Chapter 20 - Breakthrough
Shortly after General Shi had departed, Cui Yingyu entered Ouyang Shuo’s office. Ouyang Shuo smiled and asked her to sit down, laughing and saying, “You seem to have come with a purpose?”
He said that for a reason. It turned out that Yingyu was a workaholic. As this was not a modern society where such things were common, she had to be a very strong woman to take on a role like this.
“Big brother, even you are making fun of me. I am working so hard, all for the sake of big brother’s territory.” Yingyu’s face turned red as she pouted at his teasing.
Ouyang Shuo quickly apologized, and hurriedly said in a coaxing manner to avoid her embarrassment, “Ok,ok. Don’t be angry. What’s the progress on the basic mining field over there?”
He had to be careful of the atmosphere. Yingyu was effectively his little sister, and trusted him implicitly, the most out of all his staff. Being the target of his teasing was very embarrassing. She had come here to report on her work, and now it had become so awkward that she didn"t know where to start. Seeing that Ouyang Shuo started to talk about business, she sighed with relief.
She collected herself, calmly reporting, “3 days ago, I found the blacksmith, Master Lee, and asked him to take people to start looking for mining areas. Yesterday, they finally reported back that in the southwest of the territory, at the foot of the mountain, they found an open iron ore field. It is not only large in area, but it also has rich amounts of ore, and should be very easy to collect. Some of the ore is directly exposed to the air, and can simply be lifted out of the ground to collect it.”
Ouyang Shuo nodded happily at this information. “This is good news. Although the demand for iron in the territory is not great as of yet, as soon as we start making weapons, the demand will surge. With a good open field mine, we will not have to worry about iron ore for a long time. Have you managed to find any talents familiar with mining?”
“The main reason I came here today is to tell Big Brother that among the new immigrants there is an experienced intermediate miner called Yuan Shaoping. I suggest that he be put in charge of the operations for the new basic mining field.”
Ouyang Shuo replied without the slightest hesitation, “Yes! Bring him along, no problem, then appoint him as the foreman of the field, assigned under your Material Reserve Division.”
Touched by his trust, Yingyu smiled, “Thank you for your trust, brother, hee hee!”
Ouyang Shuo waved his hand, smiled and said, “You are my little sister, I trust your ability and vision implicitly, just do not be too hard on yourself.”
Yingyu replied softly, between the two of them, they became a lot closer.
Waiting until Yingyu had left, Ouyang Shuo didn’t want to stay in the office. It was time, he thought, to take a look at the carpenter’s workshop.
Since the had been given to the carpenter Lu Guangzhi, Ouyang Shuo had no idea if he had studied it, or if there had been progress. The pointer chariot could be very useful in the first war, which was happening soon, so he wanted to get it into production quickly!
The carpenter’s workshop was built on the central street of the commercial area, next to the blacksmith shop. Ouyang Shuo walked into the woodshop. Master Lu was working with two apprentices, working around a wooden carriage.
Ouyang Shuo was surprised for a moment. Understanding the manual was not easy and he had actually made the pointer carriage so quickly? This was too much! One must know that this was a difficult technology to get working.
The ancient south-pointing chariots made use of differential gears in comparison to modern day compasses, which made use of geomagnetic forces. The carriage used a gear transmission system according to the rotation of the wheels to indicate the direction of the car. No matter where the car turned, the wooden hand always pointed to the south, so it was easy to use to determine the direction the carriage should go in.
One of the apprentices looked up and saw Ouyang Shuo. He quickly alerted his master who was staring fixedly at the carriage.
Lu Guangzhi recovered, hastily bowed in salute, and fearfully said, “I was too focused and have neglected my lord, and will accept his punishment!”
Ouyang Shuo smiled, and simply said, “Master Lu is fanatic about his work, truly worthy of the admiration of everyone as someone to learn from! What is wrong with that?”
Carpenter Master Lu smiled embarrassingly, and said, “My lord has seen an embarrassing situation!”
Ouyang Shuo did not want to get tangled up with modest manners, and pointed directly to the wooden carriage. “If I am not guessing wrong, this should be the pointer carriage described in the technical manual? I did not expect that in just a few days Master Lu would make such incredible progress!”
Listening to Ouyang Shuo’s praise, the man’s dark face instantly reddened even further. Sounding quite shameful, he said, “I am ashamed, and not worthy of the Lord’s praise. We have worked these last days in accordance with the book records, trying to make the pointer carriage. It is a pity that this carriage does not truly point south like the directions in the book say it should.”
Ouyang Shuo abruptly realized that this was just a test product, which made it much more realistic. “It is not necessary for you to be ashamed, Master Lu. As far as I know, this pointer carriage is a very sophisticated instrument, and even with a technical manual to reference, it will not take just a short time to grasp how it is made. Anyway, there is still time, and you do not have to be depressed, ashamed, or anxious at all. Master Lu, study this slowly, and perhaps you can use this opportunity to upgrade your carpenter level.”
Master Lu’s face was a little pale, and he said gratefully, “I thank the Lord for his trust. I will certainly seize the time to study, and try to make a true pointer carriage as soon as possible and repay lord’s kindness!”
“Then I am relieved. You are busy, so I will stop bothering you and take my leave!”
Walking out of the woodshop, Ouyang Shuo simply turned and walked into the blacksmith shop next door. To tell the truth, he hadn’t paid much attention to Li Tiezhu, the basic blacksmith. The reason was simple: the blacksmith wasn’t able to make weapons or armor. At best he could make arrowheads, and not even the more complex broadheads.
Because military goods were not allowed to be sold in the Market, Lord players could only obtain weapons and equipment in 3 ways. The first kind was the most simple, and that was when the military camp gave out a basic set of weapons and armor. This was done when upgrading soldiers, such as when farmers were upgraded into militia, and given leather armor and a spear.
The system provided the set mostly to avoid the embarrassment of a naked soldier, and could only be regarded as the most basic equipment. Of course, the shortcomings of this ‘gift’ were very apparent. The ‘free’ weapons and equipment were of very low quality and broke or were destroyed easily.
The second way to get military goods was to smuggle them in from the big cities, working with the big businessmen. As long as the payment was worth the risk, the deep background of those cartels would take the risk. They would arrange a private shipment overland, escort it all the way, and ship it directly to your territory.
This was certainly not easy to do. First you had to contact the cartels, which required upgrading the Basic Market to the Advanced Market, which would open the 4th platform of the market - the negotiated cooperative trading platform. The smuggling of weapons and equipment was extremely high in pricing, and if you weren’t rich, you simply couldn’t afford it. Even casually smuggling something in could bring the territory close to bankruptcy.
Those cartels were anything but generous, and were in fact greedy vampires. They risked losing everything, taking the risk of shipping everything to the territory, so if they didn’t earn five, seven, or ten times the profit, they wouldn’t be satisfied. Even worse, the cartels only sold the products, they were not responsible for maintenance. After-sales service was not something they even talked about.
The last way was to build your own military industry. Once he had his own military industry, naturally he didn’t need to be subject to the whims of others. It was all on him how much he wanted to and how much he would be able to produce.
Although this approach looked good, it was the most difficult of the 3 paths. Why? Because weapons and equipment were prohibited items, any type of advanced weapon required the appropriate technical manual to build. For things like the famous Northern and Southern Mingguang armor, you needed the to make it.
In general, technical manuals like that were not available in the Basic Market. There was only only place to buy them. It meant upgrading to the Intermediate Market, and the opening of the third platform - the limited time auction platform. The game would hold time limited auctions at a regular basis on that platform. During those events, there would usually be some rare items.
In the past, most of the technical manuals for weapons and equipment had come out of the auction. Ouyang Shuo clearly remembered when the first auction had been held in his past - at the beginning of the third month. That was also the day of the official opening of the credit points and game currency trading platform.
Back to reality, Ouyang Shuo’s plan to start weapon workshops really required an advanced blacksmith to manage them. Therefore, he didn’t have any expectations of Basic Master Li. So, he did not expect that with a simple visit to the smithy, Master Li would give him a surprise.
The burly blacksmith, upon seeing Ouyang Shuo, said happily, “Haha, such a coincidence! I was preparing to look for sire, and did not expect sire to come!”
“Oh? I did not know that Master Li needed to find me, what news do you have for me?” Seeing the usually calm and capable blacksmith looking so excited, Ouyang Shuo was a little surprised.
“Yesterday afternoon, when I was building a plow for a farmer, I made a natural breakthrough in my bottleneck, and was officially promoted to Intermediate Blacksmith.”
Listening to him say that, Ouyang Shuo immediately thought of the gold level characteristic of his territory, namely the one that increased the proficiency rate of skilled residents by 20%, and increased the chance to break through promotional bottlenecks by 10%. He had not expected it to so quickly play a role in the village, and sure enough it was quite powerful.
“Oh, then I really must congratulate Master Li! I would like to ask, when you broke through, did you have any kind of special feeling?”
“I feel that my smithing skills have improved greatly. Before, a problem that might have confused me now seems as simple as up and down, just as if I had been enlightened by the heavens.” About his own breakthrough, Master Li himself seemed to be more than a little surprised.
“Well, no matter what, this is a good thing. Master Li can now try to build some arrowheads and spears, and the territory will make use of them!”
Pleased to be able to build weapons, Master Li was honored to be given this duty. After a brief accounting of his needs, Ouyang Shuo left the blacksmith shop.