Feng shi’s Method for Producing Steel
Feng Yu Heng was quite interested in walking wherever she pleased, but right now, she had to deal with a rather troubling problem: Teach Xuan Tian Ming how to read simplified characters.
She told Xuan Tian Ming: “I write this way entirely because I am lazy. I want to write a few less strokes. Either way, as long as I understand the meaning, it’s fine.”
How could Xuan Tian Ming believe this, as he frankly said: “You can just directly tell me that these are Persian words.”
She shrugged: “Although I really want to say that, in reality, these really are not Persian words. If you insist on continuing this discussion, it is something that will end up being revealed sooner or later.”
Xuan Tian Ming wanted to say that there were quite a few things that she wanted to reveal in the future, but in the end, he was unwilling to expose her. Under Feng Yu Heng’s guidance, he began to become accustomed to the simplified characters used in “Feng shi’s Method for Producing Steel”.
The so-called “Feng shi’s Method for Producing Steel” was really just Feng Yu Heng’s handwritten guide to producing steel. From the creation of slag to the final step of adding silicon, maintaining control until the end with steel being produced, there were a total of 19 steps. Each step had detailed explanations and instructions. There were also some problems that could not be resolved in the current era. She had done some analysis on her own and found some alternative measures, which were also noted down with instructions. But these alternative measures required some experimentation. It was still unknown if it would succeed or not. This was the hardest part of producing steel for them.
Xuan Tian Ming had a very good ability to absorb knowledge. Feng Yu Heng explained the basics of reading simplified characters then guided him through a few lines. After that, he was already able to figure things out, but some of the more professional terms still required Feng Yu Heng to explain.
Two hours later, he finally put down the guide and said to Feng Yu Heng: “Producing steel is not an easy task. After reading this, I am even more certain of its difficulty. I cannot guarantee that we will definitely succeed, but at the very least, we can give it a try. If one time is not enough, we can try a second time. If two times is not enough, we can try 20 times. No matter how long it takes, I trust that we will succeed in the end. The heavens will not be so pitiless towards my Da Shun.”
She nodded. While getting started with tidying up the forge, she said: “This is unrelated to whether or not the heavens take pity on Da Shun. Although I have not personally produced steel, I have personally seen someone else produce it. It’s just that some of the tools needed do not exist, so the alternatives are what we need to test.”
Xuan Tian Ming became serious and moved his wheelchair. He began to prepare things along with Feng Yu Heng.
The first step in producing steel was producing slag. Compared to the later steps, this was quite easy. Or perhaps it could be said that everything from creating slag to mixing it in the furnace was easy. It just required an electric furnace and some air. Who knew if the large bellows would be able to do the job. Especially in the following step of smelting, oxidizing and removing of carbon, that was when they would truly begin their experimentation.
The two did not care for their image, in fact, Xuan Tian Ming even climbed out of his wheelchair and sat right on the ground. Feng Yu Heng provided technical guidance, while Xuan Tian Ming was the main laborer.
“Creating slag is when the composition of the steel can be adjusted. When creating the slag, the alkalinity and viscosity of the slag have an effect on the product. The purpose is to refine a metal that has the desired temperature and composition.” She would say a few things, and he could act. From the quantity of materials to how long something spent in the furnace, everything was strictly regulated. He absolutely did not dare carry on forward. Unfortunately, after the slag came out, Feng Yu Heng shook her head: “No good, the oxidized slag is not sufficiently clean. If it is like this, it’s very easy for phosphorus to return to the metal.” Thinking a little more, “I feel that everything else is fine. It’s just a matter of timing. Although we calculated it very carefully, it was not accurate enough.”
Xuan Tian Ming nodded and simply said: “Let’s try again.”
“Wait a moment.” She grabbed his wrist and thought a little longer. She simply removed a clock from a wall in her space.
Xuan Tian Ming watched her pull out a large thing that absolutely could not fit inside her sleeve. His hair even stood on end. Fortunately, he had experienced the soldiers being poisoned at the end of the previous year, so he had seen this girl pull out a butt from her sleeve. Although he was still shocked, he did not view Feng Yu Heng as a monster. Moreover, Xuan Tian Ming understood that something that was out of the ordinary would be viewed as demonic. Thinking along these lines, this little wife of his would have been viewed as a deity.
“This thing is called a clock.” Feng Yu Heng felt guilty and did not dare explain where this thing had come from. She chose to avoid the important details and spoke on the trivial, explaining how to use the clock. She told Xuan Tian Ming: “There are three hands on the clock. One is the hour hand, one is the minute hand, and one is the second hand. It follows the same principle as the sundial used in our Da Shun. It’s just that the sundial has 12 two hour intervals, while the clock is divided into 24 hours. That is to say, one interval on the sundial is equal to two hours.”
She patiently made sure that Xuan Tian Ming understood how to use a clock then said: “The process of creating a slag requires one hour and 45 minutes. This time, we will be more accurate when using the clock. Let’s try again.”
“Good.” He nodded and pointed to the 12-o’clock position on the clock and said: “When the minute and second hand reach this point, we will begin. This time, we cannot miss a moment.”
The two prepared everything necessary one more time and stared intently at the clock for the remaining two minutes. One second at a time, they finally saw the second hand tick once more. The instant that it landed in position, Xuan Tian Ming immediately set to work.
Feng Yu Heng stared nervously, following along and giving instructions one more time.
Xuan Tian Ming was very quick to remember. After doing it once personally, he was able to completely memorize the process. His movements were skillful, and it looked as though he was a veteran. Even Feng Yu Heng had to praise this person for being quite smart. No matter what he did, it was like this.
Finally, all of the processes were completed, and all that remained was to wait. Last time, they would occasionally speak a bit, but this time, even with a clock there, the two were even more nervous. There was not a single bit of communication between the two. Their eyes were fixed on the clock for the entire time, and they did not dare to shift their gazes in the slightest.
When only one minute remained, Feng Yu Heng quietly reminded: “Prepare to open the furnace. When two seconds remain, it must be retrieved from the furnace.”
Xuan Tian Ming nodded, his hand remaining on the handle of the furnace.
Finally, the last minute came to an end. In practically the instant that the second hand reached the 12-o’clock position, Xuan Tian Ming opened up the furnace, and a wave of heat rushed out. When the shovel was pulled out from the furnace, he heard Feng Yu Heng shout: “It succeeded!”
Once these two words came out of her mouth, Xuan Tian Ming also became emotional. Looking at the slag on the shovel, he asked Feng Yu Heng with uncertainty: “It really succeeded?”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Yes! Not only was it a success, you produced the best slag. With this, our following steps will have a solid foundation. Xuan Tian Ming, you really are skilled!”
She had sincerely praised him, and Xuan Tian Ming also let out a sigh of relief. This was only the first step. If they had to repeat the first step too many times, the morale would have dropped too low.
“We must continue to produce slag.” Feng Yu Heng said: “Although we were only trying to produce a piece of steel, the intermediate steps will end in countless failures. With every failure, the materials will become scrap. Creating slag is the first step, and we must ensure that we have a sufficient amount of materials from this first step to continue with the next steps.”
Xuan Tian Ming nodded, “Fine, then let’s create a few more batches. Either way, it is more practice.” As he said this, he moved the successful piece to the side and placed more materials into the furnace, beginning another round of slag creation.
This time, he was a little more practiced. He also became better at reading the time from the clock. There was practically no more need for Feng Yu Heng to remind him. He was able to handle the entire process on his own.
However, Xuan Tian Ming did not think that when it was pulled out this time, his wife would shake her head: “No good, the quality is worse than the last time. It should be a problem with the temperature at the beginning. We were a bit rushed. You need to be a little calmer.”
“Then let’s go again.” Without saying another word, he set to work once more.
The fourth time, success.
The fifth time, success.
The sixth time, failure.
The seventh time, success.
Feng Yu Heng kept track in her mind. In the beginning, it would be two success for every failure. Sometimes, there would be two failures in a row. After Xuan Tian Ming did it the sixteenth time, his success rate began to increase in a linear fashion, as he succeeded ten times in a row.
Feng Yu Heng told him: “You have already mastered the essence of creating slag. The amount of product that we have now is enough to use freely barring any unexpected problems. Let’s do this now and continue forward. If we truly do not have enough, we can come back and make more.”
Xuan Tian Ming nodded and looked at the clock once more, saying: “We cannot keep going. You must rest.” He pointed at the clock and said: “Based on the rules of time that you taught, it should be dinner time right now. Also, it’s the dinner time of the second day since we entered this place. Heng Heng, it’s been a night since you last slept, and you have not eaten anything.”
“Huh?” She was a little surprised. Being locked up in this place and focusing on a single matter, she could not tell the flow of time at all. However, she did not think that one day and one night had already passed. It would be fine if it was not mentioned, but once it was, it caused her stomach to rumble from the hunger. She could not help but complain: “Really, if we don’t go out, would nobody think to come in and send us food?”
Xuan Tian Ming helplessly told her: “Over that time, they came six times, and I could even smell the rice, but they were chased away by you.”
“I chased them away?” Feng Yu Heng did not remember the matter of chasing people away at all, “How could that be possible?”
“How could that not be possible?” Xuan Tian Ming pointed at the pile of empty bottles of mineral water and said: “If it was not for these things, I figure we would have died of dehydration.”
Feng Yu Heng lost it!
When had she brought out so many bottles of mineral water? Looking at the number of bottles, it was not enough for a full case, but it was more than half a case. Damn, she had taken so many things out of her sleeve, Xuan Tian Ming definitely viewed her as some sort of monster.
Just as she was thinking her nonsense, she turned to look at Xuan Tian Ming. Surprised, she noticed that he was actually… “What are you eating?” Feng Yu Heng regained control and rushed to his side. Staring with eyes filled with horror, she tore away the paper that hung from his mouth.
Then, then she was speechless.
Over the past day and night, what exactly had she done?