C96 – You Have to be Treated
Zhang Chun mentally reviewed his knowledge but found it utterly irrelevant in this new world. His past experiences appeared worthless in this unfamiliar setting.
“Fuck! Despite being a modern man of knowledge, I’m clueless here! Should I consider a career change and become an actor?”
Tang Yue regarded him with a mocking expression before countering, “Are there even male actors in this era?”
“None? Well, then I can pioneer the art of historical drama acting and become the best!”
“Do you have any singing or stage skills?”
Zhang Chun hesitated for a moment, his gaze dropping.
The truth was, he felt utterly ignorant. Regret filled him for not acquiring more knowledge in his previous life, leaving him feeling utterly useless now.
Of course, if he had accidentally pursued a university degree in computer science or finance, he might have fared even worse. He should have followed Tang Yue’s example, who had chosen a more common major in both the past and present, increasing his chances of survival.
The journey back was leisurely, with Tang Yue spending a significant portion of his time with Zhang Chun. They hailed from the same place, making it easy for them to connect.
Furthermore, Tang Yue used the pretext of treating Zhang Chun to openly share a prison car with him. As a result, the once-ailing young city lord appeared increasingly cheerful, sporting a radiant smile. Their fellow travelers couldn’t help but praise Tang Xiaolang’s medical skills.
Each time Zhang Chun found himself the subject of praise, he’d feign modesty and playfully quip, “You see? I told you to act tough. How could I possibly be mentally ill?”
Tang Yue scoffed, “You’re not crazy, just excessively eccentric. Even excessive eccentricity can be a form of mental disorder. You should seek help!”
Ping Shun still enjoyed hanging out with Zhang Chun, a street-smart tough guy who had been living on the fringes of society for years. He had his own way of dealing with people.
Individuals like him tended to be pragmatic, but when they encountered someone who could be of use, they were willing to go the extra mile to win them over.
Just as when he managed to persuade Ping Shun to share his food, he had a knack for making Ping Shun willingly part with his meal.
Thankfully, Zhang Chun harbored no ill intentions and wasn’t a malicious person, so he didn’t earn the ire of others.
Among the entire group, Wang Zizhao was probably the one who disliked him the most.
Whenever Tang Yue spent more than two hours alone with Zhang Chun, Wang Zizhao would inevitably send someone to fetch him. If not for the fact that he was still a child, Wang Zizhao might have discreetly dealt with him along the way.
Wang Zizhao displayed absolute ruthlessness when it came to handling potential love rivals.
So far, however, he hadn’t encountered any love rivals that required his attention.
Upon returning to Ye City, Wang Zizhao instructed a gang of thugs to roam the streets, taking a circuitous route around the city gate before heading to the Warden’s Office to deliver the captured prisoners to the jail.
Zhang Chun’s relatively minor offense and his noble status saved him from imprisonment, leading to his temporary house arrest in Prince Zhao’s Mansion by Wang Zizhao.
Viewing this as an opportunity to gain favor, Zhang Chun intended to employ his silver tongue to win the favor of Wang Zizhao, the prominent figure.
Unexpectedly, Wang Zizhao paid him no heed, keeping Zhang Chun under lock and key without any interaction.
In ancient times, isolation in a room, devoid of modern amenities like computers or television, felt akin to imprisonment. While modern criminals still enjoyed some leisure, there was no such respite in this scenario, pushing Zhang Chun to the brink of frustration.
Wang Zizhao returned to his residence, freshened up, donned court attire, and escorted Hu Jinpeng into the palace.
Though he had ostensibly ventured out for relaxation, his true aim was to find a suitable opportunity for his return to court.
Upon surveying the situation in Qinyang City,
Wang Zizhao declared loudly in the main hall, “The greatest rewards of this journey are yet to come. I have acquired two treasures that will benefit both our nation and its people.”
The King of South Jin and the assembled officials perked up their ears in interest. Wang Zizhao’s designation of something as a treasure meant it was undoubtedly extraordinary.
Eagerly awaiting, the King of South Jin extended his neck, and the anticipation grew as Hu Jinpeng entered the hall, carrying a plate covered in crimson silk.
The plate was too diminutive for the King of South Jin to perceive distinctly. Although passing officials could discern it clearly, none could fathom the purpose of these two objects.
A slender bamboo tube and a shard of dark iron. What sort of treasures were these?
A collective hush fell upon the assembly, with everyone eagerly awaiting Wang Zizhao’s elucidation.
Standing beside Wang Zizhao, Hu Jinpeng gazed steadfastly ahead. State Duke Ann murmured under his breath, “Ungrateful child, you never informed me of your possession of such treasures…”
Wang Zizhao took hold of the slender bamboo tube first and exhibited it to the King of South Jin, then instructed a servant to deliver it to the hall.
“What is the purpose of this bamboo tube with hair at its tip?” inquired the King of South Jin.
“Royal Father, fret not. Summon someone to fetch an empty scroll,” Wang Zizhao responded.
King of South Jin issued the command, and a servant promptly arrived with an empty bamboo scroll.
Wang Zizhao directed him to unroll the bamboo scroll, then, wielding a brush, he dipped its tip into ink. Swiftly, he inscribed a passage onto the blank bamboo scroll and proffered it.
“This brush is crafted from beast fur. It can supplant the carving knife for writing on bamboo scrolls. It is lightweight, swift, and considerably more economical than a carving knife.”
“I believe that using a carving knife for this task is both time-consuming and labor-intensive. Instead, replacing the knife with a brush, as widely practiced in South Jin, would be a more efficient approach.”
The King of South Jin received the document and examined it attentively. The ink had been applied onto the light green bamboo, creating an aesthetically pleasing sight. He ran his fingers over the text, noticing that in some areas, the ink had not fully dried, and it smudged when touched, while in other places, the dried ink remained unchanged.
“What is this thick black substance?” The King of South Jin inquired, motioning for someone to provide the ink Wang Zizhao had just used.
“This is ink,” explained the attendant. “It involves extracting black liquid through a complex and laborious process. It’s derived from pine trees, making it long-lasting but considerably more expensive than using a brush.”
The King of South Jin dipped his finger into the ink and took a sniff, prompting a slight frown. Some found the ink’s scent unpleasant, while others found it quite fragrant.
Judging by the King of South Jin’s expression, it was evident that he disliked the odor.
However, since it was primarily intended for writing, the scent’s appeal was of little consequence.
“Pass this to the officials,” the King of South Jin instructed, directing them to deliver the bamboo scroll to the eagerly waiting officials, who were thrilled to witness this innovation up close.
“Undoubtedly, it’s much more convenient than carving. Writing demands less effort, and Wang Zizhao’s writing speed is notably faster than carving.”
“Indeed, and the ink provides a bright, easily discernible color. Nevertheless, this ink… could it fade over time?”
Wang Zizhao refrained from giving a definite response. Instead, he stated, “This requires time for thorough verification. I cannot make any definitive claims.”
This answer fell in line with everyone’s expectations since it was indeed a novel concept.
“What about the other item?” King of South Jin interjected, interrupting the ongoing discussion.
Wang Zizhao then picked up the second object from the tray, a black piece of iron. While everyone recognized it, the presence of the brush as a primer suggested it held deeper significance.
“This object is known as the ‘Horseshoe Iron.’ As the name implies, it’s employed for the Horseshoe Palms technique. It serves to reduce the wear and tear on a horse’s hooves while simultaneously enhancing the horse’s speed.”
A wave of astonishment swept over everyone. This item seemed even more remarkable than the brush.
“Hurry, bring it forth quickly!” King of South Jin urged impatiently.
The ongoing conflict between the northern and southern regions demanded vast resources, with half of the annual taxes being allocated to the battlefield. The depletion of warhorses posed a significant financial burden. If this invention could truly reduce hoove wear and tear, it promised substantial savings while also bolstering the availability of horses for the troops.
Cavalry units played a pivotal role on the battlefield, where a skilled cavalryman could be the equivalent of ten infantrymen. It was a clear distinction between one-to-one and one-to-ten.
King of South Jin scrutinized the horseshoe closely, but even after repeated examination, its inner workings remained elusive to him.
“How can we employ this device on the hooves of our horses?”
Wang Zizhao provided an explanation, “Your Majesty, do you perceive this iron piece as resembling a horseshoe? Once we affix this metal piece onto the horse’s hooves, it becomes quite straightforward.”
“Have you tested it before?”
“Your son has already made the necessary arrangements, including horses and skilled artisans. I humbly request that you, along with the other nobles, examine it.”
“Excellent!” The King of South Jin rose from his seat with great enthusiasm and strode down. He affectionately patted his son’s shoulder. “Zhao’er has once again made a significant contribution. He had intended to discuss these two treasures with his father later. How did you come into possession of them?”
Wang Zizhao gave a slight bow and respectfully replied, “Indeed.”
“Haha… Should this contraption prove effective, I envision the cavalry of South Jin flattening North Yue and uniting the entire realm!”
“Your wisdom knows no bounds, Your Majesty! With a sagacious lord like yourself, South Jin’s strength will undoubtedly grow. It is merely a matter of time before we assert our dominance over North Yue!” The attentive butler at the side ingratiated himself.
Such words never failed to bring joy to Long Xin’s heart. The King of South Jin’s smile took on an even more cunning aspect.
Wang Zizhao walked alongside his father, wearing an indifferent expression, refraining from speaking further.