469 Harvest Fair part three

    Beta stood knee-deep in the rice paddy; her normal leggings were rolled up carefully.  "Is this is really the stuff you cooked for us yesterday?"

    Wind nodded.  "Technically, this is wild rice; what we ate yesterday was white rice.  I'm growing some of that too, but it's in a different area."  The Gemini thief was all smiles while he watched her.  "I have an official meeting in a bit.  Let's go help Banz settle in."

    Beta's pink eyes focused on him for a moment.  "You said I'd get to play with the ducks first."

    "Right, forgot about that.  Ducks first!"  Wind lent her a hand and helped her climb out of the rice paddy.  Without pausing, she hopped on his back for a ride.  "How'd this turn into a piggyback ride?"

    Beta shrugged from his back.  "Working hard makes me tired."

    Wind laughed at the lame excuse but let her stay.  Given the amount in ponds in the section that he settled in, the Gemini thief had immediately brought in water poultry.  Everspire and Oasis had a wide variety of geese and ducks available at various livestock markets.  A few hours spent in Ronnie's library was enough knowledge to get him started.  In the following months, he had learned the rest of it with his own hands.  The rice crops were started a few weeks after that.  "Since when do you work hard?"

    Beta laughed at his words.  "I have callouses on my hands... And you are complaining about me?"

    Beta's pretty laugh brought a bigger smile to his face.  " I shouldn't complain, though, with free labor, you get what you paid for."

    Beta jumped down when they returned to the dock.  "The hell?  Aren't you paying me?  I quit!"

    Wind picked her up again and threatened to toss her into the pond.  "Don't use Pon's expressions; it creeps me out!"

    Beta closed her eyes in mock fear until he sat her back down.  She watched as he walked toward a covered barrel that was sitting on the dock.  "Calling them in?"

    Wind nodded and scooped a large portion of feed corn out of the barrel.  He had built his house on the water.  The three-bedroom house was kept out of the water by long stilts.  A large porch that doubled as a dock surrounded the entire house.  It was made small because he didn't like visitors.  By his own admission, that had changed a bit since he came to Haven.  He whistled loudly and then waited.  From all areas of the swamp, the ducks and geese started making their way toward the dock.

    Beta clapped her hands happily.  "I love it when they stick their butts up."

    Wind gave her a handful of the dried corn.  "Me too."  As an inhabitant of a Dragon City, she'd never seen ducks or geese before.  The first time she saw how they feed off the bottom had made her laugh for several minutes.

    A few minutes later, they were sitting inside while Wind made them lunch.  Beta let her pink eyes wander around the interior of the home.  He was a man who liked things simple and direct; his home had a rustic charm that she found very comfortable.


    Nix peeked through the kitchen window at Jun'Li's house and rapped lightly when he spotted her.

    The Inferno Vice Commander was filling a tray with empty wine glasses.  She motioned for him to come in.  "Why are you waiting outside, Nix?'

    Nix opened the door and grabbed the three bottles of wine that she had left on ice.  "Everyone's already here.  They are sitting in the back."

    "What?"  Jun Li stepped closer to the kitchen sink so that she could have a full view of her backyard.  "Dang... I thought I had time.  Let's get going."

    Nix nodded and held the door for her.

    /Inferno: Jun Li: Join Vineyard, please.

    Pon has joined Vineyard.

    Nix has joined Vineyard.

    Semmi has joined Vineyard.

    Milat has joined Vineyard.

    Wind has joined Vineyard.

    Sharl has joined Vineyard.

    Rico has joined Vineyard.

    /Vineyard: Jun Li:  This is everyone for the Fair meeting, so let's get started.  Rico is running the setup.  I'll hand it over to him.

    Jun Li filled the wind glasses and started handing them out.  "This is my first harvest wine, let's call it Haven year 1."

    Rico stood up and gave everyone a polite smile.  "Going to send something to everyone's hud.  Take a look, and then we'll discuss it.  Since it's our first one and many of our members don't know what to expect, I thought we'd start small."

    Nix opened his hud when it buzzed and started reading.

    [Haven Harvest Fair] No crafted items will be allowed.  The following must be a result of Haven's harvest and made by hand.  We purchased several large tents to hold everything.  Nix's corral will hold the livestock while we are setting everything up.  We'll need volunteers to build pens and cages inside the tents.

    Livestock: Cattle, Horses, Alpacas, Pigs.

    Poultry Contest: Turkeys, Chickens, Ducks, Geese.

    Crop Gardening: Vegetables, Nuts, and Fruits.

    Harvest Spirits:  Wine, Brandy \u0026 Beer.

    Harvest Sweets: Jams, Jellies, Honey, Syrup, and everything sweet.

    Cooking: Pies, Cakes \u0026 Bars.

    [Other Events]

    Calf Riding.

    Greased Pig Catching.


    Misc. Games: There are several booths we could make; I'll leave it up to our members to decide for themselves.  You want it; then you make it.

    /Vineyard: Rico: I made the categories after talking to everyone and getting a feel for what we are doing.

    /Vineyard: Pon: I see booze and pie.  That's all I need.

    /Vineyard: Semmi: So the Fair is one day and then the dance the next day?

    /Vineyard: Rico: Yes.  We're using Nix's place as the Fair Grounds since it's close to the portal, and his pastures are currently empty.

    /Vineyard: Semmi: What about judging?

    /Vineyard: Rico: I'm bringing in one judge from Colonial for each category.  Ducky will vet each one personally before they are allowed temporary access to Haven. The rest of the panel will include me, Bev, Fajii, and Nansu.

    /Vineyard: Semmi: We should have a popularity award also, allow the folks walking through to voice their opinions.

    /Vineyard: Rico: I like that idea.  We'll call it the people's choice award.


    Two days later, several long white tents were put in place while the members of Inferno began building pens.  Rico had gone around to each area to let the builders know what was needed.  Pon, Nix, Wind, and Banz were busy in the first tent creating small stalls for the bigger livestock.  The sides of the tent had been rolled up to allow for airflow.

    Wind watched Nix while he finished the second stall.  "You ever work as a carpenter?"

    Pon tilted back his canteen and waited for the answer.  After spending the last few hours building, it was clearly evident that Nix was really good with a hammer.

    Nix shook his head slightly while putting the finishing touches on the last stall.  "Just shop class and tree forts.  Maybe the occasional repair around the house."

    "I took shop also, but it seems like you're a bit more advanced."  Banz offered him a good-natured smile.  The large tank had missed hanging out with the guys after many months spent at the Gladis hub.

    Pon ignored the chatter while he watched the events a few meters away.  "The hell is she doing?"

    Nix focused on where the older man was pointing, Tai and Fajii were barely visible within a cloud of dark dust.  "Tai's helping her advance her Earth abilities.  They are creating a mudbath."

    Wind glanced and Pon, smirking slightly before stirring the pot.  "Right in the middle of your pasture?"

    Nix nodded without taking the bait.  "Yep."

    Pon shook his head slightly.  "Where're your balls, boy?  Tell them to take that ** somewhere else."

    Nix chuckled at the old man's words.  "Normally I wouldn't allow it, but this is special... I can't say."

    Pon glanced over his shoulder before lowering his voice.  "What gives?  Let me in on it!"

    Wind and Banz both nodded and stepped closer.

    Nix sighed reluctantly. "You didn't hear it from me... Mud wrestling."

    "What?"  Pon's head turned back toward the two earth mages.  "Serious?"

    "Serious, Nix?  Don't ** with us!"  Wind's dark eyes showed his obvious interest.  "Like a winner takes all thing?"

    Nix kept his face carefully neutral.  "No.  Just a series of matchups.  The votes have already been tallied."

    "What?  The ** you say!  I didn't vote!"  Pon's voice rose from a whisper to a near shout.

    Nix held a finger to his lips.  "Only the participants got to vote.  Quite a few interesting matches."

    Pon rubbed his hands together.  "Like who?  Sharl and Ronnie?"

    Wind nodded vigorously.  "That's a good one...  Sharl and Hyai?"

    Nix frowned at the thief.  "Happy with the way your face looks?"

    Wind held up his hands in mock surrender.  "Right...  Sharl and just about anyone."

    Banz watched as his two friends started discussing what matchups they would like to see.  He already understood that Nix was messing with them.  "Sila and Sharl."

    "Sila?"  Pon's face lit up.  She was one of the members who were focused on completing the embassy floors.  As if on command, Sila and Nezbit walked out of the next tent.  The two of them waved at the group of men.  Both were attractive, but Sila was a bit more on the voluptuous side.  Sila was a scorched earth mage while Nez remained one of the few player clerics available for raids.  "I'd pay money to see that."

    "Pay money for what?"  Semmi's cheerful voice announced the arrival of the blonde officer and Jun Li.

    Pon scratched his head for a moment.  "Was just saying, those mudbaths seem pretty nice."

    Semmi's sharp eyes followed their gaze.  "Yeah, I used the one at Nix's old house.  This one is going to be bigger and more shallow, not really suitable for submersion.  It's for the greased pig contest."

    "...."  Pon.

    "...."  Wind.

    "Idiots."  Nix laughed at the two disappointed expressions before stowing his hammer away.  He noticed Rand and the other two ranch hands walking toward them with three foals.  "First three stalls, Rand."

    Rand led Moonlight into the first stall and tied her up.  "We'll stay here in the first tent to make sure all the animals are behaving."

    Nix accessed his inventory and brought out an apple for the demon hybrid foal.  She was the result of a pairing between Flash and Nightmare; she was six months old despite looking more like a yearling.  "You guys ever visit Everspire anymore?"

    Rand shook her head slightly.  Working in Haven was better than anything she could have imagined.  Nix had already promised her that he'd give her a small starter herd after she spent five years with him.  "We go to Glory when we need to blow off steam."
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