The Human Emperor - Chapter 46: The World’s First Wootz Steel Weapon
Wootz steel was different from other steel materials in the sense that one mustn’t use the method of ‘water quenching’ on it. Otherwise, the precious metal would be completely ruined.
The plan to obtain Hyderabad plan had major consequences. Wang Chong couldn’t allow it to fall into the hands of others.
Time slowly passed, and the discussion outside the cavern gradually faded away. Wang Chong sat quietly in the cavern with a tranquil heart.
It would have been impossible for Wang Chong to stay out at night previously. However, after the incident by the border, the entire Wang Clan’s impression of Wang Chong had changed completely.
Even Wang Chong’s mother no longer interfered as strictly in his affairs like she used to do.
“It’s about time!”
Suddenly, Wang Chong felt something and opened his eyes. A brilliant gleam flashed across his eyes. He could sense that it was going to be dawn soon.
Standing up, Wang Chong hurriedly walked forward and arranged all of the pine branches Wei Hao had collected in a circle. Sou! The sound of a flintstone striking one another echoed in the cavern and before long, the branches were lit up.
When the pine branches turned bright-red, Wang Chong grabbed the incomplete pitch-black Wootz steel sword and tongs by the furnace. Using the tongs to grab the sword, he buried it within the bright-red pine branches.
Within the course of an incense’s time, the Wootz steel sword gradually grew bright red and eventually, the corners of the sword were set ablaze.
Wang Chong stared at the flames on the sword tensely. At this moment, every single inch of his concentration was devoted into this.
In the tempering process of the Wootz steel, watching the flames on the sword was an important segment.
The reason why Wang Chong chose dawn was because, at this moment, it was easier to identify the progress of the heating process through the shades of the flame.
The different shades of the flame reflected the temperature of the weapon.
If it was too bright or too dark, it would affect the glow of the Wootz steel and, thus, affect Wang Chong’s judgement of the progress of the heating process as well. The quality of the sword would differ depending on what temperature the sword was tempered at.
Just a single degree of difference in temperature could mean an entirely different weapon.
However, it was impossible to measure the temperature of the flames given the technological limitations of the current era. Therefore, the color of the flames had become the most important determining factor.
The moment the flames on the Wootz steel sword started to take a bright shade of red similar to a strawberry, Wang Chong’s eyes lit up and he picked up the Wootz steel, turned his body along with the sword around, and placed it into the metal trough, which was filled with a beige-color oily substance.
——This was something that Wang Chong had prepared beforehand.
When the bright-red Wootz steel was submerged into the icy-cold oil, the vast difference in temperature caused black smoke to emerge from the surface of the sword.
“It depends on this step whether I’m able to bring it up to the level of a true Wootz steel weapon!”
Wang Chong stared at the metal trough with a tense heart.
From the negotiation to the crafting, then to the inscription, and finally the tempering, he was already at the final step. Even though he had spoke of it confidently, he was actually bearing doubts within.
The oil inside the metal trough wasn’t any ordinary liquid usually used for tempering. It was a mixture of sesame oil, lanolin, butter, asphalt, which was brought over by the merchants of the west, and some other liquids.
This was the crux to forging a true Wootz steel weapon.
In his previous life, the Central Plains did obtain some Wootz steel. However, the weapons forged through it paled far in comparison to those crafted in the Damascus and Abbasid Caliphate. In fact, its outer appearance was incredibly ugly as well. This was all because the Tang Dynasty had failed to grab hold of the tempering method required for the Wootz steel.
In fact, some even suspected that those Wootz steel weapon of the Central Plains weren’t crafted from the Hyderabad ores; they were imitations making use of the name of Wootz steel to be sold.
In reality, it wasn’t because the Sindhis gave fake ores to the Central Plains. Rather, the Central Plains failed to grasp the ‘Hyderabad Tempering Method’.
If one was unable to cleanse the Wootz steel’s natural ornamental marks on the surface, the sharp saws on the edge of the blade wouldn’t emerge. Such a Wootz steel weapon would only be slightly sharper than a top-quality sword, unbefitting of the reputation of the Three Great Weapons in the world!
In his previous life, the Abbasid Caliphate had gained a monopoly over the supply of Wootz steel through the ‘Hyderabad Tempering Method’. However, in this life, Wang Chong was determined to not allow the other party to succeed.
When the black smoke scattered, the Wootz steel sword in the metal trough had completely cooled down, and Wang Chong used the tongs to grab the Wootz steel out of the liquid.
Huala, the liquid splattered around!
At the instant the Wootz steel emerged from the liquid, a bright silver shine spilled forth from the surface of the liquid in the metal trough.
In an instant, the cold gleam, reminiscent of the silver moon, masked the entire cavern with a layer of silver.
Looking at the incredibly elegant silver sword, Wang Chong felt indescribably agitated. The beautiful patterns on the sword looked as though fleeting clouds and rivers, it was an unexplainably beautiful sight. Even at the edge of the sword, one could see a saw-like pattern. The aura it protruded made it feel as though a shark of the deep ocean; merciless, bloodthirsty, but beautiful.
The world’s very first Wootz steel weapon had been created in the Central Plains.
Wang Chong had become the first person to personally finish this emperor of weapons!
At this moment, the disturbance in Wang Chong’s mind couldn’t be calmed.
The curtains behind opened. Upon hearing the movements in the cavern, Wei Hao rushed in alongside Wang Chong’s little sister.
“Sss! What is that weapon?”
Barely taking a few steps in, Wei Hao saw the beautiful weapon in Wang Chong’s hands and gasped in shock.
Wei Hao had never seen such a weapon. Its body was as bright as mercury, and there were mysterious natural patterns graved on the blade. Even so, it couldn’t conceal the radiance of the weapon.
What that attracted one’s attention was the edge of the sword. It seemed so sharp that it could harm one’s eyes by just looking at it. With a single glance, Wei Hao was bewitched. He could no longer remove his gaze.
“What a beautiful and fearsome weapon!”
Wei Hao muttered.
Born in the family of a duke, he had seen many different things. However, he had never seen such a savage and beautiful weapon. It felt as though it was created for the sole purpose of murder, which made it terrifying. Yet, at the very same time, it exuded indescribable elegance and beauty.
With just a single glance, Wei Hao was captivated.
A child-like voice echoed by the side. Wei Hao wasn’t the only one who was bewitched by the weapon. Wang Family’s little sister stared soullessly at the sword.
Suddenly, the light darkened. Wang Chong had placed the completed Wootz sword in a wooden sheath. Then, he took another black cloth and wrapped the sword with it.
“Wei Hao, catch it!”
Wang Chong casually threw the Wootz steel sword over to Wei Hao, who subconsciously stretched his hands and caught it. Placing it into his embrace, he stared at the item in his hands.
“Wang Chong, what weapon is this?”
Wei Hao asked once more.
“This is the Wootz steel sword that I told you about!”
Wang Chong answered calmly. He wasn’t surprised by Wei Hao’s reaction at all. Even so, all he had seen was the beauty of the sword; he had yet to witness the fearsome destructive prowess of the Wootz steel sword.
His reaction wouldn’t be just this when he witnesses the strength of the Wootz steel on the battlefield.
Wang Chong could still remember the uproar it had caused back then when the Wootz steel first appeared on the battlefield.
When he first spoke of the Hyderabad ore plan to Wei Hao, he was extremely shocked and his first thought was that Wang Chong had gone mad. He didn’t think that the ores were worth that price.
But now, Wei Hao was probably rethinking his stance.
“Wei Hao, this is the first sword crafted, make sure to not let anyone see it. The first step of the plan is completed, and just like we’ve agreed on beforehand, I’ll be depending on you for the latter part!”
Wang Chong said.
Recovering from his shock, Wei Hao nodded his head.
Parting the curtains, Wang Chong walked out. The first Wootz steel had been created, but this was just the first step.
Half of a month has already passed, and if Wang Chong fails to rake up 90000 gold coin by the end of the month, his hard work would be in vain.
These were written clearly in the Court of Judicial Review. Even though Wang Chong had used it back then to tie the two Sindhi monks to him, it had also become Wang Chong’s ‘Achilles heel’.
“Those Sindhi monks… should be panicking now!”
Wang Chong smiled as he walked out.
Oblivious to Wang Chong, the two Sindhi monks were far more anxious than he had anticipated.
In the room, Ablonodan’s hands were clasped together as he chanted Buddhism prayers. However, his eyebrows were twitching and he was fidgeting uneasily.
“Arloja, do you think that the Central Plains gongzi would renege on his promise?”
After a long period of time, Ablonodan eventually asked the question which was plaguing his mind:
“It has already been quite awhile, but why isn’t there any news from his side?”
Twenty days have passed and the duo had waited quite a long time already. Logically speaking, they only had to wait a few more days out, so they shouldn’t have been that unsettled. But for some reason, they felt uneasy.
Time waits for no one. The famine in Sindhu was getting worse and worse. Many people had already died from starvation, and in the last few days, they had received more letters from the High Priest for the two of them to return to Sindhu.
This was already the seventh letter this month!
“Give him three more days. If there isn’t any news from him by then, we will just have to return to Sindhu and do as the High Priest says, sell all of the Hyderabad ores to the Abbasid Caliphate.”
Even though the two didn’t seem to have done anything since the establishment of the contract, they were actually keeping an eye out for Wang Chong. However, it was as though a stone being thrown into the sea. There wasn’t any news regarding the Hyderabad ores at all.
They had looked into the matter on the streets, but there didn’t seem to be any news regarding the Hyderabad ores or weapons.
If say, the two of them were confident in Wang Chong initially, at this very moment, they were feeling unnerved. Even though Arloja said to give Wang Chong a few more days, he actually didn’t bear much hope.
“To think that it would be a failure as well!”
Arloja sighed, returning back to his previous depressed state. They didn’t think that the sales of the Hyderabad ore in the Central Plains would be fraught with so many difficulties.
“But… Isn’t there another distinguished family in the Central Plains interested in the ore? Why don’t we try contacting them?”
Ablonodan was referring to the Zhang Clan in the capital. He had a deep impression of those people who visited them the other day.
Arloja shook his head, “Even though those nobles look reliable, they are unwilling to fork out the price we want. The price of swords in the Central Plains is simply too cheap. They aren’t the collaborators we are looking for. The High Priest had tasked us to look for a collaborator we can work with for a long period of time, but clearly, such a person doesn’t exist in the Central Plains.”
Ablonodan fell silent. They had both come to the same conclusion. The primary goal of traveling to the Central Plains was to find a wholesaler and gather rations.
Also, this could also prevent a monopoly.
If they only sold the ores to the Abbasid Caliphate, their Hyderabad ores would be unable to be sold for a high price. This was a fact that applied to all goods that was only sold to a single individual or entity.
It was precisely because the High Priest was unwilling to see such a thing occurring that he sent them to the other parts of the world to search for collaborators.
But from the looks of it, it seems like the Abbasid Caliphate was the only suitable working partner for them. Even though they wouldn’t be able to earn a huge sum from them, they were reliable and loyal.
As for the Central Plains, it was just too far away.
The two didn’t know that at this very moment, they weren’t the only ones keeping an eye on Wang Chong’s movements.
Sorry, I’ve no idea how Hindu names should go :X
Well, the first one, in hanyupinyin, is Ah Luo Nuo Dan
The second one is Ah Luo Jia
Stone being thrown into the sea
This is a Chinese analogy.
After throwing a stone into the sea, there is a bit of ripple, but it calms down quickly after that. (i.e., Even after doing something, it seems as though nothing much had happened.)