Black-colored powder could be seen gathered in a clump around which an oil-soaked rope circled. The rope stretched meters away like a long snake with Lorist near its other end holding a lit torch and looking at the black powder clump as if he was deep in thought.
This was his final attempt at that experiment. Lorist lit the oil-soaked rope with his torch and the flame traveled down the rope, quickly surrounding the clump of black powder.
Pssshhh! After letting out a sound and a flash of light, the black powder vanished altogether.
The result remained the same, causing Lorist to sigh in resignation. If he was back on Earth, that clump of black-colored gunpowder should explode. The danger of the explosion was what caused him to stand so far away in the first place. However, Lorist really couldn't understand why the gunpowder mixture from Earth based on sulfur, nitrate and coal, didn't react as intended on Grindia.
Lorist had collected the nitrate off the corners of the walls. As for sulfur, it was obtained by refining a herbal plant on Grindia which the herbalists use to make snake repellant to be sold to adventurers. The plant could be commonly found at places with volcanic activity and it was priced rather cheaply. As for coal, they were even easier to obtain. After getting the ingredients he recalled from his past life's experience, Lorist mixed a huge bucket of black powder and began experimenting with smaller portions before deciding to use them all up to carry out his final experiment. The results were still the same with the powder emitting a flash along with a hissing sound without anything else happening.
There was no explosion or loud noise. The air around the ignited powder didn't even heat up and expand.
That shouldn't be the case, Lorist thought as he scratched his head. Back when he was studying at Morante City, he had heard that the dwarven kingdom soldiers' main weapon was a firearm. Even though the power of those firearms were only slightly stronger than that of ballistas, they were still firearms nevertheless and Lorist felt that as long as he could synthesize some gunpowder, he would be able to shake up the era of cold arms and usher in a new age of domination of the Norton Family.
What he didn't expect was that actually making functioning gunpowder was more complicated than he had imagined. The recipe he remembered from his past life was of no use whatsoever, causing Lorist much frustration. Are those weapons used by the dwarves really firearms? What do they rely on to propel the projectile?
This wasn't Lorist's first attempt. Two months back, Lorist's attempts to make glass, porcelain, paper and cement, had all failed without exception. That caused him to realize that on Grindia, the chemical interactions between the particles were different than that of Earth.
Originally, he thought that making glass would be the simplest to achieve. As the owner of a crafts workshop back in his past life, Lorist was extremely well-versed working glass. He could fashion all sorts of shapes to make animals or other artistic pieces with glassblowing. On the Grindia Continent, the Teribo Kingdom is famed for their production of green glass, so Lorist felt rather confident that glass would be the first thing he would be able to replicate as the materials were simple, requiring mainly quartz.
But the results were like a strike on the head for Lorist. On Earth, after the quartz was melted, it would take a colloid form. After that, it would be relatively simple to use glassblowing techniques to split off a part of the molten glass and press it flat to make glass panes. That was the simplest method of making glass. However, in Grindia, Lorist discovered that the melted quartz turned into liquid form instead without any viscosity whatsoever and it would cool easily into droplet-shaped pieces. Even though they were hard, they were too fragile and there was no way to apply glassblowing to shape the material.
Not knowing why that was the case at all, Lorist went to seek out Charade as he felt that it was probably an issue with his materials. Perhaps, there was another material that he needed aside from quartz to make glass. Charade on the other hand was far too busy as he had been assigned by Lorist the daunting task of settling down the 200000 plus commoners that had just entered the dominion and couldn't be bothered to listen to Lorist's ramblings.
Seeing Lorist trouble him for such a trivial matter, Charade was enraged. Even though he was so busy that he was almost at the brink of death, Lorist had so much free time that he even tried his hand at glass making. Additionally, glass making is a highly protected secret of the Teribo Kingdom and Charade was merely born there and wouldn't know that method anyway. In the Teribo Kingdom, if one were to be found to be snooping around for the method of production and recipe for glass, one would no doubt be hanged.
Lorist laughed bitterly and told Charade that the green glass that cost only ten coppers in Morante City would be sold at 1 large silver each after the Kenmays Family shipped it from over there, with the price hiking up to almost ten times the original amount. Each gold Forde could then only be used to purchase 20 pieces of green glass within the Northlands. Upon mention of money and cost, Charade started to treat the matter seriously and he quickly wrote a letter to his father who was a merchant operating in the Teribo Kingdom and requested him to pay attention to what the glass factories usually purchased. As it doesn't directly involve seeking out the formula for glass production, it wasn't that risky. Additionally, once the materials were known, the mysteries of glass production could then slowly be researched.
Thus, the progress on glass research was put to a halt. After that, Lorist tried to begin making porcelain, only to fail again. In his past life, he had made replicas of various antique porcelain vases and Lorist was pretty sure he remembered the method for that quite clearly. As there has yet to be any porcelain products in Grindia, Lorist figured that he would try his hand at it and possibly come up with a new industry for his dominion.
At first, the porcelain vases and tiles he fashioned seemed fine. But after 7 days of drying, the results disappointed Lorist greatly. Take for instance a porcelain bowl. It should've been smooth and rounded. However, the surface of the bowl he made had a rugged surface and would crumble on touch, completely different from how porcelain should be. Lorist continued the experiments for one whole month and had no choice but to give up in the end to acknowledge his failure.
The same was the case with the attempt at reproducing paper. Two years ago right after the northbound convoy arrived at the dominion, Lorist gave Old Man Balk some instructions on paper production based on the information he remembered from his past life. But throughout these two years, the most they could come up with was borderline useless paper that was only good for use in the toilet. That kind of 'toilet paper' was already being produced at Morante City with the main ingredients being reed and rice stalks, which is priced at 1 copper coin per stack.
Lorist on the other hand tried using many other different materials, but the result was still the same soft and mushy paper with the only benefit being that it was slightly whiter and finer than the paper produced at Morante City, but cost way more to make with a far more complicated method of production. Even if that paper could sustain the demand of toilet paper within the dominion, causing the commoners to no longer have to use wooden rods to scrub their bottom clean after using the latrine, it didn't solve Lorist's need for the white writing paper at all.
And lastly there was concrete. In most fantasy stories, transmigrators like Lorist usually brought with them three of the greatest inventions, namely, glass, cement, and gunpowder. After the failing at glass production, Lorist figured he should give cement making a try. As the dominion was still in development, there was a great need for green vine glue and the 100000 buckets produced yearly at the Bladedge Mountains was not enough, causing Lorist to have to order 100000 more from the Kenmays Family. This year alone, the demand for it was 180000 buckets and that was no small burden for the family to bear. That's why Lorist wanted to see what he could do to decrease the reliance on green vine glue for construction.
The production of cement was actually rather easy. Lime and clay were first to be calcined before being powdered and mixed with sand and water. After the cement set, it would become concrete. Lorist had a few of his subordinates experiment around and managed to make a pile of cement. The problem was, the cement made was unable to harden. Even though it was mixed with water, it still didn't harden after three days passed and would crumble into pieces upon being kicked at lightly.
But one of his subordinates brought a bucket of green vine glue and added it to the cement mix before moulding it into a few sculptures. After only half a day, the sculptures did harden and were as sturdy as iron, being also far sturdier than green clay structures. But the reason Lorist wanted to reproduce cement in the first place was to replace green vine glue, not green clay.
And now, his latest research venture into gunpowder had failed as well. Was it because the chemical reactions of this world was markedly different from those of Earth? Lorist stroked his cheek as he began to sink into deep thought.
"Milord, what is it that you want to do?" Howard asked.
"Oh, nothing. I was just trying to make an explosive," Lorist replied.
"Explosive? What's an explosive?" Howard asked, confused.
It was at that moment when Lorist realized that there wasn't a term for explosion in the lexicon of the Grindian Language. While there were similar terms like eruption or bursting open, they didn't quite describe the phenomenon of explosion.
"Hmmm, how do I describe it... An explosive is a thing that explodes and an explosion describes a phenomenon in which an object bursts outwards in all directions from the inside when it expands too suddenly, releasing a huge burst of energy and damaging the surroundings in the process," Lorist defined.
"Oh, there's that sort of thing?" While Howard couldn't quite imagine it, he didn't forget to carry out his duty and reminded, "Milord, we should be heading to the ballista workshop of Grandmaster Fellin soon. We are scheduled to meet with him today."
"Alright then, let's go," Lorist said as he suppressed his frustration for now and got on his mount.
The only good news amidst his chain of failures is that the catapult he designed has been successfully implemented by Grandmaster Fellin. The presentation was scheduled for noon that day at the ballista factory situated near the Bladedge Mountains.
"Milord, based on the design blueprints you provided, we have ran all sorts of experiments and finally decided on the appropriate dimensions of this catapult that can throw a 50 kilogram rock at least 600 meters away. Congratulations, milord. You have successfully invented a new ranged weapon! This is the first catapult in the history of Grindia!" Grandmaster Fellin said excitedly.
However, the catapult in front of him looked rather displeasing. Not only was it huge, it was also incredibly heavy and looked far too different from the design Lorist drew on the beastskin blueprint.
"Milord, we had no choice but to do that. If it is not at least that heavy, we will be unable to ensure its stability," Grandmaster Fellin said after understanding Lorist's hesitant look. He quickly explained, "Milord, the hardest part of your design to implement is the arm of the catapult which has to be both tough and elastic. If the arm is too thick, it would cause the base of the catapult to rupture, but if it is too thin, it will break easily. We've tried making over 200 different catapult arms with different wood and discovered that the one we're using now is the most suitable. However, it still has to be switched out after ten shots or it will crack and snap."
Loirst nodded without saying anything else. What came next was seeing the catapult in action. That catapult had a rather simple construction and used the principle of levers. The huge catapult arm was suspended on a crossbar with the thick end of the arm bearing several heavy, filled boxes to serve as a counterweight with a leather pad tied at the thinner end in which a rock could be placed. A rope was used to fasten the thin end of the arm to the ground and after loading the payload, the rope would be cut and the thick end would be brought down by the counterweight, sending the thin end rocketing into the air and propelling the payload forward.
Lorist was finally assured as catapults were actually rather useful. Even though they weren't that accurate and the firing range wasn't always consistent with a margin of error of around 100 meters, it was considered a success as it was able to hurl rocks weighing near 100 kilograms into the distance. The next logical step was to find ways to improve upon the current design.
Lorist understood that the task of improving catapults couldn't be given to Grandmaster Fellin as he was not a good and insightful researcher despite being a good implementer. Lorist still felt that the most suitable person for the task is Grandmaster Sid. Even though he was an armorer, his mind was quite flexible from the fact that he also designed the various water-powered machines that occupied the space below the waterfall. It was that aspect of the grandmaster that truly caught Lorist's eye, and Lorist figured that since he designed those machines, he could try working on the catapult since it was a machine as well.
After a while, Howard brought Grandmaster Sid over and as expected, the grandmaster was instantly deeply occupied with trying to understand the principle of the lever and began his research immediately.
Directly following that, Lorist also invited Old Master Julian over and included him in the catapult research group along with Grandmaster Fellin and Grandmaster Sid. The reason Lorist had Julian in the team was because he hoped that the old master would be able to use the elastic steel he researched as material for the catapult arm. The base standard Lorist set for the catapults was for them to be at least as easy to aim and operate like the steel ballistas, requiring less than 10 operators per unit. It also had to be able to fire 500 meters away with a payload of above 25 kilograms and couldn't be too large lest they hinder the march of the army.
Within the Rose Palace located at the capital city of the Iblia Kingdom, Windbury City, the Second Prince made his return.
The Rose Palace, formally known as the Rose Provisional Palace, was called as such because the Second Prince felt that a true palace fitting for a descendant of the Krissen Imperial Family like him should be built at the imperial capital. That's why he called the palace he built at Windbury City a provisional one to symbolize his ambition to one day retake the imperial capital and return there.
Even though the Second Prince had made his way back, all the servants within the palace were unnerved because their master had completely changed in both act and appearance. He was volatile, unstable, decadent, manic and developed chronic alcoholism. Every day, he would seclude himself within his royal chambers and drink as much alcohol as he could while fooling around with women, losing himself in hedonistic pleasures of the flesh with abandon.
With his 100000-strong army gone within but a single battle and his peerless Blademaster being slaughtered right in front of him by a thick and long ballista bolt, the Second Prince was shocked completely out of his senses. He never would've even dreamed that the Norton Family's might would be that staggering and that Baron Felim and Baron Shazin whom he thought he had control over would rebel. When he was on his way back to Gildusk City, the Second Prince got news that the duke's dominion was under siege by the forces of those two families, forcing him to have no choice but to head to the dominion of the Kenmays Family and leave the Northlands using the suspension bridge.
Originally, he thought he could borrow three legions of soldiers from his father-in-law to fight his way back into the Northlands. But he wasn't aware that Duke Fisablen had already lost all hope for him as there was no way he could use three legions of soldiers to take the Northlands given that he had already lost 100000 within a single clash. That was something that would only happen in the Second Prince's dreams. Duke Fisablen had made up his mind to not let his three legions which he had spared no effort to build to march to their deaths with the Second Prince.
Having been refused entry to the city by his father-in-law, the Second Prine secretly made his way back to Windbury City as news of his complete defeat spread throughout the kingdom. Without any more soldiers under his command, none of the nobles of the kingdom treated him seriously. This sudden chain of events had caused the Second Prince to lose all his ambition and hole up within the Rose Palace to drink away his pain all day.
Sounds of music and laughter could be heard from far away. That was the hall where the queen stayed and a ball was being held there.
"That damned woman!" the Second Prince cursed with bloodshot eyes. While nobody even bothered to check out on him, his consort was actually hosting a ball that would progress into an orgy afterwards! The Second Prince really wanted to carry his sword and slaughter the rest of the frivolous men and women there.
"Fuck off!" he roared as he kicked a nude woman lying by the table aside. That was the maidservant who served alcohol to the Second Prince, but she had just been forcefully ravaged by her master to the point that she was barely able to move.
The woman was relieved that her life wasn't taken and hurriedly crawled aside. The Second Prince then took a few more gulps of alcohol and tried to drink himself to the lowest depths of drunkenness so that he could take his mind of the matters.
"Your Majesty, you cannot continue to waste away like this," a voice rang out from the corner of the hall.
"What do you think I can do at this point? I've left all my wealth at Gildusk City. All the resources I took from the Madras Duchy is gone! And the First Legion I spent three years building is gone too! No money, and no soldiers! Am I still fit to be king? Nobody looks at me in the eyes anymore... I'm finished... I've lost everything..." the Second Prince muttered.
A tall figure appeared before the Second Prince. That was his swordsmanship teacher, and the only remaining Blademaster by his side, Blademaster Zarinan.
"Your Majesty, no matter what, you're still a king. If you don't stand up again, the kingdom will truly lose its future. If you don't have soldiers, you can always recruit more. If you don't have money, you can always find ways to make more. Don't you still have your two iron mines? You can think of cooperating with that trading guild from the Trade Union that came back then and let them handle the iron mines. That way, you will have a source of income and can begin building another army..."
"No, no way... Half the produce of those mines must be provided to my father-in-law to replenish his own troops," said the Second Prince as he shook his head to freshen himself up. "Teacher, you are right. Since that old guy no longer cares about whether I live or die, then why would I help replenish the the equipment of his forces?! Tomorrow, I will send someone to seek out those from that trading guild and begin a cooperative relationship with them. As long as I can get the money to rebuild my army, I will even deal with a demon!
"Oh, and teacher, can you please make a trip to the Northlands? I want the head of the Norton Family's leader. If I don't kill him, I will never be able to eat and sleep in peace. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been chased out of the Northlands and lose everything..." said the Second Prince with a manic look in his eyes.
"Your Majesty, assassination is not an action befitting of a king. There has never been a case where a king ordered the assassination of a dominion lord. If word of this gets out..."
"I don't care!" roared the Second Prince. "I must kill him! Teacher, you must bring me his head! I want to use it as my wine cup! Teacher, you can definitely fulfil this sole wish of mine just by making a single trip. Even if it's not for my sake, think of your junior apprentice brother, my Uncle Louinse, who died so horribly... Don't you want to avenge him?! Did you forget what your own master said about looking out for your junior apprentice brother?!"
The large man turned silent and after a long while, he opened his mouth and said, "Your Majesty, I shall agree to go to the Northlands and bring you the head of the Norton Family head. But I hope that you will never make a request of me that's so unfitting of a king again."