Castle Of Black Iron - Volume 1 - Chapter 8
Godly Abacus Mental Arithmetic
When the youth left the store, his mind is still thinking about the phrase spoken by Tang De A soft tongue, can break hard bones. A brain with wisdom, can be victorious against all sorts of godly weapons. Regardless of its truthfulness, Tang De's words has brought some mysterious comfort to the heart of this pitiful youth, the originally depressed feelings have improved somewhat.
As Zhang Tie walked passed the flea market, the coal stone lamps along the streets are being lit one by one. Black Flame City's lamp lighters rode one four-wheel carriage after another, ringing their bells and parked their carriages below each lamp post. Before climbing the lamp post, removed the lamp shade, refilled its fuel and climbed down after lighting it. After they left, within the shadows of the row of lamp posts near the train station, some women began to appear. Each of these women wore thick makeup and are dressed provocatively showing half of their soft breasts while throwing flirtatious glances at nearby pedestrians. The women stood together in groups of twos or threes, occasionally whispering a few conversations with their companions before exploding into fits of giggles.
Zhang Tie glanced at the women under the lamp posts as he walked by, these women somehow is faintly stirring some sort of unclear and unknown desire within him.
’’Baby, come, come over here. I will let you have a taste of what it feels to be a man...’’ the woman who spoke is standing beside a lamp post leading into an alley. With red curled hair, an enchanting voluptuous figure and looks to be in her forties as her face is a bit blurry. Seeing Zhang Tie throwing a glance at her, the woman bent her body slightly, allowing Zhang Tie to use the lighting from the lamp post to view her splendid and fair breasts, before crossing her arms in front her chest, pushing and exposing two half globes out of her dress collar. A soft moan was emitted, ’’ahn...’’, as she opened her mouth, raised a finger, giving it a few licks, before slowly and seductively insert that finger into her mouth. Just from this action, Zhang Tie felt the muscles in his throat tingled like a stretched rubble band, as though they are on fire. A well-pitched tent formed in his pants as Zhang Tie fled under the wanton laughter of the woman.
Only when night descend can the flea market beside the train station be truly called bustling with activity, characters of all sorts began to pop up one after the other with the arrival of the night. After distancing himself from that frightful yet alluring woman by about 100 meters, the pounding heart of Zhang Tie began to slowly return to normal. However, there is still a disobedient little fella that is standing with pride, so to avoid embarrassment, Zhang Tie can only pretend to keep both hands in his pockets and, though separated by a piece of cloth, use his right hand to forcefully pin down that dishonest fella.
Just as Zhang Tie was about to leave the flea market, a conversation from a roadside stall caused Zhang Tie to slow down his steps.
’’Boss, this items are gotten from the relics before the Cataclysm?’’
’’Of course, look at this book, the words written on it seems to be Chinese, the Andaman City State Alliance definitely has yet to publish this. Look at its cover, it looks like the abacus that is used by the Chinese people, a calculating tool that has a long history that could be traced back to a few thousand years before the Cataclysm happened. Also, if look at the cover's printing quality, if it wasn't from those relics, how can it be preserved in such a good state?’’
’’Do you think we are idiots? I also know about Chinese but no one recognizes it. You expect me to believe fart just from your words? What dog ass abacus, are there people still using that out dated crap...?’’
’’I am known for my credibility around here...’’
Hearing the word 'Chinese' caused Zhang Tie to pause in his tracks before he turned and walked towards the stall, squatting alongside the two men in front of the stall as he randomly starting picking at the displayed items. The stall isn't big, at most a couple of square meters, the items are piled together in a mess and placed on top of a waterproof tarp. The only items that are pleasing to the eye are the daggers and bronze bracers that are placed at the four corners of the tarp acting as weights. In the flea market, every time when stall owners encounter some weird or mysterious items, they will publicize that they have gotten them from some relics or remains, treasures before the Cataclysm, but such words, can't even deceive a retard...
After the two men beside him squatted awhile, one of them bought a considerably decent dagger and sheathe for 8 silvers 60 coppers before walking away, leaving Zhang Tie alone in front of the stall.
The owner of the stall is a pervert-looking old guy in his sixties with a red drunk nose, upon getting closer, one can smell the stench of alcohol emitting from him. Upon taking a closer look at this old guy, one will inevitably think of one animal the rat.
Zhang Tie casually swept a glance at the stall before finally lifting the book with a picture of an abacus printed on it, casually gave it a few flips before asking, ’’How much for this?’’
’’This is a treasure that was obtained from relics, at least 20 silver coins...’’ the old guy craftily said.
’’What does this book do?’’
’’Hmm, it seems to be a skill book that teaches how to use the calculating tool called abacus!’’ the old guy seems uncertain with his answer. He has read the book before but he did not understand the Chinese words inside, he'd even found someone that knows a bit of half-baked Chinese to check it but that fella can only recognize some of the simpler Chinese numbers, mostly some weird numbers like three three two two five five six six etc...
’’What use can it do, for counting sheep when I sleep?’’
’’Then, okay, if you want it cheaper, 16 silver coins, not one coin less!’’ the old guy said with a pained look.
’’Are you treating me like an idiot? This book does not even have 16 pages, the amount of paper is so little that it isn't even enough for me to wipe my ass for one session. Yet you want 16 silver coins? I am only asking about this book because I see that it looks somewhat peculiar’’ Zhang Tie angrily threw the book down, even if one hasn't tried pork before they would surely have seen a pig on the road before*, in the market, if you aren't rude when haggling, then you will only be viewed as a fat sheep waiting to be slaughtered.
(Cuppa Trivia: For those who are wondering about the idiom, it meant even if one has not experienced or done something before, they still have some understanding just by looking at how others have done. The idiom originates from the olden days where farming families raised pigs for a living but they are unable to eat pork as meat in general is considered a luxury during those days thus the pigs raised are mostly sold off for money. Even though the farmers did not get to taste and eat pork, they still know about the pigs.)
’’Why not you offer be a price?’’
’’80 coppers!?’’ the old guy jumped like a rat whose tail was stepped on, ’’Kid, this is something that was brought out from the relics, the lowest I can go is 10 silver coins!’’
’’What dog fart relics, are you trying to fool a child. There are no known relics within 500km radius of Black Flame City. Even if there is one, it would have been cleaned out by others long ago, you won't even get a turn at it, 80 coppers it is!’’
’’9 silver coins, not another less!’’
’’Alright, how about this. Looking at your age, I will be respectful to an elder and add another ten coppers, 90 coppers!’’
’’90 coppers!?’’ the old guy screamed like a slaughtered pig, ’’it's not even enough for me to get back its cost!’’
’’Then one silver coin!’’
’’7 pieces!’’ the old man gritted his teeth......
After two minutes of mouth drying and tongue tiring haggling, Zhang Tie stood up and turned to leave not showing a single bit of care. After he walked five steps, an old frustrated voice came from behind, ’’Don't go, as you offered, I will sell it for four silver coins!’’
A faint smile formed at the corner of Zhang Tie's mouth, these people that do not understand Chinese of course will not recognize the name written on the book. On the other hand, when Zhang Tie saw the name of the book he was startled <<Godly Abacus Mental Arithmetic >>, such an awesome* name. When Zhang Tie casually flipped thru the book earlier on, he discovered that the book is talking about a mental arithmetic method related to the abacus. Therefore, he decided to buy the book as it seemed rather special...
(Cuppa Triva: The raws used the slang ’’牛逼’’ or Niu Bi that could be directly translated as ’’cow cunt’’. The two words together are normally use as an accompanying word to describe how awesome something is in modern China. However, they will also split the two words and use them separately in a sentence, with the front word ’’牛’’ or cow as a shorten version of awesome or great, for example: you are very Niu, while the second word ’’逼’’ or cunt which obviously is a word used in cursing, for example a commonly used curse word is ’’傻逼’’ or Sha Bi which means ’’idiot cunt’’. Do take note that I will just translate this type of slang into similar words in english to make the sentences easier to read in the future.)
On the road home, Zhang Tie's stomach began to give off rumbling sounds. However, upon feeling the book in his pocket, Zhang Tie felt very satisfying. In this era, wisdom is expensive beyond reason, any skill or knowledge that wasn't taught in school, can be said to be unique and precious. Zhang Tie remembered when he first became an apprentice in the general store, Tang De that fella observed him for more than three months before bringing out the mysterious item called abacus. While teaching him how to use, he kept giving off an expression as though saying, kid have hit the jackpot. Indeed, based on Zhang Tie's observations, within Black Flame City those that can use the abacus really aren't a lot, at least he has yet to discover anyone else who can use it. Normally simple calculations are mostly done using a piece of paper, while for more difficult calculations, metallic hand-crank calculators that was said to be found only within exchange centers or trading companies, are used. Although, this abacus related skill might have little use but no matter how useless a skill may be, it is still a skill that not everyone can learn. As Zhang Tie casually flipped thru <<Godly Abacus Mental Arithmetic >>and saw the abacus picture and formulas on the title page, he is confirmed of the book's value. To sum things up, this book may not be considered very precious but by using four silver coins to obtain a skill, even if the true value of the skill is yet to be discovered, Zhang Tie felt that it is worth it, what's more, the four silver coins does not belong to him originally.
It's always good to have more skills, this are words often said by his father.
His parents constantly caned him on the palms to force him to learn Chinese when he was a child, using ten years to force himself to recognize and learn every single word in a Chinese dictionary that was so thick, that it can cause headaches just by looking at it. That was the darkest period of his young life. More than ten years has passed before Zhang Tie finally found a practical use of the language, he felt pleased knowing he earned a minor compensation from his sufferings.
As for the old guy declaring that the book was an item found in relics, Zhang Tie will rather be beaten to death then to believe him. The things found inside relics are at least more than a thousand years old, no matter how you look at it, this book is nowhere close to being a thousand-year-old item. However, at the bottom of the page with the abacus picture are some slightly blurred words that made Zhang Tie curious ’’Recommended Out-of-Curriculum Teaching Material for Primary School Students’’. Knowledge that this daddy who is about to enter society does not even know, where does such f*king awesome primary students come from, some more this is out-of-curriculum material, f*k me, comparing to others will only make you want to kill yourself.
After getting beaten up unexpectedly, exchanging the loot from the fight for a book in the end, joining the Airplane Brotherhood, showing a utterly humiliating state in front of Teacher Dinah...
As he tabulates his gains and losses on the way home, Zhang Tie himself wondered if he made a profit or a loss in the end...
Zhang Tie's home is in the Civilian Cluster District at the north of Black Flame City, if the Upper East Sector of Black Flame City is the back garden of the rich, then the Northern Sector will be the comfort zone of the law-abiding workers and small time citizens of Black Flame City. As compared to the Upper East Sector, though the streets of the Northern Sector aren't beautiful but it can still be considered tidy, its public security is also acceptable. The streets lined with Chinese Parasol Trees* on both sides brought about a somewhat warm atmosphere to its surroundings. The decades of hard work and laboring by his parents is exchanged for a less than 100 square meter size piece of land found along the streets of the community. The land has a courtyard and a small two-level wooden house on it, the front portion of the first floor that is facing the street is converted into a rice wine shop. While his father reports to work in a factory, his mother will manage the rice wine shop. The shop's business is neither good nor bad, business is mostly generated from the surrounding households supported by neighbors within the community, the profits are generally thin barely providing some additional income to the family.
(Cuppa Trivia: FYI Chinese Parasol Trees aka Firmiana Simplexhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firmiana_simplex)
When Zhang Tie reached home, the time is already close to nine o'clock at night, his parents are not at home, likely went to church again. The rice wine shop is closed for business, the leftover dinner is being kept warm inside a pot. The dinner wasn't sumptuous, a pot of mixed vegetables, a bowl of stewed cured meat with cloud beans and a big bowl of white rice is everything there is for dinner. The stewed cured meat with cloud beans has a few broad bean-sized meats floating in it, Zhang Tie knew that it was specially left by his parents for him. In fact, they are always reluctant to consume any meat, using the excuse that they dislike meat to leave more for him. While eating this simple dinner, Zhang Tie felt a tingly sensation in his nose, he secretly swore to himself, in the future when he earned money, he will let his parents enjoy lavish meals every day.
After hastily finishing his dinner and tidying up the kitchen, Zhang Tie dragged his tired body upstairs. Upon reaching the second floor, his elder brother's room is shut but Zhang Tie can hear a rhythmic bumping sound coming out of it, there are even obvious sounds of suppressed panting. This isn't the first time, Zhang Tie naturally knew what is happening inside the room, he lightened his steps and walked a few paces towards the other end of the corridor. When he is close to reaching the other end, Zhang Tie grabbed a piece of rope hanging against the side wall and gave it a gentle pull. A wooden plank slides down from the ceiling above descending towards the end of the walkway, on the other side of the plank is a staircase that leads to a small attic.
Likely due to forgetting to oil the sliding mechanism for a few days, the noise created when the staircase slides down wasn't soft and was even making creaking noises. As the stairs slides down, the bumping noise from his brother's room stopped for a few seconds but continued before Zhang Tie could start ascending, on the contrary, the bumping noise seems to be getting even louder and aggressive.
As Zhang Tie climbed the stairs and reached the attic, he pulled up the stairs reverting the ceiling back into its original state. This small and tiny triangle rooftop shape attic is Zhang Tie's little lodge.
The house wasn't big to begin with, on top of that, a portion of the first floor was converted to a rice wine shop. The space for accommodations are naturally lesser, Zhang Tie could only stay in the rooftop attic. The originally rather small attic other than being used as a place to sleep, also has half of its area being boarded up with metal boards and wooden planks, the partitioned area was used as storage space for general stuff. Zhang Tie's little lodge managed to barely hold enough for a bed, a table and a not-so-big closet in the remaining space, the gaps between his furniture can at most allow two people to tightly squeeze thru. The furniture in the lodge are also old goods where most of the paint have either faded or is peeling off. These items are second hand goods obtained from other places for Zhang Tie's use, they cost a grand total of less than two silver coins...
A small living space of less than 8 square meters and a few pieces of second-hand furniture, is Zhang Tie this pitiful 15 years old youth's everything on this planet...
Cuppa: To all my readers please help to share and spread this novel. Thank you!