“Who is in charge here?” The captain demands.
The breeze flits clouds across the azure sky, insuring none block the sun for long, yet this is the wind that will shortly bring the rains. It also holds their flag proud of its pole, the symbol means nothing to me, but it is not the palm print that has governed our lives for so long. There is little doubt the stocky man on the skittish sterry represents the wish for a new set of masters.
“We are in charge here,” I reply. “The overseer and supervisors fled months ago, there are no supporters of the High Council here.”
His troop is a mixed bunch of men and women, armed with a variety of weapons and dressed with little thought of uniformity. A handful hold vaguely menacing postures, but most just stand there, glad to have ceased marching for at least a little while. I hold my faddystick loosely, lest it be mistaken for a symbol of aggression.
“We require use of your farm as a barracks.” He tells me.
We have left many of these lower fields by the road fallow this last couple of years, to make the farm seem poor and ill kempt. Disguise seemed prudent after the burning of Seven Summits Estate. Bare patches in the wild grass show that a turrifenge has moved in, I anticipate the struggle of persuading it to leave.
“You can stay one night and then head north to the town to wait out the rainy season.” I tell him. “We will resupply you with food.”
Behind me on the track someone coughs loudly. I swallow my fear, knowing people are relying on me to resolve this, my on family is at stake. With a reduced workforce this is an unscheduled interruption in the planting we can do without.
“There are strong men here,” he states. “Tell me, do you not wish to fight for what you believe in?”
Over the wind I can hear the piping of the wild serrits. They have been fattening themselves up on grubs and insects, but soon they will replace their interest in food with interest in each other.
“We believe that people need to be fed, whether there is fighting or not,” I respond. “Any who wished to take up arms for either side has long since done so and left here.”
Occasionally we receive news that one place or another has changed hands in the struggle. The names mean little to me, Frayed Rope farm lives according to nature's seasons, not the politics of man.
“It strikes me that is little here to stop an armed force from doing what they so wish,” he threatens.
There is a parity between the captain's troop and my own; we both command mixed groups cobbled together as a way of surviving a difficult time, only our methods differ. They look for enemies, we look for friends.
“You are a city man, let me advise you and your rebellion not to mess with the old ways of the countryside,” I warn him. “Take what hospitality is offered and no more, and avoid crossing a galaflarge.”
I slam the butt of my faddystick into the earth of the road, pushing at the ground with the skills of my craft and more; there is a pause and then the ground trembles. The turrifenge erupts from the soil of the field spraying mud and clashing it terrible jaws. It is much larger than I thought, it is going to take a serious effort to move it beyond our borders before the rains come.
“My apologies,” he stammers. “You have the thanks of the rebellion for your generosity and support.”