Chapter 1007: Farmer’s Delights

Elisae only had to wait a few hours, until the sun began to rise in the morning. After that, an elven messenger arrived, bringing with him a rolled up scroll. Offering a smile, she thanked him for the speedy delivery. Receiving her thanks, the messenger looked almost ecstatic, because everyone knew what it meant to do a favor for her, even if she did not directly pay them.

He quickly left the palace, leaving Elisae with the scroll that had been sent to her. Like Gelwyn, she immediately activated the magic within the scroll, observing the intricate diagram that appeared in the air within her throne room. Elisae closed her eyes, feeling how her energy was being pulled to facilitate the spell.

Once the spell was complete, Elisae saw the same golden crystal floating over to her. With a smile, she allowed it to sink into her chest. Now, it was just a matter of determining what divine powers she wanted to imbue into the energy.

Alice Whiteburn rubbed the sweat from her brow as she sat at a corner of her field, baked beneath the heavy sun. She wore a wide-brimmed straw hat to offer herself just a little bit of shade, and wore denim overalls over a green shirt. In her hand was a curved sickle, the blade etched with runic markings.

“Ready for the harvest?” A young man asked as he walked over, Alice nodding her head while keeping her eyes focused. Natural energy was being funneled into the field, stimulating the growth of the plants. “You know, you could always just move to a Lorek plantation. There aren’t many farmers left that don’t use the new system there, right?”

Alice hesitated, but ultimately shook her head. “The system’s fine and all, but I don’t wanna lose my time like that. I got friends on this side, and going there means cutting them off.”

The man pursed his lips, but nodded his head. While people from Lorek and Spica could still communicate with those of other worlds, the time dilation made keeping in touch with friends… difficult, to say the least. For every day that passed on Earth, nearly three weeks went by over there. So if you wanted to spend time with your friends ‘once a week’, the truth was that you weren’t seeing them for more than four months on Lorek.

The existence of Virtual Reality helped in a way, allowing people to synchronize with their Virtual selves to obtain their memories, but even that was affected by the time shift. After all, it would only be a little more than an hour of Virtual activity every day if your Virtual self was on a server in a different world.

For those farmers that still worked on Earth, Kione, or similar worlds, this was the main reason why they hadn’t left. Their jobs had become less efficient, but they did not want to simply leave behind their current social lives.

As the man was thinking about that, he saw Alice suddenly stand up, swinging her sickle. Three green lines stretched out from the blade, slicing into the air between the rows of crops. He heard a hiss, and then the sound of something falling to the ground. 

There were always pests that tried to take advantage of the harvest time. Most of them were dealt with by the carnivorous plants that lined the edge of the field, but a few had concealment abilities that allowed them to get through. That was why, every day, Alice would sit at the field ready to intercept the beasts aiming to take the day’s harvest.

When the young man heard the creatures falling, he smiled, walking into the field. “I’ll handle the collection for today. You go wash up, and I’ll have dinner ready soon.”

Alice hesitated, but soon nodded her head with a small smile. “Thanks. I’ll plant the next batch after we eat, then.” To ensure that farmers like Alice were able to continue making a living, there was a tacit understanding between the farming communities of the worlds within the time dilation

Lorek and Spica would not trade fast-growing crops to the other worlds. Anything that a skilled farmer could grow in a week or less fell under this designation, and became the primary crop that farmers on Earth and similar worlds began to grow and sell. Although there were exceptions, such as people putting such crops on the Boundless Caravan, the prices were typically kept to a point where farmers would be able to maintain a decent standard of living.

Alice folded up her chair, putting it and the sickle in her inventory before walking back towards her house. She was just about to enter when her brow furrowed, and the sickle appeared in her hand again. With firm steps, she walked to the front of the house, where a woman in smooth robes stood, holding a white staff with golden etching.

“Something I can help you with?” Alice asked, eyes narrowed. She could sense the divinity from the woman, though she didn’t know why she was here. Perhaps she wasn’t a goddess herself, but a high-ranking priestess. Or, maybe she was on her path of godhood. Regardless, if she was a local, there was little chance that she was here to make friends.

“You can be at ease.” The robed woman said, feeling the hostility from Alice. “I come from Hanbei. I am part of the relief force sent by the Empress. You may address me as Ellie.”

“Hanbei?” Alice’s eyes narrowed a bit further, glancing around. She even raised her voice slightly, in case anyone was listening. “I told the last of your lot that came here that I wasn’t leaving.”

Ellie chuckled, shaking her head. “Don’t worry, nobody is eavesdropping. My staff blocks out perception beyond twenty meters. It’s how I was able to make it this far.”

Alice nodded her head, her voice lowering again. “Anyways, my mind’s not changed. I’ve not the means to move, nor any guarantee that I’d be safe there. You must know that the farms are monitored?”

Ellie let out a sigh, nodding her head. Due to the growing scarcity of farmers on Earth, Kross was very protective of their farmers. Or, at least, they called it being protective. If normal citizens were to take the offer to leave and join Hanbei, that was one thing. Kross couldn’t easily monitor anyone wanting to start a new life. Farmers… farmers were more rare, and thus easier to track. If a farm disappeared from Kross, and then suddenly appeared in Hanbei, they’d know what was going on even if the farmer changed their appearance.

“I’m aware.” Ellie said regretfully. “I won’t ask you to move if you don’t want to trouble your friends. I completely understand that. However, I would like to make you a different offer, if you would hear me out.”

“You’ve got five minutes.” Alice said in a strict tone. “Mason’s gathering the crops, and he could be back after that.”

“Five minutes?” Ellie blinked, before quickly nodding her head. “I’ll make this brief, then. I am a priestess of the Empress. Recently, she has created a new method to offer protection to those unable to leave Kross’s borders for one reason or another. This protection will not implicate you or require you to pledge any sort of allegiance.”

Only allowed on

Seeing the increasingly curious look on Alice’s face, Ellie continued. “I contain a seed of energy in my body, provided by the Empress. If I grant this seed to you, you will be able to use a number of wishes in your time of need. Specifically, there are three that I think would be of benefit to you as a farmer.”

“The first is to wish for prosperity. This will allow your farm to temporarily gain the effects of a farm from Lorek. I understand that this may raise questions when it comes to taxation, which is where the second wish comes in.”

“The second wish is to wish for trade. The Empress has reached an agreement with the Boundless Caravan, allowing this wish to open the caravan to list items for sale. You won’t be able to buy additional goods, but you will be able to collect your earnings if your produce sells.”

“The third wish is only meant to be used in a dire circumstance, and that is the wish for protection. Using this wish will generate a barrier around you. The duration of the barrier will depend on how much you have cultivated the energy. However, if you make the wish a second time before the barrier is dispelled, you will immediately be teleported to a reception area within Hanbei’s borders, designed to receive refugees.”

Alice blinked, nodding her head slightly. “So if I’m attacked by a monster, the first protection can stop it. But, if it’s a soldier, the second will get me away.”

Ellie’s smile grew wider, and she readily agreed. “That’s correct. We don’t want to force anyone to Hanbei. Instead, we merely want to offer them the chance for a better life.”

Still, Alice was skeptical. “And what’s the price to get this energy, or the method to cultivate it?”

Ellie let out a faint chuckle. “There is no price. If you agree, I will immediately bestow the seed of power upon you. As for the cultivation method, that is even simpler. This energy works together with your own natural spark of divinity. In short, the more you believe in the energy, the more it will cultivate itself. We believe that the stimulation of your divine spark may even offer you the chance to walk your own path of divinity, once you have nurtured it enough.”

Alice’s eyes widened. She had a hard time believing that there was anything this good to be so freely offered. In the back of her mind, she began to look for any strings or conditions that could be hidden within the offer. “This doesn’t exactly seem like a profitable business for your end.”

Ellie shook her head, leaning against her staff. “We don’t need your profits, frankly. In serving the Empress, we are blessed with a part of her fortune. If I am hungry, I can easily find sustenance in the wild. If I am in danger, I can find protection. If I am troubled, the answer will reveal itself to me in time. In exchange, the Empress has passed one simple edict to her following. We are to help those in need, and ask for nothing in return.”

“A real religious charity, huh?” Alice smirked bitterly, but ultimately nodded her head. “I’ll take this help, then. And pray that I don’t need to use it.”

Ellie nodded happily, reaching up and pinching lightly in front of her chest. A golden pebble emerged from her robes, and she held her hand out to pass it to Alice. “Merely hold this against your chest, and you will obtain this seed of energy.”

Alice hesitated briefly, before accepting the energy and doing as she had been instructed. She closed her eyes, feeling the small ball of energy sinking into her chest, and then… nothing. She couldn’t feel anything different about herself after it had entered her body.

“Everything okay, Alice?” The young man’s voice called out, and he walked over from behind the house. Clearly, he had already finished the collection, and was getting ready to start preparing dinner.

Alice’s eyes shot wide open, worried that he would find the priestess. However, Ellie was no longer in front of her, having vanished while her eyes were shut. “Huh? Oh… sorry, I thought I sensed something out here, so I wanted to make sure that there weren’t any problems.”

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“A stray monster?” Mason’s eyes narrowed, and a sword appeared in one hand. “Head inside, Alice. I’ll check the area.”

Alice let out a faint sigh, nodding her head and turning to enter the house. Although he was often amiable, Mason was still a soldier of the kingdom. That was why he sometimes probed how she felt about leaving the kingdom. Worse, he worshiped Irena, so she couldn’t even lie to him without being seen through. She had to be careful with her words, ensuring that she did not give any direct falsehoods.

Thankfully, if what Ellie said about her fortune was true, Alice felt that she didn’t need to worry for the priestess’s safety. She just needed to let nature run its course, and Mason would return empty-handed.

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