"The prospect of a new world, huh?" Roland could not help laughing.
He then asked Nightingale to summon Anna in.
At these times, Nightingale would leave voluntarily to give the two of them privacy.
Anna was wearing a light blue one-piece dress, underneath which her knee-length black stockings were visible, and her feet were covered in a pair of moccasins. All these made her appear particularly lively. These modern-styled items of clothing were tailored under the guidance of Roland during his spare time using flow-coated fabrics that were provided by Soraya. They were extremely light, easy to wear, and highly durable. They were thus perfectly suitable for Anna to wear when she was crafting apparatus.
Whenever Roland looked into her sparkling eyes, he would feel a surge of happiness and smile uncontrollably.
Of course, he no longer needed to act as mannerly as he used to.
He wrapped his arms around her and sat her on his lap. Then he took a sniff of her hair and kissed her cheek before getting to the point. "I want to develop a new source of energy."
"Will it be something like the steam engine?" She turned her head back to face him. Her collarbone could be seen protruding along her fair neck.
Roland could not resist reaching his hand out to stroke her collarbone. It tickled her such that she began to laugh shyly.
"Your Majesty, be proper."
"Hehe, alright." He placed Anna on the seat and stood up to extract a stack of blueprints from the files on one side of the table. "Have a look at this first... How much can you understand it?"
"Um..." Whenever Anna was studying something, her expression would turn completely solemn. Roland would often feel an unexplainable sense of shame and inferiority when he observed her looking aloof—it felt to him as though he was sitting in a naturally well-lit classroom and peeking at the smartest student in the class.
In order to counteract this feeling, he thought of the naughty things he would do to her at night.
"I've more or less understood everything." After Anna looked through the last of the blueprints, she thought for a moment and nodded. "It's also powered by steam, except that the piston is replaced by windmill blades, and therefore saves energy on the reciprocating motion of the connecting rods. Am I right?"
"You're absolutely right." Roland discarded his wild thoughts and put on a serious face. "It's called the steam turbine. While it's also powered by high-pressure steam, its efficiency is much higher than the steam engine."
This was the revolutionary product which Roland had conceived for a long time.
It could be said that Anna was the main reason why he wanted to rid the basic industries of dependence on witches—only this way would she be able to focus on high-end mechanical production.
The steam turbine was his experiment within this field.
Turbines had many uses. They could be used to power ships and provide electricity, especially the latter—it could be foreseen that after Fallen Dragon Ridge was captured, Countess Spear would have to spend a long time sorting out government affairs. It would not be wise to rely solely on Mystery Moon's magic power to provide night lighting for the industry area, not to mention the residential area's electricity supply. Roland certainly did not want to admit that this was a planning failure caused by his lack of experience. In order to make up this mistake, he had to think of an alternative means of producing electricity.
Due to the natural flaws of the circulation principle, the electricity generated by steam engines was inconsistent. Furthermore, Roland had weak knowledge of voltage regulation. It was thus a more suitable choice to use steam turbines, which had more stable output power and higher thermal efficiency.
"What do I have to do first?" Anna asked.
"Remember what you did for the gunboat?" Roland showed her a blueprint of a blade. "You'll need to build an operable model of this. It only needs to be about one meter in length. The main problem you have to solve is the angle of the blade. It has to allow high-pressure steam to flow smoothly through every stator grille. If you can do this, more than half of the work would be done."
Yet, how could a usable end product be built without detailed data?
The only way was repeated trial and error.
As for the core of the turbine—Roland was not worried about the difficulty of altering the impeller because the cutting precision of Blackfire was much higher than any modern machining tool. He also did not worry about the strength of the materials—after all, impellers usually operated at a temperature of 500 to 600°C, and the alloy steel discovered by Lucia was more than competent for this task. The key problem was the angular coordination between the stator cascade and the impeller. The former was like a fixed barrier that could alter the angular direction of the passage of steam so as to prevent the steam from impacting with the impeller all at the same time. It also prevented directional disorder and the production of opposite forces. In essence, it was like a comb for airflow disorder.
If the model that Anna built was operable, Roland would mass produce it, and then there would be no more difficulties.
After the processing methods and the quality of materials were improved, the industrial results would be inevitably substantial.
"I understand." Anna's eyes gleamed, as though signaling that she was ready to begin work.
"No hurry." Roland held her hand tightly. "You should have heard from Wendy that I've decided to launch an attack to capture the demons."
"Yes," Anna replied, "will you be going along?"
Roland shook his head calmly.
"That's good." Anna rested her head on his shoulder. "The last time, I was almost frightened to death when I saw you injured."
"Really? But I've heard from Nightingale that you were the calmest person around. If it wasn't for your decisive plan, I might truly have..."
Before he could finish his sentence, Anna covered his mouth with her soft hand. "Don't say that word."
She only loosened her hand after Roland nodded in acknowledgement. He then continued, "Anyway, what I want to say is that you have to take good care of yourself, understand? If anything happens, use the Sigil of God's Will immediately without hesitation. It's okay even if you don't capture the demons... I'll be waiting at the castle for your triumphant return."
"Don't worry." Anna laughed. "I won't let them hurt the other witches either."
After Anna left, Roland stayed silent for a long time before he murmured, "Are you around?"
"Of course." Nightingale's figure appeared on top of the study table. "But I didn't eavesdrop on what the two of you said. I only returned after she left."
Roland stood up and walked over to the window. While looking towards the direction of the snow mountains, he explained to Nightingale the hunting plan that he had conceived. "Before setting out, you all will have to rehearse a few times to familiarize with the entire hunting procedure, as well as understand your own and one another's tasks. Moreover, this plan is only effective if you're facing a small number of demons. It'll have to be adjusted based on the situation." He paused briefly before continuing. "If you ever run into the worst kind of situation... and I mean the most hopeless and irredeemable situation, you must bring Anna back no matter what."
Nightingale did not say anything. Instead, she waited until Roland turned his head back to look at her, before replying with a disconcerting look on her face. "Is this the real reason why you aren't going?"
Roland could not deny the truth. "If not, you'd definitely choose to save me, right?"
"... understood." Nightingale sighed lightly. "I'll do my best."
"It's all on you." Roland patted her shoulders and enunciated.