[Haven] Woodcutting Warriors

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Balthazar Black
Approved Character
Posts: 2105
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:15 am
Race: Human
Profession: Leader of The Black Cats
Renown: 1815
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Wealth Tier: Tier 5

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[Haven] Woodcutting Warriors

21 Ashan 721


Balthazar did not intend to spend his birthtrial doing anything other than he had been before. He would work and help as many people as he could around the settlement. He'd celebrated differently over the arcs, doing it one way in Yaralon and another in Scalvoris but almost every arc he acknowledged it in some way. Yet this arc, he was content to let it pass unmarked and uncelebrated. Scalvoris tradition made it a more reflective occasion which helped him keep his focus off the trial. Since he wasn't thinking about his birth trial when he woke up, he didn't think anything of the flowers Elisabeth put on his desk. Well he thought, Alright, so she's decorating my desk with flowers now. Nice flowers- oh look a note! And then he opened the little note she'd left behind. Smart. He really wouldn't have paid it any mind otherwise. Trean was there at the time and about to switch off with Tib'ron for the morning and afternoon but they'd both seen the letter already.

The first thing that happened after Balthazar read the letter was he turned to his guards and held it up. "It's a little sappy, isn't it?" Six lines and four of them said love after all but that wasn't exactly what he felt. Unfortunately Elisabeth wasn't there so she wouldn't get to analyze him to figure it out and with the guards around, he wasn't going to express anything too romantic. He wanted to let the trial pass but it seemed Elisabeth was not content to do so. What in Viden's culture made birthtrials so important to her? Regardless it felt good to have someone who cared again... even if it meant he was going to have to find some way to do something bigger for her's. Balthazar took a deep breath and prodded the Tempest Lilies with his finger for a trill, staring at them as if he expected them do so something remarkable. They sat there. Fuego, invisible but on Balthazar's shoulder, climbed down from said shoulder to try and prod one of the flowers as well before Balthazar moved out of the tent to the fire pit he could smell burning.

Had she forgotten he was Fire Forged? When he started it in the morning it was for her because she was not and even then he didn't do it often. They slept on unnaturally warm sand, what use did they have for something that might cause their tent to catch fire. However he found a note there as well with a cup of tea. Tea? Had he ever drank tea around her? She was doing so many things to try and make the trial special but she wasn't there. She wasn't with him. She was leading him around and probably, he suspected, trying to spy on him. He picked up the cup of hot leaf juice and examined it before turning to Tib'ron. "You know, most people wouldn't drink strange cups of liquid they find abandoned next to a lit fire." Tib'ron didn't grin but that didn't necessarily mean he didn't find it funny. It just meant he was disciplined enough not to show it. However Balthazar thought it was very likely that Tib'ron did not find it funny. "Ronan would have laughed." Balthazar grumbled he sniffed the hot leaf juice and took a sip before making a face. Tea. It was definitely not his drink of choice. He drank it quickly, like someone taking a shot, and then set the cup back down on the rock.

He kicked some sand over the fire to put it out because he was not going to linger to tend it and then he went to work. He spent most of his time that trial in the Ashwoods with the men who were forming the logging operation. Haven was a small place and while their population had a relatively wide range of professions, they didn't have anyone who worked solely in logging before. Balthazar decided the most useful workforce would be the one who had the most overlapping skills- the builders, they worked with the wood that they were trying to produce often, hopefully they'd know more than the leader of the settlement himself. Balthazar had explained the boundaries to them and they'd begun making estimates. They didn't want to cut down all the trees but they needed to cut down enough to finish the projects Balthazar had in mind. Initial investigation showed the older phoenix wood trees could grow massive in height. Balthazar theorized one tree could be cut into quarters and then trimmed down from there but he wasn't sure how to turn the logs into the planks that Balthazar had seen builders using time and time again while working with them to put up houses for the settlers. However cutting the tree down and reducing it into planks were two very different tasks. Once was much easier than the other and even then many people believed it was more difficult than Balthazar did. Tall trees were more dangerous than short ones but how short of a tree could they cut that would still produce useful wood? A rough plan was made to cut down the smallest trees first.

While he was not entirely content with cutting down the small trees rather than the large ones, Balthazar didn't want anyone to get injured. He had to remember strength in numbers. One extremely skilled fighter versus a dozen less skilled. One very tall tree versus a dozen smaller, safer ones. The question that arose then was 'what is a safe size to cut down?' Balthazar proposed a twenty foot tree but none of the crew with him seemed to think it was a good idea. Balthazar, who had fought giant stone men and massive walking trees and seen them fall, did not think a twenty foot tree was extremely dangerous. However if the crew was not confident, it would be hard to motivate them to do better so Balthazar once again scaled down his plan. If they couldn't do twenty feet, they'd do ten. Anything less than that and he was arguably cutting twigs not trees. He was sure they wouldn't be able to get any useful wood from a smaller tree but they'd practice and as they practiced, tested and tried, they would be able to move towards larger trees... but no totrial.

They spent a break or so walking through the woods and marking the trees that fit their safety parameters, small with few branches, and when they'd marked a reasonable number, the actual cutting began. The weapons produced from the bag Balthazar had been given were designed for cutting into people, not wood but they'd do what they were used to do. He was able to produce axes of all sizes as long as he could get them through the bag so he took out a few small hand axes before pulling out some larger, two handed axes. The group of roughly six people, including Balthazar and some familiar faces like Bran got to work slowly and carefully.

The group began with the smallest trees closest to Haven because they did not want to have to take the wood far once they'd gone through all the trimming and cutting but sooner or later they'd have to go to the marked ones further into the Ashwoods. They began by using the smaller hand axes to trim off the bark around the tree where they were going to cut so that the bark would not fly off wildly as they swung into it. Balthazar had a person collecting the bark so that they could either study it or use it for firewood. If the phoenix trees were fire resistant, he had a feeling the bark wouldn't be good for kindling (or it would be very good) but it might be useful for the research station to look into for other unique properties.

After shaving the bark off of the portion of the tree they'd be chopping into, the group put their heads together to figure out the best way to cut the tree down. Balthazar found himself growing a little frustrated as the group stood around debating. The natural concern was safety but Balthazar did not think the trees they'd chosen were going to put them in any danger. They were barely above the height of some Ithecal's Balthazar had seen but the workers were concerned and Balthazar did not want to make them feel like cowards. The dark thought in the back of his mind was that he could heal whoever was injured if they went after a larger tree... unfortunately there was the risk they injured more than one person. So instead he listened to their concerns and gave them input based on his experiences. Gravity would do the majority of the work for them but they needed to help gravity along its path. Bran had the idea to cut a steep angle into one side of the tree and then the question became "How steep?" The tree was small and if they spent a foot of the trees length cutting a fifty degree angle (they had no method of measuring so it was really a guess as to how steep they'd be going), then they'd lose workable wood. They had a good number of breaks left in the trial and a decent number of little trees chosen, so Balthazar did not complain.

At first they just began swinging. Balthazar and one man worked one side of one tree while another two settlers worked the another - swinging in a rhythm one after the other. Swing by swing, blow by blow, they chopped away at the shaved side of the tree they'd marked. When a settlers arms grew tired he switched out with one of the other settlers collecting the felled wood. Balthazar was able to keep at it longer than any of them and even though their axes were made for war, every swing from Balthazar's arms cut deep into the wood. So he swung and he swung and he swung. Wood fell, and fell, and fell. Over a decent time, Balthazar and the other settler had managed to cut the angle into the tree. The base of the angle was what would eventually form the tree stump and the cut tapered up about a foot. That would be how they controlled the fall-path of the tree and give them a general idea of where to retreat to when it began to fall- that direction being, according to Bran, "not in front of the notch we just cut."

While they were taking a small break to let everyone rest their arms and drink some water, Balthazar stared at the tree they were trying to take down. It was an odd moment of quiet where he watched the tree teeter in the wind and he felt a strange rush of memories hit him. He was in Quacia again, in the collapsing cathedral, alone. Massive tree walkers were coming and he swore to himself he wouldn't leave a stone of the cathedral unweaponized. He swore he would destroy them all before they destroyed him and he expected them to... then the portal opened beside him. It was the recollection the shocking sound that took him from his memories and backed to the task at hand. They had a tree to finish cutting down and when it came down... it was going to be dangerous. He would have, in a different time, used the wind to guide the tree but he did not have that control anymore.

He thought about tying a rope around the tree and having a group of people pull it in one direction but realized that would probably put them all in danger. Then he thought about having a group push the tree in a direction but he worried that if they did not have the strength to do it. He didn't expect anyone worth their salt would be crushed by a little tree falling. Still... better safe than dead. With the notch cut in one side, it came time for the groups to go over to the back side and begin the actual felling cut, which would be the one that caused gravity to take the tree down. The felling cut was simpler than the notch cut because it was more of a straight line through the tree. Instead of trying to hog off a bunch of wood they could just try to swing through it. The felling cut was faster than the notch cut but it was also where a mistake was made. Bran and Balthazar were working different trees so Bran was not there to stop Balthazar when he thought all he needed to do was cut through to the notch they'd made.

The proper way to cut down a tree was more or less what they had done. You cut a notch into one side, a felling cut into the other, and then you put wedges in your felling cut before finishing it. The important step that Balthazar missed was that he did not put any wedges in the side of his felling cut. He didn't leave the hinge in the wood that he was supposed to. These were two important steps because they helped further drive the tree in the direction of the notch that was cut. Balthazar didn't know. He just kept cutting and the man beside him just kept cutting. Balthazar was stronger than his settlers and made progress faster as a result. Bran was still working on his own felling cut for his own tree a good distance from Balthazar's when he noticed their leader's mistake. His voice called out too late, "Wait!"

The remainder of the wood had gave way under another of Balthazar's swings and when he heard the cracking begin, he dropped his axe. He was nervous but he hid it well, watching vigilantly as it began to tip. "Look out!" He shouted a general warning to everyone around. The settler cutting with Balthazar moved back into the direction they thought would be safest. All eyes shot to the wooden mass as it began to teeter towards the notch. Balthazar saw quickly that no one was in front of that side and thinking it would be safer he moved to push the little tree over. So he tried to. He moved towards it and gave it a stiff shove with two hands that caused the rest of the wood to crack and the little tree to topple. The bottom end of the tree with surprisingly sharp, cracked wood, came up and scratched Balthazar along his leg as the tree tip, cutting enough to draw blood but not deeply enough to be an issue. He cursed and hobbled back a few steps, his hand dropping to where he'd been scratched. "Is everyone alright?" Balthazar asked.

"Are you alright?" Bran asked as he came over to check on Balthazar. "You should have called me over, there were more steps." He said in a somewhat stern tone to Balthazar who checked his hand and saw red from his leg. He wasn't used to not having mutations to heal it.

"Is a tree, how many steps can there be?" Balthazar said with a small grimace before putting his hand back over the cut on his leg. Was it so bad that he needed to waste his healing fire on it? No, probably not. Would he? Not unless he wanted to hide the mistake from Elisabeth. At least he'd been hurt, not one of his people.

"Your felling cut shouldn't reach your notch till you have hammered wedges into it. You should have left a hinge about an inch thick." Bran explained as Balthazar stood upright, ignoring his leg. Balthazar seemed a little confused at Bran's terms. "The wedge helps push the tree in the direction we cut the notch. Without it, the wood can snap or crack."

"I thought you said you were a farmer." Balthazar commented as he moved over to pick up his black bag.

"I built things for farmers, I didn't farm." Bran clarified.

"Good thing you're in charge for this then." Balthazar mused.

Tib'ron, the guard on duty for the trial shift totrial, more or less watched the whole time because he didn't feel that it was necessary to get involved but when the tree started to look like it was coming down, he began herding people where he estimated would be safest. Balthazar noticed, even if Tib'ron thought he didn't. However Tib'ron only entered his thoughts because Balder came to him with a message and after reading it, he had to hand it off to the trooper. Balder professed that he'd been told not to read the letter and Balthazar narrowed his eyes. "Don't make jokes, everyone reads my mail." He grumbled before taking it and looking at the writing. Another message from Elisabeth, he'd almost forgotten she was trying to turn his birthtrial into some sort of event while he was working in the woods.

The letter said that one trial wasn't enough to celebrate being with him and he rolled his eyes slightly. Now she was getting cryptic which was cute in a way but also a little distracting. He'd have preferred she be there with him. Balthazar took a deep breath and turned to the woodcutters. "I'm going to take a bucket of the wood and bark to the research station and check around the settlement. I'll be back in two or three breaks. For now focus on getting all the branches off the tree, then cutting it into firewood and stack it near the tent at the edge of the Ashwoods." With the instructions given and relatively well received, Balthazar picked up one of the aforementioned buckets of wood shavings and bark then set off towards the settlement while the tree was thoroughly- but not necessarily skillfully, cut up by Bran and the others.

Elisabeth wanted him to go looking for her? Alright, he'd go looking for her.
word count: 3108

Visible Mutations/ Marks

Mutations
Defiance: Skin always glows faintly and he is warm to the touch. His is also the center of a field of static electricity so people get shocked touching him on occasion.
Rupturing: Orange etheric cracks spider-web up his arms to his elbows. His eyes and the glowing cracks going down his cheeks glow dark blue.
Transmutation: He has a series of emerald, glowing cracks on his right pectoral.
Marks
Bellinos: His fingernails are always black. The color fades into his fingers.
Celarion: A dim glowing ring surrounds his left forearm.
Palenon: A silver lightning shaped mark about the size of a hand stretching up towards his torso.

Scars

  • Oops, Oops, Ouch: Balthazar Black has twenty scars across his back from a lashing as well as scars on his hands and arms from jagged rocks on Faldrass. There are two scars on the sides of his abdomen from being stabbed and a slash across his back which blends in with the whip scars.

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