Release that Witch Chapter 393
Everyone knew that in the wooden shed some strange boats were being built with shells resembling a huge bathtub. The boats were made of gray cement—a material which was no different from rock after it set. If they were put into water, there would be no trace of it except a splash.
The craftsmen who worked here gave it a proper name: Bathtub Ship.
Today would be when the first two boats went into the water.
The crowd was composed of two kinds of people. One kind was civilians who had just joined Border Town and were curious about the event or felt it unconceivable, so they came to check it out with great skepticism. A great number of them were fishermen and sailors from the Eastern and Southern Territory. The other kind was locals who were used to His Highness' various "miracles". They had heard of the previous Littletown and gathered here in the drifting snow to see His Highness.
Cacusim was among the first kind.
When Cacusim first saw the notice about the test of new boats and the new recruiting order of His Highness, he said he would come and watch the boats entering water no matter what. Vader had no choice but to ask His Excellency Carter for a leave and accompany Cacusim. Considering Cacusim wasn't familiar with this area, and the ground was covered with thick snow, Vader was worried about his going to a crowded place all by himself. If he fell down in a push-squeeze situation, it could mean incurable injury.
"You're underestimating me, child." The old man waved his hand, suggesting Vader not to follow him. "I’ve been through winds and waves. Although I'm getting old, my physical condition isn't much worse than yours."
"Sure, sure," Vader said carelessly. "I've already asked for leave, so any rejection is too late. I just don't quite get it—why do you have to come and see this thing enter water? It's only a boat."
"But you said it was made out of gray stone." Cacusim shook his head. "Have we entered a time when even a bathtub-sized stone could float on water?"
"It's my own fault." Vader thought. "I shouldn't have mentioned the notice at the square." "Maybe His Highness was only bragging. Probably it's a wooden boat with a few parts made out of that... cement."
"That's even more unlikely." The old man insisted. "Think about it—when was this wooden shed built?"
"That's right. It's before when you were recruited as a policeman. When we first moved to the Inner City here, this place was still empty!" His beard shook. "It took a month to build the shed, so it means building the first boat only took half a month."
"Uh, isn't that normal?" Vader was bewildered.
"Of course not!" Cacusim exclaimed, "In the name of the Sea God! I've never seen a boat that could be built within half a month. It's not a matter of size—for any type of sailing boat, processing keels alone would take more than a month, because you must wait until the wood is totally dried to then curve it with steam. This is a very complicated process that can't be completed in a short time."
Vader was very surprised. "Why are you so familiar with shipbuilding?"
"I was once a captain, child." The old man sighed. "When I was young, I used to sail with lots of goods through Seawindshire and the Port of Clearwater, and I reached as far as the Kingdom of Dawn and Fjord Islands. Then something happened... and now I'm here. "
"You've never told me any of that." Vader said with his eyes wide open.
"You've never asked, child." Cacusim shrugged.
"Alright." Vader shifted his attention to the shipyard. "So what you're really curious about is the technique His Highness used to build a sailing boat within half a month."
"Any captain would be curious." Cacusim touched his beard. "If His Highness isn't lying, do you know what this means?" One or two years later, his fleet will be sailing through all the rivers in the Kingdom of Graycastle."
Vader' heart twitched. "You don't intend to..."
Cacusim smiled, "I can't always eat your oatmeal."
"His Highness never lies." Someone nearby suddenly said. "Besides, that's not a sailing boat."
Vader turned around to find that the speaker was a young man. Judging from his accent, he seemed to be a local Western Region resident. "Not a sailing boat?"
"No. It can travel without wind and at a speed faster than any sailing boat." "The young man continued proudly, "Have you seen the steam engines in the mines? They can easily drag a basket of ore out of the mine hole. These cement boats are driven by those steam engines, and according to His Highness, they're actually steam-powered boats!"
"Of course I've seen it," said the young man. "You must be newcomers from other territories, so it's normal if you don't understand. In the summertime, I modified a steam-powered boat for a Caravan across the strait. But the boat was still wooden and not as durable as those cement ones."
Vader intended to argue more, but that young man's eyes suddenly brightened up. Pointing to the shipyard, that man said, "Look over there. His Highness is here!"
Cheers and applause erupted from the crowd as all the people raised their hands to greet the Lord.
Prince Roland went up to the temporary wooden platform next to the shipyard, conveyed a few congratulatory words, and then announced the entering water of the new boats.
With rhythmic chants, the workers opened the wooden shed towards the Redwater River. A boat with a 40-meter-long gray hull slid down the river levee, collecting snow, and plunged into the icy water.
Vader felt his heart jump into his throat. He thought this thing would sink directly to the river bottom, but to his surprise, after the rear half entered the water, the front lifted up and splashed with foam.
The crowd burst into applause again.
"Gee, it really floats up." Cacusim froze in shock. "But is it really made of stone?"
Vader had the same question—the surface of the Bathtub Ship looked so smooth, as if it was made of finely polished granite slabs seamlessly connected together. The hull of the boat looked like one whole piece. The boat cabin was shallow and it had no decks, so there were no places for the crew to sleep. Furthermore, the boat bottom was too flat for masts to be fixed on. As its nickname indicated, this thing looked exactly like a bathtub.
Either way, His Highness had indeed managed to produce the boat within half a month.
Vader looked at Cacusim and found his eyes glinting with excitement.
"I want to apply to be captain," said the old man.