The Fae Worlds

The New Farmer

The Farm

I watched Tess for a moment. None of the new farmers had been ready for what happened to them, but that was understandable. Suddenly finding themselves on a world that was so like one in a game they played wasn’t something anyone could expect. Yet, as hard as it was for them, I couldn’t help feeling grateful for their arrival. Had it not happened… I pushed that thought aside. It wasn’t going to happen. Not with them in the places they were most needed. My world wasn’t going to fall apart. Thankfully. Even if some of them didn’t work out I was certain enough of them would, and that was what was needed.
Tess’ eyes met with mine. “The crops will grow more quickly than in the real world?”
“Yes, they will. It’s why the trees have grown so fast.” I reached out to touch the tree, and I could feel the magic flowing through it. Magic that was being wasted. That was going to change, finally. “You can call on me when you’re planting, if you need to, so I can explain how it all works.”
“Do I have the space to be able to plant enough for me to actually earn an income?” Slowly, Tess turned, and I did the same, looking out at the farm. She wasn’t wrong about the state it was in. I’d known the farms weren’t in good condition, but seeing them the way they were was a reminder of just how bad things had been. “Things might be different here, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for me to chop down trees and break rocks, especially alone.”
“Some things I do have the power to help you with, when you’re ready. I can’t do as much as I would like to, unfortunately, but I can give you the space you need.” I smiled. “It’s the least I can do for you, as you’re going to help fix things here. I know this probably isn’t what you wanted out of your life. If the magic tugged you away from something important I am sorry.”
“My life…” Tess was silent for a few seconds, staring out at the farm. “I had no idea what I was doing with it. Finding my path wasn’t happening. At least being here means I can do something useful with my time, instead of just wasting it on pointless endeavours.”
Nodding, I reached out to touch Tess’ shoulder. “A lot of you have said the same sort of thing. I guess that’s why you were chosen.”
“Probably.” Uncertainty filled her voice. “I don’t know if this is a job I’m capable of doing, Anna. I want to try, more than anything I’ve wanted before, but I just…” She shook her head. “I don’t want to screw this up.”
“Of course you don’t.” I tried to find the right words, but in that sort of situation there were no right words. All I could do was try to put her mind at ease. “For now it’s simple enough. We see how you go, and then make the decision. You might surprise yourself.”
After a long silence she nodded. “We’ll make the decision together?”
“Tess, I’m not just going to send you away, if that’s what you’re worried about. You were called here for a reason, and that reason is the magic thought you were the best chance of making things work. Being scared you’re going to fail is normal. If you weren’t scared I’d be worried. It’s a sign you’re taking this seriously.”
“Have any of the others not taken this seriously?”
“Everyone I spoke to seems to feel very much the way you do. That could change in the future. I have a number of new arrivals to keep an eye on, but I feel like this is the best chance of fixing the problems we have.” I raked a hand through my hair. “Had there been another way I would have found it. I’ve been hunting for it for a long time, and there’s been nothing yet.”
“My job is to farm.”
“To farm, and to learn the magic that goes along with that.”
Our eyes met again. Even though Tess still seemed uncertain, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to fade away for a while, I could see her determination. “I can do that.”
“How about we get back to the questions?”
She nodded. “Do I need to have animals?”
“No, you don’t need to, but a lot of the farmers I’ve worked with have made the decision it’s best for them to have them. Animals here are affected by the magic in the same way the crops are. They’re different to the animals you would be dealing with on your world.” I thought about what little I knew about her world, some of which I’d learnt from the new farmers. “It’s hard to put into words, but you’ll understand when you buy your first animal. Or when you get your first pet.”
“That happens?”
“It does, although you don’t have to make a decision between having a single dog or a single cat. You can have as many pets as you want. You can even have a rabbit.” I shook my head. “There are some things I truly don’t understand about the game. I can see how they are connected to this world, but at the same time there are so many differences.”
“Like oats.”
“Exactly. I never really understood why they weren’t available, because plenty of people do grow oats. It’s not something you would have to do. What sort of farm you have is entirely up to you.”
“Okay, so what do I have to grow?”
“Nothing.” I looked at her. “When you get to the shop you’ll understand. This is not the game. You have much more freedom than you did in it, because this is our world. It’s real. It always has been.” Fortunately the farmers all seemed to accept that, as hard as it must have been for them. “It’s just been used as inspiration for a game you played.”
“Like so many other worlds have. There have been more stories than I ever thought possible of people finding themselves living on worlds they’d read about, or seen in a television series, or played a game in.” Tess nibbled her bottom lip. “I never thought it would happen to me. No one ever does think it will happen to them, but that’s the way things are.” She sighed. “From what I’ve heard people did get back to their old lives. We just don’t quite know the effect something like this has.”
Saying the next thing wasn’t something I wanted to do, because there was something about Tess that made me truly hopeful, but I’d made the offer to all the new farmers. I couldn’t not make it. “Should you not want to be here I can send you back. It will be as though you were never here. You will remember this, but the mayor won’t.”
Her silence went on for a long time. I expected it to. None of them seemed to know what to say when I made the offer, because I don’t think they expected it. From what some had said it seemed that others didn’t get a choice, but, due to the magic, things were different for us. I felt that them having made the choice to stay meant they were better for us. Eventually, nodding, she looked at me. “I want to stay. No matter how afraid I am I’m going to screw this all up I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to be living the life I was before.” She looked back at the tree. “The world chose me for a reason, Anna, and I’m not going to walk away.”
“Thank you.” Every single one of the chosen farmers had made the decision to stay. I couldn’t quite believe it was possible, but it had happened. “Any other questions?”
“I have so many. I just don’t know which ones I should be asking.” She brushed a hand through her hair. “Do I need to marry someone?”
Laughing, I shook my head. “That’s not a necessity.”
“We’ve all asked that, haven’t we?”
“You have. I take it that was something you needed to achieve in the game.”
She nodded. “Yeah, it was. Of course it was very different. Give gifts, get friendship.”
“I hope it’s a relief to find out that things aren’t like that here. As I said before this is our world. We are real people. Everyone here has their own life. They haven’t been created for a game.” I studied her once more. “Like me. I’m a real person. I might be a Goddess, but that doesn’t mean I’m not something more too.”
“Honestly, I think it’s going to take a while to come to terms with all of this. The mayor said it would be good for me to spend some time getting to know the farm before I made any decisions about what to plant.”
“That’s a good idea.” I touched her shoulder gently. “Getting to know the farm is something I suggested all the others did too. Not having someone here is the reason everything has fallen apart, Tess, and even just being here is going to change things. Our magic is very connected to the farms.”
“How many of us did you call?”
“Ten, so far. There are a few other farms, but I’m hoping that the ten of you will be enough. You’re scattered all over the country, in the places that need you the most, and there is a chance you might meet one of the others. I don’t know how likely it is, though.”
“I don’t know that I need to meet them. I think…” She slowly looked around the farm. “For now my focus needs to be on this, on where I am. Maybe the time will come when I do want to talk to someone else about what’s happened to us, but I almost think it will be easier not to. Like I could live my life here easier without anyone else knowing I was brought here by magic. To all of the people I’m going to meet I’m just the new farmer.”
“Do you want me to stay out the way?”
“For now I need you.” She glanced at me, this half smile on her face, and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling back. “Maybe you could show me around the farm. You know better than anyone else what it was like before.”