Chapter 280: The Royal Court's Logistical Officer, Li Qingyou!
Zhang Shouzhi had immersed himself in the research of civil engineering for nearly his entire life. In the Bureau of Works, he was the official with the highest qualification, and everything related to the topic was well within his grasp.
And yet, Zhang Shouzhi had never heard of the term “cement” before.
"Hehe. Elder, all this while, you have been trying to research the ideal adhesive between bricks, right? This piece of paper I have here contains such a formula, and it might possibly provide some inspiration to you."
Saying so, Wang Chong passed the formula paper which he had prepared beforehand over.
This was the very first formula of cement in this world.
This wasn't the first time Wang Chong was taking something out of his original world, but every time he did so, he would still feel an indescribable sensation striking him.
The world he was currently in was fine, just that the logistics and transportation were extremely inefficient.
Just a normal journey between cities could easily take days or even months on end.
Even a figure like Zhangchou Jianqiong, despite moving at top speed, still took around twenty days to rush from Jiannan to the capital!
In this era, the fight between countries wasn't just a competition between their respective military might. To a certain degree, it was also a battle between the logistical efficiency of both sides.
Having served as the Grand Marshal of the Central Plains once, he couldn't be any more aware on this.
To put it in explicit terms, swift logistical movement of both men and supplies means that allied reinforcements could arrive earlier than the enemy.
On the scale of a battlefield, it could mean the difference between victory and loss. But on the scale of a country, it could mean the rise and fall of an empire.
But so far, no one except for Wang Chong had paid much heed to this crucial aspect.
In Wang Chong's plans, cement formed an extremely important link.
While it did come from the modern world, there was actually no complex technology involved behind it. The only reason why it wasn't in use was because no one had researched it to that extent yet.
The paper which Wang Chong gave Zhang Shouzhi was the most fundamental formula behind cement. As for how it should be modified and produced, that would depend on Zhang Shouzhi.
As Zhang Shouzhi took that paper, the room fell silent.
As the most knowledgeable official in the Bureau of Works back then, he didn't really think anything much could come from a young lad like Wang Chong. Amidst the dim light in the room, he casually pulled the paper closer to his face to look at it. However, with a quick glance through it, his face slowly warped in astonishment.
He had been spending his life researching an ideal adhesive for masonry, and he could swiftly tell that the formula which Wang Chong had just given him was exceptionally potent stuff. It was much stronger than the product from his last research.
In that instant, Zhang Shouzhi's world seemed to spin around him.
Beneath the dim light, Zhang Shouzhi stared at the formula in his hands for a very long time. and Wang Chong didn't interrupt him either.
"How is it?" Wang Chong asked a long time later.
Zhang Shouzhi didn't reply. Holding the formula in hand, a tight crease appeared on his forehead. He was still hesitant.
At that moment, Wang Chong suddenly recalled something. Thus, he slowly walked forward and whispered into Zhang Shouzhi's ear, "If Elder Zhang agrees to my request, I can promise to help you deal with Chamberlain Xu!"
Those words had the determining effect of pushing Elder Zhang off the fence.
"As long as you can get that bastard Xu Xizi down off his high horses, I'll agree to your request!" Zhang Shouzhi immediately nodded vigorously as hatred gleamed in his eyes.
Back then, if not for that bastard Xu Xizi doing something to the adhesive he researched, thus causing cracks to appear on the royal palace that eventually collapsed a wall, how could he possibly be expelled from the Bureau of Works and end up in his current state?
Killing a person will only make his head fall to the ground. Zhang Shouzhi didn't want the other party to die, it would suffice for the other party to be expelled from the Bureau of Works and suffer the same fate that he did
"Gongzi, you aren't lying to me, right? I know that you come from an impressive background, but Xu Xizi is currently the Chamberlain of Palace Buildings. Dragging him down will be no easy feat. Does the Wang Clan possess the influence to do so?" Zhang Shouzhi suddenly recalled something, and he replied deeply.
"You need not worry about that. Difficult as it may be, it isn't impossible. Just wait here for my good news," Wang Chong waved his hands leisurely.
Getting rid of the Chamberlain of Palace Buildings from the royal court was no easy task. Putting aside the Wang Clan, there was not a single clan in Great Tang who could stretch their hands into the royal palace easily.
But Wang Chong need not go through that much trouble.
With Consort Taizhen on his side, changing the Chamberlain of Palace Buildings was truly no difficult feat.
After convincing Zhang Shouzhi to take charge of the fortress he would be erecting in Jiannan, Wang Chong left the dilapidated old residence.
At this time, the sky was already dark.
A slight wind blew, stirring Wang Chong's thoughts along with it.
Building a fortress was no easy task, especially given the unique conditions required of this one. First, it had to be able to house 180,000 soldiers and provide sufficient rations to them. At the same time, it must also be able to fend off the attacks of any enemy.
As such, the fortress had to be extremely large and sturdy. On top of that, there must be an efficient distribution system for water, rations, horse feed...
None of these was easy to deal with. All of them would require significant investment to achieve.
But even so, Wang Chong would willingly do so without batting his eyes.
With his current strength and influence, the help he could offer Great Tang was severely limited. He had yet to become a figure whose words and gestures could easily determine the policies of the empire.
Thus, all he could do now was to work within his limits, and the fortress at the Lion Rock Hill was the most that he could do at the moment.
"... Once the construction begins, I fear that the money I have on me will be far from sufficient. I have to earn more money. Seems like I'll have to push forward that matter then."
Slowly raising his head, many thoughts filled Wang Chong's mind as his eyes gazed into the endless abyss of the night sky.
A moment later, a pigeon spread its wings and flew toward the Zhang Clan's residence. At the same moment, more than thirty ingots of Hyderabad ore was delivered over as well.
Before long, another thirty more Wootz steel swords would appear in the capital, and every single last one of them would be delivered to the royal palace.
Desperate situations call for desperate measures!
Wang Chong wasn't the type of person who was inflexible in his actions.
The morning sun appeared by the horizon, and innumerable golden rays fell through the cracks between the clouds, scattering across Great Tang's royal palace. Under the warm glow of the morning sun, the royal palace seemed like a divine land.
At that moment, a man dressed in a court uniform was currently treading alone between the golden court walls with a contemplative look on his face.
Even though there was no one around, his movements and gestures exuded compelling power. A two-finger wide purple token that was hanging by his waist further revealed the extraordinary identity of this man.
In the royal palace, anyone who carried a purple token by their waist possessed exceptional standing and privileges.
This was because the purple token wasn't issued by the royal court, but by the incumbent Sage Emperor himself.
"Soon, it'll be the time for the annual review. It'll only do if His Majesty is satisfied with the results this year!" Li Qingyou frowned worriedly.
He was a grade-3 military officer, but unlike the other officials in the royal court, he was exempted from attending the morning assembly and need not deal with the affairs of the military.
He was only in charge of supervising the Imperial Army in the royal court and reporting their activities to the Sage Emperor straight.
That majestic and beautiful token by his waist proved testimony to his identity. As the royal court's logistical officer, or more precisely, the emperor's logistical officer, Li Qingyou possessed great authority that was far above the other military logistical officers in the royal court.
At the very least, the wealth that Li Qingyou could move was far beyond the imagination of the others.
But this power didn't bring Li Qingyou the slightest bit of joy. If any, it brought him immense stress instead.
As the logistical officer of the Imperial Army, Li Qingyou had to satisfy the requests of the hundreds of thousands of Imperial soldiers. More importantly, he had to satisfy the Sage Emperor's demands.
But the quality of the weapons crafted in the workshops and by the various swordsmithing clans were simply unsatisfactory.
The weapons crafted in the workshops were lacking, whereas the number of top-notch swords that swordsmithing clans produced each year was simply too low. The inflow of weapons were barely able to meet the depletion each year.
With this kind of performance, it would be difficult for him to please the Sage Emperor.
As the logistical officer that reported straight to the emperor, there was nothing exceptional about his performance that could leave him with the Sage Emperor with a good impression of him.
Sigh. If this goes on, it'll be hard for me to keep my job, Li Qingyou thought worriedly.
Just as he was vexed by the dilemma before him, he suddenly heard a hearty laughter within the walls, followed by an intense fight.
Under the strong promotion of martial arts in the royal court, it wasn't rare to see members of the Imperial Army dueling against one another. Passing by this area everyday, Li Qingyou was accustomed to such sounds.
However, something seemed to be different today.
Usually, such duels would last for a fair amount of time, but it ended exceptionally quick today. Not only so, the sound from the duel sounded a little odd too.
There was a peculiar sound that was produced from the clash of weapons, something that Li Qingyou had never heard from other weapons before.
Instinctively, Li Qingyou paused in his footsteps.
Just as he was perplexed by the situation, an indignant voice sounded from within the walls.
"Hahaha, sure! Even if you were to come at me a hundred times, nothing will change!" a hearty voice replied.
Following which, the clashing of weapons sounded once more. For some reason, Li Qingyou didn't leave. Instead, he continued listening from outside.
Somehow, he found himself getting interested in the duel.
This time, the duel ended faster than the previous time. Klang! The sound of a weapon shattering reverberated, and due to the excessive force in the motion, the tip of the saber flew across the wall and stabbed into the sturdy red tiles at a distance not too far from Li Qingyou.
Upon seeing the saber tip, Li Qingyou's sharp eyes immediately recognized the origin of the sword, and his heart skipped a beat.
"Isn't this the top-notch saber forged by the Lu Clan?"
Li Qingyou stepped forward, squatted down, and carefully pulled the sword tip out with his fingers.
There was no mistake about it, this was a top-notch saber forged by the Lu Clan!
The Lu Clan's sabers were always inscribed with a floral pattern, so it was impossible for him to be mistaken. As the logistical officer of the royal court, he came into contact with such things on a daily basis, so he was extremely familiar with them.
The Lu Clan was a rising swordsmithing clan. They might be the youngest, but perhaps in their efforts to consolidate their standing, their swords had the best appearance, design, and quality.
And due to the higher production rate of the Lu Clan, most of the Imperial Army members used the weapons produced by them.
It was unexpected to see a top-notch saber from the Lu Clan being cut into two, but what furthered Li Qingyou's shock was that the severed portion was actually as smooth as a mirror.
"What kind of weapon can possibly be so sharp?"
Li Qingyou could hardly hide the astonishment in his eyes. Even though the sabers of the Lu Clan weren't the best in the capital, they definitely ranked at the top. Cutting one in two was no easy feat.
On top of that, considering how smooth the severed portion was, the sword that was used to cut it must be unimaginably sharp.
But in his years supervising the military equipment of the Imperial Army, he had never seen a weapon capable of this feat before.
So the battle was forced to a conclusion due to the other party's weapon being severed, Li Qingyou suddenly realized. However, this only served to deepen Li Qingyou's curiosity of the weapon which had severed the Lu Clan's saber.
"Hahaha, good sword. This is indeed a good sword! Zhou Lie, do you want to go another round?" A hearty laughter sounded within the walls.
"Forget it! Huang Shang, what is there to be proud of? All you did was to purchase a Wootz steel weapon. If you are really that capable, why don't you spar with me empty-handed?" the Imperial Army soldier who lost grumbled angrily.
Beyond the walls, Li Qingyou heard those words and his heart suddenly pounded furiously.
Wootz steel! That was the legendary Wootz steel sword!