Wizard! Chapter 151
William decided that he liked camels even less than horses. It wasn’t that they were much more uncomfortable, though they certainly weren’t any better to sit on. To be fair, part of his discomfort was the fact that they were going through the desert which was hot and uneven, though at least the ground wasn’t particularly rough since it was sandy.
One good thing was that the group didn’t have to worry about water. Not that any water they got was anywhere near cold, but they had water. This was mostly thanks to Yu Li, who had an affinity for water and also decent talent as a wizard. Dong Xin could mostly provide enough water for himself. Of course, they still brought sufficient storage to last them between some villages and oases. However, being able to access more water let them be a bit more free with its use. That helped to alleviate some of the unpleasantness of the desert.
The villages that they stopped by on their path through Ustil were as unwelcoming as Dong Xin had previously described. They had no objection to selling some supplies, but beyond that showed little interest in the travellers. On the other hand, William couldn’t say that would be much different from villages in most places.
Travelling through the desert made William appreciate planes… and cars, and trains. William even appreciated the idea of carriages, but those weren’t nearly so fast. Obviously, most cars couldn’t have travelled through the desert either, but the point was that they were much faster. A journey that would have taken at most a few days in a car was already over a month, and little more than halfway. In a plane, it would have only been a few hours. William wondered if cars could be powered by magic. The answer he came up with was “maybe” but also that he didn’t really know the details of how cars worked. He knew that a lot of things were very precise, which meant that humans couldn’t control any of the relevant functions through magic. For example, there was no way for a human to do a better job of timing and properly sizing an explosion than a well built piston engine. However, William could think of some possible magical enchantments that would increase the efficiency of an engine, if he had one.
This brought his thoughts to Eclea. From what he remembered, they had some different uses for magic back when he was Archmage. However, after he had died there had been little interaction between the magical communities of Eclea and Ostana, as far as he could tell. That was only going from publicly available information, however, since he couldn’t exactly ask anyone at the Ostana wizard’s guild anything. He wondered if Eclea had done anything interesting, because as far as Ostana was concerned he felt they had fallen apart, even if they were perhaps making more money than they had been. However, the Ostana wizard’s guild had neglected uses of magic for useful things like helping maintain fields, and other things which could be good for the country as a whole. Instead, they had spent more effort on creating magical items for nobles. Well, it was a bit late to get upset about that.
As they stopped at an oasis, they finally saw a group from Eclea. There wasn’t much trade going through Ustil, since it was faster to and safer for trade to travel from Liaoyang through Ostana and to Eclea, and back, than through Ustil. However, that didn’t mean there wasn’t some trade with Ustil itself. From what William could tell, the Eclean traders were trading animals and various materials such as wood that were more rare for crafts. William could see how such things would sell for good value in other countries, since they were rare. They would likely stay that way, because there were only so many that could be traded, and eventually they would wear out.
Other than noticing their presence, William’s group had little interaction with the trade caravan from Eclea. William had already known about their dark skin, but their manner of dress was unexpected. It didn’t seem strange, particularly, except that William didn’t really recognize the style. In Liaoyang he could compare the styles to asian clothing and architecture, and similarly with Ostana and european influences. He wasn’t sure if this was a huge coincidence or influenced by others who had reincarnated before… or even his own biases. After all, they were not entirely the same, so perhaps he was just seeing the similarities he expected. In Ustil, most people quite sensibly wore clothes covering all of their skins, and there were only so many ways to do this. However, the people from Eclea were wearing tunics with short sleeves and what basically amounted to shorts. That was unexpected, since William hadn’t even read about such a manner of dress. It also made no sense, because even William’s group was wearing clothing that somewhat fit in with those from Ustil. After all, though long sleeves made it somewhat hotter, it was more important to keep the sun off. Even though the people from Ustil had dark skin, it wasn’t like they couldn’t get sunburns. Yet, they seemed to be fine.
It was only when Yu Li spoke that he figured it out. “Look. Around them… isn’t the light… different? Somewhat dimmer, but not much,” she paused for a moment. “There’s a sort of magical barrier, I think.”
William nodded. He had an idea of what was happening. “Maybe the barriers are bending away… harmful light.” William wanted to say “ultraviolet rays” but he didn’t know any words for that. However, that was the only way the clothes made sense to William. He expected long sleeves to help keep direct sunlight and heat away, not to mention sunburns. Perhaps the barriers also diverted some of the heat… but that came from light being absorbed into materials and skin to begin with. However, there were certainly ways to do it. In fact, William thought that perhaps the heat energy could be used to maintain the deflection of UV rays. Obviously, they would have to have magical items somewhere. That surprised William, because they didn’t appear to be particularly rich merchants. William wanted to ask them about the magic to confirm his theories, but he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea, so he restrained himself. Still, it didn’t stop him from thinking about the possibilities.