It opened in a flash, The Gleam a puma’s eye.
One cycle prior, The Crater was born.
The Head Goose in Charge
A lone claw strewn amongst the pebbles catches the eye of the goose from her nest.
For the first time since the giants left this land behind, the dry season has returned to the Wanaque Res’. What was once a bustling lake community populated by more lakebreathers than Monksville could hope to support is now a starved, crisp desert. Orange dunes of rocky sand dot the barren landscape like boulders in a rock garden; some are long and tall, some are short and stout, some are caught in the awkward middle – Branda nests on one of these latter sandpiles. ‘Twas an obvious choice, with The Hatching coming up and all; Branda’s dune is very close to where the shoreline would be if the Wanaque hadn’t been smitten by whatever causes the rain not to fall; the closest dune, in fact. She scoured the greater area of the Wanaque Desert in search for this nesting site, and that’s exactly why the lone claw strikes her as odd – she’s never seen it before. It’s as if it was placed there by an invisible force, left as a prize long ago to be found in the future… or perhaps it simply belongs to a sand-dwelling crustacean, a newly evolved breed of denizen, one who’s wasted no time adapting to the harsh conditions of this unforgiving hardpan.
Well, belonged. There’s no body attached to the claw.
Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Of all the nesting geese, Branda has the shortest flight to the forest and therefore will have the easiest time getting food for her young once they hatch from the eggs she’s yet to lay. The claw means nothing, Branda’s already won her prize.
Many of the other geese were none too thrilled when Branda cherrypicked this spot right out from under their beaks, but Branda is a direct descendant of the goose flock who once stowed away in The Basin of Monksville, the goose flock which originally colonized the Wanaque Res’. She is something of royalty in these lands, or at the very least she is tenured, while the other geese merely showed up one day. They can make all the ruckus they want, as far as Branda is concerned; she has the best nesting spot and they don’t. That’s just what it is, and that’ll have to be enough for her.
It’s not enough though, is it? Branda needs something more, something to really drive home the message that she and she alone is the head goose in charge ‘round these parts, something her soulgroom Braten would admire as much as all the other geese would sprout green mallard feathers over. An emblem of sorts, a family crest to denote her goslings as the cream of the Wanaque Res’s crop once they hatch from the eggs she’s yet to lay. A claw, a lone claw, one which now lies strewn amongst the pebbles atop a stout sandy dune just a short flight away. It would be perfect… if only she could go and get it without fear of another goose swooping in and stealing her nest. Such is feasible, if not downright likely, and she’d do very well to simply roost and wait for Braten to return from his errand at the north end of the desert so he can keep watch whilst she flaps wing for what wouldn’t amount to much time at all. Then again, Braten is more afraid of losing the nesting zone than she is, and he didn’t even tell her what he was going up north for; it’s obviously something to do with the floodgate the giants built way back when, but he refused to detail any specifics and it’s too late to ask him now, as the channel has long been closed. So she’ll just have to sit here until her Braten returns…
Fooey. Any goose foolish enough to make a move on High Branda’s nest would be forced to face her wrath, and they’d deserve what befell them when that wrath reared its lovely black head. It is the lone claw Branda wants and so it is the lone claw Branda shall have; let ‘em try to take Branda’s prime nesting dune. Let ‘em honking try.
This has been the first subchapter of the fourth chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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