I offered rice balls to the house altar (I have no idea how the worship etiquette works in this world so I took it upon myself to make one) dedicated to Hephaestus as I said my prayers.
“It’s because of your gift, the Hand of Supremacy, that I can live here with ease. Please continue to look after me.”
Spring is in the air, and a new year has come.
“Let’s do our best again this year!”
Now that everyone’s psyched up, we resumed our work that was interrupted during winter.
After I breathed new life into the fields and asked Gobukichi’s team to look after them, I headed for the dungeon; the mountain dungeon that Veil controls.
As expected, Veil is here.
While we were exposed to the freezing cold back at the farm, she sought haven here in her dungeon, where she can freely adjust its temperature.
“You little cheat.”
I gave Veil, who selfishly indulged in idle slumber here at her dungeon, a kick.
Normally, I would feel ashamed doing such a thing to a girl, but seeing as she’s in her dragon form right now, no number of kicks would inflict any pain.
“Ouch, ouch! What are you doing, Master?! Is this how you treat your wife?!”
You’re the one who ran away from the winter cold.
This isn’t the time to be hibernating any longer, it’s already spring.
“Oh, is it? I’ve been holed up in my dungeon this whole time that I forgot what the outside was like.”
I suppose so.
Veil’s mountain dungeon is a spatio-temporal distortion caused by condensed mana that was once free-flowing.
It used hills and fields as its model, hence it is called a mountain dungeon.
As the name suggests, it’s a labyrinth formed by dense forests and mountain paths.
Since dungeons are a distortion of time and place, their size isn’t always what it seems. As long as it has someone like Veil as its guardian, its appearance can be altered according to the guardian’s preference or convenience.
The same applies to this mountain dungeon. And the area where Veil sleeps is buzzing with the spirit of spring.
“…The Spring Area, huh?”
Veil once remodeled her dungeon and divided its interior into five different areas.
Aside from one untouched area, there are Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter Areas.
That being said, the main difference lies in their air temperatures. But it’s exactly because of this difference that a variety of monsters spawn in it.
Then again, Veil also used that to her advantage and slept here at the Spring Area when it was winter outside.
That really annoyed me, so I gave her another kick.
“It hurts! You’re such a bully, Master!!!”
In order to escape my kicks, Veil transformed into her human form.
Tsk, now I can’t kick her.
“Anyway, I thought of resuming our farm work now that spring has arrived. That’s why I came here.”
“Oh? Is this the one you were talking about last time? Weren’t you dropping by every now and then during winter?”
“I’ve been thinking of actually starting it for real this time. I leave the escort work to you.”
Since Veil is the guardian of this dungeon, I wouldn’t have to worry about being attacked by the monsters.
I carried forward a certain plan for this dungeon.
And that is…
“To make an orchard out of it!”
It was something I thought of when we visited this remodeled dungeon for the first time and saw the various areas differentiated by their environments.
“You were wondering if it’s possible to use this variety to your advantage and grow all sorts of crops more efficiently?” she asks.
Maintaining the environment is crucial to their growth, and I’ve heard many anecdotes of crops going to waste due to prolonged rain during the summer season and the cold wave during the winter season.
However, the environment can be properly maintained within dungeons, so there’s no need to worry about unpredicted abnormalities in the weather.
Since it is a mountain dungeon, it still gets some sunlight. This is what greatly differentiates Veil’s mountain dungeon from Sensei’s cave dungeon.
But at the same time, it also has its own handicaps when it comes to farming.
It is a mountain, after all.
There’s barely any level ground suitable for cultivating rice paddies or fields.
That’s when I thought of a way to convert the characteristic slopes of a mountain to usable agricultural land.
They should be able to take root even on slopes.
And what grows on trees? Fruits.
I remembered that I have never set foot in the fruit domain, so I’m taking this opportunity to try and grow an orchard.
Veil immediately agreed to my suggestion as soon as I brought up the possibility of eating tasty food.
Thus, I planted the seedlings that had sprouted with the help of the Hand of Supremacy in each area before the onset of winter last year.
I tried to be as meticulous as I could with spreading the hyper fertilizer, but these are trees that we’re handling. No matter how many growth promotors we use, the effect won’t show right away.
So now, we’re checking how things turned out after winter.
And the result is…
“Oh, they’re bearing fruit!”
Peaches and cherries in the Spring Area.
Papayas, mangoes, and other tropical fruits in the Summer Area.
Pears, akebia, persimmon, and chestnuts in the Autumn Area.
Mandarin oranges and apples in the Winter Area.
“It looks like planting them in different areas worked out great.”
Especially the tropical fruits. They need a consistently high temperature, otherwise, they won’t grow. That’s why I’ve always been hesitant about planting them back at the farm. It’s always hot and humid here in the everlasting Summer Area, so it doesn’t pose a problem.
“These fruits make a great addition to my cooking repertoire!”
“Really, Master?!” says Veil as her eyes sparkle the moment I brought up food.
“Okay, whip up something delish with those fruits right away! They look tasty enough when eaten alone, but I thought they would taste even better when you cook them, so I’ve been holding back!”
“No, don’t eat them.”
We’re going to systematically share these fruits with the rest of our friends.
Once we harvest them, we’re going to calculate their total amount, so that everyone receives an equal portion.
So, no picking off the trees before harvest time, okay?
“Again, no taking without permission.”
“O-Okay, got it! I’m not someone who can’t keep my word! I’m smart, leagues ahead of some dog!”
You don’t have to compare yourself to a dog like that.
Some days later on, Veil was found unconscious after eating an astringent persimmon.
Naturally, she was sneaking a bite.
And to make matters worse, it was Pochi (Hyelycaon, a wolf monster) who informed me after he discovered her during his patrol.
Veil really never learns.