A dozen daring dipper ducks dance and frolic about in the frothy waters of the Monks Tribe’s isolated pocket of the Wanaque Reservoir, the only part of the lower lake where such nautical hijinks are still possible. They leap and dive and burst from the surface only to execute brilliant midair flips before diving right back into the water. The divers do not perform merely for performance’s sake, though; in truth they are preparing to execute a mission, perhaps the most important mission of their lives.
From the far shorelines they’re watched by a bustling mob of small giants, their eyes all a’sparkle with wonder and delight – even their wrangler cannot help but gawk at the spectacle. After The Giant’s brawl with the gigantic creature who swims in the belly of Mother Monksville – an event remembered by the giants of both tribes as the Exodus of Fear and All Lower Feelings – the pocket itself hasn’t been touched by a single fishcatcher worth the line they cast. They all fish the mighty Monksville these days with hopes of hooking that big one again, with hopes they might pull it out of the drink to lay eyes on its scaly hide; every rise of the great shine The Giant wakes and climbs the treacherous hill with a longpole in his metal hand, and every rise of the great shine his fellow fishcatchers follow him closely behind. The only giants to disturb the waters of the Wanaque pocket today are the small giants, for the young must hone their technique before they can venture out to the bigwater.
But today the small giants’ lesson is postponed, for the dipper ducks are engaged in a diving dance; a sight this rare is a sight to be seen. A sight to be seen very well, very well indeed.
On the roadway which conceals the North Floodgate from above perches Dopper the dipper duck, the leader of the dozen daring divers. Beside Dopper stands Braten, the one goose smart enough to not openly insult High Branda of the original Wanaque goose flock. In the past he had plenty to send about her, yes, plenty indeed, and very little of it kind; as the past approached the present, however, High Braten realized something big, something, shall we say, of nested importance: Branda’s first experience with The Hatching would shortly arrive, and she’d no doubt lay claim over the best nesting grounds in the land. So Braten stopped sending his vulgarities while all the rest of the geese continued to mock their prissy goose princess, and when time came for Branda to choose her Hatchingmate, she chose Braten. ‘Twas simple as that. Now, Braten nests on the prime dune.
Of course, all of that would go away in a heartbeat if this dreadful drought would come to an end – that’s why Braten stands with Dopper today. Dopper has always been held in only the highest regard by all Birds, of Lake and of Prey; cormorants make good friends, especially when it comes to sharing the excess of food they can’t help but bring up to the surface. Diving is what dipper ducks do, they dive for pleasure and hunt for sport and they’re never the flock to go hungry, so Braten befriended Dopper and did so without an iota of shame; a connection with Dopper is a connection sent highly of amongst the geese, a stark contrast with a relationship forged with High Branda.
Today, High Braten stands upon a kind of junction of possibilities – either Dopper’s claims that the drought will soon come to an end shall be true and Braten can abandon Branda and her flooded nest for a goose with more class, or Dopper will be seeing much less of Braten during the upcoming cycle. Either way, the strategic socializing will pay off; it has to, after all – Braten’s worked too hard for it all to go to waste. But the possibilities are of no concern now. Whatever will happen will happen, there’s no sense in doubting that, and the show is about to begin.
Make no mistake, Dopper does not need the channel to communicate with his dozen daring divers – he has trained them very well, all too well, and he can command them with a single look into their eyes. The channel does open though, very narrowly, as to only encompass two, and Dopper sends nothing; not until he receives what the goose feels necessary to send.
‘High Dopper, I see your dozen divers performing their dastardly dance, but still I stand uncertain of how this will end the drought. Please, if you would, explain to me again what exactly you mean to do here.’
‘I will rally my daring divers, yo’Braten,’ sends Dopper, keeping his turquoise eyes fixed on his daring divers, ‘and I will join them in the water. As you well know, the giants’ subterranean pipe is responsible for controlling the flow from the pocket to the rest of the Wan’Res’. They removed the cap and the water should be flowing, but yet it is not. Did you peek at the dry end of the pipe when you flew over here?’
Braten nods his head thoughtfully. ‘I did. ‘Twas a wall of fertile soil. Looked more like the cap was still on than off.’
‘Precisely. There seems to be a clog, a stoppage in the drain. My divers and I mean to cleanse the pipe of that which hinders it, nothing more and nothing less.’
With that, the channel closes. Dopper dives into the water, joining his daring divers and making a Dopper’s dozen. Thirteen cormorants take to the water this day – Braten’s curious to see from which side of the gate they’ll all come out.
[to be cont’d]
This has been the beginning of the second subchapter of the fourth chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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