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Heldenic Rice Farmers

Information sourced from 'Heldenic Midlandian; The People of the West', 'The Rice West and Noodle East' and 'The Diary of a Heronfolk'

Written by David_Ulph

You know what those priests and bishops in their shining temples always forget? The fact that their magics and faith wont last them as long or proper as our properly grown real food. Yeah, when there's an eastern lord coming or you're feeling a bit peckish, you can always magic up a banquet but it don't feel right at all. The taste, the texture, the tang on the smell. You can tell it didn't come out the ground. And there's only so many fake banquets you can conjure at a time when the populace are starving after the lairds strangle funding on our farmlands. Undervalued? Aye, that's the polite way of saying it.
Welcome to the ricefields.
Heldenic Rice Farmer voicing their agitated opinions against the refusal of their landlaird to deal with the drought of 4E 250.

Introduction

The Heldenmarch is an area to the west of Buerach and covers the western regions of what was once referred to as Midland during the Third Era and time of the Empire of Midland. The southern highland regions of the Heldenmarch holds a criss-crossing network of rivers and streams coming down off the Sylvan Mountains and Silver Mountains. On its way down, these waterways collect together in both natural and mortal-made river basins before passing on to various lochs further north in the Heldenmarch such as the inland sea Lake Heron.
 
These river basins make for perfect cultivation of rice, and therefore has become the most common agricultural crop of Heldenmarch. This unique crop among the Holy See Territories has led to a unique rice-centred culture in the Heldenmarch region, as well as in the Holy See in the Fourth Era which is centred around the Holy Citadel of Helden.

Ricefields

The Heldenic ricefields are built onto terraces which were carved into the mountains long before the Midlandian Empire's migrations westward. Ruins above and beneath the surface in the surrounding area, along with the intricacy and detail of the carved terraces, have suggested to archaeologists braving the ruins that they were built by ancient Dwarven or Gnomish societies of the early Third Era though potentially even the Second Era. While the dangers within these ruins have left them largely unexplored save for a few private adventuring treasurehunters, they also give the ricefield region of the Heldenmarch Highlands an aura of mystery and intrigue which attracts tourists from across the Territories.
 
Reaching high into the skies, and fed by equally ancient irrigation systems from the rainforests peaking the mountains of the region, one can spend an entire lifetime exploring the entire region and still miss a mountain or two. While the terraces are ancient, the workers of the ricefields train their entire lives in the preservation of these ancient steps. As such, the communities that live burrowed in the mountains are some of the few cultures which have somehow kept the natural ability to perform and pass on the technique of cantrips (see the sidebar in Eyeglass), namely that of Mending.
 
The terraces themselves are water-laden and filled with various root crops though dominantly rice. Fish have been introduced into the fields, who eat the insects such as mosquitoes and their larvae that plague the humid Heldenmarch south which harass the workers. The fish also help fertilise the crop with their droppings generated from feeding on the insects. The terraced water and their fish are rotated, with water being introduced into the level below filled with seedlings while the level above is allowed to dry for cultivation and planting ready for the next rotation. In the lowest levels of the mountains where light streams and rivers cut through the mountain glens, wasabi is grown also in the thousands between the heavy hooves of water buffalos herded by the nomadic glenfolk.
 
While Girallons have been noted to inhabit the peaks of the rainforests above the ricefield terraces, the local farmers fear a much deadlier native creature living below their livelihoods. Giant Purple Worms are a constant burrowing danger in the form of one of the most feared predators on the Mortal Realm with only the most foolhardy elite of warriors and adventurers daring to take on the hunt against one. These worms borrow through and into the terraces themselves, sometimes even hunting the very workers that cultivate them while on other times will simply destroy an entire harvest in their cumbersome movement, the oils secreting from the skin poisoning the water and killing the fish living within. While modern studies and experiments by the Arcane Council and Universities have yet to discern an effective deterrent, the worms appear to avoid any terraced areas within a radius of the ancient ruins that dot the mountains, though with lack of official exploration within these ruins the reason for this is unknown.

Products

While most products produced are simple mass bundles of rice and rice cakes to be traded all across the Heldenmarch and the greater Holy See Territories, the ricefarmers have a native luxury that utilises all parts of life in this region of the March. Bound together by a sliver of banana leaf, sticky rice and raw fish are shaped into a bite-sized ball before being seasoned by wasabi. A rare treat can be found in a far-off lord being granted a present of this exotic sushi.
Summer Camp Prompt #20
Type
Agricultural / Fishing / Forestry

Farmers

The natives of the region are mostly Human of mixed cultural backgrounds between the Helden to the north and Ardenese to the south. Very small enclaves of Galaban have decided to settle these lands, attempting to carve out a living for themsleves and their descendants above ground.
 
While these settled ricefolk tend to the crop and the ancient terracing systems of the mountains, when the crop is complete they are placed into banana-skin bags and hauled down to ground level. Here, the nomadic glenfolk will pick up the crops and haul them to the nearest Holy See temple on their water buffallo. The glenfolk are then paid in resources, which are hauled back to the bottom of the ricefolk settlements.
 
However, the majority of workers who tend these ricefields are Aarakocra who have migrated westward into the Midland region for work. These Birdfolk originally resembled grey herons and lived across the Rivercrowner coastline, and have since developed stork-like appearances to suit the work needing done.
 
Perfectly adapting to the work, the aarakokra can wade effortlessly through the water and fly from terrace to terrace without tiring their leg muscles. Using their beaks, the aarakokra will often merely pick out some of the older fish in the farm for meals on-the-go. All of these reasons have allowed the migrant workers to excel in ricefarming for longer hours than a human could dream of without magical means.

Relationship with the Holy See

With the native humans being accused of harbouring terrorists in the rise of hostilities between Wallatoria and the settled "Galaban Country" within their lands, and the aarakokra still seen as outsiders to Heldenmarch, the majority of influential cults look down upon the workforce of their arable southern holdings.
 
As such, due to the Heldenmarch being fully owned by religious bodies rather than noble families, their distaste for the locals' circumstances affects the payments these communities receive. The resources returned for the rice which feeds most of the western Territories as a staple are only the bare minimum for survival. The Cult of the Lantern call it a "Pagan Tax" due to the region only converting away from Slangg worship relatively recently compared to the rest of the Territories.
 
All cults except local Galaneion Chapels. As servants of agriculture, these holy people, clerics and paladins will assist in repairs, harvest, and transportation of their goods when and where they can. Additionally, these Galaneions will even buy directly some portions of rice as "tribute" and distil it into ricewine which is served all throughout Holy See during sermons of all deities.

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Cover image: by Wikimedia

Comments

Author's Notes

Back to the Midlands! Well I've finally described a portion of the southern midlands geographically which I hope shows a little insight into its humid jungle-like nature. The main inspiration for this article was actually the so-called 8th wonder of the world; the Banaue Rice Terraces. Not much else to say really other than... do you hear snoring coming out of those ruins? You don't think ILDEK have been snooping around again?


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