The craftsmen-builders worked in four gangs.
The carpenters built the framework, sawing and shaping the massive
beams, cutting the mortices and the tenons, hauling the timbers
into place with ropes and pulleys, and climbingwith death-defying
confidenceover the wooden skeleton to hammer home the joists.
Next came the plankers, cladding the roofs, the floors, and the
walls, planing them smooth ready for the carvers, who followed
close behind, adding the decorative elementsthe swirling
window frames and the fretted canopies. Last of all came the decorators,
who filled the windows with coloured glass, painted the woodwork,
and built the canvas sun-shades.
Cylliens lover belonged to the first gang, the carpentersthe
How will I know when to step in? asked Camthalion.
You will see me pinned to a beam.
The woman smiled. Use your judgement, Cami. But leave it
as long as you can.
The elf was obviously unhappy with that arrangement; but Arinna
reached up and stroked his face. Then she slipped out from behind
the carantaur trunk, walked gracefully across the walkway, entered
the building works, andignoring the stares and snide remarksshe
picked her way, through the organised chaos, to where the planking
came to an abrupt end, then walked out onto one of the bare beams.
Hey, lady! cried one of the men.
Her quarry was crouching, his back turned towards her, carefully
trimming out a mortice with his hammer and chisel. I think
this, said Arinna, holding out a large carpet bag, is
The man swung round, his expression turning from surprise to
derision as he eyed the flowered holdall. What?
The dead cat, said Arinna, quietly, is yours.
She placed the bag on the beam between them. When you left
this, the situation turned from a foolish mistake to something
altogether differentsomething quite nasty. I have not taken
the matter any further as yet. But I shall, if you do it again.
You have been warned. She turned to leave.
What are you going on about, you old bat?
I have said my piece, said Arinna over her shoulder.
If you know what is good for you, you will dispose of the
cat and that will be an end of it. And, raising her hands
for balance, she walked back to the safety of the solid floor.
The carpenter flew after her.
If you think you can come here, in front of all
He grabbed her by the shoulder and jerked her round, andas
she turnedArinna saw Camthalion emerge from behind the tree
and come running across the walkwaybut the carpenter had
already raised his fist, and contempt made her reckless. You
can hit me all you likeI have ripped off bigger balls than
yours and when I have them I will give them to her, on
That's enough, Heral! One of the other workmen caught
the carpenter by the shoulders and pulled him back. I have
warned you before about threatening women. You had better go,
Arinna stepped back and, with Camthalion standing guard behind
her, looked the carpenter in the eye. Remember what I said,
she insisted. It need go no further if it stops now.
And, as she let the elf lead her away, she saw the man angrily
shrug off his colleagues restraining hands.