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Castle Of Black Iron - Volume 1 - Chapter 3



The work station that everyone is using is a metal table over one meter long, on one end of the metal table is a stationary vice, in front of the metal tables are slots used to keep rows of tools, there are hand saws, files, hammers, chisels, taps, dies, rulers, pins, callipers etc, while on the other end is a leg-pump grinding wheel, beside the grinding wheel is an anvil, this is the most basic apprentice-level work station, it is also the cheapest, it was said that a high level work station is attached with a steam engine module and a smelting furnace, in the hands of the experts, with a high level work station there is nothing they cannot manufacture in this world.

With his mind made up, there is no need to hesitate any longer, putting on his work clothes, wearing his googles, holding on to the longest steel wire, Zhang Tie quickly got to work. As there is no specialised steel wire control panel, one can only use the existing tools to do the processing work, first is to use the vice to set the steel wire and wooden board together, next is to place the mandrel, putting the ends of the wire together, and after cautiously coiling a few rounds clockwise, do an inspection, no problems, time to proceed to use force in the coiling without worries, the whole procedure is not difficult, in a while, Zhang Tie's first spring is more or less completed. After counting the number of spirals on the spring, using the anvil to cut off the excess, use the grinding wheel to polish the ends of the spring, the simplest form of spiral spring has been successfully created. A final test showed that it is very springy and with that the first spring is completed, Zhang Tie's motivation greatly improves. Except for the round hook spring that needed more attention, the remaining two pieces was completed without much extra effort. At the end, the bald guy walks into the classroom, answered a few questions raised by students, after inspecting each person's three works, he began touching on problems such as methods of tempering springs, tightening the top and end simultaneously, winding and twisting the springs, the manufacturing ins and outs of twisting tools, before allowing everyone to use their springs on hand to test out, three hours of the morning is spent just like that....

Lunch is provided in the school canteen, this is one of the benefits of school, however the meals are simple, often plain and tasteless for weeks, just barely enough to fill the stomachs. Nonetheless, every day during meal time, the waves of students rushing to the canteen is startling. Even with the school's deliberate arrangement at designating each grade's student to one canteen to have a fix amount of people dining. Each canteen will always have a shortage in the number of meals provided, it is the same every day, without fail. This created a situation where every afternoon where a few unlucky fellas fainted during afternoon's military skill training because they did not manage to eat and went hungry. Zhang Tie himself has also been in similar circumstances twice and since then, Zhang Tie has deeply experienced the number one survival rule of the Black Iron Age - Use all methods you can come up with to fill your stomach.

The only rule present in the school canteen is to queue, other than that there are no other rules. Therefore, if you do not wish to be one of those people that goes hungry, other than queuing as early as possible, you must also have the abilities to prevent being taken advantage off, of course, lucky also plays an important role.

Such as the current situation.

Zhang Tie is currently in the centre of the queue line, after a morning of class, this bunch of fifteen sixteen boys has long been feeling hungry, queuing closely chest against back. The canteen's queue is very long however, there is still waves and waves of students coming in, Zhang Tie rejoiced, fortunately he ran quickly like a thief when class ended, if not he will be at the tail end of the queue now, in worst cases he might not even get a meal. The students arriving at the back pulled a long face as they join the tail of the queue, as for those in front of the queue, some have already collected their lunch and are preparing to dig in. At this moment, the bustling school canteen suddenly went still, Zhang Tie turned his head and saw Gree and his followers walking in with swagger, Gree and gang are the last few to reach the school canteen yet they did not queue but rather went straight to the front of the line, seeing this group of people walking over, the faces of the people who just collected their meals instantly went pale.

F*k, this pieces of garbage are irritating, every afternoon doing the same! Zhang Tie cursed in his heart.

’’Haha, I'll trouble the few of you today!’’ The swaggering Gree and gang moved in front of the students that have collected their meals. Though his words are full of politeness, his attitude is insufferably arrogant, head held high, nostrils facing the sky, hands crossed in front of the chest and a face smiling in mockery that is asking to be beaten up, staring at the pale face students in front like a cat looking at a mouse.

’’Dammit, so arrogant!’’ A person beside Zhang Tie cursed softly.

’’If you can win them in a fight, you can also be as arrogant as them and retrieve the stuff that was taken!’’

’’Rumour has it that Gree has been exceptionally arrogant the past month as he has passed the Second Rank Battle Soldier exam and has two Bright Points in his body being ignited. In our #7 Secondary School, such achievements have not appeared for a few years now!’’

’’He is just using that big body that he was born with to obtain an advantage, it's nothing special, they are just a bunch of muscle heads, are they thinking of using such childish methods to attract the school's attention and obtain a recommendation before graduation?

’’Humph... Humph... don't be jealous, this is called natural talent, their abilities have exceeded us by too much, we can't afford to provoke them....’’

’’With his old man being a big shot in the Coal Steel Federation, what more can we say!’’

’’I can't be bother with that so called big shot, it is just a small guard captain under someone's household’’

’’A follower under a big shot is also a big shot!’’

’’If it is me, I will not handover my meal to them, f*k, what right do they have!’’

’’Based on their ability to put you in bed for a month after walking out of the school gate, is that enough?’’

As the people beside Zhang Tie secretly discusses, the boys that had their meals robbed walked over with depressed looks, everyone is looking at them, some with pity, some with indifference, but none of them gave them a word of encouragement, this is something that happens regularly in the school canteen during meal times, and is also why the school made the deliberately effort to reduce number of food issued everyday - everyone must fight for their own survival, if you do not fight for yourself, then no one will fight you. For people who lack power like them, the selection criteria of this world is very simple, either you get stepped on and live a pitiful life or you fight till you are bruised and fractured all over, there is no third path.

As the students walked passed Zhang Tie, looking at their depressing and embarrassed faces, Zhang Tie thought of a question - If I am placed in their shoes, what should I do? If one of this days, someone is not robbing my meal but instead my wife, and what if my wife is Dinah, what would I do? The thought pulled at his heart as he vaguely saw the face of Teacher Dinah weeping in despair, the teenager suddenly felt a sharp pain in his heart.


The teen let out a scream like a wild beast


Second storey of the school canteen is the staff dining hall for school teachers, behind the thick glass partition, a few gazes looked down at the scene below them.

’’A second rank battle soldier, for the chaps below, it is truly too much for them to handle, Gree himself can easily put down a couple of dozens of them, at this age, Gree's physique and strength is too superior!’’

’’There are only four students in Gree's group but there are a few hundred in the queue, the painstaking guidance of the school, these young chaps on manage to appreciate half of it, they have learnt how to survive by competing and fighting but did not learn the real important half, unity and cooperation....’’

’’This is the difference between humans and beasts, no matter how weak a human is, as long as they are able to stay united, they will be able to battle powerful beasts.....’’

’’Maybe they will be able to understand in the future, however I believe now is not possible...’’

’’Let's wait and see, maybe one of them will be the first to be enlightened!’’

Behind the glass partition the voices are swallowed by the various sounds of cutlery and chewing, eventually disappearing.....

Zhang Tie gobbled the plain lunch without savouring, queued up to use the common sink and earnestly washed the food tray and cutlery before queuing again to return the items back to the canteen. His heart filled empty, the despair and weeping face of Teacher Dinah seemed real and kept resurfacing in his thoughts. Lowering his head while walking, the young man is thinking about his troubles, when he noticed his thoroughly worn out shoe that has been broken and mended twice, he got even more depressed. Finally, after passing the school's small forest Zhang Tie unexpectedly found himself being surrounded.

’’Did you feel pleased when you fooled us this morning!’’ before Zhang Tie could react, a fist has already ruthlessly landed on his abdomen nearly throwing up the lunch he has just consumed, Zhang Tie painful bend his body, the youth woke up from that depressing state of mind instantly. F*k, dammit, when did he get surrounded, he had noticed their bad intentions during class, how could he totally forgot about them, these thoughts ran through Zhang Tie's mind in a flash.

’’Beat him!’’ as the sound reached his ears, the bending Zhang Tie saw a pair of legs in front of him and immediately without hesitation viciously threw himself forward and used his hands to hug the legs in front. With a grunt, he flipped the owner of these legs onto the ground and pounced, using the moment when the person is still confused, he threw a punch at that fella's nose and beat the shit out of him, after that he use the momentum to pounce again......


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