I took the ticket out of the box and carefully unfolded it.
'Yay! You win.'
I wondered if they couldn't have written something better, but I was still happy! Finally, I was able to shout for joy over my own success, and not because of the failures of others.
And like that, the hideous battle to decide the crew came to an end.
The honored first crew quickly got on board, and everyone was a.s.signed a role.
We planned to run halfway down the dragon's spine. As there was a turn-around rail there, we would be able to return to the station.
I was chosen as the first driver.
As the dragon's spine was a straight line, we could drive fast without worrying about going off the rails. I told the pa.s.sengers to feel secure on that issue.
Then I touched the magic stone and filled it with energy.
It traveled through the circuits until it reached the engine that was on top of the train.
There was a thunderous roar that echoed throughout the train. It was deafening when the engine first came to life, but once the output became stable, the sound also died down. Once I saw that the engine was properly warmed, I turned off the breaks. At the same time, I sent even more energy towards the watering machine engine.
The wheels on the rails let out a high-pitched screech as they began to turn.
The speed picked up a little by little, and before we knew it, we were outside.
The metal wheels were loud and shook hard as the train moved at a stable pace. The engine's sound, the sound of the wind and the sound of the workers inside, the sound of the wheels. All of it was highly uncomfortable. But it was still running.
And it was at a speed that would leave all horses in the dust.
I pushed open a window that was on the side.
And then I poked my head out.
That was when I was a.s.saulted by a wind that was so strong, I felt like I was going to be pulled out of the train. Still, I forced one eye open.
The green landscape of Helan was rus.h.i.+ng pa.s.sed me at an incredible speed.
I pulled my head back in. My eyes were filled with tears after the wind's cruel treatment of them.
"Haah! Look outside! It's amazing!"
Those who were free took turns poking their heads out of the window. There they experienced the same movement of the landscape and the violent winds caused by the magic train.
There was also a small, iron window close to the driver's seat.
When I pushed it open, I was able to see the dragon's spine that the train was riding on.
Everything looked good. There was no reason we couldn't continue on.
After a while, I got used to controlling the magic.
I would have to share all of the information I gathered on this trip. Every time this train ran, we would find something to improve.
We continued to ride the train for another hour.
Then I looked out the window and determined that we had reached the halfway point. This is where we would have to change direction.
I weakened the supply of magic and slowly put on the breaks.
And while the magic train started to shudder suspiciously, it yielded to my controlling hands, and I ultimately was able to stop the train at the perfect position.
When the thunderous noises and shaking finally calmed down, we all enjoyed the silence that we felt we hadn't experienced in a very long time.
The power of the magic train was incredible. But so was the sounds and shaking.
We got out of the train and looked back at the dragon's backbone.
The station was no longer visible. All we saw was the horizon that stretched on along the flat land.
We had traveled such a distance at such a speed. It would be unthinkable to do the same on a horse. Not only that, but horses needed to rest when you traveled at such a distance. So that would add extra time. The difference in the amount of stuff you could carry was even greater.
So, there were enough merits to outweigh the sounds and shaking.
It was the first time we changed directions with the train as well, but it went along smoothly.
I let someone else drive on the way back.
And so I had nothing to do.
However, it did allow me to see a lot more of the magic train.
There was much to improve inside of it. And we could increase the speed as well.
Besides, considering that pa.s.sengers would be riding aboard this train, there were improvements to be made in terms of sound and shaking. But even then, I was happy that we had been able to make something that could run as stable as this.
As the others all worked busily, I looked out of a side window and enjoyed the view.
It was too fast to relax and enjoy it, but there was something about seeing this land that I had traveled over on horseback, now rush by so quickly. It made me quite emotional.
As the noise was so loud already, I didn't have to worry about the others, and so I started to hum to myself.
It was a light-hearted song that expressed my current feeling of joy.
The watering machine engine was quite warm now and sounded great.
It also seemed like the wheels were turning more smoothly now.
As for the crew, they were more excited than ever.
Bam!! There was a loud cras.h.i.+ng sound and the train shook.
As we were caught completely off guard, we all fell to the floor.
Luckily, no one fell too hard, and everyone was able to return to their feet. The driver quickly pulled the breaks and stopped sending energy to the engine.
Everyone looked at him questioningly. He looked apologetic as he explained.
"I'm sorry. I wasn't paying enough attention to where we were going. And I ran over something."
He looked very pale.
Once the magic train had stopped, I went outside to see what it was.
It was a deer.
It was dead.
"Well, we learned a good lesson from this."
I tried to encourage the driver who had come to look. I was so relieved that it was just a deer. Sorry, deer.
"I'm so very sorry. A deer…what should we do?"
"Let's eat it!"
This was the day that we first rode the train. We could celebrate by eating it.
We drained the carca.s.s of blood and then dragged it into the train.
And like that, I suddenly had something to do on the way back.
As the train ran at full power, I carefully began to take the body apart.
"Deer stew! Deer stew!"
I hummed delightedly to myself.