The driveway wasn't too bad. Just slice either side of the bad parts, lift out all the pieces. Stare guiltily at the little sycamores . . .
He sliced around them and lifted them out. Trudged through brush down almost to the riding trail and sliced out a hole and plunked the trees in.
"There you go. Get those roots down and stabilize this slump."
He sliced the brush and made a path back to the driveway. Dropped the dirt from below into the hole. The next crack was two meters away. He sliced across, and attempted to levitate the slab of concrete . . . It was stuck.
He eyed it. "Suction, maybe? I can deal with this. A horizontal slice . . .or even a shield under it all, then a push . . ."
It slid, twisted a bit . . . "I need a prybar, or I'm going to be drained before I know it."
A few kicks, then he dropped the shield. "Not bad. Apart from talking to myself. But I have the cure for that." He moved the ute onto his newly unbuckled driveway and shut the gate. Grabbed the stick. And propped open the barn between two trees. "Now listen up! This place has all sort of unknown holes in the ground and stuff. So step carefully, don't run. And . . . well, I have no idea if the side fences have gaps in them. But I thought you might like to just get out and graze and stuff."
The horses looked around, curious.
"That old house Keiq liked? I bought it, and I'm going to fix it up. It's around behind the trees."
They perked their ears and trotted around to check it out, Ice walked after them, catching impressions, a few comments :: Ice needs to mow down the brush so the grass will grow better. :: and :: No telling what lives in those trees! :: and an equine snicker, :: Nothing big. There's no room between the trees. ::
They all stopped and looked dubiously at the wrecked house.
"Yeah, but once I fix it up, it'll be really neat."
They looked a bit skeptical, but grazed their way back and watched him work . . . and seemed to think transplanting trees was interesting. Odd, but . . . "But you cut down trees for lumber and firewood?"
Ice squirmed. "Yes. But, well . . ."
Triple nudged him. "You're nice. It's all right to not kill trees if you don't need to."
Ice grinned. "Well, eventually I'll have to kill a lot of those sycamores, because they're growing so close together they're hurting each other. So I feel a little silly saving these guys."
A snort from Lightning. "Humans are funny."
"Can't argue with that." Ice walked back and got to work. He had almost half of circular part done before he quit for the day. Got grain out for the horses, a sandwich out of his cold box and kicked back to watch the sunset. "Not bad, for Friday after work. The next part's going to be tough. I'm going to have to move a lot of trees, and they're bigger and their roots are all tangled together. So I'll have to pick some to move and the rest will get turned into lumber."
Pineapple nodded. "It's all right. They're only trees. We eat things like them."
Ice laughed and moved ute over close to the barn. Rolled his sleeping bag out and slept in the back seat of the ute. It wasn't comfortable, but the night was too chilly to sleep outside. Even the horses dosed in the barn, out of the wind.
There was frost on everything in the morning, and Ice gave the horses grain and hay inside. Heated coffee with a spell and munched day-old donuts as he planned his attack on the grove.
He worked methodically and carefully, and by late afternoon had an impressive stack of usable timber, and a trio of large trees relocated.
"I'm going to call it quits for the day and go home. You guys want to stay here tonight?"
Lightning shook his head. :: It's cold. Close us in and open it again tomorrow when the sun's up. ::
The other three nodded agreement, and grabbed grass as they headed back inside.
A long hot soak, a pizza delivered, catch up on the news, grocery shop for a real dinner Sunday night, hopefully with Keiq. Sleep in a real bed.
Sunday, he moved the rest of the driveway, cut the brush around the house, and bought two ladders. The upped floor was . . . interesting. He used his cut wood to brace the remainder of the roof, so it didn't fall down when he moved the house.
He heard voices and walked out to the balcony.
Two men, peering in the front door, well, doorway.
"You! What are you doing up there?" the short pudgy one put his fist on his hips and glared up at him.
Tall and lean crossed his arms and frowned around.
"I'm the new owner. Who are you?"
"Were-Bo, Building Inspector." Short and pudgy nodded at the other man. "Yxty, Fire Marshal."
Hmm, better or worse than the Historical Society?
Ice climbed down the ladder, to double frowns.
"Not even a safety helmet?" Yxty looked him up and down disapprovingly.
"Hi. I'm Ice-kah Withione Tall Trees. What can I do for you gentlemen?"
"Get the right permits and if you are insane enough to actually try to fix this evolving disaster, get it up to code." Werebo eyed the house. "Plumbing and electrical. And bathrooms. These old houses never have the required number of bathrooms. Assuming they have any at all. One per hundred square meters."
"Well . . ." Ice looked back at the house. "I was planning on a complete replacement of all pipes, all wiring, and drains, and of course, enlarging them all. There's one bathroom."
"Just eyeballing it, you'll need seven or eight."
The fire marshal snorted, and took his turn. "A building this size should have a fire suppression system. If it's used for public events that's a legal requirement. Even as a private home there must be at least one window in every bedroom that is at least one point two meters high and wide and the upper level will have to have stairs at both ends."
Wrbo nodded. "Is it going to be used for public entertainment? It will have to have an elevator."
Both men stepped back from the threshold, looked both directions.
Yxty shook his head. "I won't bother you until you've gotten it leveled."
"For which you will need a special permit, and insurance for such a hazardous job." Wrbo shook his head. "Do not work inside until the building is stabilized and has been inspected."
He hustled back to the car on the driveway and returned with a roll of yellow plastic tape, printed with big black letters "DANGER KEEP OUT" and proceeded to festoon the building.
Ice crossed his arms and watched the man's display of . . . "Watch out for the basement window wells!"
Pudge teetered for a moment, stepped back and glared back at Ice. "Full basement? Two more bathrooms, maybe three."
The fire marshal was eyeing Ice. "We have a lot of power in the enclave."
"Warning me? I'll have to read the laws, and then the regulations. As a Warrior of the One . . ."
"Warrior! You are a Native Upcomer. You are mistaken in thinking that makes you anything else."
Ice grinned. "I have no wish to be a test case, so I will be reasonable about . . . One! Eight bathrooms? And . . ." He looked up at the gaping empty windows. "I'll measure the windows, they may just squeak by, size-wise."
I hope, because I really don't want to tell the Historical Society I'm going to be enlarging windows. And adding stairs.
Hooves clomped on concrete as the horses all came to watch.
:: Is that magic tape? To help move the house? :: Triple's ears switched forward and back as she puzzled over the ugly yellow strips festooning the already ugly concrete.
Ice glanced back at the fire marshal.
"Nice horses, where'd you get them? The Enclave also has rules about them, you know. Vaccinations, worming, tests for a couple of diseases."
"I don't own them." The strict truth. "I'm sure my finance has all the paperwork." A false implication and two outrageous lies. "I've haven't gotten past the introductory summary in the by-laws. Do they need copies?" And a diversion.
"One yes. I'm surprised they didn't beat us here."
:: Do horses here get diseases? :: Pineapple sounded horrified.
:: Like cows! :: Dusty's horrified mental tones.
:: What's a vaccination? :: Triple eyed the fire marshal dubiously, then lifted her head as Wrbo staggered around the corner.
"There is a stream running under the house!"
"Yes." Ice nodded. "It's going to make everything more difficult."
The man huffed. "This is a horrible situation, it's going to be very dangerous doing anything to that death trap! I ought to condemn it right now!"
Ice snorted. "Have you met Madam Paex of the Histor . . . I see you have."
Wrbo's shoulders stayed hunched. "She'd have me in court in minutes. Seconds."
"Well, let's hold off a bit on legal actions. I'll apply for permits and start talking to construction companies but I won't sign any contracts for a few weeks. Once I get the estimates, I may find myself like the last three owners, hoping it'll just collapse and spare me the expense."
:: Because it's so ugly. ::
Wrbo gave no sign of hearing the horse.
Thank the One!
He eyed the two men. I'd better work fast. And get it done before I wind up in court.