Succeeding in Producing Steel!
“Why is it so hot outside?” There were the first words that Feng Yu Heng said after stepping outside.
Because the furnace was hot, they wore thin clothes. After stepping into Xu Tian Cave, they felt a little cold and put their Winter clothes back on. Xu Tian Cave was cold for the entire year, even during the hottest days of the year, one would need to wear a thick sweater.
The two had become muddled while working on steel and had no concept of how long they had been in seclusion. It was only after hearing that it was hot that Xuan Tian Ming noticed what the soldiers outside wore. He then used his elbow and prodded the girl at his side and quietly said: “How long were we inside?”
Feng Yu Heng pondered a little, “At most a month, right?”
“Impossible.” Xuan Tian Ming pointed at the soldiers and said: “Look, everyone is wearing Summer clothes.”
She was extremely shocked. Looking closely, but of course, they were wearing thin clothes. In fact, some people were topless.
Wang Chuan and Huang Quan were both mixed in the group. Upon seeing the two come out, they quickly went forward to salute: “This servant greets your Highness and greets young miss.”
Feng Yu Heng facepalmed. These two girls were wearing gauze dresses, and she could not help but ask: “What month is it?”
Wang Chuan replied: “It is already the middle of the sixth month. Young miss and your Highness were in seclusion for a full 108 days.”
The two were shocked once more. 108 days was over three months. The sixth month of the lunar calendar corresponded with July of the Gregorian calendar. It was the middle of the hot summer! Feng Yu Heng did not say another word and quickly removed her cloak.
At the same time, Xuan Tian Ming did not have time to worry about the heat that he was feeling and the sweat that covered his head. With a joyful expression, he raised the hard item in his hand and loudly said: “The first piece of steel in Da Shun has been completed!”
Once this was said, the people in the surroundings were shocked. It was as though time had stopped, as nobody spoke. In fact, they even stopped breathing. The mountains in the Summer were covered in a lush green, and the sounds of the birds and cicadas were very clear; however, after he said this, the birds stopped moving and the cicadas stopped chirping. For a moment, all that remained was the sound of the river flowing in the distance.
Everyone’s eyes were opened wide, as they stared straight at the thing in Xuan Tian Ming’s hand. The old blacksmiths stumbled forward as looked at this thing called steel as though it was a treasure. Light even came out of Wang Chuan and Huang Quan’s eyes. The hidden guards that had been hidden all over also appeared. None wished to miss this historic moment.
Nobody knew how much time passed, as someone asked with a trembling voice: “This… is steel?”
Xuan Tian Ming nodded, “That’s right, this is steel!”
Loud cheers erupted and sounded like thunder. The soldiers did not know how to express their celebratory feelings and began to shout into the mountains. The blacksmiths kneeled toward the piece of steel with tears flowing down their old faces.
Perhaps it was because the celebratory atmosphere was too thick, but even Feng Yu Heng was affected by this atmosphere. 108 days of seclusion, nobody thought that she and Xuan Tian Ming could endure this trial.
The furnace was like a steamer. It was so stuffy that they could not breathe. Although there were vents, it was barely enough to allow for a person to survive in that environment. To live comfortably, it was definitely impossible. The matter of producing steel was just an idea in people’s minds. Feng Yu Heng did it to try and challenge herself. She wanted to try and produce steel in this era without any science or technology. As for Xuan Tian Ming, once Da Shun had steel, it was as though their place in the world had risen even higher. They had taken another large step ahead of the other countries.
In short, once the refining of steel began, it was a rhythm that could not be stopped. In the beginning, they would return to sleep once every two days, but the further they progressed, the more critical the steps became. Not only did the difficulty increase with each step, they also required more accuracy and persistence. The two did not have time to return to the bedroom, and they went from three meals each day to just one. When sleepy, they would just lean against the wall and nap for a while, but these naps would last for ten minutes at most before they woke up and continued their work.
In the most bitter moments, the two fell asleep while working and ended up missing a timing. The materials were completely wasted. After waking up, they had to restart from the beginning.
There was also one time where the furnace ran dry. If it was not for the soldiers outside barging in and dragging them out, perhaps the two would have died from the smoke.
Fortunately, she still had a personal space, and there was no shortage of cold water. She would even bring out a couple cups of instant noodles from time to time.
But simply resolving the matter of food and water was not enough. People had other physiological needs, especially the arrival of the great aunt, who would appear on time each month. She would need to go into her space at any given moment to take care of it.
As for Xuan Tian Ming, at first, he found a person suddenly disappearing from in front of his eyes novel. Later on, he no longer cared. He knew that Feng Yu Heng was safe, and that was fine. To have this sort of hiding ability, if there was any danger in the future, in any case, she could protect herself.
In short, all of the suffering had been endured, which allowed them to produce a piece of steel. Although it was just a small piece the size of his palm, the process of creating this piece of steel helped them come up with a series of new methods for producing steel. Feng Yu Heng trusted that with this one success, the spread of something like steel in Da Shun’s armies was just around the corner.
The soldiers’ excitement continued unabated, as Feng Yu Heng saw that among the blacksmiths, the one at the head was the old man that had pleaded for his grandson’s life. She walked forward and personally helped the old man up then asked: “Old sir, take a look at this piece of steel. Is it enough to make a knife?”
Hearing Feng Yu Heng ask him a technical question, the old man immediately became serious. After staring at the piece of steel for a while, he nodded, “If there is no wasted material, it should be enough for two.”
Feng Yu Heng said: “That’s very good if that’s the case. Then I will give this piece of steel to the old sir. Just use it to make one knife then come with his Highness and me to give it to his Majesty, is that alright?”
The blacksmith’s eyes lit up, “Really?”
The blacksmith nodded fervently. With trembling hands, he received the piece of steel from Xuan Tian Ming. Moved, he did not wait for a moment before running back into Xu Tian Cave with a smile. The young man that was his apprentice said with a bit of embarrassment: “My grandfather is like this. I fear that until he completes this steel knife, he will not be able to sleep properly.” Saying this, he saluted the two and followed to help.
Xuan Tian Ming loudly announced: “Everyone, hear my orders! Prepare wine, meat and a bonfire. There will be a large feast for the three garrisons. Tomorrow will be a day off. Starting from the day after tomorrow, we will officially begin producing steel!”
The general himself had worked on producing steel and succeeded. This was the equivalent of giving everyone a shot of energy. The blacksmiths that had become a little uncertain from spending so long among the soldiers were once again spirited. Many people had already run back into Xu Tian Cave to watch that old man work on a knife. Those remaining had already been divided into small groups. They were just waiting to be assigned a job.
Qian Li stepped forward and said to the two: “This humble general brought back another 50 blacksmiths a long time ago. With five in each group, there are a total of ten groups. They have all been kept inside the military camp, and they were waiting for general and county princess to come out and assign them tasks.”
Xuan Tian Ming waved his hand, “Everything will begin the day after tomorrow. Right now, our county princess needs to get some proper rest.”
Feng Yu Heng was truly very tired. If she continued to remain inside while producing steel, perhaps she would not have felt it. Now that they had successfully produced steel, she relaxed a little, and all of the fatigue surged forth at once. Returning to the military camp with Wang Chuan and Huang Quan, she went to visit Yao shi first.
Presently, Yao shi’s body had already recovered to above 80 percent. She already looked no different from a normal person, but her pulse was still a little fluttery. However, there were no major problems. She just needed to continue recovering until she was completely better.
Seeing that she had come, Yao shi was very happy. Grabbing her hand, she repeatedly asked about the production of steel. Hearing that the steel had already been produced, she let out a long sigh of relief. With a great deal of joy, she said: “I was really worried that you would not be able to produce steel. We have caused so much trouble for the military camp. If the steel could not be produced, how could we possibly explain to them!”
Feng Yu Heng patted the back of her hand and consoled her: “Mother is thinking too much. Daughter never exaggerates when speaking. If I say it can be produced, it can be produced.”
Yao shi also sighed: “My Heng is a child with great promise. Mother is at ease, but…” She paused for a moment then said: “You are able to help out around the military camp, but it’s not very justifiable for me to be here, so I was thinking…”
“I will have someone arrange to buy a residence in Xiao Zhou. Right now, the steel has just been produced, and a blacksmith has already taken it to produce something. After it is made, his Highness and I will personally bring the steel knife to his Majesty. When these things have been completed, Heng will personally send you to Xiao Zhou.”
Yao shi let out a sigh of relief and added: “In truth, there is no need for you to send me. You are so busy. It will be fine to just send some people to accompany me.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “Zi Rui is not just mother’s son. He is also my younger brother. In this world, there is no elder sister that does not dote on her younger brother. Mother, do not persuade me.”
She did not remain at Yao shi’s side for long. After saying what she had to say, she left with Wang Chuan and Huang Quan. Wang Chuan could see that her complexion was not good and comforted her: “Madam was also troubled by spirit-altering drug. Young miss, do not take it to heart. Young master is young, so madam worrying is something that should happen.”
“I know.” She did not express too much on her face; however, her tone carried a bit of disappointment, “When things have been completed, quickly send her to Xiao Zhou.”
The three returned to Feng Yu Heng’s tent, and Huang Quan hurried to help her prepare a bath, while Wang Chuan told her about the news from the past three months: “Qing Yu came a few times. Hearing that young miss was in seclusion, she only remained one night before leaving. The people from Qian Zhou arrived a month into young miss’ seclusion. They brought a large dowry to the Feng family, and they sent the ten million taels of gold to the county princess’ manor. Qing Yu said that eight million taels were placed in the vault of the manor, while the other two million taels were turned into smaller denomination bank notes for everyday use.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Qing Yu is very thorough when it comes to the considerations on this matter. I am very at ease with her handling the manor’s expenses.”
Wang Chuan continued: “Princess Ru Jia’s injuries have already recovered for the most part. She is able to get out of bed, and only the scars remain. She is still remaining in the imperial palace for now. Eldest princess Kang Yi brought up wanting to take her back a few times, but her Highness the Empress did not agree.”
She thought a bit then asked Wang Chuan: “Do you know what sort of people came from Qian Zhou? Have they already returned?”
Wang Chuan shook her head, “The one that came was a relative of the emperor, and he came with two government officials and two military officials. Right now, they have not left. They have been kept here by his Majesty, saying that they must wait for county princess to bring out steel for Qian Zhou’s people to take a look. Oh right, that relative also brought along his own grandchild. It’s a four-year-old boy. He should be considered Princess Ru Jia’s cousin.”
Feng Yu Heng pondered for a while. This sort of person coming along was considered normal. When sending a dowry, there would be an elder along with government and military officials. There was also a young child. It looked very peaceful and friendly, but why did she continue to feel that it was not as simple as it appeared on the surface?
“Has there been any movement from the Feng manor?”
Wang Chuan’s expression sank, “Yes!”