We worked without speaking, simply cutting into the base of the tree. Occasionally, the woodcutter would check my form and technique, grunting satisfaction with the way I handled the axe, or sighing discontent with the angle of a cut. Soon enough, we brought the tree crashing to earth.
The woodcutter brought out a length of rope, and (again wordlessly) handed me a loop. He tied the middle around a branch, and threw the loop around his shoulder. We both set down our axes and prepared to walk the tree out. On his cue, we lifted and dragged the tree toward the river.
Moving the tree was far easier than I had expected. The willow branches bent when we pulled it past tree trunks, and we were soon back on the banks of the river. I was about to hail the satyr when the woodcutter put his hand on my shoulder.
"A good job you've done, kid. Good thing you weren't smaller. You'd never have been able to help."
I laughed, "Well, I'm fortunate to have made some good choices. It's been a long road, but I've had some excellent teachers."
The woodcutter stroked his beard thoughtfully. "You know, what's most amazing is that you listen to your teachers. Everyone has excellent teachers, but not everyone listens to them. Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I left my axe back there. Have a good evening."
"Would you get mine, too?" I asked. "It was a gift. I don't want to lose it."
"Oh, you don't need it anymore," he said. "You just needed it for this. Trust me, you don't want to climb a mountain wearing an axe on your back. It's a long way up. Besides, I don't think that the patron who gave you that axe will be all too sore."
"Why do you say that?" I asked, curious.
He smiled. His face seemed older, but not old with that smile. "Because I gave it to you." And with that, he disappeaered into the forest.
To be continued. . .
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
Part XI | Part XII