The abnormally crisp autumn breeze was a sign that the coming months would be formidable at best. The trees surrounding the quaint village began shedding their broad, yellow veined leaves sooner. Their outstretched limbs hardened their stance rather than casually reaching for the last few weeks of sunlight remaining.
Overcast skies teased the local farmers with showers that never fell. The alfalfa fields would not receive a second cutting this year. Orchards across this and neighboring counties yielded pitiful harvests of small, firm fruits and impossibly thick-shelled nuts. The markets, usually bustling with traders lay virtually empty.
Preparations were being made in every barnyard. The livestock would be gaunt by mid-winter regardless, but without sealing out the bitter chill the early winter threatened, they were as good as dead in their stalls. Their only defense was an often dangerous combination of weed-straw and mud insulation and oil lanterns tended by shepherds. The sort whose only defense in turn was meager stores of salted meats, beans, and kegs of blended honey mead. This year they were far more unprepared than they knew.
The village government became more concerned by the day. Never in the three-hundred and eighty-six year history of Lee had things looked so grim. A few of the people in the hamlet of Lee carried on with their lives as they had in the days prior, just with extra haste. The rest, however, looked to the elders for answers they could not give. With no precedent, there could be no guidance. People were beginning to get scared, and the signs were everywhere.
The common schoolhouse, a simple, one-roomed converted barn on the eastern edge of the co-op was directed to close. The students were barely coming to instruction anyway, as they were far too busy helping their families brace for the un-natural foreboding winter ahead. Shell Ergor, the township’s primary educator, argued for the better portion of a week before finally succumbing to the elders’ wishes. After tearfully sending the remaining pupils home, she sat at her tiny makeshift desk for almost two days staring out of the back door at the browning grass in the field. She knew there was much the elders were not telling people, she just did not know the right questions to ask—yet…
In the not too distant township of Elbrock, things did not look so different. They relied heavily on the surrounding cooperatives for their supplies. Their own lands were unable to support the growth of vegetables and fruits that grew too near the surface. Smatterings of weed grass and ancient trees whose roots bit down into the earth nearly as far as their above ground counterpart trunk and branches still grew, but they bore no fruits, nuts, or seeds.
The premature change of seasons left the co-ops in the un-scorched surrounding lands unable to support their own well-being adequately. Lee, Ganshire, and the others could not fulfill Elbrock’s standard orders, much less the increased requisitions for this time of year.
This fall was to be the four-hundredth celebration of Temoc; the annual harvest fest dedicated to the demi-god of prosperity and bounty, Temusal. It was written in the final scrolls of Elbrock that the four-hundredth year after the conquest of the Ithane would be a grand, majestic time, when the lands would be returned to their original, fertile state. It was beginning to appear that this was not to be. Worse yet was the enormous stone monolith in the southern forest was rumored to have started to awaken. This event was also discussed in the scrolls, only in one particular section. One that was removed and locked away, out of reach to anyone who still lived in Elbrock…
These excerpts are from a new project novel I am working on. The passages above are more than unpolished (in fact they are unfinished!) I am using them sparingly in my writers community, Story Dam.
This was submitted to a monthly “long prompt” based on sharing “your world” with the group. The passage or story is to work toward a longer piece of work, rather than short fiction.
Stay tuned for more monthly releases. And definitely visit the Story Dam writing community at https://storydam.com.