Release that Witch Chapter 1004
The smelting zone was the most industrialized area in Neverwinter. The entire production process, from transportation to feeding raw materials into the smelters, was powered by steam engines.
The plant processed a large quantity of crude oil and coal every day. It covered a huge rectangular area, with the port and a coal storage yard on the north side of the Redwater River. Several conveyor belts, driven by steam engines, continuously fed coal to the boiler room. The parallel black lines on the conveyor belts exhibited a sharp contrast with the gray concrete pavement.
The other end of the facility was designed to store and process the crude oil from Shallow Beach.
The construction of the oil storage warehouses on the west side of the fractionator was now half-completed. Completely different from the design of the residential buildings across the river, the warehouses stood in a solid line like impregnable fortresses, but looked surprisingly attractive. Despite their plain exterior, the warehouses were installed with advanced equipment and designs such as decompression valves, inspection windows, carrier pipes, antistatic devices, etc. As the construction teams had gained a lot of experience from the construction of the chemical plant, the whole construction process had gone very smoothly.
Roland was extremely satisfied that the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Industry had done all the design work. All he had done was the final review and approval. Needless to say, the staff of these two Ministries had learned a lot from the previous mining and furnace projects. They had apparently applied what they had learned to this new project. Since Roland had yet to establish a set of industry standards, the workers had to confirm the parameters of each individual machine or part before it was sent to the plant for manufacturing. This showed that the workers had already developed reading and writing skills and learned the basics of engineering; otherwise, it would be hard for the two departments to communicate effectively.
Two years after its implementation, this was the first great success to show the effectiveness of Roland's mandatory universal education.
As the temperature of the boiler increased, vaporized oil flowed into the fractionation tower and melted the snow clinging to it. The wind had ceased howling, but the snow still persisted. Nevertheless, spectators gazed at this beautiful metal tower without a blinking. Their breath misted in the cold air and mixed with the steam being ejected from all types of machinery on the square, heating up the cold winter air.
"So beautiful," Edith muttered as she stood on the steel bridge.
The smelting zone was a few miles away from the bridge, so there were fewer spectators here, only some occasional passers-by. They were all hurrying to the high tower to witness the new wonder and meet the king. However, almost everyone slowed as they rushed past the Pearl of the Northern Region and the girl next to her. Apparently, the two ladies in the snow attracted a lot of attention.
"Isn't that just a chimney? What's the beauty of that?" Cole grumbled silently. "If you wanted to see it, why didn't you go with the people from city hall? Sir Barov reserved a spot for you, and His Majesty..."
Although the bridge was at a high point in the city, giving a wide view, it was too far away for them to get a close look. As all the officials from city hall were going to see the tower, it would have been a perfect opportunity to network with Edith's co-workers. Essentially, the whole point of this event was to connect with people instead of appreciating the magnificence of the tower. Just like a first-class banquet, nobles didn't care as much about the food, but about who they dined with.
As a seasoned diplomat, Eidth should have known the trick better than anyone else. She had promised to help Cole build his relationship with other city hall officers, yet she had just let such an excellent opportunity slip through the cracks. Sometimes, Cole felt he had a really hard time understanding his sister's thinking.
But seeing Edith purse her lips, Cole sensibly shut up.
"Because of you, my dear little brother." Edith jested in a soft voice. "Do you really want to appear in front of all the other officials in this outfit?"
Hold on, you made me wear this!
It was not a big deal to dress up like a girl at home, but Cole had not expected that he would be forced to wear women's clothing outside. If some of his friends saw him dressed up like a doll, he would probably jump off the bridge.
Alas! Cole could only blame himself. One day when he had been trying on Edith's clothes, his sister had caught him. Fearing that Edith would tell his little secret to someone else, Cole had no choice but to comply.
When Cole was about to, somebody whistled behind him.
As his face flushed red, he instantly lowered his head.
"Well, this isn't the right way to handle this kind of situation."
Edith grabbed Cole by the chin, forcing her brother to raise his head.
Next Cole saw the Pearl of the Northern Region sweep her gaze over the stranger with the condescension and nonchalance of an uninterested aristocrat. It was a glance that froze a person to the bone. Cole shuddered at his sister's icy look. The stranger stumbled back. Without a word, he scurried off and disappeared from their sights.
"Got it?" Edith shrugged. "This is also a test for you."
"... If I was wearing my usual outfit, I wouldn't have had such trouble." Cole mumbled quietly.
"But there will be many things you'll encounter in the future, some things that you may not necessarily like, but can't stop from happening. The only thing you can do is accept them and learn to control them." Edith paused for a moment and then went on, "Do you think I sincerely wanted to welcome Timothy when he drove his army straight into the Northern Region? Every coin has two sides. The key lies in how you view it. Besides, I bet you like the garments you are wearing, otherwise you wouldn't have tried on my clothes. Am I right?"
Cole stiffened. Edith could always justify her behavior like it was a matter of course. He knew he wouldn't stand a chance if he tried to argue with his sister, so he kept silent.
But he would never admit to her last statement!
Then, he remembered Edith was impressed with the beauty of the tower. Was it because she viewed it from a different angle?
Cole thus voiced his doubt, and he clearly saw a rosy flush on Edith's cheeks.
"Do you still remember what the City of Evernight looks like in winter?" Edith asked.
"Um..." Cole thought for a while and soon remembered the warm fireplaces, the ales, and the banquets during the winter in the City of Evernight, all of which were associated with indoor activities. After a long silence, Cole answered hesitantly, "Maybe... kind of quiet?"
"It's dead silent, as if the earth was frozen." Edith looked at the distant high tower. "I always thought that was what winter should look like, but it's actually not true." Edith exhaled a breath which immediately misted in the air. "What are you seeing now? The earth is breathing, and the steam proves that this city is alive."
"I don't really... get it."
"This shows that nature can be altered." The Pearl of the Northern Region stressed each word. "Human beings don't necessarily need to comply with the rules of nature. We have been constantly dominated by nature because we are weak. When we grow stronger, we can change the world. Isn't such power beautiful?"
But Cole saw something even more beautiful.
The lady who radiated confidence as she spoke. Her blue hair rippled in the flurries of snow, more breathtaking than anything else in the world. The rosy hue spreading across her cheeks softened the outline of her face, making her look even more stunning.
Cole had a sudden desire to see through his sister's eyes. He wanted to know what the world looked like to Edith Kant.
"There's oil coming out!"
The crowd near Tower I began to cheer.
"What's going on?"
"Someone said it's oil!"
"Rubbish. Coal is processed here, not lard."
"Who cares what it is? Anything His Majesty does is brilliant."
"So can we celebrate now?"
"Yeah, long live the king!"
"Long live the king!"
Soon more and more people began cheering, even though many of them had no idea what the fractionation tower was for, they understood that the king was happy.
The tidal wave of cheering spread throughout the smelting zone. Within a few minutes, the crowd became exuberant. The cheers of the people seemed to add a little color to the dull routine of everyday life in the depressing Months of Demons.
Watching wisps of black and white smoke rising along the river bank and the metalic tower rising up through the snow and mists, Roland felt his heart swell with pride.
If the thick smoke above the North Slope Mountain represented the success of the first industrial revolution, then the smoke produced by this tower heralded a brand new era.