A Peasant's Tale
Note: A Peasant's Tale is the backstory for City Quest that was crafted long after work on the game had begun. It was first posted in 3 parts as Kickstarter Updates.
In the year 1986 (according to the heathen’s calendar), another boy was born to an already large family. His given name was nothing more than a squiggly line scrawled on the birth certificate by a painfully illiterate father. After the first 8 children, his parents had exhausted their reserve of unique names and had taken to calling them boy one, boy two, girl one, girl two, and so on. Our hero was boy six, under this naming scheme, though in reality he was the tenth boy born to the ageing couple.
The peasant grew up working the family farm. He was milking cows by the age of four, plucking chickens by eight, and had developed close, personal relationships with some of the other animals by twelve. By fourteen, on the cusp of manhood, he was engaged to be wed to a fine young ewe when tragedy befell their union.
The bride-to-be had been awarded more and more freedoms as their engagement lengthened, though with those freedoms, a dark desire for more grew within her. One fateful day in late spring, she made a run for it. She hauled hoof as quickly as her little legs allowed, only to meet, and subsequently be struck down by, a large, white sport utility vehicle. The peasant vowed that he should ne'er love again.
As the years passed, he busied himself with work: tilling the fields, planting and harvesting crops, all the tedious trappings of farm life which you can be sure your narrator is completely familiar with. While he wallowed in the pain of lost love, his brothers and sisters all seemed to pair off and begin new, happy lives. Envy was never in his nature, though, and he attended every hillbilly wedding with a joyous smile on his face. Despite the smile, the hurt was never far from the surface. For long years he did his duty on the family farm, until the eve of his twenty-first birthday, when tragedy fell once more...
The day of his twenty-first birthday was uneventful. The peasant rose early (as he did, in fact, every day) to begin the day's work. As with each day previous, the first chore was the cleaning of the barn. Ever unpleasant, the leavings of the night before would not clean themselves (though unbeknownst to him, the modern farming world had automated this process years prior). Boy Six had learned early in his life to prioritize this task in the mornings. His mind struggled to rouse itself from sleep (as much as his mind actually could be roused), so sense of smell was often dulled in the morning. Best to deal with this unpleasantness before your body can react to sensations.
Following the cleaning always came the feeding. By this point in the morning, the peasant's mind starts to register the overwhelming cacophony of "moos", "baas", and "clucks". An hour or so later the beasts are fed and the peasant can move on to the high point of his morning: the milkings. Were you to ask the peasant, he might respond that these intimate moments shared with livestock each morning were nothing but work: a job that needs doing. Freud, though, might postulate that, psychologically, he was filling the hole left by his dearly departed betrothed with meaningless physical pleasure. Also, really, those cows actually did need milking, so take the Freudian analysis with a grain of salt.
The day progressed in much the same fashion until quitting time. As usual, Boy Six was the last to finish up work for the day. It was just his birthday, he has one every year, what's so special about it? His parents (having each passed their sesquicentennial within the past few years), had long since abandoned the celebrating of another year, and the peasant followed suit. I'm sure, dear reader, you are a bit flabbergasted at the idea of a human living past the age of 150, let alone having children. It's an intriguing tale of witchcraft, satanism, and good old fashioned hard farm work, but this is not that tale.
Six, having finally finished his work for the day, left the barn in dire anticipation of a now cold meal, and perhaps a slice of cake, if his dozens of kin were kind enough to leave him one. Alas, there would be no cold meal for the peasant this day. Rather, he would be greeted with a large, double helping of death, garnished with a drizzle of sorrow, and washed down with a big glass of tragedy. Before his very eyes, his family home was ablaze with a fire so fierce that it could only have been sent by satan himself, in a ruthless fulfilling of a deal made decades prior.
This was the night the peasant broke. He ran from his home a beaten man. He ran that night until his legs could carry him no more. When he was done running, he found himself outside of the regional airport (this, of course, meaning the farm of the guy with an airplane). In a barter deal for the family farm, he secured himself passage to the nearest "real" airport, a ticket to the big city, and even a bit of pocket change.
In the city he could leave his tragedy behind. He could become a new man. He could love again, trust again, do anything, or be anyone. The city is like that, you know.
Boy six sat uncomfortably outside gate B6. He had disembarked an ancient barnstormer several hours ago, and his modern flight to the big city wouldn't leave for several hours more. It was the middle of the night. It was sometime around four AM he guessed, not properly understanding the bright red glowing symbols on the clock overhead. Normally he'd just be getting up to start his chores around this time, but that life was no more. Absurd and borderline unbelievable tragedy had rendered him a new man.
The gate room was empty, save the Peasant and a nervous looking young man, clutching a briefcase tightly to his chest. Six had watched him curiously off and on since the man arrived around two, though the man was much too preoccupied to notice. Occasionally the man would jump up and leave the terminal in a hurry, only to slink back minutes with a look of defeat.
Eventually, maybe an hour before people started flooding into the airport for their early flights, the man walked over to Six, and sat down.
With a pained, desperate look on his face, the man stumbled his way through a sentence: "Hey there friend, you look like a man that could use a good break."
"Well," replied the Peasant, "all my worldly possessions were just destroyed in a violent fire." Almost as an afterthought, he added: "My family also just died."
A look crossed the young man's face that, to anyone but the Peasant, was clearly raw with deception. "Well, it happens that I'm an extremely generous man, that happens to have a bag here of completely normal, non-exploding clothing and other miscellaneous goods. I don't suppose I could donate them to you in hopes of brightening your day?"
"Oh, I don't know sir. I think I can probably get by on the...", the Peasant pulled out a handful of cash, stared at it for nearly a minute, and continued, "twenty-three dollars I've got here". It was actually fifteen dollars.
"Nonsense, friend, I insist!"
"Well, " replied the Peasant, trying to hide the desperation in his own face, "I suppose if you insist, it would be rude to turn down such a generous offer."
"That a boy," replied the man before promptly fleeing the terminal as fast as he could run.
The remaining few hours passed uneventfully. The Peasant took in the activity of the bustling airport. More people passed through his terminal alone than he'd met in his entire life, yet he found himself unphased. Other small town folk in that situation might have become overwhelmed he mused, but he felt cold and dead inside.
Unbeknownst to him, that very quality was the one thing all city folk shared. The one thing that could make them truly successful in the big city was a deep, dispassionate apathy concerning everyone and everything around them.
Finally the time came to board the plane. Six looked at his ticket: seat 37D, Section 7. Despite the fact that he had been in the terminal for nearly eight hours at this point, almost every other passenger boarded before section 7 was called. Sitting in his section would be a man that could only nicely be described as an "escaped mental patient", and a young woman with bags under her eyes and sallow skin, carrying a small, mangy dog.
The Peasant, ticking bag clutched to his chest, boarded the plane. Upon finding his seat, he was disheartened to find himself bereft of a place to stow his carry-on (the higher paying customers having ignored the one carry-on per person rule). A kindly steward took it from the Peasant and assured him it would be safe under the plane.
The Peasant's first experience on a big plane was much as anyone's first plane experience: unpleasant, cramped, and filled with screaming children. Really, though, he was happy to have something to take his mind off the tragedy, even if the pain was replaced with simple annoyance.
Even annoyance and tragedy could not stand against his first view of the big city. The sun was rising over tall buildings. The still-visible lights formed a beautiful web of magic (having never truly experienced most technology, magic was the best way he could reconcile the vast grid of streetlights). The final, distinctive landmark the Peasant took in before the plane landed was, by design, the Statue of Lechery. The Lusty Lady, arms open, seemed to welcome the weak and weary to her heaving bosom. Boy Six might just be alright after all.
Continued in City Quest: A Point and Click Adventure!