The Human Emperor Chapter 682
Chapter 682: Overarching Strategy Cement I
Chapter 682: Overarching Strategy, Cement! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The mine was a brand-new one!
Now that Wang Chong was a marquis, he wielded immense influence in the capital. Coupled with his enormous wealth, it was no problem at all for him to open up a new mine.
As Wang Chong entered the mine, his vision went dark. After his eyes adjusted, he could clearly make out the scene before him.
Piles of white lime and brown clay were stacked in little mountains, filling the mine. Nearby, a channel of water that flowed from within the mountain traveled past the piles of clay and lime.
By the water channel stood the forty to fifty experienced masons that the Wang Clan had recruited.
"Paying respects to the Lord Marquis!"
Seeing Wang Chong enter, all the masons bowed, their expressions brimming with reverence.
"There's no need to stand on ceremony!"
Wang Chong waved his hand as he walked into the mine. The mine was very wide, and though it wasn't as bright as the outside, it wasn't overly dark. In addition, its structure, including the water channel and the air passages, was all done appropriately and up to standard.
As he surveyed his surroundings, Wang Chong gave a small nod. Although everything had been built according to his plans, this was still his first time visiting this place.
"Pass on my order to station more guards here! In addition, have the clans that we're working with send some of their experts to stand guard outside," Wang Chong said.
This was just like the mine provided by Wei Hao's family that he had used to forge Wootz Steel. At that time, no one could have imagined that that mine would produce the world-famous Wootz Steel weapons.
Merely one thousand Wootz Steel weapons had performed brilliantly during the southwestern war, capturing the attention of the world.
And though this mine before him looked ordinary, only Wang Chong knew that the product it was to produce would be even more important to the Great Tang than Wootz Steel weapons.
Because what Wang Chong wanted to 'forge' from this ordinary mine was a product that was certain to alter the entire Central Plains, the entire Great Tang: cement!
For a time, Wang Chong's mind had been occupied by a single question: in this world, what was the greatest advantage of the Great Tang Empire, or of the Central Plains upon which the Han people dwelled? Without a doubt, it was the vast lands and abundant resources.
Then what was its greatest disadvantage?
Although he didn't want to admit it, the answer Wang Chong ultimately came to was still 'vast lands and abundant resources'.
Everything had two sides. The Great Tang's extensive territory meant that it hosted an enormous population and massive resources, as well as an impressive ability to recover.
At the same time, the vast land and abundant resources meant that it took a very long time to mobilize all its people and resources.
'Before the troops and horses can be mobilized, the rations and fodder must be prepared.' 'Three months of war, three years of preparation.' These sayings were manifestations of this enormous disadvantage.
In the southwestern war, despite the Great Tang's enormous army and numerous Great Generals, when Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang led two hundred thousand cavalry eastward, the Great Tang found itself with barely a soldier to send as reinforcement.
Although there was also the factor of all the foreign countries on the border holding soldiers down, a more important problem was that mobilization was not easy in the vast domain of the Tang. Gathering reinforcements became an extremely time-consuming task.
Even Wang Chong, who was probably the most prepared for this war out of all the elites of the Great Tang, still needed more than a month before he could begin his march to the south.
But when one looked to the Great Tang's opponents, whether it was Mengshe Zhao or -Tsang, this problem simply did not exist. Geluofeng had definitely not needed three years to prepare for this war.
As for Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang, their decision to leave the plateau and go eastward needed only a moment's time. And little time was needed to go from making the decision to entering battle!
To go even farther, on the northeast border, in the lands of Youzhou, even a powerful and experienced general like Zhang Shougui, skilled in the art of war, found it very difficult to engage in high-intensity war against the Goguryeo Empire under Yeon Gaesomun.
Yeon Gaesomun didn't need to stockpile supplies for three years. If a problem occurred at some place, the other places could send reinforcements at any time. Although this still required some time, it definitely didn't require several months.
In contrast, the Andong Protectorate could only rely on the strength of a single protectorate to deal with an empire!
Although the Great Tang was strong, it was hindered by its vast territory. Mobilization was inconvenient, meaning that in its battles with the various foreign countries, it was always in a passive position. The transportation of provisions over vast distances made it very difficult for the empire to fully exert its strength against its foes.
This was the case against Mengshe Zhao, -Tsang, the Eastern and Western Turks, and Goguryeo, and so it would be against the distant Abbasid Caliphate
In order to resolve this problem that had plagued the dynasties of the Central Plains for millennia, one had to resolve this problem of transportation over long distances and difficult terrain. 'Cement' was the solution Wang Chong had thought of to resolve this world's problem.
A smooth and wide path was far easier to traverse than a steep mountain path. It could save time, allowing the Great Tang's armies to move faster from place to place and making it easier for the circuits and prefectures of the Great Tang to send supplies to the capital, where they could then be sent to where they were required.
An extensive network of roads that were easy to traverse would transform the Great Tang from a man too fat to move into an agile athlete. It would also serve to intimidate the countries on the border.
No martial art or technique could replace it.
Martial arts were a product of an individual's strength and courage, but strategy was focused on the overarching situation. In any generation, a strategic view of the overarching situation could not be replaced!
Martial arts could be used to fight ten foes, one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand foes; but a strategic view could be used to oppose one hundred thousand foes, one million foes, perhaps even affect events thousands of years in the future. This sort of thing was irreplaceable.
Wang Chong aimed to establish a massive network of roads and remove the disadvantage of vast lands that restricted this powerful empire. He wanted to increase the speed at which resources and soldiers could be transported by several times, wanted all its enemies to be intimidated, wanted to remove this flaw that limited the dynasties of the Central Plains to only ever giving 'one punch' to the enemies lining its borders.
Wang Chong turned his head and asked, "How is the mixing going for the thing I described?"
"Reporting to Young Master: I have already ordered the masons to mix the clay and lime as you ordered Young Master can see the results yourself."
Zhao Jingdian led Wang Chong down an inconspicuous side tunnel. Small piles of 'dirt' were littered around this area, and each pile was of a slightly different color.
Wang Chong's gaze flitted toward the ground near these 'dirt piles'. A kind of slurry that had already hardened had been gathered there.
"Young Master, according to your orders, I had the masons mix the lime and clay in different ratios to create different kinds of 'slurry', but none of the results have been satisfactory. Young Master can see this at a glance," Zhao Jingdian said.
Zhao Jingdian didn't know why Wang Chong, a scion of a clan of ministers and generals, the Young Marquis of the Great Tang and a favorite of the Sage Emperor, was so worried about something like 'slurry', even digging out a new mine and having him supervise it, when he clearly had much more important things to do. However, Zhao Jingdian was well aware that Wang Chong never did anything without reason. The unremarkable 'slurry' before him was inevitably of extreme importance to Wang Chong, perhaps even formed an important part of some future plan.
Thus, even though he had been dispatched to this small mine, Zhao Jingdian still carried out his duty very conscientiously and had no complaints.
Wang Chong said nothing, only walked over and bent down to pick up the hardened slurry. A pile of powder soon filtered through his fingers. Wang Chong instantly frowned at this sight.
This fine powder, this fragilityeven a person stepping on this hardened slurry would cause it to crumble, much less the weight of a carriage. The quality of this 'cement' was unacceptable for the roads he envisioned, and it certainly couldn't be used to accomplish his plan of decreasing the time needed to traverse the empire.
After silently thinking for a few moments, Wang Chong proceeded to the second pile of hardened slurry. This time, the result was much better. The second pile was much tougher than the first, but it still wasn't enough. A light exertion caused it to crumble, and Wang Chong hadn't even needed to use Stellar Energy.
He proceeded to the third pile, the fourth, the fifth Each of these piles of hardened slurry had their own problems. Some were too brittle, others too loose. Regardless, almost all of them were a far cry from what Wang Chong wanted.
Zhao Jingdian's voice rang out at his ear. "I've already had those experienced masons try out different ratios, adding lime, or adding clay, or changing the amount of water used. We've currently tried several hundred different mixes, but none of them have been satisfactory. The toughness of these things is too lacking. In at most two days, they'll start to crack and let out powder, just like Young Master sees now."
Wang Chong instantly fell silent. The development of 'cement' was far more complicated than he had imagined. Although the ingredients required for cement were plentiful in this era and he logically should have been able to develop it, the task was easier said than done, with the actual implementation proving quite difficult.
While Wang Chong was downcast, Zhao Jingdian spoke once more. "However, although the majority of the slurry is useless, the masons still managed to find the best ratio of lime and clay, the greatest harvest in this period of time."
Wang Chong's eyes brightened as he vigorously raised his head and looked at Zhao Jingdian.
"Where is the pile of slurry you speak of?" Wang Chong asked, standing up.
Zhao Jingdian froze for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure and pointed at a nearby pile of hardened slurry. Wang Chong quickly walked over, bent down, and snatched at it with his fingers. This time, the slurry was much harder than the previous ones. Although it was still rather brittle and not up to Wang Chong's standards, there were clear signs of improvement.