Wizard! Chapter 107
William looked at the changing landscape as it rolled by. Upon thinking about it, he’d never really travelled much in his previous life. When he lived in Ostana, the only time he had traveled far from Canta was to go to war. Not that he was an exception, since being able to travel was a luxury that took time, or a job in the case of traders. It wasn’t like he could tour around a country in a couple weeks, stopping at interesting places. Instead, it would take three to four weeks to travel from the middle of Ostana to the edge, or quite a bit less depending on speed. However, there weren’t any cars or roads they could travel on that would let him do the same trip in a day, nor were there airplanes that could cover more distance in a single hour. Obviously, the technology was nowhere near ready for either car or planes.
If flying magical beasts could be tamed, the could be ridden, like the wyverns that the demons had ridden in the war. However, these were both dangerous and rare. Presumably, the demons had special methods and training. It likely also helped that they were individually very strong, which would help in taming unruly beasts. Since currently he didn’t have any idea how to tame, breed, or train such beasts, they were out of the question.
William did think of another possible piece of air technology. There was only a single piece of advanced technology in them, and it could possibly be replaced. Everything else was simple. Hot air balloons only needed a consistent source of hot air. Obviously, having an open fire would be impossible, and not hot enough. However, wizards could create fire… however, it would require a very skilled, or at least precise, wizard to pull off what needed to be done. It would require almost constant spellcasting. If they were off with their aim or output, they could even catch the envelope on fire, which would be a disaster.
William stared up into the sky. Big Sister Li asked him “What are you thinking about?” She spoke the language of Ostana, obviously intending to practice.
“I’m thinking about how to fly?”
“Fly?” Yu Li tilted her head, then continued on in her native language. “Fly, like a bird?”
William shook his head. “Not like a bird, but yes. Remember that hot air rises?”
She nodded. “Yes. Would heating a person let them fly?” Then she shook her head. “No, of course not. They’d just burn.”
“That’s right. However, with enough hot air, if you contain it, you can have it lift you.”
She waved her hand through the air. “And how does one contain air?”
William began to explain the principles behind a hot air balloon. There was a large canvas envelope, filled with hot air, which held up a large basket where the passengers went. The hot air didn’t escape, because it wanted to rise, but the only way out was below it. Some heat obviously got lost through the canvas, and a small part of hot air would flow out the bottom even though it mostly would not, but continual application of new heat would keep it afloat.
Yu Li absorbed all the information, and nodded. “Indeed, it would be hard to maintain the level of fire necessary. It could possibly be done with a few skilled mages, but it would also need to constantly be moving to areas with mana… though I suppose it couldn’t avoid moving anyway.”
William nodded. “Using ki would just exhaust the user quickly. Even if there was a systemized technique, I can’t imagine it would be able to do much more than get up in the air, then have to descend within a few minutes.”
In the end, William hadn’t come up with a way to make a hot air balloon, but he also knew that it wasn’t impossible to use one, if only for a short time, with his current ideas. This was one example of a relatively simple machine, where he didn’t have to understand how to build something like an engine, unlike a car, airplane, or even a printing press.
In short, William decided to keep his mind open to possibilities. He just hadn’t had any reason to want to fly before, so he hadn’t considered it. He would try to keep aware of other useful possibilities that didn’t require too much technology, or where the critical piece could be replaced. Anything too complex, and William wouldn’t have the background to replicate it, and he didn’t have the inclination to invent the technology from scratch, if he even could.
The group traveled through several large cities, and a few towns. Then, they came upon a forest. From what William remembered, this forest covered a large area along and past the borders between Ostana and Liaoyang. Its name was something like the Endless Forest, at least from the perspective of Ostana. William couldn’t remember what it was called in Liaoyang.
It was the kind of large forest that housed magical beasts, but the caravan didn’t seem particularly worried. They did have guards, after all, and traveled this way regularly. There also wasn’t much of an option for other directions, since it would require going over a hundred miles out of their way to either the north or south if they wanted to avoid the forest. At least here there was a decent road, if not particularly impressive and just a clear path of dirt.
Thus, because of his trust in the caravan leadership, William relaxed. He found it rather peaceful, traveling through the forest. The light filtering through the trees was rather pretty. However, William’s hopes of a continually peaceful journey fell, as they came across a group of bandits.
The bandits stepped out from behind the trees, and a large man, who also radiated an aura of power, spoke. “Well well, seems we have another caravan. You’d better not forget there’s a toll to pay for traveling this road.” The bandit leader grinned, and William tightened his grip on his staff, ready to fight.