Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 55
A Disappointing Hunt
Claude continued practice and resumed his daily routine. He would do equestrian twice a week in school, go to the woods for musketry practice twice a week, and help Eriksson with his boat twice a week. Naturally, he only helped out in the simplest way possible and didn't touch any of the skilled work.
One Sunday, the three were dragged to the forest south of town to hunt by Borkal. They left excitedly, and returned empty handed and blister-footed. Claude collapsed into his bed the moment he got home.
It wasn't a problem with their accuracy. They never even got to shoot since they didn't come across anything. The land south of town was all farmland, all of which was guarded by dogs that caught or chased away anything dumb enough to wander into it.
Borkal blamed himself for picking such a horrible spot. It was far from ideal; it was a busy place where people came and went. He wasn't going to give up, however, and decided they would hunt to the west of town the next weekend.
But that was a matter for the next week. Currently, Claude had just popped the two blisters on his foot and put on some ointment. It made his feet cool and helped with the pain. Since his feet had recently exploded and he'd just gotten a new pair of shoes the previous week. He'd forgotten how new shoes chaved, though, and worn them for the trip.
There was a stack of mali paper on his desk, the result of Claude's work in recent days. He had been trying hard to recall everything he knew about flintlocks and jotting it all down so he wouldn't forget again. It was too bad he wasn't a mechanical or chemical engineer. Instead, he majored in computers and management and those were useless in this world.
If only he'd known he was to transmigrate, he might've learned more useful things...
He sighed and lay on his bed. He couldn't even be considered a military enthusiast, the only time he ever touched a gun was during his compulsory military training in his university days. He only fired ten rounds with a Type 81 and scored 63, ranking among the top in his class.
His boss once took him to an underground shooting range a few times a couple years later, run jointly by someone in the military and a civilian. He was only there to talk business though. His boss, on the other hand, had been a fan of anything related to shooting, be it at the range or in bed.
If only he had Wu's knowledge about guns... That man could describe everything about them so thoroughly and even make a flintlock with pipes and scrap material. He'd given one such gun to his boss, it looked just like the real deal. The old man even put it on a stand in his office… Claude was certain the old man would have loved to reincarnate there.
Most of his knowledge jotted down on those papers came from what Wu had told him, and his drawings were replicas of that gun the man had made. He didn't know if they were worth anything. The man had said it should work just fine, but it had never actually been fired.
Claude sometimes wondered whether he ought to try to get Mike to make him a few parts for the gun.
And even if it all worked out, he would still have the problem of the kingdom requiring all new designs to be certified. He might get away with adding sights, but any modifications to the barrel were a major issue.
All barrels had to be produced in kingdom-owned factories and every one had a serial number with a corresponding record in the factory. Should a musket be discovered without a serial number, even a dignitarian would be punished. Illegally forging a musket wasn't something the average citizen could afford to be caught doing.
Claude had another method at his disposal, however. He could just dismantle his own gun and use it's barrel. He abandoned the thought as soon as it came to him. A single barrel wasn't enough. He didn't know what he wanted exactly, so he would have to experiment and it would likely take several tries, probably a dozen or more, before he was satisfied with the results. A single barrel wouldn't survive long enough.
It didn't help that he wasn't much of a tinkerer to begin with. He was confident he could take the musket apart, but putting it back together was a whole other matter.
Maybe he could try it out eventually, but definitely not now. He didn't want to ruin his only musket only to be reprimanded by his father, so he forced himself to stuff the designs back into his drawer and took a quick bath before he collapsed in his bed again.
He found Eriksson smiling as if he had picked up a riyas on the way to school. Turned out he'd gotten some money. HIs father, had returned from his voyage and saw the flipper. He asked Pegg what was going on, and was very proud of his son and even decided to give the boy two gold crowns towards his project of his own accord.
The kind of ship the boy was building cost eight or nine crowns new, about 40 thales. A peasant only earned a thale a month, hell, even Claude's father only earned three a month. It would take them years to save up the money to buy a boat.
Eriksson used his Egret trip to buy the ship instead. He planned to give Pegg a crown for his work. Obviously Claude, Welikro, and Borkal didn't need money, they were friends.
The other crown would buy everything he still needed to finish the ship and square his debt with Welikro and Borkal. After everything was done, he would have little more than a thale left, which he was going to use to treat the four of them to another good meal.
If his guesses were correct, they would be done in a month. And with everything else sorted, the most pressing issue was finding an impressive name for his boat. The others quickly darted onward to the school so Eriksson could think in peace and quiet. Well, truthfully they just didn't want to be prodded to join his search. They could suggest whatever name they wanted and he would still be dissatisfied. Nothing was good enough for his boat.
Claude's days were uneventful. He either shot more with his gun, helped work on the new ship, or brainstormed ways to further improve his musket. He made sure to jot his notes down in Chinese logographs so no one else could read them.
Borkal's sights came a week later. Mike did just as good a job on them as on Claude's. It took Claude only a few tries to get the sights fully zeroed. Borkal was not as studious a learner as Claude. He generally only shot a few rounds before handing his musket to Welikro.
Welikro always removed the sights so he could use the rods to aim, which irritated Claude because he'd have to re-zero them each time again. He eventually decided to teach Welikro to do it himself. It lead to Welikro being both the only one in the group that knew how to calibrate the sights and that didn't know how to shoot with them.
As promised, Borkal borrowed his family's carriage and the four left for the wilderness.
The town sat on the foothills of a long mountain range that stretched out to the west. The mountains were tall and the forests dense; a great place for hunting. Everyone knew it as the Lomiclin Mountains. No one knew for certain where the name came from, but the folklore was it was named after an evil dragon that used to live there.
Some magi slayed it apparently. The story wasn't recorded anywhere though, and no one really bothered since it concerned a feud between two shunned beings.
Borkal screwed up the trip again. Half their weekend was spent just getting there. They didn't catch much this weekend either. They only had a single turkey.
"Let's not rush it. We can go hunt in the wetlands when your boat is done," Eriksson consoled.