The smithy Welikro recommended was called Big Hammer. It was said that the first owner of the smithy was nicknamed the same and had moved to Whitestag to avoid the war a few decades ago. Initially, he was really poor, so he got himself a kiln to help the fishermen make some fishing tools. In time, people started to refer to the smithy by the owner’s nickname.
The current owner of the smithy was the grandson of the original owner. He was Mike, a burly and spirited man who spoke in a thunderous volume. The place where the original kiln was placed was turned into a huge yard with a large four-story tall forging furnace and a building within it. Clanging iron sounds could be heard coming from within. It was a very busy workshop and all sorts of ores and solid fuels were cluttered all over the ground. There were apprentices busily moving about within.
Welikro got Mike to go out of the compound with him. They had no choice as the yard was far too noisy for any conversation to be had.
Claude then handed over the designs for some sights and described its usage with his gun. Mike didn’t seem too interested in where Claude was going to install the sights. He only asked whether Claude was legally allowed to carry a firearm.
But when he heard Welikro introduce Claude as the son of the town’s chief secretary, Morssen, Mike’s attitude changed immediately. He sincerely expressed his apologies and said that the reason for his doubt was that he would be punished if Claude was illegally asking him to make a gun accessory.
Now that he knew about Claude’s relationship with Morssen, forging that item for him wouldn’t be a problem. After that, Mike inspected the designs Claude handed him and measured the diameter of the gun barrel carefully. After making some calculations to make sure everything was in order, he confirmed that the sights could be made.
But as it was small and of complicated make, it would be rather hard to fashion the device by hand. So, Mike decided that he would use a plaster mold to cast molten metal into it for a unibody construction before he worked away to shape it into the desired shape. It would take around a week and cost one thale and seven riyases, a discounted price considering Morssen’s status. The original cost for it should’ve been around two thales.
By the time Claude left the smithy, he realized that he was broke once more. Only three riyases were left from the three thales he earned from his trip to Egret. He had spent too freely and almost used up money amounting to Morssen’s monthly salary within ten short days.
The next day, Claude found a chance to talk to Borkal personally. He wanted to find a way to sell away his remaining shaliun coin. Back on Egret, he had used finding five shaliun coins as a good excuse for him going down into the ruins. In the end, everyone of them got one coin to share while Claude got one extra for killing the python.
Currently, Claude wanted Borkal to sell that extra shaliun for him, the one he kept as a memento like the others did. Naturally, nobody else knew about the 30 other shaliuns he kept under his bed.
“I’ve been spoiled by having too much money!” Claude exclaimed, “I didn’t think it a big deal when I didn’t have much back then, but after spending most of my money, I feel more fearful than before all of a sudden. I didn’t even dare to look at the mutton biscuit stall when we passed through this morning, afraid that I would be unable to resist buying one!”
Borkal rolled his eyes. “Who asked you to buy so many things after you got your money? Let me see… You spent one thale on three useless trinkets. Putting that fishbone dagger aside, that little door sign and fish pen holder wasn’t worth three riyases at all, yet you bought all three for one thale.
“Also, you spent one thale and seven riyases at Big Hammer’s yesterday for that sight of yours. It’s no wonder you ran out of money. I don’t even know how to lecture you on this. You should plan your spending well and not surrender to every impulse to buy things. Think about how useful those things are actually to you first.”
Claude covered Borkal’s mouth and said, “Alright, that’s enough. Don’t nag on like a wuss. I know well what I’m spending my money on. When my sights are complete, you’ll understand why I had them made. With them, I won’t have to adjust for the offset when we shoot. My shots will always hit where I want them to.”
Borkal pushed Claude’s hand away and looked at him doubtfully. “Serious? You’re not lying to me, are you?”
“Why would I lie to you? I made that for myself as an experiment, so I really didn’t mind spending that money. You’ll find out when it’s done. Think about the targets. Didn’t you complain that they were too simple at first?”
Borkal gave it some thought. “Fine, if your sights really are that useful, I’ll help you sell your shaliun for a high price.”
“As the sights would take one more week to complete, Claude didn’t bother wasting bullets and gunpowder after school in the forest. He also couldn’t waste the horsemanship lessons he had already paid for. Even though he had already passed the test for that class already, he still went to ride from time to time.
Welikro on the other hand seemed rather mad and thought that it was a bad habit for Claude to give up on shooting practise just like that. Only by shooting could muscle memory be improved to the point that the various steps for shooting would be a natural bodily reflex. That way, the shooter wouldn’t panic and make a mistake. There was advantage to familiarizing oneself with a gun.
Claude understood that Welikro was worrying with good intentions. Welikro believed that Claude had talent in shooting and ought to practise more. He, however, gave up on trying to correct Borkal. That fellow was content with learning the bare basics instead of pushing his mastery even further. It was quite a waste for his father to buy him the newest military issue firearm, the aubass mark 2, for him.
There was nothing Welikro could do about Claude’s reluctance to practise. Even though Welikro was quite tall and well-built, he was a sensible person with a good temperament and he wouldn’t force his friends to do something they didn’t want. That was one of the reasons why he got along so well with the others.
So, the four of them went to the private jetty of the Altronis after school. When they arrived, Claude found the jetty to be really quiet after the Shark of Red Sea set sail. However, there was a fire lit nearby the jetty where the Altronis’ wavepiercer was being baked dry.
They should be trying to remove the boards, right? Claude recalled that Welikro said that the underside of the boats would be coated with a kind of water-resistant adhesive, so they had to melt it down with heat before the adhered boards were separated. Wouldn’t that char the wood though? I don’t see anyone watching the fire.
He only discovered that there was a thin metal plate beneath the boat that was being baked. It was right above the flame, separating it from the suspended boat. The boat, after being heated up, showed an opening out of which a certain kind of substance dripped onto the metal plate.
No wonder it’s considered skilled labor. Otherwise the material for the boat can’t be reused. I remember that Wero said using brute force to pry the boat apart would snap the boards apart because of the strong adhesive.
The adhesive use appeared to be good, strong even. Its only weakness was that it would melt from heat. Fortunately, there was no worry with using them with boats. After all, the sea wasn’t going to boil to some eighty degrees anytime soon.
“Claude, come here,” said Eriksson, who was standing next to the disassembled flipper. Borkal and Welikro were beside him, watching Pegg fixing up the frame that remained.
Claude walked over and looked at the frame itself.
“Help us scrape the remaining adhesive on the frame clean. There’s a scraper and file in the box on the ground. After that, help me think about how we should position the cabins. Oh, and, I want to install the folding mast from the wavepiercer on this, but the flipper is a rather short boat. Another thing to note is that this flipper’s head and tail that are connected to its bottom frame stretch quite high up unlike the lower ones on the wavepiercer, so I can’t really install the folding mast as it. Do you guys have any solutions for that?”
Eriksson casually tossed the rest of them a huge conundrum.
The wavepiercer was around seven meters in length and its mast was four meters tall. It could be folded down level with the surface of the boat. However, the flipper was only five meters in length and the front and back parts of the boat were not level with the rest of the boat’s body, stretching rather high up instead. If the mast was installed two-thirds way in the boat, it would still stick out an extra meter from the boat when folded down, making the boat rather difficult to dock.
But if they cut the mast by one meter, the sails couldn’t be raised as high to catch the wind, not to mention that it would obscure vision considerably, making it much harder to maneuver.
In the end, Claude said, “Since this is only a small fishing boat, it’s best not to opt for a folding mast and use a fixed one instead. It’ll also help to reinforce the boat’s build since it’s secured with the frame. There’s no need to lift and fold down the mast either and it would save you quite a bit of trouble.”
Eriksson thought hard for a long moment. He really wanted the folding mast from the wavepiercer on his small boat, mainly because he would be able to reuse the part instead of throwing it away and that he felt having a folding mast on his small fishing boat was cool.
The reason a wavepiercer was only fitted with a folding mast was to save space and allow it to sail against the winds at sea. But since the fishing boat was only going to be used in Lake Balinga, there wasn’t really a point for installing a folding mast.
“Alright, I’ll do as you say and go for a fixed mast,” said Eriksson as he unwillingly accepted Claude’s suggestion.
In the next few days, the four of them helped out at the jetty, even during Sunday. One day when they were going to head to the jetty after school, Welikro suddenly reminded, “Oh, Claude, it’s been a week. Aren’t you going to Big Hammer’s to check out your sight device or whatever?”