January 2012 Featured RP: Cantil Learns the Family Business

Streamwood Settlement
Nestled in a sheltered clearing of the deep woods of Coghill is the Streamwood settlement, named for the small stream running through the middle of the settlement. A stone retaining wall has been constructed along the stream's course for safety. Babbling quietly, the stream trips merrily over the stone bed as it winds further south. Every so often a glimmer of light reflects off a passing fish. Over the water in several locations are low, wide bridges, perfect for passage or fishing. Water lilies as well as wildflowers growing along the streambed perfume the air with their aroma.

Small wooden cottages peek out from the tree line, constructed from the sturdy lumber the woods provide. Some cottages have small flower or vegetable gardens out front. Others have small wooden or stone figures decorating the yard, a nod to their resident's occupation. There are two fire pits, one on either side of the stream for communal use. The atmosphere is serene and welcoming, perfect for raising a small family or starting a new career.

Rafe sits on a bench just outside Holman's and Nell's cottage. The bench appears to be a new addition to the surroundings, set a little ways out from the side wall, and along its surface is arrayed a variety of metal tools, some extremely sharp. A large pack sits at the far end. In his hands is one of a pair of simple peasant shoes, and he's hunched over, examining it carefully.

Cantil makes his way through the settlement, picking a path carefully to avoid the deeper snow. His trousers are soaked up to the knee, and he has an expression on his face like a displeased cat.

Rafe appears much more warmly dressed than the day before, and his hand steady as he runs a delicate finger along a seam to test its evenness. Then he extends one hand to grasp a small pick from the bench surface without shifting his gaze from his work. He appears almost oblivious to his surroundings.

Cantil catches sight of his father and pauses, then approaches and sits down on the edge of the bench to watch. His presence, if uninvited, is unobtrusive.

Rafe carefully plucks at the seam, as though trying to tease a stitch loose without undoing an entire job. The sound of a small snap and a foul word muttered under his breath indicate his failure in this endeavour. He puts the shoe down with a sigh to try and find a different tool, when his gaze finally lands on Cantil. "Well. Hello, there." His expression is surprised, but friendly.

Cantil replies, "Hi," and watches to see what happens next with the shoe. At this point, when Interesting Things are happening, socializing clearly takes second place.

Rafe shifts his weight back to regard the boy a bit more directly. When his gaze falls to Cantil's sodden trouser legs, he sits erect, startled. "What happened to you?"

Cantil tucks his feet under the bench, scowling. "Creek's not frozen yet," he mutters under his breath.

Rafe's expression is blank for a moment before a chuckle escapes. "That'll teach you. Auntie Mira must have a change of trousers in there somewhere. You'd best do that before your feet turn to ice."

Cantil rolls his eyes. "My feet aren't gonna turn to ice," he says in a longsuffering tone. Nevertheless, he gets up and heads toward his aunt and uncle's cottage without any further comments, and when he reappears some moments later he's wearing a dry pair with slightly fewer patches.

Rafe has resumed his work on the shoe in the meantime, this time working a lot less delicately, tearing at the seam with a knife and significant leverage between his two hands. When Cantil returns, he glances up briefly and calls, "The sole's already a bit worn. Not much point in salvaging it anymore. Can you get me another? I should have at least one in this size cut already." He gestures to the pack with his chin as he continues ripping.

Cantil rummages through a side pocket of the pack, retrieving one. He holds it up, compares it briefly with the shoe Rafe is repairing, then returns it to the pack and rummages a bit more. When he finds one that he is satisfied is the right size, he sets it on the bench next to Rafe.

Rafe tosses the old sole onto the ground once he wrenches the last of the sinew free, and spends a few minutes tugging the last bits free from the shoe and checking the holes for soundness. Grunting his appreciation to Cantil, he clears a small space on the bench to lay the new sole out flat, and rest the shoe on top of it. He takes a moment to examine it from several angles. "Yep, that's the size I was looking for. Good eye, you've got. What do you think--think that'll keep the elements out?"

Cantil reaches out to finger the edge of the new sole and shrugs in a 'yeah prob'ly' sort of way.

Rafe has already pulled a thick metal needle from a chest pocket and a length of sinew from a roll sitting on the bench before him. While threading the needle, he asks casually, "And how are yours holding up? That dunk in the river can't have done them much good, but even so." Licking his fingers, he runs them along the threaded sinew in a twisting motion and, satisfied, grasps the shoe and starts stitching the sole in quick, deft movements.

Cantil wiggles his toes in his shoes, inspecting them gravely. There is a visible gap between the toe cap of his left shoe and the sole, about half an inch in length, but he doesn't seem too perturbed. The right is whole and in good shape, if stained and a bit tight. "They're fine."

Rafe makes quick work of the stitching and casts a critical eye over the line of it from each angle before nodding his approval. He reaches out with one hand, making a give-it-here gesture to Cantil while he sets the shoe down. He says off-handedly, "That'll need to dry before I can seal it."

Cantil peers around the cluttered bench to see what Rafe might be meaning, then hands him a scrap piece of cloth?

Rafe looks down at his hand, blankly. Then he laughs warmly. "No, your shoes, boy. They're probably going to get water damage."

Cantil ohs. He looks doubtfully down at his shoes. "They're, uh, they're kinda muddy..."

Rafe shakes his head. "Even worse. All the more reason to give 'em a lookover."

Cantil makes a face, then toes off his shoes. He shifts to sitting cross-legged on the bench to keep his feet warm in the meantime, and bends to pick them up by the heels.

Rafe busily gathers some snow into a bowl that he's kept near the bench, rests it in his lap and brandishes a rag. Reaching out with his free hand he takes one of the shoes from Cantil and begins clearing the grime off with the damp cloth. The shoe starts to clear after a minute of patient wiping, and when he sees the shoe underneath, his movements suddenly pause.

Cantil watches. When Rafe stops, he glances up to his father's face, chewing his lower lip.

Rafe hesitates before looking into Cantil's eyes, then finally takes a deep breath and lets his gaze fall again. "Same old shoes. I remember when your mother picked the leather for these. She loved sea blue."

Cantil's eyes, as soon as the conversation turns to dangerous ground, flit to a neutral point on the ground somewhere beyond Rafe. He hesitates, then glances at the shoes.

Rafe's posture also turns uncomfortable. He coughs and makes a show of appraising the shoe, noting the gap in the toe, and some concerning loosening of the stitching near the heel. "Should fix that. It'll need a bit of leatherwork. Don't think I can do it tonight. Here," he offers the clean shoe back, "I'll have what I need ready for tomorrow."

Cantil takes the shoe without comment and slides his foot back into it. He has to wrestle a bit to get his heel in completely, but he manages it. He sits for a minute, then looks at the shoe Rafe was repairing earlier. "Whose are those?"

Rafe is attentive as Cantil returns the shoe to his foot. At the question, he looks away, shaking his head and then returning to look at the boy with a chuckle. "Mine," he says, and pulls his stockinged feet out from under the bench, wiggling his toes to reinforce the point.

Cantil is startled into a giggle. "When'd you make these ones?" he wants to know next.

Rafe looks surprised by the question and draws a hand through his hair to think. "Oh, I've had these for years in one form or another. Always mending them. They didn't stand up too well to the journey here, but I didn't expect they would." He prods the unrepaired shoe to show off a hole in one sole, and a tear that runs half the length of it.

Cantil reaches out to touch the tear with one fingertip, keeping whatever he's thinking to himself.

Rafe watches Cantil in silence for a space, then grasps the unrepaired shoe and slips it back on his foot. "Don't want to stress the stitches while they dry, so it'll be hopping for one night at least. I should tidy up here."

Cantil nods and begins to help gather up the tools within reach. He returns a few to their proper places in Rafe's pack because he can, but doesn't appear to know what to do with the rest.

Rafe keeps half an eye on Cantil's performance while he gathers the remaining tools into a roll-up wallet, and slips that into the pack as well. Then he balances the bowl on top of the pack and everything is assembled. He stands and grins down at Cantil. "You looking for a job? You certainly seem to remember your way around my equipment."

Cantil grins lopsidedly and ducks his head a bit. "Not very well," he admits.

Rafe chuckles. "Enough to be a help, that's for sure. Well, I should get these things inside." He abruptly reaches down to take the repaired shoe and stuff it into his chest pocket. "Can't forget that!" He lifts the pack with both arms wrapped about it securely, and begins to walk to the door of his lodgings. He's ginger with the unshod foot, trying to avoid the deepest snow.

Cantil trails after him, snickering at the undignified look.

Rafe flashes the boy a melodramatic scowl. "Shouldn't you be getting inside too, Cantil?" His voice is stern, yet amused.

Cantil stops short, glancing from Holman and Nell's cottage to Mira and Trenon's and back. His mirth pauses in a split second of what looks like disorientation, but it doesn't last long enough to be sure. He snaps his (now clean) heels together smartly and heads across the settlement.

Rafe fumbles clumsily with door, with only one hand free, but manages to shuffle his load inside with only a small fuss and, thankfully, without waking his landlords. He cranes his head out to call our once more to his son, "Good night, Cantil."

Cantil replies, "'Night," and heads inside.