‘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!’
Braten does as he’s told and finds the claw before they complete their current circle. He honks once to signify his findings then spans his wings wide and tight, preparing for a dive.
‘Don’t you dare, you horrible claw-thieving scoundrel!’ Branda hurls, but it’s too late – Braten has already dove. Branda follows suit, her eyes blazing like a puddle of leafy mud struck by a burning bolt of white-hot lightning.
Braten snags the fabled claw and smoothly arcs back into the air with Branda following close behind. The Beast nearly leaps from the surface to end this game once and for all, but then holds back, biding his time. Not yet; the chance will come to take them both, but ‘tis not here yet. The Beast continues to trail the geese, who have begun to circle again. This circle is no longer the wide flight of a search party, however; Braten now banks hard and true to outmaneuver Branda, whose honks suggest intent to kill.
Finally she acts in a civilized manner and sends a quaint, reasonable stream of thought to Braten over the channel.
‘RETURN MY DAMNED FABLED CLAW OR FACE THE UNYIELDING WRATH OF HIGHEST BRANDA, YOU TWO-BEAKED TRAITOROUS CHARLETON!’
‘Highest Branda!’ Braten sends, vastly more afraid of his pursuer than he is of what lurks hungrily beneath the cloudy surface. ‘Do not harm me, my love, I snagged the claw for you! Cease your pursuit and I’ll happily pass it off!’
So Branda ceases her pursuit. After flying a few more tight circles, Braten does the same. Hovering in the air like a pair of hummingbirds, Braten and Branda exchange the claw, the former stealing a kiss in the process. Branda doesn’t even notice; what she does notice is the terrified, regretful look on Braten’s face as The Beast’s awful maw closes around his body, its teeth interlocking around the base of the goose’s neck which sticks out of the gap where The Giant’s hook took its prize. Braten goes down wearing that look of his, that worn out ungrateful look, that look which displays his undying self-pity, which casts blame, not love but blame and regret upon his Highest Branda; no matter, Braten was always one for self-pity. Despicable self-pity. ‘But how I loved him so…’
Snapping back to reality as the gravity of the situation bears its weight on her shoulders, Branda stretches her wings out and dives, building momentum and pressing it against the thermal acting on the surface of the water to achieve a flight speed that no goose has achieved before… but will it be enough to outpace The Beast?
‘Time will tell; flap like the wind, Branda,’ she thinks to herself as the channel claps shut. The tips of her wings strike the gritty water with each of Branda’s hurried flaps, spraying droplets and mist that hang suspended in the air like the dirt and sand in the water obscuring the view of what swims within it from what flies above it.
The chase ensues until Branda passes over the North Floodgate – it is at this point The Beast decides to give the goose her life. Perhaps he felt she earned it for putting up such speeds, or mayhap he saw that awful, evil pipe in which he was trapped, imprisoned, frozen in a berg of ice until the Universe decided to let him out. In the end it doesn’t matter what goes through The Beast’s head – his belly is full and he has a new body of water to inhabit, a vast and open sea much larger than the crescent moon prison he was once trapped in, the prison with the pair of wardens stashed away in their The Dome, nice and safe in their little glass house where The Beast could not get to them and end their miserable lives with a single snap of his jagged, toothy maw.
As Branda flies up the waterfall, believing she is still being chased, The Beast swims out to the deepest part of the Reservoir and takes the first rest of his new reign. The godking of the Wanaque Reservoir has been crowned, and none shall escape the snap of his maw… though perhaps not all will be pursued like the denizens of Monksville. Perhaps this day begins a new kind of reign, a reign of benevolence, a reign of cohabitation by Beast and denizen alike. Perhaps it shall be so; perhaps it shall indeed.
This has been the end of the seventh subchapter of the fourth chapter of the book 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~