanished, consumed by the icy white blanket. “I mean to set off now, Shinewatcher. Shall you join me and bless my voyage?”
“Is the ice thick enough to fish yet?” the high shaman asks with some concern. “The southern half of the Res’ is wide and expansive, and very slow to freeze, as I’m sure you’re aware. Especially out in the middle.”
“I am aware, and it is; with a blizzard like this the ice thickens quick. Even if the center of the lake isn’t safe to walk, the coves surely will be.”
“And if they’re not?”
The Giant nudges his old sled with the toe of his moc’. “Then I shall float on my sled, it’s buoyant enough for one. Perhaps even two; I ask again, shall you join me and bless my journey today?”
“Nay, fishcatcher. I shall not help run a fool’s errand, no matter who the fool may be.”
“Off with you then. May your walk back be swift.”
They bump fists and the high shaman takes his leave, The Giant watching as he treks away. When the old crone is safely back inside his cabin, The Giant grasps the cold sinew lead and begins to pull his wooden sled, leaving a deep trench in his wake.
This has been the fourth subchapter of the third chapter of The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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~