The Human Emperor Chapter 800
Chapter 800: Progress On The Slurry Road
Around seven or eight hundred kilometers to the southwest of Wushang were mountains, a land of lush forests and precipitous cliffs. There were no roads here, yet starting from two months ago, more than one hundred people had traversed the area, cutting down thorns and brambles as they ventured deep into the mountains.
No one knew what they were up to, only that they had spent more than a month opening up a path through the mountains. And then they had begun to dig as if searching for something.
"Everyone, work hard! Lord Marquis has decreed that if we can find that lu ore, everyone will be richly rewarded! From that moment onward, all of you will be able to drink and eat as you please! This is a rare opportunity that might not even come up once in a thousand years!
"Don't be discouraged, don't be dejected! If Lord Marquis says it's here, then it must be here!
"Those of you who participated in the war of the southwest know that Lord Marquis has always been a god-like figure. He has never lied. If everyone works well, Lord Marquis definitely won't let you down!"
A thirty-some-year-old supervisor was standing on a large rock, his booming voice ringing through the mountains as he exhorted the workers.
As the digging continued, a panicked voice came from outside. A bare-chested man of some thirty years ran toward the supervisor, almost tripping over himself in his haste.
"There are lots of people outside. You need to go and take a look."
The astonished supervisor quickly jumped down from the rock.
"Just what nonsense are you babbling? There's no one but us in this place."
"Milord, I'm not lying. Go and see for yourself."
The bare-chested man had a panicked expression. Meanwhile, their conversation had quickly attracted the attention of all the other workers. A few moments later, there was a thunderous rumbling and a cloud of dust as horsemen began to ride up the road these workers had opened up.
The supervisor felt suffocated as he looked at the massive cloud of dust. From the rumbling of the hooves and the size of the dust cloud, there were at least one thousand people in this group of outsiders.
Just who are these people? There's no one else in these mountains but us. Could it be some nearby group of bandits?
This was the first idea that came to the alarmed supervisor.
Bandits and brigands were the tyrants of the Silk Road to the west, and if someone had appeared here, there was an eighty to ninety percent chance that they were bandits from a nearby mountain.
Could it be that we made too much of a stir and attracted these bandits?
The supervisor's mind was overcome with his worries.
At this moment, a thunderous voice rose from the cloud of dust. As the confused supervisor was still trying to understand what was going on, a muscular and swarthy hand clutching a token was thrust out of the cloud of dust.
Lei Peng was flabbergasted, but he immediately recognized the token. Only one person in all of the Great Tang would use this token.
But why did Lord Marquis send them over? It's not the appointed time yet.
Despite his questions, Lei Peng was now much more relaxed.
"The battle on the western lines has concluded. Lord Marquis has decreed that the mining of the lu ore should be hastened."
As the dust settled, an armored horseman rode out. His expression was grim, and a mustache sat atop his lips. He appeared to have some status, and as more and more figures continued to ride up behind him, one could see that he truly did have more than one thousand people with him.
"But we've been digging for more than a month now and still haven't found any lu ore. Isn't it a little too much to begin expanding the work force? What if… it could just be wasting manpower and resources, and we would be greatly disappointing Lord Marquis."
Lei Peng was a little nervous.
Although he had been encouraging the workers this entire time, he really didn't know if this lu ore the marquis spoke of actually existed.
These mountains were thick with greenery, and nobody knew which of these mountains actually had this lu ore, or perhaps if the entire range had no lu ore at all. If that really was the case, then wouldn't they have just wasted their time?
"Lord Marquis says that there is, so there must be. There is no need to say anything else."
The leader of these horsemen was as swift and decisive as a bolt of lightning. As soon as he spoke, he waved behind him, ordering the men behind to dismount. His subordinates immediately began to unpack their picks, shovels, and other mining tools, and stride over, quickly adding their numbers to the work force.
A hint of helplessness flashed in Lei Peng's eyes as he rejoined the workers. One day, two days, three days… Just when Lei Peng had given up all hope, on the fourth day, a part of the mountain collapsed in a thunderous rumble, after which cries of joy filled the air.
"Found it! Found it! We really found Lord Marquis's lu ore! Hahaha…"
An old miner held up a large chunk of ashen-white ore with both hands as he excitedly shouted.
Although the people of this era mistakenly called aluminum ore 'lu ore', Wang Chong had still succeeded in using his memories to find this treasure hidden deep within the mountains.
If one's field of vision were pulled high into the sky to look down from incredible heights, one would realize that this was far from the only mining team. In other places along the Silk Road, to the southeast and southwest, Wang Chong had also dispatched teams. Moreover, after the battle of the triangular gap had concluded, he had increased the size of each team by ten times.
With this increase in mining activity and the ensuing discovery of aluminum ore, those great clans that Wang Clan had allied with swiftly began to display their strength.
Cart after cart of aluminum was extracted from these various areas and transported back to the capital. Within the capital, all the matters regarding aluminum were under the purview of a single person.
"Milord, this is the one-thousandth carriage of lu ore we've received today."
On the eastern outskirts of the capital, by the Silk Road leading to the west, a guard dressed in blue was standing next to Zhao Jingdian, watching as the carriages of lu ore drove past.
Behind them were countless buildings made of crude brick. There was no furniture in these buildings, only endless piles of 'lu ore'.
In the Great Tang, all iron and copper ore was sought after by the great clans, the sword shops and the blacksmiths, but nobody knew what to do with this brand-new 'lu ore'.
Although many people regarded it as worthless, it was extremely valuable to Wang Chong, a fact which no one could dispute. And though the great clans still had their objections to Wang Chong's plan, the costs for this 'lu ore' and the lime were extremely low.
To these clans, their losses on this investment would be extremely limited, and if they had gambled right, they would stand to receive endless benefits from Wang Chong.
This was the true reason they had been willing to invest in this venture.
"The amount we've received in this period is simply too much. It seems like Lord Marquis at Wushang has begun to work," another exceptionally quick-witted guard noted, his expression ecstatic.
Zhao Jingdian slightly raised his head and said, "Mm, the two of you have reacted rather quickly. I only got the news a few days ago that Lord Marquis defeated Dusong Mangpoje and the Tibetans on the plateau, eliminating the threat from the west. Qixi should be free of any danger for the time being, so Lord Marquis has ordered us to pick up the pace."
Zhao Jingdian had not accompanied Wang Chong to Wushang, because Wang Chong had given him an even more important mission. This lime, clay, sand, and gravel all appeared like extremely worthless things that the nobles of the capital wouldn't even glance at, but Zhao Jingdian knew that Wang Chong viewed these objects with unprecedented importance.
This was why Zhao Jingdian had remained behind.
"Have the masons in the rear progressed any further on the slurry mixtures?" Zhao Jingdian asked, continuing to look in the direction of Qixi.
"All the most experienced masons have been working night and day to adjust the mixtures, and they've finally gotten some results," the guard to the left reported. "The newest mixture of slurry can resist the full-strength strike of a True Martial expert after hardening, but Master Kong believes that the toughness of the mixture can be further increased. He claims that the ideal mixture should be able to resist the full-strength blow of a Profound Martial expert."
"In addition, several of the master masons believe that Lord Marquis's suggestion of adding iron bars into the slurry before hardening is very reasonable," the other guard added. "And they've also proposed that before adding the iron bars in, we could affix a few simple toughening or defensive inscriptions onto them, further toughening the slurry and increasing the amount of strength it can endure."
Unlike the world Wang Chong had come from, this world had many kinds of inscriptions, which meant that Wang Chong had probably underestimated the toughness his 'cement' could reach.
Wang Chong could have never predicted this.
"It's about time. We can't delay Lord Marquis. Inform the clans of the capital that it's time for them to comply with their contracts and put forward the money and manpower. After waiting for so long, they're probably even more in a rush than we are," Zhao Jingdian said, his hands held behind his back.
In the days since Wang Chong had left for Wushang, countless people from the great clans had come with all kinds of excuses to inquire as to what was going on.
This was a grand clan of ministers and generals supported by King Song, so no one believed that Wang Chong was trying to deceive them. But since they knew about this plan and Wang Chong wasn't willing to tell them, the great clans couldn't help but be worried.
Zhao Jingdian's voice was like a peal of thunder exploding within the capital, stirring countless waves. The great clans and wealthy houses began to come to life like sharks that had smelled blood.
Countless men and resources began to mobilize, immediately stirring up a storm in the Central Plains.