Karo and the delegates walk with Stipish to his home. Everyone was skeptical about the boy, but once they entered his backyard, most of that skepticism was replaced by wonder. If one would guess that there is a person passionate about wheels somewhere in the Stoneheart region, then this boy was clearly that person. Wheels of all sizes, widths, materials were scattered throughout the backyard, amongst tools and measuring devices which looked like they were created by Stipish himself. He went above and beyond when it came to researching an apparently simple topic.
- By the seven old gods, son… What do you have here? Karo exclaimed, while the other delegates were lost in Stipish’s backyard like children in a candy maker’s shop.
- Sir, I am what you call an enthusiast. The wheel is one of my passions. If it receives perfection when it is executed, the results are unbelievable. Look at this model right here. This is an exaggerated version of an unbalanced wheel set mounted on a simple wooden base. I’ve built this to study the stress that the whole carriage is under while the wheels are not perfect. The joints are covered in a special resin that will show us how the spokes move around.
Stipish places a weight on the small carriage, then pulls it around the yard. Squeaking and creaking sounds are made by the joints. After a couple of movements, the young boy stops the cart, removes the weight and shows Karo:
- See the black marks around the joints. This is where they touched the frame, where they were pulled apart or towards the axis. This model is exaggerated but at a certain degree this happens over time while the caravans move along their path. These frictions cause the joints to brake, they stress the wheels and the whole carriage. And this is even ground. Is the road from Bard’s Gate to Reme even?
Some of the delegates let out a short laugh. Karo the replies:
- I was about to ask you, young boy, that the wheels are not the only ones that need to be aligned. The ground is not even, the routes are not that traveled yet and even if it were, we are moving through forests and hills. We are in the beautiful Stoneheart Valley after all.
- That’s what I’ve thought! Let me show you how your caravans will work…
Stipish goes inside his small house. Even though the house is too little to have more than one or two rooms, Stipish is gone for a while. Noises of doors being shut and heavy loads being carried or drawn come from inside the house.
Finally after a couple of minutes Stipish comes out, dragging what appears to be some sort of carriage with weird looking wheels and mechanisms. The other delegates are looking in wonder, awaiting Karo’s impressions. Stipish places the carriage on the ground and once he lifts the breaks, the contraption moves effortlessly on the ground. He climbs on the thing and by turning a special mechanism with his feet, he makes it move around. With the help of two levers he can go left and right and brake.
Everybody is watching as if they see wondrous magic unveiling before their eyes. Even old Karo is speechless.
- Sirs, while I move around, please pay attention to the following details. Look at the way that the wheels move around, adapting to their environment. There are two systems in place that absorb shock, one is part of the wheel itself, which you can see is made of both metal and wood and one is part of the cart. I can feel almost no shock from changing environment. Would you like to try? Asks Stipish after braking.
The delegates start whispering amongst themselves, acting like they’re a bit afraid of trying the machine. Karo steps up again and with a brave attitude moves around the contraption analyzing it.
- So the levers control direction, similar to a small sail boat’s rudder…
- In a way, yes. Here, climb on the chair. The levers independently control the front wheels. This allows some control, but the driver needs to pay attention to both levers. They need to act at the same time. The driving mechanisms are irrelevant though, you will have horses or oxen pulling the caravan. What you need to feel are the wheels. Just place your feet like this, start turning them and use the levers to steer. While you move, focus on what your behind feels, sir. The pain in your bottom never lies.
A few of the delegates let out a short laugh, becoming more and more comfortable with the boy.
Karo is on the machine and is ready to start.
- You old fools carry some healing salves on you, right?
- Yes, yes, get going, tell us how it feels, maybe we want to try it… One of the older merchants answers.
Stipish steps away from the machine and Karo, sweaty and focused, starts turning the round mechanism with his feet. Chains start creaking and the contraption starts rolling forward on the ground.
- This is unbelievable! This machine is incredible!
Overly enthusiastic, Karo starts gaining some speed.
- Sir, be careful!
Heading for the fence, like a galloping force, Karo pulls the levers in the same direction at the same time and steers the machine towards the house. He’s too close to the wall and tries to break, the wheels lock and the carriage glides on the rubble until it abruptly hits the wall of Stipish’s home. The impact is so hard that Karo flies from the chair hitting the wooden frame like a bird trying to get through a glass window. Everyone gathers around tryin to see if he is alright.
- Sir! SIR! Say something!
After a few seconds, Karo rolls around on his back and with little air, says:
- You’ve got the job…, then closes his eyes apparently losing his consciousness.
To be continued