Chapter 21 - Water Problems
In the evening, Zhao woke up.
It was dark outside. Meirin and everyone else had come back. Generally, no one went out at night. Doing so would require using torches or oil lamps, which would mean wasting oil. They had to save every bit of the supplies they had.
Since it was dark, the slaves have already eaten. Now they had a period of rest where they were free to do whatever they wanted inside the castle. Zhao did not worry that they would try to escape, so he let them relax.
Right now the slaves were chatting in the castle's courtyard. Compared to other places, this place was simply paradise. Everyday they would have enough to eat, have a dry place to sleep, and they would have a daily period of rest.
When they first came here, they were still in despair. They knew of the situation in the Black Waste. Although they were slaves, they have heard nothing good about it. It was a barren land, and next to it was the carrion swamp. This was a place of death. They thought that they would soon starve in the future.
But they didn't expect that within two days after they arrived here, their master would have an ability that could turn the black soil into fertile earth, which was something even magic spells couldn't do. Now they didn't have to worry about starving to death.
Better living conditions than before, being treated with the same attitude as treating regular people, the promise to be free from slavery if they do a good job, plus their master's magical ability. All these things added up to them being very loyal to Zhao. Now the slaves weren't just doing passive work, but rather they wanted to work even more so that they can be freed from slavery a little earlier.
Zhao quietly watched over the slaves from his window. He wanted to chat with them, but he knew that now was not the time. These slaves have been oppressed for a very long time. When they saw anyone of the aristocracy, they would be too nervous to chat and would instead kneel in fear without daring to lift their head.
Changing a person's identity was easy, but changing their way of thinking was very difficult. It would take a long and gradual process to change their ideas, even if only a little bit. If you tried to hit them too fast with radical ideas, even if you were successful in changing their minds, you would only build up a foundation that was too unstable. So Zhao didn't go chat with the slaves. Now wasn't the right time.
Undoubtedly, the newly cultivated farm land and the possibility to be free gave these slaves some hope. When they first came here, the slaves moved around like they were dead, but now their lives were filled with hope.
Zhao liked to see such a look in those slaves' eyes. Only people with hope would do things to the very best of their ability.
Just then, someone knocked, interrupting his thoughts. Zhao recovered and said, "Come in."
The door opened and Meg was standing there. "Master, dinner is ready. It's time to eat."
Blockhead and Rockhead were also standing out there, guarding the door.
Zhao nodded. He knew that it was time for dinner, but he felt bad. In the last two days, not only was Meirin busy with managing the slaves, she also had to cook for him. She must be tired. Although Zhao could cook, he didn't dare to. He shouldn't forget that he was pretending to be a noble. He could justify his spatial abilities because with all the magic in the continent, there were bound to be a few oddities like him. But if he suddenly could cook, then Meirin and Meg would become suspicious of him.
Everyone went down to the dining room where they found Meirin who had already set down their dinner. There was bread and some vegetables, plus a piece of meat with soup. To be honest, as a native of China, he was not used to this stuff.
After he ate a few bites, Zhao said, "Grandma Meirin, I think it would be unwise to improve the black land tomorrow."
Meirin was surprised for a moment, and then she gave Zhao a puzzled look. "Why does young master say it is not possible to improve the land? If the land can't be improve, then what should we do?"
"I think you misunderstood me, Grandma Meirin. I meant that I can not improve the land within the vicinity of the castle. Right now our strength is too weak. If we let those guys find out that we could turn this place into fertile land, do you think they would let us?"
Meirin knew this, but after the land improvement that happened today, she was simply too dizzy with joy to think about it. But now Meirin was reminded by Zhao's words and immediately understood. Zhao was right. If they let those old nobles find out that they could improve the land here, it would be hard to deal with them.
Although the Buda clan had signed an agreement with the Empire, it was on the premise that the territory would only belong to the heir of the Buda family. But if there was no heir, then the king would be able to take this fief back, naturally withdrawing it into the king's ownership.
Every man was innocent until they had something valuable.
Meirin put down her knife and fork. "What Master said makes sense. Even if we were just trying to improve our lives, those old nobles wouldn't let us go. So young master, what should we do?" Meirin paid more and more attention to Zhao's opinions these days. Zhao had done a lot of amazing things coupled with his unique ability. So Meirin unconsiously couldn't help but listen to him.
Zhao also put down his cutlery and gently wiped his mouth with a napkin. "The land is to be improved, but not around the castle. It would be too conspicuous. With a glance, it would be too easy for people to find. I think we should look for another area of land to improve. Somewhere subtle, not too big, and could not be easily found. We just need about a thousand acres of farm land to meet the needs of everyone here."
Meirin nodded. "Master's right. Tomorrow, I will gather some of the slaves to check out the surroundings for a good place to make a farm. Will we continue to try to raise blue-eyed rabbits and scaleless fish?"
"Yes, we're going to continue to try to raise them, especially scaleless fish. If someone manages to catch sight of them and blue-eyed rabbits, they would think that it was just our last attempts at struggling to survive since we have nothing to feed them. So they wouldn't be too concerned about it."
"Then the only problem is the water," Meirin said. "Not only our moat, but the lake seems to have no fish at all. What do you think is wrong?"
Zhao thought for a moment. He was only an otaku, not a professional fisherman, so he didn't notice any problems with the water, while Meirin had noticed it because she was a Water Mage. Zhao was somewhat puzzled. Arguably, the moat and the lake should have a lot of fish. The problem shouldn't be the water quality. He had already analyzed it in his spatial farm. So why weren't there any fish? "Grandma Meirin, there shouldn't be any problems. It should be an excellent source of water where the fish could survive. But when you look at it, there are no fish. So what could the reason be?"
Meirin frowned. "When water has no fish, there are only two possibilities. The first is that the water could be toxic and so wouldn't be suitable for the fish to survive. The second is that there's a ferocious spirit beast living in the water and eating all the fish. If it really is like Master said, then the water shouldn't be poisonous. Then it could only be the second possibility. There is a spirit beast living in the water."
Zhao carefully thought about it. What Meirin said makes sense. He remembered in his past life, when he was watching the news, a fisherman had found two predatory animals in his pond. The result was all the pond fish had been eaten. There might also be this kind of beast here. If that were the case, then it would be a huge hassle.
When Meirin saw Zhao frowning, she tried to comfort him. "Master, this isn't a difficult matter. It would be difficult to solve if the water was poisonous, but if there is just a mischevious spirit beast in the water, then we just need to kill it after we find it."
Even after listening to her, Zhao was still worried. His thoughts were the complete opposite of Meirin's. If the water was poisonous, then he could simply use his spatial water to detoxify it, but if there was a spirit beast in the water, it would be troublesome.
Meirin saw that Zhao still had a worried look. "Master doesn't need to worry. If it's a spirit beast, I could just kill it. This would not affect young master's plans."
Zhao heard what Meirin said and he was surprised, but then he understood. This wasn't Earth. On Earth, if you wanted to kill something like a deep sea monster, it wouldn't be so easy. But here in the Ark Continent, there was magic, and Meirin was a powerful Water Mage. Maybe she did have the means to destroy the spirit beast.