The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 63: Old Man Willow
"What do you mean, 'respectfully'?" asks Mandorak.
"Well, just, take only the wood you need, be careful how you harvest it, that sort of thing," replies Aldamir.
Mannie asks Bay to produce an inventory of the engine pieces that we need to replace. He then tells Eïr that we will be staying a while, and that she should park the ship. She admits she doesn't know how to do that, but that she will ask Chekhov. He makes a mental note to have the Captain and Eïr be treated for their knocks on the head. (The empathic link will continue to remind him about this problem.)
Deciding that we should not split up, Mannie asks Aldamir to help him and Bavör settle the ship, and urges Sam to lend her considerable strength to help with that. Bavör and he pull out the drydock cradle pieces, and set the ship into them. The two dwarves look at each other, and cock eyebrows. Yes, most of the engine pieces can be repaired using wood from the cradles. Eïr suggests that, since this place seems chaotic, Teller might be the right person to seek out appropriate chunks of wood.
Teller, however, has other ideas. He does not want to go out there; it feels bad. He won't explain it either. He heads for the galley, which just happens to be near the center of the ship. Bay follows him, and sets some water on for tea. He assures Teller that no one expects him to go out, but then asks him what is 'wrong' about outside. "Dunno. Feels like a very bad place." He cannot explain even if it is the place itself, or things within the place. He leaves the galley, even before the water boils.
Eïr checks out the passengers who were banged up in the crash. She removes the papier mâché cast that Eric had put on the old man's broken leg, checks and straightens out the leg, and has Eric put on a new cast. She hesitates, and decides not to work on the Captain, since she did such a poor job the last time. She has Teller put a sleep spell on him instead.
Mannie and Bay examine the engine closely. Bay writes out the particulars of each piece that needs work. (A few can be replaced from stores, but far from all.) Eventually, we know what we need to make out of our cradle pieces. We'll need to make new cradle pieces before we can take the originals apart. We'll also need a cradle to hold the engine while we work on it.
A bunch of us gather together outside, and set off towards the trees. Eric checks his pointer; it seems to be pointing to the spire. Aldamir leads them past the edge of the woods, to the thicker and stronger specimens. They're a foot or so in diameter, which will work for cradles, even if they are marginal. Even farther in, there are trees with much thicker trunks, but they are twisted and gnarled, not suitable at all. Aldamir remarks that these are not like any species of Terran tree, and that although he would expect them to have nuts or fruits, he does not see any sign of such things. Farther on, he points out that there are conifers. They would not be useful to us, so we turn back.
We ask the elf to pick out some appropriate trees, mark them with string, and commune with each to make sure that its sacrifice is acceptable. Aldamir thanks us for our consideration. He then wanders off before the dwarves start to take down the first tree. With ax and saw, they have it down quickly enough. They trim it, and drag it onto the open area between the woods and the ship. They cut down two more trees, and determine that this is probably all they need.
Aldamir wends his way back, followed by Sam. "Before you take down any more trees..." he begins.
"Well, we think this is all we need," says Mannie.
"Um, I think I've found the one we should consult with before cutting down any more trees."
"Oh. All right. We can at least thank it for the trees we have already taken," agrees the dwarf.
They follow the Oakley back into the forest, into a more thickly grown section. There they find a giant, gnarly sort of willow. "It's very ancient," he warns in a soft voice, "Perhaps it would be good to offer it thanks for the trees we took."
"Should we say thank you, or let you?" asks Mannie.
"I'll let you do it, and make any interpretation you need," says Aldamir.
Mannie makes a little speech. "We give thanks to you for the trees we have taken. We have taken only what we need, and have tried not to harm anything else. We will be using their timbers to repair our ship, and we hope to keep them, and respect them, for many years to come."
Eric checks his pointer again. The source of the sky-electrum does seem to be the spire.
Mannie seeks for Vibes, and learns that we are very near a vibratory high point, which seems to be at the willow. The feeling is not as granular as most Vibes he's detected. Bay can tell only that it's stronger here than back on the beach. The willow does not itself appear to be the source of the Vibes; it is more like it is in the center of an area of strong Vibes.
Aldamir admits, "It's hard to tell, given how alien this area is to anything we know. But I would not be surprised if this is one of the oldest things I've even met." We all nod respectfully and leave.
The five of us drag our three logs back to the beach.