It didn’t take much to find someone willing to sail them around for a day. With the right coin and a friendly smile it seemed most everything was possible in Ravadier. The people here were trusting and always ready to help. It felt very different from the royal capital. Cobal was still getting used to it, but it was a nice change of pace.
Mana had been staring out at the water surface, looking for something. He wasn’t sure what she expected to see, but his curiosity was slowly winning him over and he kind of hoped she was right and there was an underwater village here. That would be a sight to see. The wind had calmed down significantly and the pleasant breeze that accompanied the sunny day was a welcome addition. Fish were abundant wherever they went and quickly swam away when the small sailboat came near them. Eventually something caught Mana’s eye. “Stop around here if you will,” she asked the sailor, who slowly brought the boat to a halt.
Mana then took a deep breath and focused for a little while before tracing something in the air. Glowing symbols appeared and the air seemed to cling around her face. She took a deep breath and fell over backwards into the water, startling both the captain and Cobal.
A few moments passed before she came back up. She then took another deep breath and started looking under the water surface. Around her face was what seemed to be a bubble of sorts. She was able to bring some of the air with her under the water surface to look. She stayed close to the water surface though. After a little while of searching, she came back up again and climbed aboard the ship. Cobal lent her a hand in climbing up. She was lightly dressed for the occasion but her clothes were understandably drenched.
“That was more difficult than I expected, but at least it worked,” she said.
“That trick you did with the air bubble?” Cobal asked.
She nodded. “I figured that if I could manipulate the way that air moved, then maybe I could make a bubble of air stick to my head, so I could dive underwater. It works in theory, but the problem I didn’t account for is that the air constantly wants to go back to above the water’s surface.”
“What do you mean?”
“Air is lighter than water. Even if I use magic to manipulate it, it’s natural properties stay the same. I can force the air bubble down with me and swim down like that, but the amount of energy that would cost is likely far above what I’m capable of. So for now it just works like a magical divers mask.”
Mana laughed. “You know glasses that are made for people with poor eyesight?”
Cobal nodded. “In my world they had glasses made of a different material that would fit onto your face, almost like they’re stuck to it. It would block the water from getting in your eyes and make it so you could look around underwater without getting salt water in your eyes.”
“That sounds very convenient, who came up with that?”
Mana shrugged. “I have no idea, it’s been around for a while.”
Changing the subject, Cobal asked. “Did you see anything down there?”
Mana sat up straight. “I did! Well, I think I did, it was hard to focus on both the magic and on what I was seeing, but I do believe there was something down there. She peered into the water until she found what she was looking for. “Do you see that? That light over there?”
Cobal followed her gaze until he faintly saw some sort of light at the sea bottom. If Mana hadn’t pointed it out to him he doubted he would have ever seen it. “I do, what is that?”
“I have no idea, but it’s definitely something.” She seemed to think for a second. “But how do we get down there?”
“It’s not super deep, so a good swimmer could probably get there,” the ship captain remarked.
Mana looked at Cobal who shook his head. “I can swim, but I wouldn’t say I excel at it.”
“Hmm.” She fell silent for a while. “Maybe I can learn some more tricks to get us down there.” Her eyes lit up. “Of course, that could work.” She looked at the captain. “Sail us back to shore please.”
The captain looked at Cobal who nodded.
“Very well then.” They made their way back to the shoreline and got off the boat at a small pier where they boarded in the first place. They thanked the captain, who said he’d be available for a while longer if the right coin was provided, and went on their way.
“Cobal, you’ve been walking through this town almost daily, correct?”
Cobal, surprised by Mana’s sudden interest, nodded. “I know my way around town by now.”
“Do you know any place that would sell large, waterproof jugs that aren’t too heavy? I’m also going to need some leather straps that could bind them to my back.”
“Does this have something to do with that diving mask you were speaking about?” Cobal asked, curious about the sudden surge of energy that Mana seemed to have gotten after their little boat trip. This was the first time since he’d met her that she seemed excited about something.
“Yes and no. What I want to make is an oxygen tank. It’s something from my world.” She stared ahead for a while. “I have no idea how they work, but with magic available that might make the process a lot easier. When I make an air bubble around me, I need to focus on all the surface of the air, because that’s what causes friction with whatever is next to it. That can be more air, or water or anything. If the air is put into a container that only has a small opening, then all I need to do is keep that small surface area of air from leaking out and the rest of the hard work will be done for me. If we can then fashion some sort of pipe to it and breathe from this jug, we can extend our underwater stay for quite a while. And the weight of the jug might help in balancing out the light air, allowing us to swim down without too much trying to push us back up.”
Cobal didn’t understand half of what she was saying, but he understood that she basically wanted to bring a bucket of air with her. Cobal stood there for a little while until an idea popped up into his head.
“It’s worth trying at the very least.” He said to himself. “Follow me.” They headed towards the town to go and visit several shops.
Procuring some leather strips and some jugs wasn’t hard. Finding someone who knew how to take those, and by adding some other materials to them to turn them into a usable air tank, as Mana had called it, was a bit more difficult.
Cobal had an idea though. He’d talked to most shopkeepers on his visits to town and he remembered something that the baker had told him. Apparently his eldest daughter spent most of her free time making strange contraptions in their shed. She was very good at crafting things, so Cobal hoped she could help.
“Sebastian, could I ask you something?” Cobal asked the baker. He’d learned the names of several of the shopkeepers at this point, including the baker.”
“Of course, what can I help you with?”
“We spoke the other day about your daughter, and how she’s good at making things. We happen to need something made and I was wondering if she would help us with that.”
“That’s up to her, but I can ask,” Sebastian replied.
Sebastian left the counter for a couple minutes and came back with his daughter in tow.
“Go on then, see what you can do for them.” He said to her as she walked into the store.
“Hi,” she said to them. Before them stood a woman in her early twenties. She had dark brown hair bound in a tight ponytail and bright green eyes. She looked like she must train as much, if not more than Cobal and her muscles were well defined. She was a bit short of stature and looked up at both Mana and Cobal expectedly as if she were annoyed to be interrupted at all.
They both said hello back politely before Cobal asked. “We were wondering if you could help us with something?”
“And who are you?” She asked.
“This is Cobal, he’s been here for a little while,” Sebastian said.
“And you?” She asked Mana.
She squinted. “Are you supposed to be that new hero?”
She started laughing. “That’s hilarious.” She looked at Cobal. “What do you want me to do then?”
“I’ve heard you’re quite good with creating things and designing new stuff.”
“That I am.”
“Could you come with us and help on a small project we’re working on?”
Mana held up the leather strips and the jug.
She looked them over. “Come with me.” She said.
Behind the bakery was a small yard with a wooden shed at the edge of it. The yard was mostly just unkempt grass with some chairs and a hammock. The shed looked like it had seen better days as well. A wooden box containing firewood leaned against the side of the building with a small roof covering it from the rain. On top of the firewood lay several wooden structures that didn’t look like much of anything to Cobal, but he assumed these were things that Cassandra had fashioned. The door to the shed was slightly ajar and creaked when Cassandra opened it. It didn’t quite open all the way so they had to step into the place sideways. Inside there was a surprising amount of space. For as dilapidated as the building looked, the inside was kept reasonably tidy. There were some tools strewn about and some materials in a bin in the corner, but overall it looked well organized. One a workbench, held aloft between some sort of mechanism, was what looked like four blades soldered onto a cogwheel, with a pin sticking out of it. “What’s that?” Cobal asked.
“It’s a lawnmower,” Mana remarked.
Both Cobal and Cassandra looked at her, surprised.
“What? We have them in my old world, they’re fairly common. Rapidly spinning blades built onto a motor to cut the grass quickly and neatly.”
“And I thought today was going to be boring,” Cassandra said. She put the contraption aside. “What can I do for you folks exactly?”
“Well if you can make spinning blades to cut grass then I don’t think what we’re about to ask is particularly difficult,” Cobal said. He nodded at Mana who put the jug and the leather material on the workbench.
“I would like you to fashion this in such a way that I can wear it on my back. It’s supposed to be an air tank of sorts for when I go underwater.”
Cassandra pondered for a moment. “What you ask is easy enough, but I don’t understand how you plan to keep the air in the jug when you go underwater. Do you want to fashion a lid of sorts?” She looked at the materials. “No, that wouldn’t work, you’d have no way to keep the air from flowing out. And if you put a pipe from it straight into your own face it would probably aggressively force the air into your lungs which is not ideal when you’re in a pressurized place.” She looked at Mana.
“Well, the plan is to use some air magic to keep the air from spilling out. I could probably come up with a more complicated concept that would work longer, but all I really need is for it to get to the seabed just off the coast and back. If I can take a few breaths of air from it that should probably already suffice.”
Cassandra nodded. “Then this should be doable. I’ll use some resin to seal off the opening so it’s a bit more covered. I won’t promise it’ll work for what you want, but I can make what you’re suggesting.” She grinned. “Give me a day and I’ll have it done.”
They thanked Cassandra and went back to the shore to find Finser, the sailor who helped them out the other day. After telling him they’d go out to sea again tomorrow they paid him and went back to their home.