Wizard! Chapter 253
The year William was sixteen, someone was finally willing to purchase an installation of a cooler. It was one of the larger nearby farms, owned by the Manser family. They had more money than most of the others, so they were more capable of the expense. After confirming the details of size and location, they settled on a price. It was somewhat lower than the freely advertised price, but the Rutten family was on good terms with the Manser family… and enough time had passed for them to get reasonable profits. Besides, the prices wouldn’t go down much if at all, because they also wanted to make extra profits on out-of-seasons goods, and such produce was popular enough that it rarely went unsold. Prices would drop more as more places eventually got coolers… or people came up with something like it. Cooling things down wasn’t new though, and if they merely reduced the temperature it would only be a bit better than something like a wine cellar. William’s version dealt with bacteria, and that was one of the other factors in food aging. There were also various chemical processes, but slowing those down was part of what the cold did.
William did most of the work for the new cooler back on his own family’s land. This wasn’t because he was hiding the construction process so much as that was where all of his tools were. That took about a week, since he’d gone through the process a number of times before. After that, it was rather quick to set up in the building that was prepared, though it still took a few hours of fiddling to make sure everything was lined up properly, and securing them in the proper position. While the alignment of some parts was fairly intuitive, accidents could easily happen and having things solidly placed was best.
After he was done, William reminded the Manser family of the precautions they should take. There were a small number of foods that wouldn’t be able to be stored there, and if it was broken they should get it repaired immediately. William didn’t imagine anyone would spend enough time inside to get sick even if that part failed, but the effects of bacteria on the food wouldn’t be visible right away, until it was too late. He recommended that they check each part of the formation monthly, with full knowledge they probably wouldn’t check even yearly unless something went wrong. That was just how most people did things. On the other hand, the materials that went into the formation were mostly metals, and nothing was fragile. Accidental damage was unlikely, and such an accident would be obvious, such as dropping something heavy.
William woke up in the night to a faint scratching noise. It wasn’t faint because it was quiet, but because it was distant. The sound repeated, from over in the direction of the barn. William heard the cries of some of the animals, obviously upset. He took his staff, and rushed out into the dark night, his parents not far behind him with bows. It wasn’t dark long, as he created an orb of light and sent it floating toward the barn to reveal what was happening. The shadows rolled away, piece by piece revealing a large form, and giant marks on the barn. The revealed problem was a dire bear, half a tall as the barn when on all fours.
At the appearance of light, the bear turned from its task of trying to claw its way through the barn walls, and toward William and his parents. They had needed to protect their animals from some things before, but everything had been much smaller. Even William had only ever seen one creature bigger, and that was the dragon he hadn’t actually fought. His parents obviously had no plans to abandon these animals that were a large part of their livelihood, and drew back the bows they had brought with them, firing the arrows directly at the large bear. This provoked it into charging in their direction… which wasn’t ideal, but at least it wasn’t clawing at the barn.
William’s parents moved away to either side, and William wished he’d learned to use a bow. Not that he didn’t grasp the basics, but he could hardly consider himself trained. As the dire bear charged toward him, he ran toward it as well. However, when it was a few meters away, he leapt into the air, sailing over it. It was committed enough to the charge that it couldn’t react, and he landed behind it, while it only managed to stop at about the place William jumped from. William had briefly considered doing a flip as he went over, but not seriously. There would be no benefit besides possible fun, which would be completely ruined if the movement threw of his equilibrium and got himself killed. As it was, he still had to turn around and face a giant bear.
More arrows hit the bear in the sides, but as far as William could tell they barely penetrated into the skin. He couldn’t even seen any blood flowing down, but the arrows stuck. That was somewhat disheartening, since he knew the penetrating power of his parent’s bows. Gevai had strong bodies… especially if they worked on training them. Farm labor helped with that as well, though the muscles weren’t specialized for bows. William shook his head and prepared himself, as the dire bear agiley turned around, and now it wasn’t far from him. Perhaps he could turn and run, but then it might decide that his parents were a better target, and he couldn’t guarantee that he could run faster than it. Though it hadn’t looked particularly fast, it had crossed dozens of meters in only a few seconds, with it only seeming slower because of its relative size compared to the distance it crossed. Now it displayed another kind of speed, as it swiped a paw at William. William only barely managed to lean and block with his staff, but he was still sent tumbling end over end, landing in a heap.