“What was that?” Headmistress Lorenz tilted her head.
William shook his head. “Uh, looks like a big… thing. Are these wheels?” William was glad he didn’t know any words for train except in English… and even that he barely even remembered anymore. He had just learned what he presumed was the Eclean word for “train” though. He would have called it a machine if he knew a good word for that.
“That’s right, they’re wheels. Any thoughts?”
William had many thoughts, including ‘how is there a train’. That one was resolved rather quickly. It had been a long time since he was last in Eclea, and unlike other places they didn’t seem to have stagnated their technology. It looked much like a train from Earth, but he didn’t know how precisely the details were the same. Perhaps someone from Earth had reincarnated and gone to Eclea, or it could be a coincidence. Actually, it wasn’t too unreasonable for there to be more reincarnations. The Demon King had been destroying souls again… and William had contributed more than his fair share in the last battle. Presumably, anyway, though he was rather too dead to tell for sure. At the very least the explosion would have killed everyone and had a good chance of affecting their souls. William couldn’t help but think of the lake.
In the end, William came up with a good thought. “Why are the wheels so skinny?” He knew, of course. The blueprint also said it, but letting on that he could speak and read Eclean seemed… unwise.
“Oh, that’s an interesting thing. This is some kind of carriage that doesn’t work except on special ‘roads’. We have a blueprint for them too…”
The blueprint was, of course, for railroad tracks. Although the tracks themselves didn’t look impressive, railroad tracks had to be rather precise. They needed to be consistent over their whole length, and the tracks had to be the right length. This was simpler if the tracks went straight, but more complicated over turns. William hadn’t studied trains more than knowing that there were difficulties involved with turning, among other things. “So the wheels go on these? Seems like a lot of work. These must be fast.”
“Why is that?”
“Because they’d be very expensive. If they were expensive and could only go to one place, they have to be much faster, or they wouldn’t be worthwhile.”
“I thought the same thing. The blueprints indicate the could be a half dozen, to a dozen times the speed of a horse- over long distances, anyway. After all, it won’t get tired. With improvements, they think it could even reach two dozen times the speed of a horse, and then even horses galloping couldn’t catch up.”
“That’s… quite fast.” William did some math in his head. Those numbers sounded about right. It mattered a lot what kind of fuel they had, and how the tracks were made. “That would enable them to cross the country in a day.”
“During only daylight hours as well. My sources say that right now they’re building some of the slower ones in Eclea. I wonder if we can make some here…”
“Who would pay for them?”
“Well… the nobility, I guess, with taxes.”
“I see, and which of them will pay first? Perhaps the tracks might pass through their territory at great cost, but unless they connect up with neighboring regions there isn’t much profit to be made.”
“You’re right. Some with ambition might… but they would mostly argue or be uninterested.” Headmistress Lorenz sighed. “Perhaps it would take a few dozen years to even begin. Not that I am on particularly good terms with any nobles who I would share the idea with.”
“No, I suppose not.” The discussion on the train continued, with William trying not to give away too much- primarily how much he actually knew. He didn’t have any problem with Headmistress Lorenz having the information… nor gevai in general… but also specifically not the Demon Lords. Things would need to change before he would feel comfortable with such technology here. On the other hand, the refrigerator had been his idea, and that could also provide a lot of use. He just had to hope that the Demon Lords continued to be stuck in old ways, or at least short on vision.
William had been listening to Edgard complain about how the academy was run to some of his ‘friends’. It was boring and unproductive, so he planned to leave soon.
“You know Edgard, if you feel so strongly about this, you could just go somewhere else.”
“I wish. My father is overprotective, and doesn’t wish me to go to an academy in another territory. It’s a shame, really, because I feel the others might be more… selective… about who they let in. Can you believe there’s a farmer going here? A farmer. It’s too bad his family lives so far away, my father has no influence around Caister.”
William was going to murder Edgard. It was all he could do to stop himself from stepping out and kicking him out a window right now. Then he thought better of it. They weren’t in a particularly tall building and gevai were tough. He’d probably survive. No wait, that wasn’t the right reason. It wasn’t appropriate to kill him in public. He’d have to do it secretly. No, that wouldn’t be a good idea either. He’d be the primary suspect. It would have to be an accident. William shook his head. That wasn’t right either. He probably shouldn’t kill him at all.
Edgard continued to speak, “Apparently there’s no way to replace that headmistress either. There’s not much to be done about who enters the upper levels here. At least we can keep commoners from going to that ‘primary school’. Nobody wants them getting any ideas.”
William continued to have thoughts of murder, but he knew he couldn’t really do anything about it. He had no authority here, and anything he did would just bring criminal charges down on him, and perhaps even on his family. If he actually did something like kill Edgard, that would be just the excuse they needed. Though, even though he couldn’t do anything, William knew someone who perhaps could. To think, William had been about to leave.