Bastard Swordsman Chapter 25

Silently Chopping Firewood

As the cold season approached, even the pretentious folks walking about town started to remember “oh right, winter was cold” and began changing their rough outfits for warmer layers. The sounds of chopping firewood could be heard all over town.

But since Legol was still a city after all, they didn’t chop firewood at cut stumps in every household’s yard like some rural town. They bought their winter supply of neatly processed firewood from specialized dealers. I wonder if firewood prices went up a bit this year?

And for those specialized dealers, this time of year meant being overwhelmed with mass-producing firewood in preparation for winter.

Slicing logs into rounds with a large saw, splitting those rounds by driving wedges into them with a big hammer…

It was continuous hard labor, so extra hands—or rather, extra strength—was needed as a matter of course.

What was sought was power. In other words, the brawn of roughnecks who could use physical enhancement magic.

In short, it was time for adventurers to step in.

“Man, firewood chopping season is here!”

“You’re the only one who gets that excited about chopping firewood, Mongrel.”

“All boys love chopping firewood.”

“Maybe royal capital kids, but…Mongrel, you aren’t the type for that, right?”

“Country bumpkin.”

“That’s what I figured.”

Right now, I was at a lumber yard near the east gate. It was a wide factory that could handle various processing from log sawing to planing lumber planks—most of the timber used in Legol was first made here. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that.

And around this time of year, they would be overwhelmed with mass-producing firewood in preparation for winter hibernation.

Supporting that was the job I had today.

“But you sure love stuff like this. Work like this won’t make much profit for the guild, right? It’s usually just kids who come for this kind of job.”

“Well, they probably just live day-to-day.”

“Really dedicated to your interests, huh. Well, we’re the ones paying out, so work properly for us. I’ll give you some bundles of firewood when we’re done, so do your best.”

“Thank you kindly.”

The middle-aged man I was talking to was called Thomas.

Calmly doing his work with a cigarette in his mouth, he seemed like a pretty cool guy. He had probably been in this business for decades. He didn’t seem like the type to talk about himself.

“The logs here are from last year’s haul. I wanted them to dry out a bit more, but the bosses are in a hurry it seems, so we’re just cutting them this year.”

“There’s a timber shortage apparently. Can’t be helped.”

“Use the tools over there. At first, split them open with the wedge and hammer…well, you won’t need that, will you Mongrel?”

“Yeah, you saw last year right? I’ll be using this.”

I grabbed the big axe leaning against the wall of the run-down warehouse and lifted it onto my shoulder.

I guess it was called a greataxe. With its thick blade and heavy weight, it was a tool that extremely picked its user. But I loved these kinds of dumb brute tools.

“As usual, you can lift some crazy stuff…it’d throw my back out.”

“Don’t underestimate an active guild member, Thomas.”

“Experienced, greased guild members don’t take on work like this…Well, whatever. Mongrel, can you focus on splitting them while I place the logs on the chopping block?”

Thomas wedged a log pick into the cut end of a log round and with a thud, placed it on the chopping block.

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If I split this into nicely sized pieces, it would be good.

Barowa lumber grew fast but was pretty solid with dense grain. In turn, it made for great long-burning firewood.

“Be careful on your end too, Thomas.”

“Got it.”

Putting power into it, I swung the axe down.

With just that, it split into two with a crack, falling off the stump left and right.

“Let’s stand it up and try splitting it vertically next. You can do it in one strike, right?”

“Leave it to me.”

Crack! I loved the crisp sound when splitting them in one go with this big axe.

In my previous life I couldn’t use physical enhancement, so easily going TUEEE against lumber like this with my strength was really fun. Way better than against goblins.

“Good, keep bringing them.”

“You’re fast. Aren’t you hurting your back?”

“Thomas, you retiring already?”

“Don’t spout nonsense, I’ll show you. Wait a sec.”

“Oh?”

Thomas slapped his waist as he entered the warehouse, soon coming back out.

In his hand was…a tool that looked like a toy, with a claw crane attached to the end of a magic arm.

And I knew the name of that iron tool.

“What’s that, Thomas? That thing…what is it?”

“Heh. You can’t tell just by looking, right? I couldn’t either at first. This is…you do it like this, see?”

When Thomas pressed the crane’s claw against the horizontally lying log, the pincers opened up.

And just by trying to lift it up, the crane’s tip sank into the log from its weight, smoothly raising it up.

“Ohh.”

All he did was press and stick it in to grab on, but it let him lift it while standing. It was a tool for that.

But it was surprising. I didn’t think they could make such high-grade iron tools.

“It’s called a lifting tong apparently. Seems the workshop recently got blueprints for it from some Count Keios or something.”

“An invention huh. It does seem like it’d be convenient for moving logs.”

“Yeah. Most of all I don’t have to bend my back. With this log pick, I can move stuff I couldn’t before. It cost quite a bit to make just one, but after trying it out, we ended up having a full set made.”

“It’s that good to use?”

“It extends your active years.”

Thomas skillfully maneuvered the tong and pick, thudding a log onto the chopping block.

“I’m not joking. With this, I don’t have to lose my job over my back.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. Thanks to this, two of my old colleagues were able to get their jobs back…I wanted to send a thank-you letter to that Count Keios or whatever, but nobody knows his address.”

“Ohh…getting rehired huh. That’s amazing…Thomas, want me to listen in Chaos’ place as thanks for your feelings?”

“Cut it out.”

Well, I did just send the blueprints thinking it would make the work easier, but it was more effective than I thought huh.

With this, they really could move heavy timber without bending over…I see, lots of people retire because of back pain huh. It’s brutal work.

“Mongrel. I’m the best at using these tongs here. If you slack off, I’ll bring them faster than you can split them.”

“Oh? You say that, Thomas? Then I’ll show you my true axe skills.”

“There’s no axe skills or anything with that amateurish leg stance. You spread your legs vertically, not horizontally.”

“…Like this? Okay, I’ll show you my true axe skills.”

“You don’t get discouraged, huh.”

Crack, crack, the firewood split pleasantly.

The taciturn Thomas nimbly placed logs as I split them in two with a crack.

When absorbed in the work, our chatter lessened, soon only the sound of splitting wood echoed.

From a bit of a distance, a nostalgic glue-like smell drifted on the wind.

Come to think of it, the tanning work I commissioned with my pelts was probably about finished around now.

Once I’m done with this job, maybe I’ll go check on the finished leathers.

If I make a fire in the hearth with this firewood and sprawl out on a Quietus Deer fur rug in front of it, I think I’ll be able to enjoy this coming winter’s chill.


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