- Jorad -
Good riddance, what I've gotten myself into here?
Right now I have to conduct a document for these insects and have to ponder how exactly to word it.
It might be possible to let some quotes slip in which might favor the town or even call this whole thing null and void because... well, they are insects.
Yet, considering my situation right now this would be utterly stupid.
If I am right, these creatures are much more of a threat than the Koreso could ever pose.
I mean, what is a quarrel between countries against the threat of such an inhuman force?
I am highly aware that I lack information here.
There might be some hardliners in the capital who would fight such an enemy no matter what.
But they offered peace for now.
Why decline that in the worst possible strategic situation?
I simply can't fight another front right now.
But what if they betray me?
What if Koreso makes a better offer?
I simply have no way to confirm this.
Maybe I should take them up on the offer to inspect their tunnels.
Such an offer does indicate that they are speaking the truth.
But the other matter is far more urgent.
Even if I completely believe them and take them up on their "too-good-to-be-true" offer to trade ores, getting access to a safe system of paths, and getting necessary supplies even during a siege.
I would need to keep my part of the agreement.
And that would mean no harm for any of these insects or at least severe punishment for anyone who does so.
And how they pointed out the security measures for those princesses.
If something happens to them then good night.
Yet, if I act like this in the worst case I will be seen as a collaborator against mankind.
I could like this lose everything.
But the benefits are vast and my instinct tells me that a fight might end badly for me.
As the path against them leads to ruin, either by them or the enemies I already have and the other one offers at least the chance of profit I'm ought to take the latter.
Yet as a noble I will have to commit myself to this decision.
The only thing of greater importance than my word is my oath to the king.
Albeit that I cannot slip from that path then.
What troublesome expectations.
Maybe I should consult with Ashton.
He was with me during the negotiations yet didn't speak, as he had no word as my subordinate.
"Ashton! What do you think about all this?" (J)
"Milord? Could you specify?" (A)
"Do I really need to specify on the giant insect creatures we've just talked to?" (J)
"No. I just meant that my insight on this is rather limited. There was simply too much at once." (A)
"I get you. I thought about that offer. I think I should take it but don't know how to progress from then on. Do you think there is a way to let them wander around in town?" (J)
"Now, they didn't talk about numbers. But if they intend to trade seriously we have to estimate a certain presence. This would prove too much to be kept under direct surveillance. Furthermore, I ought to believe we would have in the first place to interact with the bigger ones. While it might be possible to introduce this slender speaker and even the princess as just a bit special, those intimidating creatures might pose a problem when they come into direct contact with the populace." (A)
"You are right. And I don't know how composed they will behave. Not even speaking about the already unsettled citizens. This commotion today was enough to distress the people." (J)
"If I could make a suggestion, we could restrict the access to controlled places with guard presence. At least for the workers. This would ensure control." (A)
"You are right here. There is just the point if they would be satisfied by this. Considering their demands we will have to give them something at least. They offered access to their realm, yet we cannot expect such a thing if we are restricting ours." (J)
"Then we need to tell them this only applies for the most creepy looking. And we could offer special permissions of entrance if we are able to grant an escort." (A)
"There would be the point if your men can do this. Do you think they are able to fight in the worst-case against citizens to protect such creatures? Not to speak of containing themselves in their presence?" (J)
"Honestly, I don't know. I can assure you that my direct commanders will follow their orders, especially if the situation is explained to them. But for the normal soldiers... I really don't know. The moral was already low and now this." (A)
"However, if we want to survive there is no way around "this". Having those creatures against us would be our end." (J)
"Yet the problem remains, that they look still too foreign to calm the populace enough to make them tolerate their standing presence." (A)
"For this, I have an idea. What would be if we present them a soothing appearance? Something that looks... inoffensive?" (J)
"Are you suggesting..." (A)
"What was your idea about this girl?" (J)
"Honestly, I didn't notice anything until she did this. She looked pleasant until the moment she showed those wings." (A)
"Likewise. Even I wasn't sure if these wings were real. But these eyes? But this could be to our advantage. If we can present her accordingly the people might associate those insects with a young only partly strange-looking girl." (J)
"But to make her do this? As weird as it sounds, these insects are obviously treasuring those princesses. They have some kind of leading role. Would they allow such an endeavor? If something would happen..." (A)
"In this regard, I can only count on you and your men. If not for that we will have to face serious tensions. This might be a small gamble. Nonetheless, one we can control. We simply cannot afford that this goes wrong." (J)
Like this, I turn again to the preparation of the document.
It takes a while, taking everything essential into account but I think I have in the end a favorable result to present.
The next I have to do is the preparation for what is to come.
In fact, the main part was already spoken out and this document is more a mere formality yet I need to ensure that I can keep my part of the bargain.
Many have seen these creatures and like this, there is an uproar in my town.
I need to settle this and make sure that no one does anything stupid.
Also, I want to visit the herbalists and cooks I gave that black stuff, which was as this girl said some kind of harvest.
I need to find out if they can really use it.
The assigned individuals shall work in this case together.
The herbalist shall tell me if this plant has any poisonous or in another way other problematic characteristics and the cook if he can somehow use it.
It doesn't have to be a noteworthy dish.
People shall just be able to eat it without problems.
So I head to the destination.
"Milord, what brings you here?" (herbalist)
"The task I've assigned to you, Morris. Have you or Joshua found anything noteworthy about this plant? I know you might find it humiliating to work with a cook, despite your profession. Yet I was told this plant was edible and need you to find out if this is true." (J)
"Oh no milord. I understand completely. But I need to say, if not for the processing of meals, my expertise is by far greater regarding finding the properties of a plant." (M)
If you don't talk to them with words coated in honey you won't hear anything useful in return.
"So it is a plant? It was difficult for me to discern this black stuff." (J)
"To be precise, it is a fungus. And a fascinating one that is." (M)
"Please keep it short. But don't spare the important details." (J)
"Yes, at once milord. To summarize, the mushroom is not only edible but has an extremely high nutritional value. I couldn't detect any negative effects on the body. And in my own opinion, there should be no problem to dry them and keep them like this for a long time. Even more, as it is a mushroom itself, there is a decreased chance it gets moldy. Joshua, who tried to process them said that the consistency is close to bread yet with a sweeter flavor." (M)
"So I would be able to make for example army rations with this?" (J)
"While I don't appreciate that this is the first thing coming to mind for such a discovery, there should be no issue. The mushroom is perfectly edible. However, there is more to tell." (M)
"Then do." (J)
"As I've processed the goods you showed me, I was able to find some exemplars which were still carrying spores." (M)
"And what do you want to say by this?" (J)
"Naturally, as a herbalist confronted with a completely new plant I tried to grow them and raise a stock." (M)
"Did it work?" (J)
"Unfortunately my first attempts yielded only meager results. I soon realized that the issue was that the mushroom is vulnerable to natural light. Exposed to it the structure quickly deteriorates." (M)
"So no sunlight then. That means we can't plant it on fields." (J)
"No, we can't. But it was fascinating in other ways. To be precise, in the dark the mushroom can grow, but it needs a certain temperature to do so, a little above normal room temperature. Also, the air should be moldy, yet this is no absolute requirement, still beneficial. On the other hand, I discovered that it can regrow to its old shape even if large pieces got cut off. This happens in comparison to its size, but only if the ground stays fertilized." (M)
"So you say that with this kind of plant we could have a steady food source that could be cultivated indoors? Even in winter? This would be a huge advantage." (J)
"While this might be true milord, I fear we lack the possibilities to pursue this. It is without a question possible to raise them to a decent degree yet I fear we lack the facilities.
We have no place to grow them at a large scale to keep them warm enough, moisten the air, and have no effective means to tend the fields constantly at such a place." (M)
To my dismay Morris is right.
What he just described is a gigantic, always tended field deep in the underground or at least a cellar.
I can't even imagine the necessary logistics to establish something like this on a large scale.
This means in fact that the insects have a monopoly on this.
Another reason to stay friendly towards them.