Jonathan could hear the birds chirping outside. The transmigrator dragged a hand down his face and forced open his eyelids. The light seeping through his window was still bluish and pale. It was still far too early to be up despite the pestering noise of those darn birds. However, he was already awake now. He might as well start his day.
Oceton squawked as he was picked up from his comfortable place on the bed.
“Oh don’t be like that,” Jonathan chided. The man rolled his eyes as he walked over to his small stove and oven. He put down Oceton and placed some of his cut logs into the unlit oven.
Oceton—who by this point was almost definitely a phoenix—shook his red feathers out and squinted at Jonathan. The bird tapped his talons on the wooden floor. He waited for the tinder to be added, then spat a small flame into the oven.
Jonathan could have bought one of the magic fueled stove stops but it simply wasn’t worth the money to him. Besides, using magic crystals—mana stones the Westerners called them—as fuel . . . that sort of thing was like tossing his money into a never ending black hole. He simply wasn’t rich enough to sustain that. Everyone else in the village was also in the same sort of financial situation. In Alita, only nobles and some of those in the cities had enough money to buy crystals.
The lantern on the table was lit and the two ate together. Oceton had a feed mix of different seeds and some meat, while Jonathan had bread and jam.
There was a peace in sleeping, early mornings that he enjoyed. A blanket of quiet that settled gently across his shoulders. He had time to breathe and think, as well as time to process any leftover emotions from the previous days. Everything had gone well. He wasn’t feeling as tired lately—it was nice.
While he ate breakfast, Jonathan finished off a letter to his friend Aderes. He waited for the ink to dry before he rolled it up.
He read another few pages of one of his books, as was part of his routine. This was a new book, called Humanity’s Magic.
‘…and in the apprentice’s attempt to ascend him and his master, all was almost lost. The master, ruler of the known world, pleaded with the most Powerful One whose wrath had been summoned by the unrighteous trapping and murder of Their servant. Mercy was granted, but the punishment was already set for the pair. Their ascension to no longer being mortal was granted. They would live a long, almost endless life until they repented of their wrongdoing.’
Jonathan was amused by the various myths of ages past. He thought most of them were untrue, but perhaps some were accurate depictions. Ancient kingdoms, lost books, necromancy, and tragedy seemed to summarize the first chapter of Human Magic.
The smell of fresh bread was something that Jonathan appreciated greatly in the morning. It was unfortunate the man didn’t have long to enjoy it. The sooner he got to work, the sooner he could call it a day. He put out the stove and changed into work clothes. Once that was finished, he checked his face in the mirror, washed his face, shaved the stubble on his chin, and tied his hair into a messy bun.
Jonathan glanced around his cabin—built with the help of Zachariah and other neighbors of his—and walked out the door.
Oceton was sent off with the letter tied to his leg and a promise of a treat when he returned.
Having sent off his bird and message, Jonathan woke up Biscuit.
The mare had a small stable all for herself, connected to the cabin. Biscuit was fed a mash of several grains, tacked up, and attached to a two-wheeled cart. She was starting to get a bit on in years now, but Biscuit was still sound, strong, and raring to do her job.
The forest was noisy; it was always noisy. By now, even more birds had woken up and started flitting between the trees, hunting and communicating to each other. Bugs and creatures similar to salamanders were hiding underneath the damp moss and fallen logs.
Jonathan rode until he reached the trees he wanted to cut down. He dismounted and double checked that the grove was the one planted about twenty years ago. Once he was sure they were the right trees, he started chopping them down.
Lumberjacks in Alita’s countryside were smart and practiced a bit more of a sustainable type of forestry than countries like Celtie or Ahan. In Alita, taking care of the forest and the land was a priority which meant that trees cut down for wood were replanted. On Zachariah’s map—the ink immensely faded but legible—were areas marked by the years the saplings or nuts had been planted.
Biscuit was unhooked from the cart and allowed to forage a bit away from where Jonathan was working. She had a keen eye for which plants were okay to eat, and gave a wide berth to those with thorns.
Jonathan was satisfied with his haul after a few hours of work. He took a short break then enlisted Biscuit for help.
The logs were lashed together with rope and carefully pulled onto a cart. Biscuit was attached to the cart, and they headed down the mountain towards the village of Tesriff.
Most of Jonathan’s stock for the day was bought as he went down the main street. There were a decent amount of farmers, merchants, and business owners looking for a few logs that day. He saved a few logs of those with a particular type of hardwood that he knew Zachariah and Trista Yulr—Chester’s parents—preferred for the color and sold those logs to the carpenters.
A horse was tied outside the small house on the farm past the village. Jonathan dropped the wood outside. He knew that Mr. and Mrs. Yulr were busy selling some tools to a neighbor. He briefly brushed down and pet Magnus. Chester’s steed had been well treated by the Yulrs. The horse had his own stable and ate extra oats from the harvests.
Jonathan went back up the mountain, left the cart in his small shed, and rode Biscuit over to his neighbor’s house for tea. There were very few other people on the mountain, maybe five cabins in total.
Old Marcus Varn was a florist and despite his village nickname he wasn’t truly elderly. The large gardens around his house reflected the passion he had for his current profession. “Welcome, welcome.” His curly salt and pepper bangs fell into his face, covering his eyes. A furred cap was perched firmly on his head. “Glad you remembered my invitation, finally.”
Jonathan hung his red coat up near the door. He had also left his axe at his cabin, but had brought his anti-magic longsword instead. The fear of being ambushed by man or beast in a forest was something quite rational. On the other hand . . . he also didn’t entirely trust his neighbor. “I was curious about saplings, actually,” he threw out. “I wanted to know a bit more about how to grow and plant them.”
Marcus poured tea and had a few sips before he started rambling.
There were many types of neighbors. Some of them were far more annoying than others, but personal preference played a role. Marcus happened to be eccentric and an immense chatterbox.
Jonathan sipped at the tea and glanced around the small house. It wasn’t different from when he had been a few days ago. A few picture frames held pressed and dried plants with descriptions of their uses. Several vases held flowers, most likely the special type cultivated by Marcus.
Marcus didn’t know that Jonathan had zoned out, but did notice where his neighbor’s eyes had landed. “You’re looking at the flowers! They’re a new kind from Malamut that I ordered. The purple and blue variants are my favorites.”
Jonathan nodded. It was obvious that the florist seemed very happy about finally having flowers from his home country. “They’re nice,” he offered, feeling somewhat awkward about the compliment. He had traveled to Alita’s capital with Marcus a few times.
The middle-aged florist liked to keep his identity quiet and the lucky buyers of his flowers only found out what they had after a few days. Marcus’s flowers were unique; they didn’t die, as long as they were provided some water and sunshine.
Jonathan definitely never reads anything plot relevant for other future novels in this series, or his previous novel. Nope. It’s not like inserting foreshadowing text is really easy and fun to do.
What sort of things should I sell if I open up a shop on kofi? Stickers, bookmarks, and wallpaper designs are what I’m thinking about. Along with, of course, a pdf version of An Unwilling Prince.