The Human Emperor Chapter 801
Chapter 801: Cement Road I
Chapter 801: Cement Road! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Buy, buy, buy! I want all the lime, clay, sand, stone, and whatever that lu ore is we can buy sent over! Give as many people as he wants! Give him as much money as he wants! We need Wang Chong and the Wang Clan to owe us a favor."
In the estate of a small clan in the city's east, the clan patriarch of some forty years was roaring like thunder.
"What? Risk? Are you worried that the mighty Wang Clan won't pay up? Just think about how much money they make from selling off those Wootz Steel swords. You can't even buy them now, and you're still worried about them lacking money?"
In the largest sword shop of the capital, the owner Zhao Jinling was practically frothing at the mouth as he cursed and berated the opposing elders, lunging about like some vicious beast and causing the elders to flee in fear.
"Go, go, go! Mobilize everyone the clan can muster, and get those bastards of Old Three and Old Four. They spend the entire day doing nothing but lying about, so send them all as well! Don't you know that the Zhou Clan in the western part of the city sent nine of their ten elders? The only fear is that we'll fall behind. If they can even send their elders, what are we waiting for? The first to move gets to eat meat, but what do those who move last get! Shit!"
The patriarch of the Huang Clan, Huang Sha, had always had a violent temper, and his furious bellows were practically raising the roof of his residence. Everyone fearfully went to carry out his orders.
The Zhao Clan, the Bai Clan, the Guo Clan, the Chai Clan, and the rest of the storied and ancient clans of the Great Tang began to mobilize their experts. This letter that Wang Chong had sent to Zhao Jingdian from Wushang was setting all these clans into motion.
When all these great clans worked together, they were like a massive machine, moving with an astonishing energy.
All the lime, clay, sand, and stone, as well as the lu ore, flooded from every direction to gather in Zhao Jingdian's hands. And a simple order had been enough for Zhao Jingdian to assemble more than one hundred thousand craftsmen.
Not even when he was building his city in Wushang had Wang Chong managed to accomplish this feat in such a short time.
The capital was a far easier place to work in than the barren and deserted Wushang.
Three days later, Zhao Jingdian stood at the beginning of the road leading from the capital to the Western Regions, dressed in a ceremonial robe, with countless experts from the great clans gathered at his side.
The plan had already begun, and everyone was hoping to see what exactly this 'cement road' was.
"Get ready!" Zhao Jingdian solemnly said.
With this order, several hundred craftsmen assembled on the sides of the road and began to go through their practiced routine. First, they put in the lime, clay, and lu ore; then they put in the sand and stone; and finally, they put in the appropriate amount of water to begin mixing.
Under countless interested gazes, these craftsmen poured a thick layer of the 'slurry' onto the road, then added a layer of rocks and gravel, placed down thick iron bars wrapped together with metal wire, and finally poured a final layer of the slurry.
When all this was over, a black road of slurry about ten inches tall had appeared before them.
A descendant of the capital's Zhang Clan looked at this road in astonishment. He had heard endless talk about this 'cement road', and there had been all sorts of rumors about it.
Some people said that it would spit fire at night, and others said that it was outfitted with wheels and could move. There were even rumors that these roads had gold and silver that would make them twinkle at night.
But no one had expected that this cement road that had stimulated so much talk amongst the great clans and taken so much time and energy to make would be so ordinary.
It was just some black slurry with two iron bars in between!
It appeared that the anticipation and the efforts of the great clans had been in vain. The final product truly left them deeply disappointed.
"Haha, of course it's not over. If any of you wish to withdraw, there is still time. Our Young Master has said long ago that we won't stop anyone who wants to withdraw. All the money you have invested up to now will be returned in full," Zhao Jingdian said with a chuckle.
In an instant, everyone fell silent. The discontent clan experts seemed to have their mouths sewn shut, so tightly pursed their mouths were, not a single one willing to say a word. Their 'money invested' was essentially a joke. Whether it was the lime, clay, lu ore, or the sand and stone, these were all the cheapest of materials, and even if one multiplied their total costs in manpower and resources by ten, it would still count as a 'minor expense'.
To spend this trifling sum to build a relationship with the Wang Clan was the most cost-effective investment in the world. As for this slurry, ha, even if it was made of dirt and was completely useless, these clans and their deep resources truly didn't care. They had basically just paid an admission fee.
Moreover, although they hadn't felt it at the start, once more and more clans began to participate, this matter had become an important existence that no clan could ignore. The reason they had begun to invest was no longer important.
Anyone who backed out at a time like this would become the target of the rest, excluded from the circles of society. While bearable in the short term, a long-term exile from the social circles of the great clans was a death sentence. In contrast, if all the clans allied together, each clan would be able to enjoy a part of the profits in the future.
Thus, even though the Zhao Clan and the Bai Clan knew that Wang Chong was using their money to repair roads, they had still decided to participate. The other clans looked up to the Zhao Clan and the Bai Clan, and these two clans could borrow the strength of these small clans to grow, at the same time increasing their prestige and influence.
"Lord Zhao, why so serious? I was just joking."
"Right, right. It was just a small remark. We couldn't possibly actually back out!"
"The Young Marquis's plans are without flaw. He must have a reason for every decision he makes. How could we doubt Lord Marquis?"
"Lord Zhao, please cool your temper. I misspoke, misspoke. I'll compensate… for our part of the cement road, we'll double our investment."
The embarrassed crowd was quick to apologize. Some of those who had lost control of their mouths the fastest couldn't help but give themselves a mental slap to the mouth. For a moment of pleasure, they had ended up provoking Lord Zhao.
"Ah, since you misspoke, I'll act as if I never heard it."
Zhao Jingdian gave a faint smile and placed the matter aside. Wang Chong had said long ago that because too many clans were being assembled for this operation, they would be very hard to manage, and that someone with his honest personality would find them difficult to restrain, so he had hoped that Zhao Jingdian would be a little tougher.
As things stood, the effects seemed rather good.
"Elder Chen, begin!"
Zhao Jingdian turned his head to the fifty-some-year-old veteran foreman and made a gesture with his hand. A moment later, a layer of lime was sprinkled over the new 'slurry road', quickly absorbing the moisture.
This was a method the masons had discovered. In normal circumstances, this slurry would need several hours to harden. By spreading this layer of lime, they could absorb the water and quicken the process. After all, with so many great clans present, they couldn't just have them sit around and do nothing for so long.
As the lime rapidly moistened, Zhao Jingdian waved his hand and had the workers stop adding lime. After this, Zhao Jingdian simply stood in front of the crowd, his gaze on the black slurry road, his expression calm and unhurried.
Zhao Jingdian said nothing, so everyone didn't dare to say a word. With the earlier precedent, they had all realized that this young Lord Zhao was not as easy to deal with as he seemed.
Even with the lime assisting in the absorption of moisture, the slurry road dried slowly. Around an hour later, the slurry finally began to whiten as it slowly hardened.
Zhao Jingdian gazed at the road of fully hardened slurry, a faint smile on his lips.
"Everyone, after using an enormous amount of manpower, wealth, and resources, to gather this massive amount of lime, clay, lu ore, sand, and stone, we have produced this cement road."
As he gazed at the gray-white road, Zhao Jingdian felt an exultant feeling of accomplishment. After all this time, the marquis's first cement road had finally appeared.
Meanwhile, Zhao Jingdian's words had caused the crowd to buzz with chatter, everyone engaged in hushed conversation. Different from what Zhao Jingdian expected, the gazes aimed at the grey-white road were still doubtful.
"Lord Zhao, forgive me if I misspeak." A grizzled clan elder of fifty or sixty slowly walked out of the crowd. "This slurry road… no! This cement road—even though this old man has traveled the world and seen many things, he still does not understand it. Can Milord explain the advantages of this cement road?
"In addition, if this is just for repairing roads, wouldn't just hiring a few peasants and laborers to lay down some cobblestones and gravel achieve the same effect for less trouble?"
Zhao Jingdian turned to look at this elder and recognized him as Elder Xie Gufeng of the Xie Clan, a somewhat influential figure in high society. As expected, Xie Gufeng's words immediately set off a chain reaction, causing countless people to begin to chatter to each other.
Although they didn't dare to speak too loudly, as Zhao Jingdian looked over them, quite a few people lowered their heads. It was clear that they found Xie Gufeng's words to be reasonable.
"Ah, Elder Xie has asked an excellent question! Come, bring that over!"
Zhao Jingdian grinned and waved his hand. Quickly, a particularly enormous carriage pulled along by two large horses began to approach. Unlike other carriages, this one had no roof. It was simply an open-topped container that was several times larger than a normal carriage.
Such large containers were rarely used. Not only that, upon careful examination, the crowd realized that the wood used to make this carriage was still unpainted, which meant that this carriage had only recently been constructed.