Freedom Festival Day

Christopher Campbell sat alone in his little sod house, smoking his pipe and thinking about all the years that had gone by since he first entered Terridia. He recently turned thirty-five, and was only fourteen years old when he somehow got sucked into the portal. The year was 1998, and all he could remember was growing up in a cozy, suburban neighborhood, somewhere back on Earth. But at this point in his life, he’d almost forgotten much of his past, and though he missed his family, he was certain they’d all passed on by now, or even worse, forgot about him.

Ironically, his mother Susan Campbell, and his grandfather, Graham Stussell, were the ones that introduced him to the Tales of Terridia books, the very books they authored themselves. He wasn’t much of a reader back then, but he was fortunate enough to have a few copies on him before his departure. Of the few memories he did have, one of them was watching his mother spend hours writing about this world, and telling him that is was all true...that it wasn’t just a fairy tale. If only he’d believed her.

Now, thirty years later, after many struggles, he finally purchased his own little home in Lireon. Nothing fancy, just a little house on the open grasslands of central Lireon, or the “Lireon Plains” as most refer to it. The house itself is located in the village of Green Creek, a small township under the rule of High Lord Englereen, who also lives there, only his house is made of wood and much fancier than the village houses. Nonetheless, the sod houses were elegantly crafted by the plainsmen, with intricate designs woven out of tall grass and painted canvas. It was an honor, for Christopher, to finally have his own house, but there was much more to that village than most outsiders knew. It had become a haven, so to speak, for many other Earth travellers, and Christopher himself was taken there many years ago by other portal travellers from Earth.

“There you are!” shouted a burly man who barged through the door. It was Big Bruno, his best friend, who landed on Terridia ten years earlier Earth time. “What are you doing inside all alone on Freedom Festival Day?” he asked. “ Festival’s already starting. Let’s go to the the creek and enjoy ourselves for once.”

“Not in the mood,” said Christopher, taking another puff of his pipe. “Just not feeling it tonight.”

“Are you kidding me?” Bruno chuckled. “There’s gonna be games, all kinds of food. Mable Elmmore donated fifty pies from her bakery, or so I’ve been told, and there’s gonna be all kinds of competitions as well. I’m going to enter the wrestling competition again this year. I almost beat Sir Baldok last year, but he’s got the strength of ten men! Funny when you think of it eh? A noble knight like him, playing games with us villagers.” He patted Christopher on his shoulder. “You should come, Chris. You really need a night out.”

“Told ya, I’m not in the mood.”

“Then get in the mood, brother. The dwarves from up north brought two large buffalo for the festival. Gonna cook em both tonight.”

Christopher shook his head. “I’m tired, Bruno. Worked from sun to sun at the mill today. Lord Englegreen keeps demanding more hours from us.”

“How come?”

Christopher shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I’m guessing the outside merchants need more wood to sell. In either case, I’m exhausted, and I’m not too interested in feasting with savages.”

“Savages?” Bruno narrowed his eyes.

“The dwarves. They’re savages. Can barely talk to them.”

“Now you’re just being a fool.” Bruno glared at him. “If not for them, we’d starve during the winters. Tonight we celebrate our union with them, our freedom from--”

“The Empire.” Christopher rolled his eyes. “I know the story, Bruno, heard it a million times. And it’s a great holiday to acknowledge our friendship with the dwarves. But our own King doesn’t even acknowledge them; they’re just muscle as far he’s concerned, and rather than drive them out, he uses them as weapons.”

“Pity you think like that.” Bruno was getting angry. “If not for the dwarves, we wouldn’t be living the way we do. Don’t ever forget that. They’ve been the guardians of the plains for centuries, long before knights and noblemen decided to make this place their home. And till this day, they remain loyal to the King, and all the Lords south of their territory.”

“That’s because they’re fools.” Christopher stood up, and emptied his pipe. “Serving a king who has little respect for them. But go ahead, go on to the festival if it makes you happy. I’m gonna drink some ale then hit the sack.”

Bruno sighed. “Okay, forget about the dwarves for now. There’s going to be plenty of single women there.” He gave him a wink. “Sure you want to miss out on that?”

Christopher raised on eyebrow. “On second thought...maybe a night out will do me some good.”

***

When they reached the Creek, Christopher noticed all the villagers already gathered together on the banks of the creek. Some of them were sitting under the trees that lined up along the edge of the water, while others sang songs about the history of the plains, yet none of this seemed to matter to him. Something was missing in his heart, and even though he was happy to be in a safe place, and own a home, there was still a void that needed to be filled.

"Look, over there!" shouted Bruno. Everyone quickly stopped what they were doing as a horde of dwarves, mounted on giant prairie dogs, entered the scene. In the center of the spectacle, was a large wagon, where the Chieftain sat, pulled by horses, carrying the already prepared, and carefully preserved buffalo meat.

"I didn't expect them so soon," continued Bruno. "Can't wait to meet the Chieftain."

The wagon came to a halt, and some of the dwarves dismounted to escort the Chieftain out of his wagon. Lord Englereen was the first to approach him, and even though he towered over the dwarf, he treated him with the utmost respect. Christopher and Bruno moved closer to eavesdrop.

"Welcome, Chieftain of the northern plains," said Lord Englegreen. "We the people of Green Creek are honored to celebrate Freedom Festival Day with you. We are forever indebted to your people for keeping all of Lireon safe from the Empire. It is because of you that we celebrate this holiday."

"And we, the plainsmen of the north, the riders of the wind, are honored to be here with our brothers," said the Chieftain. "For we cannot take credit alone for this free land. Wether by our bows and spears, or your swords of steel, together we have driven off the Emperor and his allies. Tonight we put aside the troubles of the world, and celebrate."

Lord Englereen smiled. "Very well then." He turned to face the crowd of villagers. "Alright folks, you heard the Chieftain. Let the festivities begin!"

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