North of Dino Island in the small stretch of water between the Northern Wedge and the mainland is a large boulder protruding from the lake like the trees in The Sticks but more moundish. The rock is a deep gray with specks of black dotted throughout and the sides are very steep, but a divot eroded into the top provides the perfect plateau for any Bird, whether of Lake or of Prey, to make a temporary roost and rest their wings during a busy day’s hunt. Or, in Highest Branda’s case, to regroup before scoping out what will hopefully be her new nesting grounds.
The waypoint rock is warm to the touch. High Branda nestles down in the heated divot and gazes out across the Reservoir’s wavy surface. There does not seem to be any movement in the island’s underbrush, nor in the wall of various trees which rise from it. She can’t see squat from this sitting position no matter how comfortable it is – this goose has no other option. She shall have to do an aerial sweep.
The majority of Dino Island’s canopy is spotty, patchy at best, reminiscent of a giant’s face between the times of receiving a name and choosing an occupation. The south edge of the island is the perfect zone for building a nest – flat, grassy, with easy access to the water; between there and the beachway could be described as mountainous if a lame ‘munkie were to climb it, but even then it would be an exaggeration; the canopy over the Northern Wedge of the island (known as such only by The Mink, who now waits patiently in a cavity in the isle’s underbrush, his tail whipping to and fro to calm the purr that wishes to escape from his gullet) is rather solid, and Branda can’t get a good look at the terrain from above.
The channel opens. ‘Nothing could be living there, if one were to inhabit this island they’d do so on the bigger south end. I believe I have found my home.’ Closes again. Branda’s wings flutter as she descends to the beachway through a large bald spot in the canopy.
The pebbly sand is smooth beneath her feet in some places and rough in others. She sees the tracks of a large and menacing wingflapper, possibly a great blue heron, but she cannot be sure. The great blues were a menace back in Branda’s gosling days, always stealing unhatched Eggs of Lake from the unguarded nests and devouring the larger insects the geese themselves meant to eat; they’re also territorial. Very territorial. If the great blue heron was living here it would still be here now, but something must have chased it off. Maybe it was Branda, maybe the heron saw her approaching from the north and decided not to test the wiles of a partnerless goose during The Hatching, especially one armed with a mighty fabled claw.
Entering the Northern Wedge, Highest Branda feels overcome with a certain sense of serenity. The trees block any wind which may wish to gust by, and the canopy, full and lush, filters the rays of the great shine in such a way to cast an emerald glow upon the entire sanctuary. The grass is soft and supple, with very few rocks dispersed throughout. A thick layer of underbrush, shrubberies, and berry bushes rise to the height of Branda’s shoulders and give way to beech and birch trees, even a single oak. If she had not seen the southern end of the island first, Branda would undoubtedly nest here, but she did and so she will not. Like her mother said, when a goose’s mind is made up there is no changing it; they are denizens of their own decree and they stick to whichever path they choose to follow, no matter where that path may lead. Branda takes one last look at the gorgeous oasis beneath the trees and then turns to begin gathering supplies for her nest.
The Mink then springs from the underbrush, purring all the way, and latches onto Branda’s back. Her honk is muffled by the fabled claw, and when she begins to flap wing and lift, The Mink digs his own claws into her big meaty back. Together they rise through the canopy and into the clear blue sky. From beneath the surface of the waters crashing against the beachway, one Vorcolt of the Klaww watches the ambush transpire with wide yet still beady eyes; when the canopy eclipses the two, he moves into deeper water and with a single flick of his densely armored tail jets himself up onto high-piled rocks to get a better view.
The Mink, in all his mysterious life, has never pulled off such a daring pounce. His prey is all too often of the lakebreathing variety – occasionally he’ll snag a ‘munkie or another smaller landwalker, and every now and then he’ll manage to snag himself a smallbird when it’s paying more attention to its song than the world around it – but to have a full-blown flapper of wing clutched between his paws? This is unprecedented! He knows he will not bring the big goose down, as such a feat needs many rounds of practice before it can be accomplished, but this is as good a start as any. He’s more defending his land than looking for a meal anyway, so he’ll drop into the water as soon as such is feasible. Yes, The Mink will let the goose go this time… but not without taking a trophy first, and he doesn’t want the goose’s claw.
Branda blows another muffled honk when she feels the back paws of whatever the hell is attacking her right now grasp one of her tailfeathers and yank it skywards. Branda blasts another honk when said feather is ripped free of her tail, but as a consolation, her attacker is gone. She doesn’t even hear the splash when The Mink hits the water – the crawdad hears the splash, in fact the crawdad sees the splash, and when the air bubbles and froth have cleared from that splash, The Mink sees the crawdad; The Mink sees the crawdad very well.
Branda’s plucked tailfeather floats to the surface as its original owner flies quickly away to Isla Meeney.
This has been the fourteenth subchapter of the fourth chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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