Chapter 24 “Family business”
Next day, early in the morning.
Ling Yue had just completed her daily training for the morning when she got ready to go out. Complying with the arrangements made by Ye Huang Yun, she arrives at the Ye clan’s forge workshop.
The Ye Household built their foundation through mining. By excavating the ores dug out from the Seven Star Mountain, the forge will then screen and classify each piece before smelting it into higher grade slabs for sale in the main county.
Aside from that, the workshop can also act as a small scale ore trading hub for Autumn Maple Town, supplying its residence with the necessary supply of metal. In reality, this was no different from a market.
About seventy to eight percent of the Ye Household’s yearly income comes from the forge workshop, so the importance of this business was second only to the actual mine up in the Seven Star Mountain.
“Ling Yue, this is your first time in the workshop, I’ll show you around.” The one responsible for guiding her around was Ling Yue’s big cousin Ye Saint.
Ye Saint was sixteen this year and quite handsome by appearance. Just that he’s the eldest grandson of the family, so it’s unavoidable that he will have some arrogance.
At the mention of Ye Ling Yue, Ye Saint originally didn’t have any impression of her either. The only knowledge he has of this younger cousin was that since birth, Ling Yue have been mentally challenged.
But with the amazing result she showed off during the clan competition, Ye Saint’s father has done nothing but praise her and even went as far as to call Ling Yue a genius.
Naturally, Ye Saint wouldn’t take that type of praising to another kid very well. Meeting Ling Yue in person today, Ye Saint only thought of her as an average girl and that the victory over Ye Qing was nothing but a fluke: “To call her a genius, father must be exaggerating.”
In Ye Saint’s view, third aunt may be a genius during her youth, but that doesn’t mean her daughter’s the same. Right now, the only one he recognizes as a genius was Ye Liu One, Ye Qing’s older sister.
Since he has already prejudged her, Ye Saint’s attitude will of course not be very great upon their meeting. Despite knowing the contempt she’s receiving, Ling Yue didn’t get angry; instead, she followed along from behind and started to ask some random questions about the forge.
“Ling Yue, you are a member of the family, do you know what our main business is?” Ye Saint asks her this while still walking.
“Mining and selling iron ore. I have heard that the founder of the family built our foundation here because he found a huge ore vein in the Seven Star Mountains.” Ling Yue may not be fully fluent in the family’s history, but she does know some bits and pieces here and there.
“Wrong, how can the general plain iron ore support the entire Ye clan in this region. The main skill of our Ye family lies in smelting regular iron and doing a rough refinement of Yuan Iron.” Ye Saint clicks his tongue in disapproval.
Such a simple thing, even the little children of the family knows this fact and this girl don’t even have a clue.
“Please advise me big cousin.” Not putting too much care into that attitude, Ling Yue puts on a humble tone and began consulting.
“Iron and Yuan Iron is different, like those two piles over there. The grayish white stones are regular iron ore and the silvery ones are Yuan Iron. The two may look only slightly different in color, but the price difference is over twenty times. General iron can be handled by any worker, but Yuan Iron can’t. To cut a Yuan Ore, one must be of the third rank in the constitutional domain and to refine into a more pure state, one must reach the fifth rank.” As he was explaining this, Ye Saint picks up a Yuan Ore and began pointing out the features and differences.
From Ye Saint’s mouth, Ling Yue now has a decent grasp of the characteristics between the two mineral.
In Da Xia, regular iron can only be used to forge civilian use utensils, but Yuan Iron can do more, it can be used to forge weapons to arm the troops.
Aside from the fact that the quantity of Yuan Iron mined in the country remains limited, the refining and processing was also extremely difficult to handle. Even for the Ye Clan here, they can only do some preliminary processing to remove the big impurities.
Though the annual production of Iron to Yuan Iron in the Ye family was a hundred to one, it was also because of this small amount of Yuan Iron that has allowed this family to remain at the top of Autumn Maple Town.
As the two made a round across the forge, whether it be the workers or merchants coming to do business, they would also respectfully call out “Young master Ye Saint” whenever they meet, indicating his high status.
Those who saw Ye Saint would of course also see the beautiful woman by his side, but since he didn’t do any introduction, the passerby’s can only mind their own business because they can tell Ye Saint was intentionally giving the lady the cold shoulder.
“I still have some business to attend to. In front is a pile of iron and Yuan Iron. If you are interested, you can learn to differentiate them by having a look.” After explaining a bit, Ye Saint took his leave and left Ling Yue to her own biddings.
The reasoning for Ye Saint in making Ling Yue differentiate the two was because when first excavated out of the mine, both rocks are very similar in appearance and can only be separated by experienced masters. In previous years, there had been cases where mining workers would shoddily disguise regular iron ores as Yuan Iron to increase their profit margins.
To counter that from happening again, any member of the Ye family that comes to learn in the forge would first have to master the ability to distinguish the two from one another.
For others, it may be difficult to distinguish the ores with unaided eyes, but to Ling Yue who has the spirit smoke of the cauldron, this task would be a piece of cake.
Flicking her finger, a string of spirit smoke shot into one of the pieces in the pile.
As per Ye Saint said, gray white are the regular iron and only the silvery rocks are Yuan Iron.
As Ling Yue’s consciousness went deeper, she soon came to a conclusion: most of the rocks here are worthless. Not even one tenth of the ores are in fact Yuan Iron and the pieces are so small and scattered that it’s pitiful.
Maybe, tops, twenty percent are Yuan Iron, that’s her estimate.
This level of purity obviously can’t be sold to the county. To make it pure enough to be of value, the Ye clan’s forge will cut, hammer, and smelt it down before selling it off to the county.
As she was thinking all this, Ling Yue’s mind unintentionally went back to her Xuan Yin Jade. Compared to that pendant, the Yuan Iron here was obvious of a much lower quality because her spirit smoke only made one round across the rocks before retreating back into the cauldron and staying there lazily.
A series of banging sounds came from ahead.
Curious, Ling Yue went forward and saw about thirty workers busily carrying out their job of processing the ores: cutting, hammering, and smelting.
A booming shout came from the side. It was a man of the third rank in the constitutional domain. Condensing his Yuan energy into the giant axe in his hand, this worker was cutting a boulder sized Yuan Iron ore into several parts for better processing.
After the cutting was finished, the pieces were then handed off to another martialist of the fifth rank for refinement.
With a hammer in hand, the next man began smashing down at the rock.
As the banging sound resonated across the room, a crowd of people were quickly drawn into the action. Next thing Ling Yue knew, a bunch cheering had started.
As the hammer fell down again, Ling Yue can see that large amounts of rock debris were falling out of the main body, meaning the impurities were slowly being hammered out.
Unlike ordinary iron shops, the workers of the Ye family’s forge are all able to utilize Yuan energy. This was a must in order to process Yuan Iron.
After the cutting and hammering process, the Yuan Iron had shrunk by over half the size and took over an hour by the workers to do so. But this was a must. By doing this, the purity composition of the Yuan Iron can be raised by thirty to forty percent before being smelted into bars and sent off to the county for sale.
Under the cheering of the crowd, Ling Yue removes herself from the processing shop.
“Isn’t this a little too laborious. I wonder if I can use the cauldron to refine the Yuan Iron.” As she was leaving, Ling Yue’s hand was still holding a piece of Yuan Iron and regular iron.
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