Harvest Days Prologue

By K'Arthur

Author’s Note: This is a short story, set in the same ‘ficverse’ as Missing in Action, and takes place about two years prior to the events of MIA. I’ve included as many characters as I could that have endeared themselves to myself and my fellow Suikofans. Some I managed to work in, others I was forced to give a name cameo only, since I couldn’t feasibly think of a way to get them to Iksay for the Harvest Festival.

Also, I’m honored to borrow Straya’s Ardeth and Jael, and MercWanderer’s Rachel.

I guess everyone has one particular holiday that stands out as the most memorable. Looking back on my meager fifteen years, I only need to consider for a moment before the image of the most perfect Harvest Festival comes to mind. To this day, I can see it all—the beautiful decorations, the smell of delicious food, and the laughter of the people who made it so special.

The Harvest Festival in Iksay Village is the greatest honor that we can offer to the goddess Sadie. Every year, people come from miles around to enjoy the hospitality of our tiny farming town. We spend three days in celebration of our blessings, and although Yule is more of a national holiday for Zexens, the Harvest is considered the most important to those of us in the agrarian parts of the country.

The year that I still consider the best Harvest celebration started just like the others. The weather had changed for the winter, and the sliver of moon that indicated the start of the festival hung in the sky acting as a beacon to those who would be traveling.

I was only six years old that year and my father had been away with the war. It had been a good two months since his last visit, and I feared that he wouldn’t be able to make it home. I remember sitting outside the day before the Festival was to start, watching the street and praying that he would be home in time for the celebration. All day I sat there, outside on the front steps of our small house with my eyes focused on the distance. He would be easy to spot, because he always traveled in his uniform and armor.

Although we lived off the main streets of the village, I knew Father would ride right through the center of town to wave to the old ladies. He’d grown up here, and everyone knew him. The people of our town considered him a hero, because he was one of the Six Mighty Knights, and the only one to not be of noble birth.

By the time the sun had begun set on that long and tiresome day, he still hadn’t arrived. I was beginning to worry, but I did my best to hide my anxiety for the sake of my mother, and I believe that she did the same for me.
And that’s where this story begins…at the end of the year, the day before the Festival was to start, nine years ago. Although at first, it didn’t seem like it was going to be a good one…


It is going to be a beautiful day tomorrow. I can tell by the sunset. The sky is red, and when it’s red it is clear. Sadie will bless us with good weather. That’s what the old women in town say. They told me that they’ve never had rain on Harvest Days. They said that Sadie likes her festival more than we do. I don’t know about that. I never asked her. But I will take their word for it.

The party tomorrow will be exciting and I’m just happy to see it all put together. I’m sitting on the front step to my house and watching some of the men tend the meat on the pit fire. They are laughing and drinking. I think that boar has been roasting for a day now. By tomorrow it will be fully cooked. Mother said if they cook it that slow it would taste better. I don’t really understand that, but I trust her.

The people working in the sunset are fun to watch. But they are not the reason I’m out here tonight. I picked up a packed dirt ball and threw it, just to see it explode into a cloud. Then Charlotte walked by and I tossed a big one right at her feet. She’s the girl who lives a few doors down. She’s always coming by and wanting to play. I don’t want to play with her. Not because she’s a girl, but because she’s annoying.

“Ryan!” She screamed. “It’s not nice to throw dirt at a lady!”

I laughed and then stuck my tongue out her. She hates that more than I hate her screaming.

“You are disgusting!” She yelled.

I didn’t care if she thought I was disgusting. I thought she was a bother. So I started to chase her. I think she likes being chased, so I picked up some more dirt bombs and threw them at her as she ran in circles from me. Oh, and she was still screaming.

And then…I heard it. My mother called me in and she sounded mad. She was standing on the steps scowling at me. I stopped in my tracks and Charlotte laughed. I wanted to throw another dirt bomb and hit her right in the back. After curtseying to my mother, she ran off. I know she was happy that I got in trouble.

I half-listened as my mother fussed at me about the way I treat Charlotte. It’s all been said before and there’s no use in arguing. She’s right. I should be nicer to girls. Father says that someday I’ll appreciate them. I doubt that, if they’re anything like Charlotte.

When my mother was done blessing me out, she went inside and got some ears of corn. I knew what was coming next. I was going to have to shuck them. I hate doing that. It’s the worst job ever. I’d rather muck stalls than do this, because it’s so boring and because knights have to care for horses but they don’t shuck corn. I’m going to be a knight so I have to learn those things, but she knows that I hate this so I’m sure that’s why she makes me do it.

I heard the door close behind me as I was left with the corn. I grabbed an ear and started to peel back the rough green layers. Even though I was mad, I was happy that I got to stay outside. I wanted to be the first to greet Father when he came home. He always came home for the Festival, even with the war going on.

Three ears of corn later, and the little blond hairs from the ears all over my shirt, I was still hopefully looking towards the town gate. The sun was leaving us, and I knew my father wouldn’t travel at night if he didn’t have to, so I was getting nervous.

Mother opened the door and let me back in. She took two ears of the corn and put them in a pot. I guess Father wasn’t coming home after all. Maybe she knew? I don’t think so, because she always tells us.

“Come on, Ryan,” she said, as I gave one last glimpse towards the east. “It’s getting late and we still have to eat dinner.”

“Yes, Mother.”

And then the door clicked closed.

We ate in silence. I knew Mother was nervous now, because every time a horse would pass the house, she’d sit up a little straighter in the hopes it would stop. But each time it happened, they never stopped.

She put Geoffrey to bed right after dinner, but let me stay up a little later. I went to my room and picked up the small gifts I had made for Mother and Father for Harvest. They weren’t much. Just little cards I made. I made one for Geoff, too, but he can’t read so I didn’t write anything in it.

I decided to wait and give her the card in the morning, even though we usually gave presents the night before Harvest. Maybe Father is late because he is busy buying her a really special present? Yes. I bet that’s what happened. He probably had to go all the way to Vinay del Zexay to get it. Last year he gave her a new pair of earrings. They must have been very expensive.

I went back downstairs and saw her looking out the window. I guess another horse had passed. I asked her to tell me a story about when she was the Captain of the Knights. She gave me a smile and told me it was too late and that I needed to go to bed. She never likes to talk about that, I guess. She always has an excuse. I have to get all the stories from Father and Uncle Borus.

Day One

K'Arthur's Fanfiction