The Woodcarver (Patreon 6/23, Public 6/27)

He stood in front of me. A slight man with a thick beard. He had a brown hood that shaded his eyes so that his face was more beard than man. On his back he carried an assortment of wood, it was almost impossible to understand where the tree limbs ended and his limbs began. I felt his eyes glace over me, sizing me up.

“Who’re your people.” he grunted.

“My people?” I responded, confused.

“Whereabouts ya from?”

I gestured back towards the city and then I asked, “Are you from the camp?”

I felt the air change around him as his muscles tensed. His knuckles turned white as he gripped his burden of wood and then he turned his head and spat.

“I-I’m sorry.” I stuttered.

“That camp,” he growled, “that Lesco. That silver tongued madman is erasin everythin.”

“What do you mean, erasing?”

“You saw’er. The winged flame?”

“The bird?”

“We call’er Ardor. Fire of the Forest. Guardian of its air. You’ve seen the pieces.”

“Her feathers.”

“Mmhm. If she’s doin that then there’s somethin in the air. She’s been around a long time an’I’ve never seen her this distressed.”

“Like what?”

“My mind takes to Lesco. It started once he started sniffing around our forest. Tryin to lead the creatures into his camp. We’ve already lost a few. He hasn’t gotten Ardor yet though. That’s his goal.”

“What do you do? Why have I never seen you before?”

“You city folk. I live in the caves over yonder. I wander these woods almost daily, wanna know why you’ve never seen me?”

“… yes”

“The trees are fading.”


He cocked his head to the side and then slowly stroked his beard. I waited patiently until he quietly asked, “You mean to tell me you walk these paths daily and you haven’t noticed the trees are fading?”

I saw his hand began to shake in a moment of weakness, or was it pain?

“They aren’t quiet about it. The Oaks are the worst. Deep roots.” he sighed.

“But you . . .”

“Oh this?” he gestured to his back, “These are what I pick up, what the trees have shook off. It’s no different than if you kept a clipping of your hair.”

“What do you do with all the wood?”

“I carve it, of course. A few of my things are scattered among the trees. I’m trying to make Ardor a shelter. What’s left of her wings doesn’t do much for protecting her. Right now she’s especially vulnerable to Lesco.”

“What is Lesco doing? A few of the people from the city are talking about moving to his camp.”

The Woodcarver moved his hand under his hood and I watched him run his hands across his cheek as if he was remembering something.

“I don’t know what his angle is. To be truthful I’m not fully onboard with trusting you with what I know either. Too many ears and too many mouths have been bought and loosened. I only stopped because your the first creature I’ve seen Ardor make eye contact with in a while. She’s ashamed of what she’s become.”

“I’m just trying to help my friends in the city.”

“You’ll have to find someone else willing to help I’m afraid. I’m sure we’ll meet again soon though.”

He turned to go but then stopped himself. I saw his hand go in his pocket quickly and he pulled out something small.

“Think fast.” he said as he threw the object above his head towards me. I caught it quickly without thinking.

It was a small carving of a feather.

“Take that to the painter. She may be a bit more willing to help.”

“Where do I find her?”

He shifted his bundle of wood higher onto his back.

“If you’re someone she can trust . . . she’ll find you.”

And then he faded into the trees.

I stood staring into where he’d disappeared for I don’t know how long.

Then I heard an Oak scream.

It was time to go back to the city.

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