What's pine is yours

In the ninth part of a regular series, Karen takes on Fantasy Life in a variety of 'lives' and documents her adventures.

Last week’s outdoors adventure in nature walks and axe-handling left me with a dilapidated house full of logs, broken furniture, and a missing cat. Rather than move into the inn permanently and replace said cat I decided to continue my splinter tolerance training and see what I could do with all of this wood as Reveria’s newest carpenter.

At the woodworking section of the Castele workshop I meet Woody, an extremely nervous individual who seems almost afraid of taking on a new pupil, but I suspect that his problems have more to do with simple psychological make-up than past trauma. Presenting me with a saw and a recipe, Woody hands the process of training off to his other pupil, Sawyer. Without lowering his voice, Sawyer says Woody lacks leadership qualities but is a virtuoso with a saw, the grandson of the legendary carpenter Marimo. By the time Sawyer turns back around to ask Woody a question, Woody has vanished and I breathe a sigh of relief at not having to watch another awkward social scene play out as a hapless mute. Apparently most new carpentry students have quit and Sawyer suspects I'll do the same, but in the meantime he sends me to see my former woodcutting instructor Forrest about some materials.

Forrest pretends not to recognise me but scents the sawdust right away and knows that I’ve become a carpenter. He acknowledges the open secret of Woody's public-speaking issues, and asks me what kind of woodcutter I am, as if he didn’t already know that I’m a hero among lumberjacks. Despite having a goodly idea of the number of oak logs I’ve already got he decides to let me haul away a few more. The silent understanding between us passes as I start dragging the logs back to workshop to see Sawyer, secure in the knowledge that I've gone from having one of those faces to the heady perfume of pine shavings.

Surprised that Forrest knew everything about me from the scent of sawdust on my clothes, Sawyer hands me a flimsy saw, points me to the workbench and has me make an oak beam. Once I'm finished he tries to report my progress to Woody, who has remained vanished this whole time — I just hope he's not helping himself to some liquid courage at The Crown. Looking somewhat discouraged but undeterred, Sawyer sends me to Woody's house to report in. Woody nearly jumps out of his skin when I cautiously approach him, but is obviously impressed by my work and Sawyer's instruction before he suddenly starts freaking out again. Just then a disembodied voice tells Woody to breathe in a fresh woodsy scent to relax, so he snorts some furniture and calms down enough to send me to the owner of the furniture shop for my next task, asking me if that reassuring voice was all in his head. I didn't know that part of my carpentry training was to share auditory hallucinations, but I might as well if it helps.

We've all been caught in a mouth trap

At Castele’s furniture shop I meet the owner, Goodwood, and a little blue-haired girl who introduces herself as Woody's little sister named Cherry. I explain to Goodwood that I’ve been sent by Woody to assist with his task; Cherry is annoyed that her brother wouldn’t do it himself and Goodwood is annoyed that he won't get the grandson of the legendary carpenter Marimo's handiwork if I step in. Sensing that telltale bouquet about me, Cherry tells Goodwood to give me a chance because I smell like a true carpenter. Most people think of my new signature scent as 'sawdust' but I prefer 'oaken mystique.' Relenting, Goodwood gives me Marimo’s own design for a custom wooden chair, which looks like an ordinary wooden chair, but Cherry says this particular chair is so comfortable that when she sat on her grandfather’s original model she fell asleep instantly and dreamt for hours. Cherry assures Goodwood that she'll help me make the chair and takes me to gather the needed materials. Marimo's recipe requires something called a 'beaver beam,' which is new to me as I've never chopped down a beaver before. The required oak beams are ours for the asking at the lumber merchant, and to get the dandelion cotton we speak to my old tailoring friend Taylor. The first step for the beaver beam is to get someone who helped Marimo with his work to tell us what, exactly, a beaver beam is.

After leading me back to her place so we can figure out where to start Cherry introduces me to the family pets Beavy and Beavo, and has me keep them company while she runs off to ask around about the beaver beams. While Cherry is gone Beavy, Beavo and I have a lovely conversation about the scent of sawdust and proper carpentry blisters. My new friends were also Marimo's helpers and offer to make me the beaver beams, the both of them singing a carpentry song while I try to process the fact that that I can speak to beavers. The proud owner of freshly-gnawed beaver beams, I get ready to set out for the Castele workshop, wondering if I’ve actually just been sitting in a particularly potent chair for the past few minutes.

Meeting Woody back at the workshop he tries to pawn off showing me how to make the custom chair, but Sawyer is having none of it and threatens to tell Cherry if Woody refuses to do his job. I cut and carve up the chair as fast as possible and as I’m counting my fingers Woody tells me that he’s impressed with my workmanship as Cherry flounces into the woodworking shop with Goodwood in tow. Well satisfied with the chair, Goodwood drops some coin into my still-intact hands which have sprouted my first carpentry-induced blister, apparently making me a full fledgling.

Movin' on up

Finally confident that I can work the circular saw without bloody disaster, I go to work cutting my lumber collection down to size by fashioning it into elaborately carved and hand polished furniture. Even though I have well enough of all types of wood for any couch Woody can throw at me, I decide to take a break and bring Cherry along on a shopping trip to Port Puerto and Al Maajik. The port, with its reliance on shipbuilding, is a haven for skilled carpenters and woodcutters, especially the ones who can hold their barley juice thanks to the many fine beachfront watering holes and pirate-sponsored drinking contests. Woodcraft isn’t a staple of Al Maajik architecture and not as central to the economy as making buildings float though force of magic, but the furniture design is far more colourful and ornate than you’d expect for a kingdom with such an international reputation for ultimate darkness.

Bringing Cherry back from our trip without her getting squished by a flying building, I resume my work at the carpenter’s bench adding to my glorious pile of matched furniture sets, some of which I’ve already filled my vacation homes with in grand style. I found myself wishing that I had some weddings to attend in my social calendar so I could give away a few bedroom sets, but making friends when your most effective means of communication are smacking things with a variety of tools and shaking your head while smiling is difficult, even in Castele.

To alleviate my storage problem I bought the huge manor house on the west side, thinking it would nicely complement my royal bedroom and living room furniture suites. While packing my things in my old place I found Salt cowering under what was left of my former bed after it lost an argument with several mangrove logs and licking her own paws for nourishment. After moving in to the new place and claiming the royal couch for herself, she might even be ready to forgive me. My dog Pepper is getting used to his new surroundings by breathing in all of the new woodsy scents and relaxing. Now that I’m properly genteel and not living in a flat full of donated items, I decide that my next job will be to further enrich my life, at the possible expense of my social standing, as a mercenary.

Rank achieved: Hero
Useful for: Reshaping lumber, getting down to brass tacks
Quality of Life: Varnished
Additional comments: Anyone want to buy some furniture? Cheap?