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Old 07-13-2008, 09:18 AM   #171
Flame of the Ainulindalė
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Wood-party, around midday...

Stigend looked disappointed gazing at the swamp in bright daylight. The trees standing were scarce and most of them were thin, growing warped and twisted. On the ground there were some thicker and straighter trees that had fallen down who knew when.

“It seems the swamp has been drier earlier… decades ago, I’m afraid.” Wilcred said thoughtfully.

“Right… And that means the fallen trees probably are of no use…” Stigend added. “And from those still standing one might make decorations but not planks or boards…”

“Definitively no baulks or beams…” Wilcred continued.

“We’ll still have to give them a chance.” Stigend said now a bit louder turning to look at Aethelstan and Osmund. “Knock them with the back of your axe a few times from different spots and listen to the sound. Those that sound soft or dampened or dull and hollow are of no use. A firm and sharp sound means it’s good. Mark the good ones with your knives… Okay?”

The two nodded and went on for their work. Stigend frowned looking at the marshland opening before their eyes. Wilcred patted him on the shoulder encouragingly. “Let’s not lose hope Stigend. I’m sure we’ll find at least a few good ones. Some of them must have fallen on hammocks or other drier spots...”

Stigend nodded slowly pulling his axe from his belt. “Let’s join the two and get this over with.”

Stigend had asked for lord Eodwine to let Wilcred accompany him. It had been only a few months ago he had learned that this calm and somewhat quiet elder soldier knew a thing or two about trees. It had come as a surprise to lord Eodwine himself as well. Wilcred surely was not one of those who liked to open their lifestories to any passers by. But Stigend had learned that his uncle had been a landowner and the lands had consisted mainly of forests from which he had made his main living by selling wood. During his youth Wilcred had spent whole summers at his uncle’s place and thence the familiarity. But Stigend also appreciated his calm presence. Nearing his forties he was no longer a hotheaded rascal but more a considerate professional soldier: reliable and firm.

The two younger soldiers Stigend knew less about. Aethelstan seemed to be a bit quick-tempered and enthusiastic about things he found interesting – and this mission clearly wasn’t one he appreciated. Stigend thought he would have much more preferred to join the hunting party. About Osmund he knew even less but that he was quick to laugh. Both were young guys, at their twenties Stigend would guess.

After they had gone checking for the fallen trees for a few hours Stigend finally called for a break. After they counted everyone’s tally they learned that they had found eleven stems that could be used. After Stigend had checked those marked by Aethelstan and Osmund he had to bring the number down to eight.

“How much is that in real terms?” Wilcred asked as they sat eating their provisions Kara and Frodides had given them.

Stigend thought it for it a while. “Prime floor-planks, maybe five… for tables or benches, well… that’s not the best stuff for that. I mean a Mead Hall needs to have quality in those things as everyone notices them. But a good pile of second rate board for where it’s needed; cupboards, lockers, sideboards, shelves, beds… maybe two or three pieces of them, like three beds or a cupboard and a sideboard.”

“That’s not bad…” Wilcred half pointed out half asked.

“It’s not as bad as I feared after seeing this place in daylight… but not promising us to get even near to what we need…” Stigend said and shook his head.

“Shall we go back then?” Osmund asked suddenly. The two younger soldiers had been looking bored to what they clearly thought was just empty chatter of the two elder men. That was easy to read from their faces. Stigend felt he would take none of it anymore.

“If we can’t find the wood here we need to find it from farther away. But if you two have nothing to do why don’t you go and start dragging those we’ve found to the solid ground from there?” Stigend almost snapped his last sentence. He was stressed and disappointed, and anguished of the problem they faced.

The two soldiers looked at each other. It looked like Aethelstan was about to jump up offended when Osmund pressed him back down. “Let’s go Aeth, let’s get it done while the oldies take a rest and chatter...” He glanced at Stigend to see if his comment had the intended outcome.

Wilcred broke in before Stigend had time to jump on Osmund’s words and the open scorn behind them. “Cool down everyone! And you two, lord Eodwine named Stigend to lead this party and you’ll do what he says you’ll do… Just drag the logs there to the firm ground and you’ve earned yourself a good break. We’ll go searching westwards for more as the ground feels drier there.”

Stigend cooled down as soon as he had gotten angry. But he was wondering about his own behaviour. It had been a long time he had gotten angry the last time. Maybe he was just stressing too much.

“Wilcred talks wisely. Feel free to have a break until we come back. It may take several hours.”

Aethelstan and Osmund grumbled lightly for principle’s sake but went to their duties looking somewhat relieved. The promise of a long break without the older men had clearly cheered them up.

Last edited by Nogrod; 07-13-2008 at 09:22 AM.
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