The next day, I wake up early. I’m still not sure if it was a good idea for Ukota to teach me that spell… Ageing — as the name suggests, it’s a spell that accelerates time. I can use it to age products. But I was told it can also use it to age living beings!
Even though Ukota assured me other people wouldn’t be powerful enough to age any living being I’m still somewhat concerned about what would happen if this spell were to accidentally spread. The difference between fermentation and rotting is just if people can take advantage of the result. Meaning the spell could be used to destroy lots of food!
While I’m happy to learn about methods to make more food, I’m not sure how I feel about its potential of using those methods to destroy food! At the very least, I should consider those methods part of the secrets of the Keeper. Being the Keeper has become a somewhat convenient excuse for me. I have knowledge other people don’t have — it’s one of the Keeper’s secrets. I lack knowledge that people consider basic — that’s normal. The Keeper is a hermit.
I think I’ll try out the spell later. I need to get ready and go to Alexander’s farm. Faryl and Felix aren’t comfortable with people, so I ask them if they want to join for the trip. They decline.
«That place is getting darker. We don’t want to go there…»
Again, I can’t make much sense of it. They’re quite cryptic. On the other hand, Raiden is quite happy to join me. As I have four Slimes now that produce Slime Jelly, I take three of them with me. I mount Alfred and we travel west towards Alexander’s farm.
I arrive at Alexander’s place. Nobody is here yet. I dismount and knock on the door. Alexander opens and greets me.
“Good morning, Swift! I didn’t expect you to be here first.”
“Good morning, Alexander! I just got up a little early. I have the Jelly-producing Slimes with me.”
Alexander leads us to the closest Slime hutch. I have the Slimes hop in and transfer the contract to Alexander.
“This… Thank you. But I should tell you transferring contracts is something only some masters of Taming Magic can do.”
“It is? So how else would you change the contract?”
“You release the contract and have the other party make their own contract. It’s not a big deal if only people you trust are around. But do be careful.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
“It’s the least I can offer. I noticed you have quite a gorgeous Plumel.”
“That’s Alfred. I contracted him yesterday. Riding on him works somehow. But I think I should get a saddle.”
“Good thing I happen to have one. You can have it. One of my old acquaintances found out I got a farm here and they gave me a saddle. I can’t use it since it was made for Neotes to use. It should be the perfect size for you. Wait here.”
He goes somewhere and returns with the saddle.
“If you care about your familiar, you should regularly remove the saddle.” Alexander shows me how to properly put it on and remove the saddle. I practice it to make sure I can do it properly. Matt’s party arrives about half a bell later. They ride on Plumels. They even brought an extra one for me!
“Good morning, I see you brought a Plumel for me. Thanks, but I’ve just contracted Alfred yesterday,” I pet Alfred.
“I see, we’ll leave the extra one with Alexander then,” Matt answers. He turns toward Alexander. “Good morning, Alexander!”
“Good morning! So I heard you’re travelling. May I inquire where are you headed?”
“We’re going to Cogen. It’s just a routine checkup,” Matt answers.
“Cogen? I see. Silas is with you. But still…”
“Is something amiss, Alexander?”
“One of my acquaintances told me Stirlea set up shop there.”
“Stirlea? He’s Lady Aenwyn’s predecessor, isn’t he?”
“Yes, he is. Andrew Stirlea, in his desperation to get results, he falsified data. He got replaced by Lady Aenwyn, who proved his data and his results were bogus. Apparently, people in Cogen started believing the nonsense he was fired for. His latest thesis, no… I have to say his latest conspiracy theory is: ‘The Mad Cow vaccine is just a ploy to weaken magic affinities of the villagers.’
That’s so… nonsensical,” Alexander facepalms, “even the people at the castle regularly take it — the Mad Cow Crisis isn’t something we want to repeat.”
“Mad Cow Crisis?” I ask.
“You are all too young to remember. Several dozen years ago, there was a massive outbreak of Mad Cow Disease. All domesticated bovine that contracted it started turning into rabid Minotaurs and started attacking everything they could see.
The army had to be mobilized to put down the rioting Minotaurs. The army was able to quickly put a stop to the threat. And there weren’t many people injured. But still, the effects were devastating. The meat industry and the Mana surrounding the affected villages took years to recover!
It was determined to be a disease that spread from humans to cows. Humans aren’t affected by it. But cows are. Since cows couldn’t be vaccinated, a vaccine was developed. The crown and the temple covers the cost of manufacturing and distributing it to the people.”
“So there is a chance of that Mad Cow Disease breaking out in Cogen?!”
“It’s not impossible. We don’t know what the source of the disease is. The vaccine just stops the infection chain at a point we have knowledge about.”
“Alexander, can I have some paper and ink?” Matt asks.
“Sure. But why?”
“I’ll request father to send some troops to ‘patrol the area’.”
“Are you sure? It’s just a slight possibility.”
“I was planning on taking Flynn with me on the trip. But he insisted on going into Avan Forest to stay with Faryl and Felix. He said something like…”
“‘That place is getting darker.’”, I interrupt Matt, “Faryl and Felix were the same.”
“I see. It is said Bunnyflies are sensitive to Mana and presences.” Alexander answers, “Given that I’d also assume it has already started…”
“I’m done. Let’s go,” Matt is ready to go.
“Are you sure?” I ask. I mean, in the worst case, the village will turn into the Cow Level!
“You should be strong enough to handle a few of them,” Alexander answers, “Minotaurs are reckless. If you can defend against their initial attack, they are defenceless.”
“I’m sure we’ll manage,” Matt adds.
“If you say so. Let’s go.”