Lily and the party crowded around a large stone slab by the side of the lake. Its surface was perfectly smooth, with Iris having cleanly sliced its formative rock in half lengthwise using a blade of highly condensed, superheated mana. Iris was currently moving her finger in accordance to Lily’s directions, a thin beam of mana boring a clean hole into the rock wherever her finger passed over it.
“Big house, uhhh… three large bedrooms…”
“Wait, three? There’s four of us.”
Prei, ever the inquisitive child, immediately questioned the inconsistency, causing Iris to stop the carving as she awaited Lily’s reply. Lily blushed a deep red. She had somehow subconsciously decided that she would be sharing a room with Iris. As Tate watched Lily’s face turn redder, she grinned in comprehension.
“Ohhhhhh. I see how it is.”
Prei regarded Tate with large, questioning eyes.
“Listen up Prei, your mama wants a room just for herself and Iris so that they can-“
“No! Uh, it’s just that, uh. Iris doesn’t need to sleep, so I thought she wouldn’t need a room, that’s all!”
Lily hastily told a harsh lie to cover up her embarrassment at being so easily figured out, but instantly regretted it. She looked at Iris, who seemed not to care, waiting for Lily’s next instructions. Lily briefly wondered whether Iris was perhaps hiding hurt feelings and mentally chastised herself for being so crass.
Truthfully, Iris did not mind at all. It was a fact, after all. Besides, she knew better than anyone that Lily had intended no malice.
“A-Anyway! Three large bedrooms-“
“Mama, I don’t want to sleep alone!”
Evidently, Prei had understood that Lily intended to share a room with Iris, even if she failed to gleam the implications of that arrangement. Performing quick calculations in her little head, she had evidently come to the conclusion that if Lily and Iris were sharing a room, it was possible for her to share a room too.
Lily, ever the doting mother, turned to Prei.
“Then, you want to sleep with Tate?”
Prei nodded happily. Lily glanced at Tate, who shrugged.
“I don’t mind.”
“Alright then. Iris, draw out two extra-large bedrooms and a third, smaller bedroom.”
“Eh? What’s the third bedroom for?”
Prei’s curiosity again made itself known. Lily was thinking ahead. The third bedroom would be for when Prei grew out of needing to sleep with someone else. If she requested her own room, Lily wanted to be able to provide one without much fuss. Still, she did not intend to let Prei or Tate know this. No doubt, it would be seen as pampering Prei too much.
“It’s a guestroom.”
“You say that like we’re going to get any guests. We’re in the middle of a forest.”
Tate’s retort was quick and direct.
“Yeah, but a house doesn’t feel right without a guestroom.”
It was a desperate excuse with no rational backing. Lily begged in her mind for Tate to accept it. To her surprise – and subsequent relief – Tate nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, you’re right. Every house needs a guestroom.”
Lily blinked with surprise as Tate easily accepted her excuse, but decided not to question the convenient boon.
“Anyway, yes. Iris, draw out two very large bedrooms and a smaller bedroom, all on the second floor. Put them next to each other too.”
Iris nodded and carved perfectly straight lines into the middle square on the flat stone slab. The slab featured three perfectly equal squares, one to represent each floor of the eventual building. These squares altogether took up about half the space on the slab. The rest was to be used for additions or annexes, such as a forge and a workshop.
Lily looked back at the stone slab. The bedrooms were done, next was…
“A kitchen, on the first floor. A dining room. A store room. A dressing room. All on the first floor.”
Iris added all of these, then additionally added a small square on each floor. Lily glanced at her curiously. They met eyes.
Lily blushed deep red. She had completely forgotten about it. She had become so accustomed to relieving herself in the wild that the concept of installing actual toilets had slipped her mind. She quickly tried to cover her embarrassment by indicating the square that represented the top floor.
“Mark the third floor as a study.”
Tate raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, a study. For all of us. I’m not going to allow Prei to grow up without some modicum of an education.”
Prei tilted her head, confused, but Iris and Tate smiled sagely and nodded in understanding, speaking in unison.
“Such a good mother.”
Lily grumbled and turned away from the stone, causing Iris and Tate to erupt into giggles before they turned and followed Lily, Prei tailing them closely. Lily surveyed the site where she had decided to build the house. It was right next to the lake, across from which was more forest. Beyond that, not too far in the distance, was the base of a mountain range. Lily decided that when the house was built, she would have the bedroom windows face the mountain range. It would be a far more interesting scenery than the endless sea of trees that greeted every other side.
Of course, first she would have to build the house. Lily was no architect, but through her experiments into <<Extension>> within her house, she intimately knew the structural layout of a house and what kind of materials were appropriate for use. Before she could build the house, she would need to lay the foundations. Before she could lay the foundations, she would have to clear the ground.
Normally, clearing enough ground to build a house on the scale which Lily was planning would be an expensive, labour-intensive, time-consuming process, especially when the land all around them was covered in thick, strong trees. Burning them would release too many fumes, which might be toxic, and risked starting a forest fire. Therefore, normally, removing this many trees would require many men with axes and weeks of labour.
Fortunately, “normal” did not account for the existence of Iris.
Lily gave Iris a quick nod, then picked up Prei under her arm and dashed around the lake to the other side, with Tate following behind. As the smaller white-haired girl changed her posture from squirming in surprise to snuggling happily into Lily’s side, Iris casually walked to the centre of the area Lily had designated. Her arms shimmered, losing their flesh-like texture, revealing the shining silver that lay beneath, exposing their true form. Iris held both arms out to her sides, numerous vents opening along their length. The air around her seemed to shimmer, as she began to draw in mana from her surroundings. Her arms began to glow, growing brighter and brighter until they were coated in a bright red light. Then, with a high-pitched shout, she brought them together and slammed them heavily into the ground. For a moment, nothing happened. Then a red wave of highly condensed mana surged outward in a circle around her, lancing through her surroundings. Anything it touched was instantly obliterated without leaving behind so much as a trace. Prei, still being carried in one arm by Lily, started clapping in admiration while suspended in the air. Tate watched with her mouth open, then promptly shut it and allowed herself to be awed.
As the dust cleared and the heat dissipated, Lily judged it to be safe enough, and quickly returned next to Iris’ side. The circle of grass that Iris stood on, about a meter in diameter, had been left untouched, as green as ever. But everything else within a 50 meter radius had been completely destroyed, becoming barren land, a desert in the middle of an ocean of vegetation. Iris stood on that singular circular patch of grass, happily surveying her work. Lily clapped her shoulder, finding that it was still hot to the touch. Trails of smoke steamed from Iris’ open hands. Lily looked around her, taking in the destruction, and mentally whispered a silent apology to the environment. Then she spoke to Iris.
“Good job. Thanks. Now we can start.”