The Giant feels nothing from his right shoulder down to his wrist; he scrambles for purchase with his left hand on the slippery soaked icecap while his right is undoubtedly bitten by aquatic frost. There may be a mere muskellunge on the other end of this fishing wire, sure, or there may be something else, something bigger, badder, mayhap it’s the very thing which has brought so much pain and suffering to all those who frequent the world’s greatest water hole, this brilliant, beloved lake filling the valley shaped like a crescent moon. From his shoulder to his wrist The Giant’s right arm is numb, the sensation is gone like dust in the wind, but he can feel his right hand very well, yes, very well indeed; he feels the metal fishing line as it tightens its grip around his thick deerhide fishing gauntlet, the supremely well-made gauntlet, the hard leather gauntlet soaked through past the hand and straight to the bone which refuses to give out under the razor bite of the wire, the very gauntlet that bites into The Giant’s frozen flesh like the teeth of a carnivore. The frothy water beneath the fishing hole takes on a stomach-churning crimson as The Giant’s hand is crushed and maimed.
The otherworldly sound of a crack moving its way through solid ice rings in The Giant’s ears and he realizes, all at once, that his current position is not sustainable. If he doesn’t draw his arm back out of the hole not only will his catch surely escape, but he’ll be pulled into the water and doomed to drown, to be claimed by that which he so dutifully serves and protects, that which he’s stewarded over ever since he was a small giant of five cycles who had not yet been given a name.
The Giant must pivot and he must do it now, before more than just his fingers are lost, and they surely will be soon – the knuckles of his first and last fingers have just touched. The bones of his hand are beginning to splinter.
A scream of bloody murder escapes The Giant’s throat and shakes the snow off the trees from the mouth of the Wanaque River all the way down to the North Floodgate at the southern end of the Fishing Village. He loosens his left moccasin with his right foot, using the metal claws as if they were part of his body all along, and flings the shoe into the air. It lands just out of reach of his left hand and The Giant screams again, but not quite as loud; a scream fueled by rage is a terrible sound, yes, but a scream fueled by pain is a noise of an entirely different magnitude.
But that moccasin is The Giant’s only chance, he can’t possibly sling his right moccasin over his left shoulder, that would leave both feet damned to freeze like his right hand already is. The Giant reaches, pulls on the line with all his might, gets some slack, thanks the Great Spirit, and then nudges himself closer to the stray clawed moccasin. He pulls, nudges, pulls, nudges, and reaches a final time, but it’s still no good, it’s just barely out of his reach, the tip of the glove on his left middle finger scrapes against the stiff leather of the moc’ and he knows, in that moment, that he needs but one more pull, a single burst of effort. The water on the ice is soaking into his chest and pants, he feels the true wrath of winter on every inch of his body, he feels the ice cracking and sinking ever so much lower with each beat of his heart, but he has to do this. For his village, for the Tribe of the Forge, for Mother Monksville and for himself, he has to do it.
The Giant pulls the wire line one final time. Though he does not hear the crack as his right hand snaps and the bones fold together like a leaf bent in half, he feels the pain clearly, and again he screams, The Giant screams with all his might. But this is not solely a scream of pain – this is a wail of victory, for now The Giant grasps the clawed moccasin in his left hand.
With the strength of a black bear defending its cubs from the glowing eyes of a hungry puma, The Giant slams his clawed moc’ into the icecap and shatters a hole much deeper than the width of a feather. Purchase is gained; he stands up on three limbs and rips forth the fourth from the hateful grasp of the wintry Mother Monksville. With one final scream of agony, The Giant whips his right arm and frees his battered hand of the undamaged deerhide gauntlet before tilting over and falling back into the snow, leaving the imprint of a wingless angel.
The bloody wire-wrapped gauntlet flies into the hole, followed by the tip-up. At first the wooden thing, as well-crafted as the deerhide gauntlet, grabs hold of the ice with its crossbeams and struggles against the mighty force of The deranged Beast beneath the ice, but the boughs begin to bend, and they break soon after. The tip-up, flag and all, is sucked down into the hole, never to be seen again.
All at once, the battle for Monksville is decided.
This has been the eighteenth subchapter of the third chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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