A Carpenter's Day - THIRD PLACE


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The smell of fresh, cut wood and newly exposed sap was thick in the air around Rhovan as he swung his axe at a downward angle at the tall tree before him. Nearby, Giant rats nuzzled the ground for grubs and insects and birds twittered angrily at him. Dust, wood chips, small branches and leaves fluttered down from the tree as he chopped. With each swing of his axe the tree shook and his axe cut into it a little bit deeper. His sweat-covered face was covered in grime and sawdust and his thick, red hair was damp and dirty from the toil, and dust and leaf buds floated in the air around him as he labored in the hot sun. In the span of a few minutes his axe blade had opened up a large, pale wedge in the side of the tree he was in the process of cutting down. A red-leafed Ash with a pale green bark this time, in hopes that it may yield some of the Blightwood that was highly sought after by lumberjacks and Carpenters alike. Behind him his horse Mandarb and his two packhorses, Bella and Stepper whinnied and frisked nervously as he worked. For they as well as he knew that they were hardly alone out here in this place. Just a few minutes before Rhovan had paused in his work and hastily took hold of their lead ropes as he hauled them after him when a large, black bear had roamed too close as it foraged for food. Wolves too were always a threat and just like the bears these woods were filled with the gray-furred beasts that could sneak up on you if you didn’t watch out for them. And Rhovan was not a hunter or warrior like his sister Rhovania. And then there were the Giant, black spiders! And Rhovan REALLY hated spiders!

Even with the dangers Rhovan always came back to this forest that stood just outside of the North Gate of Eldritch, a city just west of Cast Lake and North of the Lethe River. Here the trees had grown taller and thicker than those inside the Gate and for him, a member of the House of Danaan, an old and ancient order of Druids, the fewer he killed the better. It wasn’t forbidden to destroy these trees but he said a prayer for each one anyway before he chopped it down. For he, like the druids had a kinship with all living things and many of his order held trees above all others. Rumored to be just West of the Black Forest, The Great Tree, a massive oak with a trunk wider than a castle and so tall that it’s highest branches were rumored to reach far into the sky! Was as a god to him and though it had never been said openly among the Druids, he believed Danu, his Goddess and mother of all living things secretly lived in the tree. Rhovan had been in the forest for most of the morning and the packs of his horses were all nearly filled with wood. Before long he would head back to Isaac, the Woodsmith in Eldrich, to make use of his carpentry table once more.

Rhovan was a crafter like his father and his father before him. And he has kept the faith though it was now only him and his twin sister now that lived in their ancestral home on the Sacred Isle. Instead of a bow, blade or hammer, the weapons of a warrior, his weapons of choice were a pick, an axe or his bare hands to collect the base materials that are required for his work. In the city, either at a forge, a loom or a carpentry table, is where the real magic of his trade began and Rhovan was among the best in Celador though he’d never say such.

A warrior was only as good as the weapons and armor she had in her arsenal and her skill with them. Without a good crafter, someone to make these trappings of war and battle, the wilder place of Celador would, more like than not, still be unknown to his people. But Rhovan knew how to craft much more than just weapons and armor and as his mind began running through the long list of things he had made recently he felt his axe bite deep into the pale flesh of the tree and felt it’s groan up his axe handle and into his thick, strong arms. With that he quickly pulled his axe free with one, sharp tug then brought his left hand to the side of his mouth.

“Tim...beeeerrr!” He shouted and the tree creaked and cracked as its strength to continue to stand erect gave way. With a loud ‘crash’ it fell asunder upon the soft grasses that covered nearly the entire landscape around him. The soft ground had cushioned its fall as it quickly came to rest only yards away from him. The horses barely shifted during its fall as they had witnessed this many times before. As Rhovan stepped toward the thick trunk he licked his thumb and slid it along the edge of his axe blade and tested it’s sharpness. With a nod he hefted his axe onto his shoulder and then squared himself up to the fallen tree and got to work.

Hours later, with his horses whose packs looked as if they could hold nothing more Rhovan walked back into town. He passed Quinsland, Quin Tessence’s estate and with a wave of his hand he bid hello to Klaus her Merchant to his right and also to Manfred the Stable Master and Barnum, a Master Tamer who appeared to be in some kind of argument to his left. ‘None of my business,’ He thought and he continued on his way. The Guard who had seen him coming down the well worn road of packed dirt held the gate open for him then shut it quickly after he and his horses had passed through. He didn’t have far to go beyond the gate for the Woodsmith’s shop was just a few yards past the gate and Isaac was surely waiting for him and the bounty of wood in his packs.

“Bout time you showed up, orders are pilin up!” Isaac said as Rhovan stepped into the dusty shop. Isaac, was nigh a hand shorter than he and of a smaller build with short brown hair, dark eyes and a ruddy complexion. He wore his same drab clothes he always wore and as usual had scroll upon scroll of orders that needed to be filled piled high on the wooden crates behind him. Between them was a long, wooden table that held samples of his work and on the wall behind him were more samples of tools and wood-working implements. To his right against the wall sat the carpentry table, the device Rhovan would use to refine the wood he had collected into boards that he’d use to build tools, armaments and furniture out of wood.

Rhovan only sighed and used his forearm to wipe the dust and sweat from his brow as he looked at the first order Isaac handed to him. “10 Ash Crooks? How many times must I tell ya Isaac...Ya can’t make crooks outta Ash! An everybody know they’s made outta wood! Ya don’t needa put it on the orders!” Rhovan barked annoyedly as Isaac snatched the order back. “What else ya got?” Rhovan asked as he held out his hand to him for another scroll. ‘40 Barrels’ He read then nodded and pocketed the order.

“Now that’s more like it,” He said. ‘An mayhaps he’ll give me one of those Ornate Drawers I’ve been eyeing along with some coin if I fill this order straight away!’ Rhovan thought and smiled over at Isaac before he stepped back outside and went to unloading the horses.