Birdhouses for the Soul

Xanadu Weyr - Woodcraft Shop
This cavernous building is where Xanadu's wood harvests are transformed into both raw lumber for building and wooden products for personal use. Upon stepping into the enormous place, the pungent tang of sap, fresh wood and sawdust permeates the air. Rarely quiet during peak hours, the whine of the giant buzzsaw with the banging of hammers and chisels makes carrying on a conversation in here difficult, if not impossible. Racks around the perimeter is where the different grades of planks, dried in the huge kiln out back, are stored for further curing.
In the back are work benches with neat racks overhead with an array of handtools for creating smaller items of fine craftsmanship. There, the acrid odor of oils and stains for finishing is quite strong.

Round two of home building! Hey …. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was Xanadu, one can assume. So why rush art? Ka'el's quail house needed blueprints, after all, for if this is going to be the future home for newly fledged birds, he's going to make it their dream home! .. Uh, that and his woodcraft partner is a stickler for planning, so not a whole lot of building was accomplished the first day. But perhaps Jethaniel is a man who can appreciate a bit of forethought put into a project and didn't take off too many points for a lack of a product by the end of their craft time. Currently, as the residents of Xanadu go about their afternoon business, Ka'el is in the woodcraft shop, wearing a pair of clear plastic goggles as he finishes sawing through a wood board (which was measured twice!) Clack! goes the wood as it falls, and the engrossed looking bronzerider lifts up the sawed edge to examine his work.

When Jethaniel inspected Ka'el's progress the other day, he mostly said, "Ah," and "Hmm," and let Ka'el do the talking. Make of that what you will! The Steward's certainly not here today to loom over shoulders and inspect progress. No, indeed. Today is happening under merely the guidance of the woodcrafters. Well, some of them are providing guidance. Others are providing displeased looks at the intrusion and row of half-built birdhouses occupying one of their shelves, but none of the looks have escalated to the point of actual comments, so it's all good so far. As Ka'el's project for the luxurious housing of Xanadu's Quail also is! Maybe. Time and tools will tell. Over by the scrap-wood heap, Soriana (she got here while Ka'el was sawing) is searching through the pieces in the hopes of finding something suitable for her own project. Hmm. This one's too big. This one's got a hole in it. This one … smells funny.

"You're sure I'm not able to use one of those instead?" Ka'el's eyes are on the power tools. That saw over there certainly isn't a manual type. And see how fast it cuts! And buzzzzzzzz! And wooddust flies! And how easily a finger can be sawed off, which is perhaps these clueless weyrlings aren't anywhere near the more dangerous stuff. And so after getting rejected, he sighs and goes back to hand sawing a second piece, which has already been measured and marked. Saw, saw, saw. So much effort! And eventually it too is cut, and he lifts his second piece to admire. And this is when his eyes stray past his work and onto the others, glimpsing a rummaging Soriana not overly far off. He glacnes around for her project, though sees not a one. "Lemme guess. You're buildin' an invisible birdhouse for the Invisible Whispering Swallow."

Maybe this piece Soriana can see here. It looks pretty good, just about the right size and thickness… until she pulls it out, and discovers there's a square piece cut out of one corner. Maybe it's a window? Or maybe she'd better keep looking. This would be so much easier if they had access to the fresh new stacks of lumber drying in the back. They could just cut a perfect piece to size! But… those are being saved for actual woodcraft projects by actual woodcrafters. The ones that get to actually use the fancy powered saw that whizzes right through the wood. Plastic guard or not (which is to say, plastic guard. Safety first!), the weyrlings are still stuck with the manual version and the scraps. Oh well. Soriana glances up as Ka'el glances over, and there's a chance for eyes to meet. "Hah. No," she informs him. "I already built that. It's done and put up." And there'll be a nest in it by the next seven. "I am building a… songbird house." What kind of songbird? Don't ask Sori, she's not the beastcrafter around here. "Gonna need an alarm clock, after all."

The invisible birdhouse is done already? Ka'el lifts his brows, eyeing her incredulously. "And so this one you're doin' for extra credit?" he asks, shaking his head after. "Suckin' up to the Steward … I would've never thought of it from you, Soriana." The edges of his lips pull down and the headshake that he gives now is slow and accusatory. "It shouldn't shock me anymore to know an' see what people will do to get ahead. But this…" His act is beginning to crumble despite his will to keep it up a little longer. But, alas, his expression is being overpowered by a quirk of his lips and his tone doesn't sound as disappointed as before. "Besides. I think you've a resource at hand that you can use if you're needin' an alarm clock. A guy you know. Pretty good with clocks. Claims to be pretty close to you? … Any of that soundin' familiar?" His grin is seen strongly now as he sets his newest piece with the others. Just enough for the walls! (no floor) "huh. Glue or hammer.."

"Well, you know, I'm going to have to-" work with him, Soriana was going to say, but then her brain catches up with her mouth and she realizes that actually she kind of is, or at least down the hall from him, and that's weird. Not that there's anything wrong with Jethaniel, exactly, it's just… weird. Okay, so he's also kind of weird when you come down to it, but she's decided the problem with the hatching sands wasn't his fault and he got it fixed, so he's okay enough by her. If she got annoyed at people for being weird… she might have to start by being annoyed with Ka'el! Which she isn't, despite the roll of her eyes as she drags her thoughts out from disarray and into the teasing once more. "Oh, sure. And he works with this other guy, who goes around making sure the sub-par alarm clocks don't stick around." Okay so Kanekith only did it the once, but still. Soriana grins, and rustles around in the woodpile to find… a-ha! This'll do. It's too big, but… that's what the saw's for. So she grabs it and heads over to claim the one Ka'el just finished with, glancing to his walls (floorless) and suggesting, "Both."

Yes, the Steward is a bit weird. Luckily, Ka'el has had little reason to deal with him, so his weirdness (and Stewardly responsibilities) have little to do with him! It takes him a moment to realize just who she means by 'the other guy' … or maybe he's just giving her that blank look because 'sub par' doesn't seem to be a phrase that he is familiar with! At least, not when it is used in conjunction with anything he makes (from metal. His first straps certainly could've been deemed as sub par!) But oh, yes! Kanekith. Now he's back on track. "That only means that through me, you'll be guaranteed to have a product of excellent craftsmanship and value," he says simply as he runs his fingers along the smooth edges of his wood pieces. Glue and hammer? "Reinforced.." he agrees with a little nod to himself. "They'll need somethin' lasing. Good call!" He moves his pieis away from the saw, nodding to it in silent gesture for her to use if she so needs, and gets to slabbin' on glue to the edges. "Mine is a quail house," he explains.

Yeah, sub-par. It's one of those phrases that came from somewhere and nobody knows where anymore. And almost nobody uses it, except it shows up sometimes in things like records. Particularly those noting the quality (or lack therof) of things. So what's Sori's excuse for using it? She doesn't give one. Maybe because she's busy setting up her piece of wood to be sawed. It's big enough (she thinks) that if she just cuts it in half, she can have two pieces for one sawing. Good deal if she can make it work! Like a Ka'el brand alarm clock. "Well then. I suppose I'd better go with quality." Soriana grins. "But I think I'll keep the birdhouse, anyhow. Y'can never be too prepared. Besides, that way I'll have something to compare the melodious sound of the alarm clock too. Just so I can know how great it is." With that, she starts applying saw to wood, only to pause between strokes. "A… quail… house." She looks at Ka'el. She looks at his wood. She looks back to him. "Do quail have houses, usually?"

Ka'el's watchful woodcrafter cringes at the obvious waste of glue, and he hurries to correct the behavior and save some of the excess that oozes from between the two pieces of wood. Glue doesn't grow on trees you know! "What? .. Oh, sorry. Right.. I see. Yes, I understand.." Ka'el appeases the crafter by complying and apologizing, which is enough to have the worst of it all be merely a glare before the crafter moves off to deal with sticky glue. Ka'el continues to hold his two walls together, giving them a chance to adhere. "Of course they have houses. I'm makin' on for them, aren't I?" Granted, it may be the only quail house on Xanadu! "They just aren't common, as when one thinks of avians an' their houses, they usually think of the ones up in trees. Everyone forgets the quail." The poor forgotten quail! "and so they might need a bit've help to know that this house is meant for them. So.. my next project is a sign. 'For Quails Only', right out front." Since quails obviously can read. "Brilliant, eh?"

Unlike the wood, which actually does grow on (as) trees! Though the woodcrafters aren't so happy about that being wasted, either. It's as though it takes time and effort to produce it or something. Soriana applies herself to sawing while Ka'el gets his lecture, using effort to make one piece of wood into two. Wood may grow on trees. Cut, square pieces of wood… not so much actually, as she's now discovering. Yet another educational lesson! "Well, sure, I suppose they'll have a house," Soriana acknowledges once the woodcrafter has gone back to trying to do at least some of his own work while keeping an eye on things. "Once you're done with it, anyhow." A tilt of her chin in that direction, because her hands are busy. "What'll you do if something else moves in? I mean, the quails'll see the sign," because they can obviously read, "but do you really think a quail could argue with, say… a feline?" And felines can't read. Everyone knows that.

Go Sori, go! Work that saw! Ka'el watches her progress, as he can't do much at the moment with both of his hands holding his wood pieces anyway. He grins as her pieces are cut. Perhaps not as evenly as she'd like, but still cut! His own aren't exactly symmetrical either, but he's already resolved that he'll be building more of a Quail … trailer than anything else. "Doubtful mine'll be the only one. Maybe the only one of a few. And once the quails start seein' my masterpiece, I'll have backorders for'm. They're all gonna want one." Tentatively, he pries his fingers from the wood pieces, glad that the new walls clinging together. Now for that hammer and nails to reinforce things.. "Felines? Ha, that won't be a problem. They're more talk than anything, anyway. And each quail home will be lanced with Feline repellent." He eyes her square pieces.

Soriana is not a woodcrafter. She will likely never be a woodcrafter. But, still, one piece of wood is turning into two, and beggar-birds shouldn't be so picky if there are a few cracks that let the winter wind in. At least they'll have a roof over their heads. As will all the Quail of Xanadu, once Ka'el gets his business really going. "Will you do custom work?" she asks him as he leaves some skin behind on the excess glue. Maybe that'll scare the felines (or the quail) away. "I mean, obviously your first few are going to be pre-made, just to get your name out there, but once the quail get to know… not every quail's the same, you know. Wouldn't want to try to fit a square quail in a round house. Or, well, the other way around." Thunk. There she is, two pieces instead of one! She leans down to pick up the other, and compares them. Ehhh… close enough. She brings them over to a workbench.

Oook, now Ka'el is getting the gist as to why too much glue isn't necessarily better. The excess, even when wiped away, leaves behind stickiness, which in turn makes things that much more difficult to handle! And sticky fingers only makes for sticky nails and a sticky hammer. Perhaps Hotaru was right in giving him that nickname oh so long ago! "The quail … will have to .. understand…" he says between picking nails that decided to stick to his fingers off, "that a custom home will be more. But … the quality'll beo so high they'd be foolish to refuse." His eyes drift from his sticky situation to her, a vague smile drawing itself across his face. It hardly fails. She can make him forget his own thunderclouds. A momentary reprieve, but a reprieve nonetheless. "Are you going to hang yours h-.." he grins but never finishes before his eyes go a little distant and the world seems fuzzy. It lasts mere moments, though feels like lifetimes. "..But these guys are gonna have to wait for the prototype," he says with an exhale, setting down his hammer. "K'asin and I are gettin' a duty." For some reason.

Hotaru may have been prescient! At least Ka'el's hair isn't sticky again. …or at least it isn't yet. Soriana would not bet that he doesn't brush his fingers through it at least once before getting all the glue washed off. She sets her boards down with the others she had (see! She totally had half a birdhouse, just… not an assembled one…) and nods to Ka'el. "Well, of course. You can't expect to just walk in and get something perfect, though! A master's work demands a master's rates." And Ka'el's quail houses, well… they'll be worth every bit of birdseed he gets paid. She tilts her head at the question, but then… "Oh." It's not like this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time. Lessons and duties and keeping busy! "Well, you can tell the quail about it while you're out there. Word of mouth and all." A grin returns once more, and a wave-salute-thing. Mostly the thing part, and then the catching her board before it falls down thing.

Ka'el will try very hard to keep his hands from his hair before they are given a good scrubbing, but … eh, knowing Ka'el, one wouldn't be too wise to place bets on that. His unfinished project, which consists of only two glued walls and not much else, is carried to a shelf lined with unfinisehd birdhouses of sorts to set his down upon. "And you can help spread the word. Ka'el's Quail Quarters. A modern home for the modern quail." He grins crookedly at her before a mental nudge is sent his way. Hurry up for Salrith is already on his way with his rider and he doesn't want to be behind that bronze! Everything is a competition, you know? He returns the not even half a salute thing to Soriana. "Good luck with your house," he offers before he turns to head out, rubbing his fingers upon the side of his trousers. Glue, be gone!

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