Private Tales Farmer’s Only

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Ichika

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The first time she had to do this Ichika was only thirteen. To aid a far away village who were struggling due to a severe famine. She’d cried for a week, begging her mother not to send her, and she kept crying as they mounted her atop a midnight colored Pegasus. A female member of the royal guard accompanied her and when they arrived it was a simple matter of Ichika just using her magic, becoming exhausted, and repeating the process the next day.

”Can you,” her lungs shouted into the rushing wind, ”please could you slow down?”

They weren’t going all that fast, she merely hated riding on Pegasi. They moved quickly and the high altitude caused her stomach to turn. It was a sacrifice she was forced to make on behalf of the Dynast. Her family had been fixing poor harvest situations for generations all over the Erdeniin Dynasty. Ichika herself had been sent at least ten times now. They normally just consisted of one or two days of the use of her magic to restore what nature had abandoned. Although, this time was going to be far more challenging than in the past.

This endeavor was taking them to Gorekki, a settlement on the edge of Erdeniin territory. Their principal crop was mirchi which was a grain used in and around Dornoch to create noodles, buns, and dumplings. In the outlying areas it was used purely as a trade commodity or it was hydrated, heated, and made into a porridge. So when raiders began to steal or burn the mirchi it not only threatened the people of Gorekki’s livelihood, it threatened their food supply as well.

And the worst part? Her escort was a man.

They’d briefed Ichika on this, the royal guard swore he was one of the best. The only male to ever be admitted into their ranks. The one person who could not only ensure her safety but wipe out what they believed to be a small contingency of separatists or outlaws without backup.

Men were reliable enough as dockworkers or farmhands but they weren’t graceful warriors. Too easily distracted by their masculine urges or too arrogant due to some vague notion of pride. It was why most of Dornoch’s elite forces were almost entirely composed of women. Far more consistent results and they understood the importance of loyalty and community over personal glory.

An additional scream erupted in the air. ”We’re going very fast,” she insisted.

They weren’t.


Elijah
 
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Elijah

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Elijah could almost feel his horse roll her eyes.

Gypsy was not the nicest pegasus to ride, even for him. She demanded a lot of her rider and she liked to think she was in charge; she also liked her rider to think that too. It had made it hard to pair her with most of the other riders in the guard who hadn't been able to accept a backseat when it came to certain things. When Eli hadn't been thrown off her back within the first five seconds of sitting on her, the other women had decided it was probably quite right that the only man in their ranks was paired with a mare who would ensure he was kept in his place. On his part he preferred to think that they had an understanding.

That understanding was that Gypsy was in charge.

"I'm sorry Miss, but if we go any slower we will lose altitude," truly they were going at a snails pace for the pegasi. Every beat of her wings felt like it was going through mud in comparison to when they flew solo. He could already feel the struggle in keeping herself level with such slow movements. He had decided to put her in front of him in the saddle for the simple fact he could ride without stirrups but perhaps it would be better to put her at the back on their return; at least the wind wouldn't hit her in the face so much.

"We're almost there," he commented, pointing towards the odd flickers of land in between the clouds. "It's right down there, can you see?" sitting behind her meant he didn't have to shout so much and could lean down to speak against her ear.

Gypsy half glanced over her shoulder and then began to dip her wings down.
 
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Ichika

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An advantage to being in the front of the saddle was that Elijah couldn't see the pout that formed on Ichika's face as he blathered about altitude. He was right, she knew it, but the Tsuri woman didn't want him to be right.
Regardless, she fixed her face and answered his question. "I see it."

Part of her wished to stay silent for the rest of the voyage. It really wasn't going to be much longer and there weren't many things she hated more than being corrected. Or being wrong. But, for the sake of the job that awaited them on the ground she needed to take the high road. Her mother's lectures of duty and swallowing one's pride screamed out in her mind.

"I'm sorry. Pegasus rides just make me feel sick." They were smart beasts and she gulped at the thought that Gypsy understood what she'd just said.

Almost a second after the winged horse made touchdown she had hopped off. Stretching her legs and trying to walk the soreness that resonated out from her thighs and groin off. Villagers from the Gorekki settlement were already marching out to meet the duo.

Even from here they could see the meager crops, many of which still looked charred from fires set by raiders.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah nodded sagely at her explanation and wisely chose not to comment on it any further. If he had learnt anything about women in his life it was that it was best more often than not to simply keep your mouth shut. Sympathy could be taken as noting their weakness, making a joke would be seen as horrifying, and anything else... well.

The Captain took more care getting of Gypsy's back and moved round to her head in order to give her a well deserved scratch and fuss whilst he surveyed the group approaching them. Unsurprisingly it was a strong looking woman with muscles that were on par with the men behind her that headed up the group. Her hair was a dark shade of black with streaks of grey running through the length. Her weathered face spoke of years of working in the fields in the oppressive heat and the lack of lines around her eyes suggested she wasn't a woman who found the joy in situations often.

She stiffly bowed to Ichika then cast a wary look over to Elijah. If she was surprised at his uniform she didn't show it.

"Will you require rest before you start your work?"

Straight and to the point. The Dynast's people were nothing if not forward.
 
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Ichika

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There was no questioning who the bursar for this settlement was. The salt-and-pepper haired woman walked with the confidence and authority of someone the Dynast would respect. She held her head up high even as she cast a bow.

"It'd be best if we understood the most up-to-date situation," Ichika prodded.

While the bursar gave them a curt nod the rest of her entourage looked as if they were annoyed. Or perhaps it was just disgust at the situation in general.

"Every three days or so they come back. They don't bother issuing any demands or attempt any form of communication," the woman's brow furrowed as she recalled the previous attack. "Two or three of them light fire to a part of our crops while another team of them come in the opposite direction with baskets and sickle and harvest our mirchi."

Her muscled arms crossed, veins flexed in agitation, "they're on horseback, we don't have horses. We can't pursue them and spend most of our efforts protecting the children and trying to stop the fires they light before it spreads to the entire crop. Or worse, to our huts."

Ichika Tsuri had many talents but battlefield tactics wasn't one of them. Still...

"I can work my gift, restore your crops. But my guess is that will tip these raiders off that something has changed. For now, my associate and I have the element of surprise."

With brown eyes filled with hesitation she glanced back at Elijah, sank part of her lower lip into her mouth, and then after a second asked the man the most modest question she could muster. "We likely should rest and come up with a plan, don't you agree?"

The crowd didn't need to know that it would be less of a 'we' coming up with a plan and more, 'the experienced member of the royal guard is going to come up with a plan.'
 
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Elijah

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As the women spoke of business, Elijah's eyes swept over their surroundings.

The village was similar to many others scattered across the Dynasty. Huts made of bamboo and clay were all clustered together in the centre where a well stood, whilst the fields stretched out in all directions. The steppes was a harsh place to live due to the people who lived there and not because of the climate. Even with half their crops destroyed those that remained were lush and plentiful. It was clear why the bandits were coming back to collect more of the good stock.

He thoughtfully scratched at his beard and glanced back to his travelling companion when she finally expanded the conversation to include him.

"If you wish to rest M'lady then please do go ahead," he bowed and then glanced towards the Bursar who raised an eyebrow. "But if you would do me the honour, I would quite like to see what defences and weapons you have here already so I know what we are working with."

He couldn't turn farmers into soldiers in hours but he could at least make the town more defensible.
 
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Ichika

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A side-eyed glance was cast in Elijah's direction as she listened to him speak. "I won't be needing rest." The clarification came so fast that it caused the bursar to raise a brow, though she didn't bother commenting on it.

The village's leader uncrossed her arms and shrugged. "We haven't been warriors since the days of the Bloody Wars. Generation after generation of farmers since then." She turned, her black and gray speckled hair dancing in the wind while a free hand gestured for the pair to follow. Their fields were large, dwarfing the size of the village itself, which made sense for economic and trade reasons but likely made it quite difficult to defend.

A chiseled finger pointed towards the tree line and she spoke once more, "at first they kept coming from the trees so we built a trench and set up netting outside the crops to capture their horses." Netting instead of spiked barricades, the village didn't wish to harm the raiders horses. It was a pleasant thought even if a bit foolish.

Before they walked out to explore more of the crops she showed them what passed as their weapon rack. It was mostly pitchforks and a few crudely fashioned spears plus some short bows.

"We hunt from time-to-time but there's a difference between shooting a stationary animal and men riding on horseback." The bursar pursed her lips and looked Elijah and Ichika up and down, contemplating something. "My name is Lashyn," she explained as a hand extended, "what more do you need to see to help us?"

"Ichika," the short-haired Dornochi woman answered while returning the handshake. The bursar's hand moved towards the royal guard before Ichika could say any more.
 
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Elijah

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"Elijah," the Captain's handshake was firm which seemed to earn him some approval from the Bursar. Once he released her hand he folded his arms across his chest and turned his attention back out over the fields.

As he had suspected the defences were not a lot and their weapons were lacking but it was better than nothing. When it came to raiders it was more often than not about out thinking them rather than out fighting them anyway. Their tactics were simple but effective because they planned for farmers armed with pitchforks after a tiring day in the field. They weren't so good at adapting when confronted with something different to that.

"We will need timber for pikes which we'll put up around sections of the crops," he pointed out four sections in particular. "They'll be forced to funnel through there where we'll dig trenches and cover them," a number of the horses would break their legs and further limit the amount of raiders which made it through to the fighters.

"I'll need strong arms and backs to help me with the work," he was already removing his armour as he spoke.
 
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Ichika

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Ichika listened as the experienced warrior laid out the plan for defending the small village. What he explained made sense to her, or at least as much sense as someone whose only combative experience was one-on-one show matches with stringent rules.

"I'll help."

Her sack was dropped on the ground near where Elijah's armor lay. She may not have been as physically strong as some of the farmhands, and she certainly paled in comparison to Eli, but she wasn't going to sit back and watch while there was work to do. It wouldn't do for someone of her status.

The Bursar's eyes widened and one of her brow's crooked. "Marij, Oyon, Syric," she glanced back at two of the men and one of the women, "do whatever this man instructs of you."

Lashyn stared at Elijah and offered a simple, "I'll be in the fields. We still have our daily work to do. If you need anything come find me."

The woman from house Tsuri waited until the Bursar had gone off to complete her daily tasks before she mentioned anything further to the Pegasi Captain. "I can cause vegetation to grow." She gestured to the netting trap that was already set. "If you wanted to obscure any of the pikes or something."

She may have been capable of much less of what the other able-bodied figures were but she could at least offer something no one else here could.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah stripped right down to his kilt and then picked up a shovel that was leaning against the wall. If he was surprised at all by Ichika's offer to help he didn't show it even though he was. Usually the crop-grower was more interested in doing her job than digging in the dirt with the rest of the men. He did, however, give her a slightly bemused look when she felt the need to spell out what exactly she could do. Women were confusing creatures. They wanted you to know everything so they didn't have to tell you, but then they always insisted on telling you like you were an uneducated child.

"That would be most helpful Mistress Ichika," he pressed his right fist into the palm of his left hand and bowed before setting off towards the field with the others in tow.

"You two stay with me and we'll begin to dig the trenches, you go with Mistress Ichika here and start felling some trees to be made into pikes," his eyes flickered to the woman he had brought with him. "We need at least thirty but more would be better. Once you are done, shout and we will come and help fix them into place."
 
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Ichika

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It wasn't until Oyon placed an axe into her hands and took up her own axe that Ichika truly understood what she had just volunteered for. "I'll come let you three know when we are finished."

They walked the short distance to the tree line and Ichika sized up a few of the thinner trunks to begin her attempt. They needed thirty of these and that didn't seem like such a huge ask for someone like her. Someone who had never felled a tree in her lifetime. Still, she was pretty sure she understood the concept from simple reading and such.

After several hacks against the bark of her first target she realized she was in way over her head. It was actually incredibly difficult to chop trees.

Nearly an hour had passed. "Ugh," she groaned as sweat dripped off her chin and her arms and shoulders screamed in agony. She'd felled approximately six trees. Oyon had just finished her thirtieth. "Well, by my count we're above thirty."

Ichika's smile was greeted by a forlorn look from the other woman. Still, the farmer was in agreement and she let out a loud whistle to get the men's attention.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah glanced up at the sound of the whistle whilst wiping sweat from his brow. Covered in dirt and glistening in the sun, it was clear that the digging had not been any easier than the chopping. The men around him looked exhausted and leaned haphazardly against the shovels or the walls of the trench. The Captain had set a fast and ruthless pace and they were on their third digout.

With a grunt Eli pulled himself out of and began to walk across to where the women had stacked the trees. The men trailed after him simply glad for the break, though their expressions turned stormy when they realised the work there was not yet done. For his part, Elijah looked unconcerned.

"We'll stop for lunch," he said to relieved sighs as he ran his eyes over the logs. "Then begin putting these up. We should be done by sunset if we work quickly," there were grimaces but sage nods as the others trailed off for food.

He waited for the others to go before glancing to Ichika.

"Can your magic not decay the wood at the base to make it weak so it falls?"
 
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Ichika

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Relief flowed through her at the mention of lunch. She hadn’t realized just how hungry she had become until that moment. Just getting to sit down and rest would’ve been tantalizing enough.

In response to Elijah’s question the administrator had formed the words, ‘I wish,’ upon her tongue but she stopped herself from uttering it in that manner. Mother would’ve said it wasn’t a dignified enough answer.

”My family’s magic is limited, in a sense. We can generate light and we can cause vegetation to grow. Nothing more, nothing less.” Ichika used the back of her hand to wipe away the sweat from her brow before continuing, ”it’s unfortunate, for sure. But I can at least do one or the other. My cousin causes both effects at the same time.”

It made her cousin’s magic a lot more restrictive. You could put her on a boat and have her light the way without the wooden boards of the ship suddenly sprouting branches.

”This is hard work,” she confessed, ”but my mother assured me these raiders wouldn’t hold a candle to you. Is that true?” Yuna Tsuri was rarely wrong but she wanted to hear it from the royal guard himself.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah made a noise in the back of his throat that might have been interest in her explanation but might also have been disappointment. It was hard to say with the blank expression on his face as he rubbed at his beard and cast his eyes over the logs once again. When she spoke again he almost jumped as though he had forgotten she was still standing there, though he recovered quickly. Most of his squadron would have been quick to puff out their chests and inform her just how brilliant they were - and they would be right, every single one of them was worth at least 50 infantry in his opinion - but Elijah wasn't one of them.

He blew out a huffed laugh.

"Your mother is very kind for thinking that," he scratched at his exposed chest and frowned. "It depends how smart these raiders are. I will do my very best but these people are not soldiers," his eyes flickered over the fields where the Bursar and other fieldhands were still bent over working. "The majority of this fighting will be down to me and these defences and whilst I am confident I could take each of them in a fight, the problem is I cannot be everywhere at once."
 
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Ichika

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A hand drifted upwards in order to tuck a small tuft of onyx hair behind her ear. For now she just stared at the man, unsure what he thought about the fact that she couldn't just suddenly cause all of the trees to decay. His face was like some chiseled statue, unwavering in its desire not to reveal anything.

"I can fight." The words had crossed her lips before she could even think to stop them. He'd already basically said he could handle these raiders, even if it was spoken in a humble tone, yet she'd volunteered herself anyway. Why?

Ichika's cheeks flushed red before she blurted out, "well, I mean to say... I was a Kenbu champion. The dancing sort of katana fighting, not sure if you're familiar with it." If he was then he'd have known that it was really only useful in single combat. If she was against two unskilled warriors she'd likely still emerge victorious but anymore than that and she'd be a sitting duck.

"Although I suppose I should say that I've never really fought anyone. With you know, death on the line." Her blush had faded now and she just stared at him with her light chestnut eyes. All of her combat experience had been in training or for competition. Wooden or dulled metal swords with no risk of serious bodily harm or loss of life.
 
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Elijah

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Deep blue eyes the colour of the ocean depths considered the woman before him as though he were considering a plough horse that had announced it could sprint like a Stepper. Every hand would be useful against the raiders but he had been given strict instructions to ensure she returned alive. If he failed then it would be a mark against his name, even if she had fallen in honour, and his attention would be split the whole time knowing she was in potential danger.

But if he couldn't stop the raiders then they would all die.

"There is no undoing death, Ichika, and though you may take one for a good reason each person you slay will stay with you for the rest of your life. If that is a burden you are willing to shoulder then your blade would be most welcome this evening," he didn't intend to scare her but prepare her. Elijah had been doing this long enough to know how fresh recruits handled their first battle and it was never good, even for those who had trained their lives for it.

He put a hand on her shoulder and gently nudged her forward.

"Go, eat," he lifted an axe and turned back to the trees.
 
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Ichika

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Ichika heard what the guardsman had to say and while she understood it on a philosophical level she knew that he was speaking from personal experience. Whether it was due to the prominence of her family or the desire to appear in control she wanted to say something. Anything at all to reassure Elijah that she was confident, that a real fight wasn’t going to weigh on her in the manner he had implied.

Instead, her lips thinned and her eyes went soft in contemplation. When he placed a hand on her shoulder the Tsuri woman simply stared up at the warrior.

”I’ll go eat,” she finally said after the long delay. Soft footsteps headed towards the town until she realized he wasn’t accompanying her.

She twisted her torso around and called back, ”I’ll be ready. When you need me.”

Neither of them had the option to fail this task. And although Ichika may have played a smaller role in combating the rogues they expected to face she knew that she’d still have a role to play.
 
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Elijah

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Gypsy gave a snort and swished her tail as Elijah felled the last tree and leaned against the axe to examine his work. The pegasus had wandered over to find him when he had not returned with the others for lunch and from the grumpy look she had given him the whole time he had worked, he knew she wasn't impressed he was out here alone. But the work needed doing and the others were exhausted already; they wouldn't be any use to him falling asleep at their posts tonight.

At his feet lay a good fifty trees, several singed along the bottom where he had used the magically infused gauntlets he wore. As the rest of the group returned from lunch he wiped the sweat from his brow and set the axe back down.

"Not much more to do," he gave them a reassuring smile before patting Gypsy's neck; the pegasus spread her wings and fluffed them up impatiently. "We'll start putting the stakes into the ground where I've marked out; Ichika the trenches are ready to begin covering with foliage. Make it look like they don't exist," surprise was their best weapon.
 
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Ichika

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After the group had finished up their lunch they made their way back into the sunlight, passing by the field and finding Elijah with a much larger stack of chopped trees than what they’d left him with. Ichika couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt for stuffing her face while he continued to labor out here.

Her short raven hair jostled as she perked up at the call of her name. Her face smug as an opportunity to actually help out finally presented itself. ”I’m on it.”

The Tsuri matron walked forward after she gave a smile to Gypsy. Once she arrived at the trenches they had dug out she surveyed their length and the coarse dark color of soil that had just been tilled. Both of her hands clenched into fists and the woman closed both eyelids tight. She’d need to really focus so that the growth only occurred right around the trenches, it wouldn’t do any good if she caused the crops to regrow before they’d dealt with the raiders.

Ichika exhaled slowly as her body started to get warm. Within a few seconds blades of grass began to poke up around the rim of the soil. They bloomed and blossomed into thick weeds and wildflowers of various shades of gold or violet. Her breathing became heavier as the foliage kept sprouting and growing around her until the hole they had dug was impossible to see unless you were standing right on top of it.

Her eyes opened and she looked back at the others, walking over to help with the posts. A few of them stared but that wasn’t anything she wasn’t accustomed to.
 
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Elijah

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"Pay attention!" Elijah scolded one of the men who had turned to stare at Ichika with bugged out eyes. In doing so he nearly dropped his part of the stake onto one of the others. By the Mother he wished he had the ability to duplicate himself so he could just do it all himself, he thought bitterly to himself as he went back to hammering the pike into the hole. It was the fifth one along this piece of the boarder, evenly paced out from the others. The gap was too narrow for horses to get through but a person could still squeeze past.

"Sorry," the man ducked his head sheepishly and scurried off to grab another pole. Eli watched him go with a frown then turned his attention back to Ichika.

"Do you think you could grow a hedgerow around the pikes to make it harder to get through?" he scratched at his beard again as he watched the workers continue with the poles.