54 Chapter 54 IGNITE FIRE
The second day of travel, was going to be exciting! After the disappointments from the day before, Joseph had decided he was going to start working on Ignite Fire. Being only 7, and probably looking 5 or 6, hadn't helped him any when it came to talking to the adults around him about serious things. With this, he would have something to back his talk up with, if things ever went south. This would at least give him a fighting chance. Food spells didn't really offer much when a fight broke out.
However, no sooner had he started, he fell into a trance.
Looking around, he found himself in that place again. The rune for FOOD was off to the side and in front of him was the rune for FIRE. The other runes he knew were visible in the distance, but there were still many more hiding amidst the fog.
Thinking about how Selena embraced the fire, he began to circulate the mana inside of himself to form the rune in front of him. He was trying to interact with FIRE on a deeper level.
Suddenly, he was in a different place. The world was flames and fire. It was more than a world of fire, it was an existence; pure energy. Flames weren't just crude fire, they were energy. There was a connection between FIRE and another rune he thought was LIGHT, but it was ironically in the dark.
He could feel that they were closely related, and thinking about that, he became aware of the other elemental runes drawing closer. This place was like bathing on the sun. Somewhere out there was another rune. He could sense it but wasn't sure what it was. It controlled harnessing energy so FIRE understands it, but it doesn't draw closer like LIGHT.
Joseph was losing the sensation of a body as he moved and flitted among the fire energy. Nothing was supposed to be here but fire. And then, Selena was there. He could tell it was her, because of the energy she put off. It was slightly different from everything else.
"Little Joseph, you shouldn't be here. You are just beginning to understand. If you stay here, you will lose yourself. Because of your guidance earlier, I have progressed much on my own journey. Let me lead you out of here before you are consumed."
Joseph opened his eyes and saw Stella frozen, looking down at him. Lifting his head, he saw that he was naked in a bath tub.
"Um, you've been out for 3 days… your body still works, err. Oh!" She finally turned around and closed the curtain on him. "If you're awake, you can clean yourself up!"
Joseph realized what she meant and blushed. If he had been out for days, then he must still have gone to the bathroom! EWWW!
Once he was out of the bath, wrapped in a warm bath robe, he found a spread of food on his table waiting for him. Stella refused to make eye contact as she placed his glass down last and then leaved the room. He knew she would deal with the tub in a bit, but probably needed to let people know he was awake.
If he was out for 3 days, they should be almost to the border! He checked on his progress and was floored. When he entered the trance, his training on IGNITE FIRE was at 6%, and now it was 86%! He began to scarf down the food as he thought about how productive he had been. If Selena hadn't shown up when she had, he might have lost himself, but he still kind of wished she had waited a few more minutes, so that he could have gotten even closer to completing it.
There might even be a chance he could finish it and start on CREATE FIRE before they ever got to the north. Thinking about the realm of fire, that he had just visited, he found himself wondered about Selena. It was a good thing she had shown up when she had. He was pretty sure he wouldn't have been able to come out on his own. And he really wasn't sure what would have happened if someone had tried to wake him with his mind and possibly soul, were elsewhere. He looked forward to going that deep again, but only with Selena around. He didn't want to lose himself without someone to help him get out.
After resting the rest of that day, he was ready to start reading through all of the reports the next morning. Daniel was itching to see him, and was there right at dawn, while he enjoyed a delicious breakfast.
"There's no towns up here, only a few houses built by tax-evaders. Walter has gone to see his family and to see what is going on, because none of the towns we've gone through have let us trade or buy supplies from them."
"I thought we had supplies."
"We did, but we had also planned to buy some along the way. The towns we rode through, wouldn't even give us the time of day. They insisted we keep moving. Because you were occupied, we opted to keep going, rather than cause a fit."
"Why aren't there any towns up here? Is the soil too poor?"
"No, it seems, just from what little I can tell after talking to the few people we've seen, that people are too afraid of the barbarians."
"Then we shouldn't have a problem finding a good sight to build on."
"No," Daniel agreed.
"Why haven't the barbarians killed the few people, or tax-evaders, that live up here/"
"They trade with the barbarians. I think the barbarians see them as kindred spirits and leave them alone."
"Then, maybe we'll be able to have some peaceful talks after all."
"Your scouts have identified 7 city sites, and they told me that you intended to develop them all?"
"Yes, three on the central site this year, two next year and the year after, then there will be two full years for all seven to grow and prepare before I have to take over. I have lots of ideas on improvements that I've seen during my travels with my dad. And if we build with a plan in mind, we should be able to account for anything we missed along the way. Have the scouts had a chance to check on things like growing conditions and what the people eat in the winters?"
"Well, the people we talked to, who would talk to us, said they generally plant rotations of wheat and potatoes for three to five years in the same field and then let it sit empty for a year to recover before planting a local vegetable called crown." He held one up for Joseph to see.
It looked a lot like desur, only smaller.
"They use this for animal feed?" he asked.
"Yes, it tended to taste bitter and gave people diarrhea."
Nodding, Joseph knew how to prepare it. The roots needed to be cleaned properly in order to remove those side effects. He could think of just a dozen recipes for it, off the top of his head. He imagined they only tried to eat the leaves instead of just the root, which was where the vitamins were. It would take some work to boil the roots and skim off the froth that floats to the top, but it would make them edible to people, and open up a whole realm of food for them.
He talked with Daniel until lunch time, telling him about his plans for bath houses and public sanitation. He had even taken into account the freezing in the winter on the sewers and runoff from the town affecting the rivers. While Daniel didn't understand all of it, he understood enough to know that Joseph was full of ideas.
As lunch time rolled around, Joseph started thinking more about the desur and a stir fry with fish. If he had everyone cook things up, he could always cast test food to make sure it wasn't poisonous.
He wouldn't be able to cast the spell for every dish, but he only needed it for the test recipes. He was so excited about the idea, that he was up very late that night, with Stella, Daniel and a bunch of other slaves, cooking and working on things. He wanted the next day to be completely free so he could finish the last hours of IGNITE FIRE before they arrived at their destination.