Chapter 3 - Carving Out the Past
Over the next few weeks, I helped Drake construct a house. Every time he chopped down a tree, he insisted that another one be planted. His love and understanding of nature was something I had never seen before in a mortal, especially in a male. I shudder to think of what might have happened if he had not been there to fight that horrid woodsman.
In the mornings, we woke up to find the roots of my tree had pushed us closer during the night. It was true that my emotions could control my oak even while asleep, but did I really cause it to wrap around us so that we were struggling in the morning to escape.
He was so flustered in the morning that I hoped he wouldn’t realise that it was me that caused it and decide to sleep somewhere else. But he never seemed to mind that much about it. Always asking if I was alright.
During the day, he would either chop down the largest trees to use for the house, or he would use the smaller ones and carve out furniture. Yesterday, he had gone to the town with some wood and food. He came back with a pack, a knife, another axe, and some string.
I came back one day from visiting the river Naiad downstream to find Drake hunched over something. “What’s that?” I asked, leaning over his shoulder.
“AH!” he screamed, jumping out of his skin and clutching his heart. “Sorry,” I said, trying to hide my smile.
“Sometimes I don’t think you are,” Drake muttered. He returned his attention back to a large square of wood where he was carving pictures of branches around the edges. Inside this border of nature was a forest clearing where a fountain spewed water in great arcs before they fell back down into the basin below.
“It’s...beautiful,” I gasped.
“It’s going to be a small table,” Drake explained. “I’ve already carved out the legs.” He indicated towards the four limbs. ‘Legs’ didn’t cover it. They were shaped like the legs and paws of a wolf. Every stroke and line hinted at a soft pelt and a warm hearth.
“Where did you learn to carve like this?” I asked him.
“I learnt the art from my grandfather,” he said, never taking his eyes off his work. “Carving has always been a part of my family. Wood, stone, metal, and clay. When he died, this was the only part of him that I could keep for just me. My dad was more interested in surviving the natural world rather than capturing it.”
I stood there for a moment, watching how his eyes darted around the carving while his hand was steady and careful. “You really know what you’re doing,” I commented.
A smile crept across his face, “Thanks. I plan on finishing the roof tomorrow so I can put all this stuff inside.”
“Is that really all that’s left!” I exclaimed, spinning around to examine the house. It sat at the base of the hill. Inside was a bedroom, kitchen, and an extra room to store scrolls and little trinkets. All that was left was the roof.
“What are you going to do once the house is finished?” I asked him. Would he continue to live here? There’d be no point in building a house and not living in it...right?
“I was thinking something along the lines of a farm,” Drake replied. “Grow my own food, trade some of it at the market for things I don’t have. Make a life.”
“Is there anyone you wished came with you?” I blurted out before I knew what I was saying.
Drake looked at me and I felt my face blush. Luckily, it isn’t too noticeable when you’re a tree.
“Not really. My dad would just break down and probably get us executed or something cause he didn’t understand how things worked with no central government. My mum died a while ago...But if I could choose someone, I’d choose my grandfather.”
“So no girlfriend or anything like that?” I asked hopefully.
Drake laughed. “Why do you want to know?” he asked, smirking.
“Just curious,” I told him in what I hoped was a tone that said, ‘Don’t get any ideas’.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about that. I planned on finishing my studies before I worried about that.”
“And now?” I asked.
Drake shrugged. Gods he did a lot of that! “I can’t really sit my exam thousands of years before it even starts. So I intend to just live my life.”