Branda flies in a wide circle above the site of her old nest in search of the fabled claw. She’s been at it for a good short while now, and though her wings do not tire, she’s beginning to get a little peeved off. She needs to find this claw, it’s the only thing she has left, the only thing that matters to her anymore. The goose’s eyesight is not what it once was, however, and it was never great in the first place – she wasn’t able to see through Braten’s games and manipulations, after all. Still, she will not stop until she finds her claw, and so she circles endlessly over the water like a turkey buzzard over the soggy carcass of a drowned whitetail. Below the Wanaque’s murky surface, The Beast circles in pace.
Braten watches from the treeline with a terrified pair of brownish-black eyes. He should just leave her behind; the prissy wench clearly means to see herself perish. She always pulls nonsense like this, Branda does, pretending she’s different than the rest of the geese, pretending her life and the things she wants are more important than what everyone else wants; the goose is dreadfully self-righteous, until she doesn’t get her way, that is; then she’s engulfed in piteous self-pity and she vanishes from the gooseosphere for shinecycles on end. She’s an indignant creature, she’s unbearably uppity and… and… Braten loves her for it, oh how he loves her so. It may be the fact that Branda is the last surviving denizen of The Beast’s latest massacre, but Braten suddenly feels a deep-rooted flower of love for her blooming in his chest. One could say a lot about this goose, and many geese do… well, many geese did. Before they were consumed. But her determination is admirable – she’s willing to do anything, even putting her life at risk, to ensure she gets exactly what she needs. So what if her needs are not mutually exclusive of her wants, so what? That’s not being selfish, that is merely knowing thyself, something Braten has always had great deal of trouble with. Braten was always just one of the flock, and then he was chosen by High Branda and given the title of her soulgroom. Then he abandoned her for Dopper and became Dopper’s friend, but now Dopper is dead. Now the goose flock is dead. Only Branda remains, and perhaps if she does not perish at the maw of The Beast she can help guide Braten to the nesting grounds of his true identity.
Braten takes flight and joins up with High Branda in the circling of their flooded nesting grounds, the nesting grounds Branda picked out specifically for them, for their family. For him. The channel opens narrow.
‘Branda, I’m wondering if you would give me a second chance at joining you for The Hatching.’
‘Well I don’t exactly see any other options for myself, Braten,’ Branda sends with tones both under- and over- of irritation. ‘The rest of the flock is dead. I’ll tell you what, big boy: if you help me find my claw that was lost in all the commotion, you and I will escape to Monksville and settle down somewhere to start anew.’
‘Monksville?’ Braten sends doubtfully. ‘Geese haven’t flocked to Monksville in many and many’a cycle, where would we go to nest?’
‘On one of the pair isles, perhaps,’ Branda sends, her tone of thought taking on something of a dreamy hue. ‘I’ve always held a secret desire for the island life, truth be told. But none of that will matter if I cannot find my claw. I need that claw back, Braten. I need it for our goslings.’
They continue to circle over the same patch of water, High Branda seeing nothing and Braten not even sparing a look. The cadavers begin to hit The Beast’s stomach and his hunger is slowly quelled, but that means nothing. He’s to eat until no food is left, and he’s done a damn good job of it thus far – what are two more plump, juicy geese to a hunger so insatiable?
‘Please, my sweet Branda, what is so important about this claw that you would risk the lives of our goslings for it? We can find another claw! I’ll rip it off the crawdad myself if you demand it be done.’
Branda almost stops flapping her wings. Almost. ‘The sentiment is very kind, High Braten, but I need this claw specifically. I found it here before my nest was reclaimed by the Reservoir, it is a powerful artifact.’
Braten, pretending not to be phased by the my nest he received, sends, ‘An artifact, you send?’
‘Yes, I send it so; I cannot explain it, but that claw has a special significance to me. Perhaps it’s just the memory of the old nest… regardless, I want my damned claw and so I shall have it. Now stop sending me attempts to derail my life’s path and help me find the claw!’
[to be cont’d]
This has been the beginning of the seventh subchapter of the fourth chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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