Start a farm close to Origin
Prion Tumul Marken gazed upon the desolate land before him with a rising sense of dread.
What was he doing?
He was no farmer. He was barely a Prion.
Why did he think that he could do this?
He had spent his childhood reading books and avoiding physical labour so skilfully his peers had taken to calling him The Stubborn Stone. He had devised lies and deceptions in order to get out of his physical chores during his training, only remaining in the Elder Prion’s good graces by taking on an equal amount of sedentary work. For ten years, he had hid in the library of Origin, letting his mind expand at the cost of his muscle’s deterioration.
And now Prophet Imran wanted him to start a farm.
Prion Marken hoisted the blade high above his head, non-existent muscles struggling under the unfamiliar weight. A moment later, he let the tool fall towards the hard-packed soil.
It struck with a disappointing crick!
He had barely managed to pierce the ground, creating a hole that was barely a knuckle-width deep.
Nearby, in a basket made of woven reeds, was a heap of Tama fruit seeds. He had been told that they were the only things that would grow this side of the Urnic God Scar.
If he could ready the field and plant his first crop before the end of the month, then he could officially call himself a farmer.
Lifting the tool once more, he brought it down again.
Until the hole was deep enough to keep the seed safe.
Four hundred and ninety-nine to go.
How many days had he spent beneath the burning sun?
Enough for his pale skin to become charred and browned.
How many days had he spent hefting all manner of tools?
Enough for his wiry arms to grow and bulge.
How many days had he spent staring at his growing crop?
Enough for each of his seeds to gain a name.
What was the point of this, he wondered, as he stared at the long rows of troughs before him.
Surely there were other farms and better farmers to do Prophet Imran’s will? Could Imran not have simply asked him to manage one of those instead?
Why did he have to do everything himself?
What was he supposed to gain from this?
Because at this rate, all he was going to receive was a sunburn.
It was finally time.
After months of waiting, and hoping, and praying.
Today was the day.
The day of the harvest.
Dressing in his farmer’s overalls -his Prion robes had proven unsuitable for working in the fields- he left his simple home.
Soon, he would have a mound of Tama fruit higher than his roof. The first batch, containing the best specimens, he would send to Origin. The second, he would send to his family. And the third, he would send to the market.
After all, Prophet Imran hadn’t said anything about being a non-profit farmer…
Rubbing his hands, he walked towards the fields, dreaming of riches to come.
He laid the Tama fruit down on the dry ground, wondering what had gone wrong. The fruits he had seen in his youth, when he had gone with his father to the weekly market, had been the size of his head. The one beside his foot was barely bigger than an apple, and instead of the green shell crisscrossed by white lines he had been expecting it was a mottled shade of purple.
Prying it open with his knife, he had found it full of rot, unsuitable even for the rats to feast upon.
Well, there were always a few bad eggs mixed in with the good, as his mother had always said.
Surely he would have more luck with the next one…
The Eternal Flame was sinking closer to its resting place when he finally gave up.
Every. Single. Tama fruit.
Every last one he had pulled up.
Rotting. Diseased. Half-eaten.
Not a single Tama fruit had been harvested.
He was a failure… and Imran had chosen wrong…
But how could that be?
No other Prion in the history of the Church had ever failed their Holy Order.
He had heard tales of Prions who had journeyed to distant lands, dug below mountains, and even married into nobility. They had all succeeded in their difficult tasks.
All he had been asked to do was plant a few seeds and harvest what grew from them…
And he had somehow managed to fail even that simple task.
His friends had been right.
He was nothing more than a stubborn stone.
He belonged in the ground, not on top of it.
As he moved to stand, however, his foot snagged against a vine, sending him flying forwards. He fell, and landed with his face in the Tama mound. Clearing his eyes, he saw that his clumsiness had dislodged a single Tama fruit from the mound.
To his amazement, it was green.
It was still small, but bigger than all of its failed brethren. Taking it into his hands with the utmost care, he held it tight against his chest.
He wasn’t a complete failure after all…
A moment later, he brought out his knife and, with a confident stroke, severed the umbilical. Bringing the healthy fruit to his mouth, he drank from it, tasting the sweet milk within.
It was just as he remembered it to be…
Standing, he looked out over his fields. One fruit out of hundreds. By any measure, it was a dismal beginning.
But it was a beginning.
And he was nothing if not tenacious.
He would show these fields his stubbornness. He would unveil their secrets, and draw forth the treasures that they had hidden so cleverly.
The next harvest would be better.
And the one after that even more so.
Slowly, but surely, he would turn his fledging farm into a place of growth and life.
For how could he expect to reap the harvest without working the fields first?
“My guidance has ended!” he cried out, facing the heavens.
Turning his attention back to his fields, he added, “And my work has begun!”
Read Be Good to find out if Prion Marken ever planted something more valuable than fruit!