Originally written 03/07/2016. Revised on 03/26/2020.
28th of Fourtenbra, 87AP
Old Farmer Giles beat his hoe into the dirt, but it did not have enough life in it for the hoe to stick. “Damn,” he said. The soil, once so moist and brown, had become black with rot. Dryer than should be possible.
“It’s just rained!” he lamented, quite agitated. “How can this be possible?”
With his eyes he traced where the roots of the rot made their way into the brown moist dirt. Like a sickness it spread. A great large spot upon the face of Atelinor’s green face, with writhing tendrils eating away at the ground around it.
“Soon this will eat away at my fields whole,” Farmer groaned. He turned to see the rest of his crops, glistening in the light of Sol’Enasé, which bounced off their wet leaves. It was a sight he’d never grow tired of beholding.
The tilled earth at his feet was useless, however. He was wasting his time and he knew it. This soil would not grow. It was high time he reaped all he could from his crops, and left.
After all, there was untended and unowned land for hundreds of miles north and east of here, nearer the world’s coasts. Soon the rot would be upon his beloved harvest and he’d need to find new land to till.
He had come out this far, past rivers and mountains and thick forests, to escape the terrible wars of men. And a peaceful sanctuary it was. He and his family had built a fine home for themselves. His wife bore him seven beautiful children in quick succession. And then last year, over the tors and through the fields, the rot became visible. It crept by night, shrinking back only slightly in the sunlight, but made more headway than not. It took it longer than a year before it had overtaken them.
But here it was now. An evil malice of unknown origin, staring in the face of all he’d made of the land. Old Farmer Giles had tried cultivating the black soil numerous times, but seeds only shriveled into dust themselves beneath its dark layers.
“Yes. It’s ’bout that time then.” He had known this day would come. He’d warned his missus, and told the children fanciful tales of the lush lands beyond their small homestead. Of green, free, and peaceful fields as far as the eye could see.
But it was clear there was a price to be paid for peace. Whether that be an allegorical excuse he’d told himself, or the truth, he did not know. But that seemed the only answer he could conjure.
Old Farmer Giles began the process he so dreaded. He harvested what could be reaped, more than enough to feed his family of nine, and then some to be dried out for seeds. They would begin preparing for their journey northward.
But how long until the rot overtakes their new home?