William found that travelling in the carriage continued to be much better than walking. “You know, on Earth, this trip could be accomplished in a single day with good roads. Or less, if we took a plane.”
“Ooh, that sounds nice. What about trains?”
“Hmm, about the single day still, if it’s a good train and doesn’t make many stops. There were some faster ones that could do this in… two to three hours, without stops. Most trains were much older, however.”
“Frightening. Eclea might be like that soon.”
“Well, it would take at least… well, I guess for some definitions of ‘soon’. It would be faster with more countries advancing technology in a useful way though.”
“That will take some time. For example, convincing the humans not to attack us- or the demon lords not to attack the humans- will be a large task. Of course, they’ll probably wait for the Demon King’s return, but in a few dozen years they’ll realize something has gone wrong. Hopefully not before that, because preferably we’ll have removed any more fragments so he can’t announce himself somehow.”
William nodded and looked out the window, “So, do you ever have problems with bandits here?”
Lorelei shook her head. “The territories near here are fairly well managed, but some others have more issues. Even so, they’re not that common. They never know when they’ll meet up with someone who’s spent a gross or two of years training themselves to fight. If the bandits can handle that, they could just go work for a demon lord- it’s a much cushier job. Of course, some of the guards end up no better than bandits in those territories. As a whole, the gevai aren’t really united unless it involves the Demon King. Then he usually goes and gets himself killed, and everything returns to normal.”
“Wonderful. I guess I’m lucky I ended up in one of the better territories…”
As the carriage pulled up at his family’s home, William knew he would have some explaining to do. He was earlier than expected, though that wouldn’t really be a problem. He would have told them about his coming by carriage, but the letter probably wouldn’t have arrived until much after him.
He stepped out of the carriage to see his father walking up with a confused face. “Father!” William waved.
“Ah, Josef! You’re early… and arrived in a fancy carriage.”
“Well, you wouldn’t expect a mage to walk, would you?” William grinned. He had been planning on walking. It wasn’t long before William’s obviously pregnant mother shuffled into sight, and Stefan scurried in from the fields. “The two of you look well.” William nodded toward Stefan, “You’ve grown taller.”
Stefan grinned, “That should be expected. You… feel different.”
“Really? It’s probably the robes.” The mana around William would certainly look different, and of course Chris would have a significant effect, even from within a leather case.
“Yes yes, my two boys are so manly now,” William’s mother said, “But who’s this?”
Lorelei had stepped out of the carriage. “This is-” the one and only Archmage of the gevai. William hadn’t really thought about what he would say. Fortunately, Lorelei took it into her own hands.
“I’m Lorelei Bannister. I studied magic together with your son Joseph at the Ducson Academy of Magic.”
That was good. Except for the name, it was technically true, though not in the way it might have seemed. She seemed to have understood his desire to keep things low key, though perhaps that was what she wanted as well.
William’s mother smiled. “Well! Our son didn’t tell us he would be bringing home a beautiful young woman, so this was unexpected. I’m Anselma, this is my husband Barend, and of course our other son Stefan.”
“A pleasure to meet you.” Lorelei smiled, though William knew she was probably cracking up internally at being called young. It was an interesting misconception that could happen among gevai. They likely just assumed she was a similar age to William himself, since they studied together.
There were many questions exchanged: how William’s studies had gone, though in more detail; did they think the baby was going to be a boy or a girl?; where Lorelei grew up, and many more.
After some initial questions, Stefan was excited to show William around the farm. “You should see what I’ve learned with the notes you sent me.” First, they arrived at a series of small buildings, “We’ve expanded the cooler buildings. People can’t get enough of vegetables off-season. Even if we keep half of them, it’s never enough. That includes the other farms too- they always need more of these, but everyone still makes a profit. I actually spend most of my time installing and maintaining these now.” Stefan turned to Lorelei, “Lorelei, is it? Did you know my brother invented a magical formation that keeps food fresh for months? It’s amazing!”
Lorelei nodded. “Yes, word of this has reached the Academy in Ducson. It’s quite impressive.”
“There’s a smaller one over here that I set up. Things don’t keep for as long, but it can contain yoghurt and a few other foods that don’t do well in the regular coolers. Oh, and we’ve got one that freezes food! That way, it can stay good for a year or more! Though umm… the quality drops sharply after it’s frozen. It stays at that level after that though!”
“Hmm, yes, there are some issues with the water content when freezing, among other things,” Lorelei nodded, “It is still quite useful.”
“Aww man, you’ve seen a freezer? Okay, what else do we have…” Stefan continued on, passing by a small building.
“What do the enchantments on that one do?”
“Ah, that one…” Stefan rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, “… houses manure.”
Lorelei nodded, “I see. So those enchantments keep in the smell. Do they do anything about the chance of spontaneous fire?”
Stefan blinked. “Umm, yes actually. How did you know about that?”
“I know many things. Though I have not studied farming in depth, I know it is essential for everyone to survive, so I’ve picked up a few things here and there.”
The tour continued, and William found himself impressed with what Stefan had done. The letters had only mentioned that he constructed some more magical formations with some of the information William had sent. There were many good ideas, and though none of them were particularly complicated, they served exactly the purpose they needed to. William wondered if Stefan would eventually branch out into other areas besides just farming.