“Okay, Wayland was it? Do you want to add something to the project before we start?”
“Give me a second…”
Roland grabbed a large parchment with a diagram on it. It wasn’t a schematic of runes or anything close to that. It was the plan of his house, on this piece of paper he could see the dimensions and layout of his new home.
This was the house plan along with the blueprints that the construction company he had hired was working on. He was a bit surprised at how modern they looked, the floor plans were quite detailed. By the looks of things, these people were experienced, professionals.
The man he was talking with was the foreman. He was tasked with keeping the workers in check and that everything went smoothly on the construction site. People like the architect or the company boss weren’t here so he was the one responsible for it all.
Roland had already listed what he wanted. He wanted to have the whole building checked and renovated. All the broken boards on the floor were to be replaced with new ones. They would need to check if the brick walls were structurally safe.
He had made some improvements to the old design. One was the iron bars in the windows that would make getting in a bit more difficult. He also ordered the construction workers to fence up his entire property. It wouldn’t be used more as an indication not to trespass.
Getting through a fence even with barbed wire wouldn’t really be hard. People already had superhuman levels of strength and agility, vaulting over a two or three-meter tall wall was easy. That didn’t mean that there wouldn't be some surprises waiting for any trespassers on the inside.
Roland went over the house blueprints once more before giving them back to the person in charge.
“How long will it take?”
“Hard to say, a few days, a week at most. It would be best if you found yourself a place to stay till we are done.”
The foreman was a regular human being like him, his workers were quite mixed. He could see a large man that was part of the Goliath race, there were two dwarfs and even a gnome there. The smaller races had higher dexterity so they would probably be responsible for things like painting the wood or replacing small moving parts. The large muscular man would probably have to carry all the heavy gear and dig up the ground for the new fence.
“Yes, of course…”
Roland expected something like this to happen. The thing that would be the most annoying was the special coating to preserve the wood. They would apply it with a large brush on fresh planks but it would give out an intensive smell.
It would be quite hard to spend a night in a place like that. A person would get headaches if they inhaled the vapors so he would need to move out for now. The log cabin would get the same treatment so it was better to move to an inn for the time being. The last option was camping out in a tent on his own land.
He decided to move to the city, for now. He could use this time to visit all the shops and find out where everything was. The town was expanding fast, the construction workers were quite fast. Their specialized building classes allowed them to complete everything with minimal errors.
Roland was surprised but there were some advancements with building materials. This world even had its own version of cement and plaster-like substances. The alchemist were responsible for that. They mostly mixed some exotic ingredients together to get similar results. Monster remains were also important in making those mixtures which made dungeons quite the hot commodity.
This world had its own unique set of technological advancements. If he compared it to a strategy game he would be in a civilization that abandoned modern science in favor of magic. Instead of steam or combustion engine technology, they were shifting towards mana technology using it as fuel.
This made a lot of sense as it was a reusable source of energy found almost everywhere. It was in every living being but mostly in the air. A person just needed to know how to absorb this abundant energy source. Even the mana stones only purified it for an increased absorption rate without producing it themselves.
Roland’s next big task would require him to harness this abundant source of energy. For this, he needed something akin to a battery. He actually had an idea of how such a thing was possible. One part of the equation was the mana stones that you received from monsters and beasts.
He actually considered creating either a steam or combustion engine. With his blacksmithing skills making, he would be able to make a piston and cylinder that was required for those. Customizing it to work with runes would be the tricky part.
The problem was with how these runes weren’t that customizable. He could place a small detonation rune to push the piston in the cylinder that wasn’t the hard part. To actually make it work he would need the detonation rune to activate at set intervals. Intervals that needed to change if he wanted to. Otherwise, it would only spin on one set speed while constantly drawing his mana.
He had something in that theme with his grindstone but that one used a set runic structure that applied a constant ‘push’ in one direction. It was quite a simple setup that constantly drew mana from the user. It was a simpler design over the engines from his old world but it also required more power. A periodical infusion of mana to an impact rune would use up less energy while also conserving some momentum.
He theorized that such a mixed engine would be more powerful and it would use less juice as well. It would also require a more intricate runic design as well as a piston with a cylinder that fit into each other tightly. Producing something like that with the tools that he had would be hard, if he was off by a millimeter the detonation would be unfocused, and the loss of energy during the motion would make it ineffective.
He could also go with a more primitive steam engine design. He would only need to place a rune to heat up some water and make the steam push it instead. This would produce less power but also a simple heating rune was quite energy efficient.
‘Would be nice if I could play around with the settings of those runes. There will be a lot of trial and error involved in making an engine like that, also not sure about the uses...’
The biggest issue with bringing a hybrid engine into this world was its uses. He could probably slap it together and have it run in one way or another. But what would that give him? Could he get something out of that mechanical force that was produced?
He could make the engine spin around to power a drill. He could tweak the design to get a push and pull motion but what of it? He could already achieve this effect with the runic designs if he tweaked them slightly. The biggest question was if he could turn that energy into something valuable.
Roland did make some calculations and did think there was a way to work something out. The hybrid steam engine was just one part of the equation, the other one was what it could produce. With the addition of a generator, he figured that he could produce electricity. Now came the big question, could electricity be stored as mana in some way?
The lightning element was something that existed in this world. It was considered a higher tier school of magic and more difficult to learn. People with an affinity for it were rare amongst the mages that existed. If you had it you were considered gifted as lightning was very potent at delivering high amounts of damage.
With this Roland believed that electricity could be very potent as a power source. He just needed to find a way to store it as mana into something. While thinking about this he headed back into Albrook. It was time to look over the city again, he had spent most of his time going between the dungeon and his own house. This left the new town mostly unexplored.
After a little jog, he was in one of his favorite restaurants, he was mostly here because the food was cheap while still somewhat tasty. After about a month of being here, certain things had changed. One of them being that the new auction house was going to be opening this very day.
The new owners had rushed its production and some of the halls weren’t finished but they were opening it up with one of them being usable. After finishing up with his food he decided to check it out.
This reminded him about the time that he visited Edelgard for the first time. He also used the auction house to get all of his money for a long time before he was scouted by the gnome boss. Maybe if he refused him at that time he would be still in Edelgard selling his improved scrolls or now runic weapons.
He did gain a lot by signing a contract but in the long run, it didn’t pan out. Opening up a business was still something that he was thinking about but now was not the time. The auction house could be used for selling his wares instead. He didn’t plan on opening a workshop yet, he didn’t have enough time to work full-time in it yet.
“Welcome everyone to the grand opening of Albrook’s official auction house! With the help of the mayor...”
Roland had arrived just in the nick of time to witness a gnome in a top hat and a cane doing the announcement. This was someone from the auction house, might have been the owner or the announcer. Next to him stood an older man in a tailored suit, he was of the human race and looked about sixty years of age.
From what Roland knew this was the town mayor, if he was here then this place was probably being sponsored by the noble that owned this city. This spot would be very lucrative for anyone so owning the auction house would bring the noble and the city a lot of money.
‘They will probably forbid any other auction houses from opening. Or it will take some bribing for an opposing auction house to get started. Maybe some heavy taxation if the lord of the island agrees...’
This was nothing new, the rich got richer while the poor were forgotten. It was very smart to get into the auction house racket. This was the only place where regular adventurers could sell their wares and hope for a good price. Most of them didn’t want to bother with things like selling, they would rather get drunk at the pub or hunt more monsters.
Things like mana cores and monster fangs could be dropped off at the adventurer guild at a minimal loss. But getting a deal for some kind of exotic crystal or a magic blade that was found in a chest was harder. Thus the auction house would be the preferred means of selling. Other adventurers, merchants, and sometimes even nobles would visit such places to spend their money.
Unless you were friends with some kind of shop owner or blacksmith this was the best place to drop off your loot. The people from the auction house would take care of everything. The client only needed to return the next day to get his coins without worrying. That is if their item made it through the appraiser, not every little trinket would be put up for auction.
“With that I would like to invite everyone to the first Albrook auction, free of charge of course!”
Roland perked up at the ‘free of charge’ part of the announcement. He had spent a lot of time selling his scrolls at the auction house in Edelgard. He didn’t really have the time or money to buy anything back then though.
He was also hired to work at the company so the need for selling or buying wasn’t there. Everything he needed was provided by his old boss at a lower price than what he could get it for at the auction. After a while, he kind of forgot about that place and only visited regular stores instead.
‘Maybe there will be something interesting, something that could help me with my generator problem.’
Other people were also interested so it would be a packed hall this time around. After further investigation, the auction wasn’t actually ‘free’, at least not for anyone that wanted to buy something. The people could stay in the back and watch but if someone wanted to buy anything they had to buy a small paddle with a number on it. With it, they could raise it when they were interested in something like in all the other auction houses.
Roland wasn’t that strapped for cash, plus the fee was only one small silver coin. With this, he was also able to get a seat for himself while anyone that wasn’t willing to pay had to stand in the back.
The auction house looked like a small theater, quite similar to the other ones that Roland visited before. This stage was slightly bigger than the one he saw back in Edelgard. This might have been because this was the only one in this auction building for now. While back in Edelgard there were smaller ones for the less expensive items.
“We would like to bring your attention to our first item. This is a …. “
The person on the stage was a beautiful lady of the elven variety. This is something that never changed, they always brought out stunning looking women to attract attention. With a beauty on the side, the buyers were willing to spend more. Something to do with the urge to show off in front of a potential mate. Or so Roland heard from someone mentioning it during a random pub conversation.
The items that were shown weren’t anything out of the ordinary. Some sets of quality healing and mana potions, some enchanted weapons, and sometimes some unique devices here and there. Due to this auction house only having one stage the items varied by the quality and there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to how they were presented. Roland expected this issue to be fixed the longer the auction house operated.
Roland gave out a yawn, he had spent at least an hour sitting here without seeing anything worthwhile. He was mostly here to look at the item prices, they didn’t differ much from the ones back in Edelgard. Everything cost slightly more though which made sense as the weapons were mostly imported from outside and people had to account for shipping prices.
“This next item would be perfect for a present…”
Another thing came, the woman placed a box on the auction table. It wasn’t that big, around fifteen square centimeters. It looked to be some kind of music box, after placing it down the woman pressed a button from the side. Roland was using his mana detection skill while looking at the items which prompted him to notice something off.
He squinted while looking at the contraption. A little horse popped out and started spinning around. The tune wasn’t anything special, it sounded like a generic lullaby. That wasn’t really what he was interested in, he looked at the item in question with the help of his skills. He could see runic pathways running all over it, some of them connecting to a mana stone that was sticking out on the side.
‘Is that thing absorbing mana from the surroundings and running on it by itself?’
Normally any runic item required the user to insert some mana of their own. This one seemed to work in a different way, it was apparently activated by a press of a side button. This fact alone made Roland interested in this item.
“The starting price will be… four large silver coins.”
He looked at the lack of paddles in the air. The item was a magical device but not really useful for the adventurers here. It was more of a present for a female family member. It could shed some light on his mana engine theory. If the item was working without needing an outside mana jolt then it had to be storing mana in a different place. He decided to raise his number, luckily no one else looked interested in this item so he would get it for cheap. After investigating it further he might be able to get through his bottleneck.