Servant of the Seasons
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by Lee Benoit
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: When architect Mèco is turfed, or ejected from his protected but autocratic Dome, he finds himself adrift in a dying and dangerous land. With no choice but to scrape his survival from an abandoned farm, he tries to improve his prospects by acquiring an animal to pull his plow. What he ends up with instead are two slaves, a bonded pair of Novigi, a strange people Mèco's never heard of. As the land slowly awakens by their combined efforts, so does Mèco's sense of himself as a man and maybe as a lover. But when their fragile home is threatened by brutal gangs of Salters, Mèco and his friends discover being servants of the seasons may not be enough to protect their new way of living and loving. They must become warriors. Originally published as the Chaser series Servant of the Seasons.
eBook Publisher: Torquere Press/Chaser Compilation, 2011 www.torquerepress.com
eBookwise Release Date: August 2011
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [371 KB]
Reading time: 238-333 min.
I was plowing when the appearance of three figures in the distance made my heart pound and my palms sweat. This isn't to say that my heart wasn't already pounding and my whole body, including my hands, wasn't already sweaty. Plowing is hard work and I'm not really suited to it.
I had never been outside a Dome before the day I was turfed. It was not as dramatic an event as it sounds. I was too stunned to struggle when they came for me. Now I have been outside for four seasons, which is, trust me, much more dramatic than it sounds.
This place was all but dead when I came to it. I stopped here because it seemed slightly less dead than the places I had crossed as I walked through all of that searing summer, the sun a bright malevolence, the rain poison.
I stopped here because when I came to the sluggish river I found I could not readily ford it, and I was tired. As I sat on the ragged bank and considered whether I was tired enough to die, I noticed there were fields to the south of me, weedy and sick, with a crop of beans almost ready to harvest.
There was a house of sorts, dug into a berm near the river, with four of everything except people -- four clay cups, four wooden plates, four dented spoons, and four empty bolsters slumped listlessly on two sleeping platforms. There were three knives, two tangles of tack and one plow. I had never known people could live outside the domes, and through my long walking summer I learned that not many did. When I happened upon the dwelling and field, I decided whence some had gone, I would stay.
Soon a man came, and at first I thought it was the landholder come back to defend his claim but no, this was a neighbor, my only one by the man's account.
"I come for the crop," the man said. He looked me over appraisingly. "I weren't expecting nobody." He looked at me as if to say his suspicion had been confirmed.
"This is my place now. I'll bring in the crop," I assured him, though I had no idea how to accomplish such a task. I stood as tall as I could and wished I had one or two of the several knives decorating my neighbor.
"I'll be back come spring, then. See if you live." It was said without menace, but not without malice. And the man went away again.
I picked beans until my fingernails were stained green and then pulled up the stalks until my palms were bloody. I didn't know to reserve seed for next year, and I didn't think to use the dry plants for kindling. I had never felt a winter's cold, but when it bit and blew I learned how to make a fire and hunched before it and cursed myself for a fool.
When I wasn't trying to keep warm, I was trying to find new ways to eat beans and pining for clean and familiar things; in other words, for things I had no reason to expect to see ever again. I knew the spring thaw had arrived when the river rose alarmingly high and coughed up all sorts of debris, and my neighbor -- his name was Varas, or so he said -- came again from his place a day's walk over the river. He never did tell me how he forded the swollen river.
Given how lonesome I had been all winter, how bored and scared, I was happy to see him. An hour's conversation dulled the bloom on the rose of our new acquaintance, and while Varas would never be a friend, I managed to learn some things from him. I learned the fate of the previous landholders (nothing good) and Varas's version of the ways of the crops and land and weather in this place (nothing easy, nothing sure). Varas told me that there were beans, red ones, that could grow in winter, and I determined to plant such beans. Two harvests, however mean, must surely be better than one. If I say so myself, I have a mathematical turn of mind.
I don't know why Varas didn't simply kill me. Maybe it was because of the roof. One day he told me he needed a new one and I offered to help in exchange for some beans to plant and help getting them in the ground. I knew better than to offer Varas anything without bartering, and after all, we weren't friends.
I never did tell Varas how I came by my knowledge of building trades, not that he asked. In return for a snug, sturdy roof, Varas lent me a fractious beast with a hollow leg for a week and a sack of seed loosely sealed with Varas's word for its viability. Varas called the beast a mule, but it didn't look like the ones I'd seen in books; it had an awfully long neck.
Yes, books. I like old things. Well, I used to like them, when I was surrounded by new, spare, efficient things. Books were my favorite. So bulky and impractical when you think about it, but so full of delights. My colleagues used to tease that my antiquarian streak was eccentric, but it deflected their attention from other eccentricities, so I didn't mind. I don't have colleagues anymore, unless one counts Varas, which I would prefer not to.
After the height of summer, Varas left with a full cart and a promise. That had been two months ago, as closely as I could reckon (the moon had been fat twice). He was to sell my summer crop (minus what I would need to eat that winter and seed for the following spring -- I do learn from my mistakes) in the settlement two weeks' walk across the border. I couldn't go on my own behalf; that would have been tantamount to suicide. Varas was to bring me some of the red winter beans I coveted and a draft beast of my own. I should have noticed that he left without getting his own land ready to plant, as if he had no intention of returning.
For the first weeks of Varas' absence, I didn't spare him much thought. An overland trek to the cross-border trading settlement -- Varas called it a taon -- routinely took a month or more, according to him, and I imagined much that could conspire to delay a traveler for good or ill. After the time came and passed when Varas should have returned, I stopped looking for him as actively.
I was forced to conclude I'd been gulled. How hopelessly young and stupid I seemed, even to myself! Even so, I resolved to prepare my land; I would plant some of the green beans and find out for myself if they couldn't produce in winter. ENDEXCERPT