Chapter 284 Companion
It was only after the fleet had departed that Roland could finally breathe out in relief.
Finally… the treasury is filled up once again.
A total of eight steam engines were handed over to the three merchant guilds. From those eight, three had been produced by Factory No. 2, which was set up with the assistance of the Crescent Moon Bay Caravan – Roland had to acknowledge that regarding the artisans from the Fjords, no matter, if it was their innate skills or their capacity to learn, all were far higher than that of Border Town’s miners or blacksmiths. After grasping the operating procedure of the machines, their passing rate for finished products immediately began rising. Perhaps after another two more months, the production capacity of Factory No. 2 will have caught up to that of Factory No. 1. Fortunately, according to the signed contract, the income from the sale of those machines would entirely be owned by Roland.
In addition, he has also received a new purchasing order for the hydrogen balloon from the Crescent Moon Bay Caravan, Marlan was very interested in an item like this that could increase range of vision greatly. In addition to a single person detection balloon, he also specially asked for a custom-made giant balloon with the capacity to carry three to four people, which he intended to use for the exploration of the Fjord’s new islands.
Including with the delivery of the first steam paddler, all three items had brought Border Town an income of close to seven thousand gold royals. After deducting the costs for buying goods such as metal ingots, washing stones, grain and other commodities, the remaining six thousand gold royals should be sufficient to support his population expansion plan.
Thus, Roland called Barov and Iron Axe into his office.
“Now that the treasury is full again, it is time to recruit more foreign citizens.” He looked at the two able men, “This task will be carried out by a cooperation of the City Hall and First Army, which specific personnel you assign will be your decision, I will merely brief you with the rough details of the mission.”
“Please speak,” the Prime Minister said with a nod.
“Recruitment will be split into two areas, the North and the South.” Roland took a map and placed it on the table then spread it out in front of the other two, “Especially the area between Eagle City and Port of Clear Water… I suspect that Timothy regards these people as members of Garcia’s group, thus turns them into useless people who he can consume as he wishes. Therefore, you need to rush over to be the first who tries to rope them in.”
“The team sent out by the City Hall will be responsible for attracting the nobles, artisans, and other literate people. While the First Army’s main task is to recruit the commoners. Compared with the previous propaganda missions, this time the strategy must be more active, do you understand what I mean by that?”
Iron Axe hesitated a moment and then asked in uncertainly, “You mean… dragging along by force?”
“Keke, such a method isn’t necessary,” Roland coughed twice, the Sandpeople’s style was really straightforward and cruel, “For example by giving away food for free, taking the initiative to convince them using advance payment of living expenses, etc.” He turned his view to Barov, “You should be very clear about this kind of stuff.”
“Of course, Your Royal Highness, previously as a cabinet minister I have aided the patrol to suppress or pacify riots of refugees several times,” the latter said. “This request is quite simple, sometimes it’s already enough to merely feed them until they are full. Therefore, there is no need to use money to rope them in; don’t even start talking about remuneration with them – if the conditions seem too generous, they will become suspicious. However, the arrogant aristocrats will prove troublesome. Although they are currently hard pressed for money and no longer so well-off, they are still experienced and knowledgeable, so their demands will also be higher. It’s unlikely that they will go on a long-distance trek simply to receive a steamed bun. To lure them it’s required that we coerce them with money and promises.”
Roland clapped twice , “It is a pity that there are so many responsibilities for you here in Border Town that you can’t go out in person. Otherwise, the success of this mission would be guaranteed”
“Please rest assured, Your Royal Highness, I shall dispatch the disciple whom I’m the most pleased with,” Barov said with a smile, “To establish Border Town as a city next year; it’d be nice if both sides of the Redwater River could be covered with houses.”
“It’s possible that such a day will come.”
After the two men asked for leave, Roland leaned back against his chair to rest for a short period; he decided to go to the yard at the North Slope to see Anna.
Stepping through the door, the first thing to enter his view was a pile of metal cubes.
Roland picked up one piece and held it in his hand – they were basically all of the same size, about five centimeters long and wide. The surface wasn’t smooth at all. It looked as if they all come out of a press, there was also a number engraved on one side. For example, on top of the piece in his hand was written the number “256”.
“How was it? Were you able to discover any better one?”
“No. 1057 and No. 2284, are exceptionally hard, compared to the others, regardless of their hardness or toughness, both are excellent,” Anna answered after coming over to greet him with a bright smile.
“Were you already able to climb over two thousand?” Roland asked in astonishment; and took the record handed over by Lucia, it was completely filled with data. Seeing No. 2284, he discovered that there were several numbers written on it, ‘carbon content of 0.8%, 15.2% of unknown elements.’”
“Well, this is more satisfying than cutting gun barrels,” Anna confessed with a wink, “Whether it is unexpectedly possible to create such earth-shaking changes to its characteristics by mixing iron pieces together with other metals, is something I really look forward to finding out. I want to know how these metal pieces work.”
Anna and Lucia’s current exploration was a far-reaching task.
Roland let the little girl first break down the ore into its raw materials before Anna then mixed and melted them together according to the different mass ratios. Afterward they would then test the performance of these pieces – by stretching and squeezing it under the heat of Anna’s black flame. Through observing the actual time taken and amount of magic power it took, Anna could distinguish between its strength and toughness.
The first material to add had obviously been carbon.
Even though Roland knew that the essence of steel was a type of iron and carbon alloy: with too much carbon it would became pig iron, and without any carbon it was pure iron, when the carbon content was within a certain range would turn into steel, etc. However, even with just a small fluctuation it could already greatly change the metal’s properties, so the first thing they needed to measure would be the size of that range.
Within the history records he had seen, before 1500 they had only used mixtures made out of pure iron and carbon for smelting, but after 1500 they began adding new elements on top of a steel foundation. Roland thoroughly understood that every additional element in the sequence could potentially increase the results many times over, which would turn into a very long process. Therefore, he only allowed Anna to advance her exploration if she had finished all the important manufacturing tasks.
He encouraged the two witches with a few words then sat to the side, quietly enjoying the rear view of the busy Anna.
After entering autumn, the sun was still shining brightly, but it was already no longer as cruelly hot as during the last month of summer. Instead, his body now felt nice and warm, and a long lost feeling of calmness spread throughout his heart.
He didn’t know how much time had passed, but the yard gradually quieted down. He felt a soft hand being placed on his forehead, when he narrowly opened his eyes. He saw that Lucia had already disappeared and that Anna was sitting in front of him, “You have something you want to say to me?”
“It was your eyes which told me,” she said while leaning forward, letting her hair fall down naturally, resembling strands of translucent gold silk.
Roland hesitated, but then shook his head and helplessly replied, “I’m just a little confused.” He told her about his population expansion plan before continuing, “Compared with my original intention of free choice, now in order to seize time, I have to use a combination of half luring and half forcing. Although I’m doing this to avoid Timothy pressing them into his army to die under the eroding effect of the pills. However, if I think seriously about this, my way of handling things isn’t that different from his… the only difference would be the purpose.”
“Can’t you explain your purpose to them?” She asked softly.
“I know what you want to say,” Anna covered the Prince’s mouth. “You are worried that they won’t appreciate your act of kindness, furthermore you also can’t guarantee that your objective will forever stay so proper in the future – being misunderstood because you used the wrong method while trying to achieve a good goal, or using the right methods but committing an irrevocable mistake… In the end, you do not know if it is more important for you to use the correct method or to hold on to the right objective. Am I right?
“Be at ease,” Anna immediately answered her own question, not even giving him the chance to say anything. She put her hands on his cheeks, softly whispering into his ear, “I’m here… I’ll always make sure that you look good.”