Feng Yu Heng facepalmed, “I told you to wash, so just get cleaned up. Where’s the need to speak so much nonsense.”
He laughed. This damn girl finally flipped. There were times when he thought that he had a bit of a tendency to seek abuse. When this girl had a genial expression, he felt a little odd. On the contrary, when she was valiant, he felt more at ease.
Xuan Tian Ming’s final conclusion was: This prince is also quite odd!
After the two finished cleaning up, Feng Yu Heng provocatively shoved the tub into her sleeve and emptied it. When she brought it out, the tub was completely clean.
He remained calm and felt that this sort of wife was truly quite good. There were plenty of surprises in life!
“Heng Heng.” He tugged at his wife’s sleeve, “At a later date, how about you try shoving this prince into your sleeve? This prince also wants to see what sort of space is in there.”
Feng Yu Heng looked at him sneakily. After looking for a long time, she finally said: “You’re optimistic.”
In the blink of an eye, she moved her small body over to the stone door. Pushing it open, she said to the guards outside: “Have you prepared food? I am dying of hunger.”
The two people outside had been leaning against the stone door to try and listen in. Feng Yu Heng suddenly pushing the door left them with no defense, scraping their noses.
The two covered the noses and said with bitter expressions: “County princess, the food has already been prepared. This subordinate will have someone bring it over.”
Xuan Tian Ming played with his whip inside the room, “It seems that there needs to be a change in who guards the bedrooms.” There really was no sense of privacy!
Not long later, the soldiers brought the food in, and Xuan Tian Ming told her: “This prince had some food specially prepared for you. See if they are to your taste.” He said this, but his expression clearly said: Quickly see how intimate this prince is.
Feng Yu Heng looked at the dishes with doubt in her heart and immediately put on an embarrassed face… cooked pig liver, steamed pig’s blood, fried pork loin and stewed pig trotters.
She could understand the first three. Her great aunt had come, so she had to replenish her blood, but what was with the pig trotters? For… for lactation?
The corner of her mouth twitched, as she helplessly asked the soldier that brought the food: “Is there anything lighter?”
The soldier nodded, “There is congee.”
Very well, it was a red date, longan and lotus congee.
Feng Yu Heng finished eating this meal with extremely complicated feelings. Although she had endless criticisms, she did not complain to Xuan Tian Ming in the slightest. She knew that this man was doing this for her benefit, but he was a grown man and a prince. How could he possibly know what should be done to help a woman during her menstrual period. Being able to think of helping her replenish blood was already pretty good. If she nitpicked now, she would appear quite unreasonable.
The two quietly ate, with their chopsticks occasionally bumping into each other, but it was very calming. But the inside of the bedroom was a little subdued. She began to think that maybe she should put on some music while eating in the future.
At this time, Xuan Tian Ming, who had not spoken the entire time, suddenly spoke up, saying to her: “Where exactly you went, I can choose to not ask, but, Heng Heng, at least let me know that you are safe. You don’t know just how frantic I was when I could not find you.”
She could hear the aggrieved tone in his voice, and she became a little choked up. After sniffling a couple times, she nodded seriously: “This was my mistake. In the future, no matter where I go, I will definitely tell you that I am fine and very safe.”
He thought a little then added: “At the time that the Feng family’s ancestral home in Feng Tong county caught fire, did you avoid it in the same way?”
“Yes.” She did not hide it from him. She only came out after hearing seventh brother’s voice.
“That is fine.” He let out a sigh of relief, “In the future, I can worry a bit less about you.”
When they finally finished eating, Feng Yu Heng’s belly was quite bloated, but she was still quite alert. She said to Xuan Tian Ming: “Let’s go. Let’s continue producing steel.”
He was a little worried: “Do you want to rest for a while?”
“No need.” She shook her head, “I am thinking about matters related to the production of steel. How could I possibly fall asleep? I will just sleep when I am truly too tired. Let’s go!”
He was forcefully dragged out of the bedroom by the girl. The two went to the furnace inside Xu Tian Cave first to take a look. The blacksmiths had already gained a grasp of the process of creating slag, but the apprentices were a little slower at learning and were receiving instructions from their masters.
Feng Yu Heng said to him: “When the apprentices have gained a good grasp of the first two steps, one blacksmith will be left here to supervise, while the others will be taken away and separated into groups to do other things.”
The two talked while walking towards the furnace outside. The 116 soldiers in charge of working the bellows were already very skilled from practice. Seeing them return, they all happily surrounded them, as the soldier appointed as the leader said: “General, county princess, when will we begin?”
Xuan Tian Ming raised his voice and said: “Begin immediately!”
The soldiers let out a cheer.
She pushed the wheelchair over to the furnace then also took a seat. At first, she said to that soldier: “There is no need for this many people at first. Continue like before with four people per group. Take turns and go rest when tired. Everyone else can remain to watch or go rest, but you must not cause a mess, and do not cause an uproar.”
“County princess, do not worry.” The soldier nodded and complied then turned to explain to the others.
Feng Yu Heng asked Xuan Tian Ming: “Do you know what the next step we must take is?”
Xuan Tian Ming solemnly said: “Is it oxidation?”
She nodded, “That’s right. What follows will be two extremely important steps: oxidation and removal of carbon. The main goal of oxidation is to oxidize the carbon and phosphorus in the steel, removing any air and impurities. This will ensure that the molten steel is heated evenly. Saying it like this, you may not understand, so let us work while thinking carefully.”
She spoke while opening the furnace. Xuan Tian Ming knew that another round of challenges was about to begin.
“Removing carbon should actually be considered part of the oxidation because it is an important part of the oxidation process. In order to guarantee the purity of the steel, at least 0.2 percent of the carbon content must be removed.” She spoke until this point and paused for a moment, “Or perhaps you don’t understand the concept of 0.2 percent. I will explain it like this: if there are 100 steamed buns, one of them would be one percent. 0.2 percent would be cutting that steamed bun into ten parts then taking two of those parts and comparing it to the original 100. That is 0.2.”
Xuan Tian Ming did not even think and just nodded, “I understand.”
“Good.” Feng Yu Heng felt more and more that working with Xuan Tian Ming was a joyous thing. There were many modern concepts that he understood with just a simple explanation, and he could become accustomed to many modern things just with some use. The clock was an example. This allowed her to feel very gratified. “Then let’s begin.”
With her saying to begin, everyone entered the working mindset. Even the soldiers that had remained watched Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian Ming while holding their breath. They did not miss a single movement.
Feng Yu Heng told the four soldiers: “This step has high requirements for the team working the bellows. It is possible that you will not have any time to rest at all. As soon as one group is unable to continue, another must immediately switch in. You absolutely must not work while exhausted, otherwise, if there is any mistake in the amount of force used, the effect it can have on the thing inside the furnace will be too large.”
She was not being an alarmist. In the end, wind power was inferior to electricity in terms of stability. Everything relied upon physical labor, which left too many uncertainties.
Fortunately, the people working the bellows were soldiers. No matter if it was in the present or in the past, soldiers had always been good at executing orders. When it came to relief efforts for emergencies and disasters, soldiers were used. When it came to the performances for opening ceremonies in sporting events, soldiers were also used. Because everyone knew that only the soldiers of an army would treat them with respect and move to accomplish them as though their lives were on the lines. In their minds, subordinates would obey their superiors without a second thought. Orders were to be executed. With soldiers present, anything was possible.
The oxidation period and removal of carbon expended a great deal of Feng Yu Heng’s energy. She endured the bloating pain coming from her lower abdomen and sat in front of the furnace. The heat from the furnace caused her cheeks to turn red, giving her a very beautiful appearance. But nobody had the heart to admire her. Even Xuan Tian Ming was fully concentrated on the furnace. The steps for producing steel became harder and harder with each step. It was very possible that they would fail on the very last step. That was an outcome that he absolutely did not want to see.
Finally, enough time had passed and the furnace could be opened. Feng Yu Heng raised her hand to the soldiers working the bellows and shouted: “Stop!”
The bellows stopped, and the furnace was opened. She pulled out the steel that had been obtained from the melting phase and placed it on the ground. She then used a small spoon and scooped some up; however, she shook her head, “The addition of heat was not even. The amount of carbon removed is not even at 0.1 percent. Go again!”
Nobody became dejected. Because of their previous experiences, everyone knew that succeeding on the first attempt was impossible. Things became more difficult as things progressed. Trying eight to ten times was on the lower end. In the worst-case scenario, it was possible that eight to ten days would be needed.
However, sometimes, things just happened that way. The more you hoped for something, the more it would fail. Rather, when you did not care or felt that it would definitely fail, it would become easier to succeed.
For example, during the oxidation and removal of carbon, although she did not feel that this would be too difficult of a step, she also did not think that they would actually succeed on the second attempt. In the instant that she went to scoop with her small spoon, the familiar feeling, color and smell surged forth. Her heart filled with joy, as she looked at Xuan Tian Ming in disbelief: “It succeeded! The amount of carbon removed from this piece is at least 0.3 percent! Xuan Tian Ming, this is the best!”
Hearing that it was the best, Xuan Tian Ming and the roughly 100 soldiers all felt goosebumps raise on their skin. That sort of emotion was something that could not be expressed in words. Everyone gasped for air. They had no place to vent their excitement and some people even kneeled.
Feng Yu Heng decided to continue working the furnace. Finally, after 36 consecutive batches, 28 of them ended in success.
Xuan Tian Ming was very happy and grabbed her hands, saying: “This is a great thing. At the very least, the morale of the soldiers is high. As long as they have morale, we will definitely succeed in producing steel.”
Naturally, she also understood this reasoning, but it would be the refining phase next. There was no need for so much wind power, so they could do this back in the furnace inside Xu Tian Cave. Thus she recommended: “Let’s work inside the cave. The refining phase is a slow one. It does not require many people; however, it requires a great deal of concentration. It would be best if the two of us did it. Also… it is inconvenient for me to be outside for too long.”
Xuan Tian Ming understood what she meant and went to give an explanation to the soldiers. The two then returned inside Xu Tian Cave.
Feng Yu Heng immediately announced that the two would be entering complete seclusion. Aside from the soldiers sending food, they would not see any visitors, and they definitely would not take a single step outside of Xu Tian Cave. All of the army’s matters were left to an officer to handle until Qian Li returned to take over those responsibilities.
At first, people believed that, even if they entered complete seclusion, they would come out after eight to ten days; however, who knew that the refining phase would cause the months to pass like days. Spring gave way to Summer, and when Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian Ming finally came out from Xu Tian Cave, 108 days had already passed…