Chapter 82 Little Town’s first voyage
Since Lightning was the only one who had any practical experience with sailing, she was assigned the duty of serving as navigator.
In addition, she was also interested in the barge with its strange shape and unique construction material. Although it looked very crude, it had every important part needed for a ship and and was able to move, but she wasn’t allowed to steer it herself. After all, for most of her time at sea, she had only been a bystander since her father had always refused her requests to steer the ship.
In accordance to tradition, Lightning smashed a bottle of wheat wine on the ship’s bow for the ship’s first departure, and then she gave the order to set sail. Carter, as the captain, was naturally reluctant to let the little girl snatch his position as commander, so whenever she gave a command, the knight would follow up with the same command.
The sails of Little Town were sewn out of animal skin, with cowhide and sheepskin accounting for the majority of the sails, but they were also mixed with some of Border Town’s specialties, like wolf skin, bear skin, and the like. So the sail had many different kinds of colors- brown, gray and white, just like a sail patched together out of many rags. The sails were trapezoidal, and were divided by four separate beams. At the top of the sail, a cable went through the iron rings to connect it with the mast, while the bottom just fell onto the deck. One just had to pull the cable to raise the entire sail.
In order to make operating the ship as simple as possible, Little Town only had two sails that were parallel to each other and perpendicular to the middle line. In general, if a two-masted sailboat were to be constructed in this way, it would only be able to catch very little wind, almost making the second mast irrelevant. But with Wendy’s ability to control the wind, this design would let her distribute her power evenly on both sides of the center line, making it more convenient for the helmsman to change the direction of the ship.
When Lightning saw that the sail was set, she commanded the dockworkers on land to untie the rope. At the moment, the weather was very good. The snow that fell occasionally was driven by light wind just like the water as the ship slowly left the shore.
The little girl descended to Brian ‘s side and ordered, “Right on full rudder!
Carter also shouted, “Right on full rudder!”
“Uh, what does this right rudder mean?” Brian scratched his head and asked, “How many right circles?”
“No, you have to turn the steering-wheel left around,” said Lightning, while walking away. “Come on, or do I have to come over?”
She had forgotten that it was the first time for these people to control a ship, so they even didn’t understand the basics of any instructions. If this was a standard brig, I’m afraid they wouldn’t even be able to roll out the sails. With less than ten people, they were still able to drive the ship offshore, which was only possible due to the ship’s unique design.
Lightning took the wheel handle which was even higher than her, and with her feet off the ground, she rotated it left around – this huge transverse steering wheel was very heavy for ordinary women to turn. In the absence of mechanical power and under-equivalent power transmission, she had to overcome the entirety of the water resistance when moving the massive iron rudder. However, since Lightning could fly, this was no problem for her. She noted that there was a thin piece installed at the base of the rudder to prevent the rudder from overturning, so she couldn’t help but wonder, I heard that the ship is the Prince’s original design, so how can it be that he even knows this detail? Even sailors who had stayed at sea all year round did not necessarily know the structures of the various parts of the ship.
“Sister Wendy, you can start producing your wind.”
Wendy, who stood at the top of the cabin, didn’t know whether she should laugh or cry, so this was the true reason why His Highness had asked me if I’m afraid of heights. So now, I should power the ship with my ability? When thinking about her usual boring life, such as drying meat or clothes, this gave her a subtle feeling of contrast. She opened her hands, going into her usual practice state, and let the wind blow from her feet to her head equally, balancing the wind as much as possible when blowing it into both sides of the sail.
To be honest, Wendy did not expect that this seemingly simple task would be so difficult to operate.
Although she had awoken as a witch fifteen years ago, she had never tried to gain a deeper understanding and control of her power. Whether it was to call the wind to attack the enemy or to summon a storm to sweep the enemy away, those were one-time releases of a large amount of magic. In the camp, when doing the chores, she only had to sometimes use a lot of power, but as long as the goal could be achieved, she hadn’t to use much. Now thinking about Anna, who was always earnestly using her power, Wendy suddenly felt a little ashamed.
“The first thing you have to do is to practice your ability over and over again until you can control it entirely – just like Anna.”
These aren’t empty words. Then from now on I will start to… Wendy took a deep breath and focused all of her attention on creating the wind.
Although the wind was not perfectly balanced, the sails were still bulging, and under the steady stream of wind, the mast gave off a squeaking sound, and the bow began to turn right.
“It’s really moving!” Carter exclaimed.
“His Royal Highness was able to turn stone into a boat, and let it float on the water,” Sir Pyne laughed and asked, “Is there something he can’t do?”
Little Town moved farther and farther away from the shore, gradually moving towards the middle of the river.
Wendy could produce wind out of nothing, but she wasn’t able to make the existing North wind disappear, so the wind came from two directions, making it impossible to have the ship move in a straight line by only using her power. So, they also had to rely on steering to adjust the direction of the ship. Lightning wasn’t able to teach Brian by words only, this was something Brian had to experience himself. In order to let him master this feeling as soon as possible, the little girl’s first orders were to change the direction of the ship often so that he could learn the relationship between the rotation angle of the steering wheel and the swing of the bow while she herself only made small adjustments.
After navigating for more than one hour over the Chishui River, Wendy wasn’t able to hold on any longer.
It wasn’t that she ran out of magic power, but instead it was her body,that had reached its limit.
Even though her body was wrapped into so many layers that she looked like a dumpling, it still wasn’t able completely resist the invasion of the cold wind. A layer of snow had already accumulated on top of her cotton cap and she already could no longer feel her hands and feet while standing on the shaky roof. If it wasn’t for Lightning who saw her sway strangely, maybe she would have fallen into coma.
So Lightning quickly flew towards Wendy and seized her body while shouting to Brian that he should sail back towards the docks.
The latter steered the wheel into the right direction, letting the ship slowly turn leftwards. Lightning flew down from the cabin while carrying Wendy. Down on the deck, they only had the sails to save them from the wind, but at least it wasn’t as cold as before so they were able to save their body temperature. Moreover, when they wanted to reach the shore, it would need a person with fine control, and Lightning would never dare to let a rooky take over this important task – even though she had never done it herself.
When they finally landed and the river bank collided with the hull, creating a loud sound, all the people’s hearts on board began to race. Even though it sounded alarming when the hull collided with the shore, it didn’t look too bad in the end. The sailor quickly folded the sails together and put up a gangplank to climb ashore.
Fortunately, they weren’t able to sail in a straight line during their trial journey, so thanks to their U-turn training on the spacious river, they weren’t so far away from Border Town.
Lightning flew towards the castle while carrying Wendy. Carter looked at the stone ship and loudly sighed. Without the help of a witch, he didn’t want to try to sail the ship back to the docks.