William found that his biggest difficulty in creating magical items was not the technical side but the mercantile side- though he was not without problems on the technical side. If creating magical items for everyday use was easy and profitable the wizards who were members of the guild would already be making them. Unfortunately, William discovered that the most profitable way to make money on magical items was selling to the rich. That wasn’t really anything new, but he didn’t have any connections with them. Even if he did, what would they want that they couldn’t get more easily elsewhere?
William’s only hope was to create things that the guild hadn’t thought about, but then he also had to convince someone that they wanted it. People had little need for expensive magical lights when they could buy quite a large amount of oil for mundane lamps. As for other things, William found himself stumped. Though he had a basic knowledge about how the technological items on Earth had worked, there were many steps to be made in technology before they could be useful. While he could skip some of those steps with magic, that was only if he could figure out how. Even if he could, he needed access to the materials to lay down the right kind of magical formation, some of which were very expensive.
William still spent most of his time helping around the farm. Today, they were picking fruit from a small orchard they had. They weren’t quite apples, but they were close enough in appearance, if not flavor. On the other hand, William knew that apples had many different flavors anyway so they were close enough.
His mother Anselma sighed while looking up at the trees. William wasn’t sure why. The fruit seemed quite good. “What’s wrong? It seems quite ripe, and looks tasty.” William took one and turned it around looking for fungus or worms or something else. Whatever it was, he couldn’t see it.
“It’s not that… or perhaps it is exactly that.” She waved her arm around, gesturing to the whole orchard. “Everything is turning ripe now, all at once.”
William still didn’t see the problem. “We can still harvest it all, nothing else is ready just yet.”
“Sure, we can pick it all… but can we sell it all? Even if we can sell it all, it won’t be at a high price. The stores will worry about selling it all. In a few weeks, all of it will be bad, and we’ll only have a small amount more that ripened late. It would be better if less ripened at once.”
William nodded. That made a sort of unfortunate sense, but he couldn’t do anything about it. After all, he couldn’t control when fruit ripened. Or could he? Though magic was called magic, it wasn’t like it didn’t follow a set of rules. He couldn’t just do whatever he wanted. On the other hand, he hadn’t actually tried yet.
Ripening was a chemical process, so if William could manipulate it he could control when certain fruits ripened. When he got to thinking about the details involved, William decided it would be better to give up on that avenue of thought. Controlling the ripening process would require too much micromanagement, likely down to the level of the individual fruit. He would have to constantly watch each fruit, and either accelerate or slow its development to what he wanted. That might be a problem in itself. He couldn’t be sure if any magic he used would have longer lasting effects than when he was chanting… and doing so for each fruit would be exhausting anyway. Besides, it would be hard to judge what should be done. He could judge each fruit by size and color, but they would all get different amounts of nutrients from the tree and ripen at their own pace. He couldn’t really be sure of how much he should speed up or slow them down until it was too late and they were basically ripe. It would also be easy to ruin the fruit by trying to manipulate them on that level, since he could affect chemicals beyond what he intended.
Besides, ripening wasn’t the real problem here. The real problem was getting too much all at once. That caused a supply glut, and then shortly afterwards a dearth of good fruit. Even if people wanted to eat all of their fruit, they wouldn’t want to do so all at once at the whim of when it ripened. However, if he couldn’t feasibly change when the fruit ripened, what could he change? It was quickly obvious to William what he needed to do. The fruit needed to be preserved for longer, so that people would have more time to buy it. Of course, this was done anyway, to some extent. Though he hadn’t thought about it, his parents would often convert fruits into jams or jellies. Those could be even more valuable than the fruit, but they were subject to the same problems of supply and demand. Unlike on Earth, they were also subject to fast spoilage. While the method of preparation kept jam from spoiling to some extent, at least as quickly as raw fruit, it still spoiled eventually. Kept in a cool cellar, they might last a season or two, but they might not.
There weren’t any sophisticated canning techniques- and William didn’t have any method to create an air-tight seal, at least not without more equipment. However, he did think of some methods to preserve both uncooked and cooked fruit for a longer time. On Earth, it wasn’t even something that was thought about, and wasn’t even really considered a luxury. Everyone had something- a refrigerator. However, that by itself was little better than a cool cellar, though they reached colder temperatures and thus were better at preserving food. Still, there was more involved than just temperature, and William had some ideas about how he could make that work… hopefully, he could turn those ideas into reality.