Day 67: Nothing is easy here

Day 67:

Packed some good tools in one of my rock-hauling sacks, rode Stupid until we reached the shadow of the mountain… and discovered there’s a river in front of it.

Turns out the lake that is near the front of my place is fed by a very large river right in front of the mountain. Makes sense, I guess, since the rain that falls on the mountain has to go somewhere.

But Stupid wanted nothing to do with fording the river, so we turned around and rode back, this time following the water so I could see where it goes.

Sure enough, if I keep tunneling in the direction I’m currently going, I’m going to hit the river.

So a bridge maybe? I have to think on this.

An updated version of the author's map. At the top, the mountain. In front of that, a river that runs from the left of the page to the right, where it becomes a lake. Below the river (blocking the view of the mountain) are trees, then indicators for "where I've tunneled to" in the middle and "home" and "yard" at the bottom.
Stupid trees blocked my view of the river

Day 66: Iron

Day 66:

I think I have enough iron to make some quality tools and head for the mountain now. Instead of continuing the downward trend my mining has been taking me on (that’s a mining joke), I might pack up some bags on my horse, head out to the mountain to see what I find, then ride back under cover of daylight.

We’ll see how things look in the morning. Not much around here to use to predict the weather and this isn’t an adventure I want to take up in the rain.

Bad watercolor of an iron ingot, labeled "bad drawing of an iron ingot" Greyish-silver, somewhat trapezoidal.
The ingots are about the size of my foot.

Day 65: Splinters

Day 65:

Cut down trees. Made new axe handles. Filled my hands with splinters.

I think I’ve figured out how to tan a hide. I remember reading a book a long time ago as a kid, where it said something about every animal having enough brains to tan its own hide. So tanning a hide has something to do with stretching it and spreading brains on it I think.

I have plenty of duckens I could experiment with, but I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say they had chicken-skin gloves, so call it a hunch but I suspect birdlike creatures are a no-go.

Can’t bring myself to kill one of my cows though.

I’m essentially waiting for one of the local monsters to kill a (hopefully wild) cow for me.

Tracing of the author's left hand, palm side up, with joints indicated, and brown lines to indicate splinters, which are also labeled "splinters" with arrows and circles where necessary.

Day 64: Low on trees

Day 64:

The trees here are pretty soft. They split in clean lines, with few knots or curves. They remind me of string cheese more than trees. Then again this place grows mushrooms the size of a small cottage, so maybe they are some odd string cheese. I haven’t been inclined to taste them.

Because splitting the wood is so much more effortless than the oaks on Earth, or the silverwood on Freya, or especially the Iron Root on Ares, I haven’t wanted much for wood. I had more problems doing things like carving than splitting logs, because the wood wants to split.

(This is one of the reasons I haven’t bothered with a wheelbarrow. I’d have to make it out of planks and seal it, instead of carving out the inside of a log, because the log would split almost immediately whether I wanted it to or not.)

The trees grow almost instantaneously, just like the duckens and cows and everything else on this whacked-out world. But just because they grow fast doesn’t mean I want to plant hundreds of them. That would look out of place and get me in trouble with The Company. On the other hand, careful harvesting means I have to regularly go out to get more wood because a tree will only last so long.

All this to say that I’m out of axe handles, and I forgot I was out of axe handles, so now I have to cut down a tree with a shovel (which will probably break it no matter how soft the wood) just so I can make an axe handle so that I can then cut down more trees and make more handles. And a new shovel.

If I could make an indestructible pickaxe, I could probably stay underground for days.

Watercolor of a very simple axe head, the type made in 18th century Earth. Labeled "axe head"
Titanium-treated steel it is not.

Day 63: Absorbent

Day 63

Still digging near the lake on my way south, so everything is seeping water most of the time.

The soil here is very absorbent though, so I’ve made the habit of piling dirt up in berms around the areas where I’m working so I don’t get flooded out and have all my torches whisked away while I work. (This is especially important since the torches keep the worst of the local fauna at bay.)

I’ve also discovered some veins of clay near the water. It’s incredibly thick and solid stuff, but still feels malleable. If I could figure out why I’d need bricks, I’d make bricks out of it.

After it dries out a bit that is. Right now I’m keeping it in a bucket because it’s too wet to pile in a box. Pretty useless stuff, saturated clay.

When I was in school I took an elective clay class. Not the pottery wheel throwing class, that was too boring. I took a clay sculpture class, where we made all kinds of different shapes and vessels and statues. It taught me a lot about the behavior of certain kinds of dirt, and was probably one of the reasons why I was willing to go into mining as a career. Once you’ve spent an entire weekend pulling an all-nighter in the clay studio, covered in wet clay, slip, and dust, the idea of doing the exact same thing with bigger tools underground.

line drawing and watercolor showing a chamber divided by a log-shaped pile of dirt down the center with some torches in it. to the left, water is dripping from the ceiling and forming a puddle on the floor. to the right, a double door.
I think they call these “berms”?