Deep Forest

POSTED: Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:58 am

414

A cool, morning breeze traversed the forest's thick, summer canopy. Birds chattered to each other in the crisscrossing branches, high above the sunlight-dappled ground. It was a peaceful, serene start to an undoubtedly peaceful and serene day.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.

Nayavota's ax bit through the pale bark, cleaving a path into the soft wood. Wilted leaves shook and tumbled off the black-splotched aspen with each, heavy strike. The tree was tall and old, but it was dying. Rather than let it topple into its neighbors or an unsuspecting Cavalier, Nayavota took it upon herself to fell the tree. That way, each branch and strip of bark would go to good use. The best, sturdiest pieces could be used for carving; the rest would become firewood and other, assorted kindling.

Each chop was precise, designed to make the tree fall as safely as possible. Nayavota hoped to guide it away from its towering siblings and, more importantly, herself. She felled trees before, but rarely alone, and never of this size. The silver woman licked her lips nervously as she lined up another strike; on the bright side, she'd long been proficient at hobbling away from danger.

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. Crack. The heavy, pale-wooded tree began to lean dangerously. Nayavota yanked the ax from the wood and swiftly limped in the opposite direction It landed with a loud crash, bringing the stray branches of its nearest siblings down with it. Panting from the effort, Nayavota peered over her shoulder at the fallen tree. She breathed a sigh of relief, "Close enough." Dropping the ax unceremoniously, she stretched her aching limbs.

The tree was far too large for her to cut up and take back on her own, but she didn't dare risk returning to the Fort yet. Her legs quaked from a mix of adrenaline and pain. Nayavota gingerly hobbled over to her crutches and plucked them from the fork of a pale-leafed sapling. She struggled to lower herself to the ground before collapsing spread-eagle. The pale woman was exhausted; she needed a good, long nap.

Nayavota dragged her crumpled heap of cloak from beside the sapling and laid it over her tired body. She'd rest in the shade for an hour or two, recruit reinforcements from the Fort, and have the tree cut up and stored by nightfall.

Within minutes, Nayavota was fast asleep. A tall, shady aspen tree shielded her from the noontime sunlight.
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