The farmer was tired as he followed along behind the beast straddling the plow line being made in the black earth. He could smell the soil's richness in the complex bouquet wafting up. This field had been cleared only last season after having been in the wilds for as long as records or maps existed. The planners had their reasons he supposed and that was fine with him. He'd won through with his application to work this plot and was glad. It was near to Parliament, a most ancient city and one that he'd never thought he'd ever live near. As he worked along, he reviewed the kind of seasonal rotations, which would yield a stable series of harvests and thus good profits. He worried, slightly about the lumbering he'd had done uncomfortable with having others do work he could well do himself, but it had saved him a couple of years work and brought in some good clear cash. He was happy with a reserve and had the material to frame and shell his home and out buildings. Best of all the local river stone was good. Overall, he figured his house would be up in a year or less and he'd have had his first crops by then.
His breath clouded before him in the crisp air. His mental focus turned to he slope of the land; it would drain well, but he'd probably have to terrace some of it over the course of a few years. That admitted, he reaffirmed his decision to sow grains for a starter crop as the soil was so fulsome and would stand a great deal of use in that way until the field settled and was framed.
Ticking his beast one way, slightly, or the other he directed the line of the furrow. It was a good day overall. When he looked up he saw he was plowing in line with the Green Star. Contrary to his usual gruff nature he made a wish upon it, a silly tradition, but one that everyone he knew held dear. Then, for some reason he mused upon those childhood rhymes as well as the fact that, at least when he went to school, poets still wrote about it. He thought that eventually, when the farm was successful, he would play the Green Star, the name of his farm, into an inn - since the walking trails for the network were not far off. Then, when he got old, he could hire out the work and make a nice retirement as a gentleman farmer, if anyone could call such a thing retiring.
He looked forward to the end of this particular day because it was the third round in over this part of field close to the building site and it was setting up nicely. The plow whisked through the rippled soil turning it softly. He was drawing near to the only rise on the property, a hireling was preparing a cellar. He'd just begun to hum when the plow twanged on something, jigged a bit and was caught fast. The beast shrugged to a halt and looked back.
He wasn't surprised but when he tried to back of the rock, and couldn't, it was clear the blade was caught. Not wanting to force it, he went and got a field spade to dig down to and see how best to clear the blade from the rock's crevice.
Well, it wasn't a rock. It was the seam of some finished stonework. Not a few minutes later, when he went to get his hireling to help that youth told him he'd also run into the same kind of thing, only a bit deeper down. Together they cleared off more of what he'd found and they became puzzled because the stone was not common to this area nor was that which had caught the plow, though it was different. Both were nicely finished and fitted. It was a while before either of them said what was on their minds but as this area had been forested for so very long they both understood they'd made an uncovering though neither of them knew what this would bring into their lives or the lives of those in the city not far from them.
This was a true find, of course, and the farmer sent word advising the local village. He was worried about the plans he'd just been daydreaming about but shrugged them off, for, even if he left now, he'd be much better off for the time and effort spent here.
The two men ceased work and prepared a fire, a meal and waited. It was not long before visitors arrived, many of them over many days.
Chapter One: The Most Ancient of Days
The farmer and his deep counselor stood atop the most ancient hills looking to the north. From this height they saw the city of Parliament. The farmer was surprised for it was much smaller it its fame had led him to suspect. Barely 25,000 persons resided there he was told. Yet, it is the place of places for his people, and now even more so for the recent discoveries. The view south from the lookout site on these sacred hills showed the small river, famed in song and verse, flowing from the Great Misty Forest, meandering as it divided the plain's managed areas from its croplands. After it wandered toward this legendary circlet of seven small hills, which now enfold Primus University's amphitheater. Its mysterious course took it around the hills, almost circumambulating them, before continuing on toward the city. Looking off to the far southern horizon they saw the distant blue and white peaks of the Steel Mountains. It was easy to imagine the pilgrims who sought the rivers' source wandering in the pristine reserve amid the great valleys. Together they sent them blessings of perseverance and closed their eyes in prayer. The farmer had studied the view and, understanding what was asked of him, had happily agreed and, because of that, was now learn the secrets his discoveries had brought to light. Soon, through a whispered spell-woven dream he'd be taking part in a unique presentation. Even now a hum of activity arose from the amphitheater
He'd been told and now understood that this city's design was, of course, the foundation of classical urban design; indeed, it was the prototypical form from which most current styles owe origin. The center resting astride a slight high ground was surmounted by the solid old buildings, chock-a-block, forming a kind of redoubt. This is the old town, or acropii. Encompassing this, on lower ground, was a much larger square where the government, schools, and professional buildings would be. Amid them would be the market district and street bazaars. Around that, of course, is the circular promenade or grand boulevard from which the main streets radiated much like a common spider's web. The concentric cross streets allowed easy transport to and from the acropii and the whole is checker boarded with park areas so that each citizen might have easy access to such amenities. The residential blocks are all in the late classical style. Each homestead is a rectangular building with thick heavy exterior walls and their first stories are uniformly windowless while there may be a few small windows on the second. Each is built around a central atrium containing a fountain or pool along with a few trees and a culinary garden that the family living within keeps for themselves.
When looking northward one can follow the waterway for a good distance as it crosses rangeland mixed with the nature reserves meant to protect seasonal wetlands for the migrations. Beyond that are the historical townships of Ranan's Bay, where our river joins many others and blends into the delta where fishing is a way of life. North of that, there is only the ocean of Peace.
The farmer subsumed his identity to the voice of the counselor and let the voice of the counselor guide his imagination and so the dream took him. As the counselor spoke he could take in a view of the interior of this ring of hills, saw that though it has retained its natural landscaping and sparse covering of ancient Oak, it now included a great amphitheater. In addition, the Cleft of the Ring, once a fortified natural gateway to the interior, was now a simple pedestrian walkway with turnstiles flanked by some tumbled stonework, all that remains of the ancient defenses. Down there, even as the counselor's voice became his, he saw people gather in excited anticipation of a historical event. He understood that a lecture was to be given, a great story that, as street tongue has it, would unveil the distant past even unto the Foundations. It is said that people who hearken to gossip have heard that we'll be learning much more of the Foundation Mysteries in this presentation, all the archeology of the last centuries and our modern science notwithstanding. Hardly self aware, the farmer now saw only through the miracle of modern communications, as the counselor helped him prepare to see this vast pageant through the eyes of those who've long gone on before as if alive in them, being present as an invisible witnesses of that dim past. The counselor leads the man's mind on.
The ancient amphitheater fills slowly. The acoustics allow you to hear the murmur of conversation, and the occasional laugh. Here is where our ancestors discussed the issues of human society, debating notions of state and citizen rights, reason and responsibility, justice and freedom; and here they forged the foundations of the global society that we now know.
It was on that forum that the rights of humankind were earned with both pen and sword. It was here that those seven immortal heroes made their final stand for Tourout's Tenets of Reason and for the Lander's Way. A courageous hand full stood against a tide of ignorance, the passionate, blind, intolerant hatred, that were the hallmarks of the Mystics. It was for that peaceful gate that the e senators and their guards fought a pitched battle defending this hallowed glen and its fabled trove of law and history. And it is that trove, lost before the Misty Ages, which some say, has been unearthed.
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