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Roland started out on drafting the new machine as soon as he got back to the office.

With the First Army and the witches out for the king's city, he was not unoccupied. In contrast, he found himself busier than usual despite the absence of Nightingale and the lack of private time with Anna. He had to make arrangements for the refugees that came continually by ship, supervise Anna and Lucia to determine the composition of the smelting products, and build a new smelting furnace.

In the past, iron or steelmaking depended solely on experience and intuition. There was no way to analyze the composition of the products. Now with the help of Lucia, Roland finally had an accurate determination method for metal ingot composition analysis. He can get detailed data about smelting, for example the required time for blending, the proportion of charcoal, or whether he should use additives like limestone to remove sulfur and phosphorus or add other metals to obtain alloys, through comparison with her power of decomposition.

Based on all of the data, Roland could generalize a standardized workflow for the smelting industry, which would then enable the mass production of stable-quality iron ingots or steel and solve current problems in material technology.

The new smelting furnace was being built for that exact purpose.

It was a four-meter wide and two-meter high square furnace with a tilting bottom. It had a thick foundry-iron shell covered with clay bricks on the inside and Soraya's "earth" coating on the outside to make it extremely heat-resistant. The lower bottom had a movable valve that was pulled by a steam engine. Considering that the fancy ways of heating like blowing oxygen or using electric arcs were impracticable, the furnace was not equipped with any external combustion unit, that meant that it would completely rely on Anna's Blackfire to produce liquid steel. After the raw materials were added according to the determined proportion and smelted, liquid steel would be directly discharged from the valve.

The furnace could produce 50 tons of liquid steel each time. Anna could finish the whole smelting process in a quarter of an hour. Including the time for adding materials and casting steel, every round of production would only take an hour. This capacity could fulfill the production needs of firearms and cannon. The blast furnaces and shaft furnaces in the little town were now responsible for producing a large amount of pig iron, which would be useful for everyday ironware, steam engines or could be further smelted as raw materials to produce wrought iron or steel.

...

Roland was about to draw a draft design for a set of bullet punch production facilities. The stable supply of steel served as a good prelude to the process and assembly of punching machines while the successful production of mercury fulminate had made the mass production of new bullets more urgent. Though Anna's Blackfire cutting was efficient and accurate, it would still take a long time for her to complete all the procedures on her own. If a punching machine assembly line was put to use, over 30 ordinary people would be able to operate it after a short training period, and they could produce ten thousands of bullets a day. That was to say, the soldiers would then no longer need to reload the bullets manually.


After dinner, he drew until the midnight bell struck. He finally made up his mind about the big picture. Of course, the design was only conceptual and tentative. He would not know if certain details could work until the design was tested.

Roland would have yawned endlessly in his usual manner, but he was far too excited to sleep today.

He put away the drafts and from a drawer, took out a parchment from Princess Tilly and lay it on the table. He now could do what he had long awaited—he could now select the visiting witches.

The list included the powers of more than 60 auxiliary witches. According to Maggie, there were around 200 to 300 witches on Sleeping Island. It was obvious that Tilly had not included all the powers of the auxiliary witches on the list. It corresponded with the usual manner of a leader. Reaching out her hand in a friendly gesture without fully revealing her capacity. She had already shown enough sincerity to form an alliance. Roland replaced the candle and looked at the powers of the witches listed on the attachment with his full concentration.

It was a hard choice. After giving it his full consideration and careful comparison, he listed the names of five visitors.

Roland spread out a piece of paper and began to write back.

"Dear sister, I'm so glad to hear from you."

"I'm so gratified and encouraged by the choice you made. With your aid, it would be more likely for me to stand against the attack of the church."

"I've received trust and support from the witches for the same reason. In the whole Kingdom of Graycastle, only Border Town is free from the influence of the church. The natives have not only accepted witches, but also fought side by side with them against the demonic beasts and the church. My subjects and the witches have formed a united whole. Now you could see their participation everywhere in the town. The steam engine which made you curious was also realized with their help. This is a good sign. What I have to do now is to make this a common scene in the whole Western Region, and even in the whole kingdom.

"To this end, I must destroy the whole church, eliminate the statement that witches are evil and pull my people out of stupidity and ignorance. This is a hard process, and I shall need more of your help."

"As for what made me have this decision and what made me no longer indifferent to everything like in the past, I'll explain it in detail to you later."

"I'm looking forward to the visit of the witches next month. Please don't worry about safety. I've planned a route that goes directly to Border Town. This would make the trip totally invisible to the church and doesn't require any stops. The only risk lies in the voyage itself. But if Maggie leads the way, the ship will be unlikely to get lost. The route will be marked out in an attached map which Maggie will bring to Sleeping Island."

"When these witches arrive at Border Town, they could, of course, participate in the courses of primary knowledge, and such knowledge can help a witch's powers evolve. I'm inclined to think that a deeper understanding of the world will contribute to their transformation. Whichever knowledge will do, whether knowledge of nature, magic or self, it's all included. Undoubtedly, one more witch with an evolved power would mean a greater chance of beating the church. I totally agree with you on this point."

"Lastly, I'll include a list of five witches in hope of seeing them soon."

"Terrain Modeler—Lotus."

"State Preserver—Candle."

"Winemaker—Evelyn."

"Beast Tamer—Honey."

"And Eye of Truth—Sylvie."

"All the best, Your brother, Roland Wimbledon."


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