Release that Witch Chapter 959
The next day was Neverwinter's fourth holiday in autumn and the first weekend in mid-autumn.
As there weren't any stories such as Genesis told in this world, most people were busy all year around looking for food. Since Roland implemented the rule of "one day off every seven days", his subjects owed their gratitude to him. No one would complain about such a kind lord who let them take a day off without deducting their pay.
In particular, all the refugees, who moved in from other cities, were so determined to settle in Neverwinter after they had experienced the life here, that even the demons that City Hall had announced all over Neverwinter could not scare them off. Compared to hunger and poverty, even the demons had become insignificant to them.
According to Barov's report, the rest day system scarcely impacted the production of Neverwinter and after it was officially popularized, workers could take rests of their own free will. Many people chose to work on the holiday to get paid more. Moreover, the trade of the city grew substantially, largely thanks to the booming business in the square where people visited every weekend. The square had attracted not only local merchants but also the traders from other cities, who would set up their stalls on weekends and then replenished their stock with the specialties of the Western Region during the weekdays before they went back their homes and made a fat profit by selling them.
With more concrete boats put into use, the goods circulated much faster in the market with a cycle time shortened to just weeks, which was something beyond imagination a year ago. In the past, the nobles and dealers in the inland cities, such as Redwater City, could only eat pickled fish, yet now refrigerated fresh fish shipped from Shallow Port was able to be served at their dinner table.
In light of that, Roland decided to set the activities, like important speeches, demonstrations, and all kinds of commendation ceremonies, on rest days, trying to take advantage of people's shopping habits to further boost trade. As the goods were sold and the deals were made, he could collect more taxes, which would certainly make up for the wages he paid to his people on rest days. In summary, it was a move that served multiple purposes.
This weekend was no different. Under the cloudless sky, the last hint of the warmth of summer mingling with the cool breeze of autumn had created another perfect day for people to go out. From the dock of the inland river to the northern city wall, the streets were packed with people who were waiting in anticipation.
Yet, this time, they were not on their way to the Convenience Market, where they could buy some good meat, but were here to witness their king's new invention.
An unprecedented transport, "the train", was about to make its first trial run.
Victor, the jeweler, was among the crowd.
After hearing the news of the trial from the City Hall's propaganda, he immediately handed over the big deal he was negotiating to his men and embarked on the concrete boat traveling from the old king's city to Neverwinter that very night.
Victor was definitely among those who were highly impressed by the changes in the Western Region over the past few years. He had visited the lord of the land when it was merely an isolated, small town and only had a hazy memory of the lord, who was a fat middle-aged noble and always complained about how barren his land was. If it was not for the fine gemstones that he could get from the town, Victor would never have traveled beyond Longsong Stronghold.
Victor used to only visit the Western Region once a year, and whenever he came, the small border town was as dilapidated and decayed as it had been before. But in the last three years, he had visited here much more often, and the frequency had grown to once per month, particularly after Roland Wimbledon announced that he was building a city here.
It was as if the Western Region of Graycastle had become different world.
Time must run quickly here as a single day turned into the equivalent of months of progress and those months turned into years as he could not see how Neverwinter had changed so fast.
As Victor entered a tavern by the street, the owner immediately came over and welcomed him, "I knew you would come. The table by the window on the third floor has been specially reserved for you."
He quickly pulled out a silver royal and tossed it to the owner. "Lead the way."
"Alright. Please follow me."
Victor, who had been a regular of the tavern, naturally did not have to stay with the crowd on the street. There were also many people on the third floor, but at least he could have a better view.
People around him had been in heated discussions about the demonstration today.
"The train is going to run on that narrow street? That's too far from the square and residential areas."
"Street? Ignorance! That's called a railway, the thing used in the mining area," someone said, laughing. "Since it's not built for people to ride, it's better to be placed somewhere less crowded. Do you take it as a wagon?"
"You mean the thing in the Silver City's mine?"
"Yes, it was manufactured here and needs a steam engine to work."
Victor could not help joining the discussion. "I've seen the cart driven by the steam engine. Its great advantage is that it is immune to different terrains. But if it's put on flat ground, even mules are able to replace it. So I don't think it works as simply as you said, or the City Hall wouldn't call it 'an era-defining transport'."
"Perhaps it's only a stunt," a man murmured.
"Go away," the people around the man cried immediately. "Is this your first time in Neverwinter? King Roland never boasts."
The man looked unconvinced and wanted to argue but was abruptly interrupted by a loud whistle from far away.
"It's coming!" The atmosphere of the room went wild. Everyone looked out of the windows and stared unblinkingly at a small street near the Castle District. Some of them even took out telescopes.
Victor also looked at where the sound came from.
A long and black beast appeared behind the houses, coming slowly in sight. It was huge, and above its two wheels was its head that looked like a metal pail, on top of which there was gray smoke pumping out, just like a working steam engine.
A wagon ran alongside the head of the train, drawn by two horses, moving as fast as the train, as if the two were completing. However, since the wagon was laden with ore, the driver of the cart must keep whipping to drive the horses forward, and every step the horses took was strenuous. If the hub of the wheel was not iron-forged, the wagon would have collapsed already.
As the full exterior of the train was revealed, Victor, despite himself, felt the hairs on his back stand up.
Carriages, one after another, followed the head of the train. Each was four or five times larger than the wagon and laden with ore. In terms of volume, one carriage was almost on a par with a cargo sailing ship on the inland river.
The point was that the train contained more than one carriage.
For a moment, all the audience exclaimed with admiration.
"There can't be more!"
"My God! The sixth!"
"There's more, the seventh!"
The monster-like head trailed a total of seven carriages, moving steadily across the clearing before the castle.
Now Victor found the answer to his question.
There was a big difference between a steam engine that was fixed in the entrance to the mine to power the carts and a steam engine that could move independently and freely.
The latter could carry goods to wherever the railway stretched. The weight would no longer be the bottleneck of land transportation. On the contrary, the capability of the train would outstrip that of the river transportation. His Majesty could even empty a city in a short time by carrying everything away on the train if he wanted.
Being born as the son of a merchant, Victor naturally knew the importance of transportation, which was often the reason why most cities were built near rivers. Obviously, such kind of transport would bring limitless possibilities for the circulation of the resources, so the word "era-defining" was far from being over dramatic.
An unspeakable feeling came over him, he could feel content and lost and... It was like he had witnessed history yet meanwhile he had been forsaken by history. The lords in other kingdoms were still drowning themselves in pleasures and traveling by horses and mules on the road that was paved with bricks and full of mud.
They, however, were entirely unaware of what had happened here and still felt good about themselves.
Somehow, an idea emerged in Victor's head.
The future had already come, yet it did not arrive at all places equally.