William spent the next several days in a fevered state. Sometimes he dreamed, but as all dreams they were only half-remembered at best. Even if he remembered them, they were strange and nonsensical. He didn’t noticeably improve, nor did he get worse. He couldn’t think clearly, but after a week his mind started to recover to a level where he wasn’t exhausted and could form whole ideas. He still felt sick, and he couldn’t help but thinking about that, as unpleasant as it was. How had he gotten sick? His parents and little brother hadn’t gotten it, so it shouldn’t have been from food, or anything contagious. He was recovering with just good food, and no real medicine… so that should rule out a number of other things. He wasn’t a medical doctor, so there wasn’t much more he could really say.
As he lay there, his thoughts wandered to his work on the farm. There was some manual labor, and among that he counted using magic to help till soil, among other things. That was something that his parents had done for dozens of years, and shouldn’t have been a problem. However, there was something he had been doing that was new. His cooler was something new. He’d been spending a lot of time working on setting up the larger version, and making it work just right.
Had some of the materials been radioactive? That shouldn’t be the case, both because William was fairly certain he would have been able to tell… and that he was recovering fairly quickly. If there was radiation involved, he would have gotten worse instead of better, especially over a short period of time. Was there some fault in his design to cause him to be sick? There shouldn’t have been anything acting on him in that design, except perhaps a slight decrease in temperature. Then, William remembered the yogurt. That was what had bothered him. Of course. He finally made the connection.
Yogurt contained bacteria in it that were responsible for it being yogurt, and not some other dairy product. Rejecting bacteria was just fine for most foods, and would keep them from going bad for a long time. William had even modified his system to keep the same level of moisture in the foods. However, he hadn’t considered one thing… humans had bacteria living inside them, most of which were beneficial. Well, he wasn’t a human any longer, but he had no reason to believe the same wasn’t true of gevai. He couldn’t recall exactly, but he knew that there were at least as many bacteria as there were human cells, though they were much smaller. Regardless, without them, the body would not function well… or perhaps not at all.
William considered that he must not have completely run out of bacteria in his body, but only gotten to a reduced amount. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have recovered. Well, he wasn’t healthy yet, but he was recovering. Hopefully there wouldn’t be any long term effects. In the meantime… he needed to think of a way to keep this from happening to anyone who spent a long time working inside the magical formation. Certainly, going in every few days to place or retrieve food wouldn’t likely be a problem, but he didn’t like the idea of something potentially dangerous being part of the design.
After he thought about it, it wasn’t too hard to add a detector that didn’t apply the effects of rejecting the bacteria to animals. It still took a month of effort, but it would be easier to replicate after he had it designed. In Eclea, they had a giant barrier that detected demons, and it really was very simple to make something less specific than that. This meant that rats wouldn’t have bacteria removed from them, but a rat in the storage room would be much more trouble anyway. Besides, any bacteria or such things it left behind would be expunged after they were no longer on or part of the rat.
The end result was that William’s final formation was a bit more expensive than predicted. That was how things worked, in the end. Perhaps his parents knew that lesson as well, because there were no real complaints from them. However, though it was more expensive, what William failed to predict was how much people wanted fresh food in off seasons. About twice as much was made as he thought, which meant the project was still profitable, even in the first year. The next year might be lower, since it wasn’t new, or higher… since people might be looking for the possibility.
Stefan could describe most of the parts for the formation, and give a general reason of why they were there, but asking him to build one would be too far. Still, William felt that was more than adequate progress. He still had a handful of years before he really needed to know everything, and he was sufficiently dedicated to the task. William did have to slow down the teaching some, not because he couldn’t keep up, but because Stefan needed more time to himself.
William sometimes forgot that just because he didn’t need much leisure time, normal children did. That said, Stefan worked hard, just not quite as many hours as their parents. Working on the farm was also his schooling- though Stefan took some time to sit down for formal learning as well. Most of what he would need to know was practical knowledge, but knowing how to read and write was important. People might think of uneducated farmers as stupid, and they might really appear that way. However, educated farmers were just like others who were educated. People might still look down on them for being farmers, but they could be clever and take advantage of that thought. If Stefan couldn’t do math, or at least not quickly, it would be harder to get good prices when selling… especially bulk goods. He learned that, and while William knew Stefan would probably never learn higher level mathematics, he made sure to let him know that he could if he wanted to. Time thus passed on the farm, and a quarter dozen years went by.