Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Stares ❯ Restoration ( Chapter 7 )

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Building homes during the winter is somewhat positive, as an exercise of magic. I’ve gotten very efficient at this process, and I’ve been adding details and my own type of window to the homes I’ve made. I’m able to add them after they’re built, and even after they’re occupied. With the lack of natural growth and soil, potted plants are popular, inside homes. I have also taken this opportunity to create a proper underground sewer system in the four towns destroyed by the blast. The amount of gold owed for this work is passing 1000 pieces. More than enough to go to Ranoa Magic University when I’m older. Not all of it would be paid anytime soon, and payments from the Asura kingdom would trickle in. Just so long as they did. Once I finished restoring all these towns and homes for the refugees, I suspected that the kingdom would NOT complete payment under some excuse, daring me to do anything about it. Maybe they’d declare me lord of this region with the right to tax it. I might be able to live with that, but not if they start demanding I pay the taxes on to them despite not keeping their word. They probably considered it an exercise in power over a vassal. I will need to make some violent demonstrations to insure they understand just what I am capable of. My automatic shielding and detection magic I’d used during the Great War was up and running. I would fully expect the Asura kingdom factions to try and assassinate me, like they tried with Lilia.

I need allies here, and a government system which can continue my work while I go searching for our family. Father is very anxious to leave. Things are being dragged out because there’s no physical branch of the Adventurer’s Guild in the blast zone. Rebuilding the Adventurers Guild house and leasing the building to them would make the most sense and gives me control over them. Some guilds are barely a kiosk and a safe inside a Tavern or Inn at a carriage stop in some rural village along a main road. That’s where they’d landed near last time. I was planning something bigger, fancier, and with rooms for staff, a true vault in the basement, and the usual inn setup with tavern, kitchens, and rooms. That would make it exactly what they wanted. The Guild would not be able to resist, and I could begin recruiting mages with salaried jobs to do this work for me, manage the money while I’m gone, and complete collections on those who choose to ignore debt. It was a good plan, and would free us to travel.

It was a few weeks later before my meeting with the Guild could be arranged and my escort of them to the new Guild office. We talked terms, they signed papers and swore oaths to complete payment on time and staff showed up a month later with baggage and smiles, opening the branch and collecting, rating, and issuing quests. These also included their messenger relay system so quests could be extended to other branches.

“It has been a year, Tanya. Are we ready to go?” Paul asked. We had a caretaker to look after our family home. There were trees growing around the edges of fields to cut down on wind. They weren’t tall yet, but they would grow with time. There was topsoil, and the layers beneath, able to support crops. The wheat was growing well. We would be able to feed ourselves and have seed grain for next season. Rotation to other crops was now instituted as standard practice because the soil wasn’t healthy enough for continuous grain production anymore. The upside is sugar beets would let us make and export sugar, and that’s a valuable crop. Mages would help with the processing. The new sewers meant the towns didn’t stink, and the value of animal manure was such it was getting scooped up and sold as fertilizer, so there were fewer flies. My sewer system also purified the human waste and run off so it wasn’t passing on cholera or typhoid to the population or causing a plague. The population was healthier despite having to work so hard planting and harvesting and rebuilding. The men hauling lumber made use of a road I constructed from the forest into the blast zone that would support heavy loads and provide a smooth even surface, so the wagons moved swiftly. Any modern person would be amazed and the labor involved until they saw me shaping the ground with magic, including culverts to prevent flooding and arched stone bridges to keep the road as level as possible. The kingdom was recovering.

And now we’re ready to depart. I’d finally upgraded my rifle into a semi-automatic rather than a bolt. This drastically improved my rate of fire and offered massive force multiplication. Any teams of bandits would be shattered in front of my sights.

“Yes, I am ready.” Father’s horse Caravaggio had actually wandered back to our home, and he was quite happy about this. It was a good sign, he said. He was riding that. I had one of the spares, since I still don’t weigh much at 5 years old. Our birthday party for me was somber, since family wasn’t present other than Father, and he cried a lot. It was not a good time. If I were really a child I would probably find this traumatic. I am not.

We moved out. It was a mere day using the roads I’d built, to cross out of the displacement zone, and back into forest, complete with monsters and bandits. I wore something like my old uniform with more pockets and pouches. I also had a rain poncho, with a similar one I’d made for father, both waterproofed. I’d developed sufficient control of my magic to create disposable tools on demand, like plates and cutlery, so carrying lots of camping gear is not necessary. Rather than trust our luck to a tent against a hungry monster, I am able to raise a small stone house to sleep in, and close the door with more stone. Bears and wolves are not getting in, so we got more sleep. I even made a space for the horses, though after one night with Caravaggio’s gassiness I made him his OWN space, downwind.

We used a passage through the Red Dragon’s Upper Jaw to pass through to the kingdom of Shirone. There were no reports of our family there. It would be a full year before I would learn Lilia and Tobias were here, in the palace. Mention of them was suppressed or just not known to the townsfolk, since they never left the safety of that place.

We moved on, delivering mail to the local Guild office and setting up the Buena Village Resident recovery quest, which required proof they were residents rather than just con men looking for a free place to live in a rapidly restored disaster zone that was giving away houses and free food, which wasn’t true in either case. Unsurprisingly, very few of the returning survivors turned down my offer to fix their houses for 5 pieces of gold. That is a lot of money, true, but I wasn’t expecting immediate repayment either. We had terms. A few holdouts were building them back themselves, stone by stone. I admire resilience, but stone is heavy, and you can’t live in the house while you’re building it. My deal was done in an hour or two. You can’t help some people. And trying just makes you look a fool.

We journeyed the cities of the circle sea, following rumors of slavers, kidnapped victims, often freeing addicts who needed serious help to detox from whatever had allowed them to be brainwashed. It was too late for the young women, now carrying children from their new husbands, or rapists in some cases, and not all of them wanted to come back. Some did, and we directed them to the guild where organized caravans gathered them up into groups for return journeys on foot. It was a LONG way on foot. Some would die on the journey. Some would give up and live where they could, doing what they could. Some of the men had turned to banditry. Other times we found corpses trapped in stone, some bones sticking out picked clean by scavengers. It wasn’t a pretty job. I have a stronger stomach than Paul, but I didn’t let him fall into alcoholism. I needed him able to reason, and I made him shave and stay clean. He wasn’t going to fall into depression.

We eventually made it to a port city and met Rudeus on his way back from marching out of the Demon Continent, in the far northeast. He’s seen half the world, as have I. We sort of met halfway. He tried to make his trip guarding Eris and fighting monsters sound like a cheerful adventure. Paul was getting angry. I could see the twitches. I gripped his arm gently.

“Rudy, was the demon continent dangerous?” I asked him.

“Well, we had to kill huge beasts for firewood, and if I couldn’t conjure water we would have died. Master was from there, we landed near her village,” he admitted.

“So pretty dangerous?” I coaxed.

“The most dangerous place I’d been. And the food is really terrible. It all tastes bad. You have to choke it down or starve.”

“And you only spoke the language in a very basic level because of that book Roxy made you, yes?” I asked him.

“Yeah, it was lucky. Things would have ended quickly if I hadn’t learned that language. We met a Superd right away, and he’s got a really strong sense about protecting kids. Even then I screwed up sometimes. There were these giant snakes over a hundred feet long and fast has heck, bit right through this orc guy and he was pretty tough. Died before we could slay the monster and heal him. That was a bad day. The snakes killed a young adventurer in an instant. Flung him across a clearing in the stone forest into a tree. Splat. A bag of blood and broken bones. That could have been me. I was so cocky, and I screwed up. And if I died Eris would have followed. We made the best of things, but it was really hard.”

“This one time we had to kill a slaver prison and rescue some beast people kids, most of whom were beaten and injured. One of them died before I could get there. Ruijerd got super mad and killed all the smugglers. It was a slaughter. And I found a giant dog that the beast people worshipped as a spirit animal and freed it, but it was super fluffy and while I was petting its fluffy fur some beast people warriors showed up, turned out to be Ghislaine’s brother, and knocked me out by shouting, then threw me in a cage in their tree village naked, threw water on my every day and yelled at me. I was starving, but then the slavers attacked and set the place on fire and I had to fight a North God King. I nearly died. He stabbed me right here with a dagger, and I got him with an ice cannon. Ruined his whole day. They’ve got him in jail, probably going to kill him for kidnapping their kids and murdering a bunch of their villagers. Women and men killed by slavers, kidnapping kids for sex slaves. Man, this place is crazy,” he said in a long stream of words.

Paul’s tension ebbed on this news. Details on risk percolating into his mind, and what a miracle it was his son had both survived this ordeal and he’d kept his cousin alive through it all.  

“It is amazing you survived. And you’re only twelve. Tanya rebuilt our house. It was blown down to its foundations when we got home after several days on horseback. She’s very skilled in earth magic now. They call her Pixy Architect, though Landlord might be her next title.” Rudy cocked an eyebrow over that.

“Huh?” he asked. I shrugged.

“I decided to charge them for building services,” I explained. “They have to repay me 5 gold coins, eventually. It’s a gold a year for 5 years, plus a silver a year in interest for each gold coin they still owe. If they miss or can’t finish the payment they owe a bit more. I’m keeping it reasonable, but I don’t want anyone to think they’re just entitled to free housing because they showed up. We lost everything. Even the topsoil was gone. All the trees and animals. Every crop, bird, rat, everything was gone. I’ve had to rebuild fields with earth magic. I could have used your help last year. You can probably make a lot of coin if you contract to build fields like I have. I even rebuilt the irrigation canals. The streams and rivers came back immediately, even if the soil and reeds were gone. I started on Buena Village, but there’s more needed in the town where you worked with Eris, and the various towns in the area, right up the edge of the displacement zone, where the forest starts again.”

“Have you planted trees?” he asked, thinking hard.

“Naturally. I’m putting them on the windward side of fields to cut the erosion down. I’ve restored soil enough that crops grow, but it’s going to be years before the soil is all the way back to healthy. I have managed to wipe out cholera with my new sewer system. I use detox runes!” I announced. Rudy looked excited about that.

“Really? So you have a modern waste system?” he confirmed.

“Storm water and sewer are both clean, and the solids are good soil amendments, which the villagers are hauling to their own fields to get a jump start on crop rotation,” I explained. Rudy and I chatted more on this topic.

Paul just watched two of his children, healthy and whole, discuss things he didn’t understand. He had two genius children, two prodigies who could do anything, and apparently survive anywhere on this world. Maybe there was some hope after all?

We organized together with the guild for a good month after that, and setup another charter for gathered teleport victims, to ship them back to Shirone kingdom’s port, and then a caravan through the Red Dragon Mountains and our home. Rudy mentioned that he’d spoken to the empress of the demon continent, who was apparently a skinny purple haired loli in bondage chains and strange eyes. He showed his new eye to us, while explaining this. We also met with Eris and Ruijerd, who had shaved his head and wore some kind of metal plate in front of his third eye on his forehead. He was an imposing warrior with the trident he carried, and I imagine in close combat he’d be impossible to beat. This is why he was centuries old, after all. Even if he was the last of his demon tribe, in all likelihood.

The loli empress, and yes I see the irony with me saying this, had been unable to detect Rudy’s mother, and said his brother and Lilia were in Shirone Kingdom. This annoyed me because we’d been there months ago. Rudy promised to go through there and find them. He said that the empress said very few places were hidden from her far sight eye, and one of the few that was the case were labyrinths in the southwestern continent of monsters, Begaritt. There are many of them there, and the monsters were even stronger than on the demon continent because the mana was very thick. So mother was probably inside a labyrinth, presumably alive and not dead, and would probably mean she was trapped and needed to be freed. Paul considered this heavily.

“We have to rescue her,” he swore. “I love Zenith. She is my beloved wife.”

“We’ll find Mother,” I agreed. We had travelled a long way to learn this, and would need to travel a long way to visit a most dangerous land. My rifle was not big enough, but that was only as it was. If you considered it a means to cast artillery… it would do.