290 The Investigation Plan
When Roland was sitting at the desk thinking about how to launch air strikes against the palace in king's city, he suddenly heard thumping sounds on the French window behind him.
Please go to https://www.novelupdates.cc to read the latest chapters for free
Turning back, he saw Lightning bending over the window with a look of panic, while Maggie was squatting at her head and pecking the window quickly.
After Nightingale opened the window, the little girl immediately flew into Roland's arms.
"What's wrong?" Roland stared blankly for a moment and asked, "What happened?"
"Black stone coo! Huge snow mountain coo!" Maggie fell on the table and reported while patting her wings.
"No," Lightning muffled, "it was the demon. I saw demons!"
"What?" Roland looked serious, and he touched Lightning's head to make her calm down. "Don't panic. Just take your time telling me."
For a moment, Lightning looked up from the prince's arms, with her short blond hair in a mess. Around her eyes, there were two circles of light red marks, which were apparently reined by the goggles during the high-speed flying. She said, "I planned to draw the border of the Misty Forest. While I advanced to the west along the Redwater River, I found a huge mountain..."
After Lightning told what she had seen in detail, Roland could not help straining his eyes. The Red Mist by which demons lived was just behind the snow mountain. And it was only over 200 kilometers from the Western Region.
He cast a glance on Nightingale, who nodded and said, "I'll call the other sisters."
An emergency meeting was held in the castle office.
After Roland retold what Lightning had found, the crowd of witches, who experienced the killing night, all turned anxious. Especially Leaf, who killed two demons, could not help covering her mouth and screaming out in a low voice.
"Your Highness, I suggest a further exploration on the land covered by Red Mist," Scroll said firstly, "after all, Lightning only took several glances from a distance. We're not sure whether demons are entrenched under the Red Mist. Even we can confirm it, we shall investigate whether they can cross over the mountains by the sea or reach the Kingdom mainland along the coastline.
"I agree with Scroll," Wendy nodded and said, "although the demons are powerful, a prepared defense is better than no response at all."
As the two eldest witches in the Witch Cooperation Association, Scroll and Wendy always were the mainstays among the girls. Although others were still a little scared, no one would like to sit still waiting for death.
Roland also tended to adopt this suggestion. Since no one disputed, the basic plan was set down. The most important thing was how to implement the plan.
"How about using hot air balloon to detect the land?" Anna suggested, "we can cover the Cloud Gazer with sky-like camouflage and fly over the sea under the cover of the clouds."
"You can bring Sylvie together," said Nightingale. "Her ability is just appropriate to cope with this kind of situation."
"OK," Roland nodded and said, "and... I'll go, too."
"Your Highness!" after his words were spoken out, Wendy, Scroll and Nightingale blurted out at the same time to stop him. "You shouldn't take this risk in person!"
"It's not risky," Roland waved his hand and said, "if the demons were able to fly over the sea or the mountain, they should have been all over the Four Kingdoms. However, they're still entrenched in the Westernmost Land. The demons are obviously not as terrible as they might be."
There was another reason he did not tell them. In judging the development degree of a heterogeneous civilization, he was more experienced than anyone—seeing the demons and their city with his own eyes would be extremely helpful to set up the development direction and tactics for accepting battles in the future.
"But..." Wendy expressed her hesitation.
"Don't worry. We just look over from a distance," the prince smiled and said, "if it's still dangerous, I wouldn't promise to let you go."
"Well, but you must take me along," seeing the prince could not be discouraged, Nightingale reworded firstly.
Looking at Nightingale's serious eyes, Roland knew it was impossible to refuse her. After thinking for a while, he announced, "In addition to me, the staff members for this action are Anna, Wendy, Soraya, Nightingale, Lightning and Maggie."
"We're scheduled to start off in a week. In addition to the necessary food preparation, I'll give each of you a revolver. Practice it during the week. Thus even the non-combat type witches can fight back when confronting enemies."
Since the flying speed of hot air balloon was far slower than that of Lightning, it would take a whole day for them to cover the distance of more than 200 kilometers. Considering that they would need to camp for a night to complete the exploration, solid foods, tents and weapons were all necessities.
"Yes, Your Highness," the witches answered.
Roland did not have time to check the black ore brought back by Lightning until everyone left.
"Did you say that this kind of stone was everywhere on the edge of the forest?"
"Yes," Lightning already calmed down with her cheeks still a little flushed. She sat by the mahogany table with her feet shaking. "The closer we got to the bottoms of the mountains, the more rocks we found. Looking over from the sky, I found the land covered by the black stones was more than 10 times larger than the area of Border Town."
Roland weighted the stone in his hand, and he was a little shocked.
Since it was lighter than the average stone, it was unlikely to be a metal ore. It looked hard and light, with a metallic luster, and it was exposed to the surface... Was it a coal mine?
Thinking of that, he hurriedly called Anna back.
Under the burning of Blackfire, the stone quickly turned red, which looked like the iron ore in the smelting furnace. But it was not dissolved. Even taking back Blackfire, the orange light it emitted was not weakened, and the cyan flame was still seeable on the surface.
Roland confirmed his guess that it was indeed a piece of high-quality anthracite.
"So the coal mine looks like this," Lightning said with astonishment. "I once thought that it was as fragile and brittle as wood charcoal and had a lot of powder. Once touched, it would stain the palm."
"What you said is the coal ball and coal cake after crushed and watered," Roland laughed and said, "most mines are rock-like when they are mined, and the harder the better. The high-quality raw coal, like the stone, can even reflect a luster in the surface."
This unexpected discovery made him overwhelmed with joy.
Coal was not rare in the Kingdom of Graycastle. In Fallen Dragon Ridge and Silver City, coal mines were produced mostly for kilns burning and heating. But in fact, it could be used in a very wide range. Before the popularity of the internal combustion engine, it was the burning coal that held up half the sky of steam power. The coking coal could replace charcoal to produce iron and steel, which was much more environmentally friendly than unbridledly cutting down trees. Even after entering the electrical age, coal could also be used to refine gas, hydrogen and asphalt, and generate electricity. It could be considered as an inexpensive and excellent fuel.
It was obviously much better to hold an open-pit coal mine than to rely on imports. The only problem was how to develop it.
Roland averted his gaze to the map newly drawn by Lightning.
It seemed imperative to build more steam concrete boats suitable for the inland river.