58 Chapter 58 So many lives...
Joseph stood on the step of his carriage and looked around at the surrounding landscape. The scout's reports were very accurate. There was a lot of dirt and wild grass. They were going to set up near the big river that ran through the plains. Much of the timber came from his father's town, that had been partly demolished in order to move. About a day west of here, the mountains start. He was hoping for a quarry there. The trees on the slope could be used for emergencies, but he didn't want to clear cut them. No need to cause mud slides, avalanches and dirty streams.
Now that they were there, the plans for the town took half a day to finalize. He had so many factors to take into account. A few locals arrived around lunch time, under orders of the king's men. It was from them that he learned about the wild grains that they ate when desperate. It had a very bitter taste. He also learned about a lot of local vegetables that were hardy to the cold but would rot if taken further south because of the spring rains.
"Stella," he said, turning to her after hearing from the locals.
"Yes, Master?" she asked.
"Get samples of everything the locals mention, that is edible. I think I recognize some of them. I want to practice cooking them."
"Including the crown, you've already cooked?"
"Yes, I may be able to combine it with some of the other things."
"Yes, Master Joseph."
The men from the king gave him odd looks, but many of his own people looked happy to hear that he may have a solution to the food issue. It may be temporary, but it was something. The king's men still refused to admit the supplies were going to be late.
Once he got into the kitchen, Joseph couldn't help but grin. Aside from some color differences, he knew how to prepare all of the foods from the locals.
"Stella, throw me that apron. I've got this!"
His knife technique was very special, because the life that he cooked so much, was also the one where his spine was so messed up. Oddly, the sword training overcame some of it.
By the end of the day, he had managed to come up with several dishes that removed the bitter tastes and toxicity from the foods. He had to use TEST FOOD and PURIFY FOOD quite a bit, which caused Stephan to jump every time. No one else noticed the spells being cast. If he wasn't careful, people would start to call him twitchy.
PURIFY FOOD was such a cheat spell.
He had a plate of stir fry with fresh fish and couldn't wait to try it. He took a small bite, because it was so hot, and when it melted on his tongue, he couldn't help closing his eyes and almost purring in delight.
"Stella, you have got to try this!"
As she obediently opened her mouth, he had to keep himself from shoving it in her mouth because of how hot it was.
"It's very good, Master Joseph," she said very neutrally after chewing thoughtfully.
"What...Wait, let me guess, you've had enough fish for a life time?"
"Something like that," she responded calmly, despite his giggles and the confused looks from everyone in the room.
"Got it, hand this out for the others to try, and hand me that there," he said, pointing to a few other things.
"So, it's fine as long as you can't tell its fish anymore, right?"
He worked hard, and made some fish paddies that were fried. Then pouring some sauce he had prepared earlier on it, handed her a plate. She obediently took it and tried a small bite. He watched as she chewed for a moment, then stopped and touched her lips in wonder.
"Master, this is amazing!"
"I know," he said, puffing his chest out for a moment, then as everyone started chuckling at him, he deflated with a giggle of his own. He was leaving the kitchen to the cooks who had watched and taste tested everything. They would be in charge of making the food last as long as they could and sharing the information with the other cooks throughout the camp.
"I want a report on the supply issue by tomorrow evening with the new supplies from the locals." They all nodded happily. Grabbing a plate for himself, he led them back to their carriage.
It was June 20th, the third day at the border. If Joseph had stayed with his father, he would be passing back into his home kingdom either today or tomorrow. He would have been able to see his mother in two weeks. He looked forward to his dad bringing her back with him, when he got back. It would be another 300 days or so. Almost a year.
He knew his dad would never send her ahead, as it would be far to dangerous. It was dangerous just for her to leave the house, much less travel clear outside the kingdom. He wondered what she would think when she read the note, he wrote for her. He had told her about the king forcing them to this point, so maybe she would be mad at the king, and not his dad. There was also stuff about Stella and some of the people he had met, like Stu and Selena. He had avoided all talk about the assassination attempts. Her heart would never have been able to handle that.
Turning back to the stack of reports that had been delivered to him that morning, he found himself happy. This was the first life he had both his…wait, a thought came to him.
'System, how many previous lives have I had?'
(YOU HAVE HAD 3742 PREVIOUS LIVES.)
"WHAT?! How many am I going to remember? I was traumatized after just those two!"
(MOST OF YOUR PREVIOUS LIVES ENDED IN INFANCY OR YOUNG CHILDHOOD. THERE WAS NO VALUE TO THOSE MEMORIES, AND THUS NOT AVAILABLE TO YOU.)
"Wait, what? Please explain."
(ONLY THE LIVES WITH MEMORIES THAT HAD USEFUL INFORMATION, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE TRAUMATIC, WERE RETAINED FOR FUTURE USE. THOSE TWO YOU HAVE UNLOCKED WERE ALSO THE LONGEST.)
"How many of those lives did I die of natural causes?"
(TWICE. AS I SAID YOU NORMALLY DIED IN CHILDHOOD. THE NUMBER OF LIVES YOU MADE IT UNTIL 20 WERE 17. BESIDES THE 2 WHICH YOU HAVE ACCESS TO AND THE FIRST LIFE WHERE YOU DIED AT 27. YOU MADE IT TO 21 4 TIMES, 22 3 TIMES, AND 25 ONCE. THE CAUSES OF DEATH WERE WAR IN 502 LIVES AND DROWNING IN 433 LIVES. THESE WERE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF DEATH. I CAN PROVIDE A MORE DETAILED REPORT OF CHEMICAL, NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL, INCINDEARY OR BALLISTIC WEAPONS IF YOU WISH BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHY SUCH INFORMATION IS HELPFUL TO YOUR LIFE GOAL.)
"Wow." He sat there in a stunned silence for several minutes. "Um, how many times did I meet Sylva?"
(3. THE FIRST LIFE AND THE TWO LIVES YOU HAVE ACCESS TO. HOWEVER, YOU WERE DRAWN TO THE ISLAND AND DIED FROM WOUNDS IN THE WAR, PLANE CRASHES AND SHIP WRECKS, 86 TIMES.)
"Can I have access to the memories of the first me?"
(NO. ONLY A PARTIAL MEMORY IS LEFT FROM THE FIRST JOSEPH. THE EVENTS LEADING TO HIS DEATH. AS I JUDGED IT WOULD BE TRAUMATIC AND NOT HELPFUL TO YOUR LIFE GOAL, I HAVE NOT UNLOCKED IT.)
"Why are all of my lives so gruesome and short?"
(THE FIRST JOSEPH WAS BORN IN THIS REALM. WHEN YOUR SOUL WAS REBORN IN OTHER REALMS, IT WAS BORN WITHOUT AN ASSIGNED DESTINY. WITH NO PURPOSE OR GOAL, YOU BECOME VERY VULNERABLE TO RANDOM FLUCTUATIONS IN FATE. REMEMBER, FATE ONLY HAS TO DECIDE TO KILL YOU ONCE AND YOU DIE NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES IT DECIDES TO LET YOU LIVE BEFORE THAT. IT APPEARS IN ONE LIFE YOUR SISTER'S FATE WAS PARTIALLY INHERITED UPON HER DEATH WHICH PROTECTED YOU THE LONGEST. IN YOUR OTHER LIFE, THE REALM ITSELF HAD SUFFERED DAMAGE FROM AN ATTACK FROM ENTITIES FROM ANOTHER REALM AND WAS INCLINED TO BOOST THE NUMBER OF ITS INHABITANTS TO RESIST ENCROACHMENT. MORE THAN THAT, I AM NOT ALLOWED TO SHARE. THE INTERACTIONS OF THE REALMS ARE NOT SOMETHING THAT YOU SHOULD NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN. I ONLY WARNED YOU NOW BECAUSE OF MY OVERSIGHT WITH THE ORANCHE.)
"How long ago was my first life in this realm?"
(I AM NOT ALLOWED TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION EXACTLY, ONLY THAT IT HAS BEEN A VERY, VERY LONG TIME.)
"Let me see the memory from my first life. It might have clues to something."