Chapter 259 The Witches from Sleeping Island (Part 2)
The fourth to be tested was Sylvie.
Whenever he faced the witch, Roland always felt a bit uncomfortable. It really wasn’t because Nightingale had told him she lied too much, in modern society, with the exception of speaking to relatives and good friends, not even a dozen people could speak bluntly. Since long ago, he was already accustomed to hearing all kinds of flattering and rumors.
He just felt that he had no possibility to hide anything from her. Even worse, he knew that it wasn’t an illusion, but the other’s ability. Being able to ignore all visual barriers, as long as she wanted, wearing clothes in front of her was completely useless. But within a dark corner of his mind, Roland lamented not having this kind of ability himself, while also involuntarily changing his sitting position by tilting his legs.
Speaking of appearances, she could be considered as the most unique of the five witches: with aquamarine hair that dropped straight to her shoulders, slender eyebrows, and the fringes of her hair seemed to have the appearance of someone that had just stepped out of a picture. Especially her amber colored pupils, which were so transparent that they had almost no depth, as if they were mirrors that reflected all incoming light. Looking at them for a while, Roland felt as if a red beam could come shooting out at any moment now.
Sylvie’s ability was very easy to understand, using her inner sight, she was able to see everything – even the area behind her back was not an exception. Furthermore, her vision could penetrate all barriers, the specific depths of the penetration depended on her own desire. She also possessed a similar branch ability as Nightingale did: She could see the gathering and dissipation of magic.
Which itself was somewhat surprisingly to Roland, for the branch abilities to be so similar, then what about the primary ability? When he asked Sylvie this question, the latter first hesitated, but then said that from the hundreds of witches on Sleeping Island, there were no witches who had the same ability. He then felt a soft pinch on his left side coming from Nightingale, he knew that this sentence was the truth.
The reason for this is probably because the sample is just too small, Roland thought.
The last witch to be tested was Candle.
She and Anna had both experienced their day of adulthood when this year’s Months of Demons was happening. When she was still a minor, her ability could only be used for lighting candles, oil lamps, torches and the like. But after her day of adulthood when her magic had also become more stable, this effect had also been significantly enhanced. Furthermore, after that day, she had gained the ability to preserve an object’s characteristics for a brief moment – for example, after casting her magic on an ice cube, it wouldn’t melt even after placing it in the hot sun. Instead, it would still send out bursts of cold.
At first glance, this ability seemed to be simply incredible. With it, Roland would be able to do many things he couldn’t achieve using conventional means. But after several rounds of testing, Roland had to acknowledge that in the end, her ability wasn’t as perfect as he had imagined it to be. First, it belonged to the category of enchanting abilities, which meant that she needed to have direct contact with the target. This limitation made it difficult for Candle to preserve high-temperature objects.
Thereupon his attempt to obtain a liquid drop of steel which would forever keep its incandescence state in that way providing the blast furnace with an everlasting heat source broke apart. With the exception of Anna, no one else would ever dare touch something that was as hot as a thousand-degrees with their bare hands. And in case the metal was turned into a long and thin iron wire, allowing Candle to keep hold of one end while enchanting the other also led to another problem.
Which was that the more the object’s state surpassed what was considered as its normal state, the greater the magical consumption would be, and the duration of the effect would also become shorter.
Roland used ice to verify this point – after solidification, he cut a block of ice into two equally large sizes. One he put onto the scolding hot ground while he threw the other into a basin filled with water. The former only persisted for an hour before it quickly began to melt, while for the other, besides cooling the water’s temperature still maintained its original form.
This meant that when the effect was placed on red hot iron or steel, it would only become more inefficient.
Finally, the volume of the object was also a factor which restricted Candle’s ability. Like Hummingbird and Mystery Moon, the greater the size of the object was, the more magic Candle needed to spend. According to Nightingale’s observation, Candle’s amount of magic was placed within the lower to middle ranks. It looked like a golden mist, which had yet to form a dense cyclone.
But even with all these restriction, the somewhat introvert looking girl was still Roland’s biggest harvest of this group of witches. In the field of industrial construction, being able to solidify an object’s state could be considered as an utterly priceless treasure. The key lied in the word “normal state”. The constant heating and cooling, friction, or any other kind of force which influenced the material would cause the metal to fatigue, which would lead to the deformation of the overall structure. But now he no longer had to worry about drills becoming too hot due to friction, and would no longer need to be concerned with a tools daily abrasion. If the key parts of the machines could be kept in a “normal” state all of the time, it would mean that the machines could always maintain their state of maximum efficiency and could work at the best possible accuracy.
In other words, Candle could effectively improve the mechanical strength of inferior materials.
Back to the castle’s office, Roland took out the ability record and skimmed over them once again, and then started planning their future work.
“How were they?” Nightingale stuck her head out of the fog, “Are you fond of any of those five in particular?”
“They are all pretty good,” Roland casually agreed.
“What?! You like all of them?”
He threw her a glare, while the latter stuck out her tongue and then further nibbled at the fish in her mouth.
Obviously, at present, the ones that were the most useful to him were Lotus and Candle.
With her ability to transform the landscape, he could easily build a new earthen wall outside of the current city wall – instead of having to build another fieldstone cement wall, in this way conserving materials and accelerating the construction process. As for the location she would work in he had selected the smallest sector between the foot of the North Slope Mountain and the Redwater River. It should be small enough that it could be completed before the arrival of the Months of Demons, while at the same time also limiting Border Town’s westwards expansion. In the wake of the unceasing increase of population, it was only a matter of time before those pieces of wilderness and the Concealing Forest would be developed.
The new earthen wall would be extended to the outer parts of the Concealing Forest, while it would already include some part of the forest. This expansion would double the current area of the town. As for lengthening the defensive line, this problem could be resolved through the expansion of the troops and by leading the demonic beasts to attack predetermined areas. However, compared with the previous years wooden pikes and flintlocks, today’s First Army’s firepower and rate of attack had undergone earthshaking changes. Furthermore, building batteries, bastions or similar defense measures was still possible after completing the new city walls.
He also intended to let Lotus open up a path through the southern mountain, and in that way connect Border Town to the shoal. And as a result, the town could get its own natural harbor, which would also make trading with the Fjords much more convenient. Taking into account the huge amount of magical power she would have to spend to transform the rock, Roland estimated that this project could take up to several months’ time.
As for Candle, Roland planned, that she would work together with Anna and Lucy to create a new generation of machine tools for the production of firearms and other mechanical equipment. Another good point coming from this would be that Anna could also be freed from the tedious production process.
Sylvie’s task was very clear, her mission would be to explore the North Slope mine and the Concealing Forest. According to the stories from the miners, the North Slope Mine was a natural cave with a hundred or more channels, from which no one knew where they would end up. By now only twenty of them had been exploited and cleaned up, even though many kinds of ore had already been discovered. In the end, Roland still felt very curious about the credibility of the rumors that the mine was an ancient monster lair.
Now that he had gotten hold of a witch who had the ability to see through walls, he desired the completion of exploration of the North Slope Mine together with drawing a detailed map. As they explored, Lotus could also adjust the terrain and in doing so increase the mining’s efficiency.
As for Honey, Roland didn’t have a lot of ideas, except for maybe asking her to help him to strengthen his information transmitting system, in this era without any radios. For this, he needed a lot of well-trained birds which could serve as carrier pigeons. It wasn’t necessary for them to be as smart as Maggie, it would already be good enough if they could forward the messages as quickly as possible.