Magi Craft Meister 545
16 The Demons’ Mastermind Arc
16-24 Laozi’s Power-Up
“Dealing with the radicals, dealing with Nega-Doll 001, and dealing with the moderates. We need to do those three things at the same time.”
The next day, August 22nd, on Hourai Island, Laojun was explaining his plan to Jin.
“I understand that. But first, I want to know more about their food situation.”
Jin thought that if the food situation of the demons could be improved, that in itself would take care of about 80% of this turmoil.
“I see… In that case, it would be better to solve this problem while your Substitute Doll is in the Shinra clan’s abode, My Lord.”
After considering it for a few seconds, Laojun agreed.
“Okay, I’ll see what I can do for a couple of days. Can you see to the other two points?”
“Yes. I know I’ll manage to do this to some extent. However…”
Laojun then brought the fact that there was no one to lead each team that would take care of all of the work they had to do to Jin’s attention.”
“Ah, I see, we’re shorthanded, aren’t we?”
“We have enough in terms of ability to deliver results, but when it comes to leading figures…”
“Should we use Laozi…?”
However, in its current form, it was clearly lacking in power. Jin wanted it to have a level of performance at least above the Lands.
“Okay, it’s settled. We’ll power-up Laozi.”
“Will you do that for me?”
For security reasons, Laojun couldn’t make any changes on Laozi.Therefore, Jin himself would have to do it.
Thus Jin decided to give Laojun’s mobile terminal Laozi a proper remodeling.
However, since it was fundamentally the same he had already done for Reiko and the other Golems, adding new functions to Laozi took Jin slightly less than an hour in total.
The improvements included a complete overhaul of his skeleton and muscle tissue, adding the sense of touch along with all its natural functions, and the capability to use Ether Jammers, Gravity Magic, and most offensive and defensive spells.
The addition of a Mana Tank allowed for sufficient stockpile in terms of energy.
He was also able to use Engineering Magic as well as Healing Magic. The result was a truly almighty Automata.
Reiko could also be considered almighty, but in her case, she had an outstanding level of offensive power. In Laozi’s case, he was fine-tuned to have him function in a well-balanced manner.
As a unique feature, he had five built-in ultra-small Golems about 5 centimeters tall, aptly named “Finger Golems”.
They were based on the Mini-Smiths, and had been made especially so that they were half the size of a standard Mini-Smith.
They would be useful for collecting all sorts of information. They were named Fingers 1 through 5.
“What do you think of Laozi, Laojun?”
“My Lord, you have completed yet another wonderful work. There can be no complaints about it. Thank you very much.”
As Laojun operated Laozi, his remodeled mobile terminal, he reported to Jin that his workmanship had been on point.
“I’ll follow Nega-Doll 001’s every step.”
“Got it. Be careful.”
“Yes. For the time being, I’ll be sending the Land Corps to secretly observe the radical clans.”
“Alright, sounds like a plan. Once the moderates have settled down, we’ll start working on the radicals.”
“Correct. So in the meantime, I thought we’d better keep an eye for any suspicious movements among the radicals.”
“Okay. Let’s send Falcons 8 through 10. There’s plenty of Ether in the air so they will have no problem standing by in mid-air.”
In this way, Laojun would handle Nega-Doll 001, the Land Corps would watch over the radicals, while Jin (‘s Substitute Doll), Reiko, and Ann would work on the moderates.
＊ ＊ ＊
“How’s our agriculture, you ask?”
Jin (‘s Substitute Doll) was having a meeting with Bardius, the chief of the Shinra clan.
“Yes. Of course I can offer you some provisions to aid you, but I think it would be better to ensure your self-sufficiency.”
“Certainly. I’ll ask Lorona to take you for a look around the area. She’s very knowledgeable in that regard.”
Thus Jin followed the mother of Istalis and Shion, Lorona. Reiko walked silently behind them as well.
Meanwhile, Ann asked Istalis and Shion to take her for a walk around the Shinra clan’s abode. Based on what she saw, she would then point out whatever she felt was problematic as well as a potential solution.
Lorona had silver hair, light blue eyes, and white skin that looked exactly like Istalis and Shion’s. In fact, many of the Shinra clan had those features.
The thought that this could mean that there would be many marriages with close relatives in the clan briefly crossed Jin’s mind, but he quickly brushed it off to concentrate on agriculture.
“Most of the wheat variety we produce is barley.”
Jin was led to a barley field that was being grown on a hill that faced the sea. Although they had lots of ears, it seemed that they weren’t producing as well as the ones seen in Kaina Village.
Incidentally, barley was said to be more resistant to being damaged by salt than wheat. So it was reasonable to have barley grow on a field close to the coastal edge.
“Umm, so what do you do to prevent damaging the soil due to repeated cultivation?”
“Well, we normally try to add mulch during the seasons when we’re not growing anything.”
Damage due to repeated cultivation is basically the natural reduction of a crop’s yield due to the increase of specific diseases and pests that appear as a result of producing the same crop in a consecutive manner, as well as the deprivation of minerals in the soil.
“Hmm, so is this insufficient, or is it simply a local breed?”
Jin’s knowledge in this area only allowed him to think that, without growing two different crops –or even the same kind of crop– in the same arable land semi-annually over the course of the same year, the demons would have to allow the plot of land to rest for half a year while adding some kind of organic fertilizer.
“How about other crops?”
So he decided to take a look around to get a general idea.
“Here we are. Here’s where we grow what we call ‘summer beans’.”
At first glance, they looked very similar to green peas. Certainly, they would be one of the most cold-resistant types of legumes.
However, it also seemed that their growth wasn’t going so well.
“This is how we sweeten our meals. We call it vietra.”
No matter how Jin looked at it, it was sugar beet to him.
“We grate it, squeeze the juice out of it, and simmer it to make sugar. Then we use the draff to feed our livestock.”
It seemed to be used to feed their Capri, which was a livestock animal of this world that looked like a mix between a cow and a sheep.
So far it all matched what Jin already knew.
“And this is the last thing we have here to show you.”
It was a field with white flowers all over. Jin was familiar with these flowers.
Looking closer, the base of its stem was red. It had to be buckwheat, which was used to make soba. Though not all buckwheat was like that, in Jin’s memory, the base of the buckwheat’s stem was red.
“It’s called rye. We sow it in May after the snow melts, and we harvest it in September.”
It was true that buckwheat pips were dark-brown, but it was a different type of plant from barley. But that’s not where Jin saw a problem.
“How do you eat this buck… this rye?”
“Well, we grind the pips skin and all into a fine flour, then we make dough with it by adding hot water.”
This preparation method reminded Jin of sobagaki –buckwheat dumplings.
Unlike barley, buckwheat could be made into hikigurumi, a flour made by mixing each grind from the first to the third all together which is prized for its aroma.
“…If only I had some broth to go with this soba…”
For Jin, there weren’t many options for eating soba without having soy sauce available.
“Buckwheat cookies, steamed buns…”
Since Jin had spent several years during his time in the orphanage making soba noodles for everyone during New Year’s Eve –as is tradition to have a bowl during that night–, he was very adept at making soba noodles, even if he wasn’t an actual expert at it. However, there was no way for him to make soba soup in the land of the demons, so he quickly gave up on the idea.
Even without baking powder, they still had baking soda, so they could still make steamed bread.
＊ ＊ ＊
After inspecting all the crops and fields, Jin (‘s Substitute Doll) returned to Shinra clan’s abode.
He then took a seat in the drawing room and started thinking (though the actual thinking was made by both Laojun and the real Jin on Hourai Island). Then he voiced his final conclusion.
“…First we’ll have to secure manpower, then probably review the crops and methods for agriculture.”
“What do you mean, Mr. Jin?”
Both Lorona and her husband Radeus looked like they weren’t following Jin’s words. Bardius was even worse.
“Let’s make some farmer Golems. Then you can grow potatoes. And build greenhouses.”
Jin revealed the idea he had been thinking about.
“I understand what you mean by farmer Golems, but what are these ‘potatoes’ and ‘greenhouses’ you speak of?”
Jin gave them a short answer to their questions.
“Potatoes, which are also known as ‘topopo’, are a type of tuber that can be grown even in very harsh environments. They can be prepared into all sorts of delicious meals. And greenhouses are basically structures made out of transparent plates that allow for safe growing of crops even in cold regions. The temperature inside is higher than outside.”
“That sounds great!”
Being quite familiar with agriculture herself, Lorona seemed to have understood quite a bit just by listening to Jin’s vague explanation.
“I would like it if you could help with the production of the farmer Golems, as well as provide the materials we’ll need.”
“Of course. I’ll go get everything ready.”
Radeus quickly left the room, saying he would prepare the materials.
“So, Mr. Jin, we need to talk about your remuneration for your help in this matter. What would be okay for you…?”
Chief Bardius said so with a worried expression on his face.
And Jin’s reply was:
“Well, I’d like some of that buck–I mean, rye… and some vietra seeds.”