Completed A Slice of Reality

Baelin joins the neighbor's kid in his nightly whittling

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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A Slice of Reality

Postby Baelin Holt on November 30th, 2019, 8:05 pm

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31, Fall 519 AV

Sometimes, Baelin’s gotta think that there’s something sincerely wrong with him. Ever since he’d seen the neighbor’s kid―beaten and bruised―drag his father back to their apartment only chimes after the drunk asshole had beaten him… Baelin hadn’t been able to get it out of his head. It seemed like every time his mind would wander, it’d circle back to that kid.

It wasn’t right. Sunberth was a lousy place to be a kid.

But what could Baelin do about it? It wasn’t like there was an Omen he could notify. Petch, even Syliras and Ravok had their own version of peace keepers, but here in Sunberth? What recourse did anyone have here, the gangs? That was so unsettling it was almost laughable.

Shyke, he’d been so lucky growing up, and he’d never even realized it.

It ate at him; guilt that he hadn’t done anything to fix it. And shame that it must still be going on. While his neighbor’s apartment had been quieter since that night, Baelin couldn’t imagine the issue would have just miraculously went away. That’d be naïve.

Which was why he had started spending the nights after that encounter lying awake in bed, listening for every little sound coming from his neighbor’s apartment. And―after a few all-too-sleepless nights―he’d decided to go outside and breath some fresh, nighttime air.

It was then that he saw the reason why it’d gotten so quiet next door.

The kid had been right there outside. Out of sight and perhaps out of mind from his abusive father, the kid had leaned casually against the outside wall of his apartment, scraping at a piece of wood with a small knife.

Baelin had stared for longer than should have, and the kid had eventually looked up and asked what he’d wanted. With no answer to give him, Baelin had turned around on his heel and gone right back inside.

Definitely not one of his better moments.

But it had least spared him the sleepless nights. Because now he could just pop his head outside, check that the kid was outside whittling away, and then go to bed secure in the knowledge that―at least for now―there’d be no abuse to overhear. It was a habit that was absurd to have developed in the first part. But Baelin had.

And―as unhealthy as the habit might be―he was now resolved to enable it even further. Baelin sat on the edge of his bed, staring at a block of softwood and his new knife. The knife had been easy to get―just a quick purchase where he worked. But for the wood, he’d ended up buying scrap softwood lumber. Pine, if the seller could be believed. Baelin wasn’t really sure what it actually was, but―whatever the wood was―he could dent it with his fingernail. Which should hopefully make it easier to carve up.

Yeah… This was a bad idea.

But―bad idea or no―he was determined to do it. Then at least he could tell himself that he was doing something. No one seemed to be lining up to take this kid in; he didn’t have the same kind of good luck Baelin had had when he’d been a boy. If Baelin was ever going to hope to repay back that debt, he needed to man up and be better.

Baelin pushed off of the bed and crossed his room. He hesitated for just a tick at the door, fingers twitching over the handle. Hissing through clenched teeth, he snatched the handle and shoved the door open

Same as the nights before, the kid was outside. He didn’t look up from where he was working a knife against wood, but Baelin got the distinct impression that the kid had his ears trained on him.

Pulling in a careful, slow breath, Baelin shut the door behind him and leaned against it. He switched the knife to his right hand, held up the softwood lumber scrap, and set the edge of the blade down on the surface.

He had no idea what to do; didn’t really have any pressing interest in whittling either. But he did want this kid to think that there were people out there who’d step in if things got out of hand at home again. No way was Baelin the best person for that job, but… there had to be at least someone.

The steady scrap of the kid’s whittling stopped as Baelin continued to debate how he was going to start. Noticing the sudden silence, Baelin glanced out of the corner of his eye to see the kid had turned to face him, his attention now directly focused on Baelin.

Expenses :
5 SM - Block of softwood (1–10 GM/sq-ft for lumber, local in price list)
5 SM – Knife (from the Knight’s Armory)

Total: 1 GM
WC: 774
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Baelin Holt
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A Slice of Reality

Postby Baelin Holt on November 30th, 2019, 8:18 pm

Alright. That had to be a good thing, right? Nothing else left to do except to start… Baelin gripped one edge of the block of lumber as securely as he could, and then started to scrape. The knife skittered over the top of the wood, nicking it on its way down, but not peeling off a layer like Baelin had intended. Trying again, he angled the blade so it was closer to flush with the surface, and then pushed.

The edge bit into the wood and started to slice through it. The wood peeled away with surprising ease as he dragged the knife down, separating into a long, curled strip. Leth was mostly obscured by clouds tonight, so Baelin brought the block up close to his face to get a look at how that cut turned out.

It widened and narrowed along its length, and parts of it seemed deeper than others―all pretty clear signals that he’d shifted the blade more than he’d realized during the cut. But no matter. He wasn’t really expecting anything good from this woodworking anyways. So Baelin brought his knife back up to the start of the block, and did the same cut again. Wood peeled away―another irregular cut layered into the block’s face―and Baelin brought his knife immediately back up to do it again.

After several more ticks of peeling layers of wood off the surface, Baelin finally heard the scrap of whittling resume off to the side. Without turning his head, Baelin glanced over to see that the kid had returned his own attention to his whittling.

Great. That was progress, right? Baelin seriously hoped that that was progress, because he had no idea what he was doing here. Trying to extend an illusion of support to some kid he didn’t even know? It was absurd.

How had his uncle ever manage to get Baelin warmed up to him so quickly? Shyke, Baelin wished he could remember how his uncle had done it. Baelin was so bad at this. The kid should have his own support system―a real one. Not just some idiot neighbor who thinks trying to slice up a block of wood in the kid’s vicinity was a good way to “offer support.”

But―as far as Baelin could tell―the kid didn’t have other people in his corner. No Omens or Syliran Knights were going to come knocking to hold his abusive father accountable. And if he had any family that was going to step in, they so far hadn’t showed themselves either.

It made Baelin want to go back and see his aunt and uncle again. Tell them with actual words just how much it meant to him that they took him in after his mother died. They’d been so good to him…

Baelin scraped more strips of wood away―not working towards any particular goal―and his thoughts continued to stray. Maybe this kid had more family that could help him out. Maybe they just didn’t know that things had gotten like this. Maybe Baelin just needed to ask, and then he could fix it that way.

Maybe Baelin should stop overthinking this and just figure out what the petch he was planning to do with this block of wood. He’d shaved off a good bit of the face, and had started working on peeling away a corner. It was hardly a smooth surface, but it at least seemed like he was doing something semi-productive. But unless he planned on making a misshapen rod, he should probably start thinking of something he wanted carved now.

But he kept drawing blanks. All he could think of were daggers or poleyns. Maybe a breastplate for a Pycon. Or a hilt for a hammer. No matter how he tried to tug his mind away from work, it kept pulling right back to it. Baelin sighed through his nose, resigned to just peeling wood off until he had a rough handle.

It wasn’t until he missed his mark―only managing to nick the wood―that he knew exactly what he wanted to carve. His missed nick had popped a sliver of wood mostly off, but the flake still held on at its base. A little triangle curled in on itself; like a large, canid ear.

WC: 707
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Baelin Holt
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Posts: 340
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Joined roleplay: July 25th, 2014, 12:36 am
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A Slice of Reality

Postby Baelin Holt on November 30th, 2019, 8:36 pm

Baelin had seen an ear shaped just like it once before. Dark and long, flicking forward as it focused on Baelin. Before’s ear. One of Dira’s jackals, that sat at her heel the day he received his mark.

He was going to do Before no justice. Baelin almost wished he hadn’t thought of this; he definitely hadn’t been worried about mistakes back when he just wanted some random clump of carved wood. But if he was going to try and make something to honor Before? Baelin stopped slicing wood. Holding the softwood up close, he peered at the uneven surface he’d carved so far. Shyke. How was he going to do this?

The steady scrap of the kid’s whittling slowed as Baelin debated his next step. Baelin looked up to see the kid regarding him. In the dark, it was hard to tell what exactly that expression was, but Baelin had to suspect that it wasn’t incredibly favorable.

Whatever he was thinking, the kid evidently decided it wasn’t worth it. He returned to his own whittling, and Baelin was left to his own devices. Baelin watched as the kid moved, his hands shifting with a practiced surety. The kid pulled his knife towards himself, flipped his piece of wood back around and sliced along its length, and then pushed the back of his knife with his thumb. Even with the dim lighting and distance between them, Baelin could tell that the kid knew what he was doing.

He should be a woodcarver, Baelin thought. His aunt had been a woodcarver. She’d focused mostly on handles for whatever Baelin’s uncle smithed, rather than this kind of whittling. But he remembered the sure way her hands would work a blade across her work, similar to how this kid’s moved. Baelin hadn’t learned much from her then―he’d been far more focused on his uncle’s side of their business. But now? He wished he had.

Petch, why was he feeling so nostalgic tonight? Pulling in a deep breath, Baelin tried to envision Before’s form in the softwood block. He could see final forms in iron before he forged it; surely it’d be similar with wood.

But it wasn’t. Not even close. Baelin couldn’t hammer wood into form, or fold it over itself and bond it together. The closest experience he had to cutting out a shape was sharpening and profiling the edges on blades, and Baelin could hardly call himself an expert on that.

Baelin pulled in a deep breath and held it. He could do this. He’d try to make Before sitting down, so he could start on the slope of his back. He’d had the good fortune of growing up with a chapel that honored both Before and After, as well as other major gods and goddesses. He’d spent many bells of his youth before their altars and statues, getting sermons that the rest of Mizahar seemed to lose out on.

It was yet another thing Baelin could feel lucky about: he’d been fortunate enough to learn of the cycle as a young child. All these people out here, struggling without reverence. Baelin didn’t know how they did it. He couldn’t imagine going through life without devotion to Dira, Tanroa, and Kihala. To have had the resources he’d had… Baelin was blessed.

Now, with a meaningful goal in mind, the block of wood seemed suddenly large and unwieldly. Baelin wanted more of a triangle shape, not this huge brick. He took his knife to the edges and hacked off chunks from the corners.

The kid stopped. Baelin glanced up to see that he was being watched intently. From the tilt of his head to the way his arms twitched at his sides, the kid definitely looked like he had something to say. Baelin waited for him to speak, ticks slipping by. But the kid eventually only shook his head, and returned to his own whittling.

Alright then. Baelin turned back to what was left of his block of wood. Other chunks of wood now lay scattered at his feet, but Baelin ignored them. He could always pick them up later if they seemed like they’d still be useful.

Baelin started to shave down what would be Before’s back in a similar way as he had before, dragging the knife away from his body. But his slices continued to slid across the surface, widening and deepening in certain spots. He needed more control. Baelin glanced over to the kid to see what he was doing.

WC: 752
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Baelin Holt
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Posts: 340
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Joined roleplay: July 25th, 2014, 12:36 am
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A Slice of Reality

Postby Baelin Holt on November 30th, 2019, 8:43 pm

The kid had his wood cradled in one hand, and the thumb of his cutting hand braced on one end of his piece. He pulled the knife towards him in steady strokes, carefully angling the wood as he sliced. It looked a lot more practiced and controlled than what Baelin had been doing. So Baelin turned back to his own block of wood, and tried just that. He braced his right thumb along the bottom, where the jackal’s feet would go, and curled his fingers around the knife’s handle. Once he thought he had the right angle, Baelin squeezed his right fingers.

It was definitely an easier cut. The knife’s edge sliced towards him, and between his right thumb and the cradle of his left hand, the wood stayed where he wanted it. Baelin unclenched his hand and let the knife’s edge slip back up. Realigning, he squeezed again and once more sliced a relatively clean cut.

That was progress. Definite progress. Feeling a bit more comfortable, Baelin went ahead and did several more cuts just like that. He tried to slice a bit of a curve into the slope, hoping for a relatively natural taper from back to butt for the jackal. Focused on making as smooth a taper as he could, he didn’t notice how close the knife was coming to his thumb. Not until he sliced right into it.

Baelin swore and pulled his cut hand off of the wood, not wanting to get blood on it. As he pressed his thumb to his lip―hoping to staunch the flow quickly―the kid finally broke his silence. “You should start slower.”

Baelin glanced over, thumb still pressed down hard on his lips. He rose his brows in question. Then remembered the kid might not be able to see the gesture in the dark of night, and so tacked on, “Oh?”

“You obviously don’t know what you’re doing,” the kid was already turning back to his own whittling, “So you should go slower.”

Okay. Baelin didn’t at all want to actually continue this conversation. But he’d come outside, even going so far as to purchase scrap lumber and a knife, precisely for this purpose. You came out here to do this thing, so do it. He pulled his thumb away and asked, “And you do?”

The kid snorted. “More than you, at least.”

Baelin nudged his chin in the direction of the kid’s work and asked, “May I look?”

There was a long moment where the kid just stared at him. Baelin sincerely wished Leth wasn’t behind cloud cover tonight, because it would really help if he could tell what expression the kid was making. But―after some sort of deliberation that Baelin couldn’t hope to decipher―the kid tossed his chunk of wood to Baelin.

Dropping his own block to catch the kid’s piece in his left hand, Baelin lifted it up close so he could get a good look at it.

His brows shot up in surprise. It was good. Perhaps not expert craftsmanship, but certainly far better than anything Baelin had been expecting. A large, fat rat stared up at him with beady eyes. Small, slanted cuts scoured its wooden body, lined up in such a way to suggest the rat had a thick coat of fur. The kid seemed to still be working on its feet, but it had a long tail already tucked in close to its side. The level of competency was genuinely unexpected. “You’ve been trained?” Baelin found himself asking aloud.

“Nah.” The kid held out his hands in an obvious invitation for Baelin to throw the wooden rat back. Baelin obliged, lobbing it back in an easy arc. The kid caught it with both hands, pulled his knife back out, and continued, “I just got lots of practice.”

Baelin frowned. The kid had a talent for this. For him to not be under a more expert craftsman? What a waste of talent. Baelin leaned back against his door and got lost in his thoughts, sinking into the realization that his uncle hadn’t even hesitated to train Baelin on how to be a blacksmith. He’d taken a kid―younger than this Sunberthian kid was―invited him into his smithy, and then took so much of his time and effort to train him.

Gods, Baelin was lucky. What if he hadn’t had a willing relative to train him in blacksmithing? What would have even become of him? Baelin had no idea. But he couldn’t imagine anything else he’d rather want to do. He loved blacksmithing. He may have not had any natural talent for it like this kid seemed to have with woodcarving, but he absolutely loved it.

Shyke, life wasn’t fair. The kid deserved a good woodcarver to train him. What the petch had Baelin done right to deserve the training he’d gotten? Was it really just luck?

Letting out a slow breath, Baelin shook his head. Honestly. Compared to this kid, he had a stupid number of things to be grateful to. Growing up in the safety of Black Rock versus the unregulated strife of Sunberth. Having a relative willing and able to train him in a craft he loved. And having people around who he could turn to, no matter how bad things got. It was stupid how little time he spent appreciating any of that. Baelin pulled in another slow, deep breath and held it, waiting for his mind to clear and heart to slow.

No matter. He could do better.

WC: 917
User avatar
Baelin Holt
Blacksmith
 
Posts: 340
Words: 360322
Joined roleplay: July 25th, 2014, 12:36 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Mixed blood
Character sheet
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Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 3
Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (1)
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