Word Count 500
An Agonized Decision
“You do realize,” Guff said, “the galumpshes must eat some moths. Otherwise, how will they know these mammoths taste terrible? Their pursuit won’t stop. What happens after we’re gone?”
Luna sighed. “I have agonized over this. Is it worth sacrificing a few to save many? What sacrificed is too large? Two? Twenty? Ninety?”
“W…what if g…galumpshes turn to eating dr…dragnos when they no longer have a taste for crystal cave m…moths? Oh m…my! I did not have such a g…good idea after all.”
“Or my execution of it was not well planned. I need to reconsider.” Breathing deeply, Luna centered her thoughts, aided by lavender’s sharpness, rosemary’s remembrance, marigold’s warm spice, moth wings whispering, the hum of earth itself. All else receded. Her trance was so profound, Guff reached out, thinking to bring her back. Howard twitched a wing, warning him off.
Suddenly, Luna’s eyes opened. “They come. We must prepare.”
As planned earlier, Guff stretched out the crystal-encrusted web of words. Howard flew into the tree branches to secure it. The head moth winged away from Luna’s hand, leading the green giants to shelter within the net.
Luna tried to dislodge the other two, but they clung tenaciously. “You would sacrifice yourselves? No need.” Still they refused to leave her. “Lure the galumpshes in, then,” she told them. “I will defend you.”
Moments later, the sun dipped behind the hills, setting the western sky ablaze. The moon emerged at the eastern horizon, gloriously golden. Caught between them, the netted crystals gave back the brilliant radiance of both. Abruptly, the wind quickened, dust whirled, Luna’s silvery hair lashed her face. Darkness encroached as the raucous mass swooped toward the treetops, blotting out sun and moon.
Illuminated by crystals, galumpshes were terrifying. Glorious. Bird-like, yet unlike any birds they had encountered. The plumage took on colors of night—iridescent blue-black, bleeding into violet, fringed with apricot and fiery tangerine. A head shorter than Howard, their wingspan matched Guff’s height. Terrifyingly, the chartreuse beak, longer than Luna’s hand, hooked like a vulture’s. Steely, glinting talons grasped for purchase in the branches, causing netted crystals to swoop and bob like distant falling stars.
The flock shrieked. Driven by terror, they blindly careened away from the netted crystals and moths. And toward the mesmerized group.
“Do something!” Guff’s voice jolted Luna.
“Quickly! Join me!” Hands held, energy blazing amongst the trio and the steadfast companion moths, Luna chanted a spell. Wings flapping wildly, clumsily, galumpshes plummeted. Still dazed, stumbling, they instinctively began yanking weeds, rooting in the earth.
Howard quivered. “Oh m…my. A…m…mazing.”
“What are they doing?” Guff craned for a better look. “Are they dying?”
“No. Eating nettles and nuts. My spell worked. I could not kill them. They, too, create balance.”
“How did you…?”
“I showed them their place in the universe. Not moth-eaters. Seed-sowers.”
Satisfied galumpshes posed no further threat, they un-netted the moths. Luna bowed. Guff whispered goodbye. Howard’s heart ached as they massed over him, fluttered farewell, and away.