“Hey, you two, can you take this rock out of here?” The owner of the farm asked William and Stefan, after they filled the tunnel and confirmed the formation was working properly. “I know it’s not your job, just getting that… cooler… working, but since you’re here…”
“I mean… we can, but don’t you want it?”
“Why would I want a big rock? I’ve got tons of those, and many more I put a lot of effort getting off my farm.”
“Well, it’s sorta valuable.” William demonstrated its magnetic properties. He could have just taken it, and the farmer would probably never have been the wiser, but William wasn’t the type to do so. Besides, if the farmer did find out, that would hurt his family’s reputation.
“So… metal sticks to it?” The farmer shrugged. “It doesn’t look that special to me, but magic rocks are good. I guess I might be able to sell it.”
William nodded. “You might be able to. Though uh, I guess it’s not really useful in any magical formations, at least not that I know of. I think it’s pretty neat though.” William really wasn’t trying to undermine its value, but magnetic materials weren’t that useful in formations. Maybe if it were stronger, but this one was just big, and not that powerful. William still would have liked it though.
As time passed, most of the larger farms in the area had at least one storage building installed with a refrigerator. It was enough that William and Stefan had to order some of the material specially… but there were never really that many materials in the city to begin with. After all, most people had no use for them, so there weren’t that many in stock nor were they always refilled immediately. This made the prices slightly more expensive for them, but they still made reasonable profits.
Most people just accepted that there were now relatively fresh fruits and vegetables in later seasons, without thinking much about how that came to be. The shop owners cared about it, and one or two of the larger ones also commissioned coolers for some small warehouses. They mostly used the space for goods that came in from other cities, since there was a limit on the total amount of time it could help goods last. If they were merely transferred from a cooler on a farm into one in the city, goods wouldn’t really have a longer lifespan than those brought into the city near the latest time they would remain fresh.
When William was twenty years old, someone finally purchased the method to construct the formations, but William never heard about any installations that were not theirs. That meant they only used it privately, or didn’t use it at all. Well, William supposed they could have planned to re-sell it elsewhere, but that wasn’t any of his business. They hadn’t placed any restrictions on that, not that they could enforce such rules in any case. Everyone in Caister who wanted one or needed maintenance still came to the Rutten family. That could have been William, but Stefan did everything now, since William was still planning to leave. That sometimes left Stefan too busy to help on the farm, but it was profitable enough that it was still better to let him do so and hire a farmhand to replace him. William was glad that everything was going well. He was glad because that meant his parents and brother would do well without him. Though he’d had other parents, that didn’t make him less grateful to this set for taking care of him. William had to admit that he was most happy about all of the success, because it meant that he could go study in Ducson.
There was a lot of crying from his family as he prepared to go. Was twenty a bit young to leave the family for a gevai? Well, maybe, but it wasn’t unheard of. He hugged his mother and patted her on the head. “It’s okay. I’ll be back to visit.”
Stefan was a bit less visibly emotional, but William had been present for his entire life, and they had grown very close. “I will miss you, Joseph.”
“I’ll miss you too.” William was slightly surprised at how much he actually felt that would be the case. He’d never had a brother before… not that he cared about, anyway. He knew he would miss teaching him, and seeing him absorb new ideas like a sponge. “I’ll make sure to write, especially if I learn something I think you would find interesting.”
William found himself travelling through unfamiliar territory. There were roads most of the way, so it wasn’t as if he would get lost, but he couldn’t help but thinking about the fact that it was demon territory. Sure, he could say that most of the gevai were decent enough people, but the demon lords still existed, and he’d finally seen how they acted to their own people. They were even worse than the worst nobles in Ostana and Liaoyang. William supposed that might have been an atypical demon lord, and the other ones were much nicer… but he doubted it. Nobody had seemed much surprised.
Thus, William was going to be careful. He wanted to avoid them as much as possible, because he would be tempted to try to kill them and probably couldn’t. Maybe if he was back to the height of hi ki potential, but in that regard he was now rather deficient. He could use magic now, and while he might be able to defeat one with nothing else involved, they would have both magical equipment and guards. William couldn’t really do anything about them at this point, so it was best if he stopped thinking about it so much… but he couldn’t help it.
Travel on foot was slow, but after about a month William arrived at his first destination. Ultimately, he would end up in Ducson, but first he wanted to try to find Chris. If he didn’t try, and later came to the same area and found him, it would have been a huge missed opportunity. William swept his eyes over the lake. This was the only real feature nearby where he thought the battle with the Demon King had been destroyed. It was useful as a reference point for searching. Since this lake was out in the wilderness, William had expected to be the only one around… but he saw another gevai off in the distance. Maybe they would know where the site of the battle was… it couldn’t hurt to ask. Probably.