Completed A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Karyk on May 2nd, 2017, 6:53 pm

Karyk's eyes moved from the make shift rod that Oleander had just dropped on the ground next to him, up to the boy's eyes, revealing the harsh glare he was giving. Karyk's face was a true scowl, his eyebrows furrowed, lips thin and frowning. Through gritted teeth, "Pick. Up. Your. Rod. Boy. Do not disrespect your tools like that." Karyk stood up, still holding his glare on the foolish boy. "It doesn't matter that you tried. It doesn't matter that you aren't practiced. That tool, like all tools, is your life blood. There will be a day where your life will rely on your tool, where your family's lives will rely on it. Show it some respect and," at this, he shouted, "Pick it up!"

Karyk began cleaning up the tools nearby, tossing a length of line and a hook into the grass near Oleander, not caring that it might be more difficult finding an unattached hook in the grass. Once the tools were all cleaned, he leaned the newly made rod against a tree, and grabbed his own, as well as the bait bucket filled with bitey worms. It sloshed messily, but Karyk was too annoyed at and frustrated with Oleander to care much. He sat down at the stream, and put his own rod across his lap, inspecting it for damage and wear as he always did before using it. Nothing was worse than having your line or rod snap because you weren't paying attention.

Finding no flaws, he untied the line from the tie-notch, letting the hook dangle. He then peered into the bucket, seeing that the worms were mostly dormant, laying in or atop the mud at the bottom of the water. He pulled on a glove, and reached in, grabbing at them with two fingers. It was frustrating work, for they were fast and slippery, but eventually he got a hold on one of the fat, black ones. Barbed hook in one hand, bitey worm in the other, he brought them together. He pushed the point through the mouth area of the worm as it wriggled in pain, and pushed it through the length, until the worm covered the entire hook. That was a crucial part of most baits, covering up the shiny metal of the hook. He'd heard some fish like shiny things, but hadn't really learned enough to know for sure. He was happy to see that the half of the worm that hung off the hook was still wriggling wildly, for that is what would attract bites.

He saw the stream was flowing north to south, and remembered how the fish were either responsive to their proximity or their noise earlier. So from his seat, he prepared to cast his line downstream, so they wouldn't be able to see him sitting there. He pulled his rod back, keeping it away from the body, parallel to the ground. He held the slack of the line against the rod with two fingers. Then he slung it forward, snapping his wrist at the end. The baited hook flew toward the water, but appeared to be going a bit short. It bounced off a rock and slipped into the water. Karyk kept the line loose, letting the current drag it out into the center of the stream, and waited. He could already feel his anger dissipating, fishing always being his calming hobby. He had to remind himself that the boy didn't know better. He wasn't raised with hard work or craftmanship. But he had a valuable skill set, and hard work would only make it more so. He just needed to get some work in.

Quietly, "Come here boy, let me see your work when you're done putting the line on."
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Oleander Soleran on May 2nd, 2017, 8:09 pm

Oleander
Karyk’s sudden outburst startled Oleander a little, but he could see what the man was getting at. In truth, he felt a little guilty about his own actions when the woodworker finished reprimanding him. The tool he had created with his own hands, albeit amateurishly, was what he had to work with, now. He could not rely on other people to construct better tools for him, and he could not throw resources nature had granted him away like that, either. He picked up the rod with a sheepish expression painted over his face, and it did not even cross his mind at that moment that Karyk had just acted like a parent scolding their child. It was not Karyk whom he had wronged, so he did not apologize.

Instead, he crouched down to look for the line and hook Karyk had thrown him. The line, he found quickly, for the catgut formed a hard and unnatural line against the dark grass. The hook, however, vanished between the blades and Oleander had to dig around carefully to find it again. He had hurt himself once today, and he would not hurt himself again by accidentally sticking fishing equipment into his hand. Finally, he found it, hooked on an old, rotten patch of grass, and plucked it from the ground with some effort. Attaching the line to the hook was a little easier than threading yarn through the eye of the needle – the line was stiffer and, overall, a bit larger than what Hortense struggled with each morning when she began her sewing work. Still, it took Oleander a little longer to tie it together successfully than it would have taken his sister – she was more used to tasks that required light-fingeredness. When his fishing rod was finally finished, he tried to see it with different eyes: It was his. He had made it, and while the design was not one to fill him with pride, the fact that he had managed to craft something on his own in the first place did.

He gingerly picked up his handiwork and went to rejoin Karyk by the riverside. The man had already equipped his fishing rod with a single bitey worm, and the unruly bait was now wriggling underwater, sending delicious signals out to the fish, or so he hoped. With each moment the worm’s panic rose, if a worm could feel such an emotion in the first place, the shipwright’s wrath seemed to dissipate, much like a single storm cloud on an otherwise bright summer sky. He did not speak as he sat down with his rod, holding it out to Karyk much gentler now. It was shorter than the other man’s, and less pretty, but it would probably do its job, at least for today. Perhaps the more experienced crafter could even give him a useful hint or two on how to improve this fishing rod, or the next he would try to make.

Once he got his equipment back, he would have to ask Karyk to borrow him one of his gloves for a moment so he could grab one of the worms without being bitten as he did so, or he’d have to dig for boring, usual earthworms, which were less fancy, but might also do the job.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Karyk on May 3rd, 2017, 7:30 pm

Karyk took the rod gently, casting a glance at the sitting boy next to him. At least the boy wasn't so sheepish as to shirk away from some criticism. That was how his parents taught him. Karyk held his other rod in one hand, trying to not bounce it much, while holding the other up in front of him. "This is a good first go at it. You followed the curve of the branch well, tapered it well. You did make the same first mistake that I did my first time, but that's fine. If you're going to make a rod from dead or fallen wood, you need to carve it from proper logs, not branches. This will eventually snap, and pretty soon, but should give you a few uses. You want to use younger branches for temporary rods. Next time, make the handle a bit thicker, and smooth it down a bit more. Don't want your line snagging or being sliced by a sharp edge. But yes, a decent first attempt. Time to test your work."

He saw that the boy hadn't used the most efficient of knots, but they did look like they'd hold. Maybe he'd teach him those another time. Too much at once would just detract from everything. He handed the rod back, and then offered up the glove, "Hook the worm mouth to stomach. You want to cover as much of the hook as you can, while also leaving some tail dangle. Fish are looking for living things to eat, so it needs to seem alive. Try not to stab yourself. Then go find a spot down stream to practice casting. There's many different ways to do it. You need to find one comfortable to you. For now, just get bait into the water."

Karyk found himself wondering if Zeltiva would be more successful if everyone could get their own food, either through fishing, farming, or something. If everyone developed more skills for being self sufficient. If the University weren't such a prominent figure in the role of the city that is. Books didn't teach anything that really helped, they were a luxury for those who could afford to waste time. The shipyard was the largest employer in the city, and everyone was either taught by a master or their parents, and they made the finest ships in the world, no books required. And eventually everyone either took an apprentice, or taught their children.

It was definitely the best way.

Karyk found himself wondering when he should take an apprentice. Probably in a couple years, he was still mastering the craft. And ever since he and his ex-wife went separate ways, the chances of children were fairly low. But at least there were his sister's kids he could teach one day. And he knew he'd be around in Zeltiva for a long time to teach them.

He bobbled his rod a bit, peering at the line down stream, seeing that it was sitting too shallow against the rocks to catch anything. He sighed, and reeled it back in. The reel was by far the best thing about his rod, pulling in line without it was annoying at best. Holding the hook up in front of him, he saw the bitey worm was gone, either slipped or nibbled upon. He reached into the bucket without his glove and quickly grabbed another. He adjusted his grip so that he held it just behind the bitey end. He shoved the hook in once more, and went for a more overhead cast this time, arm bent back, elbow by his ear. He snapped his arm forward, breaking his wrist on the back end of the cast. The hook sailed twice as far as the last one, and landed right in the middle of the stream, and Karyk smiled. That had been a good one. He leaned back, a finger touching but not moving the line against his rod, waiting for that bounce of a bite.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Oleander Soleran on May 4th, 2017, 8:52 pm

Oleander
Oleander noticed that Karyk was eyeing his knots with some suspicion, but he could not really tell why. He has used a normal, ordinary knot. What else would one use to tie a line to a stick? A sailor’s knot? Well, apparently, since Karyk was a shipwright. Instead of asking about it, he chose to remain quiet and listen to the rest of the advice Karyk was giving him, acknowledging it with a nod.

Afterwards, he took the glove and approached the bucket full of bitey worms. He tried not to look too closely as to what he was fishing out of there, and a few of the slimy critters escaped his grasping fingers before he got hold on one and stuck it onto his hook with some effort. It seemed twice as wriggly as it had originally looked. When he had finished lodging it on the pointed edge of the hook, it wriggled a little less, but it was still alive. Despite himself, he felt a little sorry for the worm. Being impaled on something spiky while still alive seemed cruel. He tried not to dwell on it, and continued further down the stream, to where Karyk had suggested he should practise his throw.

He deliberately followed the stream around a curve to where Karyk would not see him, and settled down on a rock that jutted out over the shore. It seemed like the perfect spot, even though he could not spot any fish in the water right then. Maybe they would come later, with practise. Before he could catch anything, he needed to get this bait out somehow, anyways.

He thought for a moment of how he was going to do this – he did not quite remember how his father had thrown his fishing rod, all those years ago. He collected the line – longer than he thought he would need it – in his left palm, and took the end, to which the hook was attached, in his right. The hook was relatively light, so he would have to throw it with some force. He flipped it in his hand, once, twice – then he threw it out towards the water, but he let go of the rest of the line too slowly, and it hit the water right in front of him, the line coming down in a wet, tangled mess at the shore.

With a sigh, he picked it up again, and this time he wrapped it around his arm in loose loops so it would not tangle again when he threw it.

This time, the let go of the line too quickly, and it pulled the hook back as he cast it. Oleander looked over his shoulder quickly, happy that Karyk could not see what he was doing, then he reeled it in again and tried a third time. This time, he managed to throw the hook to the shore instead of the water, and the bitey worm came free. It quickly wriggled into the water, revelling in the unexpected freedom.

Oleander swore silently and had to return to the bucket on light feet, hoping that Karyk was too lost in his thoughts to notice.

It took him a few more attempts before Oleander successfully tossed his hook close to the middle of the river. The line splashed after it inelegantly, but at least he had it where he wanted it. He relaxed his shoulders, which he had not realized he had pulled up as he concentrated, and leaned back a little. This would do. Time to wait for the fish.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Karyk on May 5th, 2017, 4:25 am

Karyk smiled, listening to the boy's swishes as he cast his line again and again, and the occasional curse. It was good that the boy kept at it. A bit of stubbornness was key to learning anything useful. Though not too much. In his youth, Karyk's stubbornness made him much lesser of a man, and a terrible husband.

As he set there, feeling his string for that tell tale bounce, he found himself remembering the past. Back to when he was married to Nerilia. His stubbornness destroyed their relationship, and he'd been cruel to her. He doubted he'd forgive himself for that. He didn't deserve it. And all because... he shook it off, not wanting to dwell on such things while fishing. He'd been so preoccupied, he'd not even noticed Oleander come and get more bait.

If he'd met another, he'd do it right this time, that's for damn sure.

And there was a hint of someone now. Little more than a smile, a lingering touch. It... She gave him a bit of hope. He'd not sought anything permanent since him and his wife parted ways a few years back. Maybe he was ready. He remembered her fingers against his chest, the look of determination as she took charge and bandaged up his arm, the fiery boldness when she claimed the corpse of the wolf that dared challenge her. He wondered what Salara was up to right now. Was she out here hunting again? Was she starving like the rest of them? Being a huntress, Karyk doubted it. Most of the wolf meat he got in his shares went to his sister and her kids.

His thoughts were interrupted when the line tugged. It didn't bend the rod just yet, but he felt the bounce he knew so well. He waited. Bounce... Bounce... pull. That's when Karyk struck, pulling up on the rod, holding the line, feeling the hook resist, but also move. Being up stream, Karyk didn't need to run it tired. He stood up, arms holding his rod stiff in front of him, holding the reel steady. He did a slow real in, letting the current fight the fish for him, just keeping it slow and easy enough so as to not break the line. When the fish pulled left, Karyk pulled right, planning on keeping it in the center of the water.

As he reeled it in, it darted for cover toward a log, and Karyk frantically reeled while pulling opposite the fish, his arms straining to keep up, his eyes fixated on where the line met water. He managed to just barely yank the fish away from the log, and it seemed in its desperation, it had used up most of its fight. Karyk reeled it in, pulling it up and out of the water, taking the string in his hand. It was brown and spotted. But Karyk was a self taught fisherman, so he didn't know what this fish was called. What he did know, however, was that it had a fair bit of meat on it, and didn't seem too bony. It was gasping on the line, barely moving now. Karyk set it down on the ground, using one hand to keep it pinned, the other setting down the rod and grabbing his axe. Using the blunt side of the head, he swung down and struck the fish in the skull, killing it quickly.

He cut a bit of line, and went over to a shorter tree, and hung it up from a low hanging branch. Then he tied another hook onto his line, stuck on another bitey worm, and cast out once more, smiling and pleased with himself. At least he wouldn't go hungry tonight.

And now, conquest completed, his mind was no longer drawn to the stressful, depressing thoughts of earlier, focused on how he'd cook the fish. Maybe flayed open, cleaned, rubbed with some salt and pepper, and stuck on a stick over a fire. That sounded good. Really good. And his loud stomach agreed.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Oleander Soleran on May 5th, 2017, 1:05 pm

Oleander
For a while, Oleander stared at the spot where the line broke the surface of the water, leaving tiny ripples as it floated. From where he was seated, he could not quite see the hook; the water distorted his vision too much. As the chimes stretched, however, his gaze drifted off into the distance, and he meditated, trusting that a pull on the line would remind him off any fish interested in the bait he was offering.

Oleander strongly believed in certain things, like the goodwill of most gods, the balance of nature and the meaning of life, whatever it might be. Whenever he was alone, he tried to take a moment to clear his thoughts, push day-to-day troubles aside for a few blissful chimes and make space in his head to speak a prayer, or just relax. He enjoyed these quiet moments, far away from the buzz of the city and the mindless chatter of people. It was a trait that set him apart from his twin – Hortense could only let her mind wander while her hands were busy. Sitting around with nothing to keep her distracted, she could not hold her feet still for more than two chimes.

In Karyk, Oleander seemed to have found a like-minded person. The seasoned woodworker had left him to his own attempts, and had not come to look how he was doing, or pried over his shoulders and pointed out each one of the mistakes he doubtlessly made. Oleander appreciated that. He preferred learning by doing with the occasional nudge in the right direction. Perhaps this would become a problem if he ever got to join the University.

The University… Oleanders thoughts were about to fall back into their usual cycle, and he tore them free. Now was not the time to worry about that. Instead, he tried to concentrate on birdsong-

Something was tugging at his line. It was a gentle tap first, as if something was prodding the bitey worm. A sharp pull followed, and while Oleander grasped for the line in a clumsy attempt to reel it in, the drag left as suddenly as it had occurred. When he lifted the hook from the water, the bait was gone.

Before he threw the next bitey worm out there, he remembered how other people kept a close eye on nibbling fish: Their fishing rods had swimmers, and Oleander’s did not. After a moment of contemplation, he rummaged through his pockets and dug out a piece of cork. He had emptied a bottle of peppermint oil on the plants in front of the house this morning. A good, cheap insect repellent. He cleaned the vial using water and set it out to dry, but the cork was still in his pocket. Making no bones about it, he swiftly tied it to his fishing line, about a foot above the hook, and smiled in satisfaction after his next successful throw – his self-made float bobbed up and down in the water. It was a bit lopsided and, perhaps, not the most elegant, but like the rest of his rod, it would get the job done.

He listened to the sounds Karyk was causing upstream…He had not noticed when the splashing started, but apparently a fish had bitten. There was the sound of a sharp object cracking through bone, and then he heard Karyk’s heavy steps rustle through the grass.

When the peace was just starting to settle again, his eyes fell back onto his own float, or where it should have been. He saw the fish before he could feel the tug, a black shadow near the riverbed. The light cork was underwater, and a moment later, the fish had consumed the bait, including the hook. It realized its mistake too late, Oleander was already reeling it in, remembering his technique for throwing out the line and wrapping it around his arms as he pulled it out of the water. The fish was putting up a bit of a fight, but it was not absurdly large and with some effort, he managed to pull it out of the water. It wriggle like crazy one out of the water, more so than the bitey worms had, and Oleander found it tricky to grasp. In the end, he had to pick up a stone and gracelessly strike it dead.

He thanked Caiyha for the fish’s life, then allowed himself to pick up the catch and strode back to where Karyk was fishing with happy, swinging steps.

He was not quite sure what to do with his catch now, or how to retrieve the hook, but he was sure the other man would help him. “Karyk, you won’t believe it – I actually caught something.” The fish was small and brown, much like the ones they had scared earlier, and just large enough to be a proper meal. “What do I do with it now? Gut it?” This would be a mess.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Karyk on May 6th, 2017, 8:16 am

Karyk heard Oleander approaching, as did the fish near his hook. Karyk gritted his teeth a bit, but didn't take out his temper on the boy. After all, he'd been successful. Karyk quickly reeled in his hook, pleased to see the worm on it still wriggling. He carefully leaned his rod against the tree and stood up.

He smiled as Oleander approached, clearly pleased and triumphant. Karyk saw the fish dangling from the line, as well as the cork float. Karyk personally didn't like to use floats, but he didn't have anything against their use either. It pleased him to see the boy come up with that on his own. A bit of innovation and adaptation goes a long way in all crafts and properly labor. He smiled when the boy asked what was next.

"Not quite yet. We'll clean it before cooking it, but," he gestured to the space around them, "I see no fire built yet. Hang up your fish. Build yourself a fire. If you need any of my tools, feel just grab them." Karyk left his hatchet and other axes behind for the boy, and slipped back into the trees. He pushed through the brush, eyes scanning the ground for deadfall, trees that fell and died. Their wood was typically drier and easier to burn. He pushed through an unflowered berry brush when the corner of his eye caught something. There, behind another brush, was a dark brown shape, long and round.

He stepped around the brush and found a good log, with a bit of green moss around it. He stomped on it with his uninjured leg, to see if it was rotten or hollow. He was answered with a solid thump. He knelt down next to it, and tipped it back and forth, freeing it from growth and roots. It was thick, but not too long. Karyk suspected that he could probably carry it. He rolled it away from the brush to a small clear space, and centered himself in front of it. He squatted down at the knees, keeping his back as straight as he could manage. He slipped one hand and his good foot under the edge of the log. Using his other hand, he rolled it just slightly on them, allowing for just a bit more space under the log. He slipped his second hand under the gap, as far under as he could. Then he grunted, and began gripping tight as he lifted with his arms, chest, and legs. He slowly started coming up, breathing out fast and hard.

He felt his balance slipping, and he stepped forward with his bad food, planting it hard, painfully, but maintaining his hold on the log. He continued to pull the log upward until he was standing fully, log held tight to his chest. Now that he was upright, it seemed much easier, back straining a bit to hold him steady. He turned, starting back toward camp.

Once he came back through, he dropped the log heavily to the ground, and looked around, to see what the boy was up to, as well as what axes he'd taken.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Oleander Soleran on May 8th, 2017, 1:22 pm

Oleander
“Build yourself a fire.”

Well, that was easier said than done. Oleander looked after Karyk as he went, once again not telling Oleander what precisely he was going to do while the boy struggled with the fireplace. Presumably, he was building his own fire, just like he had made his own fishing rod earlier. While Oleander appreciated that he got some time to experiment, he would have been grateful for some help, as well. It was uncomfortable, being left to his own devices with so many tasks he had never performed before.

In his mind, he tried to make a list of the individual things he needed to do now, and sort them in a logical order. First, he needed to store his fish, somehow. Hang it up, Karyk had advised. Oleander was relieved to find another fish dangling from a nearby tree already, so at least he knew how it was supposed to look like when done. He used one of Karyk’s many axes to cut his line, not really giving any of them a closer look. All he needed was a sharp edge, after all. He then proceeded to let his own, smaller fish dangle next to the one Karyk had caught, and tied it with a simple knot.

For his fire, he collected pieces of dead, dry wood and smaller twigs that he hoped would catch on fire a little easier than larger chunks. He found a few branches thick as his arms and a little thicker, even, and took them back to where the fishes hung. Picking Karyk’s splitting axe from the pile, the only one he recognized from home, he chopped some of the larger ones into handy bits. He often did this in winter, when the nights got colder, an experience that helped him now. Next, he looked for a spot where he might set up his fireplace. It should be mostly free of grass and anything living, he decided, unless he wanted to start a wildfire and fill the air with the stinging smoke of burning greenery. He found such a spot a few arm lengths away from the edge of the river, and scraped the last mossy remnants off the ground before he piled his smaller twigs and topped them with some fuzzy bark he had scraped off a tree. The larger chunks of wood, he set down next to his fireplace. He would add these later.

Finally, he dug out a small flint stone and a piece of steel from his pocket. There was no particular reason he carried these around instead of leaving them at home; he usually had no reason to start fires while he was out looking for herbs. He occasionally used them to start the fire at home, though, and just forgot he had them on him. It took him a moment to get into the rhythm of chipping the steel against the flint, first carefully, and then, when he was sure he would not slip, more forcefully. sparks went into all directions and fizzled into ashen flakes, but some reached the fireplace, and as soon as a small trail of smoke rose from the bark in the middle, he gently blew on it. He was still busy nursing his small blaze into a proper flame when he heard Karyk return through the undergrowth, feet heavy with whatever he was dragging back.
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Karyk on May 10th, 2017, 4:35 pm

Karyk looked up from having dropped his log, sniffed at the fresh smoke in the air and looked over at Oleander at work. He smiled, so the boy got a fire going. Good. Karyk walked over and grabbed his hatchet. He moved over to his log, standing over it. He notched it in several places, sectioning it into five even pieces.

Then he swung his axe up over his head, and immediately brought it back down onto the first notch. The thud was loud, and sent several shards of the dried bark flying. He jerked it free, already in his calm working, focused mindset, eyes seeing the deep cut in the soft wood. He'd be able to make quick work of this log, with more than enough for their fire, and extra to take home with them. His powerful arms and shoulders chopped and chopped away, sweat breaking out across his brow and chest.

As the first section fell away, Karyk picked it up and carried it over to Oleander and the small, growing fire, "Since you've got the splitting axe, would you mind? For our fire?" He dropped it with a loud thud, indicating its weight. He turned back without waiting for a response, and began chopping more and more at the log, each time depositing the chopped log near Oleander for splitting. When he was done, he gathered up as many of the wood chip leftover and brought them over as well, if Oleander needed more tinder, or if they needed to refill their tinder boxes.

He kicked over the last log he brought over, flat side up, and grabbed his fish down from his line. He set it down atop the log, and rummaged through his pack, grabbing his cooking knife. He knew many fisherman used better knives, and he might need to get one of his own soon. His hook was lodged into its mouth and was easy to pull out. Then he remembered Oleander didn't know what to do, so he narrated his actions. "If the hook is in the mouth, just remove it, but if it's in the stomach, just wait until you're cuttin' it open. Then ya stick your knife in its arsehole. Then ya cut in a straight line up its belly, shallow, just takin' off the skin. Don't wanna spill the organs all over. Cut to the gills. If ya look here, there's an arrow shape at the head, stop before ya get there."

He paused to let Oleander look, before continuing, "Then you stick your finger in its mouth, and ya press down on its tongue." As he did that, the V-shaped section he referred to as 'arrow shaped' extended, revealing a thin spot in the skin. "Cut here, then comes the fun." He gripped the v-shaped bit with one hand, and the lower jaw with the other, and pulled on the v shape. As he did, the fish seemed to be falling apart, as the entire gill structure and organs were pulled free of the fish, leaving the spine, top of the skull, and meat. He took the organs and such, "Some people like these in a stew, but I didn't bring my pot, so back to feed its brethren." With that he tossed the organs into the stream, flicking a bit of blood and juice into the fire, leaving a sizzle and popping sound in the air. He held up the remainder of the fish, pointing at the red sack along the spine, "This comes off easy enough." He rubs his thumbnail severing the connections to the blood sack, and it fell free into the fire with a sizzle.

He then grabbed his waterskin, pouring some over the fish's flesh, letting it pour away as it was rinsed. And when he was done, he set it back on the log, "And there ya have it. Nothin' to it really."

He was so hungry, but he felt as if he'd taught the boy so much, that maybe it would be good for him to return the effort. Give him some more confidence, some familiar waters. "Know any good plants 'round here that are good for seasonin' fish, herb boy?"
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A Stomach More Empty Than A Coin Pouch (Oleander)

Postby Oleander Soleran on May 12th, 2017, 5:14 pm

Oleander
Oleander put Karyk’s splitting axe aside for a moment and rolled the first massive piece of wood over, away from the shipwright and out of reach of his axe. With slight effort, the boy pushed the wood over to stand on one side, grabbed the axe, stood with his feet a shoulder-width apart, measured the length of the axe handle with his eyes, looked at the wood, and swung the axe overhead, picking up momentum and letting it crash back down onto he wood. He did not hit right in the middle, but it hardly mattered. The piece of wood was too large to split cleanly in half and use, he needed to split sections off the sides first, anyways. It took him a couple more swings to split off the first section, then a second, and the piece of wood gradually slimmed down as handy pieces were dropped beside it. When he had divided the first piece of wood into four pieces, Oleander went in for a second one, and realized that Karyk was working faster than himself. Two more pieces of wood were already waiting for him, so he hurried to split the second.

In his rush, Oleander was not careful enough with the length of the axe ad slipped off the wood one time, sinking the axe into the ground instead. The handle and his hand hit the wood, and he gritted his teeth in pain. No way was he going to scream when Karyk was standing next to him. More careful, he tried again, and fared better this time. The axe was just a little longer than the one they used at home, and he did not split wood for the first time. Still, it was an arduous task for someone as generally unfit as himself, and he started to sweat halfway through the third section. By the time they were finished splitting the wood save one, the pile was bigger than what they could use up for a single cooking fire; in fact, they could have built a pyre from it. Oleander wiped his brow and splashed some water from the river into his face for refreshment.

Karyk had kept the last piece of log as a makeshift table, and he had gathered his fish and was beginning to gut it. Oleander hurried over to watch, and gratefully registered that Karyk was also explaining his actions this time. He would have loved to get his own fish and mimic what Karyk was doing, but he had not brought a knife of his own, and did not feel like trying an axe as a knife replacement again. The small cut in his finger reminded him that he was not very delicate with axes, at least not yet.

He watched and listened carefully when Karyk prepared the fish with practised movements, cutting in precise locations and taking the fish apart cleanly. It looked less gory than Oleander had imagined, and when Karyk was finished, he retrieved his own fish and tried to replicate the action.

It turned out to be harder than it looked. The line he cut was a little ragged, since the knife was not particularly sharp, but he managed. The part where he had to push the fish’s tongue was tougher, he wasn’t sure he was pushing in the right place, until the head cracked and the fish fell apart much like Karyk had predicted. In fact, Oleander spilled half the intestines over the ground, but it could have gone worse. He pulled what he didn’t know where the kidneys from the fish’s spine, threw the leftovers into the water for other trout to feast on (it struck him as grossly cannibalistic, but to each their own), and handed his first self-caught and –cleaned fish over to Karyk. “Wait a moment.”

He vanished between the trees, looking for something specific. There weren’t many herbs in coniferous forests like this one, and Oleander did not specialise on herbs used for cooking. There had been a time when Hortense had experimented, though, and he had had one plant in his garden that went especially well with fish. Obtaining it had been harder than just planting a seed; in fact, he gotten it from a neighbour through root division of an existing plant.

Tarragon was one of the useful plants native to coniferous forests, and Oleander knew it could help with stomach cramps and induce sleep, on top of tasting good. It was not one of the herbs he carried around in his pouch since it could be found in most forests, and indeed, he found a small plant in a more sunny spot. He picked a needle and rubbed it between two fingers, then smelt his index and smiled: Slightly reminiscent of anise.

Confident of his choice, Oleander harvested a few stems of tarragon and returned to the waiting shipwright. The fire was burning steadily, but the flame had lowered enough that they might try to cook something over it.

“This should add to the taste, I think.” He was not sure how to prepare the fish. With the cut they had made on the belly, it would fall right off a branch they tried to stick it onto, right? Once again, he looked to Karyk for advice.
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Oleander Soleran
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