Release that Witch - Chapter 647: A Confession
He first started with the basic courses. As he had just got a chance to revisit the knowledge long forgotten, naturally, he needed to take the advantage of it and add the missing information to the textbooks previously drafted based purely on his memory.
Second, he had to improve the designs of the current equipment used in the city of Neverwinter. Roland knew there was still a big difference between an acceptable machine and a good one. A more comprehensive design could further enhance the productivity and efficiency of steam engines and machine tools.
Based on the new design, Anna had finally completed the first steam turbine.
Roland hurried to the backyard of North Slope soon after he heard the news. He and Anna both sat on the workstation, appreciating the charm of this colossal apparatus. At this moment, Roland felt his relationship with Anna was totally different from the ones he used to have with other girls in the modern world.
The machine was nearly six meters long and was connected to an external preheating boiler and a steam boiler. In main it looked like a huge metal roller tightly wrapped around by dense impellers. As its spindle was driven by high-pressure steam when the machine was heated by coal, the new turbine was much more efficient than old reciprocating steam engines, and it also produced far fewer noises and vibrations.
As a power source of a new generation, the first model of the machine turbine would be used to help with Thunder’s naval exploration.
Unfortunately, in spite of its versatility, Roland did not plan to build a second turbine for the time being. For one thing, the plant did not have the capability to manufacture a similar one within a short period of time yet. For another, Anna would soon need to focus on improving machine tools.
“How do you like it?” Anna turned around and nuzzled up to Roland. “I’m good, aren’t I?”
Unlike most girls, Anna could not be happier whenever she turned a paper design into a physical reality. Every time she completed a major project, she would not conceal her delight and satisfaction.
Roland could tell that Anna was contented with the life she had now.
“Of course you are, but I’m just a tad better than you.” Roland wiped off the dirt on her cheeks with a smile, leaving a hint of gray streaks on her face.
Every time he gazed into her clear blue eyes, he swallowed back the words he had prepared to say, the words that he had promised Nightingale to convey to Anna. Although Roland had resolved to make his confession, he did not realize how hard it actually was until he really tried to do so.
No justifications could lift the burden off his shoulders.
For the past few days, he had occupied himself by preparing books and drafting designs to temporarily forget about the possible consequences of this inevitable talk.
However, his indecision was also hurting the people he cared for, especially Nightingale who had been eager for an answer.
Roland knew he could not keep dawdling like this.
When the boilers gradually cooled down and the steam turbine eventually came to a halt, Roland took a deep breath and whispered in Anna’s ear. “Come to my bedroom tonight. We need to talk.”
Roland sat in front of his desk after night descended. He could hear his heart throbbing frantically in his chest.
[Nobody in this era cares about how many women a noble owns as they do in the modern world.]
[I’m just following my heart.]
[Nobody will think it’s something that breaks a social norm.]
Roland revolved rapidly a multitude of reasons in his mind but turned them down one by one. He felt two voices in his head debating and wrestling with each other. He wanted to add the last missing part to the book, only to find his quill suspending in the air, not a single word written down.
His anguish ended when Anna pushed the door open.
The heated argument in his head instantly stopped. Roland put down the quill and fixed his eyes on the girl.
Anna looked nothing unusual. She was cloaked in an over-sized pajama. A strand of damp fringes was clinging to her forehead. A faint, placid smile was lingering in her eyes, and she looked as serene as ever.
Roland somehow remembered that after the Months of Demons of the first year, Anna had voluntarily waited for him at the stairs.
She never whined or complained, but simply told him her thoughts and what she wanted explicitly.
Now it was his turn.
Roland pulled her to the desk and slowly confessed what had bothered him all this time.
An ensuing silence fell between them. The silence was so long that Roland thought Anna would turn away abruptly and leave the room. To his surprise, however, he did not perceive a noticeable change in her expression when he slowly looked up at her.
Roland failed to come up with an answer promptly. “What?”
“I’ve been wondering when you’ll tell me this.” Anna seated herself next to him. “I don’t want you to spit it out that fast, but at the same time, I wish you could talk to me as soon as you can… Now I finally don’t need to worry about this matter anymore.”
Roland gaped. “You’ve known it from the beginning…”
Anna replied bluntly, “I can tell that you have feelings for Nightingale. The more hesitant you seem to be, the more it shows that you care about me. But I also hope you can open up to me earlier because I would like to share your burden no matter what it is.”
Anna let out a sigh at these words. “I never dreamed that I would win a royal family member’s affections. I thought I would be very contented to just be with you. After you told me that you would one day marry me, I changed my mind—Roland, I won’t share you with anybody.”
“I’m sorry. I…”
“You don’t need to apologize, for love knows no right or wrong. Plus… I feel glad that you’ve picked this moment to confess to me.” Anna paused for a second and then said, “You aren’t a man from this world, are you?”
Roland’s heart stopped with a queer jerk.
“Nobody, whether he’s a noble or a civilian, will ever feel hesitant or restless because of this kind of problem, unless he was brought up in a completely different world.” Anna continued, “Likewise, people in this world may treat a witch fairly, but they’ll never befriend her. Do you remember our bet? In the book, I wrote that you were a guest from another world, a world that wasn’t hell or an abyss, but a more pleasant place. You brought knowledge we’ve never heard of. It was God that sent you to me.”
At this point, Roland realized there was no need for him to continue to conceal his identity. He replied, “You’re… overall right, except some little details.”
Anna giggled. “I also wrote that you would tell me about Nightingale in the book. It appears I’ve got at least two things right.”
Roland suddenly found Anna was not only good at learning. She also had terrifying perspicacity.
Before Roland could make a reply, Anna had taken his hand. She pronounced her words slowly but decisively. “I can’t give my consent to your request, at least not now.”
Roland was dumbfounded. What did she mean…by not now? Did Anna imply that she would agree someday later?
“I know what’s bothering you. Don’t worry. I’ll talk her through. It’s time to sleep.” Anna pressed her kiss to Roland’s forehead and said, “Goodnight, Your Majesty.”
With a creak, the door was closed. The room became quiet and tranquil again. It took Roland quite a while to fully recover from the shock he had gone through after Anna left.