Chapter 15: Opportunity to Strike it Rich
“I can’t really explain it, it is just an intuitive feeling. Before coming over, I did a rough investigation into the affairs of the Wang Clan siblings and the elder brother doesn’t seem to have a good reputation in the capital. He could be considered as one of the profligate scions in the capital, constantly engaging in morally unacceptable actions. It is even said that he raped a female awhile ago. If all of these are true, then this wouldn’t be a huge matter. However, judging from my contact with him, he doesn’t seem to be such a person.”
“Also, that Wang Yan is a straightforward person. Your Highness should be aware of his personality as well. He is a military man and he is slightly slow on the uptake on politics. In fact, he could be said to be almost completely oblivious to it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone to meet with Yao Kuang Yi at such a timing. On this affair, your humble subordinate thinks that he had been made use of.”
“While Wang Yan’s straightforward personality prevents him from peering deeper into such matters, the Wang Clan siblings seem to be aware of the matter. Even though the matter at Vast Crane Pavilion seems to be directed toward Yao Feng, somehow, I get a feeling that they were there for their father, Wang Yan. Yao Kuang Yi is well-known for his political schemes and he probably would have never imagined that his ploy would be seen through by two kids. Of course, this is an assumption on my part, it is still too early to say for sure.”
Lu Ting said.
The main hall was completely silent. For the first time, King Song appeared grave.
Even though Lu Ting said that it was an assumption on his part and that it was just an intuitive feeling, King Song was too aware of his personality. If he wasn’t confident on the matter, he wouldn’t have brought it up before him in the first place.
However, Yao Kuang Yi was a formidable character.
For two kids to see through the ploy of this old wily fox…
How was that possible!
King Song and the old butler traded gazes. The master and servant saw disbelief in each other’s eyes. If that’s true, then that Wang Clan siblings were truly monsters!
“…Your Highness, putting aside the matter whether he was able to see through the ploy of Yao Kuang Yi or not, the words he said afterward, ‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’, your humble subordinate thinks that he is directing it toward Your Highness. For a person uninvolved to peer into truth when the people involved were unable to, his wits, experience, means and knowledge cannot be rivaled by any ordinary strategists. Furthermore, he is only fifteen-year-old!”
Lu Ting was impressed.
In the end, he revealed the reason why he had such a high evaluation of the young man. It was because he was too young!
After hearing those words, King Song was silent for a long moment. He had to admit that Lu Ting’s words had left him shocked. The Song and Wang had close ties, but Wang Yan wasn’t the only descendant of Duke Jiu.
Given his standing and identity as King Song, it was difficult for him to notice a child who was still in his teens. However, if the child was really as capable as Lu Ting put him out to be, then he wasn’t someone King Song should overlook.
“Lord Lu hopes for me to meet this child from the Wang Clan?”
After a long moment, King Song lifted his head.
Initially, he had summoned Lu Ting here to question him on Wang Yan’s loyalty. However, this was no longer important. Without a doubt, Lu Ting was sided toward Wang Yan on this matter and believed that he was innocent.
“There’s no need to.”
Contrary to his expectations, Lu Ting shook his head and denied King Song’s words:
“Your Highness have forgotten that it would be Duke Jiu’s seventieth birthday soon. At that point, all descendants of the Wang Clan would be present. It isn’t too late for Your Highness to meet him then. After all, this all is just an assumption on my part and the truth is still unconfirmed.”
“That’s fine as well.”
King Song smiled:
“It is rare for Lord Lu to have such a high opinion of someone. Furthermore, I can’t help but admire his words, ‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’. Butler Zheng, prepare some items from the warehouse for me and send it over to Wang Yan’s residence.”
“Yes, your humble servant will obey your commands!”
The old butler stood up and said respectfully.
“Wait a moment!”
For some reason, King Song seemed to have thought of something and hesitated for a moment before saying, “It is already late, so let’s push back the matter a little. Send the items over tomorrow.”
Lu Ting saw suspicion flashing across King Song’s eyes and sighed. He immediately understood that King Song still wasn’t completely convinced on Wang Yan’s loyalty. However, Lu Ting didn’t say anything.
‘Only with a long journey will one know the stamina of his horse, and only with time will a person’s heart show through’, whether Wang Yan had betrayed him or not, whether the Wang Clan was colluding with King Qi and what had happened in the Vast Crane Pavilion… Everything would be revealed with the passing of time.
“…As for Bao Xuan and Zheng Yuan, despite my generosity, they chose to backstab me at such a timing, betraying me for King Qi. Toward such ungrateful rogues, it will be hard to quell my anger if I do not punish them! I might not be able to deal with a King Qi, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to deal with a mere Bao Xuan and Zheng Yuan!”
“Isn’t Lingnan and Mobei still lacking a few academics? Have them stay there until their deathbeds!”
As he said those words, King Song’s eyes were filled with menace.
The royal court is filled with dangers. Those who are in it are stepping on a thin layer of ice, a single word can make the difference between life or death… This wasn’t just hearsay. Even though King Song’s allies had ‘abandoned’ him, he still hasn’t reached the point where he could be stepped on by anyone else.
A lion staying low will be treated as an ill cat. In the past, he was simply too kind and generous, that’s why so many people dared to betray him.
However, King Song didn’t want to tolerate it anymore.
Shuashuashua, he picked up his brush and wrote a memorial. No one could have known that in this few strokes of the brush, Bao Xuan and Zheng Yuan’s fate would be sealed.
However, this time, regardless of whether it was the old butler or Lu Ting, no one said anything. Most probably, even King Qi wouldn’t do anything about the matter. After all, he wouldn’t go head to head with King Song over a mere Bao Xuan and Zheng Yuan.
This was the world of politics, a world filled with bloodshed!
The carriage rumbled!
Wang Chong didn’t know what had happened in King Song Residence and he wasn’t bothered about it either. Sitting on the carriage leading him back to his home, Wang Chong mind was preoccupied with another matter.
He had already done all he could for his father’s matter. Before long, Yao Kuang Yi will lead his army and appear in the jurisdiction under his father’s army. By then, he will understand the situation.
What he had to do now was to start on the second step of his plan.
‘A just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds scant support’. The incident at Vast Crane Pavilion had shown this clearly. Despite his younger sister’s overwhelming strength, she was still flustered by many experts in the Yao Residence.
His experience in his previous life had displayed this point clearly. If not for the insufficient military power he wielded, he wouldn’t have ended up in such a tragic defeat.
If he wanted to realize his wish and change the destiny of the Wang Clan and Great Tang, he had to be like Yao Feng. He had to build his own influence and following.
Only with a powerful strength and many followers will he be able to change this empire, which was already surrounded by countless dangers!
However, to achieve all these, he had to possess tremendous financial ability first, wealth that could rival a country!
‘Money makes the world go round’. The more capable a person is, the more arrogant he is likely to be. Without sufficient profits involved, who would be willing to serve another?
Needless to say, he was only a fifteen-year-old child!
However, where could he lay his hands on such a massive wealth?
Sitting in the carriage, a deep frown etched on Wang Chong’s face.
The Wang Clan was by no means a wealthy family, and there wasn’t any business in it that could bring one tremendous wealth. On this aspect, he couldn’t rely on his family at all.
Wang Chong could only try to think of a solution by himself.
“There has to be a way, there must be a way…”
Wang Chong tapped his finger on the windows of the carriage as thoughts flashed past his mind. He rummaged through the events that had occurred in his previous life to see if there were any means for one to make a killing.
It was fortunate that Wang Chong possessed the memories of his previous life. On this aspect, he held the advantage over others.
“I got it!”
Suddenly, Wang Chong’s eyes lit up as he recalled something:
“Wootz steel! Right, Wootz steel!”
His gloomy mood disappeared without a trace and in its place was delight.
‘Wootz steel’ was a precious metal with banding patterns on it. When a blade was forged from it, the pattern on its surface would resemble flowing water, forming an exquisite and beautiful sight. At the same time, of all types of metal, Wootz steel was, without a doubt, the best material for forging weapons! Nothing else could compete with it!
In the parallel world where Wang Chong came from, it was also known as ‘Damascus steel’.
The weapons made of this material ranked as the top of the Three Great Swords, even in the modern times!
More importantly, the Wootz steel reserves were extremely limited. After it was dug out, it would be gone for good.
In the future, a real ‘Damascus sword’ could be sold for millions, even tens of million of USD! Furthermore, it was a commodity that was rarely sold; it was not something that one could just buy because they had money!
In this world, the Wootz steel was the same as well!
The reason why Wang Chong remembered this metal was not because of how precious it was. Rather, it was because of its sharpness. The weapons made of Wootz steel were incomparably sharp and could easily tear apart those precious and famous swords!
In terms of sharpness, the weapons made of Wootz steel were the absolute sharpest!
In the parallel world where Wang Chong came from, there was once a scientist who did an experiment and he realized that the Wootz steel had countless nano saws that could not be seen with one’s naked eye. The countless minuscule saws came together to form the legend of the incomparable sharpness of the Wootz steel.
Any rider who was equipped with Wootz steel weapon would be able to easily tear apart a person along with his armor, causing quite a gruesome death!
Furthermore, the tiny saws on the Wootz steel swords made it easy to tear apart the enemy’s wounds, causing massive bleeding within a short period of time. Not only so, it was also difficult to stop the flow of blood from the wounds inflicted by it.
Many tiny cuts turned fatal because of this.
With all of these factors overlapping together, an army equipped with Wootz steel became something that was a fearsome fighting force, something that others would unconsciously shiver when speaking of it.
Their opponents would often sustain great casualties!
However, even though the Wootz steel was such a precious commodity, Wang Chong knew that at this current moment, it was still inexpensive. If nothing went wrong, this should be around the time when the first batch of the mineral had been mined from its only deposit in the Hyderabad mountains.
This first batch of minerals from Hyderabad was currently being carried by Sindhi monks to all around the world; the Abbasid Caliphate, the Western Regions, Great Tang, Turkic Khaganate, Silla Empire…
(Sindhu or Tianzhu referred to ‘India’. However, when the Indians first came to China, it was called Sindhu and it was named by Emperor Wu of Han, Liu Che.)
It was only a year later did the precious Wootz steel’s name first appear in the name, and ten years for its name to traverse through the entire world. Twenty years would have passed before the most perfect method to forging the Wootz steel, the Tanilakam method, appeared.
However, in thirty years, the Hyderabad mountain would finish mining the final bit of Wootz steel ore that it had.
That was the last Wootz steel ore in Hyderabad, as well as the final piece in the world!
This was the situation of the Wootz steel!
These kind of ores weren’t unlimited; they were rare and finite. At this moment, there wasn’t a single person in this world who was aware of this fact.
Based on Wang Chong’s memories, the two monks should probably be in Great Tang by now, and the people of Great Tang rarely bothered themselves with people from the Western Regions. At this point, no one’s attention was on the two Sindhi Monks with bizarre appearances and, needless to say, the Wootz steel on them.
If he were to look for them at this moment, he could possibly make an unexpectedly huge killing.
At this point, Wang Chong’s heart couldn’t help but pound furiously
Even though it was a different spacetime continuum, Wang Chong knew that the weapons forged using Wootz steel in this world were highly sought after by the officials and generals of countless empires, the nobility and the wealthy, as well as martial arts experts.
The Wootz steel’s elegant design was fitting of a powerful official’s identity and standing. On the other hand, for a martial arts expert, a Wootz steel could mean a huge rise in his fighting prowess.
For these precious Wootz steel weapons, those people were willing to give their all, even if it meant bankruptcy.
If he could claim all of the Wootz steel that the two Sindhi monks had in their possession, the future benefits that it could bring him was clear. At this point, Wang Chong could no longer hold in the excitement in his heart.
“Little sister, are you interested in walking around with me to look for a few people?”
Wang Chong suddenly turned around to look at his little sister who was sitting beside him.
“Ah, you still want to walk around?”
Wang Xiao Yao’s eyes widened in shock. She clearly remembered the threat her father made about breaking their legs if they were to roam the streets.
“Why, are you afraid?”
Wang Chong taunted.
“Hmph, how can I be afraid!”
Provocation is much more effective than an invitation. As expected, the Wang Family’s little sister fell for it. Wang Chong chuckled and brought this ‘free bodyguard’ of a sister toward the place where the foreigners from the Western Regions gathered.
“Please take us to the Zhuque Street!”
Lingnan is near the Nanling Mountains (or Southern Mountains/Five Ranges) whereas Mobei is near (or in) Gobi Desert. It is quite a rural location and being sent there means that their career would come to an end. (Which was much worse than being killed for the ambitious)
Memorial/ Imperial Report:
These are what the officials write to the emperor to report on affairs or state recommendations and such.
If you all wish to know about what emperors do, here is a good website with concise information on a day of an emperor’s life. It’s more toward the Qing Emperor though (The last dynasty before it developed to the current China), and our story is based in the Tang Dynasty.
I couldn’t find an English translation of the Three Great Swords so I’ll just translate from Chinese here. (Based on Baidu)
Number 1: Damascus sword from the Islamic Tribes in India, Iran (Persia then), Afghanistan, Bukhara and etc (大马士革平面花纹刃)
Number 2: Kris sword from Singapore, Malacca, Philippines and etc. (糙面焊接花纹刃)
Number 3: Nihonto from Japan (平面碎段复体暗光花纹刃)
Of which, the Damascus sword is made of Wootz steel. The translations may not exact, I tried to google to get as accurate a translation as possible but that’s about it.
Based on Chinese Wikipedia,
At the very beginning, the Indians were addressed as Sindhu (Named by Emperor Wu of Han, Liu Che). At the beginning of Tang Dynasty, they were addressed as Tianzhu. The Persians addressed Sindhu and Hindu while the Greeks addressed Hindu as Indu.
Eventually, when an enlightened monk from the Tang Dynasty Xuan Zang went to the Western Regions to obtain the scriptures, Indu was changed to Yindu (The way India is called in Chinese now