Castle Of Black Iron - Volume 2 - Chapter 1
CoBI B2, Chapter 1: A Youth's Ambition
Hello Everyone at Fantasy Books. This is Cuppa from dailydosenovels.com, it is great to be able to join this community and let people know more about this novel. We are at book 2 of the series, the 1st book is at my website.
I will be translating this series at 3 chapters/week from Mondays to Wednesdays (exclude sponsored chapters)
I hope you will enjoy this novel. Cheers!
The two days of the weekend went by quickly for Zhang Tie. As his father must work on Saturdays, Zhang Tie will assist his mother and brew rice wine throughout the day. Although the small family shop only sells five to six jars of rice wine each week yielding little profit, but to Zhang Tie's thrifty family, that little amount is better than nothing.
Rice wine is a traditional delicacy of the Chinese race, its recipe is not complex, the main ingredient is rice while the process of making is also simple.
After cleaning the rice and cooking them in a boiling pot for seven minutes, the rice is scooped out and dried. After drying, they are placed in a steamer to steam and taken out to dry for another round.
After putting the twice-dried rice into the earthen jars, some sugar and honey will be stirred in before filling the jar with drinking water and yeast, finally sealing the jar to allow the mixture to naturally ferment. After a month, the jar could be unsealed for consumption.
The completed rice wine will contain the fragrant and glutinous taste of the rice, it is highly nutritious and possess a comfortable sweetness in it.
Anyone can consume the delicious drink that contains the fragrance of alcohol without worrying about getting drunk, it is a refreshing drink for the summer and nourishes the spleen and stomach.
Zhang Tie and his brother grew up drinking the rice wine brewed by their mother.
Although the manufacturing process of rice wine is very simple but every step requires thorough understanding and experience to produce a good batch.
It took their family more than ten years of building and accumulation for their rice wine to build that bit of good reputation and recognition in the neighbourhood.
The result of Saturday's effort, is the completion of seven jars of rice wine. After placing the completed wine into the storage room at the back of the shop, Zhang Tie rode a couple of rounds around the neighborhood in a modified tricycle attached with a cart.
The first round is to the rice store to purchase rice. The rice crock at home is always near empty after a round of rice brewing, therefore, every weekend Zhang Tie will have to make a trip down the rice store to replenish it* as well as purchase sugar along the way.
(Cuppa: A trivia for you guys, it is an old Chinese superstition that the rice crock at home must never be empty as it will mean the family will go starving)
When he reached the rice store, Zhang Tie noticed that the price of rice has increased. Last week, a bag of 25 kilogram rice costs 4 silvers 45 coppers but today, it costs 4 silvers 58 coppers. The price jumped by nearly 3% within one week.
Zhang Tie got a big shock, common folk like him are very sensitive to the price changes of daily necessities and from his memory, the price of rice in Black Flame City has not increased ever since he started secondary school three years ago, how come it increased by so much in just a week?
’’Aiya, Zhang Tie my boy, we also had no choice. The cost of imported rice has increased a few days ago, therefore we have no choice but to increase out retail price too. We can't be selling at a loss after all’’ as Zhang Tie is a close regular, the storeowner complaint bitterly to him when he asked about the increase, ’’70% of the rice in Black Flame City are imported from the outside, that few farms in the agricultural areas outside of our city is unable to produce enough to sustain our population. We have no choice but to listen to the price set by the large merchant organizations above us, not only rice, even noodles had increased in price two days ago. You can ask around if you don't believe me, the prices are the same, some are even selling more expensive than me......’’
The storeowner of the rice store is someone that he has known for many years, Zhang Tie is not silly enough to waste his time checking the other places. He knows the price of rice in Black Flame City are generally standardized, the same bag of rice, will at most have a difference of one to three copper coins between different stores.
Places that are priced more than five coppers than the standard will basically have no business and knowing the storeowner for so many years, Zhang Tie knows the storeowner is a diligent and honest person, this bit of trust Zhang Tie can still give him.
Zhang Tie paid the new price of 4 silvers 58 coppers or 458 coppers and bought three bags, a total of 75 kilograms of rice and put them on his modified tricycle.
The tricycle is made from a second-hand bicycle by adding an additional wheel and a bag, not only is it ugly, it also has a weight limit and the combine weight of Zhang Tie with the three bags of rice is nearing the limits of the vehicle.
As he moved the rice bags to his tricycle, Zhang Tie will check the stitching and needle holes on the bags, only feeling at ease when he made sure the bags there have no signs of being tempered and will not spill.
Those rice dealers or storeowners that lacks conscience will remove a portion of the stitching of the rice bag and fill it with sand to hit the required selling weight. Some who are more careful might even remove all the threads and re-stitch the bag with a new thread, therefore to know if a bag of rice is being tempered with, one must ensure the stitching is properly in place and there are no out of place needle holes on it. Poor kids take up responsibilities early, this is experience that Zhang Tie has accumulated over the years.
After buying the rice, Zhang Tie proceeded to a goods shop some distance away to buy sugar and as expected, as with the 3% price increase of rice, sugar also had an increased in pricing but not as much as rice.
Last week the cost of sugar per kilogram is 91 coppers, this week it has risen to 1 silver per kilograms. After checking the surrounding stores and seeing that they have all increased the price of their goods, Zhang Tie bought the sugar and hooked the bag onto the handle before riding the ugly tricycle home.
When he informed his mother about the price increase of rice and sugar, Zhang Tie returned what's left of the coppers to her. As his mother looked at the coins in her hand, she handed ten coppers to Zhang Tie as pocket money after some thought.
Zhang Tie smiled brightly as he received the money from his mother, ’’Thanks mum!’’, today his mother is being more generous than usual, normally she will only get five coppers from her.
His mother sighs as a frown is formed on her, ’’Since the price of rice and sugar has increased, it looks like the price of our family's rice wine must increase as well. With our meagre profits, if we do not increase our prices we will not be able to continue our business but if we increase, we might also lose some of our regulars! *Sigh*......’’
Looking at his frowning mother, Zhang Tie who is in a good mood casually said, ’’Do not worry mother, I will definitely be able to give you and father a comfortable life in the future. I am no longer the same as before!’’
’’Oh... of course.... Mother knows our family's Little Fruit has grown into an 'adult', he is no longer the same as before!’’ his mother smiled as she caressed Zhang Tie's head.
Hearing the tone when his mother said the word 'adult', Zhang Tie instantly felt embarrassed, ’’Mum, that is not what I meant, what I want to say is......’’
’’Alright, alright, mother knows our Little Fruit has grown up and is a filial child, let us stop talking about this, you should hurry and deliver the rice soup to Granny Theresa, you will not make it if you deliver it too late!’’
With his mother ending the conversation, Zhang Tie did not continue any further and gloomily went to into the store to carry the earthen jars that contained residual rice soup and placed them onto the tricycle before setting off.
On his journey, when Zhang Tie thought back about nearly telling his mother about the Castle of Black Iron, he slightly chided himself for being too rash. If he was to tell his family this secret, other than worrying his parents, he will also bring them a lot of unforeseeable troubles, there is no benefit he can think of by telling them his secret.
As he rides, Zhang Tie swore in his mind that he will absolutely keep this secret in the depths of his heart and let it rot there.
If he is able, Zhang Tie will just let his parents enjoy the benefits he obtained from the Castle, there is no need to let them worry on his behalf. No matter what, the less people knows about the Castle, the better it is.
Although as a newly established city, Black Flame City does not have a rich history or foundation but an advantage of being a new city is that the roads and layout of the city is well planned and very coordinated.
Many of the roads are very broad and wide, especially the main travelling roads such as the pedestrian footpath, non-motorized vehicle lane, motorized vehicle lane are all segregated and drawn properly.
As Zhang Tie rode his modified tricycle, ringing its bell and travelling quickly on the non-motorized lane, he admired the occasionally passing cars and dream about driving one of them in the future, ferrying his family or a girl as beautiful as Ms. Dinah around the city.
Before the Cataclysm, the steam engine is an obsolete technology that has not been used by humans for a few hundred years. It was said that after humans developed various better technologies such as robotic equipment and infrastructure, the steam engine was thrown into the trash bin of history, no one talked about it.
Among the various advanced technologies, some so mythical that Zhang Tie is unable to understand - such as the flying machines, ships that do not require refueling for a few hundred years, transport that can send humans into space, devices that allow a person to travel a few thousand kilometers conveniently. There's even a weapon that plants a devilish mushroom that can destroy or wipe out a city or country easily.
All this technology had been described by the teacher in lament but Zhang Tie is listening with sparkling eyes instead. The achievements of humans before the Cataclysm are beyond one can imagine.
When the humans fell from glory after the Cataclysm, they have no choice but to dig through their historic trash and eventually adopt steam technology again, from the simple single expansion steam engine to the complex multiple-expansion engines, the once old and wrinkled technology has begun to shine with youth, supporting humanity once again in this new era.
In Black Flame City, the average person's mode of transport is either their legs or the city public transport, with some having the purchasing power to buy a bicycle such as the modified ugly tricycle that Zhang Tie's family owns.
However, the truly rich and wealthy will have their own personal transport, the car. A car is a vehicle that can easily cost more than a thousand gold, which to most people, is no longer just a simple transportation tool but also a symbol of identify and power.
In Black Flame City, after so many years after its establishment, there are less than 1000 personal cars in the city and the people that seat in these cars are exceptionally rich. At least in Zhang Tie's school, he did not discover any student or teacher that has a car at home. Even Captain Colin, being the most terrifying one-eye dragon in Black Flame City, who is earning a salary much higher than the average person, will need to save for 50 years without spending, to be able to purchase a car.
Since young, Zhang Tie discovered all the mechanical knowledge and tools that were taught in school are related to the steam engine one way or the other. As a man that is born with the ambition to rule this world, there are two extravagant wishes that the 15 year old Zhang Tie wished to have, the first is Ms Dinah, the other, is a beautiful personal car.
By combining his two wishes, he will achieve the heavenly life he dreams of - Everyday driving the car to bring Ms. Dinah to a beautiful and quiet place, and test the performance of the car spring and comfort of the seats*.
(Cuppa: If you do not know what it means, then good, continue to stay that way, don't join the dark side)
As the youth immerse himself in his secret ’’wild ambition’’, he dashed through the city in his tricycle and manage to reach Granny Theresa's Orphanage thirty minutes later, before the clock turns six......