Chapter 4 – The Initiation of Manufacturing
In front of his eyes, a large amount of clay appeared. It took some twenty minutes of walking from the hill to reach the destination. On the spot, which was rather sloped, there were layers of clay exposed. You could tell from its tender texture that it was clay.
Along the way, Eiji used a nata to cut down tree branches, so as to leave marks. He cleared the bush carefully, though clumsily, and managed to mark the way. Thanks to this, from now on, there should be no problem in reaching the place for gathering materials.
– Speaking of which, I know this may sound rude, but I’d like to have you provide me with some wood in in the form of a debt, at least at the beginning.
– U- understood.
Cutting down and supplying people with wood, this is what a lumberjack is supposed to do. Naturally, an equivalent value has to be paid in exchange for the service, however, Eiji had nothing he could offer.
For a blacksmith, a great amount of burning materials are needed. You could say that more than half of the production cost would usually consist of burning materials. Yet, before even starting the iron manufacturing, a large quantity of fire would be required to make the heat resistant bricks for a furnace. Thinking that way, indeed a large amount of wood is needed. While considering that fact, Eiji kept working. Digging up the exposing clay, he puts them into a basket.
– It’s tenderer than what I thought. Philip-san, can I have you wait a bit?
– Hm, I’ll help you.
Comparing to bedrock, clay is much softer. Despite using a bronze shovel, gathering it feels considerably easy.
While not uttering a single word, Philip helped Eiji. Since his body was way bigger than Eiji’s, he could do the labor much faster. For him, using a shovel would be the same as using a branch.
Obviously, his duty was to guide. He has no obligation to help whatsoever.
Philip, who didn’t particularly mind the humbled Eiji, smiled to him.
Despite not being talkative, inside, he’s really a gentle person – or so thought Eiji.
After having spent around thirty minutes, the basket became full of clay. If one were to put it on one’s shoulder, it would weigh around ten kilos. Once Eiji did so, a sound of heavy weight could be heard.
It felt painful, as if his collar bone was cracking. If it had been a nylon made rucksack, then it would’ve put less of a burden on him, as the rucksack is made so that the weight is distributed equally. Instead, he could feel the thin rope eating into his body, as he was barely able to hold the basket.
– Shall we return back to the forest lodge?
– T-the iron mine, it’s supposed to be in this vicinity…wouldn’t it be better to leave the luggage here and go there?
– I’ll leave the decision to you.
Once both materials are gathered, a pack similar to that of a bull cart will be needed. Because paths around here are mostly animal trails, if it’s a big cart, it could be troublesome to use one in transportation.
Maybe I should make a wheelbarrow. What’s more, there should be a carpenter in this village, so we should try with a two wheeled transportation, instead of four. – thought Eiji. Since the the path below his feet isn’t flat, making big wheels is necessary. The more Eiji thought, the more the indispensable tools kept popping up, giving him a headache.
As Eiji exhaled a single breath of exhaustion, he kept following Philip. Because Philip is used to this mountain path, despite its bad condition, he could easily progress. There were lots of bumps and mud; however, not all could be avoided. Despite that, they both had to progress without looking behind.
Philip tried to match Eiji’s pace. It would be fine even without that, but for someone as Eiji, it is impossible to catch him up at this rate. Furthermore, while progressing, Philip kept cutting through protruding bushes and branches which seemed dangerous. For a person as silent as him, he’s quite considerate in his actions.
– Philip-san, how old are you?
– I think around twenty or so.
Farmers are usually particular about the calendar, as sowing seeds and harvesting greatly depends on seasons. However, for a lumberjack like Philip, it had little importance. I thought he would be older than me, since he’s quite dependable – thought Eiji.
– We have arrived.
– So it’s here? Certainly, you can see raw iron ores protruding. This is my first time seeing them.
Red, rusty lumps of iron ore could be seen scattered all over the place. There’s probably around several hundred kilos of them. Even if half of that would turn into waste during the forging process, it’d still be plenty. With this much, it would be possible to make as many farming tools as he wished.
– Do you know the shortest path from here to the village?
– Here… if you go straight like this…
It seems like this location is west-northwest from the village. As for the clay, the place would be located in north-northwest. Once Eiji climbed a little bit higher, he could see the tip of the tribal chief’s house.
I see… judging from the eye distance, it would take around fifteen minutes, but because the footing is irregular, perhaps twenty, or thirty some-odd minutes – thought Eiji.
There’s a big river flowing, and you can get your hands on both clay and iron ore. Eiji understood that this village is blessed with abundant resources.
– It will soon get dark, so we ought to go back quickly.
– I see, then shall we head back?
Even though Eiji managed to reach this place, he felt disappointed, being unable to take the iron ores back. Therefore, he had to content himself with clay alone. As Philip also had his labor to do, there was no way to entrust him with carrying materials.
It was already a big success for Eiji, considering that he was able to find a good source of materials. The first step would be to make a small furnace and the forging tools.
– What do you plan to make, using this?
– It’s a small stove. Although it won’t be able to reach the desired high temperature, it can be used to make charcoal.
That was rather a rare question coming from Tanya. I guess it would be natural to think that way when seeing someone carrying a lump of earth inside her house.
Although, there is a method of making charcoal by placing wood directly onto fire without having to remove its rotten parts, for someone who’s not a specialist, like Eiji, doing this would cause, in the worst case scenario, a fire hazard. For that reason, there was a need to make a stove to produce charcoal. Even though firewood is used for living in the winter, in villages, using charcoal wasn’t known.
The small stove next to Eiji, which he normally used, was a shichirin. However, its temperature isn’t something fixed. Every time the heated parts melt, they have to be reinforced, which is rather inconvenient.
It didn’t seem like Eiji will use it in the future, but still, it was proof that making something as fundamental and simple as this wasn’t impossible.
Next to the house, Eiji kneads and forms the clay which became softer due to soaking it with water.
– I’ll help you.
– In that case, I’ll do the foundation. Can I have you pile this clay on top?
– Just leave it to me. I’m used to manual labor, since it’s what I do every day.
As Tanya smiled with a grin, she stretched her hands over the clay with no restraint. This is what she does every day, a manual work with no head start.
As they both started to knead enthusiastically, the tips of their fingers became smeared with clay.
– Ahaha. You look quite troubled there Eiji.
– Thank you. It requires more energy than what I’ve thought.
Once it was finished, both Tanya and Eiji were covered in sweat and mud. While wiping off the sweat, Tanya’s neat face became muddy.
So as to create ventilation for the heat, Eiji had to make a round roof, and furnish it with a chimney.
Using a flat stone, Eiji smooths the outward side of the clay while adjusting the shape of the stove.
As the day ends, the beautiful, clear sky turns red.
It will take around three days for the clay to become completely dry. In the meantime, Eiji decides to focus on the wheelbarrow and bricks.
And once he manages to make bricks, the construction of the furnace will start.
When you want to make anything good, tools of exceptional quality are needed.
Eiji understood this fact more than anyone.
Translator and reference notes:
: Japanese edged tool with a wide blade and short handle.
: I think I mentioned before something about people using charcoal, but it was probably a by-product of firewood.
: Japanese charcoal grill. For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shichirin