Solo Working Holiday

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

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Working Holiday

Postby Artigan Crowley on April 12th, 2017, 3:15 pm

19th of spring, 517 a.v

The water glider seems a bit more peaceful than ravosalas. Perhaps it is the lack of rocking; I feel much less like I’m prone to fall off if I move around. But at least the ravosalamen are willing to talk while they work; the glidermen look at me like a nuisance whenever I try to strike up a conversation.

But thank Rhysol, the shore’s coming into view.


Artigan stopped writing. He closed the quill into the book and stoppered his ink, stuffing the lot of them into his pack as the lakeshore finally, finally appeared in the distance. The thin green line of trees suddenly possessed a pale sandy bank, and the young gadgeteer was one of many passengers that yawned and stretched out their limbs, eager to get their feet back on solid ground.

They pulled up to shore and disembarked in an awkward clump, then split and went their separate ways without a word. Artigan was left to stand there by himself, looking around and trying to see if he could figure out where to go without help.

He couldn’t.

Artigan turned right back around, pushed his way through the general aura of irritability and found himself one of the glidermen.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Do you know which direction will bring me to the Calico lumberyard?”

The gliderman gave him a long, weary look, as if Artigan had massively inconvenienced him by asking the question.

“To the south,” he answered, voice laced with an exhaustion that seemed just a bit too heavy for Artigan’s sensibilities. “Follow the shore, then just follow your ears.”

“Thank you,” Artigan said, dipping his head politely. Just because one person was rude didn’t mean the other had to be.

The gliderman grunted and then turned back to his work tying up the boat. Artigan shouldered his backpack and picked up his work kit, and then began walking south.

There was a unique tranquility here that didn’t exist in Ravok proper. There were more non-human sounds, in the birds and the squirrels and whatever else scurried through the rustling trees. It felt… lived-in, somehow. Save for the odd grinding sound; that wasn’t particularly pleasant.

No, that wasn’t the sound of nature. Artigan realized the farther he got that he was hearing the actual grinding of wood and metal, punctuated by shouts and the thunder of logs being moved about.

Follow his ears, indeed. It seemed that the Calicos weren’t that hard to find after all.

The lumberyard was massive; Artigan could tell even from looking at the barest edge. It was like a hive of bees, constantly crawling with workers, constantly humming, constantly vibrating. It made Artigan thankful to work in the Ravok.

A man was waiting at the edge of the lumberyard – a man and two horses. Artigan cringed, hoping sincerely that one of them was not for him.

“Hello,” he called out when he got closer. “I’m looking for––”

“Artigan Crowley?”

“Er, yes, that’s me.”

The stranger looked Artigan up and down. “You’re young.”

Artigan chose to take that as a compliment. “Thank you?”

“Here for the sawmill?”

“That’s what I was told needed fixing.”

“Right. I’m the foreman that’ll be showing you around. You ride?”

“I do not, unfortunately.”

The foreman snorted to himself, mounted one horse and grabbed the reins of the other. “Fine, I’ll do the work. Just get on and sit.”

Artigan looked at the extra horse warily, but didn’t want to disappoint. After a few moments, he mustered his courage and put a foot in the stirrup.

“Other foot,” the foreman chuckled.

“What?”

“Use your other foot. ‘Less you want to ride backward to the mill.”

“Don’t tell me how to live my life,” Artigan argued, obeying the foreman and using the other foot.

As his companion laughed, Artigan clambered awkwardly over the saddle until he was draped lengthways across the animal’s back. The horse shifted under him, confused, which made things worse – and made the foreman laugh harder. Sliding an arm through the handle of his kit, Artigan grabbed the saddle with both hands and dragged himself to face the right direction, throwing one leg over the other side until he was sitting squarely behind the horse's neck. The horse threw its head in distress, taking a few steps sideways with an anxious whinny.

“Woah there, boy––”

“She’s a mare.”

“––Woah there, girl. Uh, easy?”

Since the foreman still held the mare’s reins, she couldn’t do more than step around a bit. Artigan clung to her mane in terror, and when she finally stopped dancing, the foreman was still grinning.

“Good job,” he said. “Now, you ready to actually go somewhere?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Hey, your choice to get on the damned thing in the first place. That means we’re going if you’re ready or not.”

Artigan took a breath. “Let’s go.”

The foreman took his own horse into an easy walk. “Don’t fall off and die.”

“I told you,” Artigan said, eyes completely focused on the saddle, “don’t tell me how to live my life.”

The foreman laughed again, then tugged Artigan’s horse to follow and began leading them through the lumberyard.
Last edited by Artigan Crowley on April 13th, 2017, 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Working Holiday

Postby Artigan Crowley on April 13th, 2017, 12:07 am

Their destination wasn’t all that far––not that Artigan was paying attention, engaged as he was by staring unwaveringly at the horse’s neck, praying to Rhysol that he wouldn’t fall off as long as he didn’t look anywhere else. He squeezed with his legs as hard as he could and held her mane in an iron grip, which likely confused the horse even more than it already was, but the foreman had her reins and so she kept walking.

Artigan’s prayers were answered when both horses finally came to a stop. As fast as he was able, Artigan threw down his kit and scrambled off the back of the horse. He lost his footing and landed in an undignified heap on the ground.

Much more gracefully, his guide dismounted and tied the horses to a nearby post. “You alright down there?”

“I can’t feel my legs.”

“Rhysol’s grace, man, it wasn’t even that far.”

“It was altogether too far.”

The foreman shrugged with a smile and offered a hand up. “Whatever you say.”

Artigan took the offered hand and was pulled to his feet. Trying to salvage what remained of his pride, Artigan brushed himself off and picked up his kit.

“So,” the gadgeteer said stiffly, clearing his threat for good measure. “What are we looking at?”

The foreman gestured for him to follow. “This way.”

The sawmill was one of the smaller ones, and it was in a sorry state. The water wheel leaned at an angle, with metal rods and gears flowing behind it like entrails. Three of the beams supporting the roof were cracked and angled inward, and one was missing entirely. The wheel itself had a sizeable dent in one side, as if something heavy had crushed it.

“I…” Artigan couldn’t find words. “How? I mean… just, how?”

“Storms,” was the answer. “We’ve been having pretty bad ones on and off since the season began.”

“Damn. Think it might be the work of last winter?”

“Maybe. I’ve heard some of the traders say that, but I wouldn’t know for certain. All I know is that this girl here suffered the worst. She’s one of our oldest mills, built right at the beginning when the Calicos settled down, and she couldn’t take the force that the newer ones could. Most of them took damage to the wood––we can fix that easy––but this is the only one that took hits to the actual metalwork.”

“You’re not exaggerating,” Artigan said, coming closer to examine exactly how drastically the mill had suffered.

The sawmill stood on stilts five or so feet above the ground, giving more than enough space to get close to the mechanisms. The hub fixture at the center of the water wheel had been ripped almost completely free, and the paring arm was bent at an angle that made work impossible.

“I’ve got the original building plans with me,” the foreman called out. “Thought you might want to have a look at them.”

“Yes,” Artigan called back, ducking under the sawmill to get closer to the blades. “Those will help.”

The three saws had been jostled loose from their mounts, and were pulled against the sluice gap. Their main fastenings seemed alright, though, as did most of the basic ironwork that was lucky enough the be clustered around the center of the sawmill where it was somewhat less exposed to foul weather.

“Well?” the foreman called from the outside.

Artigan ducked back out from under the sawmill, face grim. “The good news is that not everything needs to be replaced.”

The foreman held out a sheaf of papers. “Well, I was hoping that’d be the case.”

Artigan took the papers––the original plans for the sawmill––and began looking them over. “The central fixtures seem unharmed, save for those saw blades––they’ve bent a bit too far. I can take them back to Ravok with me and see they’re straightened. The suspension rod’s also been turned half-sideways; I can take that with me too, but I expect it might be easier to just have it replaced. As for that water wheel…”

“Don’t worry about the wheel,” the foreman said, shaking his head. “We’re carpenters. Let us worry about the woodwork.”

“As you wish,” Artigan replied. “The paring arm, though… that’s good as gone. We could straighten it back in Ravok, but it would weaken the metal and make it easier to break. I’d suggest just having a new one made, but if you like, I can bring this one in for scrap and see if Thorin will give a discount.”

“And the hub? Where the arm connects to the wheel?”

“I might be able to salvage the hub and pair it with the new arm, but I can’t make any promises until I get back to the forge.”

The foreman nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind. What do you need from me?”

“Right now? Give me some time to work.”
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Working Holiday

Postby Artigan Crowley on April 15th, 2017, 5:09 pm

Though the foreman’s patience kept him silent, he still raised an eyebrow when Artigan confidently sat on the ground, pulled out his notebook and began to draw.

The plans were clear and straightforward, and the sawmill’s mechanism wasn’t complicated. The blueprints were well-defined and felt somewhat new––Artigan suspected they might be copied every few years––and each part of the diagram had a notation beside it denoting every component’s name and dimensions.

In his notebook, though, there were no numbers or diagrams. He began drawing the mill itself, not as it was supposed to be, but as it currently was. He began with long, quick strokes, sketching out a basic skeleton for the image and then building upon that. Once the roof and supports bore at least a rudimentary resemblance to his subject, he began to draw the differences: the crooked wheel, the bent arm, the taut sawblades. It wasn’t anything that could be presented to anyone else––it was barely presentable as a sawmill––but it would help him remember the state of the mill whenever he looked at it.

When the portrait was done to his satisfaction, he began circling the damaged components and writing notes in next to them.

Paring arm, suspension arm need replacing, he penned next to the drawing. Possibly hub needs replacing – take back to Ravok for examination. Blades need straightening, shouldn’t need full replacement. Foreman says don’t worry about woodwork – they’ll take care of it. Bring plans back to Thorin, or else copy them. Let Thorin decide the bill.

“Do you mind if I take these plans back to Ravok with me? It’ll speed things up a bit.”

“Of course,” the foreman said with a nod. “Not like they’ll be much use here.”

“Thank you.” Artigan put the plans between the pages of the notebook and closed it. “Now, let’s see if we can’t take this apart.”

Artigan set his backpack on a relatively dry spot of ground and picked up his work kit.

“Need any help? I can call some men over.”

“No, not yet,” Artigan said, hopping confidently onto the sawmill platform. “Though I suppose you should once I get everything ready to move back to Ravok.”

“Eh, we can take that, too,” the foreman called. “We got horses. Put it all in a pile and we’ll get a wagon.”

The upper suspension rod was in fine condition, Artigan was pleased to discover. He opened his working kit and found the wrench best suited to size, and when he stood on the sluice, he was more than tall enough to reach the fastenings.

A few energetic turns of the wrench loosened the bolts holding the saw blades in place, and he spun them the rest of the way free with his bare fingers. When the sawblades fell, he leaped out of the way and put the bolts in his pocket. No sense in having to make extra bolts when there was nothing wrong with these.

The blades slithered loudly through their hole in the platform and clattered onto the ground below. Artigan followed them to the sawmill floor, picked his kit up and then leaped nimbly back down to the earth so he could get underneath the building. A quick comparison proved that the bolts below were the same size as the one above, so he could put them all in the same pocket without worrying about mixing them up; after another few turns of the wrench and another boring stretch of fingerwork, the sawblades were completely free.

Carefully, Artigan grabbed the dull sides of the blades and pulled them out from under the sawmill. The foreman swooped in to help, and together they deposited the blades in a pile safely away from where they were working.

The lower suspension rod was harder. Even using his biggest wrench, Artigan had to jump, stand and practically dance on top of the tool to lever the rod even the tiniest bit loose, and he didn’t have to look at the foreman to know that the man was stifling laughter. When the rod’s bolts finally began to turn without excessive force, the gadgeteer let out a triumphant whoop. It still took more than a few chimes to actually disengage the rod, but it happened; the suspension mechanism came free with a groan of protest, then began rising up and up until it thudded against the platform of the mill and was still.

Without the rod holding it in place, the water wheel was on the verge of keeling over. It was time to claim the hub.

When Artigan came forward to inspect the hub up close, he was surprised to see that it was relatively unharmed. Whatever force the storms had wrought, the majority had been suffered by the wheel to which the hub was secured. Made of solid iron, the hub hadn’t bent nearly as badly as the wood around it.

“You know,” Artigan said, rolling up his sleeves to unfasten the last batch of bolts. “This hub doesn’t look all that bad. I think we might actually be able to keep it.”

“Good to hear,” the foreman replied. “Calicos like saving coin where they can. If you get us that discount with the scrap metal, I’ll be sure to mention your name to them.”

“That’s mighty kind of you, sir,” Artigan grunted, levering a shard of wood away from the first bolt. This set was much easier than the others, seeing as three of the bolts weren’t really fastened to anything anymore. “So long as you don’t mention my glorious horseback skills. I’d like to keep that a secret”

“Ah, I doubt they’de be interested. I’ll keep that part out.”

One bolt came free, then a second, then a third. The last one, the one still engaged to the wood of the wheel, was the hardest; it took a little more dancing and jumping to get it to cooperate. When it did, though, the hub came free of the wheel with an unhappy scraping noise, and the wheel promptly fell on its face with a mighty thud. Behind him, the bent paring and suspension rods thundered to the ground.

“Well,” the foreman said when all was quiet. “That was unexpectedly dramatic.”

“Don’t tell me, tell the sawmill.”
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Working Holiday

Postby Artigan Crowley on May 31st, 2017, 9:53 pm

The foreman insisted that Artigan leave the components where they were––we only got two horses, and you can’t even ride––assuring the gadgeteer that a team would stop by before the day was out and see the parts loaded into a wagon, to be delivered to the dock in the morning. It was too late to make it back to Ravok before dark anyway, Artigan reasoned, so it seemed most logical to simply spend the night on the shore and travel back early in the morning.

“Don’t waste all your time boarded up,” said the foreman when Artigan told him his thoughts. “If you’re looking to stay on shore, enjoy it. There’s still light left.”

“I know,” Artigan replied, eyeing his horse dubiously. “I don’t intend to let the rest of the day go to waste.”

“Oh, stop looking at her like that. She won’t bite you.”

“I’m just… calculating my ascent.”

“That sounds like a mighty fancy way to say ‘stalling.’ Get on the damned horse.”

Artigan rolled his eyes with a huff, steeled himself and put his foot in the saddle.

“Wrong foot.”

Artigan put his other foot in the saddle and mounted. It was easier the second time around, but that didn’t mean it was easy. He managed not to end up sideways, and the horse also seemed more prepared for his awkward flailing. The foreman was good enough to his his smile until Artigan successfully righted himself and grabbed the mare’s mane.

“Now,” said the foreman, taking the mare’s reins. “Give her a kick.”

“Kick her?” Artigan asked in dismay. “Why in the world would I kick her?”

“Not to hurt her,” the foreman laughed. “Just tap your heels on her sides. It tells her to go forward.”

“But…”

“It won’t hurt her, I promise. This girl could take a big whack and not flick an ear. Just give it a try.”

Artigan cringed and tapped his heels against the mare’s sides. His mount perked up and swiveled her ears back toward him, but stayed still.

“What was that little pat? You gotta actually kick if you want her to feel it.”

Whispering ‘Sorry’ to the mare, Artigan extended his legs and gave the mare a heavy kick in her sides. She snorted and jumped into a brisk trot.

“There!” chuckled the foreman, keeping pace.

Artigan threw his arms around the mare’s neck. “I’m going to die I’m going to die I’m going to die…”

The foreman seemed like he was going to give a snarky comment, but then didn’t. With a shrug, he simply said, “Hey, I ain’t going to tell you how to live your life.”

“You, good sir,” Artigan said. “Can go petch yourself.”

The foreman laughed the rest of the ride.
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