31 Days of Halloween #24

The Goosemother Scroll - Episode 12 Music performed by J.F. Archer. Text below. Read to the end for the Elephant Queen's song.

And so it was war.

And though it was war, Pyg felt safer than she had since leaving her mother’s home with her poor, unfortunate brothers. The rhinoceros king’s army was twenty thousand strong with beasts of every fur, scale, and feather. Soon, they were joined by the elephant queen and her forces whose shortage of soldiers was made up for in the sheer size of those tusked fighters.

Pyg liked the elephant queen. She was as fierce as the horned king but to Pyg and Leap she was as gentle as Pyg’s own mother.

“My daughter would have been your age, I think, had she not been taken from this world by evildoers,” the queen told her.

Often, Pyg’s thoughts returned to her mother, and she would feel very sad. She wondered if Mother knew that Strongheart and Meekfoot were dead. Was Mother even alive anymore? Had the Master’s Legion destroyed her homeland?

I can’t think about those things now, Pyg told herself. There’s no going back. It never does any good to worry about places you can’t go back to.

But worrying about the future was just as painful. Who was this Master? Was he truly the Shadow Bringer? If the words of the Goosemother Scroll were true, could he even be defeated? “If there be an end to this blight,” went the verse. If! And if the Shadow Bringer could be defeated, the end, so said the scroll, would be small. Pyg did not know what that meant, but she was certain of one thing. There was nothing small about a war.

Exhausted by these thoughts of things she could not change, Pyg looked to her traveling companion. Leap had been very quiet since they first reached the rhinoceros king. He ate little. He stared sadly into the distance. He was not the cheerful pup from the abbey anymore.

“What’s the matter, Leap?” she asked him once.

“Nothing,” he had said. “I just miss my family sometimes.”

Pyg left it at that. She knew something of pain and of wishing to be left alone with it.

They traveled for days, stopping only for sleep and to replenish their food and water when they could, though sometimes there was none to be found. When they did stop, Pyg would listen to the songs and stories of the soldiers. Many of them, too, had lost loved ones the tragic night that Pyg was born.

Even the Elephant Queen had a song, and it was the saddest of them all.

It was one such night of song and story when the moon suddenly turned black with winged bodies. With this darkness came the screeches of a hundred thousand bats and owls, each of whom wore armor that bore a familiar sigil: black claws with a gray shadow.

The battle had begun much sooner than planned.

The Elephant Queen’s song:

Cry no more, my daughter, Cry no tears for me. For when the Mother comes She will fold me in her wings. “How will the Mother come When her wings are stone from grief?” I do not know, my daughter, Will you ask her when you meet?