Chapter 253 Hot air balloon trade
“Your Royal Highness, I would like to ask you, when we stepped through the door,” after drinking all the iced water in the bucket, Hogg’s appearance had finally recovered, “The painting drawn in the hall… I am afraid that is something that is impossible for the average person to draw, isn’t it? No matter whether it is the degree of lifelike or the view from high up in the air.” He lowered his voice and asked, “Is this the work of a witch?”
Roland looked over at Margaret only to see the latter nodding, “Your Highness, please rest assured, Hogg is my old friend from many years, he is also not someone who is malicious towards witches.”
“You guessed it, it really is a witch who made the painting.” After the hot air balloon tour to the beach from two days ago, Roland had wanted to preserve the view of the beautiful scene he had seen, plus the former hall’s decoration was actually simple and crude, without any paintings, so he had asked Soraya to turn the wall behind the Lord’s seat into a grand mural. With the scenic wall at the back, the hall’s style had instantly been upgraded by several grades.
“I knew it,” Hogg sighed. “Although they are propagated as the devil’s minions, those strange abilities they possess are indeed enviable. It is impossible for ordinary people to fly into the air and draw such an exquisite mural beyond compare afterward.”
“Only the second half of your sentence is correct,” Roland shook his head, “Ordinary people, even if they don’t rely on magic, can also fly. They can even fly higher than an eagle and fly faster than the swift.”
“You have a good sense of humor,” Hogg laughed out loud, “Only if we have a pair of wings, and also become lighter than the birds.”
Margaret however, sounded startled as she asked, “Really?”
“Of course,” the Prince said confidently, “And I can prove it to you.”
Letting the merchants receive the knowledge and experience about his various types of inventions, wouldn’t only promote their relationship, it would also open up a new effective way for them to trade – it was the same for everything else, from the mugs to the liquor, whether he was able to sell it or not was another matter. Anyway, the caravan would be staying in town for several days, and after their regular trading, the negotiation would also be finalized. The rest of their time was typically filled with drinking and being merry making. Furthermore, Anna was also very interested in taking a trip in the hot air balloon, so by giving her a possibility to rest for a moment from her busy work, it could be seen as an action which fulfilled multiple purposes.
Soon, Cloud Gazer was once more inflated, and all the witches who couldn’t ride with the balloon last time had gathered. Lucia even shyly asked if her younger sister could also go up and take a look, which Roland had immediately agreed to.
As the balloon that was carrying everyone began to slowly rising, Margaret covered her mouth in astonishment, while Hogg grabbed hold of the edge of the basket, not knowing whether he should be excited or scared. Since Bell’s size was too small, it was impossible for her to see the scenery outside of the basket. Without any better option, Lucia had to hold her up and permitted for her to ride on her shoulders, while gingerly stepping close to the edge of the basket and repeatedly warning her to not fiddle around too much. As the navigator and the rescuer, Lightning continually circled around the hot air balloon, only stopping from time to time to pull a face at Bell.
After the hot air balloon circled along the southern coastline one more time, their airborne sightseeing trip had come to its end.
Back at the castle, Hogg’s legs were still trembling, stammering he said, “I would have never thought, that looking down from up in the sky would be this frightening, I felt like I was always falling down.
“After flying for a few times it will be okay,” Roland laughed. “Leaving with your feet from the ground for the first time will always create such an illusion, it is the same for a person who had never gone out to sea, they will also start to vomit due to the sea’s up and down motion.
“You spoke the truth,” Margaret exclaimed in admiration, “Today, the scenery I saw was indeed inconceivable, looking from the sky to the edge of the sea, it actually resembled a blue arc.”
“But Your Royal Highness, I do not seem to be wrong,” Hogg drank some iced liquor, “Even though we ordinary people were able to fly in the sky, but this was still a witch’s ability. If it weren’t for them, this big guy would never be able to fly.”
“No, old friend,” Even before Roland had the chance to answer, Margaret had already begun to speak, “Don’t tell me you haven’t realized it? Miss Anna had been merely releasing her flame, nothing more. I also specifically asked Lightning, she said that as long as enough heat is poured into the airbag, Cloud Gazer will rise up into the sky. The flame is not a witch’s privilege, Your Royal Highness, am I right?”
She once more proved why she was able to establish herself as a Fjord ocean merchant in King’s City, no matter if it was her perception, or her intelligence, they were both exceptional. Roland smiled and nodded, “Hot air will rises, while cold air will sink, that’s also the reason why it is called a hot air balloon.”
“Really, would using a brazier be hot enough?” Hogg asked disbelievingly.
“That won’t do, because if you want to let the balloon float in the sky, you have to supply it with heat the entire time. Furthermore, wood itself is already very heavy, so you can’t take it with you without end, because of this the problem needs to be solved in a special way.”
“Can you achieve it?” Margaret asked impatiently.
“Well… I should be able to,” after thinking for a while, Roland continued, “But there are still some troubles.”
“That would be truly wonderful,” Margaret answered immediately. “I hope that I will be able to purchase four to five hot air balloons, they don’t need to be so big, it would already be enough if they can carry one person.”
“Do you want to put it on your ships?” Hogg asked.
“Well, the mast cannot reach an unlimited height, but a hot air balloon can, it can go as high as the rope connected to the basket is long. Moreover, if it connects to the mast, it also won’t drift away with the wind. So, by using a hot air balloon as a lookout, they should be able to detect nearing pirate ship much earlier. Regarding the sea trade, besides the unpredictable storms and tsunamis, the biggest harm to our merchant fleets comes from pirates.”
“But I fear that it is unlikely that the construction cost will be low,” Roland calculated it within his mind, “I estimate that it will require more than one thousand gold royals.”
In case they didn’t use a witch to heat the air, the hot air balloon would need to use gas as fuel, and the most easily obtainable fuel would be coal gas. Unfortunately, Graycastle’s coal mines were located at the Cold-Wind Mountain Range, which was just too far away from Border Town. According to the transportation conditions, it would be impossible to transport it over. Turning the hot-air balloon into a hydrogen balloon would be much easier to achieve, but he had still to solve the problem of the gas tank – if it couldn’t be used unobstructed, then it wouldn’t be of any practical value.
“One thousand gold royals apiece, was it?” Margaret said then made a counter-offer, “If you really are able to make this, I can guarantee that all the caravans from the Fjords will buy at least one or two of them.”
“This time Crescent Moon Bay Caravan hadn’t come along. Otherwise I’m certain you would have received your next huge order,” Hogg grasped the liquor cup and drained it in one gulp. “I, however, won’t need such a balloon, even though they seem very magical, they don’t have any use for my mines in Silver City. I just want to get my steam engines as soon as possible.”
Hearing Margaret accepting his price made Roland pleased beyond his expectations. The one thousand gold royals were the price he got after increasing the estimated production costs by five times, he had never expected that the other party was able to accept a price twice the price of a steam engine. But when he thought about it again, a sea faring ship carrying all kinds of goods would probably be worth much more than this price, not to mention saving the entire merchant fleet and the lives of the ship’s crew, so long as they could avoid being looted by pirates, the deal would still be cost-effective for ocean traders.
Also, the thousand gold royals wouldn’t be the end of the deal, whether it was hydrogen or coal gas, they were both consumables. If they were used up, they would eventually need to come back to Border Town for a refill, which would then yield an additional revenue… Of course, in case they acquired the gas canisters in large quantity, giving them a discount or present them with several inflations for free could be considered. In this regards, he could use the 4s car shops and CPC and CNPC as an example and imitate them.
Roland pretended to hesitate for a moment before he finally nodding, “In that case, I think we have reached a deal.”
In China, authorized car dealership are called 4S car shops. The 4S represents Sale, Sparepart, Service and Survey. 整車销售(Sale)、零配件(Sparepart)、售後服务(Service)、信息反馈(Survey).
In most cases, brand-name new cars can be purchased only from 4S shops. For new cars in high demand, a high premium is added for instant delivery or just placing an order.
The profit of car dealers in China is quite high comparing to the rest of the world, in most cases 10%. This is supposedly due to the ‘non-transparent invoice price’ as announced by manufactures and to the premiums they charge for quick delivery. Due to the lack of knowledge for most customers, dealers can sell add-ons at much higher prices than the aftermarket.
There is no regulation by either the government or associations. Source
CPC: CPC Corporation