Sandy’s scream stopped everyone in their tracks and left an awkward silence in the air. The squirrel who’d just barged in with an axe had wide and wild eyes and a smile the bordered shocked and amused. She was dressed in a tight uniform of green and gold and had shorts the color of dried mud. Her tail was scrunched up tight like a jelly roll, yet swayed behind her movements like a bunch of balloons. And that axe… It was an immense red one, like a fireman’s axe Sandy had only seen in cartoons. Yet it was so oversized that it was nearly as tall as the squirrel herself. Seeing it move enough to glint in the light threw Sandy into a panic.

Stay back!

Sandy backed up against the table in fear and nearly fell over the corner. She threw her plate as hard as she could at the intruder. It smashed against the squirrel’s axe as she twisted in front of herself like a shield. Sandy quickly fled backwards to the kitchen and huddled in the door frame.

Whoop! I aint paying for that. Sandy, stop! This is the professional I told you about. She’s the one who will rebuild my cafe. Oh… Out of towner, huh? Seems kind of skittish. Don’t worry. You’ll get used to me.

As Sandy’s adrenaline faded, embarrassment and indignation flooded into its place. The squirrel had an indomitable confidence. Even as she found out she scared Sandy half to death, she just chuckled long and hard at the absurdity.

I’m supposed to get used to someone barging in at night with a giant axe?! That’s normal here? It’s normal anywhere I live! Never go anywhere without a good tool. Sandy, meet Jill. She’s our resident logger, carpenter, ranger and everything in between. … I, ah… It’s good to meet you. Now that’s right big of you. Good to meet you too. Well, with that settled… What brings you into town at night, Jill? I got all your wood cut ahead of schedule. Just wanted to say I’ll be starting tomorrow. Wonderful!

Sandy was able to slip by Jill and out the door while Maxine remembered some last minute details of her project. Just outside was an immense shipment of freshly cut logs all laid atop one another in a cart. Sandy curiously walked around to the front to count them and just noticed that there was nothing to pull them. Had Jill just dropped everything in front of Maxine’s store?

Jill came back outside after her conversation with Maxine and found Sandy checking the shipment. Sandy noticed how her Jill always seemed to be staring fiercely. She had an intensity to her that never faded. Sandy was used to people being somewhat difficult to read and could only figure them out over a conversation. But Jill’s emotions were as subtle as fireworks.

So, uh, how did you move all this wood? Same way I do everything. WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS!

Sandy felt a shiver run up her spine that made her stand up straight when Jill yelled like that. Jill laughed boisterously and walked past Sandy to the cart. She slammed her axe into a special holder at the side of the cart with a loud BAM. Then, as if to prove herself, she went to the front of the cart and took hold of the wooden handle at the front. Sandy had assumed the handle would be connected to a tractor or a whole herd of beasts. Jill then heaved forward against the handles like a piece of gym equipment and grunted loudly. The wheels slid out of the grooves they’d made in the street before yielding under her strength.

Sandy watched the feat wide-eyed as Jill’s feet dug through the dry earth of the street and she moved over a dozen logs all on her own into place down the road. Each step looked laborious, yet the cart had to be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds! Jill let go of the handle once she carried it all the way down the road and walked around the back of the shipment to gave it a mighty kick. The logs lurched in their cradle before the cart rolled into an alleyway between the ruined cafe down the street and the bakery. Sandy couldn’t move in shock and her tail was frozen as a bottle brush. She was so impressed and confused that she didn’t react until Jill returned rubbing sweat from her forehead on her arm.

Jill certainly looked strong, but no one Sandy had ever seen was that strong. Jill reached out with her immense hand and took hold of Sandy’s. She wasn’t used to shaking hands with one Fable’s residents yet. Like Maxine and Kona, Jill’s hands were twice as big as Sandy’s. Jill shut her eyes and shook all of Sandy’s arm with that immense strength. It was enough to lift Sandy off the ground!

Let’s try this again. Welcome to Fable! How… How are you this strong?! Because nothing feels better to me than a job well done. And got another one to do tomorrow! It’s really impressive! I’ve never met anyone like you. Thanks. Looks like we’re roomies tonight. No sense in me walking all the way back to the forest. So you live in the woods? Darn right, I do! It’s my kind of paradise out there. But, I gotta say… It’s no place for tourists. Oh? Why’s that? I may do a lot around here. But I really only have one “official” job… Keep people outta those woods… Ulp.