Chapter 136 The Week of ○○○ is a Lifetime of ○○○
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
The hastily tasting event came to an end, and I, along with Wen, who cheekily decided to stay, finished our slightly early dinner. After listening to today’s reports from Diana and Lewya and summarizing them in a report, the two of them accompanied me to the bathroom.
Lately, with the increasing number of people in the settlement, both of them have been busy during the day, and it had become natural for them to spend less time by my side, even though they are my servants. So the only time we could relax and talk without worrying about others was after the daily reports, which happened to be now.
That’s why, as Lewya and Diana helped me undress, I began discussing the contents of the consultation I received from Narsht-san.
”…That’s the situation.”
”Is that so… When did Narsht-san notice something like that? I think it wouldn’t be strange for Narsht-san to notice changes in the taste of ingredients earlier.”
”Narsht-san already knew that the quality of crops grown in the settlement was different from elsewhere. That’s why Narsht-san probably didn’t pay much attention to it. But recently, with Niya-san and the others starting to bring in more and more prey, there has been a surplus in meat supply. He has been experimenting with creating new dishes by combining the local vegetables with simple dishes like steak, and that’s when he noticed the issue I mentioned earlier… So, Lewya, do you have any idea about this problem?”
Lewya’s response, without even a hint of hesitation, left me disappointed.
”Seriously? You really have no idea? Elves have been growing crops using that method, right?”
”Yeah, but at least since I was born, I’ve never heard of the quality of crops changing… Well, maybe there was one time.”
”Really? What happened then?”
”Unfortunately, the matter that time had a fundamentally different cause from the current problem. It won’t be of any help as a reference.”
”Even though you don’t know the cause of the current problem, how can you say that?”
”I’ve already said it, the fundamental cause is ‘different’…”
From Lewya’s attitude of not wanting to discuss it further, it seemed that it was a topic she didn’t want to touch.
”I never expected that Lewya still had secrets.”
”But it’s not such a strange thing. Even the two of you must have at least one secret that you haven’t told anyone.”
Lewya’s words made my heart skip a beat. Niya-san and the others had already discovered my true identity, but apart from them, it was still a secret. So I was worried that even if it wasn’t clearly exposed, Lewya might have sensed that I was hiding something. However, Lewya’s gaze was directed only at Diana.
”I have no secrets from you.”
”…If you seriously think you can hide them, then you’re quite something.”
Oh, sorry. I seem to be completely lost in the conversation. So, does Diana have some secret, and does Lewya know something about it? That’s what it seems to imply. While pondering over such thoughts, I was completely undressed, and both of them also took off their clothes, leaving only their undergarments, as we moved from the changing room to the bathroom.
I sat on a chair, assuming a position to be washed by the two of them, and then I resumed discussing the previous topic.
”I understand that Lewya doesn’t want to talk about the cause. But within the boundaries of not touching on that cause, do you have any idea about the possible cause of the current problem? There’s no one more knowledgeable about cultivation with the help of spirits than Lewya.”
”Well, even if you say that, unfortunately, I can’t say anything other than that I have no idea. What I can say is that the cause I know of is something that is absolutely impossible in this settlement. We elves regularly check with the earth spirits if there are any issues with the crops or the soil, but I haven’t received any reports of something happening.”
Well, the thing is, we are currently facing a problem with the crops. But from the perspective of spirits who only absorb magical energy and don’t necessarily taste the crops, the taste of the crops might not be a consideration. While I was pondering over such matters, Diana and Lewya continued washing me, their hands moving diligently. Even Lewya, who used to blush just from seeing me naked in the beginning, seemed completely accustomed as she washed my body.
”Neil, your p*nis seems quite red. What happened?”
Indeed, she has become quite accustomed. We’ve already been intimate multiple times, so maybe it’s not a big deal at this point. But still, it’s a bit too shameless.
”Oh, that happened in the afternoon… It’s just a minor thing.”
”It shouldn’t turn this red from something minor. Honestly, I don’t know what happened, but Diana, you should exercise some moderation.”
”Why are you bringing up my name? And using the word ‘moderation’ makes it sound like I threw a tantrum or something.”
”Is that not the case?”
Faced with Lewya’s straightforward question, Diana falls silent. I can’t see Diana’s expression as she washes my back, but she’s probably wearing an embarrassed look.
”Neil, is there any oozing from it?”
”Oh, no, it’s fine. It’s probably just a mild inflammation, no cuts or anything.”
”Just to be safe, I’ll cast a healing spell on it. We wouldn’t want any bacteria getting in. We’ll spare ourselves the joke of ‘My servant worked too hard, and now I can’t conceive’.”
As Lewya says this, she casts a healing spell. It’s quite a ridiculous scene that I ended up having a healing spell cast on my genitals due to overindulgence. We engage in some trivial conversation for a while, and after being washed by their hands, I soak in the bath while Diana and Lewya wait for me in the washing area.
In the end, I didn’t gather much useful information about the crop issue. As I gaze absentmindedly at the ceiling of the bathroom, Diana calls out to me from the washing area.
”Master Neil, I have a thought that occurred to me regarding the crop issue.”
”What is it?”
”The change in taste of the crops might be influenced by the environment. Even with the same type of crop, it can vary significantly depending on the growing conditions. The environment of the settlement, where crops are planted and harvested within a week by the spirits, is quite different from the environment they have been accustomed to.”
”But it hasn’t even been half a year since we started growing crops using the current method. Adaptation and evolution usually take years, even decades, through successive generations… Wait.”
Successive generations… I see, that’s what it means.
Most crops have a cycle from planting to harvest once or twice a year.
However, in the settlement, this cycle, which would normally take a long time, is completed in just a week or so.
In other words, a week in the settlement is a lifetime for the crops, and the crops in the settlement have already gone through several tens of generations.
I see, if I look at it that way, it’s understandable how the taste of the crops changed in such a short period.
In that case, then…
”Hey, Lewya, what do the earth spirits think when they grow the crops?”
”What do you mean?”
”I understand that the spirits don’t concern themselves with the taste of the crops, as they don’t consider them for consumption. But what is the intention of the earth spirits when they grow the crops?”
When growing crops, humans have various thoughts directed towards them.
Some wish for them to taste delicious, some want a bountiful harvest. It varies from person to person, but anyone who tries to grow crops with their own hands should have some kind of intention. Spirits shouldn’t be an exception.
What are the thoughts of the earth spirits and how do they aim to grow the crops? That’s surely what is influencing the changes in the settlement’s crops.
”I’ve never had a conversation with the spirits about this, so it’s purely speculation, but is that okay?”
”It’s fine, go ahead and tell me.”
”The earth spirits probably wish for the healthy growth of the crops. They manage temperature, humidity, and nutrient levels for each crop, all with the intention of creating an environment in which the crops can thrive. They are careful to protect the crops from pests, and it feels like they have an attachment to them.”
”The healthy growth of the crops… I see, that makes sense. So that’s why the taste of the spices has declined.”
”Do you understand something?”
”Yeah, while I understand that the change in taste of the crops is due to successive generations, but the environment, the overprotectiveness of the spirits of the soil, is what prompted the adaptive evolution of the crops in the first place.”
Diana and Lewya look at each other and ask a question together, as if they don’t understand the causal relationship between the overprotectiveness and the change in the taste of the crops.
”It’s true that the environment is unusual for crops, and I can understand that adaptive evolution would take place. But I don’t understand why you think that the taste of the spices would be reduced by such an environment, though the taste would naturally change. Well, It would not be surprising if they would taste as good as vegetables.”
”I understand what Lewya is saying, but being overprotective is detrimental when it comes to spices, especially in terms of pest control.”
”Why is that?”
”Many spices have components that act as natural insect repellents. The strong aromas, bitterness, and heat present in many spices are likely the result of evolutionary adaptations to deter insects from eating them.”
”I see… So by protecting the spices from insects, they’ve lost their means of self-defense.”
”Most likely, although I don’t think this applies to all spices. Narsht-san mentioned it’s only certain spices. There are bound to be exceptions.”
The change doesn’t just affect spices, but also vegetables, and the cause is probably not solely related to pest control.
Take daikon radish, for example. The lower half of the radish, buried deep in the ground, has a spicy flavor to prevent insects from eating it. However, this spiciness is not only influenced by the presence of insects but also by the condition of the soil.
If the soil is hard or if there are obstructing stones that prevent the radish from growing straight, the radish becomes even spicier, regardless of the insects. On the other hand, spinach is another case. Its prime season is December to January, during the heart of winter. In order to prevent the leaves from freezing, winter spinach accumulates sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more delicious taste compared to summer-harvested spinach.
In this way, while some crops improve in taste under harsh conditions, others may deteriorate. Therefore, growing crops to be delicious is a challenging task.
The vegetables Narsht-san mentioned that have a deteriorated taste are probably the ones that can bring out their unique flavors only under harsh conditions, much like spinach.
However, I’m stumped. While I have identified the cause, finding a solution seems difficult. The most reliable option is to grow the crops with human intervention instead of relying on the spirits, but once humans get used to convenience, it’s not easy to give up that environment. Moreover, growing crops that thrive in a specific season and selling them normally wouldn’t yield significant profits.
If I’m thinking of a solution, it should be an improvement rather than a compromise. I pondered how to somehow maintain the current environment while growing delicious crops.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.