The alpha crawdad flees into Monksville’s murky depths, and the hungry mink follows.
A hazy feeling clouds the spinning mind of The Mink, the very same haziness which surrounds his lack of any and all memories of his life before he emerged from the phaseshifting burrow of Isla Meeney, the very isla where a pair of deuxhonking swans take nest. As he follows the alpha crawdad deeper and deeper into the murky depths the haze intensifies but still goes dwarfed by The Mink’s hunger, The Mink’s undying and insatiable hunger – he’s chased the crawdad so many times now, he’s repeated his cycle of pounce and miss, pounce and miss, pounce and miss more times than any respectable landwalker would care to admit. It’s now or never; The Mink chooses now.
So too does the mind of Vorcolt of the Klaww fog over with a haze, but this haze is entirely unfamiliar. His bride and their batch of eggs took to these murky waters many and many’ago, he has always known he would join them. Perhaps the haze is from the pressure of the increasingly deep water through which he jets now, propelled only by his tail, fueled by the fear of finally being caught by that wicked water weasel who calls himself The Mink.
Finally the smooth boulder comes into sight. Vorcolt sees it first, as he was expecting it to pop up. The Mink is very much startled when he first catches a glimpse. The color of the thing is dark, darker than the rest of the water, yet faint lights dance and shine from beneath the smooth surface. The Mink is hypnotized at once and for a choice moment he loses track of the crawdad altogether, but this trance does not hold The Mink for long – an anomalous underwater object, no matter how smooth it may be, is not enough to distract The Mink. With his keen mink’s eyes The Mink spots the massive crawdad flicking its tail in the direction of what appears to be a shelf at the base of the smooth surface of the strange boulder.
But it’s not just a boulder, is it? Vorcolt knows it’s not, knows it very well, as he was there the night it crashed. This thing, this giant dome-like structure, was not always present in the waters of Monksville – it came in a ball of fire from the starpool in the dead of night, a great ball of fire which burned a hole into the canopy and planted a deep crater into the feet of the bordering mountains, the brothers of the snowcapped peak from which giants draw their metal. From there The Dome grew four massive legs, legs all too similar to those of the crawdad’s, and it crept its way from dry land into the stretch of water between the isles. Today The Dome is cool to the touch of Vorcolt’s feet, but on the night it crashed the murky waters boiled and smokescreens of steam rose into the dark sky like the exhaust from the bonfire pits of the giants.
The Mink knows naught of this dome, for he made his appearance two cycles after it crashed, but he is unafraid of it nonetheless. That is, until the first great bang echoes through the murky water and the inner shell of The Dome is shattered, as if it were struck by a piece of technology that shan’t be discovered – or should I say rediscovered – by the giants once the flood that took the valley takes that which holds the valley. The Mink means to turn away, he always turns away, the sound of a contained explosion is enough to break any mighty landwalker from the trance of chasing prey, but this time is different. This time The Minks’ hunger is too great, his need to see that crawdad slain is too powerful. The Mink, throwing caution to the residual current from the ghost of the drowned Wanaque River, swims with force to the hard lip of The Dome where glass meets metal, the very lip upon which the crawdad clicks his claws in early victory.
Vorcolt of the Klaww doesn’t see The Mink coming until the last moment. He flicks his tail and jets swiftly, but not quite swiftly enough – The Mink’s jaws, toothed by tiny razors, grip the crawdad’s claw at the base of his arm where the chitin is weakest. Terrified, Vorcolt whips his tail thrice in rapid succession at the same instant The Mink whips his head, and the crawdad escapes yet again, though this time, for the first time ever, he is missing his mighty right claw.
Vorcolt is reunited with his family shortly after. His bride smells the scent of crawdad meat, it consumes the burrow before he even enters it, but she does not make an attack. Her children will hatch come the end of the spring and they will need a father; as the shellders said, one claw is better than two. Besides, Vorcolt’s left claw was always just slightly bigger than his right; he’ll be able to hunt just fine, and it is here that the story of Vorcolt of the Klaww comes to a timely end, an end much unlike the end which shall soon come – aye, very soon indeed – to The Mink.
This has been the sixteenth subchapter of the fourth chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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