As far as Claude could remember, revolvers were the easiest to make. He couldn't have been more wrong. He got the notion from watching old cowboy movies in which the chaps invariably forged weapons around campfires.
It wasn't that he had expected it to do much. It only had to fire a hundred metres and have an effective range of fifty. The cowboys duelled from near point-blank range, after all. In chaotic shootouts in cowboy towns, they fought from just fifty metres apart at most.
He believed a revolver that shot five or six rounds made for a great self-defence weapon in an era of matchlocks. It was, at least, far more reliable than carrying a 'short-barreled' matchlock musket around. As a military officer, he would rather carry a normal Aubass Mark 3 like the other soldiers' than use an ornate but impractical short-barreled musket in a charge. It was far too lame.
Rather than using a short-barreled musket, he'd rather lead his troops on horseback wearing bright, white gloves or waving his sword around. That would make him seem brave and impressive to his men and inspire confidence in them that they would win.
That was why he didn't carry any other weapon apart from his decorative sword. He felt that he was lacking something the whole time. After he was promoted to become a field officer, he couldn't carry a short-barreled musket like the junior officers that hung theirs against their thighs as it was a weapon meant for self-defence on the battlefield. That was the reason he asked his sister to research grenades and revolvers.
The other reason for that was he remembered the design and layout of the revolver the most. That was thanks to his boss back on Earth who collected revolver replicas like the real ones apart from the many other mock firearms. When Claude had nothing better to do, he would fidget around with the revolvers and take them apart before putting them back together to the point he knew exactly how they worked. The designs he drew for his sister were based off that exact revolver, but the barrel of this one was hollowed out, unlike that of the replica. He even drew a few sample bullet designs.
As he expected, Angelina didn't have a hard time fashioning the parts using her array. After a few adjustments, it became a revolver almost like the one he remembered. The main issue, however, was the bullets. He didn't know how to make mercury fulminate, so he wasn't able to make a proper primer for the cartridge ammunition. The misfiring rate of flint-firing mechanisms was also too high. So, he had to first switch the hammering mechanism. Otherwise, the bullets in the revolver might fail to fire.
Oftentimes, seeing someone make something gave off the impression it was simple. Even if one could remember the steps perfectly, actually putting it into practice was much, much harder and the end product could be completely different.
That was exactly the case with the revolver Claude had his sister make. In the end, the grenade became a mortar, and the revolver failed because he didn't have the requisite materials for a bullet primer. While they did make quite a lot of progress with stabilised nitroglycerin powder, it couldn't be mass-produced as it was only possible to make in small quantities using arrays.
With the new ignition powder Sonia invented, they could replace mercury fulminate with it. Angelina took out the few revolver samples she made and assembled the parts before manufacturing a cartridge with the new kind of powder.
Sonia gasped, not daring to cry out in fear of affecting Angelina's movements.
"What's wrong?" Claude asked, not understanding her surprise. Liboyd was also looking at Angelina with terror and desire.
"Is... is that Fine Control? The legendary forbidden spell?" Sonia whispered.
Angelina had turned Magus' Hands into all sorts of tools as she put the primer together before installing it at the bottom of the cartridge. However, she was stopped by Claude before she put in nitroglycerin powder. The power was too high and it might cause the bullet to explode within the chamber of the revolver. It would be best to use normal black powder. He recalled that the bullets the cowboy made himself in a particular western flick also used normal black powder.
He only recalled what Sonia said when Angelina began filling the cartridge with powder. "That's right. This is Fine Control. You haven't learned it before? I thought Fine Control and Magus' Hands were basic spells for rune magi."
"We know Magic Hands, which you call Magus' Hands. But we haven't learned Fine Control, so we aren't able to turn the hands into any other tool," she said as she looked at Angelina quickly assemble one cartridge after another in her array. "When we make parts for our experiments, we use one Magic Hand to hold the object and another to hold a tool to make fine adjustments. We often have to switch tools and that makes everything rather slow. We can't work nearly as quickly as Anna."
Claude soon found out about the basic spells the two had learned. Unlike the proper rune spells from Landes' legacy, Sonia's grandfather, the old magus, had spells that seemed like they were for apprentice magi that helped real rune magi out. The seven basic spells they had were Appraisal, Magus' Hands, Decomposition, Reconstruction, Clean, Temperature Control and Shape Fixing.
All of them were support spells for rune experiments. It was no wonder the old magus was so poor. Liboyd said that his teacher would secretly sell the magic items he made to make a living. The items he sold included water bottles that refilled themselves and clothes that cleaned themselves every day. Back then, he was quite curious about those things and strove hard to learn magic from his teacher. However, he didn't know that the items had time limits. Their magic effects would disappear within three months.
That was the reason the magus didn't dare reveal his whereabouts and sold his items for cheap. The basic runic spells he knew weren't enough for him to win fights, nor did they make him any better of a thief. It was only after Liboyd became a worker in a firearms factory that he learned how truly useful those seven spells were. It helped him build a firm foundation as a custom firearms maker.
Claude asked the two of them what rings they were at and received a surprising answer. Liboyd was a three-ring magus while Sonia was a two-ring magus. The reason for that was simple: the old magus only left seven basic spells for them back then. So, the two no longer had any basic spells to engrave in their rings and couldn't continue to meditate to the next level.
At the time, Liboyd was already renowned for his work and he got to know a few other magi in the employ of Askilinan and Rimodran nobles. But his vocation as a gunsmith caused him to be avoided by other magi, so he wasn't able to integrate himself in their circle to obtain new spells. He and his daughter remained two-ring magi for decades.
It was only after the five-year war that they were invited to Aueras and created honorary nobles. They also registered to be magi then. So, they bought lots of so-called harmless spells from the Watchers to engrave as basic spells so that they could continue to train. Eight years later, Liboyd was now a three-ring rune magus whereas Sonia was too busy with her experiments that she remained a two-ring rune magus.
That was why they seemed so envious upon seeing Angelina use Fine Control to make all sorts of tools with Magus' Hands. If they also knew that legendary spell that was crucial for rune magi, using the array would be so much more convenient for them.
"No worries. If you become a three-ring magus, I'll get my sister to pass those basic rune spells to you. As for you, Uncle, if you can become a four-ring rune magus, I have a spell which you can use to clear out your old basic spells so you can engrave new ones. I'll get Anna to sort out useful rune spells and give them to you. I believe this will be a great help to your experiments," Claude generously said.
"Really?" Sonia was elated and she hugged Claude tightly. She almost wanted to give him a kiss.
"Of course." Claude had long planned to get the two to work for him. Relying on his sister alone to research weapons would take far too long, and he couldn't make time to help out either. So, Liboyd and Sonia were the perfect candidates he needed. As they used to be Askilinians, they weren't that loyal to Aueras and wouldn't always think in the kingdom's interest. Sonia also had a close relationship with him. On account of her father and Marcus, she would definitely help him out. So, he didn't hesitate to offer up the basic rune spells as a gift and a sign of goodwill.
Just as they were chatting, Angelina finished the assembly of the bullets and revolvers. There were three revolvers and 54 bullets in total. Each revolver could fire three full chambers of rounds. Claude brought them to the back of the lab with even ground that made it suitable for test firing. Gum instructed the guards to place three targets at 20, 30, 40 and 50 metres away respectively per Claude's instructions for the tests.
Claude didn't manage to get to test the revolvers out first, however. Myjack and Gum took two 'to be the guinea pigs' as they put it, and Angelina wasn't willing to let go of the last one. She said that since she was the one who did most of the work, she definitely had to be among the first to test it.
The first round of testing ignored accuracy and only focused on piercing all three targets from 20 metres away. The power of the shots could be comparable to a short-barreled musket, about which Sonia and her father were surprised. Claude was quite satisfied with its performance.
At 30 metres away, two targets were pierced while the last one remained intact. At 40 metres, all three bullets were embedded in the first target and at 50 metres, the bullets only left dents in the first wooden target. Claude reasoned that people could still be hurt since wooden targets were much stronger.
There were only two bullets left in the three revolvers. One of them didn't fire. Upon inspection, it was discovered that Angelina neglected to shut the cartridge tightly enough, causing the ignition to fail. As for the other five bullets that remained, they used them to test the longest firing distance of the revolvers. The results averaged around 110 metres, though the trajectory of the bullets swayed considerably.
Claude stopped the second round of tests, inspected the revolvers before he whispered some things to Angelina. She nodded and entered her lab again before coming out some ten minutes later. Claude announced the recommencement of the tests.
The second and third rounds of tests were shocking. The power of the revolvers increased considerably and one target could be shot through from 40 metres away. The bullets also managed to embed themselves deep in the target 50 metres away. The longest firing distance was also increased to 150 metres.
"Are you sure this is not the effect of some spell?" Sonia asked, shocked.
"Nope. I only had Anna add some rifling in the barrels."
"Rifling? What do they do?" Sonia's face was one huge question mark.
He wasn't quite sure how to explain it. After much thought, he made his best effort to tell her and her father about it. "I read an ancient magus' journal before. He recorded many insights of the magi. One wind-aspect magus realised that as he was flying in the sky, the air applied quite a lot of resistance to him. The faster he flew, the more air resistance he would experience."
Liboyd nodded. It was common knowledge. Putting flying aside, people would feel air resistance simply by running fast enough.
"That magus continued his experiments and realised that it wasn't just humans. Other objects also experienced air resistance as they coursed through the air. The faster the speed, the more the resistance. He started experimenting with bows and crossbows in hopes of finding a way to counter air resistance, only to fail. Air is present everywhere. It wasn't something magic could remove. But he was surprised to discover that a spiralling motion could increase the distance and speed objects could fly, essentially decreasing the effect air resistance had on them."
Claude drew an unrifled barrel and a rifled one on the ground immediately. A bullet fired from an unrifled barrel flew straight and would be affected by air resistance before its direction changed and it fell to the ground. A bullet fired from a rifled barrel, on the other hand, could rotate in the air in a spiralling motion. The drilling motion helped reduce the air resistance it experienced, allowing it to fly further with more speed and power.
For Liboyd and Sonia, this visit to Angelina's lab was overwhelming. It had completely turned their worlds around. As a master gunsmith, Liboyd could tell that the revolver Claude had his sister make was a completely new design based on a never-before-seen concept. He had completely abandoned the matchlock ignition mechanism and there wasn't the cumbersome to reload in a cumbersome manner either. The gun could even fire successively. It was a mature self-defence weapon right out of the bat.
Sonia grabbed Claude tightly, not letting him go as she had mountains of questions to unload on him.