The Li’l’ Swimmer – The Monksville Chronicles #89

Guided by twilight and the smoldering stars a’gleam up in the starpool, The Giant rows past Isla Meeney and the Southern Expanse shrinks into the Northern Leg. He has not heard a hoot nor a scream since that first one, but it certainly came from this direction… perhaps he’s gone too far? Or perhaps the owl has already moved on with a belly full of fresh prey… oh well. It was worth a shot, The Giant decides; pulling one oar and pushing the other, he slowly turns his vessel in the direction of Muskellunge Cove.

Then he sees a disturbance in the water.

“Is it… a muskellunge, breeching the surface? A sigil, a sign from the Great Spirit?” whispered under his breath, as not to disturb the harmony of the spheres. There’s only one way to find out, fishcatcher; The Giant turns his water carriage and, although he does not know it, he traces the Wanaque Riverbed up into the Northern Leg.

If it’s a fish breeching it’ll go down when he gets too close; if it’s a rare lakewalker it’ll do the same. The Giant makes his approach, does not slow his paddle at all, and the disturbance in the surface only continues to disturb. He cannot see it until he’s right up next to the thing, and even then it’s nothing more than a blur in the water, a blur which makes tiny splishing noises as it struggles to keep afloat. The Giant, having to reverse his sitting position as to not wet his iron hand, dips his left hand into the water and palms the tiny denizen who was caught swimming ever closer to the great transition.

It is impossible to identify under such shadowy light conditions, but the denizen isn’t larger than a ‘munkie. It shivers as if stricken by frostbite and, though The Giant cannot tell that it’s opened its eyes, it looks at him like it thinks it’s been saved by the spirit of Mother Monksville herself. Leonidas doesn’t even see it happen – he took one look at the hull of The Giant’s boat and whipped fin back to the weedy haven of Muskellunge Cove; had The Giant known the king muskellunge was lurking beneath him he may not have saved the tiny denizen at all, he may have caught his muskellunge under the haunting glow of the great shine’s lunar opposite, but the Great Spirit works in deceitful ways and thus the life of Buggaboo the flying squirrel was saved.

The Giant loosely wraps his mysterious friend in the rabbitpelt blanket he was using as a pillow for his seat up until now and sits the bundle on his lap. He looks in the direction the little thing was attempting to swim and sees what could only be Dino Island, and suddenly the picture comes together – whatever this denizen is, it was being chased by the owl and it narrowly escaped one death in favor for another. The Giant must have been guided here for a reason, then: to save this denizen and help it find its home. The giants are stewards to Mother Monksville, the monks who bestowed them this valley decreed it so, and therefore they are indebted to ensuring the wellbeing of all her denizens, even this, the smallest one of them all. The muskellunge is out here somewhere and it isn’t going anywhere; it shall still swim in Monksville when the li’l’ swimmer is back on dry land.

The Giant paddles to the pebbly shores of Dino Island and lands his boat with ease, steps up onto dry land. He unwraps the tiny denizen and not a moment too late – the furry little bugger’s getting rambunctious, squirming and wriggling about like a hungry mink in a ‘munkie burrow; how odd it is when the wrap is undone the denizen ceases all movement. They look at each other for a moment, The Giant and Buggaboo, two landwalkers from very different walks of land; for the duration of that timeless moment, everything else ceases to matter. All The Giant’s life – and such is true of most, if not all giants – he has brought little more than an end to the lives of the many denizens he’s encountered while out on the Mighty Mother Monksville. The lakebreathers are caught and eaten, the landwalkers are shot and relieved of their warm pelts and tasty flesh, and the wingflappers are often brought down as well, for their feathers are to the art of fletching what longpoles are to the art of fishcatching; also, not for nothing, cooked bird is plenty scrumptious. Occasionally The Giant will come across a denizen and he will simply watch it be, but never before has he had the opportunity to save one’s life. Still, a life saved is worthless if said life is not returned, and so The Giant holds his left hand, the tiny denizen palmed, up against the bark of a random tree.

Buggaboo doesn’t move, not even a tiny bit. He doesn’t so much as look at the tree. He was touched by divinity this day and he will not flee from this high and almighty giant, not so long as his life remains unthreatened by the likes of the banshee and all those who openly toil in the realm of carnivory.

After a few short moments of watching the smallest denizen not move at all, The Giant decides to return to his boat. The great shine is beginning to cast its pinks and oranges over the horizon; his village will soon stir. Such a rare occurrence as finding this strange denizen, of being guided to it in its ultimate time of need by the screech of an invisible owl cannot be a mere coincidence; the Great Spirit isn’t so daft as that. It must be a sign, a sigil of sorts, and so The Giant knows what he must do.

The shamanfolk understand what other giants may not. It is to the shamanfolk The Giant now rows.

This has been the seventh subchapter of the last chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:

The Monksville Chronicles

I’ve written a few other books, too. Even fixed the link. Click here to see the list.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~

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