Chapter 281: Imperial Army Supplies Purchase
"Spar with you empty-handed? You must be joking! When have you ever seen a tiger tear off its claws to hunt its prey?" the victor on the other side of the walls refuted.
"Huang Shang, 70,000 gold taels, sell your sword to me!"
"Hmph, don't even dream of it!"
"Huang Shang, you only bought that Wootz steel sword for 55,000 gold taels whereas I am offering 70,000 gold taels for it. You are making a huge profit here. With the money you earned, you could easily buy another one!"
"Zhou Zhi, if you're that capable, why don't you use that 70,000 gold taels of yours to buy one? Do you take me for a fool? Even though the Zhang Clan has released several months of stock at once, they only total up to thirty. Given how many people there are in the Imperial Army, that is far from sufficient to go around! The current market price out there is 80,000 gold taels, and that is assuming anyone is willing to sell it at all! I would love to try to purchase the Wootz steel swords produced by Wang gongzi, but his is only more expensive!"
Hearing those words, Li Qingyou decided to walk into the residence.
"What did you all just say?" With his hands behind his back, Li Qingyou walked in slowly with the sword tip held tightly between his fingertips.
On the training field, the three Imperial soldiers were shocked to see Li Qingyou, and they hurriedly lowered their heads to greet him. In the capital, none of the hundred thousand Imperial Army members didn't know Logistics Officer Li Qingyou.
Li Qingyou was their superior, and all of their weapon, armor, stipends, and such had to go through him.
And unlike them, Li Qingyou possessed the privilege to meet the Sage Emperor whenever he wanted.
If one were to offend him, he could easily deduct the resources allocated to them. Of everyone in the royal palace, the trio didn't expect to meet with him.
One must know that Li Qingyou was often busy and rarely interacted with them.
"Lord, we're just sparring with one another." Somehow, the trio felt a little unnerved by Li Qingyou's questioning.
"That's not what I'm asking. May I take a look at that sword?" Li Qingyou asked, pointing to the sword with a unique pattern in the hand of one of the Imperial Army members.
"This... Of course!"
The Imperial soldier named Huang Shang might have agreed to it, but his expression was extremely reluctant. As though severing a part of himself, he unwillingly passed the Wootz steel sword in his hand over.
Li Qingyou paid no heed to the other party's pained expression. Upon receiving the Wootz steel sword, he immediately tried its weight before feeling its texture.
Heavy! It is several times heavier than what I expected. The surface is very smooth, but there's a blood groove on it. It's probably specially designed that way to improve its lethality, Li Qingyou thought.
As the logistics officer for the entire Imperial Army, the number of weapons that had gone through Li Qingyou's hands numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Over the years, he had gained the ability to analyze the properties and quality of a weapon accurately just by feeling it with his hands.
This three chi long sword was heavy and cold to the touch; in a sense, it felt as though one was touching a sturdy block of ice. Clearly, the forging technology behind this weapon was completely different from other swords.
At the very least, neither the royal court's workshop nor the swordsmithing clans had ever produced a weapon like this before.
So this is a Wootz steel weapon?, Li Qingyou thought as he examined the sword in his hand.
The youngest son of the Wang Clan, Wang Chong, had created a sword of unparalleled sharpness and durabilitythe number one sword in the world! While selling his sword in the Bluebottle Pavilion, many had come to challenge him, and neither the best swords and sabers from the Abbasid Caliphate or Charax Spasinu, or the greatest blades of the Central Plains were a match for the Wootz steel.
This legend had started spreading four to five months ago, and it had caused a huge commotion in the capital. Naturally, Li Qingyou had also heard of it.
But unlike the others, Li Qingyou only sneered at the legend, thinking that it was complete nonsense.
How could such a formidable weapon be produced so easily?
Which of the existing top-notch forging technique didn't come from countless centuries or millenniums of heritage, perfected through the hard work of generation after generation?
So how could an entirely brand new school of weapon forging simply emerge from nowhere? And not to mention, the weapons forged by through this technique were so formidable that they could slice through the other top-notch swords and sabers easily?
The very notion of it was so ridiculous that Li Qingyou rejected the possibility of it from the very start.
On top of that, the quantity of Wootz steel sword was so terribly limited that he had never seen one before, and this only furthered his doubts.
But now, Li Qingyou suddenly found his beliefs shaking.
Before the trio could react, a cold, sharp gleam swept across the broken sword in another soldier's hand.
The broken sword was severed further, and the edge fell to the ground, stabbing into the tiled ground.
The trio were taken aback for a moment before nodding calmly, as if they had expected this sight. Given how each of the Wootz steel swords was worth an exorbitant price of tens of thousands of gold taels, it was natural for its quality to be far above the weapons of the other swordsmithing clans.
But as the one swinging the sword, Li Qingyou had a differing impression of the sword. In the trajectory of his sword, he couldn't feel the existence of the Lu Clan's saber at all. It was as if the sword was slicing through thin air.
This was the first time Li Qingyou was feeling the sharpness of the Wootz steel sword for himself. In his many years serving as the logistics officer, he had never met such a fearsome weapon before.
Its sharpness was way off the charts!
A thought abruptly sprung into Li Qingyou's head, and he turned to one of the Imperial soldiers with an order. "Take off your armor!"
Although he was perplexed by the sudden command, the soldier still obediently took off his armor and passed it to Li Qingyou. With the logistics officer here, even if something were to happen to his armor, he could easily claim a replacement from storage.
But instead of grabbing the armor, Li Qingyou flicked his wrist instead. Chi la! The heavy armor was silently sliced into two, and the lower half fell to the ground. Taking a closer look, the severed portion was as smooth as a mirror.
Caught off-guard, the three Imperial Army members jumped in shock from Li Qingyou's actions.
But the shock wasn't just limited to them, Li Qingyou also just had the scare of his life, as well!
"To think that the rumors are really true!"
At this moment, Li Qingyou suddenly recalled the rumors regarding the sword. Back at the Bluebottle Pavilion then, the sword was said to have severed a metal mountain in two.
Many of those who weren't on the scene then, such as Li Qingyou laughed at the news, thinking that it was just an exaggeration. But upon seeing this sight with his own eyes, all of the doubts in his mind vanished without a trace.
On the battlefield, everyone would be striving to equip their soldiers with the best armor.
Most of the elite armored cavalry would be equipped with armor forged with Xuan metal, which was retrieved from the bottom of the sea. Such armors were incredibly tough, and it would take multiple powerful slashes from a sword before a crack would appear on it.
This severely reduced the number of openings on the armored cavalry. To make things even more troublesome, the swift speed of cavalry made it difficult to strike a specific opening.
However, with a Wootz steel weapon in hand, one would be able to slice apart the armor and attack the rider directly.
Having supervised the weaponry of the Imperial Army for more than a decade, he possessed a sharp eye for the value of weapons. Just like Zhao Fengchen back then, he immediately realized the fearsome might an army equipped with such a weapon could possess.
"If I recall correctly, you said that this weapon is worth 80,000 gold taels each? Isn't that too expensive?" Li Qingyou glanced at the trio, and deep lines surfaced on his forehead.
Throughout the entire capital, even if one were to venture every single one of the weapon merchants, there wouldn't be a single weapon that was this expensive.
"Lord Li, you don't know how many of our brothers in the Imperial Army would be willing to fork a price higher than that to buy this sword! Good stuff doesn't come cheap!"
Hearing Li Qingyou's words, the soldier named Huang Shang relaxed instead. It was fine as long as the other party wasn't here to pick on them.
"Considering how there are only about fifty of these swords around, whereas there are more than a hundred thousand of us, this can be considered to be inexpensive already. Given the limited production, it is inevitable that the price would skyrocket."
"Not to scare you, but this is only the price of the Wootz steel sword produced by the Zhang Clan. If it is a personal work by Wang gongzi, the price will surely be much higher than this! Even at the very minimum, it would be beyond a hundred thousand gold taels!"
Huang Shang boasted gleefully. Clearly, he was proud that he managed to obtain one of the Wootz steel swords.
"There are two dealers for this Wootz steel sword?" Li Qingyou frowned.
"That's not it. Wang gongzi has collaborated with the Zhang Clan to have them help with the forging process. Otherwise, given how Wang gongzi only produces one a monthnot to mention the months when he produces none at allwouldn't all of us die of anxiety?"
This time, it was another soldier who replied to his question.
"But while it is forged by the Zhang Clan, the final few stages of the forging process are still completed by Wang gongzi personally, so there's definitely no problem with the quality," the third soldier added.
Everyone in the capital knew that the production capacity of Wootz steel weapons was limited. If it was only Wang Chong working on it personally, over ninety-nine percent of the Imperial Army would never have the chance to own one of the mystical weapons.
This was where the Zhang Clan came in.
Nearly everyone was delighted to see the involvement of the Zhang Clan in the forging process. After all, the higher the production rate, the more likely they would be able to obtain one.
"However, if it's a personal work by Wang gongzi, the price would be vastly different."
"300,000 gold taels! That was the price our Grand Marshal bought Death's Abyss at. Everyone is saying that the true value of Death's Abyss far exceeds 300,000 gold taels, and probably only the Marshals will be able to afford it."
The trio could hardly conceal their envy. Everyone knew that the weapons Wang gongzi crafted were unique, and the design and prowess of every single one of them were different.
On top of serving as a weapon, they were also an exquisite art piece!
Following which, Li Qingyou asked several more questions. Through these three, he discovered that there was a small Wootz steel market within the Imperial Army.
It was also the first time he realized that all of the legends originating from the Bluebottle Pavilion were true.
Slowly, a thought emerged in Li Qingyou's mind. He suddenly realized how he should report to the Sage Emperor during the review.
"I'll be taking this Wootz steel sword with me for now. Come and reclaim it from me seven days from now!"
Grabbing a firmer hold on the Wootz steel sword, Li Qingyou rushed towards the Taiji Palace where the Sage Emperor resided. The ingenious thought he had in his mind had his blood running wild in excitement...
The gears of history rumbled onward. Under Wang Chong's hard work, some events that shouldn't have occurred in the original course of destiny were happening...