Arc 721, 43 Ymiden
Herman, Miles and Melinda arrived the night before, with a team of building students from Saoire’s School. The guests had quickly been shown to their guest housing, which happened to be Haven house, the guard house and a few of the other family homes in the settlement. Elisabeth, Silk, Ronan, Balder and the volunteers that had given up their homes moved into tents for the extent of the project easily enough, owing to good weather and time of year. Had it been Zi’da or Cylus, they would have had to come up with other options.
In preparation for the build, Elisabeth had spent the trial before leveling the two build sites, using defiance to make sure the earth was flat. The young mage worked slowly and took many breaks, hoping not to exert herself too much at any one time, focusing on small areas one at a time. As well, the settlers of Haven had moved the building materials to the site so there would be no delay with that. Bran and Gilbert had spent the trial pre-cutting some of the timbers, following instructions that Herman had delivered to the settlement.
Plans had changed a bit from when Herman had visited Haven, communicated in a few letters between Elisabeth and Herman. The Munny’s farmhouse would still be built by a combination of workers from Saoire’s school and the settlement, under the guidance of Herman, but Elisabeth was paying for the barn/stable structure to be built herself. Owing to recent adventures, she had been blessed with a bit of money and could think of no better use of it than giving something back to the people of Haven. Herman had taken that into account, bringing additional people that would be building the barn at the same time as the rest were working on the farmhouse. The young woman and Herman had spent the night, after the bonfire, confirming everything was ready for the next trial.
Unfortunately, something else had changed. After her work the previous trial with leveling the build site, Elisabeth found her balance very off, which seemed a bit odd. She had taken it easy that night, but waking the next morning, Elisabeth realized that the issue was going to linger. Cursing, she stepped out of the tent she was sharing with the guards and gingerly made her way over to where the group had arranged to meet for the walk out to the farm site.
The young Haven leader did her best to hide her condition, but it was evident to all that something was wrong with her, and she found herself in the middle of an epic ‘battle’ that she hadn’t anticipated.
“You are staying here, Elisabeth. Obviously, you need rest. We told you to take more breaks yesterday.” Silk’s firm voice spoke what it appeared, glancing at the ground, the rest of them felt. Something they didn’t realize though was that Elisabeth was far more stubborn than that. “Staying here while the rest of you are out working? I don’t think so. I feel fine. I just can’t seem to walk well. My balance is very off. I’m sure it will pass. I’m going with you all, and that’s that.”
Realizing that the only person that possibly could have talked her out of it wasn’t in settlement, they relented. Balder and Silk stayed close to her as the group moved slowly out to the farm site. Elisabeth was not happy – at all. Balder was the one that finally asked the question they all wanted to ask but didn’t. “Do you know why this happened?” Shrugging her shoulders, she reluctantly answered. “I suppose I pushed my abilities too hard yesterday. It’s hard to know where the limits are when it comes to magic. I haven’t had the most structured education.”
It was a subject she wasn’t interested in speaking on in depth. Balthazar would have taught her, but their arrest and his subsequent paradigming had left her without a mentor. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Praetorum did his best, but he was back and forth between Haven and Rharne a great deal, so lessons weren’t frequent.
Elisabeth was very pointedly sat against a log next to the building site, with much grumbling from the subject herself. Herman took out all the notes and plans and began to call out assignments and instructions. First, he sent the barn team on their way with notes as they would be building on their own. Calling after them, he made sure to tell them one final thing. “Just let me know if you have any questions.”
“Alright, we need to finish leveling and get the foundation up.” Casting a look around, Elisabeth counted the people. Herman, Miles and Melinda had arrived with six building students, while Haven offered Bran, Gilbert, Edwin, Kenwyn, Osian, Bryn and Derec. Oh, and Storm, who was happily making himself comfortable in his girl’s lap. Who could forget Storm?
It was very apparent to Elisabeth that Herman was a natural educator. The way he spoke to others, being very clear and concise with his words and instructions, all very indicative of someone familiar with teaching in academia. Elisabeth would know, having lived and worked with two professors most her life. “So, farmhouse for Mr. Munny and his family. The outline is already marked with string, so the outer dimensions are clear. First things first – finish the leveling that Elisabeth graciously started for us, and getting the foundation up. A reminder - we are building, but we are also teaching so call out questions so everyone can learn from what is said, and there are no stupid questions. Asking questions is how someone learns.” Elisabeth considered that, devoting a bit or two in thinking about how calling out questions would help the entire group learn as opposed to individually. It was maximizing the educational value of the experience and the young settlement leader appreciated that.
What she did not appreciate, however, was being sat on the ground and told to stay. It was very frustrating, although she understood where the sentiment came from and because of that, she didn't blame the settlers. Elisabeth was more of a liability to the project in her current state and as such, reluctantly and with much frowning, she sat and tried to learn from what she could see and hear.
Each of the Haven settlers was paired with a student from Saoire's school. Herman was still providing the instruction and guidance, but part of the experience was letting the settlers learn new skills to advance their own, and they didn’t want to waste the opportunity so graciously given. It was gratifying to know that the settlers were so eager to learn, and boded well for the future of Haven.
Herman took the group out and showed them the fine tuning they needed to do to finish leveling the land. Placing people at the corners, he used a small device that he looked through in one corner, looking at another and digging a small hole in the ground, then using another measuring device, making motions to Melinda and Miles. Between the three of them, they quickly measure and made sure the corners were where they needed them to be. After that, it was just a matter of measuring out where boards would be touching the ground and making sure they matched up with the corner measurements. It was an important piece of the construction, as everything would be built upon it.
They went slow and steady, enlisting the help of the entire group. Herman showed Gilbert and Bran how to use the measuring device and provided them one to help others measure and dig where the supports would be to a uniform height. It took the entirety of the morning but just before they broke for lunch, it was completed.
After resuming construction, Herman gathered everyone together again.“So, the farmhouse will be similar to the clam farm structure I saw; just bigger.” Herman stated to the settlers. “Sometimes people try to make things more complicated than they need to. It’s a matter of mindset. There will be a few differences, but very few. The first difference, is preparing the floor foundation.”
Kneeling to the ground, he showed them all what was needed, using boards as visual aids - another great teaching device. “Building directly on the ground is a bad idea for larger constructions. Faldrass has a lot of that warm orange sand in the soil, drainage here is very good, which helps, but we still want the floor of the structure off the ground. So first, we use these heavier boards for the ‘feet’. When using something as support, something that will bear weight, you need to use thicker boards. They will sit on the ground and the floor goes on top of that. It offers a secondary purpose of allowing air a pathway under the structure.”
Working quickly, he showed the group what he wanted. “Set these beams in place, every few feet or so where the marks are we placed earlier when leveling, within the line outline that show you where the walls will be. Once that’s done, we can start securing the floor boards over the tops of those. As long as the boards touching the ground are on finely measured and leveled land, the small bumps elsewhere don't matter."
Elisabeth watched the people move, grabbing beams. Even though she wasn't part of the building process that trial, she called out a question. "Can I ask the purpose for building off the ground." The Cadouri nodded as he made a few measurements nearby, speaking loud enough so everyone scattered in the immediate area could hear him. "In this case, and most really, it's to protect the materials that will comprise the main structure. If they are sitting straight on the ground, they are susceptible to moisture and things like rot and such. Faldrass, as I mentioned before, has excellent soil drainage, but still, we don't want to take chances. This design will allow the addition of support beams, in the future, under the structure if the ones we are placing today start rotting out. It's a logical, and elegant design for simple builds."
Grinning from nearby, Edwin, one of the Haven settlers, chuckled at Elisabeth. "Always have to be the teacher's pet, don't you Elisabeth?" It was a gentle tease, and Elisabeth knew it. The settlers were well aware of Elisabeth's past and skills in research. Their young leader liked information, and lots of it. She also enjoyed asking questions. All the questions, and they loved teasing her about it. "Well, someone has to be, Edwin," she retorted, laughing a bit. "Besides, I can't let you lot know more than me. What's the fun in that? You all sat me down here and since I can't help physically, the least I can do is ask questions. I know words. Lots of words! " The group laughed and it was evident to anyone that Elisabeth treasured the warm relationship she had with the settlers of Haven. They cared about her and the feeling was mutual. Enough for jokes and light teases to fly when the moment presented itself.
The work was slow for most of the group needed help along the way. Herman placed the first beam as an example for the others to follow, continuing to utilize visual aids to help the settlers learn easier. Over the span of the morning, the rest of beams were placed and once Herman measured them out, ensuring they were where they needed to be, conferring with Bran and Gilbert, the okay was given for everyone to lay the foundation floor. Some boards would need to be sawed, so Kenwyn and one of the Saoire students were assigned to that, getting the boards measured up and cut for the last row of flooring. The rest took wood planks and began laying them down, securing with nails.
Watching people hammer nails wasn't the most exciting thing in the world. The longer she sat, the more frustrated she became. Sitting while others worked did not suit her at all, but sat there she did for the rest of the trial. She asked questions when she could, and was happy when settlers did as well, enjoying the interactive experience of teaching that Herman was providing. She glanced over at the barn site a time or two, and they were still working on leveling, although since they were experienced, were going much faster than the farmhouse group. Comparing the progress of the two builds would be interesting as time went on.
She watched the different ways people did things. Drinking water from the decanter she had been gifted, Elisabeth noted subtle differences in how people hammered or even laid boards. Not unexpected really, but interesting nonetheless, although she mused that it probably wasn't an observation she would have made if she was involved in the construction, so perhaps sometimes a different perspective was a good thing.
Storm tried to comfort her as best he could. Having her as a captive audience had left him in a very loving mood, which the kitten bestowed upon Elisabeth in the form of snuggles and delightful little meows. He didn't need to seek attention from others because his girl didn't seem to be moving at all - a wonderful change of pace! Perhaps she had seen the error of her ways and was committing her life to his devotion now? It was too early to say but he was enjoying the extra attention while he had it.
The trial wore on, and the time the end of it came, half the foundation was complete. It was a good start.